What's Up With Jody Barton?

Sometimes life throws you a massive curveball . . .

Me and my sister are twins. She's Jolene and I'm Jody. We've both got brown hair, we're both left-handed and we both have these weirdly long little toes which make us look like long-toed mutants. But apart from that, I'd say we're fairly different.

Well, actually, we're a lot different . . .

It's hard enough being one half of the world's least identical twins, without both of you falling for the same guy. Jolene's turned flirting into a fine art, but Jody? Not so much. And as if a twinny love triangle wasn't messy enough . . . there's something nobody knows about Jody Barton. Something BIG. Told with the trademark warmth and laugh-out-loud humour of the much-loved LOTTIE BIGGS books, this is a book that will make you think, with a gobsmacking twist you won't believe.

Buy the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0330523023/ ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_g14_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1C13P3WRJ3GT9K5156AS&pf_rd_

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4. An Amazing Little Miracle

‘You can’t,’i whispered in a panic.‘Not him!’

 

Jolene frowned.‘Why? Do you know him?’

 

‘No,’ i said.Which was true.

 

‘so why the heck shouldn’t i go after him?’ said Jolene.

 

‘Because . . .’ i began,‘because . . .’ But then i hesitated. i had to. i’d run out of words.and, besides that, i was suddenly experiencing a few other technical glitches – my mouth had gone dry, my armpits were prickling and my brain felt as if it had just been pulled out at the plug. i thumped the side of my head with the palm of my hand in a lame attempt to get it working again.

 

Jolene’s frown deepened. ‘You’re acting seriously weird! What’s up with you?’

 

‘Nothing,’ i whispered.Which was a lie.

Jolene looked unconvinced.

 

‘i’m fine,’ i added quickly. Too quickly probably. if my sister’s twintuition actually worked, she’d have sussed immediately that i wasn’t fine. i was excited and dizzy and thunderstruck and freaked out and feeling weird and covered in goosebumps and feeling a bit sick and also feeling a bit oddly and madly happy – but, hand on my heart, i can’t seriously say i was fine.

 

‘Right,’ said Jolene. and then she said, ‘so what’s wrong with him?’

 

i searched through my head and tried to think of something i could say which wouldn’t land me in a whole heap of trouble – but it was really hard because i was still in the grip of a brain crash. in the end, i just looked down at my hi-tops and said,‘i’ve got this really weird feeling about him, that’s all.’and then i clamped my jaw shut.

 

What?’ i could tell from her big frown that Jolene was getting more and more exasperated. For a moment her eyes left mine and she glanced anxiously over to the corner – no doubt to check that the River Phoenix Boy was still sitting safely in his seat. even though i was aching to glance over too, i didn’t.

 

i couldn’t.

 

i was too terrified.

 

Until now,the only seriously beautiful faces i’ve ever seen have been printed on paper and stuck with Blu-tack on to my bedroom wall. and there’s a helluva difference between fancying a face on a poster and fancying an actual living

breathing beautiful human being who is sitting in the corner of your dad’s cafe.

 

especially when your twin sister fancied him first!

 

so i kept my eyes fixed firmly on Jolene and left her to check him out for both of us. i saw her face relax a bit. clearly the River Phoenix boy was going nowhere fast. it made me relax a tiny bit too. But not much. Because half a nanosecond later Jolene’s eyes flicked straight back to mine and stayed there.and then, in a voice which clearly expected a detailed answer, she said,‘What sort of weird feeling?’

 

‘i dunno,’ i said. i began to bite my thumbnail. this only ever happens when i’m anxious. it’s not a big deal or anything though because i haven’t got tottenham hotspur logos or Jls boys or characters from Glee glued all over my nails.Without moving my hand away from my mouth,i muttered,‘i just think he looks like a bit of an idiot, that’s all.’

 

Jolene’s mouth dropped open in shock. ‘You think he looks like an idiot?’

 

‘Uh-huh,’ i said, and nodded. One hand was still at my mouth and the other was in the pocket of my orange apron to hide my crossed fingers. Normally, i never lie to Jolene. Not this much, anyway.after all, what’s the point of spinning a story to someone you’ve known since you were half-egg half-tadpole?

 

But then again, there are some things that you just can’t share. ever.

