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“Hey, Anna, do you want the good news or the bad news?”
“Hold on a minute, Jen.” Anna Richards dropped her sports bag on the hall floor, struggled out of her red jacket, and hung it on the wooden coat rack. After pausing for a moment in front of the mirror to fasten back strands of her dark hair into her ponytail scrunchy, she went along the passageway to the large kitchen. “Okay, I need some good news, so start with that.”
Her housemate Jenny looked round from stirring a pan of what smelt like Bolognese. “We have a possible, albeit temporary, occupant for the top floor apartment.”
“Well, temporary is better than none, isn’t it?” She sat down on one of the chrome and black plastic kitchen stools. “But before you tell me more about that, what’s the bad news? Did the drains get blocked again? Or did we forget to pay the gas bill?”
“Neither. At least, not as far as I know. The bad news—for you, anyway—is about the new tenant, so I haven’t said a definite yes yet.”
Anna frowned. “Why not? What’s the problem?”
“Not a problem for me, but it’s your new Deputy Head.”
“I kind of expected that reaction from you.”
“Jenny, you’re not serious?” She had to make a conscious effort to lift her lower jaw. “Deputy Head? Mr. – oh heavens, I’ve even forgotten his name. Carter, I think.”
“Steve didn’t mention the name. He called earlier to tell me his estate agent friend said the new Deputy at Southgate High was looking for some temporary accommodation for the first few weeks of next term. He’s bought one of those new apartments near the park, but it’s not ready yet. Have you met him?”
“No, I was on a course in Maidstone when he came to visit the school one day last term. Does Steve know anything more about him?”
Jenny gave the pan another stir and turned the gas flame down low. “I don’t think so. He only called because he knows we’ve been looking for another tenant ever since Karl left last December.”
Anna nodded. “Yeah. Even though it’s been great to have the place to ourselves, it would be good to have someone else to share the bills. Much as I love this big old house of yours, it’s the very devil to keep warm, isn’t it? That last heating bill took a huge chunk out of my salary.”
“Mine too. So you don’t mind if it’s your Deputy?”
She blew out her breath. “It might be a bit weird, but I suppose I can cope if it’s only for a few weeks, as long as he doesn’t want to talk shop the whole time, or thinks I should be doing schoolwork every evening.” After a brief pause, she went on. “Neil met him when he visited school, so I’ll call him and see what I can find out. Then we can make a decision.” She felt in the back pocket of her jeans. “Hang on, I’ve left my phone in my jacket.”
She slid off the stool and headed for the kitchen door.
Jenny’s voice stopped her. “Why not invite Neil for some spag. bol with us tonight, so we can shoot questions at him?”
She turned. “C’mon, Jen, you know I’m trying to cool things between Neil and me.”
“So why do you still play badminton with him?”
“That’s only when we’re playing a match with some of the other staff, like this afternoon.” She paused and sighed. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice guy, but—”
Editorial note from Jane.
Please DO NOT make the comment wondering about whether the English is the author’s primary language in critiquing these posts.