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After Forever Ends
  • Текст добавлен: 9 октября 2016, 02:08

Текст книги "After Forever Ends "


Автор книги: Melodie Ramone






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Текущая страница: 7 (всего у книги 39 страниц)

“No!” Alexander barked so loudly I jerked, “Put the bloody car in gear and let’s GO!”

“You really want to run away? We've got an army right here. They’re fuckin’ English for Christ’s sakes! We’re on home ground!”

I’d never heard Oliver sound so macho. It struck me as sexy.

Alex lunged over the seat and turned the key himself. The engine fired, “Let’s go!” He growled, “I want to go, all right? Oliver? Can we please just fucking go?”

“All right! All right!” Ollie put the car in gear, “We’ll run away then! But it’s a good night for a fight,” He added as he backed up, “Nice clear weather, plenty of moonlight, not too hot...”

Alexander said nothing. He just stared out the window. I couldn't read whether he was frightened or just not in the mind for war. His blood lust in general greatly depended on his mood and it was often impossible to gauge when those moods would change. He'd already had a fight. Maybe that was enough for him for one night.

We drove on in silence. After a half hour on the road, he tapped my shoulder. When I turned to acknowledge him, he spoke. “That’s a pretty bra you’re wearing, Silvia,” He stuck his tongue in the corner of his mouth and narrowed his eyes, “Very lacy. I saw it when my brother had you nailed to the car window. You look nice in lavender. I saw your knickers matched, too. Tell me, did you buy the set yesterday at the mall with my mother?”

I felt my face go hot.

No one said a word for about ten seconds and then we all burst out laughing.

Lucy and I went home the following day. She was a bundle of excitement from then on about going to Bennington and I wasn’t sure I was happy about why. My sister had developed a monumental affection for Alexander over that weekend we spent at his house. It was more than a crush. She adored him. In fact, she was so besotted with him that his mere existence wouldn’t let her think of much else.

Alexander was well aware of it, too. “She’s a sweet kid,” He assured me, “But she’s just a kid. No worries, Silvia, I’ll do the big brother thing and watch out for her and I won’t break her heart. I promise.”

Alexander, for all his faults, could be an outstanding human being at times. I loved him as much as I did Oliver, but in a different way. Over the year I had known him, he had become more than my best friend. He had become my brother. I trusted him with my life and, thus, I certainly trusted him with my sister.

A little less than two weeks later when Lucy and I arrived at Bennington for the first day of class, we were met by Ollie and Alex at the gates. Alexander sported a half healed black eye and still badly swollen cheek. He had a red scar from stitches near his left ear and a large split in his lips. One of his wrists was in a splint and two fingers were taped together.

“You had your fight then?” I asked as I set my hand gently against his face.

“Aye,” He answered, turning his head from my touch, “I ended up not having a choice.”

“Oh, Alexander…”

“Stop it,” He avoided looking me in the eye, “I’m fine.”

The boys carried our bags to the Great Hall for checkin and from there I took Lucy to orientation and left her with Professor Wilson, who was in charge of her group of first years. It felt strange leaving her. I still remembered my first day when I was only seven years old. I had been lonely and frightened and I didn't want my sister to feel that way at all. “Professor Wilson is very nice,” I assured her, but it was more to comfort myself as she didn’t seem a bit worried, “Don't be afraid to ask any questions and don't be too shy. You won't make friends if you're too shy and you need friends at a place like this.” I looked down into her little face, “You'll be fine, Sissy. I promise.”

She nodded. “I’ll be fine, Silvia. You can go.”

After I left her off, the twins and I headed out into the quad to find mostly the same students that attended year after year. After several brief “hellos” to them, we fell quickly back with our group of friends.

Lance had spent his summer at home in Caernarfon and unable to make the distance to see his girlfriend in Liverpool, they had parted ways, although they still seemed friendly enough when they met again at school. I caught on quickly, however, that this was false on Lance’s part.

