Hidden Love(10)

By: Carole Mortimer


'Ready, Rachel?' Hilary appeared at her side. Rachel looked down at Danny's angrily flushed face, flicking her hair back. 'More than ready,' she nodded leaving with her friend.

Hilary giggled as they stepped into the lift. 'What did you say to upset him?'

'Just the truth,' she shrugged. 'That I didn't want to go out with him any more.'

'You finished with Danny Maxwell?' her friend gasped.

'Well ... yes.'

'You really did?' Hilary frowned.

'Yes.'

'Goodness!'

'Well, don't sound so surprised,' Rachel laughed. 'It isn't unheard of, you know.'

'To Danny Maxwell it is!' .

'Not any more,' she grimed, feeling no remorse.

Danny had been as surprised as Hilary by her decision not to see him any more, and his reaction had shown him in his true colors.

'I'm glad.' Hilary said seriously 'I never did like him. He's all tight jeans and biceps.'

'Hilary!'

'Well, he is," her friend muttered. 'Now Nicholas St Clare is what I would call a real man.'

Rachel stiffened glad that the lift had arrived at their floor. 'I don't want to talk about Mr. St Clare.'

'But--'

'Hilary!' she said in a warning voice.

'Well, I think you're mad. Even if you never saw him again you would at least have had this one evening to remember.'

She knew that one thought had been going through her mind all morning. Maybe she should have just had this one date with him. But what good would it do? He was probably another one of those men who weren't interested if he couldn't have more than kisses.

'I'm not interested,' she told Hilary firmly.

The rest of the day seemed to drag to Rachel, and for once she wasn't giving her whole attention to her work, something one of the tutors warned her about. 'Do you want to come over tonight?' Hilary offered.

'We could play a few records, chat, you know.'

'I know;' Rachel pulled a face. 'You only want to try and get my innermost secrets out of me.'

'How did you guess?' her friend grinned.

She laughed. 'It wasn't difficult. Thanks for the offer, Hilary, but I have to wash my hair.'

Hilary looked admiringly at the long dark tresses. 'I bet it takes all evening, hmm?'

'More or less. My mother usually brushes it dry for me. It takes hours.'

'Your poor mother!'

Rachel grinned. 'I tell her it's the price she has to pay for my growing it this long.'

Hilary touched her own boyishly styled hair. 'I sometimes wish I hadn't had mine' cut, but when I hear I'd have to waste an evening just washing and drying hair your length I'm glad mine only takes half an hour to wash and dry.'

'It has its benefits,' Rachel agreed.

'It does?'

'Hm, it fills an empty evening.'

And it looked as if she would be having a lot of them in the near future. Hilary shook her head. 'And you could have filled this one with Nick St Clare, not a shampoo bottle.'

'Hilary, I'd rather--'

'Well, well, well,' drawled an insulting voice. 'If it isn't the little girl that likes to date tennis stars!'

Rachel turned to face Danny, finding he had two of his friends with him. Billy and Malcolm were nice enough boys on their own, but Danny was obviously their leader, and they were following his lead in this, their expressions as mocking.

'I don't know where you got your information--'

'Why, your little friend here.' Danny's gaze strayed to Hilary. 'She's full of the fact that her best friend is going out with Nick St Clare.'

Rachel looked at her friend, knowing by her flushed cheeks that Danny spoke the truth. 'Hilary!' she groaned.

'I'm sorry,' the other girl looked at her appealingly.

'No wonder you aren't interested in going out with me any more,' Danny scorned. 'Some hot-shot with a lot of money comes along and I'm no longer good enough for you.'

'It wasn't like that,' Rachel flushed. 'I ---'

'Rachel?'

She instantly paled, turning at the sound of that familiar drawl, her eyes widening as she looked at Nicholas St Clare. He was standing only a couple of feet away from them, the dark brown shirt stretching tautly across his chest and shoulders, partly unbuttoned, the sleeves turned back to just below his elbows, the cream trousers fitted to his muscular thighs.

Danny's stance instantly became challenging. 'How nice,' he taunted. 'Your boy friend has come to pick you up from school!'

Rachel gave him a distressed look, and she heard Hilary gasp at her side. Nick looked unmoved, eyeing the younger man with amusement. She had no idea what he was doing here, or even how he had got here. She didn't remember telling him what time she finished, or even what college she attended. 'Ready?' she repeated dazedly.

'I told your mother and father I'd take you straight home,' he further astounded her by announcing.

She swallowed hard, still not understanding, but getting his message that he was here to drive her home. She could see the Jaguar parked a short distance away, although with the hostile audience they had it could seem like a mile.