Today's Reading

"Is anyone hurt?" I ask, rubbing my aching neck. "Rodney?"

"Who?" says Marcus.

"I'm OK!" calls Rodney, who's still in the backseat of the car.

Deb helps him climb out. I should have done that. My brain feels kind of scrambled.

"Shit," says Dylan, finally registering the crumpled bumper of the Mercedes. "Sorry, Marcus."

"Oh, mate, honestly, don't worry about it," Marcus says. "Do you know how many times I've totaled one of my dad's cars? He won't even notice."

I step forward and check out the back of Deb's battered Mini. It's actually not looking too bad—that bang was so loud I would've assumed something serious had fallen off. Like a wheel.

Before I've registered what she's doing, Deb's in the driving seat, starting the engine again.

"She's all good!" she says. "What a car. Best money I ever spent." She drives forward a little, up onto the curb, and hits the hazard lights.

Dylan's back in the Mercedes, rifling through the glove box. He and Marcus talk about roadside accident assist, Marcus forwards him an e-mail off his phone and I think to myself...that's it, Dylan's hair's shorter. That's what it is. I know I should be thinking about this whole car crash thing but all I'm doing is playing a game of spot-the-difference, looking at Dylan and going, What's missing? What's new?

His eyes flick to mine again. I go hot. There's something about Dylan's eyes—they kind of catch you up, like cobweb. I force myself to look away.

"So...you're on your way to Cherry's wedding, I'm guessing?" I say to Marcus. My voice shakes. I can't look at him. I'm suddenly thankful for the dented rear bumper to examine on the Mini.

"Well, we were," Marcus drawls, eyeing the Mercedes. Maybe he can't bring himself to look at me either. "But there's no way we're driving this baby four hundred miles now. It needs to get to a garage. Yours should too."

Deb makes a dismissive noise, already out of the car again and rubbing a scratch with the sleeve of her ratty old hoody. "Ah, she's fine," she says, opening and closing the boot experimentally. "Dented, that's all."

"Marcus, it's going ballistic," Dylan calls.

I can see the Mercedes' screen flashing warning lights even from here. The hazards are too bright. I turn my face away. Isn't it typical that when Marcus's car breaks, Dylan's the one sorting it?

"The tow will be here in thirty minutes to take it to the garage," Dylan says.

"Thirty minutes?" Deb says, disbelieving.

"All part of the service," Marcus tells her, pointing to the car. "Mercedes, darling."

"It's Deb. Not darling. We've met several times before."

"Sure. I remember," Marcus says lightly. Not very convincing.

I can feel Dylan's eyes pulling at me as we all try to get the insurance stuff sorted. I'm fumbling around with my phone, Deb's digging in the glove box for paperwork and all the while I'm so aware of Dylan, like he's taking up ten times more space than everyone else.

"And how are we getting to the wedding?" Marcus asks once we're done.

"We'll just get public transport," Dylan says.

"Public transport?" Marcus says, as though someone's just suggested he get to Cherry's wedding by toboggan. Still a bit of a wanker, then, Marcus. No surprises there.

Rodney clears his throat. He's leaning against the side of the Mini, eyes fixed on his phone. I feel bad—I keep forgetting him. Right now my brain doesn't have room for Rodney.

"If you set off now," he says, "then according to Google you would arrive...at thirteen minutes past two."

Marcus checks his watch.

"All right," says Dylan. "That's fine."

"On Tuesday," Rodney finishes.

"What?" chorus Dylan and Marcus.

Rodney pulls an apologetic face. "It's half past four in the morning on a Sunday on a bank holiday weekend and you're trying to get from Chichester to rural Scotland."

Marcus throws his hands in the air. "This country is a shambles." Deb and I look at each other. No, no no no—
...

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