Lily's dad dropped me off at my house. My mum was sitting on the sofa and I could see the shiny trails on her cheeks.
“What happened?” I asked, sitting down next to her. She shook her head before burying it in his hands.
“Just another voice message is all,” she said. Acting like it was nothing. I felt my fists clench and my teeth grit together.
“He can't do that to you. Send a complaint to the police, mum!” She shook her head.
“It'll just make him angrier. He already threatens that he has enough backing to take you away from me if he wants,” She said quietly. She reached over and placed her hand over my fist until it unclenched.
“Right, because he actually wants me,” I muttered, wishing I could find and punch him. Give that pretty presenter face of his a black eye.
“Well, the message is deleted. So let's forget about him and get some decent sleep,” she suggested. Standing up and heading to her room. But it was near impossible to sleep. It had been months since he'd harassed mum, I thought maybe he'd finally backed off. Finally believed her when she told him she wouldn't tell anyone I was his illegitimate son. Because god forbid his perfect wife and set of kids found out he'd had an affair. When I was a baby he'd given us money to keep us going. But with the recession that stopped. We barely get by with what mum earns with her two jobs. I keep saying I'll get a weekend job but she refuses to let me. Wanting me to concentrate on my education. The guy didn't know anything about me. Probably doesn't even know what I look like. And he says he wants to take me in? Because that works with the whole keeping me a secret thing. Idiot.
I struggled with sleep, far too aware of my mum's sobs in the other room. My phone beeped and I looked at it to find a text from Derek. I wondered why he'd be texting me so late and looked.
Can I talk 2 U? Meet in the usual place?
I was half-tempted to text back that he should piss off. But I couldn't bring myself to be that cruel. Whatever it was I had a feeling it was serious. I pulled myself of the bed and got changed quickly. Outside it was drizzling but after Monday I didn't trust the weather in the slightest. With umbrella in hand I headed to the old park where we used to hang out when we were kids. It was actually where we first met. Things had been a heck of a lot more simple then. Derek was lying down on the rusting roundabout, his face looking at the stars. He hadn't even heard me approach and I really couldn't resist scaring him. I bent low and approached him. Then shook his knees suddenly.
“What the hell?!” He yelped, sitting up pretty fast. In time to see me fall back and roll on the grass in laughter.
“Mature,” He muttered.
“Not my fault you were oblivious to the world” I said, still struggling against the laughter. My stomach actually hurt from the force of it.
“You done yet?” he asked, a bored expression on his face as he watched me. I wiped a happy tear from one eye and sat there, my body shaking from silent giggles now.
“Yeah, what's up?” I asked, not moving from where I sat on the grass. Yes, my jeans would be wet tomorrow, but I didn't really care.
“You know Friday night? When we were meant to have that double date?” he said. I nodded, so this was about Amber. I really didn't want to hear him whine about her. I was far too biased and if I were a good friend I'd be able to push that aside. But I really, really can't.
“Well Amber said that she's fine with it being cancelled for paint balling. And I thought, oh, good. Then she says but it also cancels the plans for Friday night. Which confused the heck out of me because apparently she made further plans I didn't even know about. All I know is they won't happen now and it's bugging the hell out of me,” Derek groaned and finished his rant.
“She probably just made it up on the spot. Though I wouldn't put it past her to give out on the first date. Oh, wait, she already did that, right?” I was careful to level my sarcasm right as I spoke and not to sound too bothered.
“Woah, you need to back off and leave her alone. You make her out to be this horrible, bitchy person and she really isn't,” Derek said, defending her.
“I have evidence that says otherwise,” I muttered darkly to myself, but Derek had heard it.
“And what evidence is that?” he asked, his jaw set and determined. Didn't think that through. I can't tell him. Not after hearing Zack's story.
“Nevermind.” Derek jaw unclenched a little and now concern flooded his expression instead.
“Are you okay? You've been a little, well up and down these past few days,” He said.
“I'm fine,” I replied, crossing my arms and legs. I really didn't want to talk about the past few days because I have no clue where the flood of information would stop or if I'd say the wrong thing.
“That's an obvious lie,” he said with a snort. But when I didn't respond he shrugged his shoulder and left it alone.
“James had the wrong idea the other day. Me, Amber and some other kids have permission to skip class to do a practise exam, one for entry into one of the bigger sixth form colleges. If you get into one of these a university will never turn you away apparently. It's one tough test but I managed to get a passing percentage. Barely. But now I know I can do it. Isn't that great?” Derek said, that amazing smile crossing his face. It was always there now when Amber was around. It was nice I received one now and then. I was happy for him. I was, really. I wasn't thinking about facing sixth form college on my own. I'd probably have Lily and Kim, maybe Zack would be there too. Maybe it was better if me and Derek went to different sixth forms.
As the silence stretched I considered mentioning the calls then I remembered that Derek didn't know. By extension of my mum not talking, neither could I. Some kids weren't allowed to say swear words, I wasn't allowed to utter my birth fathers name. The story was that he'd died before I was even born and I knew nothing about him.
“So wait...” My mind finally caught up with what he said, “You two haven't-” Derek shook his head in response.
“Not yet, no. To be honest I don't think I want it to happen straight away. Ambers making this out to be serious. And in serious couples you wait, right?” he asked. He was panicking about waiting a few months. Try waiting for three damn years. I tried not to think too much on my own frustration as I answered.
“Well, if you think your ready for a serious relationship, then yeah. If not then you should tell her sooner rather than later,” I replied. He mulled this over in his head but still seemed unsure. My phone chimed that it was one in the morning and I had to go. I wanted to try and get some sleep. I waved my goodbye and walked away. Recalling how Zack had shoved my hand aside to hug me. I'd give anything for Derek to do something like that just once. Zack had smelled different from Derek though. Derek was very musky whereas Zack smelled lighter, like fresh cotton. I paused in my steps and shook my head. Because I realised I was comparing the two which was stupid. Not to mention unfair, Zack had the big advantage of actually being available. Derek...he was straight. I told myself that over and over. So why was I still hedging? What if Zack was another possibility I could pursue? Not that I had the faintest idea how to go about pursuing someone. And Zack hadn't given any indication that he was interesting. He'd just been nice to me. I shook my head again. I was too tired to think about such serious stuff. I walked through the front door, shutting it behind me quietly and collapsed onto my bed, not even bothering to get changed.