I can’t remember the last time I wore something brand new that hadn’t been bought from a charity shop. The outfit Mr. Swain loaned to me is practically gleaming. It smells new. It smells expensive too.
The top I’m wearing has ‘Burberry’ written across the front and the jeans I’m wearing are skin tight. I caught a glimpse of myself in one of the mirrors as we were leaving Swain manor and they actually looked good on me.
I don’t know how we ended up in McDonalds but that’s what happened. I sit facing Rory, sipping on my drink.
His hair has been swept to the side by the wind. His cheeks look flushed. He’s been acting awfully quiet ever since we got here. Maybe he feels bad about spraying me with the hose pipe, and so he should!
“Is Mr. Swain always that friendly?” I ask Rory, out of curiosity.
He stuffs another French fry into his mouth. “He’s nice enough. I can’t say the same about his wife though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile.”
I nibble on my chicken nugget. “Hm... it’s just weird. Grayson is so uptight and I expected his father to be the same, but Mr. Swain is actually the opposite. He seemed quite down to earth.”
“Yeah. He’s alright.”
I glance down at my outfit. “I can’t keep these clothes though. I’ll have to return them when I can.”
“He didn’t say he wanted them back, did he?”
“No. But it doesn’t feel right.”
“He’s not going to miss those clothes, is he Skye? Let’s face it, he’s probably got a million of them locked away in a closet somewhere.”
“You might feel that way, but I can’t accept this. I’ll have to take them back.”
I stare down at the cheque peeping out of my bag and hang my head. Rory glances at me and narrows his eyes.
“What’s the matter now? I thought you’d be celebrating. You’ve got the money for your mother, haven’t you?”
Rory gave me his share of the money before we left the house. I was grateful, but I also felt guilty for taking it. That was his money. He earned it. It didn’t seem right to take something that was rightfully his.
“Are you sure you don’t mind giving this to me?”
“Skye, stop asking me if it’s okay. You need it more than I do right now. It’s fine.”
I slump down on the wobbly chair, trying to act cool about this. “Well, consider it a loan then. I’ll pay you back.”
A grin spreads across his face. “If it’ll make you feel better then you can do that. Don’t worry about it though. I can just make up for it when I work next weekend. Hopefully Mr. Swain will be as generous as he was today.”
He places his hands behind his head and smiles to himself. “Don’t mention it. I guess we can go back to throwing insults at each other starting tomorrow.”
“That’s good enough for me. For a moment I thought you had lost your mind.”
I stumble through the front door and my bike falls against the radiator, signalling that I’m home. Rory walked me back, even though I insisted that he didn’t have to go through the trouble.
My mother is sitting on the sofa when I walk into the living room. Her eyes are trained on the TV, even though it’s not on she’s just staring at a blank screen.
I sit beside her, placing the money on the table in front of us. She doesn’t even look at it. “Five hundred pound. It’s all there.”
“There’s nothing on TV,” she whispers to herself.
I edge closer to her. “Did you not hear me? You don’t have to worry about Rob and the money anymore.”
Mum finally acknowledges me. I don’t know what I expected, but I thought that she’d at least be happy about this.
Her eyes are sharp when she turns to look at me. “Did you think that I was going to give you a big pat on the back Skye?”
“No, but I – I did this for you – to help.”
She stands up and starts pacing around the room. “I told you I would sort this out myself. I told you not to get involved.”
I stand up and follow her into the kitchen. “I felt I had no choice but to get involved. Do you have any idea how worried I’ve been about this?”
She runs a hand through her hair, messing it up. “I’ve already given Rob the money.”
There’s a moment of complete silence as I try to register her words. “What?”
“I met up with him yesterday.”
“Where did you get the money from?”
“You don’t need to know the details Skye! I’ve paid him in full. He won’t be coming around again.”
This doesn’t make sense. How could she have paid the full amount? I seriously need to scope my room out later for anything that could be missing. It’s a horrible thought and I’m not going to mention it to my mum, because I know that she’ll only be offended.
“Where did you get that kind of money from?” I have every right to be suspicious.
“You don’t have to know everything Skye! Isn’t it enough to hear that I’ve handled the situation? Why can’t you leave it at that?”
How can she expect me to carry on as normal, when she’s probably gone and done something bad, illegal even? It’s going to be on my mind until I find out the truth.