Joey walked into the Vic and he scanned the room letting out a deep sigh when he saw Lauren seated at the bar, her head resting on her coat, a half empty glass in front of her. He walked over to her and sighed again, 'Should've looked here first hey Lauren' he said 'This is what you do isn't it, when you don't get you're own way?'

Lauren raised her head briefly to look at him 'Why are being so nasty?' she asked with a sigh

'Because that's what I do' he replied cockily as he leant on the bar

'Why are you here?'she asked him

'Look I came back here for Alice. She needs me' Joey replied staring at Lauren. She picked up her glass and downed the rest of the contents in one go and she got up, grabbing her coat, avoiding looking at him.

'Well as you can see Alice isn't here' she said as she moved passed him and walked round to the other side of the bar. putting some distance between him. 'Can I get a drink please? Hello! Anybody!' she called out annoyed that no one was serving behind the bar, people looked up at her in surprise.

'Lauren..wait' Joey called as he followed her, she frowned and spun round to face him, anger flashing in her eyes.

'For what?' she frowned at him 'Like you said not everything's worth a second chance' she threw his words from earlier back at him and his eyes narrowed,she gave up trying to get a drink and stormed out of the pub. Joey didn't follow, figuring she needed some time to calm down, sober up. He decided he would try to talk to her again tomorrow.

Lauren walked into the kitchen the next morninng at 7:30am, Tanya and Max raised their eyebrows in surprise. 'You're up early' Tanya said

'Yeah well I have things to do today' she replied as she poured herself a coffee. 'Abi not up yet?'

'Things?' Tanya questioned as Lauren drank the coffee

'Yep. I'll see you later' she shoved the empty coffee cup into the dishwasher and walked out of the kitchen. Tanya and Max exchanged glances and then shrugged.

Joey saw Lauren walking through the square heading towards the train station 'Lauren! Lauren' he called after her, he was certain that she would have heard him but she didn't turn around and disappeared into the tube station.

At 6:00pm the door to number 5 slammed loudly 'Lauren that you? I'm just serving up dinner' Tanya yelled out from the lounge, Lauren sighed heavily,

'Yeah it's me, I'll just wash up' she called out as she ran up the stairs. She stashed her sketch pad and pencils under the bed and went into the bathroom and washed her hands and face, staring at her reflection, she knew she wasn't drunk, just slightly buzzed from the half bottle of vodka she had drunk in the park, but still she cleaned her teeth just in case the alcohol could be smelt on her breath. Forcing a smile on her face she walked down the stairs and into the lounge, her footsteps faltering slightly when she saw Alice and Joey seated at the other side of the table. She moved forward and sat down next to Oscar who grinned at her

'Hi Lo' he smiled

'Hi buttmonkey' she replied with a smile 'Good day at school?'

'We had stories' Oscar replied

'Good stories?'

'Yep about a princess and a frog" he said

'Like the one we're reading?' she smiled at her little brother affectionately, he nodded

'but Lauren wasn't the princess' he said

'When is she' Lauren muttered under her breath 'Well we'll read some more of the story where Lauren is the princess at bedtime okay?'

'Can I be the frog?' Oscar asked her. Lauren giggled at Oscar's face.

'Yes you can be the frog' she told him.

'So what did you get up to today?' Tanya asked Lauren, Lauren looked up in surprise, usually no-one bothered asking her what she did, usually she was sleeping off a hangover,or slumped on the sofa watching tv, usually Abi or Oscar were the main topics of conversation. She blinked and licked her lips.

'Do you mind if I talk to you and dad about it later?' she asked her mother.

'You can talk to us now' Max said looking up at her. Lauren glanced at Joey and Alice and saw them both looking at her with interest

'I'd rather do it later in private if that's okay?' she asked them.

'Of course it is darling' Tanya said 'So Abi... how was your day? Lauren sighed grateful for once that the conversation was all about Abi. Lauren picked at her food as she absent-mindedly listen to the conversations around her, she could feel Joey's gaze on her throughout the meal, but refused to look up at him. When dinner was finished Lauren and Max cleared the table and went into the kitchen to do the washing up. Max frowned

'Are you alright Lauren, you were quiet at dinner?'

