Gabe woke late the next morning, and was annoyed to discover his alarm clock had been turned off. Checking the clock, he saw it was almost noon. Jumping out of bed, Gabe dressed quickly, fully expecting to find his siblings lounging around the house. To his surprise, when he entered the kitchen, he found a note from Jordan, telling him he'd taken the twins to school early, and he and Phoebe would be staying late after school to play rounders. Gabe frowned at the note for a moment, before he fetched his coat and headed out to Butterworth's Diner.
"What're you doing here?" Daisy asked him as he walked into the diner. Gabe shrugged.
"Nothing else to do. Not working until this evening." He slid onto a stool at the bar, wincing slightly as his lower back panged painfully, and looked over the menu. "I'll just have… the BBQ chicken baguette, with mayonnaise, a side of chips and… a coffee, please." Daisy bustled to fulfil his order, and placed it in front of him a few minutes later.
"£4.25, please, Gabe." Daisy said. "When you have it."
"I've got it now." Gabe fished in his pocket for change, when a low voice behind him interrupted.
"I'll pay for that." A crisp ten-pound note was placed on the counter before Gabe could react. He glanced over his shoulder and saw a girl, around nineteen, like himself, stood behind him. She shot him a dazzling white smile and tossed her long, wavy black hair over her shoulder. "Hi. I'm Angela Lee." She held out her hand for Gabe to shake. Gabe stared at it for a moment, before he turned towards Daisy, turning his back on the girl.
"I'll pay for my own food, thank you." He said coolly. Daisy moved a hand up to her mouth to cover her smirk.
"Well, if I sleep with you and pay you for it, would you accept my money then?" The girl asked. Gabe swivelled round to face her, fighting to keep a polite smile on his face.
"You're not my type." He said coldly, letting his eyes roam slowly over her body. The girl squirmed slightly under his penetrative gaze.
Gabe handed Daisy a five-pound note and proceeded to ignore the girl as he ate. After he'd finished, he chatted to Daisy for a while, before he bade her goodbye and left to pick up the twins. The girl, Angela, followed him as he walked down the street. Gabe kept his eye on her as he passed parked cars, glancing in their wing mirrors to see where she was. She was keeping her distance, but following him determinedly. When he reached his usual alley, Gabe ducked down it. He ran to the end, turned down the next alley, and the next, twisting and winding through the small streets until he re-emerged on the high street, close to the primary school. He'd lost the girl.
Gabe and Jordan were washing up after dinner that evening, when they heard the doorbell ring loudly.
"Gabe! There's a girl at the door for you!" Phoebe called him through to the hall.
"Can you finish the washing up for me, please?" Gabe kissed her head, went through to the hall, and stopped dead. "What're you doing here?" He hissed. He grabbed the girls arm and dragged her outside, shutting the front door firmly behind them.
"You didn't let me finish earlier." The girl smiled at him. "I've got a… proposition for you." Gabe scowled at her.
"Listen. I don't know who you are, and I don't care. But whatever you're offering, I'm not interested." He said firmly.
"You will be when I tell you what kind of money I'm offering." Angela said coyly. Gabe rolled his eyes.
"My family doesn't know what I do to put food on the table. I'd like the keep it that way. And to do that, you need to leave." Gabriel said firmly. "And don't come back." He turned to open the door, when the girl shouted after him.
"Five hundred pounds a day." Gabe paused, before he turned back to her.
"I'll give you five hundred pounds for every day you spend with me." Angela said.
"I need you to pretend to be my boyfriend." Angela explained. "You see, there's this guy I like, Bailey McIntyre. He never seems to notice me; he's my best friend, and I don't think he really sees me that way."
"How can my pretending to be your boyfriend change that?"
"Well, if I spend my time with you, and the rest of the time talking about how great you are, he might get jealous." Angela said hopefully.
"Can't you just ask one of your other friends?" Gabe asked wearily. "I get paid money for sex, not for pretending to have sex."
"I don't want to use a friend." Angela said. "He might tell Bailey. Or, he might start to like me himself. And judging from what I saw last night, you're not in any danger of doing that." Gabe shifted uncomfortably.
"You saw… last night?"
"I've been looking for someone to help me for a couple of weeks. I saw you about a week ago, and have been following you since. I wanted to see if you were a nice guy. Gangbangs aside, of course." Angela shrugged. "I picked you because… well, it seems like you could use some help." She glanced behind him at his run-down house, eyeing the front door, which needed painting, and the splintering window frames. Gabe scowled at her.
"How can you afford five hundred pounds a day?" He asked, changing the subject quickly.
"My dad's Richard Lee." Angela said. She looked affronted when he just looked at her blankly. "He invented SlimLine, the diet pill." Gabe nodded slowly.
"I think I've heard of that. You lose weight really fast, and then it somehow doesn't come back." Angela nodded.
"The first pill makes you drop the weight quickly, as motivation, and then you switch to the second pill, which you take for at least six months while you adjust your diet and exercise patterns." Gabe looked at her for a moment, before he sighed.
"How long do I have to be your boyfriend for?" Angela shrugged.
"Until Bailey gets jealous. Could be a couple of weeks, could be a couple of months." Gabriel thought for a moment.
"Alright." Gabe sighed reluctantly. "When do you want me to start?"
"Tomorrow. Here's my address." Angela handed him a slip of paper. "Come over in the afternoon, around three, and you can meet Bailey." Gabe nodded. "And go and buy yourself some new clothes. At least one nice suit, because I can think of at least one party I've got to attend in a week." She handed him several notes, which he counted quickly. He stared at her for a moment, before he shrugged and pocketed the money. "I'll reimburse you for everything." Angela told him. "If you take me to dinner, I'll pay you back, to the cinema, shopping, everything." Gabriel nodded amiably.
"I still have to look after my brothers and sisters." He said to her. "I have to take the twins to and from school, and I can't be out too long in the evenings." Angela nodded.
"Some nights, your brother can baby-sit, can't he?"
"Occasionally. But not too often." Gabe glanced back at the house, and saw Jordan was watching them from the dining room window. "I'd better go. I'll see you tomorrow, I guess." Angela nodded, and leant up to peck his lips, before she turned and walked away. Gabriel watched her leave, before he turned and went back inside the house.
"So, that's your mystery girl?" Jordan smirked at him when he went back into the kitchen. Gabe scowled at him and turned to finish putting the clean dishes away.
"What's it to you?"
"How did you get a girl like that?" Jordan asked. Gabe growled at him.
"What's that supposed to mean?" He asked indignantly.
"Well… look at you." Jordan grinned. "You're not… me." Gabe flung the wet dishtowel at him.
"You might need to pick the twins up from school tomorrow. I'm meeting Angela in the afternoon." Jordan rolled his eyes, but nodded without argument.