Chapter 2

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"Mr. Boo...? What?" Simon could feel the anger rising in his cheeks as a red, hot flush. He gritted his teeth and took a deep breath in through his nose, letting it out slowly as if hoping it would take his annoyance with it. He grabbed hold of his daughter's arm and pulled to him, their noses almost touching. His voice was calm, an even monotone of implied repercussions.

"Where did the phone come from Rebecca?"

"I told you!" she said, her voice high. "Mr. Boogie gave it to me. He said I could keep it and play with it and not to tell you!"

A thought suddenly struck him. What if...?

"Where did you meet him, Rebel?" he asked, his irritation turning to fear. "Was he at the school? Is he one of your friends' dads? A teacher? Or is he a strange man who's been giving you presents?"

His daughter shook her head.

"No, Daddy. I know not to take things from strangers - you know that. It's like he's not real, but he is. I know Mollie and Melody aren't in the garden waiting for me to bring them some crisps, but I can pretend they are. It's fun. Nathaniel isn't like that. He's really not real. Or not really real. I don't know."

Simon sighed and shook his head. This was going nowhere.

"Please. I want to know where..."

"I told you! Now drop it! Please!"

Her hand dropped from his grasp suddenly. He didn't notice he'd let go. For a long moment he didn't know how to respond. She'd never spoken to him like that in her life. She'd never, as far as he knew, lied to him. There hadn't been any real disobedience. He was at a loss as to how to react. Then the anger took hold again and directed his response.

"GO TO YOUR ROOM!"

It was all he had. All many parents have. He bellowed it loud enough to leave him breathless. He was panting with his arms shaking and his fists clenched. Rebecca turned and, at the top of her own voice, wailed as she ran upstairs, her bedroom door slamming behind her.

"Well done, dad," said a voice behind him. He turned. Fey

"Yeah, I know." He sighed. "I have no idea what got into your sister. All over this stupid phone."

"Can I have a look?"

"Sure," said Simon, passing her the gadget. "Do you know anything about it?"

Fey turned it over, inspecting it. She switched it on and waited for it to be active.

"Do you know where she got it?"

He hoped she'd say she gave it to her younger sibling. Of course that raised the question of where Fey managed to get it. At fourteen, she only really had the pocket money he gave her and occasional bonuses for carrying out chores. Fey being Fey meant Simon didn't generally ask his eldest daughter to do any jobs around the house. She didn't particularly give her father any grief - she wasn't obnoxious and didn't tell him things were not fair. She didn't (often) raise her voice to him and, unlike many girls in their early teens bowing down to peer pressure, she didn't smoke.

She could be, he knew. He wasn't blind and he'd often tell his girls he was young once. They'd both groan and shake their heads. But he would smell it. He'd find cigarette packs or stubs. She wouldn't be able to completely hide it. Besides, she had 'tells'. When she was lying, she'd seem to develop a mild cough and would pull at her fringe. The cough was most likely to give her more time to think of the story she was making up. She didn't lie too much, thankfully. It was very occasional and over the stupidest things. She was well aware of her father's aversion to lying but, well, at her age it was almost in her genes. Simon forgave these mild indiscretions, though he did ensure Fey was punished. He was, however, understanding.

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