Between Friends

Between Friends by Audrey Howard Read Free Book Online

Book: Between Friends by Audrey Howard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Audrey Howard
Tags: Fiction, Historical, Saga
demented attention on the poor uncertain chap who had done no more than attempt to halt what he had seen as two young lads interfering with a defenceless girl. The young man had taken a chance and brave he was too, standing up like that to the strange and yet understood – now – animosity of Martin and Tom.
    ‘It’s alright,’ she said quietly to him, ‘these are friends of mine.’ She smiled gratefully and he was mesmerised by her sudden sweet beauty and the soft golden light which had come to take the place of the anger in her eyes. The young lady who accompanied him became snappish as she saw it.
    ‘Well, we weren’t to know, were we?’ she said huffily, taking her young man’s arm possessively. ‘Funny friends if you ask me. Come on, Arthur, let’s get on and leave them to it!’
    ‘Thank you!’ Meg said again and Arthur could not resist a last peep over his shoulder as his companion marched him away.
    When they had gone Meg gently eased her arm from Tom’s slackening grip. She bent down and picked up her boater, spending a moment or two arranging it on the crown of her springing curls, replacing the hat pin which had come loose, giving them all time to gather their reeling, embarrassed senses. Giving Martin and Tom time to return from the fear-ridden, treacherous unpredictability into which their concern for her had flung them. They watched her moodily, shuffling about with an awkward, uncoordinated lack of grace, their usually lounging bodies tensed, even now, to coiled springs, their hands clenched at their sides, longing still it seemed to lash out at somebody, anybody, allowing the pent up fury of their young, scarcely understood emotion to drain away. Their eyes still gleamed and their glowering expressions had not yet dissipated but she could see that they had lost that mindless need to shout and bluster and hit out at her.
    In her youthful – sudden – wisdom she did the only thing she could think of. She laughed!
    ‘Well, poor Arthur!’ Her voice was gleeful. ‘Did you ever see such a face on that girl of his? I bet she’s giving him what for right now. Can you just imagine it?’ She adopted a high, falsetto voice and lifted her nose in the air. ‘Really, Arthur, I just can’t understand why you have to get yourself into such predicaments. That girl was obviously well able to look after herself and you have to go sticking your nose in where it’s not wanted. Fancy making such a fool of yourself and what’s more to the point, of me. I’m never going to walk out with you again and as for that kiss I promised you, well you can just go and walk in the water till your hat floats …’
    She watched as they relaxed and the beginnings of a smile curled each young mouth. ‘I was mortified … mortified I tell you …’ she went on, still imitating Arthur’s young lady and Tom began to grin and he lifted his hand to settle his cap more comfortably on his mop of fair curls. Martin shoved his hands in his pockets, his dark eyes narrowing in a reluctant smile, his white teeth gleaming in the fast falling dark.
    ‘Poor devil!’ he said, quite amiable now. ‘I bet he’s right under her thumb.’
    ‘But it took a bit of nerve, Martin. You’ve got to give him that.’ Meg began to saunter along the promenade in the direction of the blossoming lights of the city. ‘I mean, you two must have been a bit of a sight scowling at the poor blighter and yet he still came. And it was two to one!’
    ‘Yes … well … I suppose so!’ They fell in on either side of her. ‘But you know the whole thing was …’ Martin hesitated, wiser now than he had been ten minutes ago.
    ‘My fault, I know.’
    ‘You shouldn’t have come out by yourself, our Meg,’ Tom said quietly, ‘not after last week.’ He could speak of it almost normally now, the catharsis of the set-to with poor Arthur purging him of his guilty embarrassment.
    ‘I know, but you two had gone off and left me …’
    ‘… and you

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