 

and i know what happens when me and Jolene argue about serious stuff. We fight. and she always wins because she scraps like a vicious dirty hell-cat and i don’t.

 

‘he looks like a total dork,’ i said firmly.

 

Jolene’s amazement deepened.and then,to my enormous relief, she closed her mouth, shrugged her shoulders and smiled.‘Whatever,’ she said.that’s your personal opinion and you’re entitled to it. Just like i’m entitled to mine. and I think he’s bufferlicious buffercake and i’m going after him whether you think he’s a dork or not.’and then she stuck her tongue out at me.

 

my relief evaporated. this wasn’t the outcome i’d been hoping for. Normally Jolene doesn’t go within a fifteen-mile radius of any guy who’s been dissed with the dork tag. clearly my opinion on these matters doesn’t count though.

 

Jolene winked at me and whispered,‘i’m just about to get myself an a* in Gcse flirting.’

 

i panicked.‘What are you gonna do?’

 

‘see if he wants a free top-up on his smoothie.’

 

‘Dad wouldn’t like that,’ i said.

 

‘Oh, lighten up, Jode,’ said Jolene, and she grinned and pulled the ties on her apron tighter in a really desperate bid to make the shape of her boobs stand out more.even though i was feeling sick and depressed,i smiled a bit.i couldn’t stop myself. Jolene is so utterly flat-chested that you could put a heat-resistant vest on her and use her as an ironing board. even i’m not as flat as her.

 

Jolene opened the fridge and took out a banana and some more strawberries.to be fair to her,she remembered not to bother with any yogurt.then she paused for a second and said,‘What’s this music? it’s awful.’

 

‘it’s the Doors,’i snapped.‘You should know that by now, seeing as how they’re my favourite band.’

 

‘Yeah, well, they’re crap,’ said Jolene. ‘i’m turning it off. We’ll have the radio on instead.’

 

she turned round and reached up to where our dodgy old stereo is fixed on to the wall. Quickly, i risked a sneaky glimpse at the boy. his head was still bopping along to the Doors and so were his scruffy white plimsolls. Obviously me and him were into the same sort of sounds. Just for a split second, it got me wondering about what other things we might have in common. But then i stopped because it made me feel too tragic.after all,i wasn’t really in any position to start finding out,was i? Not when ihad a pushy confident a* flirting sister who was going to get her tottenham hotspur­covered claws into him first.and,even though a part of me would have loved to have taken him off her in a good fair fight, there was no way i ever would. Because that’s against every single rule of twinship.and,anyway,it was all just way too complicated.

 

i picked up a damp cloth and slowly began to wipe the counter.

 

abruptly,Jim morrison stopped singing and some random DJ from some random radio station started rambling on randomly about nothing.Despite the fact that i wasdoingquite a good job of not looking in his general direction, i noticed that the mystery boy’s feet immediately stopped bopping. Jolene returned to the counter, threw her strawberries and half a banana into the blender, whizzed them up and then poured the mixture into a jug. and then she giggled and whispered,‘Watch and learn,Jody. Watch and learn.’

 

i watched.

 

Jolene stuck out her micro-chest and did a sexy saunter over to the corner.

 

even though she’s my twin sister, it took quite a lot of willpower to prevent myself from pulling her back by her hair and punching her in the face.

 

But, still, i kept on watching. i didn’t want to but i just couldn’t turn my face away. it was like car-crash tV.

 

i watched her jiggle her jug at the beautiful stranger and say,‘Wanna free top-up?’

 

i watched him look up at her and smile.

 

and then,suddenly,i couldn’t stand any more of it.i really couldn’t. it was just too horrible. sort of like winning the lottery but then watching somebody else step up to claim the prize.

 

so i looked down at the counter and began to wipe a bit of egg off it. i was feeling pretty bleak if you must know. On the radio,the random DJ had stopped rambling randomly on and a song was now playing. it was by that singer adele. i’ve never really listened to any of her stuff before. i could hear my sister laughing and making light flirty chit-chat. i moved closer to one of the speakers until my ear was practically touching it. any closer and i’d have damaged my eardrum. But it was still better than listening to Jolene and River getting it on.

 

adele was singing a song about being in love with someone who didn’t love her back. although i wouldn’t normally bother with this sort of soppy record, i found myself paying more and more attention to the lyrics because adele has actually got an absolutely amazing voice.to be fair, she probably sings just as well as Jim morrison does.and her voice is a little bit gruff like his is and packed with powerful emotion too. it sounded to me just as if she were singing from the very bottom of her soul.

