Chloe Richards: Chapter 1. (A novel)

Chapter 1
Katherine sneered with disgust as Chloe stuck the spring roll into the microwave, and set the timer for three minutes.
“You’re not eating that, are you?” she Scoffed, over stirring her black coffee.
“Of course I am.”
“It looks disgusting, full of calories and bacteria.”
“Bacteria?” she said in amusement, “It’ll be fine.” She carefully took the plate out of the microwave, and sat opposite Katherine to eat.
“You must have a stomach of steel,” she sighed, completely perplexed.
“Yep, it’s all the years from eating out of date food as a child.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“It’s true,” She giggled, picking up the greasy oblong and putting it to her lips.
“You do realise it contains a million grams of fat. Look at it, swimming in its own grease. It’s like an enormous turd that won’t flush away.”
“Oh shut up Katherine.”
“Fine,” she shrugged. “I’m only trying to think of your health. Have you looked at that juice book yet?” Chloe frowned, confessing she hadn’t had time to look through it.
“Well, you should make time, it’s got some amazing detoxing recipes. I just had to buy the juicer they recommended.”
“Good for you,” she replied distantly.
“I wish my parents had taught me better eating habits,” she paused, and waited for Chloe to respond, but when she didn’t she breathed dramatically. “Chloe this book is changing my life. You should definitely read it.”
“Wow, it’s obviously making a good impression on you,” she laughed, hoping she didn’t sound too mocking.
“It really has. My therapist suggested that I should do what’s in my heart and…”
“You paid someone to tell you that? I could’ve done it for free.”
“Very funny!” she picked up the empty mugs, took them over to the counter to make more tea. “He was basically saying that if I wanted to change my lifestyle, I could, I don’t need anyone’s permission.”
“Except his,” Chloe muttered under her breath.
“What was that?”
“Um, nothing,” she wiped her greasy hands on a lifeless tea towel, and then took her chipped mug full of tea. “Just glad to hear your book and therapist are doing you so much good.” Katherine ignored the sarcasm and changed the subject to the many benefits of the raw food diet, which she was planning to start as soon as she could.
“Anyway, enough about me? How’s the yoga going? Have you given up yet?”
“No,” Chloe said firmly. “Actually, I’ve got a class this evening. You should come.”
“I’m a bit advanced for your class, don’t forget I’ve been doing yoga for years,” she finished her tea, and began texting.
“Yeah, I forgot, sorry.”
“It’s fine, I can’t expect you to remember every detail of my life, although I try to remember everything about yours,” she said, not taking her eyes off her phone.
“Why?” she asked out of amusement.
“No reason,” she replied oddly. “Anyway, I might try this class of yours, if there’s any hot guys?”
“A couple of bearded vegan types, so no, not really.”
“Shame. Anyway, I think it’s very, very brave of you to try yoga. Well done!”
“It’s no big deal,” replied Chloe, feeling slightly irritated by her patronising tone. “By the way, what you up to on Sunday?” Katherine unintentionally bit into her bottom lip, and was unable to maintain eye contact, when Chloe asked if she would like to come to church with her.
“I’ll have to see what Simon’s up to,” she hastily replied, fumbling about with the joint she was preparing. She lit up, inhaled deeply, and passed it to Chloe.
“Thanks,” as soon as she placed the roll up between her lips, Rick trudged into the kitchen.
“Starting without me?” he grinned, taking the joint from her lips, and took a few drags himself. “Good stuff.” he made himself a coffee and sat next to Chloe.
“You were so good last night,” he whispered in her ear. “Proper tight.” she giggled, as he nibbled her ear. Katherine lowered her gaze out of embarrassment.
“Sleep well?” Chloe interrupted, cautious that Katherine was feeling awkward.
“I should go,” announced Katherine suddenly, standing out of her seat.
“No need Kat,” she said quickly.
“Say hi to Simon, tell him to meet me at the pub later, come along if you like.”
