Unsuitable(7)By: Samantha Towle
She turns on the engine, and the radio in her car comes on. Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” bleeds out of the car speakers.
I let out a humorless laugh and meet Cece’s eyes. “You have this playing on purpose?”
A small smile plays on her lips. “Maybe.”
I let out another laugh. But I don’t really feel it. Because I’m not going home. Not really. Home is where Jesse is, and I can’t be with him because I made a mistake. I trusted the wrong person, and it cost me my brother and eighteen months of my life.
I rest my head back against the seat and stare out the passenger window, letting out a sigh.
“Hey…you okay?” Cece’s voice is soft.
I turn my head to look at her. “Yeah”—I smile—“I’m good. And thanks for…everything. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
She reaches over and squeezes my hand. “You’ll never have to find out.”
Sitting in the empty waiting room on the first floor of the probation service office, waiting to see my assigned probation officer, Toby Willis, I stare out the window and look at the busy London area.
Everything looks the same but different.
Or maybe it’s just me that’s different.
Cece wanted to come in with me, but I told her to go grab a coffee instead of being stuck in the waiting room until I was done. I told her that I’d meet her back at the car in an hour.
That was half an hour ago, and I still haven’t been called in to see him.
As I think it, a guy appears in the open doorway. Looks to be in his mid-thirties. Shaved hair—like literally not a hair is to be found on his head—and he’s wearing a black pinstriped suit that looks like it’s seen better days.
“Daisy Smith? I’m Toby Willis. Do you want to come through?”
I get to my feet and follow him down the corridor and into his office. I take the seat at his desk as he shuts the door behind us.
He comes around the desk and takes his seat. “Sorry I was late for our appointment. I got stuck in a meeting I couldn’t get out of.”
“It’s fine.” I smile. “I’m used to waiting around, and it’s not like I have anyplace to be.”
He lifts his eyes to mine. They’re blue and kind-looking. Actually, now that I think about it, his whole face looks kind. In stark contrast with his harsh-looking bald head.
He smiles. “Well, let’s hope we can change that for you.” He turns to his computer and taps some keys. Then, he reaches over and grabs a file.
I see my name written on the top.
He opens the file, looking through some of the papers. “So”—he looks up at me—“I won’t keep you here long. Really, all we need to do is have you look over the terms of your release and have you sign the license that signals your release. Then, we’ll discuss housing options and employment possibilities.”
“Can I start with the housing options?” I ask.
Leaning back in his chair, he gives me a nod, giving me the go-ahead.
“I know I’m supposed to move into a hostel. But my best friend has a three-bedroom apartment in Sutton, South London, and she’s asked me to live with her. If that’s okay with you.”
“Your friend, she doesn’t have a criminal record?”
“God, no.” I laugh quickly. “She’s a hairstylist. Never been in trouble in her life.”
But then again, neither had I until I was stitched up for theft.
I hold my tongue on that one. No point in protesting my innocence anymore. That ship sailed a long time ago.
“Then, I don’t see a problem with it. So long as I have the address and your friend’s details, then it’s fine.”
“Thank you.” I breathe a sigh of relief. I didn’t want to say it to Cece, but the thought of living in a hostel…it felt like I would be going back into a form of prison. “Do you want the address now? I have it. Cece wrote it down for me.”
From my jeans pocket, I get the piece of paper with my new address on it and hand it over. He takes it from me and puts it inside my file.
“Here are the terms of your release. You have to adhere to these rules for the remainder of your sentence.” He hands over the sheet of paper. “Read them carefully, and then sign at the bottom. Know that you don’t have to sign, but the terms will still be legally binding.”
“Okay.” I give him a weak smile.
I read over the terms. They say what I expected them to…that if I am found breaking the law in any way, then I’ll be back inside to serve out the remainder of my sentence.
That’s never going to happen, so it’s a moot point. But I’ll sign anyway. Picking up the pen from his desk, I etch my name on the dotted line at the bottom and then hand it back to him.