“She’s already got someone,” He did his best to hide his ruin. “Can you believe it?”

“You don’t need anyone disloyal,” Alexander told him. “Bennington is filled with all kinds of girls. It’s a three-to-one ratio.”

“You would know,” Lance muttered.

“Oh, she was too short anyway,” I consoled, cuddling against Oliver's chest to hide from the wind, “But you now! You’ve sprouted up like a weed!”

“Ah, Sil and her sugar-coated lies!” His good nature left him unable to resist a smile, “Let’s just say I feel taller when you say them so sincerely!”

Merlyn, on the other hand, had had quite an eventful holiday. He had spent it in Paris, where his parents now lived. He’d gotten a job bussing tables in a jazz cafe, which I respected him for doing as he was quite rich and had no need to work at all. But he'd wanted the experience and it was one way he could find his way into a musical environment. He'd made loads of friends, he told us, had a little romance with a girl from Spain, and, best of all in his opinion, a professional lounge singer had offered to give him vocal lessons.

“I found my range!” He was ecstatic, “She told me that I’ll never be able to sing like Pavarotti, but listen to this…” He took a few steps back and belted out, “What’s New Pussycat?” People stopped to stare, but not in horror like they once had. Most walked away, but one actually clapped and said, “Yay!”

“You may have a future yet!” Oliver told him sincerely, “Merlyn Pierce, the new Tom Jones!”

Merlyn grinned. His chest puffed out, “Do you really think?”

“Oh, aye!” Oliver nodded enthusiastically, pulling his ear, “I really think! Keep at it! That was a great improvement!”

I was wondering where Sandra was when she came running up. Literally, she was breathless by the time she threw her arms around me. “Oh, Silvia! I missed you! You look wonderful! How was your summer?” I told her it was fantastic. Sandra gave Oliver a quick smile and a hello before she continued, “I checked the lists in the common room! Headmistress approved our request and we’re sharing a room again, only it’s a floor up, which is brilliant because I’m told the ones up there are larger.”

She unsnapped her satchel and reached inside, “I’m sorry I’m so frazzled. I drank about a barrel of coffee. Whoo!” She shoved her hair back with a shaking hand, “But I saw this when I went on holiday to the US and I had to get it for you.” She handed me a small box, “I meant to mail it, but if you want the truth I lost your address and couldn’t send it!”

“Oh, Sandra, you didn’t have to!” I took it from her trembling hand.

“I know I didn’t have to. I wanted to.”

I opened the box to find a beautiful silver hair clip adorned with moonstone and lapis lazuli. “Oh my, thank you! I love it!”

Oliver looked over and saw it in my hand. “Now that’s beautiful,” He said sincerely. “Give it here, Sil, I’ll put it in your hair.” He drew my hair back in his hands and fastened the clip. “It’s really lovely, Sandy.”

Sandra grinned, “It was nothing. Gor blimey, it's windy today! Can we get our bags yet? I packed my jumper.”

“No,” Alexander answered, sauntering up from behind, “Hello, Sandy. You’ve changed your hair. I like it. If you’re cold, you can borrow my jacket.” He removed his Bennington jacket and slipped it over her shoulders. He didn’t seem to notice when she went stiff and pink. Instead, he continued as if it was something that might have happened a million times, “They always start with the first years. It makes them less edgy if they get to their room and their stuff is there.”

Sandra put her hand on the shoulder of the coat and looked at me with wide, disbelieving eyes. “Oh, my God!” She mouthed at me and I nodded in equal amazement.

“They were still checking bags last I knew,” Lance mumbled, still noticeably miserable.

“I don’t know why they do that,” Oliver shook his head, “No one carries their drugs and liquor here in their bags. Everybody knows that.”

“Drugs and liquor at Bennington?” Merlyn pretended to be aghast.

“Oh, yeah,” Oliver knocked himself on the head, “Those here at Bennington! What was I thinking? Like that would ever happen!”

