Katy had taken her own advice, attempting to be more understanding about Isaac's view on things. As he started back at work and things became even more hectic, Katy did her best to at least be home at meal times so that they saw each other for a decent amount of time every day. She couldn't shake the feeling, however, that he knew that she was trying too hard to put on a happy face.
Her Mitchell temper however, stopped her being totally understanding and caused several arguments, culminating in a bust up that led to Isaac announcing that he was going to stay with his mother and Patrick until Katy calmed down and saw sense. Katy did absolutely nothing to dissuade him, simply rolling her eyes when Ronnie asked if she was sure she knew what she was doing.
"D'you fancy dinner tonight… on me." Isaac stopped Katy on her way to the R&R, making her jump as he laid his hand on her arm. "I wanna apologise for making such a big deal out of everything."
"I can't tonight."
"Why not? I checked with Tina and you've got the night off."
"Yeah, but just because I'm not working it doesn't mean I'm free. I've got the girls."
"Can't you just get someone to babysit?" Isaac demanded. "It's not like we get to go out all the time."
"No, I know that, but with work and the girls it's difficult." Katy pointed out.
"Which is why we should get a babysitter."
"I just don't feel like it." She sighed, shaking her head. "I've been at work every night this week so I just want to spend a bit of time with my kids."
"So I come second… again."
"Yes, Isaac." Katy shrugged. "I'm sorry. You knew that was the deal when we got together. "You knew I had the kids and the bar… what do you want me to do?"
"I want you to put me first."
Staring at him for a moment, wondering whether he'd heard anything she'd said, the blonde shook her head in disbelief. "Are you kidding me?"
"Why is that such a terrible thing to ask you for?" Isaac demanded. "You're supposed to be my girlfriend."
"Yeah, well… I did try and warn you."
"Right, well… clearly you ain't up for tonight. Let me know when you can fit me into your busy schedule, yeah?"
As he stamped away, Katy let out a long sigh and shook her head. She glanced at her phone, before heading slowly in the direction of the R&R. She had barely made it under the bridge when she heard someone calling her name and turned to see Karen leaning against the launderette wall smoking and watching her with a knowing smile.
"You alright, darlin'?"
"Yeah, fine." Katy replied quickly, nodding at her.
"Fancy a cuppa?"
For a moment, the younger woman considered turning her down. Then she sighed and shrugged, crossing the street and walking through the launderette door. Karen smiled and disappeared into the back, putting the kettle on and rattling around the room, talking about nonsense until she reappeared with two mugs of tea and pushed one into Katy's hand.
"Blokes, eh?" Karen smiled, nudging her gently with her shoulder. "Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em."
"I'm pretty sure I'd do fine without."
"What's he done, eh?"
"I don't think–"
The older woman shrugged. "It might be easier to talk to someone who ain't a Mitchell? Besides, you'll get no judgement from me, whatever it is."
"He doesn't like me always putting the kids in front of him." Katy admitted staring at the liquid in her mug. "That's not gonna change and he's not happy about it. If he can't get his head around that then we ain't got a future."
"Good on you, girl." Karen told her. "Our kids have got to be the most important people in our lives. They never asked to be brought into this world; it's our job to make sure they have the best chances possible."
"Hard, though, when they're being ungrateful little shits."
Laughing, the older woman nodded and shrugged. "I bet you were a right nightmare for your parents when you were a kid. I imagine you gave Jack the right run-around. Ronnie probably not so much…"
Katy looked at her for a moment. "I never knew them when I was a kid. Didn't even meet them 'til I was seventeen and I didn't know they were my parents until a while later."
"Really?" Karen blinked at her in disbelief. "I'd never have guessed…"
"Yeah, well… Mitchell parents ain't exactly Mary Poppins. It was my granddad who took me away from Ronnie in the first place."
"You Mitchells really are screwed up, ain't ya?"
Laughing, Katy shrugged. "Hopefully not all of us."
"I think you're right, for the record." Karen said softly. "We've gotta make sacrifices for our kids."
"Why do I suddenly get the feeling we ain't just talking about me now?" The younger woman asked, arching an eyebrow. "How are you doing after the whole Kayden thing?"
"I'm fine. He's back with his mum. It's the right thing. Besides, it's Albie now, init?" When Katy snorted in response, Karen shot her a look. "What's the story with you and Sharon, anyway?"
"There's no story. We just… don't get on."
Karen leant forward, clearly looking for gossip. "Go on… there must be more than that."
Laughing, the younger woman wrapped both hands around her mug and shrugged. "We've never seen eye to eye. Actually, I can't stand her; Bimbo Barbie feels the same about me, don't worry. Phil always used to say I was being a brat, most other people thought I was just a bitch… but there's something about the way she acts as though she's better than everyone else, like the whole world owes her something, like… like she's the victim of every situation that doesn't go her way… I can't stand it." She shook her head, meeting Karen's eyes. "People expected me to feel sorry for her when Phil said he couldn't bring up the baby… what did she expect? She had an affair with Keanu – it's her fault that your son isn't here, whatever anyone thinks – and then she just expects to be forgiven? Who in their right mind is that entitled?"
"So you think Phil was right to do what he did?"
"Not about everything, but I do understand." The Mitchell said bluntly. "I do think he was right not to take on the baby and… I am sorry about what happened with Keanu, but… well… he made his bed and he's got to live with the consequences."
"You think it's fair that he can't come home? That he's lost the chance to watch both of his kids grow up?"
"He's alive." Katy replied honestly. "He's still got a chance."
"You Mitchells are summit else, you know that, right?"
"So I've been told. Seriously, though… if it were me and someone hurt one of my girls the way Keanu hurt Louise – let alone also having an affair with my partner – I'd have killed them."
They sat in silence for a long while, both mentally digesting the conversation they'd had. Katy was suddenly struck by how insensitive she'd been, especially as Karen had clearly been attempting to be nice after spotting her argument with Isaac. Cursing herself, the younger blonde cleared her throat awkwardly, looking at Karen with what she hoped was an apologetic expression on her face.
"Look… I'm really sorry if I… I know it weren't completely Keanu's fault… in fact, I'm more inclined to blame Sharon." She chuckled mirthlessly. "I didn't mean to upset you. You were being so nice to me and I just ran my mouth off. That's one of my biggest problems, really… never knowing when to shut up."
"Nah." Karen shook her head. "Nah, you're alright." She nudged Katy with her shoulder again. "I mean, you didn't say anything I haven't thought a hundred times myself."
"Seriously, though, I hope Keanu's alright. I mean, I quite fancied him myself when I first met him."
"If only he'd ended up with you, eh?"
"Bloody hell, Karen… I thought you loved your son?" Katy teased, laughing at her. "What would you want him mixed up with me for? Nah, if he'd cheated on me with Sharon he'd be six feet under for sure. If I hadn't got to him first, Mum or Rox would have."
"Ah well, life goes on, eh?" Karen said, standing up and holding out a hand for Katy's mug. "You just keep putting them girls of yours first and you'll be alright. Things always work out for the best."
"Yeah… I reckon you're right." The younger blonde agreed with a nod, standing up and shouldering her bag. "Listen… if Bernie wants a couple of shifts at the R&R, tell her to let me know."
"She ain't eighteen yet, though?"
Katy smiled. "I know, but as long as her sales are authorised by the licence holder, i.e. me, or anyone I nominate to supervise her then it's fine. I'm always on the lookout for hardworking staff I can trust. Besides, the pay is pretty good comparatively."
"Thanks. I'll let her know."
"No problem. Thanks for the tea and… everything."
"You're welcome anytime."