The beach bar was not exactly a little piece of Caribbean on the Breakness shore. It was windswept – for which read bloody Baltic, some days – but it was out of the way, and it had charm. Jinn said it had charm like me: a bit sleazy, but fun.
I can’t say I was entirely unhappy with that.
After that first time, it became our regular rendezvous. Not too regular, mind, because it’s not as if I was going out with her. I was just, occasionally, going out with her. It was the next best thing to staying in with her.
Jinn didn’t drink much alcohol but she had a passion for those disgusting neon Molotovs, and I must have been keen on her because I kept her company and forced them down too, each one made tolerable by two shots of vodka. I’d sit there on the peeling wooden picnic table – cleaner than the actual benches – and hanker after a beer and Jinn’s body. Funny how I didn’t ever push it too far. But then I was sleeping with Annette Norton at least two days a week.
‘Poor Annette,’ she said one day, with a wrinkle of her nose.
‘It’s not like she’s my real girlfriend or anything. I’ll dump her if you like.’
‘I don’t like.’ An onshore breeze whipped her silver-blonde hair across her eyes, so I couldn’t quite see her expression. ‘Anyway, you needn’t think you’re getting in my knickers. Isn’t she jealous?’
I shrugged. ‘Nothing to be jealous of.’
‘Yet,’ muttered Jinn.
I didn’t think I could have heard her right, and I wasn’t sure I liked the way my heart tripped and rebooted inside my ribcage, so I said, ‘What?’
She smiled at the dazzling white-capped sea. ‘Nothing.’
I liked that even less.
She didn’t let me sulk. She nudged my arm and nodded at my barely-touched violent-turquoise drink. ‘Don’t know why you don’t just order a beer.’
She’d made me laugh. ‘Neither do I. I’ll just go and get one then. Want another?’
Grinning, she shook her head, and her hair glittered in the sunlight. ‘I’ll just have yours.’
I gave it to her, and went back to the bar. I took no notice of the two thickset guys who sat down at the next ramshackle table; they looked vaguely familiar but not enough for me to care. That was a mistake, but am I meant to be psychic or something? How was I to know?
They were sitting at our table when I came back with my beer, one on either side, Jinn trapped between them on the table top, smiling a nervous smile, knees pressed together and Molotov gripped tightly in two hands. She was laughing at their banter but she was trying not to touch either of them. They weren’t so reserved. The one with a silver ear stud put his hand on her ankle and said ‘Watch you don’t fall, love.’
I stopped and stared. ‘Oy,’ I said.
He gave me a glance, grinning. ‘Who’s the wee snot rag?’
The other one yawned. ‘Not recognise him? Jimmy Baird’s boy.’
‘Is that all! And I thought he was Captain America.’
I felt my ears go hot with fury. ‘Piss off,’ I said.
The one with the ear stud got to his feet, and I kind of wished I hadn’t said it, but I was angry enough to be glad I had. Just. Luckily the other guy intervened.
‘Ach, leave him, you big gype. We’re working, remember?’
‘Aye,’ said the big gype. ‘Right.’
I didn’t like the look he gave me as they swaggered off. I liked it so little, I sat down much closer to Jinn, and put an arm round her, and hugged her, because the breeze was that cold she was shivering.
Find out what happens next at The OverFlowing Library tomorrow!
The Opposite Of Amber by Gillian Philip ‘They found the fifth girl right after the snow melted …the place where he left her was winter water, crazed with ice-feathers and dusted with snow. The traces from her body were gone, the ones that said his name, but she had an extra skin of ice that protected her and she looked perfect, like Snow White’. Ruby and her older sister Jinn live together on their own, just about making ends meet. Jinn is beautiful, with glittering blonde hair, and makes it her business to look after Ruby. They are horrified by, but try to ignore, the local newspaper stories of prostitutes who are murdered, their bodies eventually discovered underwater. Then the no-good Nathan Baird turns up on the scene – again – and Jinn starts to change. First Nathan moves in with Jinn and Ruby, making Ruby feel an outsider, and then Jinn and Nathan move out, leaving Ruby alone. Jinn no longer has time to look after Ruby. And it seems to Ruby that Jinn herself needs looking after. Her beautiful glittering hair starts to lose its shine. And then Jinn disappears. A deeply moving, chilling, and incredibly powerful thriller that celebrates the love two sisters have for each other and mourns the events beyond their control that will conspire to drive them apart. (From Goodreads.com) Published by Bloomsbury April 2011
Thanks to the very good people at Bloomsbury we have 5 copies of The Opposite Of Amber to giveaway! Enter by submitting your name and email in the form below. Sorry but this giveaway is open to UK mailing addresses only. Closes 12 midnight on Tuesday 26th April. Winners will be drawn at random and notified by email and asked to provide addresses to pass on to the publisher. If we don’t hear back from you within 48 hours you forfeit your right to your prize and another winner will be chosen.