“Has orientation started?” I asked, suddenly remembering my sister.

“Yeah, they’re all in the dining hall meeting their dorm mates.” Oliver slipped his arm around me. “Don’t worry about Lucy. She’ll find her place.”

“I hope they still have biscuits in there when they’re done,” Sandra rubbed her stomach, “I’m starved. I love those ones with the caramel bits.”

Alexander leaned toward Sandy and reached into his jacket pocket. He produced a serviette and held it out to her, “Haven’t you learned to get into the hall before orientation? Silly girl! You’ve been here how many years?”

“Oh, I don’t want to eat your biscuit!” She seemed even more shocked. On a normal day he grunted at her and maybe asked her to pass him the salt. “You keep it!”

“Are you joking?” He grinned, “I nicked about twenty of them!”

She took it from him as if it were a great treasure, “Thank you, Alexander! You’re being so nice to me today!”

He gave her a funny look. “It’s just a biscuit, Sandy. I have been known occasionally to share with my friends.”

“Well, thank you all the same!” Sandra went deep crimson and tucked the biscuit into her purse.

“You’re welcome, Bach,” He gave her a grin, but turned away when Meredith Ainsworth called his name.

Oliver and I looked at each other in mutual shock. He called Sandy “Bach”? Alexander had obviously been harbouring an affection for the girl he’d never let on to before. For someone who possessed the capacity to spew venom at any random victim, Alexander could be a darling when you caught him in the right mood. And a shameless flirt.

“I still have about five,” Oliver grinned, “If you want another later.”

“Well, give me one then!” I held out my hand. “I missed the pillaging of the first-year biscuit table extravaganza!”

“Of course!” Oliver produced his own serviette and handed it to me.

“Thank you, Bach.” I said as I squished my face up at him.

“Anything for you, Bach.” He replied as he squished his face back.

Alexander had turned away from us and was talking with Meredith.

“I’m sorry I didn’t ring you back last night,” He was saying, “I ended up watching that film with Ollie and I fell asleep.”

“Oh,” She pushed a dark curl away from her bright blue eyes and flashed a devastating, if not calculated smile, “That’s OK. I needed to pack anyway. Your face doesn’t look so bad, not as bad as I thought it was going to. Not that your gorgeous face could ever look bad. Is Sandra wearing your jacket?”

Alex looked over his shoulder at Sandra for a second, and then turned back casually, “Yeah, she’s cold,” He said with little intonation in his voice.

“Oh.”

“You don’t mind, do you, Mere?” Sandra asked sincerely, acting as if she were about to remove the jacket.

Meredith smiled again, “No, no! Not at all!” She replied sweetly, “Why would I mind?”

“He was really just being nice,” Sandra explained apologetically.

“Yeah,” Oliver said suddenly, his eyes bright, “Sometimes I wear it, too!”

Everyone laughed. Alexander and Oliver exchanged glances. Another silent conversation that lasted only seconds. Alex shrugged his shoulders. A second later Oliver did the same. Then they both turned their attention back to whom they had been speaking before.

I pulled away from Ollie and took Sandra aside. “She’s been ringing him all summer. I think they‘re together…”

“She can have him!” She whispered back. “What happened to his face?”

“He had a fight. Are you serious about Meredith? He was just flirting with you!”

“No, he was not!” She insisted. “He was just being nice!”

“When is Alexander ever nice?”

“Sometimes,” She said before pausing. “Once in a while! I’ve seen him be!”

I shook my head, “And anyway,” Sandra continued, glancing at the two of them, “I can’t go crossing Meredith!”

“Why not?”

“Because!” She pulled me further away by my arm. “You don’t realise anything that goes on here, do you?” She paused, pushing up her glasses from the side, “Meredith Ainsworth’s a princess, Silvia! No! No, she’s not a princess! She’s a bloody queen! Her parents are on the board here at Bennington and not only that, but her father works with my father in Parliament! He’s my father’s superior!”