 

and,all of a sudden,i just wanted to escape to my bedroom and press my face against the window so that i could catch a glimpse of the big white Wembley arch peeping out above the rooftops. Because the sight of it always fills me with hope.and,right there and then, hope was the only thing i wanted. and what i was really really hoping was that that there would be some sort of happy ending to adele’s song. Because, although she’s rich and famous and sells millions of records all over the world, she also sounded hideously and heartbreakingly and colossally fed up.and i couldn’t bear it because i knew exactly how that felt.

 

i glanced over to the corner. Jolene was standing way too close to the River Phoenix Boy and pouring him yet another smoothie. i felt my heart sink and turned my attention back to the radio.

with but couldn’t have. i think it was probably the most tragically sad thing i’d ever heard in my whole life.

 

i heard Jolene and my Drop Dead Beautiful Boy laugh about something together. my heart was going down faster than the Titanic.

 

i stared at the damp dishcloth in my hand. and then i chucked it down on the counter and switched the radio off. ‘Love,’ i said to myself. ‘You can keep it!’ at least, i hope i said it to myself. to be honest, it’s hard to know. i was so fed up i’d reached that mad stage where i might have been mumbling out loud.

 

and then i heard the cafe door open and a few seconds later i heard a different voice say,‘hi,Jody.You nearly finished in here, yeah?’

 

i looked up and my heart hit rock bottom. Not that i’d needed to look. i knew full well who it was anyway.

 

chatty chong.

 

Which would have been fine if i wanted to talk about maths. But i didn’t.

 

chatty was carrying his school bag even though it was a sunday afternoon. Plonking it down on the counter, he said,‘You wanna come and start work on our trigonometry project later, yeah?’

 

‘Not really,’ i said.

 

‘Oh.’ chatty chong’s face fell. then he said, ‘it was my birthday yesterday. my dad gave me a brand-new graphics calculator, yeah? it’s the most expensive one you can get in argos.’ he unzipped his bag and took the calculator out. it

   

was so new that it was still inside its cardboard box. chatty began to unpack it. ‘i thought you might wanna have a go at using it, yeah? it’s got built-in UsB technology and everything.’

 

i gave the calculator a quick glance and then shook my head. ‘Not really,’ i said. in the corner, my sister was still batting her lashes at River Phoenix. he’d got his phone out. i guessed he was taking down my sister’s number.

 

‘Oh,’ said chatty chong, and started packing his calculator up again. ‘You can do scatterplots and pie-charts and everything on this calculator. it’s the business, yeah.’

 

‘Great,’ i said. River Phoenix had taken a pair of massive silver headphones out of the pocket of his parka and put them on.this was an unexpected development. i leaned my elbows on the counter and continued to watch. Jolene stood up sharply and began walking back to the counter. she had a face like a melted welly.

 

chatty chong said,‘aint this a good time?’

 

‘Not really,’i said.and then i said to Jolene, ‘everything Ok?’

 

‘i don’t get it,’Jolene hissed back in a low voice.‘i was in the middle of telling him about the under-eighteen disco at the spotted Dog next week and he just put his headphones on and started playing with his phone. i hadn’t even finished speaking! how utterly ignorant is that?’

 

she only said this to me.to chatty chong, she didn’t say anything at all. i don’t think she means to be utterly ignorant to chatty – it’s just that most of the time she forgets he’s there. even when he’s standing right next to her.

 

‘maybe you were boring,’ i said.

 

Jolene looked shocked.‘that’s a bit rich,’ she snapped.‘I’m not the one who’s chatting to my boyfriend about maths, am i?’and then she plonked her empty smoothie jug down next to chatty chong’s bag and said, ‘i’m going upstairs. i need to take a break.’

 

she walked over to the stAff only door, which leads up to our maisonette, and disappeared behind it with a big angry slam.

 

chatty chong scratched his head and said,‘Why’d she call me your boyfriend, yeah?’ he’d gone a bit pink.

 

‘Because she’s my evil twin,’ i said. i think i’d gone a bit pink too. sometimes, i actually hate my sister.

 

‘Oh,’said chatty chong.then he said,‘and you definitely don’t wanna do no maths later?’

