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The damp air coming off of the large lake to the south, and the warm air rolling off the hills to the north collided to create weather conditions that were almost permanently damp, dull and grey.
Flinton¶s two newest residents, sheltering in the laundry room of the block of flats, that would be their new residence, didn¶t know this. They had arrived in town the day before, and, after a horrendous night in an overpriced and dingy motel room, were waiting for the landlord of the incredibly cheap flat the red head had seen advertised for rent in the local newspaper. The silence between them was broken by the green skinned girl. ³I don¶t like it here Lysa, it¶s too quiet. Why can¶t we try some place else? Try another town?´ Complained Rosalind as she hugged herself.
Lysander turned away from the window he had been looking out of, hoping to catch a glimpse of the landlord. For a minute he was confused. Quiet? Outside he could clearly hear the sound of cars on wet asphalt, punctuated by sirens and shouting as the residents of this part of Flinton went about their daily business. The place was anything but quiet. Suddenly it dawned on him, that Rosa wasn¶t talking about the sounds of city life, she was talking about the lack of animals and birds.
He sighed. ³Rosa, you know why. We have less than §200 to our name. We need to earn some money, before we can move on again.´
Rosa shuffled forward on her perch and started kicking her heels against the machine she was sitting on. ³But why here? Can¶t we try the next town?´ Her voice was pleading as she asked.
Lys shook his head and explained as patiently as he could. ³The motel room yesterday has pushed us to the limit. If we carry on travelling, we won¶t have enough money to rent a room anywhere. This place is cheap, and there are job vacancies advertised everywhere. I¶ll go out first thing tomorrow and get a job, start earning some money, and in four, six weeks, we can be out of here.´ Rosa still looked miserable.
³This is only temporary Rosa.´ Said Lysander going up to her and putting his arm around her. ³We could ask Mom and Dad...´ Started his twin.
Lys took a step back from her. ³No!´ ³But Lysa...´ ³No Rosa. We are twenty four years old. We can¶t keep asking Mom and Dad to bail us out when we need money. We¶re adults, we have to look after ourselves, and that means earning our own keep.´
³But Mom and Dad wouldn¶t want us to live in a dump like this. They would help us out.´ Pointed out Rosa.
Lys turned his back on her and walked back to the window. He resisted the urge to rest his forehead against the grimy glass. ³I know Rosa.´ He said quietly. ³But I can¶t ask them for money again. I just can¶t.´
As he stared through the dirt streaked glass, Lys wondered, not for the first time, what his other siblings were up to. At first, they had stayed together, travelling from place to place in one large group, but eventually, they had gone their separate ways to follow what they wanted most in life. Lysa and Rosa had stuck together, and, apart from their stint at university, had kept moving, lingering at most a few months in one place. If anyone asked him why they kept moving, Lys would laugh and reply that they hadn¶t found any reason to stay in one place longer than four months. Of course, after the incident where the girl he was sort of dating at the time had overheard him, he was now much more careful about who he said that in front of, but he stood by it.
Movement on the path caught his eye, and Lysa turned to see what it was. He saw a woman walking down the path, struggling with the umbrella she was holding. He watched as she swore at it a few more times, before looking at her watch, and glancing around. ³Rosa, I think the landlord is here. You know...´ Said Lysander as picked up his bag and walked to the door. ³She¶ll be good Lysa, I promise. She always is.´ Said Rosa as she made to heft the heavy rucksack onto her back. With a sigh, and a prayer that this wouldn't be the first time she wasn¶t, Lysa opened the door and stepped out into the damp weather.
³Excuse me?´ He said as he approached the woman. ³You Doran?´ She responded. ³Yes, Lysander, this is my sister...´
She cut him off with a hand gesture. ³Don¶t need your life story. Flat¶s on the third floor, you alright with that?´ Lysander nodded as Rosa looked on, her black eyes wide. ³Good, cos I¶ve µad some tenants not like the stairs. Lift don¶t work at the moment. One of the tenants kept breaking it, and I ain¶t made of money to keep getting it repaired. I figures if they hafta keep using the stairs, they¶ll treat the lift wiv more respect when I do gets it repaired.´ She smiled, showing yellowed and broken teeth. ³Right, yer wanta see it then?´ Lysander nodded slowly. The landlady sniffed. ³Right, follow me then.´
The landlady led the way up the rusting steps that led to the third floor, huffing and puffing with each step. At the second landing, Rosa stopped and looked up at some big black birds that were circling over the grotty playing area attached to the flats. They landed on the top of the monkey bars, their squawks harsh as they chatted to each other. She shuddered, and turned away, following her brother up the final set of stairs.
