Sydney is practically falling over himself at the coup. For once, he's got Jake Jr. right where he wants him doesn't even notice the next text that flashes on the phone's screen: "Your balance is low."
He jumps nearly a foot in the air and stuffs the phone in his pocket when his sister yells to him, because something in her voice is a bit alarming.
"What are these charges?" she demands, waving some bill in his face, it's for his Orange mobile, and the balance at the top alone is enough to stop Sydney in his tracks.
"600 pounds??" she demands. But he can tell from the look in her eyes, it's just getting started, and starts to protest, reaching into his pocket to show her the call history and prove it must be a mistake.
The phone isn't there.
"This one is a number in Brighton. That's near the school, isn't it?"
He nods, not quite sure what to say but very sure who has his phone, the hell-child who won't stop, probably the whole thing with the disposable prepaid he thought was Jake's was all a set up, but he had Sydney by the short hairs now.
"I, I-called it," she mumbles, looking at him with red eyes. "A woman answered. You said after Madelyn you would never re-marry, and I uprooted my life so I could take care of you in your poor health."
"That's preposterous. My phone got stolen-" he starts, but wait, there's more.
"And all these international calls? Karachi? Islamabad? Dubai? You do realize there are people who will notice ninety calls to those places, they all have one thing in common. What have you gotten yourself into, us into? The woman, she sounded foreign."
"Well what did she say?" he bellows, feeling the blood leaving every extremity.
A police car speeds by, its siren blaring full volume, and Sydney already has a weak heart and damned if that doesn't nearly stop it right there.
"She hung up on me."
Sydney swallows, because she's never met Jake, who must be behind all of this, and someone who never met the demon would have trouble accepting that a boy of only sixteen could be this evil, and surely the boy had found help to pull this off, but that really didn't matter any longer. Apparently, Sydney had, too, totally underestimated the boy's ability for revenge. Always two steps ahead of Sydney, who for Christ's sake, graduated from Oxford.
The mailslot clatters shut, the postman must've forgotten something, and a neat stack of envelopes from credit card companies tumbles in front of them, return addresses from countries he'd never been to, and before he knows it, he's earned a slap across the face and the door slams behind her as she drags her children out of the house, tossing the keys squarely at him face before he has the reflexes to duck.
All that's left to do anymore is wait and see what more Jake Jr. has in store for him.
Jake's prepay buzzes, and his nerves really can't take much of this, two messages.
"Shappard. I gt my phones confused. Jake said you would arrange a meeting at your sister's cottage that wld be discreet if I kept it quiet about you two."
"Balance: £0.09, Please top up at o2.co.uk."
It occurs to him just hours ago his biggest worry was never being able to work as a teacher again, and all he can do is start laughing. He opens up the Johnny Walker and pulls an insanely large amount for himself, and he's starting to laugh so hard now he can barely drink it without spilling it all over his cheap tweed jacket.