Hidden Love(8)

By: Carole Mortimer

'You were beautiful when you were born,' her mother said dreamily. 'You were premature, only five and a half pounds in weight and premature babies are always prettier. Why, what are you smiling at, Rachel?'

Her humor deepened. 'I was just thinking of the baby's uncle's reaction when he first saw her. She was all screwed up and wrinkled, and yet her mother was convinced she was beautiful.' And to Nick's credit he hadn't shown by so much as a blink of an eyelid that he didn't appreciate the baby's looks.

'The baby's uncle, dear?' her mother prompted. 'Yes. Mrs. Lennox's husband was away, so I…Dad, what is this?' she asked sharply, something, someone on the television catching and holding her attention.


'What are they talking about?' she repeated impatiently.

'Why, the tennis, of course,' he answered with equal impatience. It was obvious what they were talking about, with two men fiercely hitting the ball at each other, determination on each of their faces.

'What tennis?' she asked agitatedly, desperately trying to, come to grips with something that was becoming more and more obvious by the second.

'Wimbledon, dear,' it was her mother who answered this time. 'They played the quarter-finals today.'

And the man playing in one of them was none other than Kay Lennox's brother Nick! No wonder he had seemed so familiar, she had actually watched him playing one of the qualifying matches earlier in the week, had sat and cheered him on.

He was Nicholas St Clare, world-famous tennis player, winner of numerous tournaments the last twelve years, since he had turned professional at the age of eighteen. And the court he had been talking about this evening hadn't been a court of law but a tennis court, a tennis court at the world-renowned Wimbledon Championships!

Chapter Two

She had calmly agreed to go to dinner with a famous tennis player! Of course she hadn't known who he was then, but she knew now! He was one of the hot-shot left-handed players to come out of America the last fifteen years, and at thirty years of age he was being compared with the stamina and skill of Australia's Rod Laver, was still winning the titles, although it was a well known fact that Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe had dominated the courts of Wimbledon for the past six or seven years. Apparently it was a championship Nicholas St Clare coveted, and this year he was determined to win.

The way he had played today, by the look of the television coverage, he could just do it too. In the white shorts and short--sleeved tee-shirt he looked handsomer than ever, his golden hair clinging damply to his forehead, his blue eyes steely as he concentrated completely on winning the match from his opponent.

'Did he win?' Rachel asked breathlessly.

'I don't know who you mean by he.' her father told her 'But Nicholas St Clare won, quite easily as a matter of fact.'

Of course he had won; he would hardly have been in that lazily charming mood otherwise. But she had agreed to have dinner with a good-looking man named Nick, not with Nicholas St Clare. She couldn't go out with a man as famous as that. And she couldn't imagine why he had asked her!

'Danny called,' her mother interrupted her panicked thoughts.

'He did?' she frowned She had forgotten all about Danny during the last few hours!

'He seemed quite surprised you were still at the hospital.'

'He was surprised I went at all,' Rachel remembered angrily. 'If he'd had his way Mrs. Lennox would have been left to fend for herself!'

'Oh dear!' her mother frowned, having the same dark hair as Rachel, although it was kept short and curly.

'Have the two of you argued?'

'Not exactly,' she avoided, her mind racing on as to how she could get in touch with Nick St Clare and tell him she couldn't go out with him tomorrow or any other time. She could call him she had his number, but unless she got that impersonal answering service she didn't want to do that. She certainly didn't want to talk to Nick himself!

'How not exactly, Rachel?' her mother was concerned. 'I thought you were-fond of him?'

'I was…I am. But he wasn't very understanding about poor Mrs. Lennox.' The only thing to do seemed to have Nick's sister pass on a message to him.

Her mother smiled. 'Men never are, dear. They have no idea.'

Nick. St Clare had had no idea; he had been visibly shaken by what his sister was going through to give birth to her daughter. Nick St Clare…! Oh, she should have recognized him, should have known who he was. She just hadn't been expecting to see a famous tennis player, and so she hadn't; she had even thought he could be a lawyer!

She had made a mess of things, and first thing tomorrow she would get herself out of it. Nick had said he would be visiting his sister some time tomorrow and so she could be sure he would get the message.

As she lay in bed later that night she did her best to convince herself that she was doing the right thing, the only think, by not meeting Nick again. A man like that could turn her life so upside down it would never be the same again. And boring as it might appear to him she liked her little world and was enjoying this two year course at college and she loved her parents very much, as their only child she felt cherished and loved in return, and she enjoyed going out on the occasional date with boys like Danny. Yes, her life was good, satisfying and she didn't need the sophistication of Nick St Clare to spoil it all.