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Chapter 2

Tad walked out of the steamy bathroom onto the landing. ‘What on earth was that woman shouting about’ he murmured to himself, as he walked swiftly along the landing to the top of the stairs. He knew she wanted him but he couldn’t quite make out what she was saying. Around his waist he’d tied a thick blue patterned towel, the one he held in his hand was the one he had rubbed his hair with and now it stuck up on end, rough, from its towel drying. Standing with his hands on his hips at the top of the stairs, he shouted down the stairs to her.

’What’s the matter Chancy?’

Chancy stood, waiting at the bottom of the stairs for him to answer her. Her head was pushed back on her neck as she gazed up the stairs at him, appreciating the half-naked body at the top of the stairs, she smiled admiringly. ‘Not a bad bit of stuff,’ she thought to herself. Unable to help but notice the strength and vitality of the man. ‘If only she could have met him seventeen years ago, instead of Dennis,’ she thought wistfully.

‘Breakfast’s ready Tad will you give Jemma, a knock for me please? She hasn’t come down yet.’

‘Okay love,’ he said as he turned and made his way back to the bathroom. The smell of his after-shave reached her as he walked away. She lifted her head and sniffed appreciatively, drinking in the heady fragrance, before she returned to the kitchen and her cooking.

Tad came down the stairs a few minutes later and entered the roomy kitchen; he had dressed ready to go to work. An old tee shirt, the lettering half-obliterated by much washing, fitted snugly across the broad expanse of his chest. His brown curly hair was drying into its usual array of unruly curls and defying the gel, he had used to try to plaster it down flat.

The sight of him fresh and clean, ready for work, excited Chancy and she made a moue with her lips giving away her feelings. How she wished that she could have been at the other side of the room. So that she could have swept her hands over the muscles of his chest that were outlined by the tight tee shirt. ‘It sure did something funny to her insides, just looking at him sometimes,’ she thought. Tad walked slowly across the room towards her, his eyes appreciating her.

He’d seen the predatory expression on her face as he’d entered the kitchen, and he grinned in appreciation as he crossed to her side. Slid his hand around the back of her neck and placed his lips softly over her mouth, claiming a kiss.

She pushed him away regretfully afterwards, saying softly. ‘Your breakfast’s getting cold Tad.’

‘But you’re not, are you my sweets,’ he said. Grinning wickedly at her ‘and neither am I.’ Taking no notice of her protests whatsoever. He pulled her closer into his embrace for another kiss then regretfully let her go because he would have enjoyed taking her back to bed. He sat down at the breakfast table . Then he grinned at her knowingly, as she placed his breakfast in front of him she knew as well as him, what he would have liked to do.

‘If I don’t get a move on, I’ll lose this job, things could get a bit rough without any money to buy breakfast. I’m afraid we can’t live on love alone, as the saying goes,’ he said giving her a conciliatory smile. She grinned back cheekily, her tongue in her cheek, as she placed some fried bread on the plate in front of him. ‘Nice, if we could. Where is that girl?’ she said. Looking hopefully towards the kitchen doorway, as Jemma entered her mind once again, as she spied the empty plate on the table.

’Don’t know love.’ Tad replied tucking hungrily into the breakfast she had prepared for him. He lifted his head, to smile momentarily at her and say. ‘I knocked on her door, like you said.’

‘We’ll give her a few minutes longer.’ She smiled back at him conspiratorially. ‘She’s probably still in the bathroom. Did you happen to hear Jemma, come in at all last night Tad?’

‘Can’t say that I did love what with working all day, and our evening’s entertainment,’ he grinned mischievously at her. Then he began laughing heartily at the expression her face conveyed. Waving his piece of buttered toast at her nonchalantly, he said. ‘I’m afraid I felt so tired, I fell fast asleep didn’t hear a thing love, that is, till I felt you get out of bed this morning.’

Finishing his toast, he rose from the table and made his way to the door, stopping for a moment at the side of her chair to give her a quick kiss on the cheek. ‘Must get on Chancy, see you later love.’ He curled his hand gently around her face in a good-bye caress and Chancy felt her heart warm instantly to his tenderness.

Jemma still hadn’t arrived downstairs and Chancy decided it was time to find out what was keeping her. Chancy was similar in looks to Jemma but a slightly older version and where Jemma was still slender and slightly boyish in build, Chancy was very much a woman. The soft round orbs of her breasts moved gently under the pale pink tee shirt, as she ran up the stairs and along the passage to her daughter’s room. The strong auburn hair that hung shoulder length turned under as it reached her shoulders and surrounded a heart shaped face with green eyes. The long legs, that were clad in blue jeans, carried her effortlessly up the stairs.

She opened the door of her daughter’s bedroom. No Jemma! Puzzled, she made her way along the hall to the bathroom and opened the door again to emptiness, still no Jemma.

‘Where was she?’ Chancy furrowed her brow in contemplation. ‘Where could she possibly be? What was it she’d said last night, before she left the house?’ thought Chancy worriedly. Slowly, she made her way down the stairs again, thinking over the happenings of the night before in her mind. What was it Jemma had said?

’First, she was going ice skating with Abbey, then they were going to Abbey’s to play on the computer, that was it,’ she thought. She returned to the kitchen shaking her head. ‘She’d told her not to be too late. Then why wasn’t she home?’ Chancy remembered then, what she had told her sometime before. ‘If you do forget the time, and it’s too late for you to walk back home through the streets, stay at Abbey’s house overnight but make sure to be home for breakfast in the morning. She’d always arrived home in time for breakfast before. Abbey only lived a couple of streets away,’ thought Chancy to herself. ‘Where, in heaven’s name, could she be?’ she was beginning to get worried and angry.

She strode agitatedly up and down the kitchen floor, and then turned her wrist over to look at her watch. It was half past eight already and she had to be at work for nine. [The boss] wouldn’t be happy if she were late, they had to clock in punctually at the factory and if they were more than three minutes late, the boss docked their wages. She stopped her striding up and down as she reached the hall door, for the tenth time, feeling irritable. ‘What was Jemma thinking of not coming home, she knows I’ll be worried sick.’

Her thoughts returned to Abbey. ‘What’s Abbey’s telephone number?’ She dashed down the hall to the phone. ‘Maybe, she was still at home?’ she dialled the number hopefully. No answer, she put the phone down, and then picked it up again. ‘Maybe, she should ring the school.’ She tapped the table abstractedly with her fingers, as she tried to think what to do, then put the phone down deliberately onto the cradle.

’No, that was no good. No one would know if she were there or not yet.’ She stood perplexed, her chin pressed into her hand, thinking. ‘Jemma was a good girl she’d never caused her any trouble before. Should she call the police? They would probably tell her to give her forty-eight hours.’ She could just imagine the police person on the other end of the phone. ‘Don’t worry too much Mrs. Carlton she’ll probably turn up in a few hours. You know what teenagers are like. She’ll probably be at a friend’s, and, if she has run away, a couple of nights in the cold will soon bring her home. She might as well go to work,’ she thought dejectedly.

She lifted her coat down off the peg absent mindedly slid her arms into the sleeves, picking her bag up from the table as she walked out, her mind on Jemma as she dropped the catch on the front door.

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