“Can’t, I’ll be in Ashington tonight.” She said goodbye to Chloe and left.
“That was rude Rick.”
“She’ll get over it,” he retorted, sliding his hands up her top. “I love your big tits, I’m rock hard now.”
“Are you?” she grinned, opening her mouth for a kiss.
“Yes,” he took her hand, placed it over his bulge, and smiled hopelessly. “You make me so horny,” he breathed, raising her top, popping her breasts out of her bra, and slipping a nipple into his mouth.
“Rick, I haven’t got time for this, I’ve got work soon.”
“I’m not stopping you,” he grinned cheekily, unclipping her bra, then pressing his lips against hers. “You make me so horny,” he said between breaths. “I want to fuck you. I want to marry you,” he gazed deeply into her eyes, and then proposed. She threw her arms around him, and repeatedly kissed his face. She had been praying for this moment for years. He hoisted her up into his arms, and carried her into the bedroom. She giggled childishly as he slowly laid her on the crumpled sheets, and began removing her clothes until she was naked, shivering and smiling. She waited for him to do something, but he just admired her.
“I’m the luckiest man in the world,” he said hopelessly. “Please Chloe, if you belong to another man, please put me out of my misery, and confess now.”
“Eh?” She sat up, and tucked her knees to her chest. His stare put her on edge, and when he touched her she jumped slightly. “Sorry, I guess I’m just nervous.”
“What about sweetheart?”
“Well it’s not everyday I get engaged, is it?”
“Of course not. Look,” he pointed at his crotch. “This is what you do to me,” he gently stroked her face as he took his cock out of his pyjama bottoms and pressed it against her lips. “My engagement gift to you, open sweetheart.” She closed her eyes, and dutifully opened her mouth. He groaned with pleasure, begging her to suck him harder. “That was so good,” he gasped, firmly holding her head in place. “Happy engagement darling, I love you so so so much, you mean the world to me. Did you swallow?” He grinned salaciously. After she nodded, he released his grip of her hair and patted her on the head.
“I’ll make it babe, you just get back into bed.”
“Don’t be daft I’ve got work soon,” she reminded him. Rick quickly went to the kitchen and came back with a can of beer. She frowned and said she couldn’t drink that so early in the morning. He cracked open the can, took a large gulp, then went to the kitchen and poured her a large glass of orange juice.
“You’re dressed?”
“I’ve got work in an hour.”
“Yeah I know.” He switched the TV on, and put it on the Christian channel. “I’m going to make you breakfast in bed.”
“I haven’t got time for that Rick.”
“Of course you have, stop worrying all the time.”
“Ok, but just cornflakes.” He pulled the bedsheets back, and invited her to climb in, she smiled and shook her head.
“You’re so stubborn,” he grinned. He got dressed, then went into the kitchen to make Chloe breakfast.
He returned half hour later carrying a tray filled with scotch pancakes, fish fingers, fried eggs, and bacon in one hand, a bottle of vodka in his other hand, and a bottle of orange under his armpit.
“Wow! That looks amazing,” she smiled appreciatively, before continuing firmly, “I’m so sorry Rick, I don’t think I’ve got time to eat anything.” He looked crushed, and mumbled how he wanted to do something nice for her. “Maybe another time, hey?”
“It won’t be the same though, will it?” He grumbled. “This was my engagement present to you.” He took the tray away, and said he was going to put it in the bin.
“Why don’t you eat it?” she suggested gently. He stared blankly and mumbled that he would take it over to the neighbour’s instead. “Don’t do that, they might think it’s a bit weird.”
“How? How will those two fat dykes think food is weird?”
“Pass me the tray, I’m sure I can manage something.”
“No need Chloe, just go to work, I’ll see you tonight.”
“Rick, don’t be like that,” she called after him, as he trudged out of the room, holding the tray at such an angle, that it looked as though the food would slip off at any moment. Her heart thudded with guilt. He had gone to so much effort, the least she could’ve done was eat a couple of fish fingers and a pancake, she felt like a complete cow.
