I turned and a little thrill went through me. O.M.G. Ryan was running towards me. No wait. Ryan didn’t wear glasses. James was running towards me, which made far more sense since I’d only just texted him. I stopped and waited for him, “Sleep in?” I asked.
He bent over with his hands on his knees and shook his head, gasping for air. Jesus, how fast had he run? “Ryan – Shreddies …”
I waited patiently for him to get his breath back. Finally he did, “My charming brother Ryan stayed out last night.”
My jaw dropped, “Out where?” I asked.
James raised his eyebrows and looked at me, “Where do you think?” he asked.
I stared at him, “What? All night? With Amelia?” My voice had gone all high and squeaky – partly with shock and partly indignation.
He nodded, “Yup,” he said, “And I had to be him this morning – which had him nice and early for school and has left me with severe stomach cramps and a mother planning to take me to a psychiatrist – so it’s all good.”
I bit my lip. His mother was a nightmare – I loved her to bits but she really did believe that James was a difficult child – and he really wasn’t at all. He was just misunderstood…
I linked my arm through his and we started walking down the hill to meet the others, “Well, I think you’re a hero.” I said as we meandered our way along the leafy avenue. It was my favourite part of the walk to school.
He grinned at me, his bright blue eyes twinkling, “Why thank you, Miss Perkins,” he said in his fake Texan accent and pretended to tip his invisible cowboy hat, “You might change your mind by lunchtime, though, when I’m making the mercy dash to the toilets.”
I made a face, “What – he made you eat honey-nut Shreddies again?”
He made a face back at me, “Well, nobody made me – but, you know, I was in character and I just found myself eating them…”
I had to laugh – it was just so James.