‘Mmmm, let me think,’ said Hel, her right hand stroking her chin.
‘It’s okay,’ said Joe, ‘I can wait.’ He almost added, I’m used to being hungry, but didn’t because what was the point? No one cared.
And, he was used to it if he was really honest. It was part of the package when you lived in the Bones’ household.
Not that they were dirt poor, not like his mate Limey. Limey’s parents were both chronically ill and on benefits and when they got put on to Universal Credit there were a few times that their benefit money was stopped. No benefits meant no money. No money meant no food and no heating. It sucked.
No, Joe’s mom worked and although they weren’t rolling in money, they weren’t on Limey’s scale either. Problem was, Joe’s shitdad prefered beer and weed and the bookies to feeding his stepkid. But hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
It had just given Joe a load of rather unhealthy coping skills.
Hades rubbed his head against Joe’s leg making him jump. His heart twanged again as he thought of Lola.
‘Good boy,’ he said, running his hands through the dog’s rough fur. The dog began to purr loudly and started to lean on Joe nearly making him fall over.
‘Careful Hades,’ said Hel and the dog shifted its position. ‘Okay, I’ve got it. There’s a witch that lives in these woods -‘
‘A witch?’ Even Joe could hear the scepticism in his own voice. ‘Really? Come on now. Stop pulling my leg!’
Hel stared at him, her face contorted with confusion. ‘I’m not touching your leg.’
‘I know. It’s just a saying…’ Nope, he could see from the look on her face that she wasn’t getting it. ‘It doesn’t matter. So, this witch…how far is it? Is she dead?’
‘No, she’s very much alive,’ said Hel.