Sunday, 26 August 2012

Chapter Two

Monday morning was chaos in the Angel Blue Records Office.  As I expected we'd made a huge impact with our benefit gig.  Spyder was working on the figures and he estimated through ticket sales, merchandise and donations, we'd raised around £20,000 for The Huntington's Disease Association, which was more than any of us hoped we'd achieve. 
Lora was busy updating the website with the latest news and photographs from the gig and Joolz and I were rushed off our feet as the phones were ringing off the hook.  The first blog reviews were coming online and they had nothing but praise for our bands.  I nearly died when I got an email from Bernard Sumner saying he'd heard that Unknown Pleasures did a better version of Ceremony than New Order did.  I printed out 2 copies, one to go on the wall and another to give to Miles.  I knew he'd appreciate it.
We were so busy we didn't have time to stop for lunch, so I ordered in Subway and we ate at our desks.  It was gone 5.30pm when the phones finally stopped ringing.
"Shit, I'm going to be late!" I said to no-one in particular when I saw what the time was.
"Where are you going, Angel?" asked Lora.
"Miles is picking me up, he's taking me to meet his mum."
"Ooooh!  He's proper serious then!"
"I don't know, Lora, sorry.  I've got to go get changed and he'll be here any minute!"  I said in a bit of a panic.
"Go on, I'll lock up here.  You two have a nice time!" Lora called after me as I dashed out of the door.
I just had time to wash my face and brush my teeth before Miles knocked on my apartment door.
"You're early!" I said as I kissed him on the cheek and dashed back into the bedroom.  "Have I got time to get changed?"
"Yeah, no rush, but you'll be fine as you are!"  I stared blankly at my wardrobe, I had no idea what to wear.  Miles stuck his head around the bedroom door.
"Angel, seriously, you look great.  We're not posh you know, you don't have to dress up or anything."
"I know, but I want to make a good impression."  Miles smirked.
"Come here!" he said putting his arms around me and pulling me in close to his body.  "You're not going to have tea with the Queen you know, it's just my mum and she will love you just the way you are."
"Are you sure?" I asked.  I couldn't help but feel a little nervous.
"Positive!  Compared to Cassie you're practically the ideal daughter in law."  I blushed and tried to turn my face away but Miles kissed me.  "Now come on and get your coat."
Miles drove us to the old part of town.  I didn't know the area very well and I lost my bearings after a while as the streets of terraced houses all looked the same to me.  Miles parked the car at the side of the road outside a tiny terraced house.  I got out of the car and Miles let us in.
"Only me mum!  I've brought someone to see you." Miles called as we stepped in through the front door straight into the living room.  It was kind of old fashioned, magnolia woodchip walls, pale green velour sofa, brown patterned carpet and a gas fire set in a stone effect fireplace, but it was clean and homely. 
"I'll be through in a minute!" she replied.  Miles nodded at me to sit down on the sofa.  I felt so very nervous but I shouldn't have worried.  Miles's mum was a short and plumpish woman in her late 30's. Her cropped blonde hair was greying a little and she had the same brown eyes as Miles.  I stood up when she came in the room.
"Mum this is Angel, Angel this is my mum, Sheila."  I shook Sheila's hand and said, "Pleased to meet you."
"Likewise," she said smiling back.  "She's a damn sight better than that last girlfriend of yours, Miles."
"Mum!" said Miles as he turned bright red and rolled his eyes at me.
"You have a seat and I'll go put the kettle on."  Sheila went back into the kitchen and I sat down on the sofa, giving Miles a nervous grin.
"Told you she'd like you," Miles said squeezing my hand.  I started to feel a little more relaxed.  Miles picked up the newspaper and started flicking through the pages whilst I looked up at the photographs on the mantelpiece.  They were all of Miles when he was a little boy.  He was a pretty cute kid.  I opened my mouth to ask him about the pictures when I heard a knock at the back door.  I couldn't help but eavesdrop on the conversation.
"You alright, Chloe?"
"Yeah, can I ask a favour?  Can you have Jake for an hour please, until my mum gets home.  They want me to go back into work, Tracey's not turned up again and they've got no-one else to cover."