The landlady had stopped in front of a peeling, and dirty door, and was now taking a key off of a big bunch she had produced from her pocket. ³Right, this is it.´ She put the key into the door, unlocked it and pushed it open, before waving the two Doran twins in.
³As yer can see, it¶s a fair size.´ She said with another sniff. ³It¶s furnished. I µad to throw one ov the chairs out after the last tenant left, you can replace it if you want to. Kitchen¶s through there,´ she pointed, ³bathroom¶s there, and two bedrooms off the corridor. Beds are new.´
Lysander looked round, feeling slightly sick. He knew the flat wouldn¶t be much given the rent the landlord was asking, but the place was a worse dump than he had imagined. ³Rent is §150 a week, first week payable up front. You¶re late once, I¶ll allow it, twice, you¶re out on yer ear.´ Continued the landlady.
Lysander turned to look at her. ³§150? The advert said §110.´ ³Well, they must µave made a mistake. It¶s §150, take it or leave it. I can find anovver tenant, easy.´ Countered the landlady.
³§115.´ Said Lysa The landlady looked him up and down as if assessing him. ³It¶s not open for negotiation.´ ³§120.´ Said Lys, ignoring her protest The landlady folded her arms. ³§145 if yer want something knocked off for the missing chair.´ Lysander shook his head. ³§125 is the most we¶ll pay.´
The landlady sniffed and turned away. ³Don¶t insult me boy. If you aren¶t interested, just go. Don¶t waste my precious time.´ She started towards the door. ³Fine, §135 then.´ Said Lysander desperately. The landlady smiled, her back still to the Dorans. The out of towners were desperate after all, and that offer was §25 more than she normally let the flat for.
She turned back to them. ³Fine. Yer robbing me blind, but I likes the look of you, §135 a week, first week payable now. Don¶t be causing any trouble wiv the other tenants, or be bringing the police around here too often. Oh, and no pets.´ She looked at them speculatively. Should she try it? Why not. ³Minimum lease is free months. You¶ll need ter let me know if you are vacating the premises two weeks before the lease expires. If I don¶t µear from you, I¶ll renew it fer anovver month.´ Lysander blanched. That was far longer than he wanted to stay, but this was the only flat they could afford, and it was a darn sight cheaper than staying in the motel. He nodded mutely in agreement.
She produced a clipboard and pen, and filled in a few boxes on the form attached to the board. ³Good. Right then, sign µere, and I¶ll need that money.´ She offered the clipboard to Lysander who took it. He quickly signed his name before getting his wallet out of his back pocket. He carefully counted out the rent and handed it over, very aware of the fact that his wallet was now that much emptier. The landlady took the money and put it in her pocket, before handing him the key she had used for entry. ³There¶s only the one key, but feel free to get another one cut. ³Right, my number is pinned to a cabinet in the kitchen if you need me to repair something, but try not to ring too often. If you do need a repair, I¶ll try to get to it before the week is out, but no promises.´ Then, without a goodbye, she turned and walked out the door, shutting it behind her.
Lys stared at the door, gathering his thoughts while Rosa put her knapsack on the floor, and opened it. Cautiously, Spot poked her nose out, before struggling out of the bag. She didn¶t like having to be shut up in it, but knew if she wanted to continue to live with Rosa, it was necessary in some of the places they ended up in. ³There you go girl. I¶m sorry about that.´ Muttered Rosa stroking her head before she got Spot¶s dish out of the other bag she had been carrying.
She stood up after putting it on the floor and walked over to her brother. ³I don¶t like it here Lysander. I heard the birds in the playground talking. They are mean and cruel.´ ³Rosa,´ started Lys, ³I¶m sorry, but it¶s all we can afford. It won¶t be for long, and we have to try to make the best of it.´
Rosalind looked round at the room. ³The walls are cracked and stained.´ ³I¶ll buy some PolyFilla and paint if it bothers you that much.´ Replied her brother.
