“And, by that time… Well, you know,” Cass blushed, unable to say how she felt. But I did know. After all, if I hadn’t fallen for Pete, then there wouldn’t be anybody for Cass to love.
I laughed as the sun emerged through the clouds, alighting on the translucent stain-glass windows of the church opposite us, gentle ruby shadows dripping onto the concrete below. Cass watched it, twirling the coke bottle round in the hands absent-mindedly, her large eyes unfocused but bliss-filled.
Finally Steven stopped ‘beating around the bush’, as it were, and got to the topic-on-hand that we had originally met up for.
“So tell me, mother: with my father dead will things start to get better?”
“Dead?! What happened?” Cass refocused with alarm.
“Nothing, don’t worry,” Steven shushed her, patronizingly.
I frowned. “I daresay there will be change. But it’s not for me to say if it’s for the better.”
“Of course,” Steve rolled his eyes, “that’s for fate to say.”
“I didn’t mean that, young man!”
“Well, someone wanted to get rid of the old bully, then –kerblam!- he’s dead-”
“I never said it was…murder. I just said that he got shot.”
“Hunting accident, was it? The old man wasn’t into that sort of thing, and don’t tell me he pursued a secret hobby.” Steven paused and took a long draught of his rapidly disappearing juice.
“I’ll get you another one, hey?” Cass pounced upon the glass as soon as it was set back down, empty. I smiled; I liked that girl, she knew when to be out of the way.
Once she was out of earshot, Steve turned to me.
“The police said that it’s murder, didn’t they? Don’t lie, because it’s pointless. Many people were out to get him, one just succeeded. It doesn’t take someone with no brain to put two and two together.”
“I… I don’t remember,” I muttered truthfully.
We sat in silence for a few seconds, glaring over the menus and condiments scattered in the middle of the table, before, finally, Steven opened his mouth again.
“Well, I still think it’s murder, mum, and I know you’re going to brush that aside-”
“I am brushing it aside.”
“Exactly. But, even though you refuse to believe the obvious, I will stick to my guns. Anyway, if him being gone makes you happy…”
“And it does,” I replied in the correct space.
“And as long as they keep their distance…”
“They will for sure,” I hoped this wasn’t going to turn into a song or poem.
“Then I am truly satisfied. Ah, dear old mum, who’d have thought it would turn out this way?”
And then Cass was back, and she had even brought me another coffee.
I thanked her from the bottom of my caring heart, and we chatted for the next hour before they both had to leave for their lectures. The sun shone even more brightly than as when I had arrived; it was the perfect end to a perfect day, and we might just be becoming the perfect family.
Little did I know, that was only the beginning.