“What’s happened?” she asked in alarm. He wiped his eyes with his sleeve, and said the neighbours didn’t want his crummy food.
“Oh babe, I’m so sorry.”
“I went to so much effort, I don’t know why I bother, I’m just a big fucking joke, aren’t I?”
“Of course you’re not,” she said hurriedly, picking up a warm fish finger to eat. “It’s really good.”
“You don’t have to say that Chloe, I know you don’t want it. Like you don’t want me.”
“Of course I want you,” she said as reassuringly as possible, torn between being conscious of the time, and conscious of her fiancés feelings. She placed a slice of bacon on top of a pancake, and reluctantly brought it to her mouth to chew. He grimly walked over to the cabinet, took out two glasses, and poured a large measure of vodka and orange into each glass, he smiled weakly, and raised a toast to their engagement.
“Wow, that’s strong,” she said, being mindful to only take the tiniest of sips.
“No it isn’t,” he replied distantly, “I only put a splash in it. How’s your food?”
“It’s good.”
“Are the pancakes okay?”
“Yes, they’re great.”
“What time’s work?” Her eyes dilated in a panic, as she suddenly realised she had lost track of time. “What’s wrong?” he smiled, as she began to fluster about, looking for her car keys.
“Rick have you seen my car keys?” she yelled from the living room, as she rummaged behind all the cushions, and under bits of furniture.
“No babe,” he replied distantly, as he stood in the doorway, casually eating a fried egg with his fingers.
“Can you help me please? I’ve got twenty minutes to get to work.”
“Ah, just pull a sickie,” he burped.
“I can’t do that, my boss said he’ll fire me, if I try that again.”
“He can’t do that,” he scoffed, watching her frantically search for the keys.
“He can do whatever he bloody likes.” She turned to him, feeling exasperated, and pleaded for his help. He lazily looked underneath the coffee table, on top of the shelving unit, and even inside books.
“I would’ve remembered putting my keys inside a book,” she frowned disapprovingly.
“Just trying to be thorough.” She slumped back onto the sofa, head between her hands. “It’ll show up.”
“Where the fuck is it?” she muttered to herself. “Rick, can you call work for me?”
“No babe,” he hesitated. “I mean, as you said, they’ll fire you if you pull a sickie again.”
“Not if you tell them I’m vomiting in the bathroom.”
“But you’re not though, are you?” she stared at him in astonishment, she often reprimanded him for lying, but this was an occasion where lying was a necessary evil.
“Fine!” she clasped her hand to the side of her face, and said she would have to think of something else. It was at this point, he felt compelled to remind her of the most relevant Commandment, thou shalt not lie. She felt like throwing something at him.
She called work, and was told to take the day off, and come in first thing in the morning for a meeting.
“They’re going to fire me,” she choked.
“What did they say?” She relayed the conversation. He patted her shoulder, urged her to not worry about it and encouraged her to eat more food. She curled up her nose, and said she had lost her appetite. His bright face took on a sallow expression, making her feel guilty. “I so hate food going in the bin,” he said vacantly, trudging out of the room.
“Don’t be like that Rick, I’ll eat a little bit more,” she called. He glided back into the room, tray in his hands, and placed it before her. He watched her eat through the mountain breakfast and when she finished, he took away the plate away and kissed her on her forehead. Suddenly, from the other room, he cried that he had found the car keys.
“Where?” she dashed in, hoping to take ownership of her keys.
“Just over there,” he vaguely pointed to his left. He clutched the keys to his side, and said he was going to do a job for a friend.
“What job?”
“I dunno, she just wants me to put some flat pack rubbish together.”
“Yeah,” he kissed her again. “When she pays me, I’m gonna buy you the best diamond ring I can afford, because you deserve it. See you later gorgeous.”

