“I won’t go to the doctor.”
“Then you’re staying with me until it passes. Okay?”
“Come on then. Ring your mum.”
Beth pulled her phone out of her pocket and rang her mum as they got into the car and drove away.
“Hi, Mum,” she said, trying to disguise her next cough.
“Hello. What’s wrong?” her mother asked.
“Nothing,” she lied easily. “Is it okay if I stay at Alex’s for a few days?”
“As long as there’s no sex.”
“Mum! But, no, there won’t be. Catalin will be there, as well as Alex’s older brother.”
“Oh, okay then. Of course you can. I don’t mind you staying with Alex. Your father might though.”
“Don’t worry; I’ll have a word with him.”
“Thanks Mum. We’ll be there in a bit to get some clothes and things.”
“See you soon. Love you,” her mother said.
“Love you too,” Beth said.
She hung up and began to put her phone away.
“Wait,” Alex said. “Ring Cat.”
Beth found the number and rang it, holding it to her ear.
“Put it on speaker,” he told her.
She did so and held it out between them. After a few more rings, she answered.
“Beth? Are you okay?” Catalin asked on the other end.
“Catalin, it’s me,” Alex said.
Then he began speaking in Spanish. Beth heard her name in some of it. And then she heard Robert’s name. There was a slight shuffling as – Beth assumed – Cat handed the phone to Robert.
“Hello?” he said.
Alex was speaking in Spanish again. Beth was getting frustrated. She was counting the number of times she heard her name. Even with her years of Spanish, she’d never heard someone speak it in a casual conversation. It was faster than on the tapes they’d listened to in class. To her, words ran together. The only sentence she actually understood fully contained one word.
“¿Cómo?” Robert asked.
Whatever Alex has said, Robert obviously thought he’d misheard. Alex repeated what it was he’d said. Robert was silent for a moment.
“Bueno,” he said before the line went dead.
Beth dropped the phone into her lap and glared at Alex.
“You were talking about me,” she said irately.
Alex didn’t respond in any form. Beth crossed her arms and turned away. She wasn’t angry that he’d been talking about her. What she was angry about was the fact he’d done it in a language he knew she didn’t fully understand, and wasn’t going to tell her what they’d been talking about.
When they pulled up outside of Beth’s house, Beth had another coughing fit. Alex sighed but made no argument about taking her to a doctor. The two of them got out and made their way to Beth’s front door. She unlocked the door and the two of them entered the house.