Chapter Twenty Nine
"Gabe? Can I talk to you?" Jordan perched on the end of the sofa, biting his lip nervously.
"Sure." Gabe muted the TV and looked over at Jordan. "What's up?"
"Well, Mrs Lawrence told us today about an exchange trip to America she's run for the past couple of years. She thinks I'd benefit from going, and she's said she'll put a word in for me with the board who decides who gets to go."
"Oh…" Gabe considered for a moment. "When is the trip?"
"January. We leave on the fifteenth… for six months." Gabe stared at him.
"A six month exchange?" Jordan nodded.
"Seven students come over here while we're over there. Mrs Lawrence… she says I should go." Jordan finished quietly.
"How much is it going to cost?"
"Three thousand pounds…" Jordan said tentatively. "And… and another thousand… as well…" he rubbed his ear awkwardly.
"Four thousand pounds?" Gabe gaped at him. "For an exchange? Jesus."
"I know it's a lot-" Jordan began quickly.
"It's alright." Gabe said, hiding his dismay. "I can get the money together before January."
"Mrs Lawrence knows our circumstances, and says we can pay it a week or so before I leave, instead of in November, so we've got some time to get some cash together." Gabe nodded and rubbed his eyes. He clambered to his feet and ruffled Jordan's hair. "I've got to go to work. Can you watch the kids?" Jordan nodded, and patted Gabe's hip awkwardly.
"Thanks." He said softly. Gabe smiled at him, ran upstairs to get changed, and slipped out the front door. He had a quick cup of coffee with Daisy, watching the patrons of the diner conversing quietly, before he walked out and headed towards his alley. One of his regulars was waiting impatiently for him when he arrived. Gabe was relieved to see it was a man he'd negotiated with before.
"'Bout time." The man grunted, starting to unbutton his jeans as soon as Gabe came round the corner.
"Hang on." Gabe stopped him quickly. "Remember that night at the abandoned pub, a couple of months ago?"
"I… I need some quick cash. Can you get some more of your friends together? Perhaps… not quite so many this time, though?" The man nodded shortly.
"Friday." Gabe nodded agreeably. "I'll come to the pub around eight. Same rules; no bareback, and I won't do drugs."
"Alright. Turn around." The man muttered impatiently.
Gabe wandered wearily home, his lower back aching dully. He'd made seventy five pounds… barely enough to cover the food bills for the week, never mind the mortgage payments and the water bill that was due. He unlocked the front door, slipped inside and bolted the lock firmly. He leant back against the door after he'd shut it, and sighed heavily. He had to start making more money… Somehow.
He wearily trudged up the stairs for a quick shower, looked in to make sure the kids were asleep, before going up to his attic room and collapsing on his bed.