Chloe Richards (a novel)


Kim sat on the edge of a broken, graffiti covered bench and prayed. Her daughter Chloe, still in her school uniform, occupied herself by spinning on the roundabout, leaping off and running in a very uncoordinated way towards the swings.
“Push me mummy?” She chirped, as her dirty legs and scuffed shoes dangled freely beneath her.
“I’ve shown you what to do a million times, just get on with it.” Chloe tried to recall what her mother had said, and soon began bending her knees, then straightening her legs, until she was soaring high and free through the dim, icy sky. Kim returned to praying, but only to be interrupted by her miserable toddler. “What’s wrong with you two?” She snapped, impatiently rolling his battered pushchair back and forth in an attempt to silence him.
“Fine! You guys are so selfish,” she rose to her feet and stormed to the gate. “You coming?” She yelled over her shoulder. Chloe slowed herself down as quickly as possible, and scrambled after her mother.
By the time they got home, Gary was in agony from frozen fingers and nappy gel sliding down his legs.
“What?” She snapped at Chloe, yanking off Gary’s trousers and nappy in one swift, tense motion.
“I’m hungry,” she said quietly.
“Get something from the fridge.” Chloe made herself some cornflakes, and had only eaten half, when her mum snatched it away, dropped it in the sink, and told her to get to bed. Noticing her daughter was visibly upset, she snarled
“What? I said get to bed, didn’t I? I’ve just spent over three hours in the park with you lot, what more do you want? You should be tired by now, shouldn’t you?” Chloe desperately wanted to ask for dinner, but after seeing Gary slapped repeatedly for crying too much, she decided to quietly go upstairs.
As the key turned in the lock, Kim’s hands began to tremble as she quickly put a clean nappy on her son.
“Hope he ain’t gonna fuck me off tonight?” Yelled Ollie from the bottom of the stairs. “I’ve had a really busy day!”
“He won’t darling, I promise you,” she panicked, scooping Gary up in her arms, and taking him to Chloe’s room. She pushed the door open, placed him in his cot, and warned Chloe not to leave the room under any circumstances.
“Make sure you lock the door,” she whispered. “And keep quiet. Say your prayers,” she closed the door behind her. “I’m waiting Chloe.” She got out of bed, and locked the door. “Thank you sweetheart,” she gently whispered. “Remember, say your prayers, Jesus loves you both,” she choked and headed downstairs.
Ollie snapped open a can of beer and began guzzling the contents, “What’s for tea?”
“I thought you said you were eating at the pub?”
“I was going to. What’s for tea?”
“Pie and chips?”
“Don’t fucking burn it like you always do.”
“I won’t.” She headed to the kitchen, switched the oven on, and asked if he wanted steak and kidney, or chicken pie.”
“Steak and kidney, and put some beans with it, I’m starving.”
“Okay sweetheart.” As she was putting the food into the oven, he came up behind her, and began stroking her back until he reached her bottom.
“You are one sexy woman,” he slurred. “Do you like that?” He pressed his erection against her, and whispered salaciously, “I’ve been thinking about fucking your arse all day…where’s Chloe?”
“Asleep,” she replied coldly, moving away from him. “Leave her alone tonight.”
“Ah, but it’s you I want,” he nibbled her neck.
“Ollie, I’m trying to cook the dinner,” she giggled nervously.
“I know babe, but you make me so horny, look, I just can’t help myself.”
“Well try,” she playfully teased. “Coffee?”
“Nah, I’ve got my beer in there,” he replied, then left her to finish cooking his meal.
Chloe froze with fear, as Ollie gently tapped his finger nails on the door, and said in a singsong voice.
“Hi sweetheart,” he paused for a answer. “How are you sweetheart? Are you hungry?” He rubbed his crotch, “I’ve got something big and juicy for you.” Her chest rapidly rose and fell, as she tried to not hyperventilate. He tapped again, before trying the door handle. “Aww, mummy locked you in again?” he sniggered, “next time…you’re so good with your tiny tongue.”
