Katie flicked through the dresses hanging in her wardrobe. Her birthday was going to be an event, according to Maeve. What did you wear to an event? She had nothing suitable.
Or did she? She pulled out a dress. It was blue, short and sparkly and backless. It was Angel’s. She’d leant it to Katie for a Christmas party, but Katie hadn’t had the guts to wear it, and hadn’t gotten round to giving it back.
She slipped it off the hanger and wriggled into it. At Christmas, she’d felt uncomfortable in this dress, conscious of her belly straining at the fabric. Now, she was pleased to see, it hung loose.
The buzzer rang, and Katie ran to answer it, still in the dress. It was Robbie. ‘I wasn’t expecting you,’ she said, when he’d climbed the stairs and come inside.
‘I’m on a split-shift,’ he said. ‘I thought I’d pop by and…’ He kissed her, and steered her towards her bedroom. ‘What’s this you’re wearing?’
Katie felt suddenly self-conscious. ‘Nothing. I was just trying it on.’
‘I like it. Take it off.’
Erin and Andy had arranged—through a series of terse messages—that he would take the twins for the weekend, and Erin spent Friday afternoon dreading him coming. She shuttled the twins around the flat, picking up the toys they wanted to take with them, packing their pyjamas and toothbrushes, keeping them and herself busy. She’d decided there was more she had to say to Andy, more she had to apologise for, but she wasn’t looking forward to it. It was a good job, she thought, that there was no wine in the house. Something to take the edge off would be great right now.
When Andy’s message came through, saying he was outside, she rushed Archie and Annie into their shoes and jackets. Andy was in his dad’s car, the engine running. Erin opened the back door and lifted Archie into one of the child seats. ‘I thought you’d come up,’ she said. Andy didn’t respond. ‘I thought we could talk some more. I think we need to talk.’ She buckled Archie in, and kissed him. She carried Annie to the other side of the car, and put her in the other child seat. ‘If not today,’ she said to Andy, ‘then Monday, when you drop them off, or…’ She realised Andy was ignoring her. He was staring straight ahead, gripping the steering wheel. She kissed Annie, and closed the door. She bent beside the open front window. ‘I do think we need to…’ she started to say. Andy put the car into gear and drove away.
‘I decided not to go out with that guy,’ Angel told Holly. ‘The one that asked for my number.’
‘No?’ Holly said. She passed Angel a hanger to hold.
‘No,’ Angel said. ‘He opened with a dick pic. No ‘hello’, nothing. Straight to dick pic.’
‘No,’ Holly cringed. ‘What is wrong with men?’ Angel stole a glance at her. She’d hoped to see some kind of reaction—relief that Angel wasn’t going out with someone else, maybe—but Holly seemed unbothered.
‘Yeah, I’m trying to make better choices,’ she said. ‘When it comes to men.’
No sooner had the words left her mouth than she spotted someone across the shop floor. Someone familiar, standing in front of one of Holly’s huge photos of Angel, staring at it.
It was Dr. Tavish. His wife was beside him, browsing the rails. Angel dropped the hanger she was holding. She bolted for the stockroom.
Naila and Ibrahim had had a nice night. She’d had dinner waiting for him when he came home, and when she’d suggested they watch a film together, he’d agreed. They’d laughed at all the same lines, and cheered in unison at the final scene.
‘Me and my mum used to watch that film all the time,’ Naila said, as the credits rolled. There was something she’d been trying to shoehorn into conversation.
‘Yes,’ Naila nodded. ‘She was here the other day, actually. She came for a cup of tea.’
‘That’s nice. It’s nice that you’re close.’
‘She was nagging me,’ Naila said. ‘She wants a grandchild.’
‘Does she?’ Ibrahim smiled. It made Naila ache, how handsome he was when he smiled.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I’m going to go to bed.’ She reached for Ibrahim’s hand, her heart fluttering. ‘Would you like to come with me?’
Ibrahim—very gently—pulled his hand away. ‘I have a shift in the morning.’
Naila nodded. She stood up. ‘Goodnight, then,’ she managed to say. She went to the bedroom, closed the door, and picked up her phone. ‘Daddy,’ she cried, when he answered, ‘can I come home?’
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