'I'm fine dad' she said with a sigh, 'Just a bit of a headache is all' she replied, she licked her lips and chewed on her bottom lip 'I didn't know Joey and Alice were gonna be here?'

'Yeah well it was your mother's idea... Alice hasn't been doing well since Derek died...' he trailed off 'Your mother thought it would do them good... a change of scene... home cooked meal..you know Joey's hoping you'll go back to the house with them tonight, give Alice someone to talk to..'

'Yeah I would but I think I'm just gonna go to bed..headache you know' she said with a shrug. 'Why don't you and mum take them to the pub, I'm sure they'd like that, I'll finish up in here' I told him

'All right thanks Lauren' Max said kissing the top of head as he walked passed her and out of the room.

After Lauren had finished in the kitchen she walked up to her room and lay down on the bed closing her eyes. The vibration of her mobile phone startled her, she jumped off the bed and grabbed the phone from her bag and saw Joey's name flashing on the display, instantly she rejected the call and flopped back down on the bed, it rang again instantly but this time it was Whitney. Lauren smiled 'All right Whit?'

'I need to talk to you can you come to the Vic?'

'Yeah sure I'll be there in 10 minutes' Lauren said frowning at the tone in her best friends voice as she hung up. Ten minutes later Lauren walked into the pub, spotting Whit at the other side of the bar. She crossed the room and someone grabbed her arm, forcing her to stop,

'Thought you were going to bed?' Max asked her 'Headache?'

'Yeah I was but Whit called she sounded upset...so'

'Your cousins are upset they've just lost their father' he frowned at her

'Yeah well they've got you and mum haven't they' Lauren replied as she pulled her arm free and walked over to Whitney. She stood up and they hugged

'I am so glad you are here' Whitney said with a smile 'I have a dilemma only you can help me with'

'Okay now I'm intrigued' Lauren licked her lips 'What's up?'

Joey watched Lauren and Whitney talking and laughing together, drowning out whatever Max and Tanya were saying to try and make Alice feel better, he had missed her the time that he was away, he only realised how much when he saw her again, she had obviously heard that he was back in Walford and had come over to see him and he had to be all cold and distant ... he had to say that things weren't worth a second chance, knowing what she would read into that... sometimes Joey wished he would think before he spoke, now Lauren wasn't talking to him, in fact she wasn't even acknowledging him,the whole time at dinner he kept looking at her and she remained focused on her plate, not even joining in the conversation, not that the conversation included her, mainly it was about Oscar and Abi. Joey licked his lips and pulled his phone out of his pocket and typed a quick message and then shoved it back into his jacket. He watched as Lauren picked up her phone and then put it back on the table.

Whitney frowned 'Are you okay?'
Lauren looked up 'Mmm? yeah I'm fine, why?'

'It just looked as though that text message upset you or something?' she asked me

'Oh .. just telling me I need to put more money on it' Lauren said 'I swear I only put 10 on it the other day' she said and she laughed 'I'll be back in a second' she said and she picked up her phone and disappeared into the ladies. When she came back Joey was sitting at the table talking with Whitney. Lauren sighed and took her seat again and picked up her glass and drank half of the coke, 'You know what I'm gonna go I'm feeling pretty tired'

'You haven't been here that long and Joey's just joined us' Whitney said with a frown.

'Yeah I know but I need to talk to mum and dad about something so... I'll see you tomorrow?'

'I'll give you ring' Whitney said a little confused.

'I'll walk you home' Joey said standing up.

'I know the way thanks' Lauren replied again without looking at him. Joey and Whitney watched her leave the Vic, her phone vibrated again and she pulled it out to read the message she knew was from Joey. "I really need to talk to you, meet me at R&R at 11:00?" Lauren licked her lips and looked at the time and started to walk.