He headed back into the kitchen and waited for Kim to serve him his dinner.
“That looks fantastic honey, thank you,” he greedily tucked into his food, and asked her get his beer. She rushed into the living room, picked up his beer, and brought it to him.
“Too many clothes,” he said bluntly.
“All that shit you’re wearing, take it off,” as per usual, she began dutifully undressing until she was naked.
“So what have you been doing today? This place looks like a bombs hit it.”
“No it doesn’t. I mean, it’s not that bad, is it?”
“Seriously if my mother saw this place, she’d say, son why are you living in this shit hole, with that lazy fat cow.”
“I’ve been busy, shops, school, park…”
“Who did you go with?”
“The kids.”
“Who else?”
“No one.”
“Yeah right! Do you think I’m some kind of idiot?”
“You seeing someone?”
“You’re lying,” he seethed.
“I’m not, I haven’t been…” He interrupted her by throwing his plate across the room. She cowered, as he grabbed her hair and stared menacingly into her eyes. He grabbed her bare breasts and dug his jagged nails into them, when she tried to pull away, he raised his fist.
“Ollie, please!” she cried hysterically, instinctively raising her arm to protect her face. He lowered his fist, and coldly asked her again who she had been fucking in the park, but she replied with the same answer. She wasn’t able to block him the second time, and his fist connected to her mouth. The second punch hit her eye, and the third one connected to her solar plexus causing her to fall to the floor, doubling up in excruciating pain. He pushed two dirty fingers inside her, and started thrusting.
“That feels so good, doesn’t it babe?” he laughed mockingly. She nodded fearfully. He wrapped his mouth around hers, and began kissing her as though he was trying to take the life out of her. His fingers thrusts became more powerful and painful. “I’m gonna fuck your brains out, and you’re going to love it.”
When he finished, he stood over her, semen dripping from his penis. “Who was better? Me or your fancy man.” She didn’t reply, so he booted her in her ribs and repeated his question.
“You,” she quivered, rolling up in a foetal position.
“I knew it!” He grabbed her up by her hair, and began dragging her around the kitchen, slapping her face whenever the urge took hold of him. Gary burst into primeval tears for want of food, drink, and especially comfort.
“Ssh, ssh,” whispered Chloe, in a petrified, sing-song voice. She struggled to pick him out of his cot.
“It’s okay Gary…Mary had a little lamb, little lamb…” She paused at the familiar sound of her mother falling into the kitchen table and having a chair smashed across her back. Her heart raced with fear, as Ollie’s foot steps became louder and louder.
“Open the door,” he sang. She hid them both under the duvet, and clasped her hand over Gary’s mouth. He banged his fist against the door, and tried to force it open, but failed.
“Next time,” he said coldly, then went to bed.
The dark glasses hid most of the bruising, although Kim need not have bothered, as everyone always avoided her. She knew the other school mothers referred to her as ‘that woman.’ And, ‘that woman’ was to be avoided at all costs.
“Lucy, Lucy!” Yelled her mother, dashing across the playground in her business suit and heels. “What on earth are you doing?” She grabbed her daughter’s hand, frogmarching her away from Chloe, and hissing very loudly that she was not allowed to play with that filthy child.

Gracie’s Cafe (a novel) p.12

Not wanting to stick her nose into their business, Gracie decided to keep quiet, however when she found herself alone in the kitchen with Peter, she had to ask him what he was doing here. Initially he looked rather taken aback, until he remembered their conversation in the cafe.
“It’s not what you think,” he said, going slightly red. She looked bemused, wondering what he thought she was thinking. “I met your sister when I was coming out of work, and she invited me over to dinner,” he said sheepishly.
