After dropping the twins off at school the next morning, Gabriel quickly did the housework, washed two loads of laundry and even found some time to pull the lawn mower out of the cellar and cut the front lawn. Promising himself he'd do the back lawn when he got in, he changed quickly, and wandered into town to meet Angela. He found the coffee shop and went inside. After looking up at the large menu boards for a moment, he finally just ordered a black coffee and a pain au chocolat. He found a table in the corner and settled down to eat the pastry, waiting for his coffee to be brought to him.
Angela entered the shop a few minutes later. She smiled at him, quickly ordered a tea and a cream cake and came to sit with him. She pecked his cheek lightly and slid into the seat opposite him.
"You didn't call last night." She chided him gently.
"I was busy." He muttered. "I had to have a talk with Jordan…" He shivered, remembering the man in the shop. He was still sore. He remembered suddenly what Bailey had told him yesterday. "Listen, Angela… I have to talk to you about something."
"Oh?" He accepted his coffee from the waitress with a word of thanks and sipped it for a moment.
"I… talk to Bailey yesterday, after I left you, and… I don't think this is going to work." He said slowly.
"Why not?" Angela sipped her tea and frowned at him.
"Well, I… he told me something. And I don't think it's going to work."
"What would he tell you that he wouldn't tell me?" Angela asked sceptically.
"It's not my place to tell you." Gabriel said. "I really don't think this will work." He said, growing desperate. "Please just talk to him. He'll… probably explain everything." Angela shook her head slowly.
"I don't think there would be anything Bailey would tell you but not me." She said. "We'll continue our arrangement." Gabe stared at her helplessly for a moment, before nodded weakly.
"Please talk to him, though." Angela nodded, and finished her cake.
"So, how exactly did you… get into your line of work?" She asked curiously. Gabe shrugged, swirling the remnants of his coffee in his mug.
"My mum died when I was fifteen… she left me with four younger siblings to look after. I went looking for work. One day, I went to Butterworth's Diner, where you met me, and asked Daisy for a job. She didn't have any shifts going then. On my way home, and guy pulled me into the alley and… you know…" Gabe flinched at the memories. "He gave me fifty quid afterwards. The next day I went back again, and he paid me again. The next week he brought a friend, and… I gradually built up a bit of a client-base."
"Didn't your mother leave you any financial help?" Angela asked. Gabe shook her head.
"She was a cocaine addict. All of our fathers left. I was the only one who could provide for us all."
"Is not Jordan old enough to work now? He looked old enough."
"He's fifteen…" Gabe shrugged. "He talked about becoming a mechanic, so he might work at his girlfriend's father's workshop after he finishes school."
"What about the others? How old are they?"
"Phoebe's thirteen. She has talked about being a vet, but I don't know about that. She's always preferred history and geography to the sciences. Liam and Rose are twins. They're six… they both want to be astronauts, or something." He smiled. Angela laughed.
"What about you? After they don't need you anymore, what will you do?" Gabriel shrugged.
"No idea… I don't even have GCSE's. I suppose I could try to get into a college somewhere, and get some qualifications. What about you?"
"I think I'd like to become a teacher. I love kids."
"You'll love them until you've got thirty of them to control." Gabe smirked. "Primary or secondary school?"
"Primary." She smiled. "I know! Why don't you bring your family to my place for dinner tonight? We can all get to know each other." Gabe looked at her for a moment, before he shrugged and nodded slowly.
"I guess I can… What should they wear?" Angela shrugged.
"Smart-casual." She replied. "We're pretty informal in our house, but dad sometimes likes to see us looking prim and proper." Gabriel nodded, and hid a sigh. He'd have to buy Phoebe and the twins something to wear.
He and Angela stayed in the coffee shop for another hour or so, before Gabe excused himself to go and pick up the twins from school. He went back into town with them, found a telephone box and rang Phoebe and Jordan's school, asking that a message be given to them to meet him in town when school finished.
"Where're we going, Gabe?" Rose asked, slipping her hand into his.
"Someone's asked us to their house for dinner tonight. So we need to get you some clothes to wear." They met Phoebe and Jordan at the bus station, and wander up towards one of the larger clothing shops. Liam, Rose and Phoebe eagerly pulled outfit after outfit from the racks, trying them on, discarding them and searching for something else instead. Gabe liked the first thing he tried on and put it in the basket to buy, and then proceeded to have an argument with Jordan that nearly erupted into a full-blown shouting matching in the middle of the shop. Seeing a couple of shop assistants nearby, looking like they were about to call security to have them removed, Gabe spoke sharply to Jordan and left before his brother could reply.
