Authors: Stella Wilkinson
personal, it was just chemical; an unfortunate attraction to the wrong person.
He had even admitted he didn’t like her, hadn’t he? She frowned trying to
remember his exact words.
about the necklace? He had put thought into it. When had he bought it? She
reached up and touched it again.
Christmas.” Diana said brightly swinging her legs off the bed.
surprised, Diana wasn’t a morning person as a rule and usually said very little
for a few hours after she got up. Actually she said very little to Rose or the
other girls most of the time. Rose wondered for the first time if maybe Diana
wasn’t stuck up but was just shy.
back at her and said “Same to you. Isn’t it fun being here?”
Diana looked mockingly at her
before walking off into the bathroom. Rose ground her teeth; maybe Diana
just stuck up!
quickly in jeans, trainers and pulled a long baggy jumper on over a t-shirt.
the mirror she suddenly wanted to look a bit less ordinary and a bit more
girly. “Because it’s Christmas Day,” she told herself firmly. She brushed her
hair and put it up in a ponytail, then added a bit of eyeliner and mascara.
Just a little bit, so Alex wouldn’t notice and tease her. But she did feel she
looked instantly better. She swapped her trainers for brown leather boots and
her baggy jumper for a white cashmere cardigan.
front of the mirror again she got cross with herself. Why was she making such
an effort? Did it
like she was
making an effort? Critically she looked over the outfit. It was a perfectly
normal outfit, similar to what many of the girls would wear at the weekend. She
looked good, but not over the top. Satisfied, she smiled at her reflection and
quickly did up her top button, so the necklace wasn’t showing. Half way down
the stairs she had a vain moment and pulled the band out of her hair so it
swung loose around her shoulders.
Rose enter the breakfast hall where one long table had been put out for the
teachers and the students to all sit down together. She looked fantastic.
Actually he reasoned, she always looked fantastic, but he had never seen her in
such tight jeans, or maybe he just hadn’t noticed before. He was sure she was
even better looking this year than she had been last year. Not that it
mattered, she didn’t like him, and he tried to avoid her so she wouldn’t know
how much he wanted her to.
opened the gift yet? Her eyes scanned the room in a general sort of way. She
saw him and her hand went up to touch something round her neck. Yes. She’d
opened the present and was clearly wearing it. She gave him a very quick smile
and then waved at Alex Parkhurst, making her way to the far end of the table
beside him. Leo didn’t care. Inside he was grinning like a maniac. She wasn’t
pissed at him for kissing her. He was sure she would be angry or disgusted or
maybe even laugh at him. But instead she had smiled at him
wearing the necklace.
into the room and he jumped up to meet her.
Christmas” he said warmly. “How are you feeling?”
back at him for his constant niceness. “I’m fine, I’m glad we’re here.” She
settled onto the bench opposite him and he poured her some juice.
watched them beneath lowered lashes. What was going on between those two?
“Al, can I
have some juice?” Rose nudged her glass towards Alex.
didn’t even look up, just shoved the jug of juice in her direction.
thanks.” She said, more sharply than she intended. Alex's head jerked up and
his eyes narrowed as he looked at her. It was an appraising look.
said trying to keep her voice normal and smile.
wearing makeup?” he said in a neutral tone.
sixteen, Alex, it’s quite normal for girls to wear some makeup.” She waited for
him to point out that she never really wore makeup. But he didn’t say anything
more, just looked thoughtful as he chewed his cereal. Beside her Toby laughed
and said she needed it. Jack, sat across from Toby, disagreed and said she
didn’t. Which was unusually nice of him.
go for a walk after breakfast?” Rose poked Alex as he didn’t seem to be
listening. “A walk down to the river? Work up an appetite for lunch?”
the two of us?” Alex frowned “No, I don’t think we should.” Was Alex being odd
or was it her imagination?
then… Are you ok, Al?”
course!” he smiled at her “I just think we should do stuff as a family, you
know, as it’s Christmas.”
was just as well, Rose thought. The urge to confide everything that had
happened to Alex would be hard to overcome if they went off privately together.
She wasn’t sure yet how much she wanted to tell him, or even if she should at
all. But she had never kept secrets from him and she was desperate to tell
someone. Maybe she should send a text to Grace after breakfast. Grace was great
at practical advice. Though actually she didn’t really want any advice, she
just wanted to talk about Leo. Or maybe she wanted
with the necklace and looked down the table at him and Diana conversing
some fresh air.” She told Alex loudly “I’m going to go down to the river on my
own, do you mind?”
not,” he said buttering some toast “I’m not finished anyway.”
her leave the hall and wondered whether he should follow.
slowly along the edge of the river. She was getting near the woods and would
have to turn back soon. Why had she not worn her trainers? These boots were not
made for walking! She sighed and tried to remind herself that she liked walking
alone, when she heard someone coming. Her heart leapt at the sight of Leo. She
hadn’t realized how much she had wanted him to follow and she hadn’t realized
how happy it would make her to see him. She sat on a boulder and waited for him
to reach her.
seeing you here.” He quipped with a raised eyebrow.
back at him. “Shocking surprise, clearly!”