"Of course I can, love.  Go on in Jakey, your dad's in the room."
"Cheers Sheila, I owe you one!"
For a moment I wondered what was going on, but it didn't take long for me to find out.  A moment later a little boy wearing blue jeans and a red nursery school jumper, came running through the door and jumped on Miles shouting, "Daddy!"  Miles picked him up by his arms and lifted him into the air, then pretended to drop him, making him squeal in delight.  I couldn't quite believe it!  I sat there with my mouth open, completely dumbstruck.  Miles looked across at me and gave me a rather sheepish grin.
"Jake, I'd like you to meet my friend, Angel.  Angel, this is my son, Jake."
"Hello Jake," I said to the little boy.  He was the absolutely spitting image of Miles, right down to the dirty blonde hair and big brown eyes.  There was no mistaking that Jake was Miles's son.
"Hello," said Jake shyly, as he tried to hide behind Miles's leg.  He tugged on Miles's shirt.  "Dad, can we go play football?" he asked in a very quiet voice.
"I don't know, Jake," he said looking over at me.
"Go on, you go play and I'll watch," I said.
"Yeah!  I'm going to beat you a hundred nil!" said Jake, tugging on Miles's sleeve.  I got up and followed them as they raced through the back door and out into the yard.  Sheila smiled and handed me a cup of tea.  She took one look at my face and said, "He didn't tell you about Jake, did he?"
"No, he didn't," I admitted.
"I don't know why, he should be so proud of him.  Jake's a lovely lad, he's a credit to him."
"Yeah, he seems really sweet," I said.
"Our Miles takes proper care of him too.  He left school at 16 and started working so he could support him financially."
"Yeah, well his own dad was never around much for him when he was growing up and even though Chloe was with someone else by the time she had Jake, Miles always said he wanted to be a proper dad to him."  I smiled.  I was still reeling at the shock of finding out Miles was a father, but I had to admit it was wonderful seeing him playing with his son.
"So Angel, what do you do?" Sheila asked me.  She caught me off guard and I wasn't quite sure what to say.
"Well, I'm kind of Miles's boss.  I run Angel Blue Records and I manage Unknown Pleasures."
"You're very young to be running a company aren't you?"
"I guess, my husband and I set it up a couple of years ago."
"Your husband?  You're married?" she said, narrowing her eyes at me.
"Oh no, not anymore.  Unfortunately Simon died last year, you probably heard about it on the news."
"Oh I'm so sorry.  I remember Miles telling me about it but I didn't make the connection.  Oh you poor love!" said Sheila putting her hand on my shoulder.  Not so long ago talking about Simon would have made me cry, but now I was getting better at dealing with it. 
Sheila and I talked for a while, sitting by the window, drinking tea and watching the boys clowning around in the yard.  After a while Jake started to get tired so we all went back through to the sitting room.  Jake snuggled up on Miles's knee, sucking his thumb and watching cartoons on the TV.  He had almost fallen asleep when there was a knock at the back door.
"That'll be your Nana Dawn," Sheila said to Jake as she got up to answer the door.  Miles picked up Jake and carried him through.  When Miles came back he asked me if I wanted to go out for something to eat.
"Yeah, I'm starving, and you've got some explaining to do!"
"I know!" Miles said rolling his eyes.  His mum was still chatting to Dawn at the back door so he shouted through, "We're going now mum, I won't be late!"
"All right love!  See you later!" she replied, and we let ourselves out. 

Miles was very quiet in the car as he drove through town to the pizza place.  We sat down in a booth at the back of the restaurant and Miles idly picked up the menu, pretending to read it.
"So?" I said.
"What?" asked Miles, glancing up from the menu then looking away again.
"Pepperoni or Hawaiian?" I said giggling.  Miles gave a nervous laugh too. 
"Got to be pepperoni, I can't stand pineapple," he replied, smiling.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"What, that I don't like pineapple?" he said joking.
"You know what I mean!  About Jake!" 