“So?”

“So, believe me, he sees to it that Meredith gets everything she wants! We both had birthdays this summer and my parents got me a very nice BMW sedan. They could have got me a more expensive one, but this one’s got an excellent safety rating. Her parents found out that I’d gotten the same they were buying for Meredith and they went back and got a Mercedes instead!”

“So?”

“So, I can’t compete! Plus, look at her! She’s gorgeous!” That was true. Meredith Ainsworth was quite striking. Thin, long legged, always with the perfect hair and makeup, and a ton of money to boot. Alexander seemed to have forgotten all about Sandra and was standing on the quad with Meredith as if they’d arrived together. “They make a fabulous couple,” Sandra muttered. I hated to do it, but I had to agree. They were quite handsome together. “I’m giving him back the jacket,” She said firmly as she took it off.

“Why?” She didn’t answer me. Sandra was about to hand it back to him when I yanked it from her hand. “I’m freezing, Xan,” I lied, using the nickname that only his closest friends and family called him, “May I borrow it for a while?”

He started to reply, but Meredith interrupted him, “Why not borrow Ollie’s, Silvia?”

“Because he’s wearing his,” I replied matter-of-factly, but asked Alex in a sweet voice, “May I, Xander? Please?”

Alexander looked at me as if I were mad or stupid. “Of course, Sil. Anything for you.”

Meredith may have been able to intimidate Sandra, but she wasn’t going to intimidate me. There was no way in Hell I was going to allow her to wear that jacket. She may have been a queen among princesses to other people, but to me, she was little more than another girl who had just been condescending to my best girl friend. I'll tolerate many things. Snootiness, sarcasm, pretence, you name it, but in all my life I have never been able to tolerate outright rudeness.

Headmistress Pennyweather’s voice rang out over the intercom, “Good morning, Students, and welcome to a new year at Bennington! First years are to report to the dining hall at this time for orientation. The staff expects any veteran students who see a lost first year to assist them in anything that they may need. Second through seventh year students are to report to the common room that correlates with their year of study. There they will find their class schedules and details of this year’s dormitory arrangements. After doing so, all of you may be at your leisure. Lunch, dinner and curfew bells are to be observed. Classes begin tomorrow morning. Have a lovely day!”

“I have to go help organize the assembly,” Sandra told me as Headmistress’ voice faded, “I’ll see you later, yeah?”

“We’ll see you there!” Ollie smiled at her as she walked away. He glanced at his brother, who was engrossed in a conversation with Meredith, shook his head and looked back at me. He shuddered dramatically.

I nodded in complete agreement.

I don’t think that anyone aside from Oliver and me was as happy as us that the summer had ended. It wasn't that we were back to school. Oh, Lord, no that had nothing to do with it! We were just excited that we were back in a place where we could see each other every day instead of only weekends. For us, it was like life had righted itself into its proper position. We were more together than we'd been in months and we quickly set about as we always had on our quick kisses between classes and long walks around the lake. We'd sit in the grass and talk for hours when the weather was good, both of us laughing so hard at times it echoed across campus and people would turn to look. It was the same in our common room, him and me cuddling on the sofa while we chatted with our friends. We'd become a staple.

“I thought for sure they’d break up over holiday,” I heard Peggy McGhee tell Molly Weathersby in the common room. They both turned to look at me, not realising I was within earshot.

“No, Dustin McGregor says that Oliver’s parents practically let her live there. He’s a neighbour and he saw her in Welshpool with them all the time.” Molly replied in a low voice.

“Really?”

“Oh, yeah. Her and her sister both, all summer long.” She paused to look at me again and then turned back to Peggy, “Well, you know that she stayed with him at his house last year all through Easter. My parents think it sets a very bad example.”

Peggy gasped. “What about her parents? Don’t they care at all what she’s doing?”

