The Standalones

Chapter Four

Ken Preston

01 June 2024

Silhouette of a rock band against a spotlight and the words The Standalones

Chris pulled a pack of bills out of the holdall and held it up like it was a holy relic. “I’ve never seen this much money before in my life!”

Scarlett pulled two packs out and gazed at the bulging holdall. “There must be like over a hundred grand in there!”

“Are you a millionaire or something?” Chris said.

“No!” Chloe exclaimed. “I don’t know where all this money has come from.” She stepped away from the holdall. She didn’t want to touch any of it, she didn’t even want to be near it.

“You mean it’s not yours?” Matt said. He hadn’t picked up any of the money, either, Chloe noticed.

“That’s not my travel bag, it looks like mine, but it isn’t.”

Chris riffled the wad of £20 notes with his thumb and whistled. He seemed not to have heard Chloe speak, his fascination with the money was so intense.

“Imagine what we could do with all this cash,” Scarlett said.

“I’m thinking about that right now, babe,” Chris said.

“Imagine the places we could stay,” Scarlett said, her eyes taking on a faraway look.

Chris nodded as he pulled more packs of money from the bag. “I could have a bath for once, instead of a quick scrub down with cold water in the toilets on Killick Street.”

“Centrally heated rooms and soft beds.”

“Hot and cold running water.”

“Maybe even a colour TV!”

“But it’s not my money,” Chloe said again.

Chris and Scarlett were too far gone in their daydreams of luxury hotels to hear what Chloe had said.

“Have you any idea how you came to have it?” Matt said.

Chloe was grateful that he at least was thinking about how the money had come to be in her possession, rather than what they could spend it on like the other two were.

“Oh my gosh, it was the man at the train station,” Chloe gasped, suddenly remembering. “This horrible little man ran into me and fell over. He had the same holdall as I did, and we must have picked up the wrong ones. Which means he has all my clothes and my song lyrics!”

Chloe dropped her head into her hands. What a catastrophe! What was she going to do?

A hand rested comfortingly on her shoulder and she raised her head to see Matt next to her, a look of concern on his face. And for a brief moment, her spirits lifted.

“Hey, don’t worry, we’ll find out whose money this is and get it back to them, and we’ll get your belongings back too, okay?”

Chloe gave Matt a faint smile. “Thanks.”

Not only was he drop-dead gorgeous, but he was kind and concerned about others, too. Even though she had only known Matt Sumner for five minutes, Chloe knew she was falling in love.

“Whoa, hold on!” Scarlett said, holding up a hand. “Let’s not go so fast, shall we? I mean, I think we need to consider first of all where this money came from before we start thinking about giving it back.”

“What are you talking about?” Matt said.

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