 

i glanced back to the corner. River Phoenix had picked up his refilled smoothie and was drinking it through a straw. his feet had started to tap again. i wanted to know what music was coming through those huge silver headphones and making his world rock. i wanted to know that more than anything. more than the meaning of life even.

 

chatty chong frowned. ‘What’s up with you, Jody? are you even listening, yeah?’

 

‘Not really,’ i said.and then i hit the side of my head with the palm of my hand and said,‘i mean yeah.Of course i’m listening.’

 

chatty put his calculator back into his bag and zipped it up.‘Forget it,yeah? this clearly ain’t a good time.catch you laters, yeah?’

 

and then he stomped over to the door and disappeared into the street. For a moment, i just stood still and felt bad. chatty chong doesn’t talk to many people. i should really make a bigger effort to talk back to him sometimes.

 

But i didn’t have a chance to dwell on my badness for very long because the cafe door suddenly flew open again. it was my dad. he was carrying a big box of frozen turkey twizzlers and several billion cartons of juice. even though it’s February, i noticed he was sweating a lot. my dad’s inner thermostat is jammed on a very high setting.

 

he looked over at me and said,‘all right,sulky sue?’and then he glanced around and said,‘Where’s the other one?’

 

‘she’s upstairs having a break,’ i said.

 

my dad put his frozen boxes down on an empty table, walked to the door leading up to our maisonette, opened it and shouted,‘Oi,loopy lou! Get your backside down here, pronto. i leave you on your own for half an hour and you go skipping off upstairs! Do you think i pay you to sit up there and brush your hair?’

 

if you didn’t know my dad, you could make the mistake of thinking he’s a bit of a thug. he’s got a big bald head and he’s nearly always wearing a tottenham hotspur football shirt and grumbling at us in a loud voice. But anyone who does know him would tell you that he’s actually softer than a soggy hobnob. my dad would rather walk down the street in his pyjamas than have a proper actual go at either Jolene or me. i know this for a fact because once, when my mum wanted him to shout at us for accidently racking up a bill of eighty-two pounds on her itunes account, this is exactly what he did. he walked up and down Willesden high Road for fifteen minutes in his tottenham hotspur pyjamas and then, when everyone had quietened down a bit, he came back and calmly worked out a way that Jolene and i could pay my mum back by doing extra cafe shifts.

 

incidentally, when he’s not wearing a tottenham hotspur football top,he’s either wearing a checked cowboy shirt with a bootlace tie or an awful t-shirt that says . . .

 

Body by Baywatch

 

Face by crimewatch my dad is a legend. everyone knows him and everyone likes him. and i absolutely love him. even though he has this really random habit of calling me sulky sue.

 

‘hey, sulky sue,’ he said to me.‘Give me a hand shifting these twizzlers.’ and then he paused, nodded his head at River Phoenix and called out,‘New customer?’

 

River Phoenix put down his phone, pulled his silver headphones off and said,‘You what?’

 

‘come in here for an all-day champion chunky Breakfast, did you, son?’

 

River Phoenix said,‘Nah,’and began to put his headphones back.

 

my dad said,‘Whoaa there.What’s this?’and he pointed to the QPR logo which was drawn on to the sleeve of RP’s parka. i held my breath. my dad can get a bit over-emotional when it comes to football.

 

RP looked down at his sleeve and then he laughed. ‘it’s the sign of a quality football club,’ he said. ‘Not like that dodgy spurs shirt you’re wearing.’

 

my dad’s eyes widened in mock outrage. ‘how can you say that! spurs have made it to the final of the league cup this year. they’re soon gonna have the hallowed turf of Wembley underneath their boots. i don’t see QPR playing any cup finals at Wembley.’ he turned to me, winked and said, ‘Jody, let’s give this poor lad some vitamin c and put it on the house. he clearly ain’t well because he can’t think straight.’ and then my dad picked up one of his cartons of juice and reading straight from the packaging said,‘here you go. Orange juice. Naturally and artificially flavoured. made from powdered concentrate.’

 

RP laughed again and stood up. ‘Nah, you’re all right. i need to get going. But thanks for the offer.’ and then he looked across at me and smiled. it was the most fantastic smile i’ve ever seen. my body temperature rocketed upwards and my hands went clammy. it was like being struck by lightning all over again.