Rosa looked at him, before picking Spot¶s water dish up and heading to the kitchen. When she came back out, she said ³the cupboard doors are hanging off in the kitchen.´ ³I¶ll screw them back on.´ Rosa walked over to another door and opened it. ³The light fitting in the bathroom is hanging off the wall and the floor tiles are cracked and lifted.´ She called from the bathroom.
Lys walked over to the couch and sat down heavily. ³I¶ll fix it Rosa.´
³It won¶t make any difference.´ Rosa came back into the main room. ³Can¶t we just leave?´ ³And go where Rosa? We have §40 left, and no way yet of earning more. This may be a shit hole, but it¶s a roof over our heads I¶ll go get a job tomorrow, and then in three months we can be out of here.´
He pulled his rucksack towards him and rummaged inside for a well thumbed road atlas. ³Where do you fancy next?´ He flicked through the pages. ³Hmm, Regalton? Sounds nice. Okay, maybe not, it sounds as if everyone should be wearing corsets and britches there.´ He looked up at his sister to see if his joke would get a response. ³Spot¶s hungry, I¶m going to feed her.´ Said Rosa turning to rummage for a pouch of dog food in the bag. ³I¶ll need some money to buy her some more tomorrow.´ She said as she realised there were only two left.
³You¶ll have to get the budget ones.´ Said Lys after a pause. Spot barked softly and buried her nose in her paws. ³Spot doesn¶t like the budget food. She says it tastes yucky.´ ³I¶m sorry Rosa, but we can¶t afford her normal brand this time. It¶ll probably be only the once, then she can go back to eating Win-a-Chum, or whatever it is she likes.´ Rosa gave him a long look, before filling Spot¶s bowl, and sitting down beside the old dog, scratching her ears as she ate.
That night Lysander lay uneasily on his bed. That was one thing, he supposed, the landlady hadn¶t been lying when she said the beds were new. Rosa hadn¶t said more than two words to him for the rest of the afternoon and evening, as if he liked it here any better than she did. They should have stopped before, perhaps at Haven, it seemed a nice enough village, even if the locals were a little strange, and not exactly welcoming. He rubbed his hand over his eyes. He would make it up to Rosa. Tomorrow, he would go and find a job, he would make this place liveable, and then, in three months time they would have plenty of money to move onto another town. Plan made, he closed his eyes and tried to drift off to sleep, forgetting that even the best laid plans very often don¶t turn out quite the way they¶re supposed to
Things had still been tense between the twins when they had risen. Rosa had merely nodded at Lys¶s greeting before heading to the bathroom to shower. She¶d been so miffed with him still, that she¶d almost refused his help when she¶d stood on a broken tile getting out of the shower and cut her foot. Now, as she was heading to the shop she had seen down the road from their flat, she was glad she had let him heal her.
She looked down at the dog trotting along beside her. Lysander had given her some money to take what she had up to §18. It wasn¶t much, and he had told her to get some food from them as well as for Spot. ³I¶m sorry girl, you might have to have the budget food after all.´ She said quietly to the dog. Spot gave a disdainful bark, before licking her mistress¶s hand. She knew that Rosalind would make sure she was eating nice food again as soon as possible.
While his twin was looking for a local supermarket, Lysander was wandering around, looking at the vacancy signs posted in the windows and doors of various businesses. One in particular had caught his eye. One of the many pubs was advertising for part time bar staff. He¶d worked behind a bar before, and if it was part time, he might be able to get a second job during the hours he wasn¶t working at the pub. Plus pubs tended to have a high staff turnover, and understood that a lot of their staff were doing it to supplement their other incomes, and it was likely to be only temporary. Making his mind up to enquire, he pushed the door open and stepped inside.
