Dirty Daddies

Page 12

I watch his car pull away and keep watching the road until he’s long gone. The day is drawing in outside and I love the way the birds sing around here.
I love Bill and Rosie’s house, even though I would never say it to their face. I love their dog, Harry, even though I never fuss him when they’re around to see it. I walk him through the fields at the back of the garden but they don’t know that. I always hang his leash up exactly as they left it, and I’ve never been caught yet.
They’d just think I was up to no good if they did catch me, so it’s our little secret, Harry and mine.
Michael’s place looks small and clearly has no garden. There would be no birds singing and no fields to walk in and no Harry, and loving those things is in my blood, being Romany and all, but even so, I’d still consider giving up my dreams of a wagon and the open road if he’d let me stay with him.
I hear Bill and Rosie in the kitchen downstairs loading up the dishwasher. My stomach rumbles, but they don’t offer me anything to eat, and I don’t expect them to.
I missed dinnertime.
I’ll have to sneak downstairs when they’re in bed and grab something from their pantry. They’ve started hiding stuff from me these past few weeks, but I know Rosie keeps some chocolate in her sewing tin.
They’ve already got a kid lined up to replace me, I heard them on the phone to the agency talking about it. I think he’s called Leo.
I hope he’s a better kid for them than I’ve been, and I hope he likes this place as much as I do.
The thought of leaving here makes me feel more upset than it should. I ball my hands into fists and choke back stupid tears that I don’t deserve.
I could’ve stayed if I was better.
I could’ve stayed if they hadn’t seen the bruises on my arms and thought I was into drugs or self-harm, or a load of other things that made them look at me in those ways I hate.
Pity and fear and disappointment.
Maybe I wouldn’t have been such a bitch to them then.
I’m not into drugs and I’m not into self-harm, I’m just sick of telling people that when they never believe me anyway.
I have to wait a long time for Rosie and Bill to go to bed, and when they do I find Rosie has moved her chocolate stash from the sewing tin.
There’s a note on the side, scrawled out for me.
If we don’t deserve respect enough for you to join us for dinner, you don’t deserve to eat our food.
She’s left a couple of slices of bread out for me, but I can’t even find the butter. She’s hidden it. She’s hidden everything.
The tears sting, but I don’t let them fall.
I’ll be gone before morning, eighteen be fucked.
And I won’t even be sad.
I pack up a backpack of my clothes and my few stupid trinkets, and I kiss Harry goodbye before I leave. I have to ditch out of the living room window because the front door is locked, but I’m as quiet as I can be, as quiet as a mouse.
And then I’m gone.Chapter FourJackI wait for a text from Michael letting me know he’s done dropping his drunk infatuation back home where she belongs, but it doesn’t come. I despair for the guy and his midlife crisis.
This thing with Carrie Wells, it isn’t like him. Mike is responsible and considered. He plays by more rules than he should in life, certainly more than I do, and if there’s one he should choose to break it’s definitely not this one.
I’m about to call the crazy sonofabitch when I hear his car pull up outside. He’s had the same car for over a decade, I’d recognise the sound anywhere.
I’ve already opened the door when he reaches my doorstep. He brushes past me without a word, and I follow him on through to the kitchen to grab the beer we didn’t manage at Drury’s.
I hand him a bottle and he slumps himself against my kitchen island.
“They’re going to throw her onto the streets,” he says, and I sigh.
“Not. Your. Problem.”
“I’ve been working with her for over five months,” he tells me, like I don’t know already. “I can’t just turn my back on her, not like that.”
“So refer her to someone who can help. Again.”
He takes a swig of beer. “I doubt she’ll co-operate. She doesn’t trust anyone.”
“You tried. That’s all you can do.”
“I guess you’re right.”
He doesn’t believe me, and I know it. It’s written all over his face. In Mike’s sweet deluded mind he’s on a one-man mission to eliminate all youth problems in our poor rural county. He thinks I work hard, but I have nothing on him. I leave my work at the office every evening, he lives his 24/7. He never forgets those kids on his books, never forgets a face or a sad story.