‘Wha…at, nobody gets grounded these days.’
Dean patted his pocket, he was quite happy to retreat to his bedroom away from the ageing love birds. They hadn’t got Sky yet, but with his new smart phone (bribery present from his mother) and the TV, he shouldn’t be too bored.
‘You are grounded till school starts tomorrow’ said Rob.
‘Suits me, there’s nothing to do around here anyway, nowhere to go in this godforsaken place, I’m happy to stay in my room.’
‘You won’t be in your room; grounded means on the ground, you can come out and work with me.’
‘I’ve got unpacking to do and dinner to get, I’ll make you both something really nice, what do you fancy?’
‘I’ll do chicken the way you like it; now go out and get some fresh air, you’ll enjoy helping Rob.’
Dean slouched out behind Rob and sneered at the vehicle parked in the driveway. ‘Green Man with Green Van’ was emblazoned on its side. He took the phone out of his pocket and started tapping in.
‘…and you can leave that at home, we’ve got work to do.’
‘Nobody leaves their phone at home. It’s my only contact with the outside world.’
‘The outside world can do without you for a few hours.’
‘Yeah, but I can’t do without the outside world, I didn’t want to come and live here.’
Rob laughed as he pulled out of the driveway. ‘I think you may have mentioned that already and I didn’t want you living with me, but neither of us has any choice. Try thinking of your mother for a change, she’s very happy to get away from the other place.’
‘She married you just so she could live in Woodycopse? I don’t think.’
‘You’ll be glad she married me one day. Stick it out here for a couple of years then you can go out into the world without worrying about your mother, she’ll have me to look after her.’
‘She’s quite capable of looking after herself.’
‘I know, but she deserves more than that. I don’t expect you to understand, just don’t spoil all this for her.’
‘Oh hello Kate, yes we’re back, had a wonderful time, a week of sheer bliss, yes and that as well, no complaints in that department. Anyway, it’s true what they say about Venice.
Dean? Yes, he’s fine, gone out with Rob, they really get on well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob doesn’t take him on in the business in a few years time. I think he would have liked a son of his own… at my age? Yes of course it’s biologically possible, but it wouldn’t be fair on Dean, he’s still my baby… he starts at the new school tomorrow, once he meets some kids his own age… No I’m looking forward to my new life, imagine me living in Woodycopse, bit of a change from Fenbridge… Yes, once we’ve settled in you must come down and stay. Right, I’d better get on with dinner, Dean especially requested his favourite chicken dish, a week of his granny’s cooking, he’s probably starving.’
The short drive to the house on the edge of the village was spent in silence, except for exaggerated sighs from Dean. Without ceremony Rob parked the van, jumped out, opened the back doors, beckoned to Dean and handed him a cluster of wooden handles with strange metallic attachments.
‘What the hell am I supposed to do with these?’
‘You’ll soon find out, it’s all clearing today, so you can’t do much harm.’
‘What a jungle.’
‘In a few weeks you won’t recognise it, do you want to see the plans?’
Dean quite enjoyed the hacking and chopping, though he was careful not to show it, but when he felt blisters coming up on his palms any enthusiasm quickly evaporated.
‘Can we stop now?’
‘No, we need to break the back of the work today, so it will be easier when we come after school tomorrow.’
‘Wha…at, I’m not your slave and you can’t make me do it, you’re not my Dad.’
‘I wondered how long before you came out with that cliché. You’re not my son thank goodness, just a reminder of why I never wanted children.’
‘At least you won’t want to adopt me, but why didn’t you want kids?’
‘I’m too selfish or didn’t want to inflict another teenager like me on the world?’
‘What were you like?’
‘Let’s just say my mother strongly suggested I join the army. By the time I realised that was a mistake, it was too late.’
‘Gran and Mum say Dad loved the army, never wanted to do anything else.’
‘I know, he was a great bloke and I’ve never pretended to your mother that I could replace him. Marrying me is better for your mother than being alone and that is all I can expect. And the least we can do for her is pretend we get along, perhaps one day we will…’