The bed was rumpled, sheets loose at the corners. Katie’s pillow was on the floor. Robbie had come home with her after work, and they’d barely slept. They’d stayed in bed until the last possible moment, but now Robbie was in the shower. He had to be back at the restaurant to open up.
Katie stripped the bed, and stuffed the sheets into her washing basket. She was self-conscious about the noise they’d made, and decided she’d wait until her flatmate was out before she washed them.
Robbie came back from the bathroom, Katie’s flower-patterned towel—which her mother had bought her—wrapped inadequately around his waist. He pulled her close. ‘You’re going to be late,’ Katie said.
Robbie shrugged. ‘So what if I am?’ He kissed her. ‘Although,’ he whispered, ‘it is a shame you don’t still live above the restaurant. That would have been very convenient.’
Katie stiffened, thinking about Angel, and Sergio, and the pain living above the restaurant had caused her.
Robbie was holding her waist. His hands could almost form a circle around it, and he was paying more attention to that than to Katie’s discomfort. ‘What a neat little body you have,’ he muttered.
It’s weird to be attracted to someone who’s pregnant, isn’t it? Angel was on the shop floor, helping Holly dress the children’s department dummies. It was weird enough for Angel to be attracted to a woman—and she wasn’t completely sure that she was—weirder to be attracted to a pregnant woman. But there was something about Holly’s calmness, how easy she was to talk to, and yes, her pretty face, that made Angel hungry to spend time with her.
Holly positioned the last of the little dummies on a stand. ‘Finished,’ she said, and Angel felt a flare of disappointment.
‘Is there anything else you need help with?’
‘No,’ Holly said. ‘You should probably get back to Womenswear.’
‘OK… what?’ Holly was staring at her.
‘Nothing. Just an idea.’ Holly tilted her head. ‘Can I just…’ she said, putting her hands on Angel’s shoulders, shifting her position. She lifted Angel’s chin, turning it to one side. ‘There,’ she said. ‘Beautiful.’
‘You think I’m beautiful?’
‘Angel,’ Holly smiled, ‘everybody thinks you’re beautiful.’
‘Don’t lift that,’ Aidan said. ‘Let me get it.’ He took the crate from Holly and set it on the bed.
‘You have a lot of books.’
‘That’s what John said.’
‘No, it’s fine. I’m fine.’
‘And how is he?’
‘He’s fine. He’ll hardly notice I’m gone.’ Holly shifted some of Jemma’s clothes, making room. ‘Are you sure you don’t mind me staying?’
‘Mind? I’m delighted. It’s my mother who’s put out,’ Holly laughed. Mingmei had gone home that morning.
‘But this room was going to be the nursery, wasn’t it?’
‘The baby will be in with me at first,’ she said. ‘We can figure it out after that.’
‘Are these Jemma’s things?’ Aidan fingered a pile of t-shirts. Holly nodded. ‘Have you spoken to her?’
‘Have you seen what she’s been posting online?’
Holly shook her had. ‘No.’ She sat on the bed. ‘I turned off notifications when she left.’
‘Probably for the best,’ Aidan said.
‘Why? What’s she been posting?’
‘Nothing,’ Aidan said. ‘Nothing interesting.’ It sounded like a lie.
‘Come in,’ Erin said, opening the door to let Andy step inside.
‘Where are they?’ he said, looking around for the twins.
‘They’re still at nursery.’
‘It’s after five o’clock.’
‘I’m aware of that, Andy, but I needed to talk to you without them getting under our feet.’
Andy sighed. He walked into the living room and sat on the couch. ‘What do you need to talk to me about?’ Erin lingered by the door. ‘Spit it out,’ Andy snapped, but Erin couldn’t. Her mouth wouldn’t open, her tongue wouldn’t move. ‘Are you ill?’
‘Is one of the twins ill?’
‘No,’ Erin shook her head.
‘Then what? You look like you’re about to tell me the world is ending. And you’ve already ruined my life, Erin, so if it’s not the world ending then how bad can it be?’
‘I haven’t ruined your life.’
‘Haven’t you? Three weeks ago I was happily married and now I’m sleeping in a single bed in my parents’ house.’
‘You weren’t happily married three weeks ago. We haven’t been happily married in years.’
Andy looked wounded. ‘Just spit it out,’ he said, shaking his head. Erin perched on the arm of the couch, so that she didn’t have to face him when she spoke.
‘I had sex with Colin.’
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