Lys approached the barmaid and put on what he hoped was a winning smile. ³What can I get you honey?´ Said the barmaid returning his smile. ³Oh, I was wondering about the job on the door.´ He gestured at it as he spoke. ³Ah, you need to speak to Col then.´
She put her hands on the bar, lifted herself up slightly and bellowed ³COL!´ A man, wiping down a table on the other side of the pub turned and looked over at her. ³He's here about the job.´ She shouted, nodding at Lysander. The man nodded, before putting the sponge on the table and walking over.
He offered his hand when he got to Lys, ³Col Bucannon, this is my pub. You¶re here about the job?´ ³I am, yes.´ Replied Lys taking in Col¶s measure. He was slightly older than Lysa had first thought, the clothes he was wearing made him look younger. Col nodded. ³Let¶s sit down and have a talk then.´
The two men sat down at a nearby table. ³So, what¶s your name?´ Asked Col, as he pulled his chair in. ³Lysander Doran.´ ³Fancy.´ ³I¶ve...never really thought about it that way.´ Said Lys, a frown appearing on his face. ³It¶s my name, you know?´ ³I¶m only joshing you. So, tell me Lysander Doran, have you done any bar work before?´
³Yeah, I have, several times. Last time was about eight months ago when I was in Wyndover Springs.´ ³Good, good, so you know your way round the bar then.´ Said Col as he rubbed his hands together. ³Cellar too.´ Added Lys.
³Excellent. I really need someone for the evening and night shift, six hours starting at six, is that alright?´ Lys nodded. That suited him well since it gave him most of the day in which to work at another job. ³That¶s just what I was looking for.´ ³Good. I can¶t pay more than minimum wage, but your drinks are free. Not that that entitles you to drink alcoholic drinks all night.´ ³I wouldn¶t anyway.´ ³Good. Well let¶s see how well you pull a pint, and go through a few more things.´
The two men stood up and made their way to the bar. The barmaid, moved out the way and let Lysander near the pumps. Lys picked up a glass and angled it under the tap. It was a fair few months since he had last pulled a pint, but he still remembered the basics. He set the pint down on the bar. ³Hmm, not bad. Bit too much head on it, but a bit more practise, and you¶ll soon remember how to pull a pint properly.´ Said Col as he looked at it critically. Lysander tried not to let his disappointment at the verdict show. He thought he¶d done well and didn¶t think the head was too big at all. ³My customers are very fussy you see.´ Continued Col, as if reading his mind. ³If they think the head is too big, they¶ll ask for a top up.´ Lys nodded. ³Don¶t worry about it, you¶ll soon get the hang of it. Now, there are a few more things we should go through...´
While her brother was talking with Col some more about the bar job, Rosa was making her way back from the supermarket. She had stuck to the budget brands and still had §5 in her pocket after buying food for Spot, and enough to feed herself and her brother that day. She didn¶t mind eating the cheapy brands herself, but she felt so guilty about making Spot eat them. She dreaded to think what sort of meat was in the Meat-o-licious dog food pouches she had purchased.
Her route home took her past a pet shop, and she couldn¶t help but stop to look in the window. An idea struck her, and she looked down at the dog next to her. ³Stay here girl, I¶ll be back in a few minutes.´ Spot gave a quiet bark before sinking to the ground.
Rosa pushed the door open and entered to a wall of sound. As she made her way to a shelf full of chew toys, she tried to pick the sounds making up the cacophony apart. Dominating the noise was the shrill tone of a woman. ³I don¶t understand it. Poochie Woochie is normally so well behaved, he has never gone to bite anyone before.´ Beneath her shrill protests and the reassurances of the shop assistant, Rosa could hear a distinctly male voice protesting. ³Poochie Woochie? My name is Trevor, human, TREVOR. I am male, you got that? MALE. And there is no way on this EARTH that I am going to wear a PINK collar studded with shiny stones! Oh and let¶s not get started on that jacket thing I saw you pick up the other day.´
Rosa looked towards the till to see the source of the commotion. A matronly woman was standing next to a clearly agitated Pug while a member of staff looked on, a very pink and very girly collar in her hand.