"How're you doing, Rose?" He wandered over to the girl's changing room.
"Almost done." He heard her little voice reply. He waited a couple of minutes for her to come out. "Can you zip me up?" She tottered out of the changing rooms. He zipped the back of her dress and turned her around to look at her.
"You look pretty, Rosie." He smiled. She had chosen a light pink dress, a pair of pink and white pumps, and a white headband for her hair. "Do you like it?" She nodded. "Alright. Go and get dressed, and put your things in the basket." He went to check on Liam, and found his brother waiting for him, wearing a green polo shirt and black jeans.
"Is this okay?" He asked, plucking the shirt. Gabe nodded, waited for Liam to change and folded his clothes neatly in the basket. Phoebe had already tried on her outfit, and gave it to Gabe as soon as she found him. They waited for Jordan to finish in the changing rooms. He finally came out with a pair of dark trousers and a red button-up shirt. Scowling at Gabe, he put the things in the basket and went to wait outside the shop. Rolling his eyes, Gabriel quickly paid for the clothes.
Once they got home, Gabe gave each of them their clothes and let them fight amongst each other over who would get the bathroom first. Gabriel went out and finished mowing the back lawn, glad for some peace and quiet. He had no idea why Jordan kept acting out, but it was beginning to get on his nerves. He'd always given the kids a lot of free rein, to join whichever school clubs they wanted, to come and go almost as they pleased, to be friends with whoever they liked, even if he disapproved. But recently, it seemed like he couldn't please Jordan, no matter what he did.
Finishing the lawn, Gabriel dragged the lawnmower back down to the cellar. Going back upstairs, he saw Liam and Rose settled on the sofa, already dressed and ready, watching Bambi. Phoebe was in her room, applying some make-up. Gabe opened her mouth to protest she didn't need any, before decided better than to argue with her. Jordan came out of the bathroom, passed Gabe, completely ignored him, went into his room, and slammed the door shut. Biting back a growl of frustration, Gabe went into the bathroom. He took a quick shower, cold, because there was no hot water left, and quickly dressed in his new outfit. He went down and joined the twins on the sofa. After a while, Jordan and Phoebe joined them. Gabe glanced at his watch.
"So, where are we going tonight?" Jordan asked, folding his arms and glaring at the floor.
"Angela's house. She asked us over for dinner."
"Who's Angela?" Liam asked.
"She's my girlfriend." Gabe replied. Jordan snorted, but didn't say anything. Gabe shot him a look. Liam made a face.
"So, are you going to be all moody like Jordan now you have a girlfriend?" Rose asked. Gabriel laughed at Jordan's expression.
"No, Rosie." He said affectionately. They all looked around at a knock on the front door. Gabe went to answer it, wondering who it could be. A neatly dressed man was on the doorstep, a peaked black hat under his arm.
"Miss Angela sent a car for you." The man said after Gabriel opened the door. "I'm Hopkins, sir." Gabe blinked in surprise.
"Oh… thanks. Hang on a moment." He called the kids and ushered them out of the door, grabbing each of their jackets and thrusting them at the kids. "Come on." A large black car was waiting at the end of the garden path. Gabe let the kids clamber in, before sliding in himself. The car purred off down the road almost noiselessly. Rose clambered up onto Jordan's lap and looked out of the window, humming happily to herself.
"Where does Angela live?" Phoebe asked, not recognising any of the roads they were driving along.
"On the other side of town. Near the golf club."
"Bit posh." Phoebe mumbled. Gabe laughed and ruffled her hair affectionately. "Gabe!" She whined. "That took me ages."
"It's just in a ponytail." Gabriel replied, smirking as she undid her hair and retied it. She stuck her tongue out at him.
"Well, Angela's the first girlfriend you've ever had, so you must like her a lot. I just want to look nice." Gabriel smiled at her, surprised.
"You look pretty, Pheebs." The car drove through the large gates leading to Angela's estate, and rolled up the gravel driveway. Liam and Rose gasped as the house came into view. The chauffer drew the car up to the front porch, waited until they'd all climbed out, and drove off again. "Come on."