Reliving fate, p.22

Reliving Fate, page 22

 

Reliving Fate
 


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  "What's happened?" I ask, the blood draining from my face.

  Is it Mum or Livvy? Not my twin, please. Is Liv sick again?

  "Nothing has happened. I'm sorry I made you fear the worst."

  Sighing in relief, I sit at the end of the sofa and angle my body toward him. "Good. What did you want to talk about then?"

  "You finding a job."

  Oh.

  "All right," I reply, giving a nod. "I'll ask around in town."

  "Your mum and I have. There are jobs going at Ted's Diner, Another Chapter bookstore, and Bernie's DIY. If you're not going to university this year, you will work and contribute. You're eighteen, and we are only willing to financially support you and Olivia while you're in education."

  I shrug. "Yeah, seems fair."

  Dad takes a breath through his nose, and his jaw hardens.

  Ah, I see; this is to scare me into going to uni. He thought, when it came down to it, I would rather study than work. Now, he's not happy because I've agreed.

  On the coffee table is a pile of newspapers. The top one is open on the Careers page, so no doubt, the others are, too.

  He's thorough; I'll give him that.

  "I like the idea of the bookstore."

  There would be less people, and I know what books are. Ask me a question about DIY though...

  "I could get Livvy a discount on her course books."

  Dad's eyes darken, but he nods, trying not to give it away that he's hating the idea of me working. "I bet she would like that."

  She won't. She's just as nuts about me following her path as Mum and Dad are.

  "Well"--he clears his throat--"take those newspapers, and have a look, go online. Then, make a CV to take to the bookstore. If you need help with the CV, let me know. You want to make it professional and to the point as much as you can and tailor it slightly to each job you're applying for."

  Okay, I just forgot all that.

  Picking the newspapers up, I smile. "I'll get right on it."

  This is going to suck.

  I have enough in my savings account to survive for a while, but I should be earning. Besides, I don't think it's optional if I want to continue living here, and it's not like I have enough to move out.

  Dad reaches for the TV remote and focuses on that rather than me now that his plan has backfired. I don't want to piss him off even though I'm clearly very good at it, but I can't follow a path that he wants. What I do from here has to be for me.

  I sit on my bed and dig in my bag for my phone to message Rocco.

  Is women's fighting a thing? Dad wants me to get a job. I'm looking at them now.

  While I'm waiting for him to message back, I start to flick through the Careers page. My phone beeps seconds later.

  Two words: Pole dancer.

  I roll my eyes at his obvious reply. Honestly, you would think he'd at least try to be more original.

  Already had an interview for that, but the guy's dick tasted rank.

  NOT AT ALL FUCKING FUNNY!

  Why, why, why are we having this conversation through WhatsApp? I really want to see his face right now.

  You started it. Hey, when you look at me, do you see Head Chef?

  Can you cook?

  Not really. That's why we usually get pizza or go out.

  Be prepared for rejection.

  Once I've finished messaging Rocco, I head downstairs because I can hear Catfish on TV. We all love that show, even Dad. Mum and Livvy are home now, sitting on the sofa with Dad. I drop down on the single seat near it.

  The girl on the screen has been talking to this dude for five years, and he makes excuses every time she asks to meet.

  You're obviously being catfished, you moron!

  I'm sorry, but anyone who talks to someone on a computer for five years can also work a web chat.

  Livvy glances at me and gives me a fleeting smile. My phone beeps, and she looks at it like it's a discarded bag in an airport.

  "You okay, Liv?"

  "Mmhmm." Her eyebrows rise with interest. "Who's texting you?"

  Translation one: I didn't know you had friends. Translation two: Who are you shagging?

  "A friend," I reply.

  "Oh, yeah?" Mum says, suddenly interested.

  This gets Dad's attention, too, and I know the game is up. They'll never believe I'm constantly texting a friend. Firstly, I don't like talking to people at the best of times, and secondly, I don't really have friends.

  Bugger.

  "Who is he then?" Dad asks.

  His back has straightened, and he looks ready to tear Rocco apart. He'll be even more ready when he meets him. Rocco's physique is a billion miles away from Harry's scrawny body. And Rocco's older.

