“I’m not even going to ask,” Amelia said, shaking her head.
“Me neither,” said Carissa.
Emily just sat and watched. She glanced up behind Beth and smiled.
“Hi, Jack,” she said, smiling.
Beth felt Robert tense in her lap.
“Hi, Emily. Beth, can I talk to you for a minute?” he asked.
“Whatever you want to say can be said here,” she said, not turning around.
“Jack,” she warned.
He paused. “We want you to come home.”
“Well, I’m not coming. Mum completely destroyed any chance of that when she tried to slap me.”
“Did you get my letter?” he asked.
“We did.” Beth looked over her shoulder at her younger brother. “And you can leave us alone now, thank you.”
Beth turned back to her friends, who were glancing between the two siblings, confused and curious. After a second, Jack walked away.
“What was that about?” Amelia asked.
“I moved out.”
“But... where did you go?” Emily asked.
“I moved in with Robert.”
“Wow. Oh, Beth, what are you doing on Wednesday?”
“Nothing. Robert’s going away for the night so I’ll be on my own.”
“Why don’t you come to mine for the night? It’s been ages since we had a sleepover.”
“That sounds great.” Beth grinned.
Robert was leaning against the car at the end of the day, waiting for her. He grinned when he saw her coming towards him. She said goodbye to Emily, Amelia and Carissa and walked towards him, not returning the grin. He frowned, probably feeling her anger.
“What’s wrong?” he asked when she came closer.
“Nothing,” she snapped.
She climbed into the car and sat there, her arms crossed her chest. He got in beside her but didn’t start the car. She didn’t look at him, didn’t move. He moved to put his hand on her thigh but she slapped his hand away. He was obviously hurt but started the engine and pulled away.
He was trying to poke at her mind, she could feel it. She imagined herself building a brick wall with him on the other side. He frowned at her sideways. Had it worked? She didn’t want to ask him in case he took the opportunity to press questions.
When he pulled up outside the house, she got out and headed straight for the door. It was unlocked, thankfully; she would have looked like an idiot if it wasn’t. She dropped her bag with her shoes in the cupboard.
“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” Robert asked her as he shut the front door.
Beth ignored him as she strode into the kitchen. She could hear him sigh exasperatedly and run up the stairs. The door to the study slammed and the whole house shook slightly. Beth was surprised the door hadn’t shattered beneath a force like that.