Today the Gillian Philip The Opposite of Amber blog tour comes to Bookbabblers. We get to share the first part of an exclusive short story from Gillian…
‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself,’ said Jinn Carmichael.
It took me a couple of breaths to realise she wasn’t talking to me. I just assumed she was, since I was used to ought-to-being ashamed of myself.
As it turned out, though, she was talking to my father. Or possibly the slightly drunk woman draped over him.
At first I hadn’t recognised the blonde girl. I knew Jinn from school (I’d even got off and gone out with her a few times) but only with her eyes twinkling in a shy-but-flirty sort of way. They weren’t twinkling now. They’d gone supernova. With all that righteous anger coming off her in sparks, she wasn’t instantly recognisable, but Christ, she was impressive.
Jinn Carmichael hadn’t so much as rung the doorbell. She’d just stormed into our house and flung open the lounge door and now she stood there blazing.
‘Ruby’s looking for you, you know. She says, where’s Mammy?’ Jinn’s lip curled. I watched it, every twitch of indignant facial muscle, and suddenly I wanted to kiss it. ‘One of these days I’m gonnae tell her where. And I’ve got my drama club.’
I thought the woman Lara would give her a mouthful in return, but she only went red and shamefaced, as instructed. ‘Jinn, baby, I’m sorry. I forgot…’ She shoved and levered herself up off my dad. ‘I’ll be there in a minute…’
‘Hey there, Jinn,’ said Dad, lazily, flexing a leg that had obviously fallen asleep.
‘Hey there you. Don’t let her drink that much in the afternoon, right?’
‘No, miss. I’ll try harder, miss.’
Now that was properly cool and insolent. I stored it for future use in the face of a livid female, but for the moment I was too awestruck to do any talking myself. Sweet-tempered good girl Jinn; who’d have thought it? I stuffed the Xbox controller down the side of the sofa and got up. Then it struck me that I looked like I was showing gentlemanly respect, and besides I didn’t know what to do with my hands, so I crouched down to clear up discarded beer cans. Lara’s legs stumbled past my head; I heard her smoochy mis-aimed kiss at my father and the hasty slam of the door.
I sat back on my heels and studied Jinn, but she was glaring disapproval at Dad and she wasn’t taking any further interest in me. I resented that, since I knew fine she had the hots for me at school, so when she finally followed her mother out the door, I went after her.
She took some following. Her steps were brisk and determined and she was halfway down our street before I caught her up. She gave me a single glance, then stared straight ahead, but I’d already seen the rush of pink to her cheekbones.
‘What d’you want, Nathan?’
‘Sorry about that,’ I said humbly. ‘I didn’t know.’
She did a kind of double take. Doubtless she’d never heard me apologise to anyone. ‘Sorry about what?’
‘My dad and that. I didn’t know she was your mum.’
‘That’s not the point, is it?’ But her voice had softened and her eyes kept slewing my way. Jinn Carmichael wasn’t a soft touch, she wasn’t easy. I don’t mean to give that impression.
But she did fancy me.
I smiled my favourite shit-eating smile. The one that always did it.
‘Want to go down the beach bar?’
Itching to read more?! For the next part, go to Heaven, Hell & Purgatory tomorrow. As if this isn’t treat enough for you, we are also offering 1 lucky Bookbabbler a chance to win a copy of The Opposite of Amber, thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books. To be entered into the draw, comment on this post, ‘like’ it on Facebook or retweet it. We’ll pick a winner at 7pm on Wednesday (UK only) – good luck!
The Opposite of Amber is out today and is in our Amazon shop for you to buy now.