“And yet you’re the one who ended up paying,” she playfully laughed, quickly apologised and headed into the bathroom. Her heart pounded, did she actually just flirt with her sister’s boyfriend? She spammed herself in the head, even she was falling for her mother’s lies. She took a deep breath and told herself that she was under a lot of stress from work, fear for Lisa’s future, and concerns about Christopher, so it wasn’t surprising that a handsome face made her go giddy for no particular reason. She felt queasy, it was all very well blaming everything on stress, but he was her mother’s boyfriend! Even though he was adamant that there was nothing between them, it seemed suspicious that he was always around, even though he apparently didn’t want to be.
“Peter,” shrilled Sandra, “get me a brandy please.”
“Mother!” Sandra gave her the evil eye, and Peter looked confused. “I meant Mother Mary it’s way too early for brandy.”
“I agree,” said Peter flatly.
“Don’t be silly,” she giggled, concealing the fact she would have some serious explaining to do later on. Gracie imagined them snuggling up under the duvet, confessing all their dark secrets. She glared at Peter, all quiet and unassuming, like they say, it’s always the quiet ones, wasn’t it?
“Where’s my brandy?”
“Just coming,” he sighed. Gracie put on her coat, and instructed Christopher to do the same. Fortunately this time he did as he was asked, without any drama. She said goodbye to her mother, and shouted a curt goodbye to sleaze bag Peter.
“Oh, she didn’t go because of me, did she?”
“Of course not,” purred Sandra, pushing her auburn curls behind her ears. He placed her drink in front of her an returned to his chair. “You look lonely over there,” she smiled.
“I’m fine.”
“The sofa is more comfy,” she said, patting the seat next to her.
“Actually I need to get home,” he said hastily, standing out of his seat.
“Why?” she stared deeply into his eyes.
“Um,” he felt his face go warm, and when he spoke again his voice was decidedly higher than usual. “I’ve got work to do.”
“All work and no play makes Peter a dull boy!” she teased, then to his horror, planted an unexpected kiss on his lips. He didn’t want to offend her by pushing her away, but her vice like grip meant that if he didn’t create some distance between them she’d soon get completely carried away.
“Sorry,” he muttered, desperately wanting to wipe his mouth. Sandra lovingly gazed into his eyes and began removing her top. “No, no!” He said in alarm.
“Ssh,” she smiled, standing before him in her black satin bra. “I’ve been with shy men before, it’s okay.”
“I’m not shy,” he retorted, got his jacket, and said a quick goodbye.
“Peter,” she pleaded, standing in the front doorway, for every passer by to ogle her cleavage. “Don’t go, sorry, I just got carried away.”
“It’s fine,” he said, and walked off. Gracie waited nervously to see her bank manager. She had only met him a couple of times, but he was always quite pleasant, she guessed that working with money all day was bound to make someone happy.
“Gracie Mills,” he called. She stood up from the pillar box red cube seat, and made herself known to him. He shook her hand, and led her to his office.
“So what can I do for you?’ he asked warmly, as though he were a grand philanthropist with millions at his disposal.
“I’d like to own a cafe.”
“Oh,” his tone cooled slightly. “Any cafe in particular?”
“The Tin Can cafe. The owner, my boss, is selling up.”
“Why what?”
“Why is he selling?” She thought about making something up, but like God, he was bound to find out. She gulped and told him about the cafe’s struggles. By the look on his face, she knew he was going to turn her down for a loan.
“I’m sorry Mrs Mills,” he said sympathetically, standing up to shake her hand.
“It’s Miss,” she choked, pulling her hand away before she became too emotional.

And Repeat

A young mum sat on her sofa, typing away on her computer, listening to the hum of traffic outside her living room window. She paused for a moment, and wonder what ever happened to Micky Wheeler, the drug dealer from the Albany estate? Did he die, did he end up in prison? Or did he turn his life around? She continued typing her poem, checked through it several times, before publishing it to her wordpress site, Lilly-la’s lyrics. She made herself a cup of tea, and a juice for her toddler, and spent the morning watching Cbeebies, followed by afternoon toddler group, a trip to Asda, mealtime, bath time, story time and bed. 

