Chapter TwentyMature

Chapter Twenty

“Are you okay?” I asked as we ate.
“Yes, for the hundredth time I'm fine. Danny's no different from a dozen other guys I've had to deal with. Though I should shove a heel in his eye for what he almost did,” Amber replied. Her mind imaging the scenario she just said. I shook my head at her and glanced across the hall. Danny wasn't anywhere to be seen. But Lewis was, he was sat on his own. Quinn was nearby, no doubt making side-comments.
“We are not moving to sit with psycho lonely boy,” Amber said, reading my thoughts.
“Fine,” I replied. At least I had Zack's promise to hold onto. When lunch ended I headed to Geography where Darren had clearly already heard the news.
“What am I going to do? I'll never find a good enough Joanne now,” he whined. I barely stopped laughing as I wrote my notes.

“Thanks. I think,” I said when I finished. Darren grumbled some more complaints before paying attention to the teacher. We both headed to philosophy but there was a big sign on the door saying cancelled.
“Go home early?” Derek suggested to the group. Kim and Darren both liked that idea. Kim probably wanted to go hang out with Anisha. Darren? He'd probably go read books or something.
“We can't. We're still training for the last football game of the season tonight,” James said.
“Bugger,” Derek muttered. They both headed for the gym and Amber took my hand.
“How about I take you for a proper date?” she suggested with a grin. I blushed at the idea and mumbled my agreement.
“Double-date?” Zack added making us laugh. I glanced at Nick to see if he wanted to go but his arms were already raised.

“I am not mentally fit enough to be the only single around two couple locking tongues. So I'll just go home,” he said with a laugh.
“Aww, but you might meet someone,” I pointed out.
“I think I'm good,” Nick replied. I smiled at him, guessing he was still holding out for the 'difficult' person. He waved good bye and left, the chains on his jeans clicking against each other in the silent corridor.
“I guess we could make it an official goodbye dinner as well?” Michael suggested. Amber paused next to me, unsure how I would react. Part of me was sad hearing the suggestion. But I was glad he though it up.
“Let's go then,” I said with a smile. We walked into the city centre and wandered the market. Me and Michael stopped to look at an art stand while the others wandered elsewhere.

“It all seems a bit unfair,” Michael murmured. He realised he'd said it out loud and covered his mouth.
“It's okay. You're right,” I said, he still sent me a sheepish look. “I guess I should've known it'd happened when my dad used the big 'promise' word,” I continued, making air quotations.
“Well, we only have sixth form college. Then there's university,” Michael said. I gave him a pointed look and we both laughed. Amber going to university was unlikely. But I couldn't deny finding his words helpful.
“I'd ask you to move in, but then you'd have to put with Evan ...” Michael said his name darkly. I remembered the guy I met at the restaurant and couldn't really blame him.
“Are things okay? I mean with the new home and everything?” I asked, still sketchy on the actual details regarding his parents. He shrugged, shoving his hands in his pockets uncomfortably. I flicked through some black and white photography, admiring how well the building and faces came out while he spoke.

“I guess. It's much better than our old one that's for sure. But Evan outright hates me and Jasmine mostly avoids me. Luckily she spends weekends with her mother. Evan has his own place, but he seems intent on always being around. I think he blames me just as much he blames his dad for the divorce,” Michael said, his voice worn out. “Sorry, I'm rambling a little,” he said with a nervous laugh.
“It's allowed. A lot's changed for you,” I replied with a shrug.
“Understatement,” he muttered back with a laugh.
“Let's go find the others,” I said, wanting to get rid of his mopey mood. I grabbed his hand and headed for the clothing stands where Amber most likely was.

The End

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