  They don't like me and Livvy knowing people who they've not met. Celia was killed by a stranger. Possibly not a stranger to Celia though if I'm right about Hugo.

  "He's no one."

  "Isabella," Dad warns.

  I roll my eyes. Pretending is not going to get me anywhere. "Fine. His name is Rocco."

  "Rocco," Mum repeats.

  I know she's picturing either a tattooed biker or a coke addict. If I didn't care about things working with Rocco, I'd indulge in that a little.

  "Yes."

  "Well, what's his surname, how old is he, where does he live, and what does he do for a living?" Dad asks, sitting up even more. Any further, and he'll go straight over and face-plant on the floor.

  "Twenty-two. Not too far away." And I don't know his damn surname!

  And I say what to the career question? Illegal street fighter isn't going to cut it here even if he is undefeated.

  "Do you have a picture?" Livvy asks.

  Oh, I have many. Most of them are in my Photo Vault app, never to be seen by anyone else. I bite my lip. Since our first flirty sext, Rocco sent me a few naked pictures, too.

  "Sure," I say.

  They can see a safe one from the regular photo album. I get up a recent one of me and him together. He's really not into having pictures taken, not that I let that stop me, but on this one, he's smiling and holding me close. Makes a nice change to me catching his middle finger.

  "Whoa," Livvy says. Her eyebrows shoot up, and her eyes widen.

  I'm not sure if I should be insulted or not. Did she think the best I could do was an ogre?

  "Bells, he's well nice."

  "Yep," I reply.

  I'm very aware of Rocco's good looks and the muscles on that body that'd make Hercules weep.

  I'm such a lucky bitch.

  "Hand it over," Mum says, eagerly reaching out for the phone. Her fingers wriggle impatiently, as she is desperate to see the guy her daughter is shagging.

  I won't bring up that part.

  Dad's mouth is pressed into a grim line. This is hard for him.

  He gave that look to Celia when she kept going out, giving them lies in response to, "Where are you going?" and constantly stressing them.

  I hate that I'm doing the same thing. They'll understand when this is all over though.

  "He looks very nice, Bella. When can we meet him?" she asks.

  I go to laugh but catch myself before. How about never?

  "We're really not at the meeting-each-other's-family stage, Mum."

  Dad scowls. "Isabella, if you are seeing someone, we want to know who it is. All I know about this person is that he's four years older than you." He said person like it's a dirty word.

  Dad instantly hates boys. There's no first chance with him. They have to win him over so that he'll give them a second one.

  He also knows Rocco's name, too. I don't bring it up because it'd be a dick move, and it would only aggravate him.

  "Your dad's right," Mum says, siding with him. "Is there a particular reason you don't want us to meet him? Or does he not want to meet us?"

  I look to Livvy to help.

  "We haven't discussed meeting anyone yet; that's all. It's still in the early days."

  Not that it means anything to
my parents.

  "We're not going to become emotionally involved in your relationship, Isabella. If you two don't work out, it won't be a problem here," Dad says.

  "Yeah, thanks."

  "That's not how I meant it, and you know it."

  I know they would hate to see me upset, but, bloody hell, he could've put it a little better.

  "If you're going to be leaving this house to see him, we need to meet him." Dad uses his no-nonsense tone.

  His dark eyebrows knit together, and his jaw clenches. He looks like a strict head teacher, and I feel like a misbehaving student.

  I haven't even done anything wrong!

  "Fine," I concede. "I'll see if he can come over sometime."

  "Tomorrow. You'll invite him for lunch tomorrow," Dad demands.

  This is why I don't like authority. Except when I'm all needy and Rocco is ordering me around. Then, I like it a lot.

  Livvy gives me a sympathetic smile. "I'll invite Harry, too. I'm sure they'll get along."

  Yeah, she really doesn't know Rocco.

  "Sounds good," I reply.

  In reality, nothing has ever sounded worse. I am intrigued though. I wonder what his reaction is going to be when I tell him that he's coming over for lunch. It's almost worth it.

  "I'm going to my room," I say in defeat.

  "Make sure you call him!" Dad shouts when I'm halfway up the stairs.

