‘Jess! Get up. We’re going to miss the train!’
I rolled away and pulled the duvet over my head, trying to ignore my best friend, Tegan. I was not a good morning person. I peered out reluctantly at my blue alarm clock. Dammit! She was right – we’d overslept. I shot out of bed and got changed, pulling on my grey skinny jeans and stripy white top. Our train was in less than an hour – no time for a shower. Luckily it was just us two on the train down to London today and, after everything that had happened recently, there was definitely no one I needed or wanted to impress.
I grabbed the brush off my dressing table and worked through my messy blonde hair as quickly as possible – it was quite difficult since it reached all the way down my back. I was desperate to get it all cut off one day, but my mum wouldn’t let me. At only five foot three, and with ridiculously big blue eyes, Mum has always called me her Little Mermaid, and since her divorce from my dad I didn’t have the heart to make her sad again.
It was my dad we were actually going to visit for the next fortnight. I’d just turned eighteen and finished school, and didn’t really have an excuse not to go and stay for a while. Mum had said I should go but I still felt a bit guilty. Plus I didn’t really know how to be around Dad after not seeing him for such a long while, so I was taking Tegan with me for support. And, to tell the truth, to have fun with – Dad was only going to be there the second week and after both having horrible boyfriend break-ups this term we both needed to let our hair down. No boys allowed.
I grabbed my suitcase, thankful that I’d packed it last night, and went down the stairs to where Tegan was waiting. Looking down at my friend’s tall, willowy frame, one hand tapping impatiently on the hallway table and pushing her short dark hair off her face with the other, I was reminded how childlike I looked walking next to her. She was also definitely the sensible one out of the two of us.
‘Oh, so you actually did decide to get out of bed, then? Come on, we need to catch that train.’ The fond twinkle in Tegan’s chocolate-brown eyes told me she wasn’t as mad as she sounded. Tegan could never stay cross with me for too long – whatever I’d been up to.
‘Coming, Mum,’ I teased.
‘Just get a move on,’ Tegan laughed, pulling me to the door.
We arrived breathlessly at the train station with minutes to go and leaped through the doors just as they were closing. Grabbing a table seat, we threw ourselves down in a big sweaty pile. I felt my tummy rumble; it was a long journey from Edinburgh down to London and in the mad rush out of the house there definitely hadn’t been any time for breakfast.
Tegan raised a knowing eyebrow and reached into her bag for a bottle of Coke and a packet of crisps. ‘Here, I thought you might be wanting this,’ she said, handing it across the table.
‘Thanks, Tegan. What would I do without you?’ I smiled sheepishly. Deciding we needed to move on from my general flakiness, I changed the subject. ‘So, are you excited about our girly London trip, then?’
It worked. Tegan forgot that she was meant to be frowning at me and nodded her head eagerly. ‘Oh yes! I really think we both need this break and time away from Edinburgh – especially the people who live there. Don’t you?’
I smiled ruefully. The hurt that showed in Tegan’s eyes from the painful and embarrassing break-up with her ex, Josh, who had dumped her by text, was also mirrored in mine. It had been a lot less recent, but my long-term boyfriend, Jacob, had run off with another girl, which had left me really scarred. Especially as the girl had been mine and Tegan’s best friend. Lucy, Tegan and I had been as close as anyone could be, but neither of us spoke to her now. It still hurt to think about it.
Tegan’s phone pinged, providing a welcome distraction from the horrible memories. I shook them out of my head and took a deep breath – that’s why we were going to London: to forget about horrible boys for good. This was going to be fun – time to let our hair down.
‘Who is it?’ I asked.
Tegan scowled at the screen, slamming the phone down on the table furiously. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked out of the window.
‘Are you OK?’ I asked, and kicked myself for such a stupid question.
Tegan looked back at me, tears in her eyes. ‘It was Josh.’
‘What? What the hell does he want?’
Tegan looked down at her shirt and began fiddling with it. ‘He said he …’ She mumbled the rest.
‘Excuse me?’ What on earth could he have said to hurt her now?
Tegan looked up and sighed. ‘He said he wants me back.’
‘He said what?’ That was it. This was meant to be mine and Tegan’s holiday, and somehow a boy back home was ruining it already. I grabbed the phone from off the table.
‘What are you doing?’ Tegan asked warily.
Tegan reached out wildly, trying to grab the phone. ‘Noooo!’
I threw myself back in the seat, keeping the phone out of her reach. ‘Yes, Tegan. That boy is bad. And he doesn’t deserve you.’
Tegan looked distraught, but I carried on. This was for her own good. ‘Nobody, and I repeat, nobody, finishes with my best friend by a crappy text message. Because of him, you’ve spent the last week in the house crying, eating crap and watching crap. And I’ve had to watch it too. And then he expects you to take him back? Phst!’ I ran out of words to describe my disgust so I just finished the text instead.
Tegan sat back, admitting defeat.
‘What did you say to him?’ she mumbled.
‘Oh, nothing too bad,’ I smiled. ‘Just that if he tries any of that shit again I will hunt him down and murder him.’
For a second Tegan looked shocked but then she started to laugh. ‘Thanks Jess.’
‘’S what I’m here for.’
‘Anyway –’ Tegan looked at me thoughtfully – ‘what about you? How are you doing?’
‘What do you mean?’ I tried to play dumb.
‘You know what,’ she replied gently. ‘Do you think you might have started to move on after Jacob? You haven’t so much as mentioned a single boy’s name since him. Not even any off the telly!’ Tegan smiled brightly and I could tell she was trying to lighten the mood.
I didn’t know what to say. I was meant to be the strong one, but Tegan had got me. She knew me too well. So I just looked at the floor instead.
‘Jess. Jess, look at me. Have you …’ She hesitated before carrying on. ‘Have you thought that you might ever forgive Lucy for what happened?’
‘No! And neither should you! Friends just don’t do that.’
‘I know,’ Tegan replied sadly.
I could tell Tegan missed Lucy. I did too in some ways, but I would never forgive her for dropping our friendship for a boy. And I knew as long as I wasn’t speaking to her then neither would Tegan out of loyalty.
I felt bad that the conversation was taking such a downturn. ‘Come on. Let’s change the subject. These are our two weeks of craziness and forgetting everything else!’
Tegan grinned. ‘You’re right. Anyhoo … you might meet someone in London and have a summer romance!’ she sang.
Tegan just laughed.