Gripping the phone in one hand, she dug the fingers of her other hand deep into the sand, raking it back and repeating.
‘Are you still there? Jessie, please don’t hang up.’
The pleading tone of Kelly’s voice softened Jessie’s heart. ‘I’m still here.’
‘Oh good. I’ve been so worried. I thought I’d lost you forever. Mum and Dad keep telling me to give you more time to get used to the idea, but I don’t know how much longer I can take it. We used to be so close. It used to be me and you against the world. Do you remember that time Mum and Dad had that massive argument? I know they used to argue a lot when we were younger, but the time they had thathugeargument, and I was sitting on the top step crying and you came and wrapped your arms around me and told me everything would be okay?’
‘And that time I caught my first ever boyfriend snogging Jade White in girls’ toilets at school and we ran off into town for the afternoon. You got in so much trouble for encouraging me to skip lessons, and you knew you would, but you did it anyway?’
Despite her best efforts, Jessie pursed her lips, the familiar feeling of anger and betrayal stirring in her stomach.
‘Do you remember the time my fiancé finished with me and you jumped into a relationship with him barely months after all my future dreams had been shattered?’ A heavy silence hung in the air. Sighing, Jessie focused on the ocean, the splash of the waves against the rocks again. ‘Sorry.’
Kelly cleared her throat. ‘No, don’t be sorry. I deserved that. I deserve a lot more. What I did was wrong.’
‘Why? Why did you have to get with Brad? Why did you have to fall pregnant with him?’
A burst of hollow laughter seeped down the phone. ‘Believe me, having a baby was the last thing on my mind, the last thing I wanted. I’d seen how hurt you’d been because he’d decided he didn’t want kids. Do you really think I got together with him so I could have his baby?’
‘No, but why? You’ve never been short of attention from men. You could have had anyone. Any of the men throwing themselves at your feet? Why Brad? Why my ex-fiancé?’ Jessie could hear shuffling as Kelly moved position.
‘I don’t know. You know what I’m like. You know I’ve always wanted what I can’t have.’
Shaking her head, Jessie grabbed a fistful of sand, watching as the minute grains flowed hurriedly through her fingers. Was that all it had been to Kelly? A challenge? A complete disregard for her sister? ‘I’m not buying that. Even you have some morals.’
‘You’re right. That wasn’t it.’
‘Then what was?’
‘Look, Jessie, why don’t you come home? I don’t want to talk about this over the phone.’
‘Kelly, what was it?’
‘Please, come home, Jessie?’
Shaking her head, Jessie scraped her hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear. ‘I’m not coming home.’
‘Oh, please? I’ve moved back in. I’m in my old bedroom. It’ll be just like old times. We’ll have fun.’
Jessie opened her mouth to say something before closing it again. Kelly had moved in? Her parents had let Kelly move in, even though they knew how she’d feel about it. Was that why her mum had been so supportive of her coming to Penworth Bay? So, she could move Kelly into the family home behind her back. ‘You’ve moved back?’
‘Yes, Mum and Dad both want me there. They’re going to help me raise the baby. You know me, I can’t do that on my own. Can you imagine? I can hardly remember to feed myself, let alone have someone else to think about.’
She closed her eyes tightly, waiting until the world had turned black and red, shooting white dots filling her vision. Didn’t her feelings matter? At all? Did nobody actually care how much all of this had affected her? Jessie? ‘I need to get back to work.’
‘Think about it, will you? Think about coming back home?’
‘Bye.’ Placing her mobile on the sand next to her, Jessie laid back against the sand. Closing her eyes against the brightness of the sun, she tried to clear her mind. She tried to focus on the sun’s warmth against her skin, on the comforting sound of the waves splashing against the rocks. Of the feel of the sand against the skin of her arms. She tried to not to think about the fact she was being pushed out of her home.
Yes, she’d only moved back into the family home when her relationship with Brad had ended. Yes, it had always meant to have been a temporary measure, but the fact was she didn’t have anywhere else to go. She had been jumping from temp job to temp job and there wasn’t a chance this side of the next century that she’d ever be able to get a rental contract. No, she was stuck. Stuck living with her parents and now her sister and soon-to-be nephew, who also happened to be her ex-fiancé’s child.
Sitting up, she covered her mouth with her hand, swallowing back the sting of bile. He’d be coming over to visit his child. However much Brad didn’t want to face up to the fact he was going to be a father, when the baby arrived, even he’d come round to the idea and want to visit his child. He’d be coming into the family home, spending time with the baby and Kelly.
Standing up, she walked to the sea, kicked off her sandals and dipped her toes into the water before stepping in. Letting the cool salty ocean wash across her feet, she tried to clear her mind. Things were different now. Since coming down here, she’d made friends, and started seeing Simon. She’d finally begun feeling accepted. Feeling enough. Enough for these new people she’d only just met but who she was quickly feeling as though she’d known forever. What would happen in a few weeks when she had to go back home, though? Would she keep in contact with her newfound friends? Would she keep in contact with Simon?