“Do say if
you really did want to be alone?” he asked looking more serious.
felt suddenly shy. “I wanted to thank you for the necklace. I love it. It’s so
perfect.” She was desperate to ask him when and why he bought it, but wasn’t
wish I’d given you something more than chocolate now.” She said.
you did.” He smiled wickedly. “Or have you forgotten already?”
blushed at the memory. “It still doesn’t seem enough compared to this.” Her
fingers stroked the winged horse.
could always do it again,” he suggested sitting down beside her “and maybe
again after that?”
sighed. God yes, she wanted to. “Leo, you know we can’t. You’re a …” She broke
off realizing how stupid it sounded.
Flanagan, yes, I know. We’re just the regular Romeo and Juliet.
A plague on
both our houses!
” He quoted.
laughed, “I know it’s daft. But yes, it is a bit like that. I’m sorry.”
He squeezed her hand to show he understood.
They sat in
silence for a moment then he said quietly “I know some of the things my family
has done, but they’re not all bad you know.”
Rose felt her heart contract with regret “I didn’t mean to suggest that. It’s
my Dad, really. He wanted to take me away from Compass to stop me being friends
with you. He could still take me away if he thought we were getting closer.”
“I think we
already are friends Rose, except that nobody else actually knows.”
on,” she laughed. “This is our first real conversation in over five years.
That’s not much of a friendship.”
you. If you could like me too then that’s how friendships start.” He brushed a
lock of her hair off her cheek and tucked it behind her ear. She quivered at
what felt such an intimate touch.
cold?” he asked, misreading her shiver.
little.” She fibbed, suddenly needing to be nearer to him. He shifted closer on
the boulder and put an arm around her shoulders. She allowed herself to nestle
into his warmth. She couldn’t resist bringing one hand up and placing it on his
jumper against his chest. She could feel his heart beating under her hand. She
looked up at him under low lashes.
Rose,” he warned, “You’re playing with fire.”
her hand down his chest, across his stomach and then along the edge of the
waistband of his jeans. She didn’t know what inner demon made her do it, only
that she wanted to very much. She was usually so shy around boys.
her against him. Her chest crushed against his, and kissed her once again.
with satisfaction against his mouth. She had craved this since the first kiss.
A warm spiral of pleasure wound through her. She curled her hands around his
biceps and reveled in his physique; how could she not have noticed before just
how incredibly yummy he was?
back suddenly and she looked up at him, taking in almost for the first time the
tousled black hair, the sky blue of his eyes, the fantastic cheekbones and strong
chin. But he wasn’t looking at her. His eyes were on the row of trees between
them and the school, and then she heard what he must have heard.
Diana’s voice. “Where are you?” her tone began to get plaintive.
jumped to his feet. “Sorry, Rose, once again I shouldn’t have done that.”
had been feeling all dreamy staring at him, suddenly felt annoyed.
and Diana a couple?” She had to ask.
“No, not at
all.” He ran his hands through his hair as though stressed. “But it’s
complicated. She would be very upset if she thought we were doing this.”
love with you?” It seemed the only possible explanation to Rose.
course not! It’s complicated.” He kept glancing towards the school.
said that.” Rose waited for him to tell her more.
“I have to
go.” Hmm, apparently he wasn’t going to tell her anything.
this never happened?” She tried to clarify where they stood with each other
happened.” He agreed.
as if to walk away. Then spinning back he pulled her to her feet and wrapped
his arms around her.
time.” He whispered against her lips. It was a hard and quick kiss but Rose
still felt the whole world tilt. He released her and strode off back toward the
school as she sat back with a bump on the rock.
were they now? Back to how they used to be? It was pretty clear to her that he
fancied her and probably pretty clear to him that, no matter how unfriendly she
might have been in the past, she definitely fancied him too.
annoying that her first serious crush was on a Flanagan! It couldn’t be anyone
worse as far as her family were concerned. She couldn’t deny to herself that
she definitely had a serious case of lust for him now. By kissing her socks off
like that he had made her want him badly. The kisses she had experienced in the
past had been nothing in comparison.
first time, since Leo had first kissed her, she now remembered Ben. How easily
Leo had eclipsed Ben from her mind. Ben was lovely and she did like him, but
she now realized her attraction to Ben had only ever been lukewarm from the
start. He’d never made her feel dizzy with desire. Maybe no one but Leo ever
could. Not that it mattered; she and Leo weren’t going to kiss again. But she
would have to have a conversation with Ben. She and Ben weren’t a couple; after
all they had barely spoken since the start of November. She had only let it
carry on all these years because there had never been anyone better. It had
been nice to have a back up boyfriend, to occasionally make an effort for, but
now she was being honest with herself, she realized that was all Ben had ever
been to her, something she kept going while waiting for the real thing. It
sounded terrible and she would have felt guilty if she didn’t suspect that she
was exactly the same to him; at least she really hoped she was. Sophie was
right, she and Ben needed to properly talk and agree that it was completely
It was a
shame in a way. Ben was so perfect. Sophie and Grace both really liked him,
Alex really liked him, even her parents really liked him. They would
Leo. Her parents would flip out if she so much as mentioned his name.
Was his family really so bad?
she mused. Was his dad really just
like his uncle? Would he try to use any connection between them to hurt her
parents? Maybe; she had to trust that her parents would know better than her,
the Flanagans certainly made them nervous, and they
responsible for putting Brian Flanagan in prison. She wondered if they had ever
been threatened. It wasn’t the first time she had wished her parents just had
nice, safe, boring jobs.