"So tell me again," 'call me Ian' said for what seemed to be the hundredth time, "why are you not freaking out?"
"Look," I sighed loudly in annoyance, "I'd be more surprised or weirded out if my parents were nice to me." I rolled my eyes; if he asked me that question one more time, I would have to contemplate strangling him.
"Well okay, but seriously now," his voice changing from being incredulous to businesslike, "I'm going to have to ask you to come with me, so I can get you homed with someone nice."
I went wide-eyed. "No. I'm - I'm seventeen, I don't need foster parents. I can look after myself!" He evidently wasn't ready for my response, and I was NOT going down without a fight.
"I'm sorry Amelia-" I interrupted him.
"A-m-y," I said slowly, making each letter a syllable.
"Sorry, Amy, I don't create the rules, I just enforce them".
"Hah! So you're not a cold-blooded killer!" He rolled his eyes and took me by the arm.
Fine, I'd go with him; I'd demand to see who was in charge. I'd make a fuss, I'd make a scene - but perhaps that wouldn't be the wisest thing to do? Maybe if I had a paddy they wouldn't take me seriously and say that I was just a little girl that is uncapable of taking care of herself. But wait a minute, who were 'they'? Murderous foster carers? It seemed unlikely.
I got in the black sedan with him, keeping as silent as possible, going over what had just happened in my mind, as if it were stuck on replay. I'd remembered to lock the door - not that there was anything worth stealing. I mean, who'd want to steal a bookcase?
The journey to the government foster care building was a long one. I couldn't believe how far away we were going; suddenly the car veered off into the basement of what looked like a multi-storey car park.
"We're here," Ian whispered, breaking the silence. The car pulled to a halt, the hydrolics opening the doors before I could reach for the handle. I stepped out, looking about me, trying to take everything in. I gasped at the name of the place they had brought me to. That's when I realised that I had been tricked. Ian chuckled a little when he saw the look on my face. I glared at him which made him laugh even harder.
"Welcome - to - Mallinck," he gasped between each word.
"Okay, hand the little lassie over t'me, I'll make sure she get to see the boss," A tall, well-built man with an Irish lilt stepped out of the shadows. This man I had seen before; when I would gaze out of the window onto the street I would see him occasionally lance at the house, pace up and down and glance again.
I strode over to the tall man, arms folded, my shawl sliding slowly down my back, until I hoisted it back up onto my shoulders, clinging to it, hugging myself to keep warm.
"Come on then," I said, frustrated, cold and impatient. The word Mallinck, whatever it was, annoyed me. I'd heard or seen it somewhere before - but where..?
I was marched in through the sliding atuomatic doors, past the smiling secretary, trhough a set of double doors, down a narrow concrete corridor, until we reached an elevator.
"Going down!" The man couldn't help but snigger as the doors pinged open. We stepped through, and I wondered to myself how we could possibly go any further down; surely we weren't going underground? Apparently so. Every so often the man would glance at his watch, and seeing the floor numbers light up made him more anxious the further down we went.
I hummed a lullaby that I once learned to play on the piano, and he seemed to relax a little, until of course the doors sprang open and we stepped into a warm hallway lined on both sides with offices.
"Ah, Ben, just the man I was looking for," This man was going slightly silver on top and was dressed impeccably well, the boss, I assumed.
"Yes, sorry we're lat Sir, inquisitive one here," Ben nodded at me and I flushed crimson. This had been their plan all along - I didn't know what would happen next, and it made me nervous.