‘You could ask him for me,’ Katie risked saying. Robbie was getting dressed, while she lay in bed. She’d told him how she wanted to hold her birthday party at the restaurant, but was scared to ask Mateo.
‘How would that look?’ Robbie scowled. ‘Me asking favours for you? Do you want the whole restaurant to know we’re…’ he said, gesturing vaguely towards the bed.
‘I wouldn’t mind,’ Katie muttered.
‘I would,’ Robbie said. He pulled on his t-shirt. ‘Just ask him. He likes you.’ He kissed her forehead, and left.
Angel’s face was on every wall in the Womenswear department. Holly had used far more photos of her than of the other girl she’d photographed. Angel was wondering whether to read anything into that when Holly appeared at her shoulder, startling her. ‘What do you think?’
‘I love them,’ Angel said. ‘You’re a good photographer.’
‘I had a great subject,’ Holly smiled. ‘And Jemma’s a great photographer,’ she added. ‘She taught me a few things.’ Her smiled faded, and Angel wanted to kick herself. She was trying to think of something to say when Holly nudged her. ‘Look. You’ve got a fan.’ A boy, about Angel’s age, was standing in front of one of the photos, staring at it. He glanced at Angel, then back at the photo, then back at Angel.
He wasn’t bad-looking. ‘You can have my autograph if you want,’ Angel called to him. He looked startled, then smiled, and walked towards her.
‘I’d rather have your number.’
Angel looked at Holly, who gave her an encouraging nod. ‘OK,’ she said.
‘I think it’s a wonderful idea,’ Maeve said. It was none of her business, Mateo grumbled to himself. She’d just happened to be there, bending his ear about the garden terrace, when Katie knocked on his door.
‘I’m not closing the restaurant for a birthday party.’
‘It’s a Monday, you hardly have any customers on a Monday,’ Maeve said. ‘Let Kirsty have her party.’
‘Katie. My name’s Katie.’
‘Of course,’ Maeve smiled. ‘Let her have her party,’ she said to Mateo. ‘The garden terrace will be almost ready by then. We could treat Katie’s party as a soft launch.’
‘Fine,’ Mateo sighed.
Maeve clapped. ‘Wonderful! We can make it an event. I’ll invite some people, maybe some press…’
‘I only want a few friends,’ Katie said.
‘Nonsense, Kirsty,’ Maeve said. ‘It’s your twenty-first, it needs to be an occasion.’
Katie looked to Mateo for help. He shook his head. He’d long ago learned not to get in Maeve’s way.
‘You’re going out again?’ Holly stood at the door of Aidan’s room, watching him getting ready.
‘Yes, Granny,’ Aidan teased. ‘Jesus, I’ve gone from living with one old fogey to another.’
‘I’m not an old fogey. I’m pregnant.’
‘Pregnant. Not dead. There’s nothing stopping you coming out with me.’
‘The idea of standing around a club stone-cold sober is stopping me.’
‘You could have a few drinks, couldn’t you? Three or four?’ Holly was about to protest, but Aidan laughed. ‘I’m joking.’
Holly didn’t find it funny. ‘You won’t be able to go out like this when the baby comes.’
‘That’s why I’m enjoying myself while I can. You should do the same. Come out with me.’
‘No,’ Holly said. ‘I’m going to bed.’ She walked down the hall, feeling tired and old. And worried. Would Aidan be the partner she needed him to be?
‘Night night, Granny,’ he shouted.
Erin had been tiptoeing towards the door of the twins’ bedroom. She’d thought Annie was asleep. ‘You know where he is,’ she whispered. ‘He’s at Grandma and Grandad’s.’
‘Why is he at Grandma and Grandad’s?’
Erin had told the twins where Andy was, more than once. They’d been to see him. But they kept asking. She crouched beside Annie and said, ‘Because Mummy and Daddy don’t want to live together any more.’
‘Shush, you’ll wake Archie.’
‘I’m awake,’ Archie whispered.
‘You shouldn’t be. Back to sleep, both of you.’
‘Where’s Daddy?’ Archie asked.
‘At Grandma and Grandad’s.’
‘When’s he coming home?’
Erin hadn’t heard from Andy since he’d phoned and told her—ordered her—not to tell anyone else the truth. She’d thought that it would change things, him knowing, but she still felt shifty and burdened and ashamed. It’s the lies that get you, James had said, and she was still lying. To the twins, who though they were too young to understand, wouldn’t always be. To Colin, and Jen, whose messages and calls Erin had been ignoring. And to Alistair, who, she was sure, wouldn’t be so friendly if he knew what kind of person Erin was. ‘Soon,’ she told Archie, because lying was easier. ‘Go back to sleep.’
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