Andrea couldn’t believe how awkward it was sitting beside the man she had, only minutes before, been talking about with jagged words. She kept her hands folded in her lap around the seat-belt. Lucas was hushed, though his eyes bounced over all the body of the car, reflecting back to her at the end of it all. It was painful.
As they trundled along, Andrea strained her mind. Please let there be any topic that might break the silence in a painless swipe. Yet, all she came back to was the dire situation of the missing car.
“What about that new number-plate, hey?” Andrea softly asked.
A smile curled on Lucas’ lips; it was nice to see that, even with morality in place, he was still enjoying himself. She hoped.
“It was an impulse buy.”
But Andrea didn’t like the word ‘impulse’. That implied a certain lack of control. From the grips of illness. Lucas’ illness.
However, she wasn't going to push it. It was stupid the amount of times that Andrea had tried to reach out to help him and he had pushed her away. She wasn’t going to make the number greater now, after he had used his OCD to break up with her.
Andrea silently fumed as she looked at her nails. They were chipped, uncared for whilst there was no one to be beautiful for.
She swallowed. “Have you been okay?”
“I’ve been better. The move has been…more stressful than I would have liked. I had trouble buying a house. I mean, I have one now, but shifting my odds and ends is going to be a nightmare. There’s so much still to do around teaching.”
Andrea nodded. She liked to think that he was saying ‘without you’ in his head. No. She resisted shaking her curls away from her face. She had to keep his wants in mind. If he wanted to leave, that was fine by her.
“You?” asked Lucas.
Andrea traced patterns in the window condensation as if childhood was a suitable escape from Alexia’s emotional blackmail and earlier quiet. She would come back to sense the next day. “I’m thinking of leaving Lansdale myself.”
“Why?” he exclaimed. It sounded instinctive and raw.
“Property, mostly. And I might find a job in the bigger clinic there. No openings yet, not even in cleaning staff, but I muscle on.”
Lucas pulled a face. Not at her, not even in her direction, but there was no mistaking his frown. Was he disgusted because she was falling to lower stakes whilst he had survived to higher?
“Lucas?” she whispered, throat dry.
His own voice was as quiet as an echo. “You deserve better.”
The cab screeched to a stop before she could truly indulge Lucas’ comment. The click of the handbrake drew her attention further, to where the driver was staring at them from behind the wheel.
“Lansdale Police Station. That’s £10.60,” he said gruffly.
In all her hurry, Andrea hadn’t thought to keep hold of her wallet. She scrabbled, feeling like an idiot.
Lucas already had two fivers in his hands. “I’ll pay. I can afford to.”
To whom was that statement really directed?