 

i smiled back and even though i was in the process of picking up a freezing-cold box of frozen turkey twizzlers, i crossed my fingers on both hands and hoped for something amazing to happen. i don’t know what exactly. Just some kind of random little miracle which would stop him from walking out of my life. Anything!

 

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to hold a box of frozen turkey twizzlers when you’ve got your fingers crossed. my dad said, ‘Oi, sulky sue – careful with those twizzlers! i don’t want them going all over the floor.’

 

‘Ok,’i snapped.‘keep your hair on!’

 

my dad said, ‘Will do, kiddo, will do.’ and then he touched his bald head and said,‘Oh mY DaYs! WheRe’s it GONe?’

 

i laughed. it really is difficult to be annoyed with my dad for more than a couple of seconds. my dad fished a spurs beanie hat out of his pocket, plonked it on his head and said, ‘as soon as those twizzlers are in the freezer, you can call it a day.that lazy twin of yours can help me from here.’and with another shout of,‘Oi, loopy lou,’ he went up the stairs to find her.

 

i laughed again and then turned back to see if the Beautiful River Phoenix Boy was laughing too. i wanted to feel the warmth of his fantastic smile again.

 

But he wasn’t laughing. in fact, he wasn’t even there. he’d gone.

 

i froze with my frozen twizzlers still in my arms. my head was filled with one horrible thought. What if i never ever saw him again? For a moment, i actually thought i might cry.

 

and then i saw it. and i realized that an amazing little miracle had happened after all.

 

the Beautiful mystery Boy had left his phone on the table.

i looked at it. and then i picked it up. it was still slightly sweaty from being in his hands. For a second i just stood there, holding on to the slightly sweaty phone, and then i rushed over to the front door, opened it and stepped out on to the pavement.

 

the world instantly changed.

 

cars and buses were spluttering along the high road in both directions and there were people everywhere. they were mooching around and chatting the chat and moseying about and chewing the fat and, sometimes – in that way that drives my dad mental – they were just leaning against shop windows and doing nothing at all. even though most of the shops were closed and had their shutters down.

aside from all the tedious types who are too yawningly tedious to describe, i could see three boys doing bunny-hops on their bikes and i could see an old lady with a shopping trolley who was weaving it around like she thought she was Jenson Button.

 

i looked down the street.

 

aside from a load more yawners, i could see someone fast asleep on a public bench.and i could see a kid in a hoodie doing some mean keepie-uppies with an empty cola can. But i couldn’t see the boy who looked like River Phoenix anywhere. it was as if he’d just walked out of the cafe and vanished.

 

a voice behind me said,‘everything all right, sunshine?’

 

i jumped. Just as if i’d been caught doing something dodgy. i don’t know why though because i hadn’t been doing anything remotely dodgy at all. i’d just been looking.

 

it was my dad. he was back from upstairs and he had Jolene with him.

 

‘lost something?’

 

‘Just getting some fresh air,’ i said. the chunky Bus choked to a halt about thirty centimetres away from my face and made me cough. i quickly stepped back inside and closed our door.

 

my dad winked at me.‘look who i found upstairs – lady Googoo singing into a pair of pink hair straighteners.’ he jerked his thumb at Jolene. she was looking even more fed up than before. Quickly, i slipped the mystery boy’s phone into my apron pocket.

Jolene narrowed her eyes and glared at my dad. ‘everything about that sentence is wrong! FYi, they were curling tongs – not straighteners.and it wasn’t lady Gaga i was listening to – it was Beyoncé! they’re hardly similar, Dad.actually,they’re not even close to similar.they don’t look the same, sound the same or dress the same. and whereas Beyoncé is the sexiest woman in the entire world, lady Gaga is blatantly the world’s sexiest hermaphrodite. everyone knows that!’

 

my dad winked at her. (he’s quite big on winking. he’s not a creepy winker though.) ‘that’s fascinating, sweetheart,’ he said.‘i’ll try and remember for next time. Now, be a good girl and give the kitchen floor a quick once-over with a mop.and,Jody,get a wiggle on and get yourself out of here

 

– you’re done, sunshine.’ i didn’t need telling twice. ‘thanks, Dad,’ i said, and hurried over to the stAff only door. my dad said, ‘Whoaa there! ain’t you gonna take that apron off?’

