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Betrayal
Author: Martina Cole


 

Book One

 

 

Behold my mother and my brethren!

 

 

Matthew 12:49

 

 

When lovely woman stoops to folly

 

And finds too late that men betray,

 

What charm can soothe her melancholy,

 

What art can wash her guilt away?

 

 

The Vicar of Wakefield, Oliver Goldsmith (1728–74)

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

1981


Reeva O’Hara’s voice was loud and harsh as it always was when she had what she considered to be an audience. Even at 8.15 a.m. in her local Co-op, Reeva never failed to entertain. Her saving grace was she could be very funny when the fancy took her.

‘So I said, “Go and find your fucking fathers and get some sweet money off them!”’ She screeched with laughter at her own wit and a few of the other mothers in the busy shop joined in.

Reeva’s ever-present cigarette was dangling from her red-stained lips and her distended belly told anyone who cared to look that she was nearly on her time.

Jack Walters, the manager of the Co-op, liked Reeva. She wasn’t a bad girl really – she had just been badly used in her time by the many men she seemed to attract. She attracted him. She was a good-looking young woman with a warm and generous personality and clearly a healthy attitude towards sex – unlike his wife, Doris, who thought it should take place in the pitch dark and as fast as humanly possible. Jack kept that gem of wisdom to himself though; Doris was as narrow-minded as she was skinny. It was like shagging a skeleton.

Doris Walters was looking at Reeva with barely disguised contempt. Reeva was everything she thought was wrong with the modern world.

‘Can I help you, Reeva?’ Doris’s voice said it all and no one was in any doubt that Reeva understood the tone completely.

Reeva smiled a big encompassing smile that completely transformed her face and said loudly, ‘Whatever happened to service with a smile? You’ve got a boatrace on you that could stop a fucking clock!’ Reeva leaned forwards as if they were alone before she bellowed, ‘Caught him with his cock out again, have you?’

Jack Walters closed his eyes in distress as the shop erupted into gales of good-natured laughter.

‘Don’t worry, Doris, it happens to the best of us, mate!’ someone shouted from the queue behind.

Doris looked at the young woman who she loathed with all her being. Hearing the laughter around her, she turned and walked into the back of the shop, as Reeva screamed out once more, ‘I’ll take that as a yes, then, shall I!’

She turned to Jack Walters and said kindly, mimicking his wife’s voice, ‘One will have ten No. 10, my good man!’

The laughter started up again. Jack served her silently, but everyone could see that he was trying hard not to laugh with her.

That was Reeva O’Hara; she was like Marmite – you either loved or hated her.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Doris Walters felt sick with humiliation. Trust the whore to bring that up in front of the other customers.

Her eyes were burning with unshed tears. She had to swallow the urge to go back out front, pick up a piece of wood and fell that painted trollop to the floor. That’s exactly what she was with all those bloody kids! All different colours, all with different fathers! Yet Reeva O’Hara walked around like she was someone. Hair done, make-up on, attracting attention – Doris saw her own husband looking at her – even though she was ready to drop another bastard on the Welfare State.

But that was it these days: have kids and let everyone else pay for them – honest, hard-working people like herself. They got a council house and furniture provided. It was disgraceful the way these young girls carried on. Whereas people like Doris, who had finished her education, worked, and done it right, were left childless, having to watch as the Reevas of the world dropped chavvies like it was nothing. Which it was to her, obviously. What was this one? Doris screwed up her eyes in concentration for a few seconds. It would be Reeva’s fifth child in twelve years. She had had the first one when she was fourteen years old! Brazen as you like, she’d been – belly on display like she had done something good. She had given birth to four handsome sons, one after the other – and even Doris had to admit in her more charitable moments they were always clean and well turned out. They were polite too which was amazing considering what they had to listen to on a daily basis; that girl had a mouth like a city docker.

Doris Walters’s jealousy knew no bounds when it came to Reeva O’Hara. She was everything Doris loathed, and Reeva O’Hara had everything Doris wanted: good looks, an open personality, and the ability to produce children even after a one-night stand.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

Aiden O’Hara was watching his mother as she doled out sweets to her boys. She was as mad as a box of frogs but she did her best for them – he knew that better than anyone, and he loved her. She embarrassed him at times with the way she carried on, although he knew that it was her way of coping with the world – with her life, in fact. She was a very loving, caring person and, as Aiden saw it, people took advantage of her because of that. He swore that once he was older he would take proper care of her, and look out for her – especially where men were concerned. As young as he was, he saw a lot more than he let on, but he could only do so much until such time as he grew up. For now, he helped her out in any way he could and he looked out for his brothers too.

He was aware they made a strange-looking family – a mixture of different colours and heritages – but they were still that: a family. His mum made sure of it. Father Hagen had once described her as ‘a kind and generous soul’ and, even at twelve, Aiden knew exactly what that meant in street parlance!

She seemed to attract wrong ’uns, as his nan would put it, but she had a spark about her that made people want to be near her. Her kids adored her, and a lot of the women on their street admired her – as much for her stance in keeping her numerous children as because she was clean as anything.

He rounded up his brothers and they kissed Reeva before he shepherded them towards school and another day of drudgery.

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