And repeat. 

Gracie’s Cafe p.11

“Congratulations,” she said stiffly, then stood up.
“You don’t have to go,” said Melana, eyeing Andrew as though they had more news to spring on her, and they didn’t disappoint. “We’re hiring new waitresses, and we were wondering…”
“No,” she said flatly. Andrew scoffed with laughter, but Melana looked concerned, and asked her why she wasn’t going to consider their job offer.
“For a start I don’t want to work for him…”
“But you want my money?” He interrupted.
“Ssh,” scolded Melana, intrigued to hear what else Gracie had to say.
“Plus I want my own cafe, not be some waitress.”
“I think you’re being over ambitious,” Melana said gently. “Running your own cafe is more than talking to customers and cleaning tables.”
“Come on Christopher, time to go home,” she snapped.
She knew asking them was going to be a long shot, but she didn’t think they were going to be so awkward. She knew her only other option was to get a loan from her bank, but with her credit history, she wasn’t exactly hopeful. Melana’s pregnancy news was met with gleeful cries of joy from her new admirers, it was like the school mums had never heard of someone being pregnant before.
“You’re so amazing!” Gushed one mum, and several others quickly agreed.
“Thank you,” she replied with dignity. “Next Tuesday evening I’m hosting a crotchet and knitting party, if any of you are free, don’t worry if you can’t knit or crotchet.”
“That’s a relief,” said one mum. “I’ll be there.”
“Same here,” replied a few others.
“Excellent, add me on Facebook, and I’ll PM you my address.” She waved at Christopher, who came running up to her, said goodbye to the other mums, and headed to the restaurant. Christopher was directed to the soft play kids corner, which a few other children were already occupying.
“If you need anything, just come and get me,” said Melana, and closed the safety gate behind her. Christopher found a quiet space away from the rowdy children, and began building a tower with large soft bricks, however pretty soon another child dive bombed into his creation, and Christopher started screaming.
“Bloody hell,” gasped the mother of the boy who had destroyed Christopher’s tower. “Where’s his mum?” Christopher started throwing the bricks, which caused the other parents to quickly remove their children for their own safety.
“God I wish that child would shut up,” muttered Andrew, not realising who it was.
“I better go see what’s wrong, it’s bad for business.”
“Yeah, tell the chavs to take their brat to McDonalds,” Gracie laughed, and promised she would sort the situation out. When she reached the soft play area she was horrified to see Christopher screaming his lungs out.
“Christopher!” she said in alarm. “what’s the matter?” His chest rose and fell rapidly as he tried to tell his step mother what was wrong, but he couldn’t get the words out.
“I was hoping for a quiet meal with my family,” said one lady.
“I’m very sorry,” said Melana, scooping Christopher up into her arms, “he’s normally a very good, quiet boy, I’ll go find his mother.”
“Yeah, and tell her to put him on medication,” snarled another customer. “Bloody ADHD brat.” Melana frowned at the man, as she took Christopher out of harms way.
“What happened?”
“My tower,” he quivered. “I was building it, and then a boy, who I don’t know, ran into me, hurt my shoulder and back, and knocked over my tower, and he didn’t say sorry.”
“What a nasty boy, I’ll make sure they never come here again,” she said sympathetically, hoping that would solve everything, and therefore she could return to the peace and quiet of her office.
“I want to go home,” he wailed. She did her best to console him, but when he started lashing out, she quickly picked up her phone and called Gracie. By the time Gracie answered, Melana had completely lost her cool.
“You need to get Christopher now,” she snapped.
“What’s happened?” Asked Gracie frantically.
“I’ve got a restaurant to run! I’m not a childminding service!”
“Excuse me? You offered to look after him today.”
“Well, get here as soon as you can.” Melana rang off, and closed her office door behind her, leaving Christopher to cry. She straightened her smoky grey pencil skirt, took a deep breath, and headed back into the restaurant to check on her diners.
