The front door opens behind us and we both straighten up on the sofa. I gulp hard and glance at Tom. He has his eyes stuck to the telly but they are wide and full of fear. My mum sighs and laughs a little as her high heels click along the hall floor.
"What a night." She laughs. "Y'know, when Cheryl has some drink in her, she's actually a lot of fun."
Tom laughs a little and looks over the back of the sofa to her. "So she didn't spoil your night, then?"
"Not at all," mum smiles and stands behind him, lacing her fingers through his short curls and massaging his scalp, making him smile with droopy eyes. I watch this from the other end of the sofa. My legs are across the length of it so my feet are on Tom's lap. I don't move. This is normal for us. Well, it was normal before my shower trick and he started to avoid me. Mum notices the empty pizza boxes on the coffee table.
"Take out, really? And here was me thinking you'd be a gentleman and cook for my daughter," she muses. I can tell Tom is suppressing a cringe as he shrugs uneasily with a queasy smile, glancing up at her. I stay silent. "So, did you two have a nice night?"
Tom and I both clear our throats at the same time and mumble something equally incoherent. I say something along the lines of, 'yeah, it was fine' and Tom said something like, 'yeah, nothing special'. We make eye contact. My heart flips. His jaw ripples.
My mum laughs awkwardly. "Okay…well…" She glances at her watch. "I'm off to bed so if you're still watching telly, keep it down will you? Oh, and throw away those boxes."
"Yeah okay," I smile up at her.
"Sure." Nods Tom.
She pulls off the bobble from her wrist and wraps her long, silky hair into a pony tail and bends down, kissing Tom on the forehead. He closes his eyes at the contact. My heart swells and my eyes burn.
She takes off her heels and I watch as she ascends the stairs. Once she's out of sight, I let out a sigh of relief and drop my head back on the armrest. Tom doesn't make a sound. I peer up at him. His eyes are clenched shut. Anguish ripples across his features, wrinkling his perfect skin.
He shakes his head. "I'm going to be sleeping there tonight," he whispers, opening his eyes and gazing ahead. A shiver runs up my spine at the hollowness of his voice. He turns to me. "I slept with her daughter…in her bed." He groans and leans forward, so my feet slip off his lap and drop to the floor. He digs his elbows into his knees and raking his fingers through his curls. "What is wrong with me?"
"Nothing is wrong with you, Tom," I say, my voice breaking a little. "This is hard for both of us. And the longer you wait to finish things with my mum, the harder it's going to get."
His jaw clenches and he squeezes his eyes shut. "I know."
We both jump at my mum's voice. Tom turns to me, his eyes wide and frantic. My heart is in my throat.
"Yeah?!" I call back, trying to sound casual but my voice had hitched up an octave.
"Come up here a sec!"
Tom gulps. I let out a steady breath and stand. Tom watches me. I place a hand on his knee. "It's fine." At least…I hope it is. He just nods a little and sinks back into the sofa.
I head up the stairs and glance back at Tom before he disappears from my view. He's watching me over the back of the sofa, his face solemn. It stings my heart.
"What do you want?" I ask, irritated like I usually would be if my mum dragged me upstairs. But then I freeze when I step into her room. She's stood in her cotton pyjamas with my black lace panties in her hand. The pair I was trying to find. My stomach knots and I can feel myself flushing. Stop it! Keep it cool!
"Why were these under the dresser?"
Under the dresser? How the hell did they get there?
"Erm…" I clear my throat but then I compose myself. "You must have thought they were yours. You're constantly getting our underwear mixed up."
She raises her eyebrow. I freeze. But then she laughs and shakes her head.
"I really need to stop doing that. A few days ago, I tried to get into a pair of your panties. I couldn't even get my leg through! I nearly had a panic attack! I was like…boy, I've not put that much weight on, have I?!"
I roll my eyes and grab my panties off her. "You're not fat, mum."
She shrugs. "But I could be thinner."
I sigh. My mum is a size 12 and I'm a size 8. There really is hardly any difference but she constantly tries to diet.
"Right." She plonks herself down in front of her desk and grabs her make-up wipes. She gestures to the door. "Scoot. I'm getting ready for bed."
Mentally high-fiving myself for getting out of here alive, I smile. "Night."
But I don't go back downstairs to see Tom. The joy on not being caught quickly subsided and I shut myself in my room when realisation hits me again like a tidal wave. I flopped onto my bed and wrapped my duvet around me. How could I be doing this to my mum? She doesn't deserve this. I'm a horrible, horrible person.