Rosa approached them, a chew bone in her hand. ³Be with you in a moment.´ Said the assistant with an apologetic smile. ³No rush.´ Replied Rosa. ³Actually I couldn¶t help overhearing and...I don¶t think he likes that collar.´
³Course I don¶t bloody well like it. Everyone listen to the green human, she¶s the only one of you who is talking sense.´
³That is ridiculous. Why wouldn¶t he like it?´ Asked Trevor¶s owner. ³He¶ll look lovely in it.´ Rosa paused. She knew she shouldn¶t get involved, but the poor dog needed some help. ³Actually,´ said Rosa quietly, ³I don¶t think he will.´ ³Whatever do you mean?´
Rosa quailed under the dog owner¶s fierce glare. ³I don¶t think that the pink will look nice with his tan fur.´ She said in a rush. The owner looked down her nose at Rosa for a long, uncomfortable moment, before replying ³really? You don¶t think he¶ll look pretty?´ Rosa let out the breath she had been holding and shook her head. ³Then...what would you suggest?´
³Is there one there with spikes? I¶ve always fancied a spiked collar.´ Piped up Trevor, trotting after Rosalind as she made her way to the collar display.
³I don¶t think he needs something too big or...obvious.´ Said Rosa, trying to direct her comments to the dog as well as the owner as she looked through the collars. ³Aw, but I¶ve always wanted one and imagine the look on her face. She would be so pissed off having to be seen with me in it.´
³Brown would...´ ³No, absolutely not. I am not having my Poochie Woochie wearing such a dull, horrible colour.´ Rosa swallowed and nodded. ³I was about to say it would blend into his fur. How about...Oh this is nice.´ She pulled out a light blue collar with silver stitching. Trevor looked at it, his head tilted to one side. ³That¶s not half bad. Yes green human, I will consent to wear that.´
His owner took it from Rosa. ³Hmm, yes. I like the stitching. I would have liked some diamante on it though.´ Trevor growled at this. ³But perhaps beggars can¶t be choosers. Yes, I will take it please.´ She handed it to the shop assistant who crouched down to fasten it round Trevor¶s neck. The little dog looked at her, but permitted her to buckle it up.
His owner looked at him critically. ³Hmm yes, it suits him well. Perhaps when teamed with that nice little jacket I saw the other day...´ Trevor growled and dropped to the floor. ³Just try it human!´
³No!´ Blurted Rosa, causing the owner to look at her in astonishment. ³I mean, I think the jacket would detract from the collar, and you don¶t want that.´ She finished quietly.
³Hmm, perhaps you are right.´ Said Trevor¶s owner as she handed over a §20 note to the shop assistant. Rosa crouched down and scratched the little dog behind his ears. ³I¶ve done all I can for you Trevor.´ She said, her voice barely above a whisper. ´I can¶t promise she won¶t buy you a jacket in the future, but at least for now you should be safe.´ Trevor licked at her forearm. ³Thank you green human. At least I¶m not being forced to wear that hideous monstrosity of a collar either.´
³Come along Poochie Woochie.´ Trilled his owner having put her purse away. ³Poochie Woochie? How many more times? The name¶s Trevor human.´ Grumbling the little dog trotted after his owner and out the door.
The shop assistant slid out from behind the till and approached Rosa. ³Thank you for that. I guess he really didn¶t like the first collar.´ ³He hated it.´ Replied Rosa blushing at the other woman¶s thanks.
The shop assistant looked at Rosa for a moment before offering her hand. I'm Karen, this is my shop. I actually need to employ a new member of staff, but haven¶t printed the adverts yet. Would you be interested in the position?´ ³You¶re offering me a job?´ Asked Rosa stunned. ³Yes. It¶s a shop assistant, you would mainly be operating the till, helping with customer enquiries and helping manage the stock. From what I¶ve just seen, you¶re good with people and you have a natural affinity with animals, and you seem nice, and I make it a point to only employ nice people, since there are far too many mean people in the world you know? And I mean, what¶s so wrong with being nice? But anyway, I¶m babbling. I¶ve been told I have a habit of doing that, so stop me if I start will you? Now, are you interested?´
Rosa¶s blush deepened. ³Yes, yes I am.´ Karen¶s face broke into a broad grin that caused dimples to appear in the corners of her mouth. ³Good! Let me ring through that chew toy you have and then we can discuss it some more.´
After securing the job at the pub, Lys had wandered around the neighbourhood for a bit, trying to find a job for during the day. At one of the local supermarkets, he¶d been successful, and would now be stacking shelves during the day before tending bar at night. He was happy as he walked up the stairs to the flat, and straight into an argument.
