Losing the Plot

Losing the Plot by Annie Dalton

Book: Losing the Plot by Annie Dalton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Annie Dalton
    “But your job at the theatre—” she began.
    “I’m a dogsbody, fetching and carrying, that’s all I do.”
    “But one day you’ll be an actor! It’s what you wanted! Why throw it all away?”
    Chance shut his book with a snap. “Pretending to be someone else,” he said with contempt. “What life is that for a man? No, Cat, there is no future for me here.” He looked anxious. “Don’t you want me to come?”
    “Of course, but—”
    “Because you are my life, Catherine,” he said passionately. “When I wake you are the first thing I think of.”
    Lola and I hastily looked away. Eavesdropping is one thing, spying on couples kissing is something else.
    “Keep beaming vibes,” I hissed.
    And we went on and on beaming angelic vibes until gold sparkles fell like rain.
    Cat went on sifting through her things. A comb, a brush, a hand mirror, a lumpy-looking sampler she’d been forced to sew when she was a little girl, some scuffed leather boots.
    Then she sat fiddling with her necklace again, and I realised she’d made up her mind to tell her sweetheart some painful home truths.
    “Chance, you say acting is no life for a man, yet that’s exactly what you’ve been doing ever since we met.”
    He looked stricken. “Don’t say that. I never pretended with you, not when it mattered.”
    “No,” she agreed softly. “Not with me, that’s true.”
    “With some people, with Nick, it seemed to make things simpler. With you it’s the opposite. You’re the star I steer by, my compass! Together, we can start again. We can be whoever we want to be.”
    She stroked his hair. “I don’t want to be someone else,” she said quietly. “I want to be me. You’re always starting again. You have no roots, no past, Chance. I know absolutely nothing about you. It’s time for you to stop running away from everything and stay put for a change.”
    I felt a tiny twinge of recognition. I hate to admit it, but I used to be a total escape artist. Then I died and finally found something I wanted to do. But Cat was right. Chance was still all over the place.
    “It’s all right for you to run away,” he said angrily. “But not for me, is that right?”
    “I’m not running away. I’m following my dream. You must follow yours.”
    He buried his face in his hands. “Cat, you don’t know what it’s like! There are all these different characters inside me. All these different voices. How can I tell which is me?”
    Cat’s green eyes filled with tears. “You are a wonderful person, Chance, and it truly breaks my heart to - to -”
    By this time Lola and me were trying hard not to cry.
    “Will it make a difference if I tell you about my past?” Chance said eagerly. And all at once he was talking at top speed. “My father was a glover and my brothers followed his trade, curing the skins, and turning them into gloves. Great troughs of animal skins soaking in salted water. They stank the house out.”
    The air was electric. Cat was utterly still and Lola and me hardly dared to breathe.
    “A few months before I left home, my father’s business began to fail. We never really got on. I disappointed him. He said I’d never amount to anything.” Chance’s breath was coming in gasps. It was like, now he’d started to open up, he totally couldn’t stop. “Then my little sister died, her name was Ann. She was eight years old. She had five freckles on the bridge of her nose and she died.”
    “Shsh,” Cat said, putting her finger to his lips. “Don’t.”
    But he kept talking desperately. “Money was short. We could barely afford to put food on the table. I went poaching the local squire’s deer, and got caught. If I’d stayed I’d have brought shame on my family, so I ran away to London. I thought I’d find my fortune. Then I could go home again, only this time I’d make my father proud of me. But instead I found you, Cat, and you are my home, my heart and now I’ll lose you…”
    Lola and I

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