 

i paused, one hand on the door handle and the other hovering nervously over the pocket of my hideous bright orange apron.after a second of panic,i said,‘Do i have to? i like wearing it.’and then i went very red.

 

my dad looked gobsmacked.But then he relaxed and said, ‘lady Googoo wearing a lot of orange this season, is she?’

 

‘Yeah,’ i said quickly.

 

‘like crap she is!’ said Jolene.‘this season,she’s mostly wearing spandex leopard print in black and silver!’

luckily my dad ignored her.‘Well,just you make sure you stick it in the wash before your next shift. i’ve got a five-star hygiene rating and i intend to keep it that way. Now jog off before i change my mind and find you something else to do.’

 

i did as i was told and gladly rushed up the stairs.When i reached the locked front door of our flat, i let myself in and then ran up the next flight of stairs until i was at the very top of the building.and then i went straight to my bedroom, closed the door behind me and flopped down on my bed.

 

i lay there, breathing hard, and looked at my walls.there’s a lot to look at because every square centimetre is plastered with posters – except for one rectangle above my headboard which is occupied by my prime numbers chart. and even though i’ve got the coollest collection of River Phoenix and Jim morrison posters in the whole of Willesden Green, Jolene still reckons that my one single maths chart cancels out everything else and makes my entire bedroom look like a nerd hole. But that’s just her opinion. i like it because i think prime numbers are actually fairly fascinating. and, quite frankly, i don’t get stressed over what she thinks because she’s got a picture of Justin Bieber on her wall.

 

i studied River’s face.to begin with, it was a very calming thing to do. his green eyes were deep and intense, and his cheekbones were so sharp that they looked as if they’d been carefully calculated with a protractor. in fact, i’d say that River Phoenix was so good looking that it’s impossible not to fall in love with him a little bit. even though he’s just a poster on my wall. even though he’s dead. even though . . .

i’d stopped feeling calm and started feeling a bit agitated so i shifted my focus to my prime numbers chart and studied that for a while and then, when i’d lost interest in that, i stood up and walked over to the window. Pressing my face to the glass, i twisted my head sideways. Further down the street, the white arch of Wembley was shooting through the sky and thin shafts of February afternoon sunshine were bouncing against it. it actually looked like it was glowing. that’s why i really love that arch. it’s different every single time you see it. and it always makes me feel happy. even if i’m in a really bog-awful mood. i don’t know why it has this effect on me. But, as long as i can see that great big steel rainbow, i know that nothing is nowhere near as bog-awful as it seems.

 

i took the phone out of my apron pocket and had a proper look at it. it was a nice one.With a touch-screen and a shiny silver shell.and even though the screen had a crack in it and the whole thing was held together with a piece of sticky tape, it was still way cooler than the matching pay-as-you-go supermarket shame-boxes that me and Jolene have to put up with.

 

the boy’s phone felt weird in my hand. Or maybe it was just my hand that was feeling weird. it had gone all clammy.

 

i put the phone down on the window sill. and then i just stood there, leaning against my window and drumming my fingers against the wooden ledge.and then i picked the phone up again.

 

it still felt weird. But it felt sort of nice too. sort of dangerously and temptingly nice.i quickly put it down again.

 

i pressed my face back against the window.the Wembley arch was still there.everything was Ok.i took a deep breath, snatched the phone up again and switched it on.the screen glowed and buzzed into life. after a couple of seconds, the blank surface was replaced with a set of tiny icons. carefully, to avoid doing any more damage to the cracked screen, i touched the icon for the main menu.then i touched the one for the phone log.a load of names and numbers appeared on the screen. i quickly switched it off.

 

this felt bad.Really bad.like looking through somebody’s sock drawer or something.

 

But, then again, you have to ask yourself this question:

 

is it wrong to look through somebody’s sock drawer if you’re trying to find a way to return their phone to them?

 

i switched the phone on again. hardly daring to breathe, i quickly scanned the list of contacts.there were names like Rory and Waggy and spoony and kyle. the last number dialled had been to someone called titch. he didn’t sound too scary. Before i could change my mind, i pressed redial and waited.

 

somewhere, a phone began to ring.

 

i waited. Only for a second or two.and then somebody who sounded exactly like a gangster said,‘hey,liam,what’s up?’