³I clearly said no pets. You¶ll have to get rid of her.´ Said a voice Lysander recognised straight away as the landlady¶s. ³She¶s no trouble, I promise. She¶s an old lady now, we can¶t abandon her!´ The upset voice was that of his sister, and so, taking the remaining stairs two at a time, Lysa hurried up to the third floor.
³Doran,´ said the landlady catching sight of him, ³what did I say about pets? She can¶t stay.´ ³We apologise Miss Campbell.´ Said Lys, trying to placate her. ³We¶ve had Spot since we were children, and all we want to do its give her a caring home until it is time for her to leave us. As Rosa says, she¶s no trouble. She¶s not noisy, she¶s clean and she doesn¶t make a fuss. You won¶t know she is living with us.´ The landlady shook her head.
³We¶ll pay extra.´ Blurted out Lysander. The landlady paused. ³How much?´ ³§20 a week.´ The landlady nodded slowly. ³Very well she can stay, but keep quiet about it, else everyone will wants one.´
Lysa reached into his back pocket and handed her the final two notes in his wallet. ³Thank you.´ He said quietly. She just grimaced at him and started to walk away.
³Excuse me, there was something else I was wondering.´ said Lys as she got to the top of the stairs. ³Wot¶s that then?´ ³I had a look through the lease, and found no mention of it, but can tenants decorate their flats?´
The landlady looked at him, a blank expression on her face. None of her other tenants had ever made such a request. These two were turning out to be quite unusual and productive tenants. Paying well over the odds for the flat and now wanting to decorate it. ³Sure, go knock yourselves out.´ She replied. After all, it would save her on maintenance, and she might get more next time she rented it out. ³Only fing I ask, is that yer keep it tasteful, No purple polkadots next to lime green stripes, or the like.´ Lysander smiled. ³No garish decorating scheme, we promise.´ The landlady nodded once more before disappearing down the stairs.
After she had gone, Rosa said quietly, ³I¶m sorry Lys.´ She was unable to meet his eyes. ³I was so excited, I forgot to be careful walking up the stairs with Spot.´ Lys sighed. ³Rosa, it¶s fine. Let¶s get inside.´
Once inside, Rosa once again apologised. ³I cost us more money, I¶m sorry.´ ³Rosa, it¶s fine. Now why were you excited in the first place?´ For the first time since he had arrived back, Rosa smiled. ³I¶ve got a job.´
Lysander returned her smile. ³That¶s excellent.´ Rosa nodded and started talking excitedly. ³I start tomorrow, It¶s at a pet shop, and Karen, the owner, said that I can bring Spot too, so we don¶t need to worry about her getting into mischief left here on her own.´ As she had been talking, Lysander¶s smile had started to falter. Once she had finished the end of her sentence, she asked him what was wrong.
³A pet shop?´ ³Yes.´ ³Rosa,´ Lys sighed and walked over to the settee before sitting down, ³this can¶t turn into another Riverdale, were you worked at the animal shelter.´ ³They all needed homes Lysander.´ ³I know that Rosa,´ explained her twin patiently, ³but did it have to be our home?´ Parting his sister from the animals she had adopted had been one of the hardest thins Lysander had ever had to do, and he had no desire to repeat the experience.
³It won¶t be like that this time, I promise Lysa.´ Said Rosa sitting down next to him. ³Good. And don¶t call me Lysa. It sounds like a girl¶s name.´ ³Well if you wouldn¶t act like a mother hen so often...´ Lysander gave a snort of laughter. ³We good?´ ³We¶re always good Lys.´ Her brother smiled and nodded. ³Now, what did you buy for lunch?´
Over the next couple of weeks, the twins settled into the routine of their latest working life. Lys spent his days stacking shelves at the supermarket before spending his evenings and nights working at Col¶s. By the end of the third week, in his spare time, and once they had a tiny bit of spare money, he could be found patching the holes in the walls with PollyFilla ready to paint them later.
