Chapter Twenty Eight
Half an hour later, he and Bailey were outside the twin's school, waiting for their bus to arrive. Other children's parents were milling around the playground, exchanging gossip about their kids, the teachers, the falling standards of school inspections and every other idle topic they could decide upon. But each and every one of them carefully ignored Gabe, stood in the corner with Bailey. Gabe, used to the parents not-so-subtle glances and whispered comments, ignored them right back. But Bailey noticed, and frowned.
"What's wrong with them?" He asked.
"What, the parents?" Gabe said. He shrugged. "They don't think I should be raising the twins."
"Why not?" Bailey demanded.
"They just don't. It's not… normal." Bailey hissed angrily. Gabe laughed softly, and wrapped his arms around Bailey in an affectionate squeeze. "Thank you for caring. But it really doesn't matter. I'm the only person who's around to raise them, so I am. Who cares what they think?" Bailey sighed and nuzzled Gabe's shoulder gently.
"I don't know how you do it." He murmured.
"Sometimes I don't either." The coach rumbled slowly up the road and came to a halt outside the school gates. Children flooded off the bus, clutching their rucksacks and squealing loudly as they saw their parents. The driver clambered down and started hauling luggage from the bus. Bailey went to fetch the twins shared suitcase, while Rose and Liam scampered over to Gabe and threw themselves into his arms. "Did you have a good time? Did you see the lions and the monkeys at the zoo?"
"Yep. We saw them feeding the lions."
"And the monkeys had a swing in their cage. They were jumping all around it." Gabe swung Rose onto his shoulders, grasped Liam's hand and walked home with them, Bailey trailing behind with the suitcase. The twins chattered cheerfully about their trip to the zoo and the Imperial War Museum. Gabe promised to take them into town at the weekend and get the photos from their disposable cameras developed.
They all settled down to eat dinner when they got home with the twins. Phoebe and Jordan listened patiently to the twins re-telling everything they'd done. Bailey and Gabe talked quietly at the end of the table. Gabe was glad that, for once, everyone seemed happy and relaxed. No screaming, tears or tantrums… It was becoming quite a regular occurrence. Jordan left immediately after dinner to go and see Tracy, leaving Phoebe and Bailey to look after the twins while Gabe went to work.
"Gabe!" Daisy came out from behind the counter to hug him when he entered the diner. "You've not been in for days. I thought something had happened to you."
"I was away with Pheebs and Jordan." Gabe smiled and returned her hug. "We went up to Nottingham for a few days."
"How's the gorgeous boyfriend?"
"Still around. I've not scared him away yet." Gabe smirked. "He's really great, actually."
"Something to eat before you go out?" Daisy handed another customer a large chocolate muffin and a cup of coffee.
"No, thanks. I've just had dinner. I shouldn't be too late tonight." He shrugged off his long trench coat, hung it on the peg beside the door, and slipped out into the darkening evening.