The boy looking across the basketball court at her, liked her. Emma wasn’t sure. His stare looked assessing, even suspicious, not admiring. But Sadie knew a lot more about buys than she did, she had three big brothers after all, while Emma had was a much older sister who wasn’t around much and didn’t have time for Emma even when she was.
Sadie nudged her. “Go on, go over there and talk to him.”
Emma glanced up, caught his eye and looked away, uncomfortable. “No, I don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Okay, I’ll go over and do it for you then. Don’t say I’m not the best friend ever.”
Emma caught her before she could jump up and start walking. “Please don’t. He makes me uneasy.”
“Well that’s what you want isn’t it? Someone who shakes you up a bit, puts a new spin on life?”
“Not in that way, just, please don’t?”
Sadie subsided, grumbling but was soon distracted by Emma’s sister appearing at the gate and strolling over to where they were both sitting. Everyone got distracted by Tahlia, she was tall, beautiful, stylish and she knew how to hold the eye. Emma slumped in her seat.
She felt Tahlia come to a stop in front of them, felt her looking the two of them over as Sadie burbled a bright greeting, she thought Tahlia was amazing.
Her exuberance earned her a vague smile, Emma doubted Tahlia had any idea who Sadie even was, she hunched further.
“Come on Emma, Mum says you need to get homework done.”
Emma looked up in confusion, since when had Tahlia started running errands for her mother, or coming to shoo her boring little sister home? Tahlia’s eyes widened and she grimaced faintly, enough for Emma to notice, but not Sadie.
She stood, grabbing her bag and turned to her friend. “Guess I’d better go then, you know what Mum’s like when she’s on a mission.”
Sadie didn’t know what Emma’s mum was like and, at the moment, that suited Emma just fine.
Waving goodbye, she trailed her sister back across the court, avoiding the stares of the people trying to match her and Tahlia together. They didn’t look all that alike, although Mum said it was more age and colouring than anything, their features were remarkably close.
They turned into the street and started walking home. As they turned at the end of the block, Emma glanced back and saw the boy from before casually walking after them. Her breath hissed out and Tahlia looked back to her, and over her shoulder to the boy.
“Making you nervous is he?”
“You’ve got good instincts little sister, he’s trouble and I think we’re not going to be able to avoid it, or him for much longer.”
That sounded nothing short of ominous.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean he came to find you and I was too late in arriving, you’d already caught his attention. Mum and I hoped we could get you through school without being noticed but it was clearly too much to ask.”
Emma was scared now, there were so many undertones and things being left unsaid. Who was this boy and why was her sister suddenly so concerned and involved?
They quietly sped up, turning through the back streets and winding alleyways towards home.