Molly shook her head, “My mum’s talked to Oliver’s mum and from what I heard, Silvia’s mum’s dead. Obviously her dad doesn’t care much about her reputation.”

Peggy seemed to ponder this for a moment, “Wow. I can’t figure it out. She's low class, you know? She has no mother, her father doesn't care about her. She's here on scholarship, I'm told. I bet she doesn't even pay for her own uniforms,” She looked over at me again with a cross of disdain and confusion on her pale face, “What’s she got that makes Ollie want her so badly?”

Molly seemed to be becoming annoyed with the conversation, “Well, Oliver's always been a weird one, hasn't he? Maybe he enjoys the novelty,” She glanced at me again and then back to Peggy just as quickly, “But she is pretty, isn’t she? And you have to hand it to her, she’s quite clever. Maybe she helps him with his coursework. My guess, though, is that it’s her chest. Men love women with large breasts.”

“She’s got those!” Peggy looked down at her own, which weren't much to speak of, “Do you think hers are real?”

“They're real,” Molly sighed, “I saw her in her bra once.”

It hurt my feelings to hear them contemplate how great a mystery it was that Oliver could even consider me as an option to love. But that's the way it was with girls like Molly and Peggy. They didn't have any real concept of what people were about. All they saw was where people came from, what people had, and what they could gain from them. Everything sought was for an advantage or to increase their position. They'd been raised in privilege, in giant houses and been driven around in big cars. They'd been born with a sense of entitlement to the best things in life. The world was theirs for the taking. Well, everything but Oliver Dickinson, which made them all bitchcakes because he should have chosen one of them. They were simply better than the filth that was allowed in on scholarship. It was the first time in their lives they'd been denied. And I’d been the one to deny them.

Yes, their attitude was hurtful, but it made it all the more enjoyable to watch them chew on the fact that I had what they never would.

So I let them talk. It's not like I could have stopped them anyway. The rumour mill at Bennington never rested, but unlike the year before I was used to the chatter. I was more interested in overseeing my little sister into a smooth transition. I found out shortly that it was not just me doing it, but Alexander and Oliver as well had set about pointing Lucy out to people and telling them all to give her a hand up. Because of that, Lucy Cotton was being treated just short of royalty by the upperclassmen while she found her place in the social hierarchy of the first years.

I had never seen Lucy interact with people. We were very different indeed. Where I had always been the quiet, studious type, my sister was a chatter hound who dreaded to touch a book. Until I met Oliver and was thrust into the limelight, I had been a wallflower. But not Lucy. No, Lucy was in the middle of it all, in charge and being the boss. She commanded a certain authority without effort, it seemed, and it was not a long time before it became obvious that my little sister no longer needed my assistance at her new school. I was free to look after my own business, except for when she would show up and talk non-stop while I was trying to study.

“I don’t know what the problem is with Michelle,” She followed me into the library, “We used to be friends and now all she does is try to get me into trouble! She’s angry because of Trevor! I don’t even like Trevor! I can’t help it that he likes me! Trevor is just my friend, Silvia! But she goes and tells everyone that I like him and I don’t!”

I tried to listen to her sympathetically, “Lucy, shush. You can’t speak so loudly in here. Missus Cronin is very strict.”

That was true, but the other truth was that I didn’t want to deal with Missus Cronin because she held a grudge against me from the year before. What had happened had not actually had a thing to do with me, but with Oliver and Alexander, who had both gotten detention for having a row that got out of hand in the library. They then spent that extra time collaborating on drawing a very nasty, but hilariously funny depiction of Missus Cronin wearing fur lined boots under her floral dress with a crown on her head and a fur stole. Brandishing a giant pen like a double-sided axe over her head and sporting a murderous snarl, the caption below her read, “Cronin the Librarian”.

