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elle

The dinner with James and Jenni had been pretty boring, I had to admit. They wouldn't stop going on about 'staying safe and making sure you make friends with the right people'. I guess they already had a problem with the only other two people I had talked to since being in Birmingham.

I stretched and twisted my legs out of the double bed, which was surprisingly comfier than my previous bed at home. Attempting to get all the knots out of my hair with my fingers, I made my way to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, my morning wake up, despite it being 10:30 already.

I started reading the back of the cereal box when it hit me I had nothing to do. At that moment, the annoying doorbell rang so I made a mental note to go shopping later. I yawned a few times before I opened the front door, to be welcomed by a stranger.

'Hi, I'm Jess' She smiled, twisting her hair around her long dark hair through her fingers. She was wearing a flannel dress and black boots, her hair flowing over her shoulders and a bag slung over her shoulder. I could already tell she was the 'innocent' type, or at least she was trying to be. If it wasn't for the fact that I could see a box of opened cigarettes in her back, she would have fooled me.

I shot her a quizzical look, I had never seen her in my whole life.

'Oh, shit, sorry. I'm Connor's girlfriend. I live in the flat opposite? Sorry for being so pushy, I was just heading out and he mentioned last night that you had just moved in. Elle isn't it?' Jess continued.

'Um, yeah, hi. Nice to meet you.'

'I was wondering if you were free today, I could show you around?'

'I've actually got to do a bit of shopping, so I guess that will be okay?' I said, rubbing my eyes. I really didn't sleep well.

'Yeah, okay. You freshen up then knock on my door then?'

'Sure.' I said, shutting the door in her face. Wow, I really was rude. I made my way back into my bedroom and slid on jeans and a jumper, preparing for the cold English weather that I knew would hit me outside. I applied enough makeup to cover my dark black circles already appearing underneath my eyes. I should really learn to try to go to sleep earlier, and not in the early hours of the morning.

---

'So, how long have you been in Birmingham' Jess asked, adding to the thousands of questions she had already asked.

'Three days. I needed a fresh start'

'I know what you mean. It seems lots of people come here to have a fresh start, well I did. I used to be involved in drugs, but then I met James and Jenni.' Jess said, guiding us to the same table I sat in Costa two days ago when I met Jenni.

'Wait, you know James and Jenni?'

'Yeah. Do you know James and Jenni?'

'Yeah, small world' I scoffed. Great, another one of them. The judging-parenty type.

'Don't worry, I'm nothing like them.' Jess snorted.

'What do you mean 'like them'?'

'I'm guessing they haven't told you...?'

'Told me what?'

'Oh god. Shit. I've put myself in that one haven't I' She rolled her eyes.

'It will be actually nice for someone to tell me what's going on once in a while. Everything's been secretive' I snapped, throwing my hands up in the air with anger.

'Calm. It's okay' Jess laughed.

'James and Jenni run this 'support group', well I guess you could call it that. It's a place where young people discuss, you know, like teenage problems. I'm from Manchester, you see, and I had drinking and drug problems, and I heard it was better in Birmingham to get drink and stuff. So I moved here when I was 16. Bad mistake. I was living on the streets for like, a year? But when James came back from whatever job he had, he saw me begging and took me home to him and Jenni. At first I thought he was some crazy pedophile, but it turns out that he was really protective and wanted to make sure I was okay. But anyway, I stayed in their spare room then they found me an apartment on the other side of Birmingham and told me to go to their support group thing. Anyway, that's where I met Con, he was there because he ran away from home to get away from his...let's just say family problems. And now here I am' Jess continued, taking a deep breath after all her rambling.

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