Rosa meanwhile found she was enjoying working in the pet shop. She liked Karen, who was a bit dippy, but loved animals and was genuinely kind and caring, and got on really well with her. She also enjoyed the work. There was something very satisfying about helping to find the animals good homes, and making sure that they liked the items their owners wanted to buy for them. She also found that, once she got over her shyness, she got on well with the customers, and one in particular kept coming back to see her.
³Hi Rosa.´ ³Oh hi, Hayley isn¶t it?´ Asked Rosa as if she was having to search for the blonde woman¶s name. ³Yes.´ The other woman flashed a brilliant smile at her, causing Rosa to blush. ³I have the Russian Blue who rips catnip mice apart within hours.´
Rosa let out a laugh. ³Have you considered the possibility that your cat has a serious catnip problem?´ ³Oh she has, no doubt about it. That is why I am buying three more today.´ Hayley replied holding up the three mice by their tails. Rosa returned the other woman¶s smile and laughed again.
They moved to the till and Rosa started to ring them through. ³Well, I hope that these last her a few days then.´ ³So do I.´ Hayley handed over the money.
After she had paid and Rosa had bagged up the mice, Hayley made no move to go. Instead she stood there, looking awkward, which made Rosa feel increasingly uncomfortable, her shyness suddenly coming back in leaps and bounds. ³I erm...well you¶re always so nice, and helpful, and I like you and so I was...erm wondering if you perhaps wanted to go out some time. With me. On a date. Sort of thing.´ Stammered the blonde.
Rosa blushed deeply and looked at the floor. She¶d thought that Hayley was pretty the first time she had walked into the shop, but, in typical fashion, had thought that Hayley probably didn¶t like girls, and so had put all thoughts of wondering what it would be like to date her out of her mind. Now Hayley was asking her out.
Hayley, however took Rosa¶s silence as a sign she wasn¶t interested, and her blush that she didn¶t like girls. ³Oh god, I¶m sorry, I thought you were...but you¶re not?...I¶ll just go. Forget I said anything.´
That was enough to startle Rosa our of her stunned silence. ³No! I mean, I¶d like that. A lot.´
³You would?´ Hayley let out a relieved laugh. ³Good. How about this Friday?´ Rosa nodded shyly. ³We could...go to the pictures perhaps?´ Suggested Hayley. Rosa nodded again. ³That sounds nice.´ ³Good, eight o¶clock outside the Odeon then.´ Said the blonde before waving and leaving Rosa standing at the till, still blushing and hardly able to believe that she had a date at the weekend.
She was buzzing when she arrived back at the flat later. Lys was finishing getting ready for his job at the pub when she walked through the door. ³You look happy.´ He remarked, as he faffed with his hair. ³I am.´ She replied. ³I...have a date on Saturday.´
Lysander turned to look at her. ³You have? That¶s nice.´ ³Ah-hah. Maybe you should think about going on a date sometime. It¶s been months since you last showed any interest in anyone.´ Said Rosalind quietly. Bending down to pet Spot.
Her brother sighed. ³Rosa, I¶m not exactly able to meet anyone at the moment. If I¶m not at work, I¶m sleeping. Besides, we¶re not going to be here long and...´ He trailed off, unwilling to end the sentence and unwittingly hurt his sister.
³I met Hayley through work. She¶s one of our customers. Besides, I¶m not looking to marry her, just...maybe have a little bit of fun, and enjoy spending time with another person I'm not related to. We can have fun while we are stuck in this place Lysa you know. We don¶t have to be miserable the entire time we are in this dump.´ Said Rosa folding her arms and fixing him with what was, for her, a stern glare.
He forced a smile onto his face. ³I¶m sorry. You¶re right. I¶m just eager to get enough money so we can get back onto the road as soon as our lease is up.´ ³I know Lys. I¶m going to grab a shower, you off to work?´ Her brother nodded. ³Have a good evening. I¶ll probably be in bed when you get back, so see you in the morning.´ ³Night Rosa.´
As Lysander walked to Col¶s for his evening shift, he thought about what his twin had said. It was true, last time he¶d dated anyone was what? Nine, ten months ago? He thought for a bit. No, it had been longer than that, a year at least. He hadn¶t met anyone who held his interest since then, and, to tell the truth, he really didn¶t feel like dating anyone here. He was trying to make the best of it, and keep his true feelings from his sister, but all he wanted to do was get out of the place. He snorted. The only way he could see himself dating anyone here was if he met the girl of his dreams, the woman he knew at once that he would one day marry, and since he didn¶t believe in love at first sight, that wasn¶t likely to happen.
