Hidden Love(9)

By: Carole Mortimer


But hadn't he spoilt it already? Hadn't meeting him at all made her long for something she could never have? Hadn't it made her want Nick St Clare himself?

She buried her head beneath the pillow, pushing such tortuous thoughts from her mind. She couldn't see Nick St Clare again, and that was that.

Kay Lennox was sleeping when she telephoned from college early next morning, so she left a message with the nurse for Kay to pass on to her brother. She slipped quietly into her place for her first class before Mr. Balfour walked in to give the lecture.

'What happened to you yesterday afternoon?' Hilary leant over to whisper.

Rachel and Hilary had become friends the previous September when they had turned out to be the only two girls in this male-orientated class, but she shook her head at her friend as Mr. Balfour came into the room. 'I'll tell you later,' she promised, feeling as if she would burst if she didn't soon tell someone about her meeting with Nick St Clare.

Hilary was incredulous as they ate a doughnut and drank coffee during the morning break. 'You're joking!' Her eyes were agog, laughing blue eyes, her hair kept short and boyish.

'I wish I were,' Rachel grimaced.

'You don't!'

'Of course I do.' She stared mournfully into her rapidly cooling coffee. 'I spoke to him if he were just like you and me. I was even cheeky to him a couple of times.'

'Being a famous tennis player doesn't make him different from the rest of us,' her friend teased.

Rachel pulled a face. 'You didn't meet him. He… well, he's magnetic, has this leashed power ... ' She shrugged. 'He is different, Hilary, believe me.'

'I can see he is,' her friend soothed. 'But he can't have minded the way you spoke to him otherwise he wouldn't have asked you out.'

'I told you that was just out of gratitude.'

'Some gratitude!' Hilary scorned. 'Flowers or a box of chocolates would have sufficed as far as gratitude goes. No, Nick St Clare really wanted you to go out with him.'

'That's silly, Hilary---'

'I doubt if Danny will think so.'

'Danny?' Rachel frowned.

'Danny,' Hilary nodded, looking pointedly over Rachel's shoulder.

She turned with a groan, seeing Danny making his way determinedly to their table. And he didn't look very happy, far from it in fact.

'Hilary,' he nodded tensely in her direction.

'Danny, she greeted in a tight voice. Danny Maxwell was not one of her favorite people, something he was only too well aware of.

'Can I talk to you, Rachel?' he asked tightly.

She flushed; "Well I…'

'Don't mind me.' Hilary stood up, as slender as Rachel but slightly taller. She picked up her cup. 'I want to get a refill anyway. Rachel?'

'Not for me, thanks,' she refused, watching as Danny sat down in Hillary's vacated chair.

'That wasn't very kind,' she told him sharply.

'I'm not feeling particularly kind,' he scowled. 'Did your mother tell you I telephoned last night?'

'Yes,' she nodded.

His eyes narrowed. 'But you didn't feel like calling me back?'

'I got home late, Danny…'

'From taking that woman to hospital?'

'Yes. You see---'

'I told you you'd get dragged into being involved--'

'I didn't get dragged into anything, Danny,' she sighed. 'I stayed with her because I wanted to. She had a little girl, if you're interested.'

'I'm not,' he said coldly.

'I didn't think you would be.'

'What's that supposed to mean?' He was instantly on the defensive.

'Nothing,' she muttered, gathering her books together. 'I have to get to my next class.'

His hand on her wrist stopped her, but there was none of the tingling sensation she had experienced with Nick St Clare. 'Is our gate for tonight still on?'

She had forgotten all about their arrangements to go and see the latest James Bond film. But she didn't want to go anyway; she found Danny's behavior of yesterday had put her off the boy himself. 'Not tonight, Danny--'

'Why?'

'I-Well, because---'

'You don't want to see me any more, right?' he said roughly.

Oh dear, she always hated breaking up with boys, especially as Danny didn't appear to be going to make it easy for her; his grip on her wrist was unrelenting. 'I think it might be better if- -'

'Oh, spare me the little speech about how you don't want to see me any more but we can still be friends.' he sneered, releasing her wrist. 'I've said it too many times myself to know it isn't true.'

'Danny, I'm sorry--'

'I'm not,' he said insultingly. 'You're a little prude, Rachel. I think two months is long enough to tell me you aren't going to give me anything but kisses.'

She flushed. 'Is that all you can think about, what you can get from a girl?'

His mouth twisted mockingly, marring his good looks. 'What else is there?' he scorned. 'You surely didn't think I intended getting serious about you?'

'I hope not,' she told him with blunt honesty, standing up to look down at him with cold grey eyes. 'I think you have a lot of growing up to do before you become serious about anyone.'