Anyone who had seen the film “Conan the Barbarian” laughed until their sides ached. Unfortunately, on his way out of his German class, the drawing fell out of Oliver’s notebook and was retrieved by the professor. It ended up on Headmistress Pennyweather’s desk and she had no choice but to haul the both of them in and set them up with a series of painful detentions where they did things like clean toilets and scrub the floors of the hospital wing. That was not enough punishment for Missus Cronin, who was obviously not impressed with their artistic genius. Since then she not only hated the twins, but me, Lance, Merlyn and Sandra as an extension.

My sister lowered her voice, but she didn’t stop going on about Michelle and Trevor and Alicia and Bonnie and Laurie – oh how I wanted to tell her to shut up! I did my best to block out her noise while I found the books I needed for a research paper on Chaucer.

“Oh!” She took a step backward and hid behind a shelf, “It’s Brandon Reese!”

“Who?” I looked over to see a tall blonde haired boy walk down our isle and move over to the next.

“Brandon Reese!” She hissed, moving very close to me so that I could hear her, “He’s disgusting. He and his friends are always saying things to girls. Horrible things, Sil.”

“Like what?”

“Like things! Nasty things about their bodies and things! I hate him! He makes me ill!”

“If you get upset every time some disgusting boy says something nasty to you, you’ll find yourself upset quite often,” I told her and bravely walked to the desk with my books to be taken out. I did my best to smile at Missus Cronin. She looked at me as if I were invisible and stamped a date on a card for each book, and then shoved them back at me. I went back to a normal voice as Lucy and I left the library, “He’ll get caught sooner or later and I promise Headmistress Pennyweather won’t tolerate…”

“Hey, Red, are you red all over? Got a fire crotch?”

I stopped dead bang and turned. Two first year boys were sitting on the rail, laughing at the blonde boy from the library.

“Pardon me?” I demanded.

“I asked,” The little sot said bravely, “If your hair is red all over,” He sneered, “Do you have a fire crotch?”

I had it in mind to walk up and thump the little brat in the face when I saw Alexander come over and around the stairwell. In one movement, he swept the two sideways off the rail on to the floor and lifted Brandon by the shirt. He whirled with him and slammed him hard into the stone wall, “Do you know who I am?” He demanded.

Brandon didn’t answer. He just stammered, his legs dangling uselessly, his face white with fear.

“That’s my woman and she’s more beautiful than any troll you’ll ever drag out from under a bridge, so admire her all you want, but keep your filthy gob in your mouth, got it?” Alexander shook the terrified boy again. “And if I ever—EVER,“ He was snarling, “Hear any of you or your foul mouthed friends say another unsavoury word to ANY girl ANYWHERE on the grounds I’ll tear your ugly heads off! Do you understand me?”

Brandon stammered again. No words escaped.

Alexander gave him another good shake, “I asked you if you understood me!”

“Y…yes…”

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, S-s-sir.”

“Tell my girlfriend you’re sorry.”

“S-s-s-“

“Look at her!”

He turned his face toward me. I swear his lips were white. “S-s-sorry, Miss. I’m terribly sorry…”

“Tell her you’re a fuck wit,” Alexander banged Brandon’s head against the wall.

“I’m a fuck wit!” He was practically in tears. “I’m sorry!”

“Will this happen again?”

“N-no, Sir!”

“Good answer!” Alexander started to set the boy on to his feet and then thought better of it. Instead, he picked him up from under his arms and threw him in the direction of his friends, who looked almost as terrified as he did. Brandon hit the concrete with his bottom, but rolled and skidded across it on his belly. He was on his feet before he even stopped. The three of them immediately began to run in the opposite direction.

“Yeah, run!” Alexander muttered. He turned slowly to Lucy and me, “Are you two all right?”

“Yes, thank you, Oliver,” Lucy said. Her eyes were wide like saucers.

Alexander gave her an odd look as if it surprised him that she couldn’t tell the difference between him and his brother, “No worries,” He replied.

I didn’t ask him why he didn’t tell her.

Thinking he was Oliver and not wanting to be a tagalong, Lucy explained that she was going to go and tell her friends what had happened.