"I don't know, Angel.  I'm sorry, I didn't meant to hide it from you.  I guess I'm just not that proud of being a teenage dad," Miles sighed.  "Like I told you last night it was complicated.  Chloe was the first girl I'd ever slept with and it all happened so quick.  I really liked her, but she made it up with Steve and didn't want anything to do with me after that.  She kept the pregnancy a secret until she was nearly 6 months gone.  I wasn't even sure that Jake was mine until he was born."
"Wow, how did you know?  Did you like have to have paternity tests done?"
"It wasn't like on Jeremy Kyle you know!" Miles joked.  "No, we didn't need to.  Steve's black, his parents are Nigerian and you've seen Jake, fair skin, straight blonde hair.  It was obvious to everyone that Jake was my son."  I wanted to hug him but the waitress came over to take our order.  When she'd gone I reached across the table and took Miles's hand.
"Your mum told me what you'd done, leaving school and getting job to look after him.  You should be proud.  He's a lovely kid."
"Yeah, he is."
"And you're a really good dad!"
"I don't know, I mean I hardly get to see him now Chloe moved into her new flat."
"But you were great playing with him and everything."
"Yeah.  I guess I am proud of him, I just feel like people judge me when I tell them about him.  I'm 20 years old and I have a 4 year old son."
"Hey, I'm 18 and a widow.  People will always find a reason to judge you so don't you dare be ashamed of Jake!  He's wonderful!"
"And it doesn't put you off, me having a kid?"
"Are you serious?  Watching you two together made me see a whole new side of you.  If anything it made me like you even more."  Miles smiled and looked away, scratching the back of his head.
"I guess I can be a bit of a softie sometimes, just don't go telling the lads in the band eh?"
"What?  You mean they don't know?"  Miles shook his head.
"No, it never really came up.  I joined the band to replace their last bass player, I didn't know any of them before and they knew nothing about me or my past.  I just told them that I was a landscape gardener and I knew how to play all of Joy Division's songs."
"But surely you told Cassandra?"  Miles shook his head again.
"No, I only ever took her home once, my mum thought she was a slut."
"Your mum is a good judge of character," I joked.
"You're right she is.  She really liked you, I could tell.  Anyway, please don't mention Jake to anyone.  I will tell them, but in my own time."
"OK," I said as the waitress brought our food and drinks over.

The rest of the evening was pretty weird, there was a kind of tension between us.  Even when Miles took me home and came in for coffee he was still a bit guarded.
"Hey what's up?" I asked, sitting next to him on the sofa and snuggling up to him.
"Nothing," he said, but he couldn't fool me.
"Is it about Jake?  Because I am totally fine with that.  I mean, it was pretty big shock, but I loved seeing you two together.  I'm not going to get in the way of that."
"I know, it's just, we're from different worlds aren't we?"
"How do you mean?"
"Come on Angel, posh girl like yourself living in a fucking mansion and me, working minimum wage, living with my mum and trying to support a kid."  My jaw fell open in shock.
"You think I'm posh?  Do have any idea where I grew up?  Hamilton Street, on the Manor estate!  I used to live in an ex council semi with my mum, dad and little sister.  My dad is a line manager at the Greencore factory and my mum works part time at Tesco.  Hardly fucking posh!"  I lost my temper at Miles.             
"I'm sorry Angel, I just presumed..."
"Well don't!" I said angrily.  I looked into his brown eyes, but my frown faded.  I couldn't stay mad at him.
"I guess we don't know very much about each other at all do we?" Miles said.
"I guess not, but I want to find out more," I said.
"Me too," said Miles as he looked into my eyes and then kissed me.  I melted in his arms as his lips lingered on mine, but I pulled away.
"Wait, you haven't got any other secrets have you?  You've not got a wife or been to prison or anything?" I said, jokingly.  Miles laughed.
"You're not a drug runner, or an undercover agent?"
"No, now you're being silly!" Miles giggled.  "I'm am just Miles Denby, I work for the council as a gardener, I have son called Jake Denby and I'm the bass player with a band called Unknown Pleasures.  There is nothing more to tell."