  I don't bother to reply. There is nothing nice I want to say right now.

  I dial Rocco's number and sit on my bed. My door is shut, and I flick the TV on just in case one of them decides to listen in.

  "Hey," he says gruffly, answering just before it went through to voice mail.

  "My parents want you to come to lunch tomorrow."

  Better to rip the plaster off.

  "What? Bella, what the fuck?"

  I can see how he was taken off guard, but he's usually a bit more together, even with surprises.

  He's going to say no.

  I mean, I want him to decline, but my parents are not going to like it. I'm too tired for that argument today.

  I groan. "They kept asking who was texting me."

  "And you told them?"

  "I tried to lie! They guessed."

  "And, now, they want to meet."

  "Pretty much," I say, chewing on my lip.

  "Fuck's sake. Fine!"

  I wish I were there to see his grumpy face. I love it when he gets like that. I love it more just after--when he pounces and we have pissed off sex.

  "Come over now," he demands.

  His voice is rougher than usual and does things to my insides that makes me wish I were already there.

  "You're not off, being busy and important?" I tease, meaning bloody street fighting.

  That's the one thing I hate about him. He can be cocky and sure of himself when it comes to winning, but there are no guarantees. One bad punch, and it's all over. He could lose more than his pride.

  I can't lose him.

  "Just hurry the fuck up." He hangs up.

  I laugh. Such a smooth talker.

  Someone knocks on my door and opens it before I have a chance to say anything. I could have been changing in here.

  "Hey," Livvy says. "Can I come in?"

  "You're already in."

  Rolling her eyes, she walks across the floor and sits on my bed. "You okay?"

  "Yeah, I'm good. Dad's going to make tomorrow real awkward, isn't he?"

  "Oh, yes. Remember how he questioned Harry?"

  I do remember. That was a fun evening. Completely different now that I'll be the one going through it. I did not have nearly enough compassion for Livvy that day.

  "Perfect," I mutter sarcastically.

  "Are you worried that Rocco can't handle it?"

  I do laugh at that. There's not much he can't handle, if anything.

  "Nope. He'll be fine. He doesn't scare easy."

  The guy voluntarily enters into fights where the only rule is no weapons. I can't see a middle-aged couple making him quiver.

  "Well, that's good then. If you get anything from tomorrow, Bella, it'll be the knowledge that he really wants to be with you. If a guy can make it through the first meeting with Dad and then still wants to be around, you know it's love."

  I already know that.

  "I'm going to need a lot of wine," I say, bending my head and groaning into my hands.

  "Have you called him yet?"

  "Yep." Sitting up straight, I smirk. "I've never seen him flustered before."

  "I can't believe you never told me about him. How long have you been together?"

  "A few months."

  I'm not going to address the first part of that. Why would I have told her? We're not close. It's not worth going there though.

  Livvy claps. "What's he like?"

  "Intense," I reply with a smile.

  "What else?"

  Sighing, I look up and wonder why the fuck I didn't think of a decent lie. "You'll find out for yourself tomorrow."

  Shit.

  THIRTY-FOUR

  * * *

  ROCCO

  I've never met the parents before, and I don't particularly want to now. They're not going to approve of their eighteen-year-old daughter being with the twenty-two-year-old fuckup from the dodgy side of town.

  It's a good thing I don't give a shit about what anyone thinks.

  "You look nervous," Bella says as we walk along the path to her house.

  Yeah, well, I feel like I'm walking the plank.

  But I can't tell her that.

  "I'm not."

  If her parents hate me, it's no skin off my nose. Bella isn't the type of girl to ditch someone because of another person's opinion, so I have nothing to worry about there. Right? I need to believe that.

  "Okay, okay."

  "Are you going to knock on your own door?" I ask.

  She looks up at the fuck-off huge solid wooden door.

  "Bella, are you nervous?"

  "Fuck off, Rocco," she snaps, reaching into her bag for the key.

  "No, wait." I grip her wrist before she can open the door. "Why are you still worried about this? If they hate me, will it change anything for you?"

  "No," she replies.

  "Then, where's the problem?"