“How is everything?” She smiled, as went from table to table.
“Good thanks.” Was the most typical response she received from satisfied customers. Andrew quietly asked her what was wrong with Christopher, she sighed and told him all about the tower.
“He made a fuss about that? Gracie spoils him way too much,” he snarled.
“I honestly thought he was going to say something more serious. Someone mentioned ADHD though,” she said quizzically. Andrew rolled his eyes and walked off, as far as he was concerned the only thing wrong with his son was the fact that he was never told off by Gracie.
“Where is he?” Cried Gracie, bursting through the doors. A few customers glanced at her dishevelled appearance, and assumed she was a local crack-head. Melana took her to her office, where Christopher was amusing himself by lining up pens.
“Sweetie,” she gushed, wrapping her arms around him, but he seemed unfazed by her presence.
“Does he always do that?”
“Do what?” She asked frostily, despising the analytical tone of Melana’s voice.
“Line things up?”
“He was building a tower, a boy knocked it over, and he went ballistic.”
“I’m sure you’re exaggerating.”
“No she isn’t,” interrupted Andrew the instant he entered the office.
“Someone suggested ADHD,” said Melana.
“Come on Chrissie, we need to get home,” said Gracie, ignoring what Melana had suggested. Melana let out a huge sigh, which Gracie automatically challenged. Andrew stood to his feet and came to his wife’s defence.
“No wonder he has so many behavioural problems – you’re confusing him,” he snarled.
“In what way?” She demanded.
“I did tell you to stop calling him Chrissie,” said Melana in a teacher-like voice. Gracie bit her lip, the last thing she wanted to do was swear in front of her impressionable son. She put on Christopher’s coat, took hold of his hand, but he dragged it away.
“I’m not finished,” he protested, pointing at the long line of pens. Andrew and Melana eyed each other to see how Gracie was going to handle the situation.
“Come on Chrissie,” she said gently, fully aware that they were judging her. It was so easy for them, all they had to do was bribe him with the promise of going to Thorpe Park, or London Zoo, and he would do whatever they wanted, however Gracie lived in the real world, and in the real world parents didn’t bribe their kids with outlandish gifts which cost a fortune. They might bribe with sweets, or extra internet time, but nothing more.
“Come on,” she said a little more firmly. Andrew rolled his eyes, and headed back to the front of house.
“Come on sweetie,” said Melana, getting down to his level, “Mummy needs to go home, be a good boy for mummy.”
“He is a good boy for me,” she snapped, feeling her temper slowly rise. “Come on Christopher.”
“Gently,” pleaded Melana. “Come on Christopher, let’s put those pens away, and get you home.” He nodded and helped his step mother tidy up the pens.Gracie was too upset to go home, so she went to her mum’s instead, however she was surprised to see Peter’s car in the driveway. Sharon passed her a cup of tea and a plate of chocolate biscuits.
“I don’t know how you put up with it?” She sighed.
“Neither do I,” finally the tears became too strong to control. Peter looked awkward, and made himself scarce in the kitchen. “They’re constantly nit-picking, they think parenting is so bloody easy, they’re in for a shock.”
“Melana’s pregnant.”
“Interesting,” she said gravely. Gracie wiped her cheeks with her sleeve, and asked what she meant by that. “Well the dynamics will change, won’t they? Once baby is born they might not want to have Christopher over so often.”
“Nah, that won’t change, if anything they’ll try and get custody of him,” as she bit into a biscuit, the crumbs fell into her lap.
“Sorry mummy,” said Christopher. She put the plate down and gave her son a big hug, and told him he had nothing to be sorry for.
“Does anyone fancy fish and chips?” asked Peter, clearly trying to be useful, they all agreed. Gracie stood up to get her purse, but he refused to take any money, saying it was his treat. They spent the evening watching Cars and eating fish and chips just like a cosy family.