"Apart from the fact I have fallen in love with an angel."  I grinned and kissed him back.
"So what about you, surely you have some secrets Angel?"
"I don't know, I'm a pretty boring person really.  Simon was my first boyfriend, but I told you that already.  I guess we didn't have the most normal relationship.  He was always doing crazy things, like he proposed to me the day before we got married.  I didn't know he was sick then either, I found out by accident not long after we got married."
"Oh Angel, that must have been devastating."
"Yeah, it was, but things weren't all that bad.  We had a lot of good times together.  He spoiled me rotten, although sometimes it was a bit hard to accept some of his more expensive gifts.  I never did get my head around having all this money, I don't think I ever will."  Miles smiled at me.  "There was one secret through, no-one else knows about this.  You promise to keep it to yourself if I tell you."
"Of course I will.  What is it?" asked Miles curious.  I took a deep breath, I wasn't sure if I should tell him or not but it was all in the past so what harm could it do now.
"Can you remember Simon's 18th birthday party?  His dad died the following day.  He was so ill, Miles, he couldn't do anything for himself, he couldn't even talk and Simon made me promise him that I'd never let him get like that."
"What did he mean?" asked Miles, narrowing his eyes.
"He asked me to help him to die.  I promised that I would."
"Oh my God, Angel!"  Miles said in disbelief as I buried my head in his chest and started to cry.  Miles stroked my hair.
"We agreed that when he got to a certain point, when he started to lose control of his body and mind, that we would get help and that I'd help him to die."
"Wow, I don't know what to say, that's just...."
"I know, crazy, but that's how it was with Simon.  I suppose that's why his suicide didn't come as that much of a shock to me.  I knew it was going to happen sometime, I just wish I'd had more time with him and that I could have said goodbye."
"You must have loved him very much," said Miles.
"I did, he was a wonderful person, but...  I have one last secret that absolutely no-one knew about.  Well, Lora used to tease me about it all the time but I never actually admitted it to anyone."
"Admitted what?" said Miles, looking really confused this time.
"That I kind of had a crush on you," I said, biting my bottom lip.  Miles went bright red and gave me the biggest smile.
"Well, I guess that's not such a great secret now!" he said.
"I suppose not!  So, we're officially a couple then?"
"Yeah, well I've taken you to meet my mum haven't I?"
"And I've met your son," I said.
"...yeah" said Miles scratching the back of his head.
"So would like you to be officially introduced to my parents?" I asked.  Miles pulled a worried face.
"I guess so," he replied.
"Well, you've met them before, remember at my birthday lunch?"
"Yeah, but I was just a friend then, wasn't I."
"You still are, just a bit more so," I giggled.
"I want to be more than a friend, a lot more," said Miles, looking me straight in the eye.
"You're really serious about us then?"
"Yes I am, Angel," Miles openly admitted.  I smiled.
"Let's just take one step at a time then."
"I love you Angel," said Miles with such conviction.  I threw my arms around his neck.
"I love you too!"

Thankfully things were a little quieter at work the next day.  I slipped back upstairs in the middle of the afternoon to call my mum.  I actually felt pretty nervous calling her, but I needed to tell her about Miles some time.
"Are you busy on Friday night?" I asked her.
"No I don't think so, why Angela?"
"Only I was thinking I might come round and see you.  I've got someone I'd like you to introduce you to."
"Who?  You haven't met someone have you?"
"Well, I've actually known him a while but, yeah.  I've got a new boyfriend."
"Well, that is a surprise!  Is it anyone we know?"
"Yeah, you met him at my birthday.  Do you remember Miles, the tall blonde lad from the band?"
"Miles?  Oh, the really handsome one with the spiky hair?"
"Yes!  That's the one.  Anyway I thought I could pick up some fish and chips and we could have supper together.  Would that be OK?"
"Of course love, I'll let your dad know."
"Thanks mum,  We'll be round about 7," I said as I breathed a sigh of relief.  She seemed to take it pretty well, although I was so embarrassed when she called him handsome.  I hoped she wouldn't show me up on the night.

