I have to say I hated this book. I read it for a sponsored read and was thoroughly appalled, however that didn't stop me writing a sequel...hmmm...I think my logics flawed.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, they are Jacqueline Wilson's.
Love Lessons: Sequel
Keith looked around the art shop for the source of his name…or nickname. Rax…he hadn't used that in years.
He looked past the shelves stuffed with sketchpads, rolls of paper, rainbow colours of pastels and paint pots, glitter and pencils.
There was a girl, probably mid-twenties, with a sketchpad tucked under one arm and her hands full of artistic tools. Her eyes were wide and green, full of surprise and delight. Brown hair straggled across her face in wisps, giving new meaning to the word windswept.
Did he know her? A further study of her face and he knew. The shock washed over him in a wave and settled in the pit of his stomach.
She grinned. "Yeah! You remember me! I thought you'd forgotten."
"No." He shook his head. "Never forgotten." I could never forget you. "It's just you look so…different. So…" Curvy, beautiful, hot! "Grown up."
"Well it has been ten years." She studied his face. "You got rid of the beard."
He shrugged. "Yes." I got rid of a lot of things.
"It's really great to see you. We should get coffee. Catch up. Let me just get these things... don't go anywhere." She carried the items off to the counter and dumped them there. Had he imagined the tinge of panic in the last phrase? Did she think he'd run? She'd glanced behind her, checking he was still there. He didn't blame her. The thought had entered his head. What was this going to bring back into their lives?
Sighing he walked up to her and leaned on the counter. She smiled at him and his stomach turned over. So he still loved her then. He shook himself mentally. She might have changed. It had been ten years.
"Let's get that coffee," she grinned.
"So, what have you been doing?" she asked, nursing her cup. "You do still draw don't you?"
He smiled, though somewhat hesitantly, "Of course I do. I still teach but at different school now. Morton Comprehensive."
"Cool." She sipped her latte.
"And you?" he asked.
"I got through Art College. When Dad died about six years ago I helped mum take over the shop. Grace helps her to run it now. It's still a bookshop but it's also a café now as well. I graduated from uni and have a nice job in advertising."
"I thought you'd be a teacher."
"Everyone did. I'm good at it but I don't like it. I don't have the patience." She downed the coffee. "How are Marianne and the children?"
"They're great," he answered stiffly. "Harry wants to be an architect, he's taking the GCSEs to do it. Lily's doing fine at school and Matthew…"
"Marianne had another baby. It was the reason she was ill the night…" he trailed off.
A ringing shattered the tense silence. Prue flipped open her mobile.
"Hello?" She listened for a few moments, pulled a face at Rax then snapped it shut. "I've got to run. Hey! Give me your number. I'll get in touch. Dinner tomorrow night?"
"Same old forward Prudence," he smiled, scribbling his mobile down on a napkin and handing it to her.
"See ya," she laughed and bounced out of the café.
The moment she was gone the smile slid from his face. She'd moved on without him, just like he'd known she would.
Prudence reached the office in a state of turmoil. It had been like an ice-cold shock seeing him again. A shock that had opened up the badly healed wound and kick started the dull throb in her head and heart. She hadn't forgotten him. Never. She'd written about him to keep her memory fresh and still had her drawings but she'd looked at them less and less often as she'd grown older. It had been too painful. She'd moved on but not really. Sometimes she'd see something that reminded her of him and whenever she drew he was watching in her head. Usually after she'd done a particularly long drawing session she'd dream of him. Dreams that brought her love to the surface, filled with desire and longing and left her in pain when she awoke. When she'd seen him in the shop she'd been surprised, the obvious differences in his appearance had hit her first but then they'd faded. His eyes looked tired, there were more lines on his face, but, most significantly, he'd shaved off his beard. She hadn't been able to help commenting on that. It had been that, more than anything, which had made her start to doubt that he still drew.
She'd adopted an air of girlish excitement at meeting an old acquaintance. He was probably still married and had forgotten all about her. She didn't want to show that she still loved him.
That evening Rax sat by the phone pretending to watch the news on TV and trying to avoid looking at the mocking bit of plastic that lay on the arm of the sofa.
Will she call?
You hope she'll call but would you call in her position?
I don't know…
No, of course you wouldn't. Good grief you broke the girl's heart.
A schoolgirl's crush does not equal a broken heart.
Don't try to wheedle out of it. You kissed her.
She kissed me first.
You kissed her back.
Rax groaned and put his head in his hands.
"Shut up," he muttered shaking his head to silence the two voices. "Just shut up." The worst part was he'd never forgotten the kisses they'd shared but he had regretted them and he wished he didn't.
When the phone did he ring he jumped out of his skin. Within seconds he clicked the answer button, "Hello." Did he sound flustered?
"Keith? What you been doing? Running around the block?"
Rax barely stifled the groan and sank back onto the sofa. "What do you want Johnny?"
"I'm offended," he heard his brother proclaim on the other end of the phone. "All I wanted was to have a chat…"
Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. To call or not to call that is the question.
Prue sighed and threw the piece of paper bearing Rax's number next to the phone. Maybe she should just wait for him to call her. Idiot. He didn't have her number. The ball was entirely in her court…she jut couldn't decide what to do with it. Did she hit it back? Did she throw it over a wall? Did she run as fast as possible in the other direction, tossing the racquet over her shoulder as she went? Hmmm. The more pressing question was whether she could content herself with just being his friend.