  "Nowhere," she replies.

  Fuck.

  Every time we have these stupid arguments, I want to bang her brains out and strangle her at the same time.

  "Isabella, tell me."

  "Ooh, you pulled out the full name." She rolls her eyes. "Fine. Not only is it a big step, but it's also a first for me. Livvy has her long-term dickhead boyfriend, and I've never brought anyone home before."

  "Why is her boyfriend a dickhead again?"

  "Ah, you will see soon enough. Let's get this over with. I'm staying at yours tonight." She sounds sure, but she looks bloody terrified.

  Tugging on my hoodie, she pulls me in close.

  "You know you're welcome to sleep with me anytime."

  "Don't you mean, stay with me?"

  "No," I say, shaking my head. "No, I really don't think I do."

  "Your brain is in your penis."

  She lets me go, and I take a breath.

  Showtime.

  Bella unlocks her front door. A door that is attached to an impressive house. She said her family lived in a modest home, not some mansion. Or mansion to me. My whole flat is about one-twentieth of the size of this.

  Taking a deep breath, she shoves the door open and tugs me into a grand entrance hall, which actually is the fucking size of my flat.

  Jesus.

  Maybe they're not rich, but they're certainly not living month to month.

  "Mum, Dad," Bella calls out.

  I wasn't stressing about this meeting because I knew it wouldn't matter to her whether they liked me or not, but I fucking am now. I don't have a steady job, and what I do for money is hardly going to be welcomed by her family.

  Four of them slide aroun
d the corner from what I assume is the kitchen since it has tiled flooring.

  Bella is an almost perfect mix of her parents, but I can see more of her mum. Her sister obviously looks similar, but there's no mistaking the differences between the twins--and the fact that I've got the pretty one. The guy behind Livvy must be Harry, the dickhead boyfriend, who Bella hates.

  "Rocco, these are my parents, Karl and Erin. That's Livvy and her boyfriend, Harry."

  Her dad looks me up and down, his expression hard.

  Her mum is much more welcoming. "It's lovely to finally meet you, Rocco. We've heard so much...and it's all good, I promise."

  Yeah, Bella's not likely to tell you the bad.

  "Good to meet you, too."

  She's told me the bare minimum about you.

  Livvy steps closer. "Thanks for coming, Rocco. I wasn't sure if Bells would share you with us when we asked."

  Bells?

  "Are we going to stand in the hallway all afternoon?" Bella asks sarcastically.

  I see why she's got a reputation as the difficult twin.

  Erin's mouth thins, but she moves back. "Come through. I'll put the kettle on. Would you like a tea or coffee, Rocco?"

  "Or something cold?" Livvy adds.

  I don't know her, but she seems too nice. I don't like too nice. I like Bella and her bratty mouth.

  "He likes coffee," Bella answers for me. "Rocco, sit." She tugs me to one of the eight stools around a long granite breakfast bar. It looks like it has flecks of gold melted into it.

  "You cool?" I ask her, keeping my voice low so that no one else can hear.

  She gives me a side-glance that screams, Fuck off.

  Not sure what I've done, but I'm enjoying it. I love her when she's mad.

  "So...Rocco," Karl says, trying my name like he's not sure it's even a real word, "what do you do for work?"

  Illegal fighting and the occasional car theft.

  "I work at a friend's garage."

  Out of the corner of my eye, I see Bella raise her eyebrow.

  What did she expect me to say?

  "Ah, I might have to get you to look at my car--"

  "Really, Dad!" Bella cries.

  "It's fine, Bells," I reply, purposefully goading her by using the nickname Livvy called her.

  It works. Her eyes turn cold as steel, and I hold back a laugh.

  Karl continues his list of questions, "Where do you live, Rocco?"

  "Baker Street."

  He and Erin exchange a look that I know all-too well from telling an outsider where I live. I've managed to screw this up in less than five minutes. I'll never be good enough for their daughter.

  "It's a nice place, Dad," Bella says, seeing her father's disapproval. "It's right between a brothel and a crack den."

  What the fuck?

  Coughing on a dry throat, I open my mouth to protest, but I don't really know what to say.

 
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