I am so pleased to be part of the celebrations for this book! Darren is a master at writing about sensitive issues with heart and Furthermoor is proof of that! A beguiling story of Bren and the inner battles he has with himself, and with others! For my stop on the blog tour, I am sharing the next extract from the book…read on for more of the story!
Part Two – The Monday Before
Chapter Two – Cary, continued…
Bren’s eyes darted around the corridor. It was empty. Everyone was gone.
“I said come here, beakface.”
Bren hated being called beakface – even more so than ginger nut. His nose had a pronounced bridge – something he’d inherited from his dad – but it was hardly big.
Sighing, and with his eyes to the floor, Bren turned and shuffled towards Shaun. There was no point trying to run. That only ever made things worse.
“Where’re your manners?” grunted Shaun. “You should look up when your betters are talking to you.”
Bren raised his gaze. Shaun still looked a bit thrown by what had happened with Cary; he was scratching the back of his head, and his thin lips were tight at their edges. But when Bren did as he was told and drew reluctantly closer, Shaun’s mouth tugged itself into a sly, lopsided smile.
He watched Bren squirm for some moments, before nodding to himself, satisfied. “Did you think that was funny?”
Bren swallowed. “What?”
“The new boy: fake-ginge. That stuff he said. Did you find it funny?”
Bren’s hand stroked the green watch in his pocket. He wanted so badly to be away from here – to be in the music room, safe and alone.
He shook his head.
“Good. Cos it was lame.” Shaun sucked in his lips, snorted through his nose. “New boy’s a loser. Just like you, ginger nut.” He gave Bren a small shove. “What are you?”
Bren’s gaze was on the floor once more. “Loser,” he croaked.
“I’m a loser.”
“That’s right. At least you know your place. Cary’ll know his too, when I’m done with him.” Shaun nodded to himself again, before cracking his knuckles. “You know, I haven’t seen you around lately. You been hiding from me?”
Bren shook his head.
Shaun stuck out his lower lip and put on a babyish, mollycoddling voice. “I’ve missed you. Have you missed me?”
Bren couldn’t speak. His mouth was too dry.
“Haven’t you?” Shaun’s blue eyes became slits.
“So say it.”
Bren’s words were hoarse. “I missed you.”
“Good.” With a flash of his arm, Shaun shoved Bren again, harder this time. Staggering backwards, Bren glanced up to see Shaun stepping towards him, his lips peeling back to reveal gritted teeth. “So let’s catch up, yeah? It’s—”
He was silenced by the creak of a door.
When Mr Okorafor stepped out from the classroom, he found Shaun lingering casually in the corridor with his hands in his pockets. Bren tried to look casual too, biting his lip and staring at the scuffs on his shoes.
“Everything okay, boys?”
“Sure, Mr Okorafor,” replied Shaun.
“And you, Bren?”
Bren raised his eyes. Mr Okorafor was smiling gently at him, though his dark forehead was wrinkled beneath his greying curls. Bren glanced discreetly at Shaun – who glowered at him, just for a moment – and did his best to return the English teacher’s smile. “Good, thanks.”
Mr Okorafor gave a slow nod. “Okay. Well… Shouldn’t you both be having your lunch?”
Shaun pointed down the corridor. “Going there now. Starvin’.”
Bren was already scuttling the other way, bound for the coat in his locker.