“Toni, it's Laura, from England?”
“Allo, is a bit late to meet tonight.”
“Sorry ‘bout that, look I well we need your help.”
“‘Ow can I ‘elp?”
“Well you remember last night, the little blonde?”
“Of course, your friend yes?”
Maybe not after tonight Laura noted to herself, “Uh huh, well she's gone missing, we were wondering if you have any ideas where to look.”
“Maybe, where did you last see her?”
“On the er promenade, we were heading for the beach, we've looked everywhere.”
“Toni, he have idea. Keep your phone on eh, Toni will ring, donna worry Laura, she be okay, I sure.”
Laura closed the connection.
“So?” Mand enquired.
“He thinks he might know somewhere, he'll ring back.”
“If there's no sign soon we'll have to let Chris and the others know and get in the Police.” Dave told his companion as they drove towards Bellagio.
“Aye,” Josh agreed, “you don't think he's done anything daft like?”
Dave didn't even want to think about that possibility. “Other than run off? I hope not.” I really hope not.
“You shoulda go back, they are worried for you.”
“What do I care?” Drew allowed, staring out over the water.
“You are hurt, is understandable.” His companion allowed.
“I thought she was my friend.”
The two of them had been sat out here for best part of two hours, Drew hadn't been here for ten minutes before Toni, having seen him scrambling along the lakeside and sensing there was something wrong, arrived and sank down beside him.
“I'm a sure she regret the saying,” Toni suggested.
To be truthful Toni wasn't sure he completely understood what had gone off, as far as he could see, it was something about Laura seeing Drew's bra and calling her on it. Girls, always making the storm in the teapot.
“Is a getting cold.”
“Bit.” Drew agreed with a shiver.
“We go back, eh? Things a look better in a the morning yes?”
“You're probably right.”
“Toni, he a know this is so.”
“Mand?” Josh queried.
“We've found him!”
“Thank the….! Is he okay like?”
“I think so, is Mr Bond there?”
“He's in the ferry office, I'd best let him know.”
“See you when you get back.”
“Aye hen, bout twenty minutes.”
It was more a little after twelve when a relieved Dave Bond found the girls, Drew and a lad he didn't know wordlessly waiting outside of the Hotel Como.
“Why are you stood out here?”
“The um doors locked Mr Bond,” Mand supplied.
‘Bugger' Dave thought, ‘someone else will have to know about this.' He pulled out his phone and dialled up Caroline.
It rang a couple of times before she picked up.
“Caro, it's Dave.”
“Could you let us in?”
“Jen'd never talk to me again,” she drowsily offered.
“Not your room, the hotel, we've got locked out.”
“Locked out? We?”
“Look, I'll explain when we're inside.”
“Give me a minute.” Caro suggested.
“Cheers.” Dave ended the call, “She'll be down in a minute.” He advised the now shivering teens.
“I go now ok, you take a care Drew.”
“Thanks Toni.” I squeezed his hand, the hand I'd been gripping for the last forty minutes.
“Maybe we see later eh? Ciao Bella.”
Caro opening the hotel's front door diverted my attention, when I turned back he was gone.
“Ahm gonna hit the sack like.” Josh noted.
“Thanks Josh, I'll be up shortly.” Dave supplied.
“Night Josh.” Drew replied.
“So,” Caro demanded, “what's all this about?”
“You three, sit.” Dave ordered.
Laura sat at one end of the sofa, Mand and Drew the other.
“I'm guessing there's some sort of issue between Laura and the others?” Caro suggested.
“Sort of, from what I can gather when they were at the beach on Sunday Laura noticed Drew's er undershirt, put two and two together and came up with five.”
“Oh.” Caro observed.
“Oh indeed. To compound matters she then blundered into making accusations when the three of them went for a walk after dinner. Drew, at some point after Mand started explaining stuff disappeared.”
“What time was this?”
“As I understand things, about half eight.”
“So I take it you only found him just before you woke me?”
“He turned up about thirty minutes ago.”
“You should've spoken to me earlier.” Caro admonished.
“The girls only told me he was missing about eleven, I went up to Bellagio with Josh to check he hadn't got on a ferry, I was about to call you when he turned up.”
“Hmm. So what do we do with these three? I'll have to tell Chris something.”
“That's your call, I'm in an awkward position here.” Dave admitted.
“We're not gonna sort anything out tonight, let's get these three to bed.”
The adults walked over to where the teens sat nervously waiting.
“Okay we clearly need to get this sorted out but everyone's tired now so we'll do it in the morning. Off to bed, I think you all need a good night's sleep.”
Dismissed, they headed up to their respective beds.
“How do you want to handle this Dave, he is your son after all.”
“More like daughter Caro, this was supposed to be his big chance to prove that he is male but the house of cards is starting to collapse. It might be best if I take him home, I don't want to cause BC any embarrassment.”
“Don't you dare David Bond!” Caroline stated with some vim, “We knew the score before we came out, we've been as blinkered to the potential consequences as anyone. We can work something out, I've no idea what and I'm too tired to think now but taking Drew out will just fan the flames.”
“You're right, you always are.”
“Not always. Come on, I need my bed even if you don't.”
Up in the attic Drew stripped off and got ready for bed. Sleep however was far from his mind, no his mind was full of what ifs and maybe's. What if he had headed for Germany, was that even realistic? He hadn't even seen a railway station since they arrived in Italy and wouldn't the police be looking for him? As for anything more drastic, he didn't have the courage for that, he'd briefly thought of wading out into the lake but Toni had turned up and well, offered a shoulder.
He stared at the ceiling, not so unusual lately, no it's this stupid body – if he was meant to be a girl why wasn't he just born one, why did he have to be a boy for fifteen years first? It just isn't fair. And his current, what did the doc call it? Oh yeah, hermaphroditism – is that even a word, well it sucks big style.
“Laura, Drew, can I have a word please.” Chris suggested after breakfast.
With some reluctance they both followed the boss out into reception.
“In here please.” He ushered them into what seemed to be Giovanni's office, “Take a seat.”
He let them settle down before continuing.
“I've been talking to your coaches and we are all in agreement on this.”
This was it, the moment when they'd both be booted off the squad, Drew tried to keep a stiff upper lip but the tears were already starting to well up in Laura's eyes.
“You've both shown considerable skills not just on the bike but people skills, you get on well with the rest of the squad and they in turn look to the both of you for advice and leadership.”
‘He really is making this hard,' Drew thought to himself, ‘why can't he just get on and tell us?'
“So with that in mind...”
Here it comes.
“…We're making you pair team captains for the girls and lads squads, not just for Switzerland but Roskilde too.”
“Team captains?” I queried.
“Yep, you'll be the ones in charge out on the road, calling the shots, working towards a team win. Obviously in Switzerland you'll all be riding together so I expect the pair of you to co-ordinate our efforts. Steve will take on the position of lads coach, Caroline will be your coach Laura.”
“But…” Laura started.
“No buts, decisions made.” Chris stated.
“Um thanks. I think.” I offered.
“Which brings me to another little issue concerning you two.”
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 03.07.13