 

Quick as a flash, i pressed end call. and then i sat back down on my bed and smiled.

 

liam.

 

liam. liam. liam. liam.

 

the phone began to flash and vibrate in my hand.i dropped it down on my duvet as if i’d been burned.titch’s name was flashing on the screen. he obviously wanted to chat.

 

‘No way,’ i muttered. i know it’s shallow to make judgements based on first impressions but sometimes you just can’t help it.and titch had sounded dead shifty to me.

 

i waited.after another second,the phone went silent and the screen went dull.titch blatantly wasn’t the sort of person who liked to hang about. i picked the phone up again and navigated my way back to the list of contacts.there was one called mum.this seemed like safer territory. i selected the option for dial number and waited.

 

after a few rings, a woman answered and said,‘hi,liam.’

 

she was irish. i could tell it from her accent. so liam was at least half-irish then. Just like the actor colin Farrell.

Or Jonathan Rhys meyers.

 

it made my head boggle a bit just thinking about it.

 

there was another ‘puh’ sound in my ear.and then she said, ‘Well, thanks. he should be home any moment. soon as he gets in, i’ll pass the message on and tell him to drop by. What did you say the cafe was called?’

 

‘chunky’s Diner,’i said.‘But ...but ...’i hesitated again. my hands were so sweaty they felt like they were melting.

 

‘Yes?’ said liam’s mum.

 

‘er . . . well . . .’ i was starting to feel shiftier than titch. ‘could you get him to give me a call back on this number before he drops by? so i know when he’s coming. Because a lot of the time we’re shut.’

 

i’m a rubbish liar – i know i am. and i also know that

my dad would be totally outraged if he ever learned of this particular one. Because our cafe is hardly ever shut. in fact, the only days we don’t open at all are christmas Day and Boxing Day. But, luckily for me, my dad was two floors below and well out of earshot.

 

liam’s mum sounded a bit doubtful. ‘Ok, love, i’ll get him to call you. But listen to me, kiddo, if i find out that you’ve been using that phone to chat to all your friends, it won’t be my liam you have to answer to – it’ll be me. have you got that?’

 

‘Yes,’i said.Because i had.and then i said,‘i won’t.’and i meant it.

 

after she’d gone, i put the phone back down on my bed. and then i just sat in silence and stared at it. i don’t know how long i sat like that but it was long enough to give me boringitis and backache. i stood up, stretched, leaned over to my mega-bass super-woofer and switched it on. Flicking through my mP3 files, i selected the Doors and then ‘light my Fire’ and turned the volume right up. instantly, the cheerfully weird sound of Ray manzarek’s electronic organ filled my room. Ray was the keyboard player in the Doors. he wasn’t anywhere near as good looking or as cool as Jim morrison, but he had fingers that could skip across a keyboard like a spring lamb on a grassy hillside. Probably he still does because as far as i’m aware he’s actually managed to stay alive.

 

listening to the Doors made me feel better. i flopped over on my side, curled up into a ball and closed my eyes.

Jim morrison started to sing. i curled up tighter and listened.

 

his voice was soft and deep and hypnotic and beautiful.

 

and all of a sudden i was transported back downstairs. and i was standing at the counter and looking over at the boy in the corner.and i was moving a few steps sideways so that i could see him better, and when i did it felt just as if i’d been struck by lightning.

 

my eyes flew open.

 

What if liam phoned me while this music was on and i didn’t hear him?

 

i got up and turned the volume down on my mega-bass super-woofer.and then,just to be on the safe side,i turned it off altogether.

 

But a quick glance at the phone told me that liam hadn’t rung. it was still lying silent and lifeless on top of my bed. No messages were scrolling across the screen to tell me that i’d missed any calls. Not even titch had rung again. i picked the phone up and carried it over to my desk.and then i sat down and drummed my fingers against my desktop for a bit. and when i got fed up with doing that i stopped, took my maths project out of the desk drawer and opened it. i stared at it for a while.and then i sighed,closed it and shoved it back in the drawer. Normally, i find quadratic equations very absorbing.

 

i put my head down on my desk.