I arranged to pick Miles up at 6.30 Friday night.  Even with the sat nav on my car I struggled to find the house but I made it there just in time.  He was waiting in the doorway of his mum's house looking very smart indeed.  I told him he didn't have to dress up but he'd shaved and put a smart black shirt on anyway.
"Look at you!"  I said eyeing him up as he climbed into my little red Fiat 500.  He reached over and kissed me.  "Anyone would think you were trying to impress someone!"  I teased.  Miles gave a nervous laugh.
"Like you weren't nervous meeting my mum," he said.
"OK, OK.  You do look lovely though," I said as I drove off to the chip shop.

Miles was pretty nervous about meeting my parents, but they welcomed him in and they hit it off straight away.  My little sister Karen said she liked him but she thought his hair was a bit funny.  Miles tried not to laugh and mum told her off for being so rude. 
After we'd eaten our chips my dad asked Miles if he would like a beer and they sat in the living room drinking and talking about football.  Karen went upstairs to play on her DSi and that left me and my mum doing the washing up, I didn't mind though it gave me an excuse to have a good chat with her.
"So what do you think to Miles then?"
"I think he's really lovely Angela, so down to earth and very handsome!"
"Mum!" I said as I blushed and hit her with the tea towel.
"So, when did you start seeing him."
"Well, it's sort of a bit complicated.  We've been friends for a long time and I found out he really liked me at Christmas, you know when everyone came up to the house.  He was with someone else but they broke up at the benefit gig just before he went on stage.  It all happened pretty quickly.  He sang a song for me, we kissed and I took him back to my flat that night."
"Angela!  You didn't!"  I didn't say a word but my mum could tell my answer from the colour of my cheeks.
"We're not kids anymore, mum, and before you ask yes we were careful!"
"Angela, you know you don't have sleep with a man to make him like you."
"I know mum, but I wanted to, I really wanted to.  Miles is special, and you should see him without his shirt on!"  I said raising my eyebrows making my mum blush.
"Angela!  I really don't need to know!"  My mum protested, trying not to laugh but failing as we both burst into fits of giggles.  My dad came in to get more beer.
"You didn't tell me he was a city fan, Angela," he said reaching into the fridge for 2 more cans.  "He's alright," he said patting me on the shoulder as he went back into the living room.
"Well, that's your dad's seal of approval then!" my mum said and we laughed again.  As long as you were a city fan you were all right by my dad!
"But what do you think?" I asked her.
"Well I like what I've seen of him so far."
"I was just a bit worried that people would think it was too soon, you know, after Simon."
"It's been nearly a year hasn't it and you're young Angela, no-one can expect you to stay on your own forever."
"Yeah, I know.  Miles is really special, but I still miss Simon."  My mum looked at me and gave me the biggest hug.
"I know you do sweetheart, we all do," she said. 
We went through to sit with the boys in the living room.  Dad and Miles were getting on like a house on fire, they talked until gone 11pm and I had to practically had to drag Miles out of the house!  They had polished off a case of lager between them and Miles was a bit drunk.  I asked him if he wanted me to drive him home, but he insisted on coming back to the house with me.  I didn't argue, I'd not had a moment with him to myself all night.
We got back to my apartment and crashed on the sofa.  Miles insisted on having another beer and I thought I'd join him.
"So what do you reckon then?  Are my family too posh for you?" I joked.
"No, not at all.  I'm sorry I said all that stuff Angel, your family are great.  Your dad is sound!"  I laughed at him.
"You know my mum thinks you're handsome."
"No way!"
"Yeah, I told her she should see you without your shirt on."
"You didn't!"  Miles said almost spitting beer everywhere.
"I did!" I laughed.  Miles was so funny when he was drunk, he also got very romantic and it wasn't very long before he reminded me of what a great body he had as he unbuttoned his shirt and practically dragged me off to the bedroom.
Afterwards as Miles lay in my bed snoring, I just laid there watching him.  My mum was right, no-one would expect me to stay on my own forever and Miles was pretty special.  It felt like I'd waited so long for him and now it was all happening so fast but it felt good, really good.  

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