Picking up the phone she dialled in the number with trembling fingers. What did she say? Oh crap! She'd forgotten how to speak. The engaged tone screamed down the phone at her and she threw it onto the chair. It was a sign. A sign. She wasn't meant to see him again. Good. Good. That was her decision made.
Prue patted into the kitchen and switched on the kettle. As the hissing filled the room she grabbed a dinner from the fridge and stabbed a fork through the lid violently before slamming it into the microwave. It wasn't till the snap of the kettle switching off making her start that she realised she'd been standing against the counter nervously chewing one nail. Shaking herself she poured out the water, listening to the hum of the microwave, and stepped back into the main room, clicking on the TV.
"…they hope to find something soon. The Prime Minister had to make a difficult decision today concerning…"
Beep! Beep! Beep!
The noise of the microwave halted her train of thought again.
"Awww, to heck with it!"
Prue dumped her cup down on the side and reached for the phone. The ball was in her court was it? Well she'd always enjoyed tennis.
"Little idiot." Rax rubbed the corners of his eyes tiredly. Money again. What else? With a sigh he slumped back down on the couch. He didn't have any money to lend. The phone rang again…and he remembered. With a shaking hand he picked it up and pressed the receiver to his ear.
Prudence breathed a thank you. If it'd been Marianne then she would've had to pretend she'd got the wrong number.
"It's Prudence here."
She heard Rax chuckle on the other end of the phone.
//I didn't think it'd be anyone else//
Was his voice strained? Nervous?
She shook it off.
"You doing all right?"
// Yeah, I guess. Just got off the phone to my brother//
That would explain the engaged tone.
"You don't sound pleased about it…"
// It's okay. Just…never mind. How was work//
How did 'I didn't do anything because I was thinking about you' sound. Too forward?
"Fine. The big emergency was this new design. Apparently the colours didn't match or something…"
She heard a door slam on Keith's end and echoed shouts. Her hand clenched the phone so hard her knuckles turned white.
// One moment Prue…//
She heard his hand cover the phone and his muffled voice talking to someone.
//How was football//
Good. We beat the crap out of the other team
"Is that Harry?" she couldn't stop herself whispering.
"He sounds older."
//Of course Prue// she heard him laugh //It's been ten years…now what were you saying about dinner tomorrow night//
She smiled, "How about at the Aquarius?"
//Sounds good. It'll be my treat. //
// Positive //
"Okay…I'll meet you there at seven?"
// Yeah. That'll be good. //
"See you then. Bye."
She clicked the phone back onto its receiver and found that she'd tense up all over, so much so that her legs were shaking. Taking a deep breath she calmly and systematically relaxed parts of her body then leaned back against the soft cushions and closed her eyes.
Prudence glanced through the window of the restaurant and bit her lip. Was she really going to go through with this? Really?
For the umpteenth time she told herself to calm down, it was just a meal between two old friends…who happened to have a lot of history together, but nevertheless two old friends…
'Then why are you wearing this dress?' her treacherous mind whispered.
It was a fair point.
'Nothing wrong with looking nice,' she argued back…but she knew that wasn't it. You could pick any modest looking dress and still look nice. She'd chosen her smoking hot black number…and she'd done her hair up especially nice…
"Okay. Fine." She said the words under her breath, grateful that the street was empty. "You want to dazzle him and flirt. Fine. Just don't you dare regret it tomorrow." With that she clicked into the building.
Truth be told she definitely wanted to bowl him over.
The look on Rax's face when he saw her was all she needed. His eyes swept over her with a pleasantly shocked air. He was dashing in a dark suit, more formal than she was used to seeing him. It suited.
With a gallant flourish he offered her his arm and grinning she took it, letting him lead her to their table
"That was lovely, thank you." Prue smiled as they drew up to her flat in his car. She'd gotten a taxi to the restaurant but Rax had insisted on driving her home. She did wonder why now. Sitting in the car like this suddenly brought everything back.
She was surprised to find she was nervous. She wanted him to kiss her so badly…but she wasn't that stupid little kid anymore. She was an adult and she was not going to throw herself at him again…not this time.
But it was so hard.
Prue turned to look at him and smiled. He was gazing at her, the light from a street lamp casting shadows on his handsome face. His previously neat hair had become ruffled and he'd removed his tie, undoing the top button of his shirt, giving his a more relaxed, informal air.
"I guess…" she swallowed and tried again. "I guess I'll see you around or something, you're welcome to drop by…sometime…if you…I mean…wanted to."
"That would be nice," he said quietly. His hands were still resting on the steering wheel, gripping the material tightly.
He wanted her gone. Clearly he was thinking about the past too, maybe worried that she was going to jump him again.
"Well bye," she muttered, unclipping her seat belt and opening the door.
"Prudence!" Rax cried suddenly and grabbed her arm.
She half turned back, pulled up short.
Damn it…she wanted to kiss him, he was so close…but she wasn't going to ruin this again. Not when she'd just found him. It wasn't fair to put him through everything again and jeopardise his marriage.
It took all her willpower to ease out of the car, pulling gently free of his grasp.
"Yes Rax?" she replied once she was out in the cold night air, which bit her skin and sobered her up from the drowsy heated tension of the car.
He sighed and placed his hands back on the wheel.
"You looked really beautiful tonight."
"Thank you," she whispered back, a tingle running up her spine.
She slammed the car door and went into her place. The evening was over.
That night she dreamed of him again.
Part 2 coming up