 

and finally, at long last, the phone on my bed burst into noisy life and a blast of a ringtone filled my room. i recognized it at once.it was an old R&B song called ‘Return of the mack’.this was a smash hit around about the same

 

time that Jolene and i were born and the only reason i know it is because my dad sings it sometimes when he’s been out to the pub and comes swaggering back home.except that he sings,‘Return of the Mike,’ because, even though everybody calls him chunky, my dad’s real name is actually michael.

 

Personally, i wouldn’t ever have guessed that ‘Return of the mack’ was liam’s cup of tea.to be honest though, being surprised by him was all part of the thrill.

 

i snatched the phone up.the word mum was flashing on the screen. my heart sank. i wasn’t in the mood for another conversation with her. Reluctantly, i pressed accept and said,‘hello?’

 

a boy’s voice said,‘so you’ve got my phone then?’

 

my heart shot upwards into my mouth.and then it did a backflip, a side-spin and a quick moonwalk before swallow-diving downwards and settling in my throat, like a great big awkward lump.

 

i gulped. and then i said, ‘Yeah.’ except that it didn’t actually sound like yeah.it actually sounded like a yelp.as if someone wearing bother-boots had stomped on my overly-long little toe while i was wearing flip-flops. i slapped my palm across my forehead and let out a silent inner scream.

 

liam said, ‘so will you be open after school tomorrow then?’

 

‘Yeah,’ i said. i managed to say it properly this time.

 

liam said,‘You don’t say much, do you?’

 

‘No,’ i said. Because he was dead right. For some reason, i was suddenly less chatty than chatty chong on a sponsored

silence.Which was weird. Because actually there was loads of stuff i wanted to say to him. Questions mostly. Questions like . . .

 

Do you like Jim morrison? What were you listening to on those massive

 

silver headphones? What’s your

 

last name? Where do you live? Which

 

school do you go to? Why

 

have i never seen you around here

 

before? are you aware that you look just like River Phoenix? Where did

 

you learn to look so flipping hipping cool? When can i see you again?

But i couldn’t ask him any of those questions because my jaw had gone stiff.

 

liam said,‘so how about i drop by straight after school? Be about fourish?’

 

‘Yes,’ i said. and then i remembered that monday after school is always maths club. Normally i never miss it. in fact, me and chatty chong are mrs hamood’s maths club.

 

‘No problem,’isaid.‘and don’t worry about your phone

 

– i’ll look after it.’ ‘cheers,’ said liam. and then he paused and said, ‘What

 

did you say your name was again?’

 

‘Jo.’

 

‘see you tomorrow then, Jo,’ said liam.and he rang off.

 

i held his phone in my hand, leaned back in my chair and thought about liam’s voice. it was soft but slightly gruff. confident but not cocky.Breezy.Boyish.Beautiful.liam had a beautiful voice. Just like Jim morrison. Just like adele as well – but obviously a bit more blokey than hers.

 

i sat there for about an hour just thinking about that.

 

Finally, somewhere below, i heard footsteps and i knew that the time for thinking and dreaming was over. after all, thinking and dreaming can only get you so far in life.actions are what really matter.and,if you’re not in a position to take action or don’t dare to, it’s best not to torture yourself.

 

i firmly pushed all thoughts of liam and his beautiful face and his geometric cheekbones and his lovely voice out of my head.and then i stood up,poked my head into the hallway and shouted,‘Jolene? is that you?’

my sister’s voice floated up the stairs. ‘Well, it’s hardly Dad, is it? can you feel the floor shaking?’ she clearly hadn’t cheered up.

 

‘You might have been mum,’i said defensively.‘she’s due back from the talon salon about now. anyway, come up here a moment, will you? i need to show you something.’

 

i waited. Jolene’s footsteps thumped upwards. i took a deep breath and held it until she reached the top.

 

a moment later, Jolene plonked herself down on my bed and said,‘so what’s up?’

 

i didn’t answer her straight away. i think i waited for about a second. and in that second, i could hear a voice in my head saying,‘You really don’t have to do this,you know. she doesn’t own him or anything. You do not have to do this!’

 

But i knew i did have to do it. Because it was the only thing to do.

 

and she’s my twin.and she spotted liam first.and,to be perfectly honest, the whole situation was making my brain melt.

 

it was a very long second.

 

and then i put the phone in Jolene’s hand and said,‘his name is liam. and he’s coming to the cafe at four o’clock tomorrow to get this back.and you’re going to be there to stun him with your full charm offensive when he does.’

 

 

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