“Wow, Alex,” I said after she left, “I’m stunned! You’re my hero! Why did you say you were Oliver?”

“I wanted to scare him more,” He said simply, then gave me a crooked smile, “If I said I was your boyfriend’s brother, who cares, right? No claim to authority. But your boyfriend…well, that just gives me the right to wipe the tile with his greasy little arse.” He glanced in the direction the boys had run, “I think I gave them a good enough scare to stop them. It helps that there’s two of us walking around. They won’t know which is which. We can be in more than one place at a time, really keep them straight.” He shook his jacket straight, “Talking to girls like that! The little dirt bags tick me off.”

We began to walk together, “Thank you.”

Alexander shrugged, “I know just about every girl in this school. Mind I’ve dated most of the older ones. There’s no one like you, Sil. Sometimes I wonder if I’d hit you with that ball if it’d have been me you went for instead. My brother’s the lucky one. But still,” He eyed me head to foot, “You have a bloody fine body. Blimey, it’s hard not to look at the way you bounce and sway-like.” He stopped before he said more, wiped his forehead with his sleeve, and looked straight ahead, still walking, “But you do belong with Oliver and, mind, I’ll not have some little tosser talking about you like you’re an object to covet. You’re not just practically my sister, after all. You’re a lady and you’ll be treated like one if I’ve anything to say about it. Lucy, too.”

I had never known how Alexander felt about me before that, other than he was fond of me. It was quite pleasing to have him compliment my looks, every girl wants to hear that, but best to know where my place was in his heart. After a moment of recovery, I pulled him down by the shoulder and kissed him on the cheek, “I love you, too, Xan,” I told him, “I always wanted a brother and you’re the best one ever!”

Alex went pink, but he smiled, “Ah, shut your mouth,” He shrugged, referring to my thick Scottish accent, “You talk funny.”

We both laughed as we made our way down the corridor.

“So, are you dating Meredith Ainsworth?” I asked, trotting to keep up with his long stride.

“Aye. I mean, I suppose I am by now.”

“Why?”

He took a quick sideways glance at me, “I dunno. She’s all right.”

“She is pretty.”

“Aye.”

“Is she very clever?”

“She’s all right.”

“Is she interesting?”

Alexander seemed annoyed, “I said she’s all right.”

“I know she’s very pretty. And very rich. And I know that she’s very, very stuck on you. I’m just wondering how much you like her.”

Alexander stopped and turned to me. His dark eyes were broad, “I don’t know why you’re concerned, Silvia. I know Ollie doesn’t care for her much. He thinks she’s superficial and has no brains. Superficial, maybe she is. Materialistic, she is for sure. But she’s got brains enough. There’s just something about her I like is all. I don’t know what it is to be honest. I like her. That’s it.”

“Then why are you teasing poor Sandy Ashby?”

“Sandy? Who’s teasing Sandy?”

“You’re calling her Bach and giving her biscuits. Yesterday you went up and got her a second pudding. Come on, Alex. What are you playing at?”

“Sandy’s an interesting girl,” He replied. “I’d like to get to know her better. Problem is, she doesn’t find me very interesting and she doesn’t seem to want to know me at all.”

“She’s terrified of Meredith.”

“Then she’s silly,” He began to walk again, “I’m not looking to marry anybody, I’d just like to be able to have an intelligent conversation with somebody. Seems the only girl I can do that with in this place is you. Mind, even if it is just about things that are none of your business.”

“All right! All right! I just want to see you happy!”

“I’m happy, Sil!” He gave me a cheesy grin as he wrapped his arm around me and squeezed, “I’m so bloody happy I could fly!”

“Well, fly to your class then. I’m at mine.” I stopped in the doorway, “See you at supper?”

“See you then, Silvia. Cheers!”

I watched him walk away, thinking to myself that he was mindless. For as many girls as he’d spent time with, he didn’t know a thing about them at all.


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