Silent, A Disclosure
Two Years Ago, Gavin
Someone was knocking on my door again. Philippa, this time.
'We need to talk,' I said. 'Who are you really? You aren't from Tunbridge Wells, are you?'
A smile played around the corner of her lips. 'How did you find out?'
'It doesn't matter. Just tell me. I can't deal with anymore of this.'
'I'm from Exeter in Devon,' she began, after pulling up a chair and sitting opposite me. 'Don't let the accent trick you. Years of practice and private schooling. I'm seventeen, not eighteen like I originally said. Supposedly, still a child, according to the law. That's why I lied. I didn't want the School getting in touch with my mum and Nan.'
'Right,' I said, trying to figure out how this tied in with Lucy's account an hour earlier. It seemed similar.
'My mother was a concert pianist, like, way back in the eighties and nineties, but she doesn't do anything now. I live with my gran and her bloke. And my dad…he's dead. I never met him.'
'Don't be. What you don't have, you don't miss.'
'I have one sister,' Philippa said. 'A younger half-sister. Her dad's still alive whereas mine isn't. I invented Daddy, the totally bullish, unreasonable multi-millionaire father from Tunbridge Wells who'd given me a choice: come here for three weeks or go to Boot Camp in America. I thought it would sound more convincing. But Daddy doesn't actually exist. It's just me, Gran, her bloke and my sister. I see my mother about once a month. She's not in the best of health, mentally.'
'What about Aidan?'
'He's just a friend. Don't worry about him. He'll be going back to Exeter on Wednesday.'
'I thought he was your boyfriend.'
Philippa shook her head. 'No chance. Just a close friend. We grew up together in Exeter and his mum knows my mum really well. So what about you and Dawn?'
'Good. She isn't right for you, Gavin. Too controlling.' There was a pause. Then: 'Listen, there's a barn in the fourth field to the right. Meet me there later at eight o'clock. I have something important to tell you about the Harlesden family. It's a secret. Not a word to anyone, promise?'