Lucy froze in horror.
“Erm, actually Daniel, could you give us a few minutes please? We’re just dealing with something. Meet you back over by the swings?” Emily was frantically trying to buy them some time. She didn’t know what she’d they’d do with the time, but anything was better than Dan walking around that corner at that very moment.
“Oh, right, yeah, Ok then.” Dan sounded a bit confused, but figured it must be ‘girls stuff’, and he certainly didn’t want to get drawn into that. “Well, Danielle and a couple of the other girls have just got here. They’ve been to yours to drop their bags off Em, and your Mum told them where to find us.”
All three girls looked at each other, terror in their eyes. There was no way they could get poor Lucy out of here unnoticed if their friends were around. It was going to be bad enough trying to sneak her past Dan, they’d not figured out how that was meant to work yet, but not the others too. What a horrible mess.
Lucy’s ‘fight or flight’ instinct kicked in, and thinking on her feet she realised that they were going to need help if she wasn’t to be completely and utterly humiliated in front of everybody. Burning with shame as she did so, Lucy called out.
“Actually, Dan, could you come round here for a moment please? I’ve got a big problem, and I kinda need your help. Just promise me you won’t laugh, ok?”
Both Becky and Emily looked over at Lucy in disbelief. “But, he’s going to see Luce! Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
“After what he told us earlier, I think we can trust him. Besides, I’m going to need a pretty big distraction to stand any chance of getting away with…this, aren’t I?” Lucy motioned to her wet jeans, which she’d pulled up in a hurry after hearing Dan’s voice, cringing as the wet denim had rubbed against her skin.
“Well, yeah, you’ve got a point. Ok, come on the Daniel, but I swear if you make fun of Luce or tell ANYBODY about this, ever, then the whole world will know YOUR little secret, got it?” Becky was immediately on the defensive, always looking out for her best friend, and knowing full well that Lucy would do the same for her. Although she really really hoped it would never be needed. Especially not in these circumstances at any rate!
Dan popped his head nervously around the side of the bush, first taking in the grave looks on both Emily and Becky’s faces, and then his gaze making it’s way across to where Lucy stood, teary eyed. At first he didn’t notice her predicament, and was just worried by why she was so visibly upset.
“Lucy, what’s the matter? What’s happened? And how can I help?”
She met his eyes with her own, and sadly looked down towards her legs, taking in her shame once more and unable to prevent a sob from escaping as she did so. At once Dan understood and without any prompting he just walked forward and put his arms around Lucy, pulling her into a hug. No words were needed, he was there for her.
After a moment, conscious that their friends would be coming looking for them at any moment, Em reached out and tapped Lucy on the shoulder.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, as this is far too cute and all, but shouldn’t we erm, I don’t know, do something before everybody else gets here?”
Breaking away from Dan, Lucy gave him the most appreciative smile and mouthed ‘thank you’, before turning to speak.
“Yeah, you’re right. Ok, so I need to get away from here without the others seeing. And I’m going to need you pair to help me get back to Em’s to get cleaned up and changed too. Dan, can you go out there and keep them distracted? Don’t let on that we are here – maybe tell them we’ve nipped up to the shop for more snacks? I’ve got some money in my bag, so we can pick something up on the way back as a cover.”
Dan nodded, and then quickly took off his hoodie and handed it to Lucy. “Tie this around you, it won’t cover it completely, but at a distance nobody will be able to see. And Luce, don’t worry, accident happen.”
Lucy gratefully accepted the jacket and tied it around her waist. With the sleeves positioned well, you really couldn’t see very much at all, and she thought that she may actually be able to get away with this after all.
“Thanks Dan. I’ll try not to get wee on it! And, believe it or not, I didn’t actually have an accident this time…but it’s a very long story, haha. I’ll tell you about it later if nobody’s around.”
“Listen out for me shouting something in a moment. I’m not sure what yet, but when I do it means they’re looking the other way and the coast is clear for you to make a run. Good Luck Luce. Love you.”4
Audio Version of Chapter