cheeks burn, Tommy shuffled further away from Sophia.
Sophia sighed loudly: Jonathan was a pain in the arse. He followed Tommy around like
a bad smell. Sophia wished he would get some friends of his own.
Jonathan took a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a lighter from his jacket pocket and lit up a bent cigarette.
“You’ll get caught if you do that out here,” Tommy said, worried that their mum and dad would then think that he was smoking too. Or even worse, that Sophia had been smoking. Knowing his mum, she would probably ban her from the house if she thought that Sophia was a bad influence.
“Where’s Rascal?” Tommy asked, hoping that Jonathan would go off and look for him.
“At the back of the garden; he was sniffing out a rabbit hole or something when I left him.” Jonathan breathed in smoke. “Want a puff, Red?”
He had caught Sophia glaring at him, enjoying the fact that his presence was winding her up and knowing she hated it when he referred to her by the colour of her hair.
Sophia shook her head. She had tried to tell Tommy a couple of times about the expression on his twin’s face on the day that Tommy had nearly drowned; it had almost been as if he had enjoyed seeing Tommy’s seemingly lifeless body lying there. Sophia couldn’t understand how someone as kind and lovely as Tommy could be related to someone as weird and cold as Jonathan.
“Have you asked her about the party yet?” Jonathan asked, betting that his brother wouldn’t have plucked up the courage.
“What party?” Sophia asked Tommy.
Tommy gave his brother an annoyed look. He had wanted to tell Sophia how he felt about her first, and then he was going to mention the party. Jonathan had ruined his plan.
“Well, it’s up to you, Sophia,” Tommy said shyly, “but my mum said we can have a party for our sixteenth. And when she found out that your birthday is in a few days’ time she said we should move it forward to make it a party for all three of us. She’s got this crazy idea in her head that it would be a great way of thanking you for what you did for me, she said what with your dad being ill and all that...”
Tommy went red as he spoke: Sophia would probably think that it was a stupid idea.
“A party?” she asked.
“We could get some of the kids from school over: you can invite whoever you want... Mum said that she and Dad would go out for the evening. She must really want to thank you, because from the way she was talking she sounds like she wants to pull out all the stops.”
A big smile spread across Sophia’s pretty face.
“That would be amazing,” Sophia said as she placed her hand on top of Tommy’s and squeezed it tightly.
“She’s been acting like you’re royalty or something, Sophia. But whatever, it sounds like the perfect opportunity to get off our tits on cider,” Jonathan added. As he watched the lovey-dovey exchange, he felt a twang as he recognised the bond they had.
Light spilt out on to the grass, and they looked in that direction to see Stanley standing in the kitchen doorway.
“Sophia, I’ve just called a taxi. Your nan is a bit drunk, love,” Stanley said, as he held Nessa upright while she giggled like a young girl. He regretted insisting she knock back three large shots of Limoncello now that she could barely walk.
“Oh, Nan.” Sophia laughed, before standing up and calling for Rascal. As he was normally so well-behaved, she was surprised when he didn’t come at her first call.
“Rascal?” Sophia called again, with Tommy following suit. “Rascal, here boy,” he called.
“He’s probably gone down that rabbit hole, knowing him,” Sophia said, as she made her way to the back of the garden, thinking that it was typical that her nan was drunk and Rascal playing truant on the one night she had wanted to make a good impression.
“Rascal, darling,” Nessa called, as she staggered onto the patio, almost tripping. “Rascal, come on my little babby,
Parents' Guide to the Middle School Years
Raymond E. Feist, Joel Rosenberg