He pushed the door to Col¶s open, and saw that there was already a fairly large crowd inside. There was a live band playing that night, one of Col¶s ideas to try to get more punters in mid-week, and it looked as if it was working.
³Chrissie.´ He nodded at the barmaid who was serving a customer. ³Lys. Is it that time already?´ ³You know it is Chris. No need to pretend to be so surprised.´
She gave a chuckle. ³Ah, there¶s no getting anything by you is there?´ ³No, you have to get up early in the morning to...´ He let out a surprised cry and turned to see Chrissie smirking at him. He shook his head as he walked down the bar and looked to see if there were any customers who needed serving. µNever turn your back on her Lys, you know that.¶ ³Right, what can I get you?´ He asked as his shift started.
Rosa was a bundle of nerves when Saturday rolled round. She wasn¶t working during the day: Karen employed a couple of Saturday staff, so she wasn¶t needed. Instead she had bathed Spot twice, much to Spot¶s disdain, picked up a paint brush to help Lysander, before putting it down again, having only put a couple of strokes on the wall, and generally pottered about. She may have nagged Lysander about it, but she hadn¶t been on a date for months either, and she liked Hayley. She liked Hayley a lot.
The hour and a bit after Lysander had left for the pub was the worst. She had a long shower, put on a top and jeans, before changing her mind and putting on a dress, before taking it off and putting another top and jeans on. As for her makeup, well she tried several different things before settling on her usual eyeshadow and lipstick. It was almost a relief when she could leave the flat and head to the cinema.
Rosalind arrived at the cinema at about ten to eight, and since she was early, she ducked inside, looking around as she did so. She was surprised to see that Hayley was already there, waiting by some vending machines. She saw Rosa walk in and headed over to her. ³Hi, sorry, I was a bit early, so I decided to wait inside for a bit, out of the rain.´ Rosa laughed, ³so am I, don¶t worry about it.´
Hayley shot her a grateful look. ³I wasn¶t sure what you wanted to see. There¶s a horror about werewolves or something.´ Rosa shook her head. ³A fantasy set in the Elven Forests.´ Rosa started. ³No! I, er, don¶t like fantasy films very much.´ ³That leaves the sci-fi or rom-com then.´ Rosa thought for a moment. ³Rom-com?´ Hayley smiled. ³I was hoping you¶d say that. Let¶s get tickets and load up on popcorn then.´
It turned out that the rom-com was a good choice. Both enjoyed it a lot, although Rosa thought that she enjoyed the company more.
It seemed as if Hayley thought the same.
Hayley and Rosa¶s date turned out to be the first of many they had over the next month. They spent as much time with each other as they could, and whenever she wasn¶t with Hayley or at work, Rosa could be found helping Lysander to make the flat liveable. They finished painting all the walls, and Rosa used some of the leftover paint from the bedrooms to stencil a pattern onto the cupboard doors of the kitchen. She also found some bits of furniture in a charity shop while she was wandering around with Hayley during one of her lunch breaks, and they now graced the living room.
Lysander was grateful for her help, but couldn¶t help but ask her what had caused her to change her mind about wanting to decorate the place. ³This place isn¶t so bad really. It¶s not as nice as some places we¶ve stayed, but...it could be worse.´ She answered before going back to working on the door she was painting.
Lysander walked away, a pensive look on his face. Rosa was starting to fall for Hayley, he knew it, and that would mean that she wouldn¶t want to leave Flinton. But he did. Would he stay because of her? Or would this be the place they went their separate ways, just as they had with their other siblings? After all, Hayley would be able to look out for Rosa if their relationship lasted, and if it didn¶t, well he would always be only a phone call away and would come get his sister if she needed him to. That didn¶t mean he had to like the thought of leaving her though.
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