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Vanity bits and bobs
"Vanessa, can I ask you something? It's a bit private, like."
Noah's request takes her by surprise, and Vanessa immediately looks around the pub for Charity to see if this is okay. She's got enough problems with people inserting themselves into her kids' lives right now without Vanessa doing the same. Unfortunately, Charity's nowhere to be found. Probably skiving in the cellar playing that daft game on her phone that she's addicted to this week.
Vanessa's not spent a great deal of time with Noah, but they'd bumped into each other in the hall a couple of times back when she was sneaking around with Charity. And now they do the odd breakfast when Vanessa spends the night. But that doesn't give her the right to be talking to him about 'private' things.
"Uh, course you can, mate," Vanessa says, trying for a confident smile. It's fine, she tells herself. If he asks her anything too weird, she'll just tell him he needs to speak to his mum about it. "Do you wanna-" She gestures to an empty booth with her head. He nods and heads in the direction indicated. She takes a deep breath and follows, smiling as she slides in opposite him.
"So. What was it you wanted to ask me?"
He looks at the table and shifts in his seat before meeting her eyes. "Do you think you could talk to mum about me and Joe?"
That was the last thing she expected to come out of his mouth. "Me?" The word is almost barked and she quickly follows it up in a softer tone. "Why would you want me to talk to your mum about that? I I don't really even know much about-"
"No, I mean, like," he rushes to explain himself. "You know how you and Tracy never grew up together, right?"
"Yeah," she says slowly, still a bit unsure of where this is going.
"And now the two of you are, like, best mates."
"Well, don't let Rhona hear you saying that," she tells him with a smile. "But yeah, okay."
"So, can you maybe tell mum that it was a really good thing that you got to know your sister?"
"Oh, Noah, love," Vanessa says, biting her lip. "That's I don't think it's the same kind of situation. I don't know all the ins and outs of it, but I do know that your mum isn't trying to keep you away from him for no reason. She's worried about you. She's trying to do her best by you."
He huffs and sits back in the booth, arms crossed. "That'll be a first," he mutters.
"Be that as it may," Vanessa continues. "I can understand where you're coming from too. I didn't exactly welcome Tracy with open arms at the beginning, but when I stopped being upset that my Dad had lied to me yeah, I started to want her in my life."
"Mum doesn't get it," Noah continues. "She doesn't have brothers or sisters so she can't get it." He looks up at her and for a moment she sees Charity shining out of him. "Please can you just talk to her a bit? She listens when you talk."
"When it suits her," Vanessa says, with a rueful smile. She sighs. "Look, I'll give it a go, okay? But I'm not making any promises because, as I said, your mum's doing what she thinks is right to keep you safe."
He breaks out in a grin. "Thanks Vanessa."
"What's all this, then?" Vanessa looks up to find Charity approaching, looking between them in concern.
"Nothing," Noah says, too quickly. He stands up and flashes Vanessa another smile. "Vanessa was just helping me with my homework."
"Oh, so you have been to school this week, then?" Charity asks. "Wonders will never cease."
Noah ignores her and heads through to the back of the pub. Charity slides into his place and lifts an eyebrow at Vanessa. "So? What's the real story?"
Vanessa shrugs and gives Charity a lopsided smile. "I think we've just founded a long lost siblings support group."
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