Sergio was still stealing. Katie saw him pocket the cash. She saw him glance around to see if anyone was watching. She saw the sheepish smile he gave her when he saw she was.
He came over. ‘I was just…’
‘I don’t care,’ Katie snapped.
Sergio frowned. He stepped closer. ‘I’m sorry I didn’t text or anything, after we, you know…’ he said. ‘I thought, with the fire and everything, maybe you didn’t…’
‘That’s alright,’ Katie cut him off. ‘You didn’t have to text.’
‘I wanted to.’ He took another step closer. ‘You’re not going to say anything to my dad, are you?’
Katie bolted to the toilets. She didn’t want him to see her cry.
‘How can you be too busy? Your classes are finished, aren’t they?’
Angel sighed. Her father was trying to nag her into coming home for the summer. ‘I’m just busy,’ she said into her phone. ‘I’ve got a job lined up.’ This wasn’t completely true: she had an interview lined up. ‘And I’m seeing friends.’ This wasn’t at all true. Her friends had scattered for the summer. The only one who hadn’t—Katie—Angel couldn’t consider a friend any more.
Angel had happened to glance into the restaurant that morning, as she returned from Warrender Baths. She’d seen Katie, placing drinks on a table, smiling, as if nothing had happened. As if she hadn’t dumped her best friend.
But had they been best friends? They hadn’t had much in common, had they? Perhaps Victoria would be a better friend for Angel: more fun than Katie, less timid. Less uptight.
She was standing in Katie’s old room while she spoke to her father. The room was empty. Victoria wasn’t moving in until Wednesday, and Angel had no plans for the weekend. She’d already been for a swim. The pool at Warrender Baths was cold, and lane swimming was only marginally less monotonous than spending hours alone in the flat. ‘I’ll let you know when I’m free, Dad,’ she said. She wondered what time the Baths closed.
‘Come in,’ Mateo called, when Katie knocked on his door. He was at his desk, drinking what looked like a large whisky. ‘What can I do for you?’
‘I want to hand my notice in.’
Mateo peered at her. Katie felt sure he could see how red her eyes were. ‘Is this to do with Sergio?’ She shook her head, but of course it was to do with Sergio. She’d been crying in the toilets for half an hour. ‘Didn’t I tell you you could do better?’
Katie nodded, afraid that if she spoke she’d start to cry again.
‘If I had a pound for every waitress who’s come here crying about that boy,’ Mateo said, shaking his head. ‘Here’s a better idea, Katie. You keep working here. You work more, for that matter. I need full-time staff for the summer. And you show that good-for-nothing lout he means nothing to you.’
Holly met her mother, coming out of the flat, when she got home from work. Mingmei was carrying a binbag in each hand. ‘Hello,’ she said. ‘Good day?’
Her tone made Holly suspicious. ‘What’s in the bags?’
‘Nothing. Rubbish. I had a bit of a clear out.’ She smiled. Holly grabbed for one of the bags, but Mingmei held fast. ‘It’s just rubbish.’
Holly grabbed again, and this time she got the bag. She pulled it open. ‘Mum. These are Jemma’s clothes.’
Mingmei had the decency to look chastened. ‘Yes, well, I think you need a clear out.’
‘She’s… she’s going to come and get them.’
‘Is she? Did she tell you that?’ Mingmei knew Holly hadn’t spoken to Jemma since the morning after the fire.
‘At some point,’ Holly said. She grabbed the other bag. ‘She’s going to come and get them.’ She took both bags back inside.
Erin urged the twins up the stairs. They were tired after nursery, and she knew bedtime was going to be tough. She told herself she wasn’t going to look at James’s door as they passed it, but she did. It had been boarded up, as if to contain the gruesomeness of what had happened behind it. She shuddered.
She hurried the twins into the flat, thinking, again, about the night of the fire. Andy had told her he’d gone to get help because he couldn’t wake her. But why hadn’t he taken the twins? He could carry them both. It didn’t make sense to her, and Andy had become irate when she’d raised it. It felt, to Erin, very much like he was hiding something.
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