but the thought caused him no guilt. In fact, the idea that he could still arouse such feeling in the opposite sex was a rush. She’d get over it. At Cambridge, she’d blossom into a woman with many attentive admirers and she’d learn soon enough that he’d been right to end their relationship. They’d had fun. They’d had great, sometimes passionate sex – and what could be better than that? But now it was time to move on. She had her whole life in front of her. And Rifkind had bigger fish to fry.
‘Well, folks,’ opened Rifkind. ‘Half-term is looming and next Thursday’s Media Studies will be our last day.’
Russell Thomson looked up briefly.
Last Day. A quasireligious ceremony from the film
starring Michael York and Jenny Agutter. On Last Day, inhabitants of this dystopian future world reached thirty years of age and were put to death . . .
‘The end of another unit of hard work,’ continued Rifkind, ‘at least for the staff.’ He grinned at the dozing amphitheatre and permitted himself the merest glance at Adele’s dark-eyed beauty. ‘And, of course, Adele.’ At the mention of her name, her dark sleep-deprived eyes locked on to Rifkind for a second and she blushed.
Next to her, Becky Blake turned to give her a significant stare –
you’re in there, girl
– then pouted back at Rifkind to get some of that life-affirming attention for herself. Every man in Becky’s presence noticed her, she knew that much. But it wasn’t enough. Since her mother’s death from cancer, Becky had been at the centre of her father’s universe and hadgrown accustomed to total devotion; she demanded no less from all men. They had to be in orbit around her and she knew all the moves to make that happen. At school, she’d learned from a young age that she could separate any couple, with her shock of long blond hair, mouth-watering figure and the best clothes an indulgent parent could provide. And although Rifkind was a bit too smarmy for her, she saw no reason to change the habits of her short life and glowered suggestively at him.
But Adam Rifkind only had eyes for Adele so, with a disdainful sniff, Becky muttered under her breath, ‘You know he’s married, Ade.’
Adele, unable to look at her, reddened. ‘You don’t say.’
Becky missed the hushed sarcasm and expressed her surprise. ‘Didn’t you know, girlfriend? Yeah, he’s a sly fucker though. He takes off his wedding ring; you can see the line round the finger. And Mrs Sly Fucker is not much older than us, apparently.’ She rolled her eyes lasciviously at Adele then turned back to Rifkind to give him an appreciative onceover. ‘I would though,’ she grinned, and Fern on her other side broke into a fit of giggles. A moment later they returned their attention to their iPhones, not seeing Adele gulping back her emotions.
‘I see a good portion of the group are already exhausted and have decided to skip the last two Thursdays,’ said Rifkind. ‘No matter.’ At that moment the double doors swung open and Jake McKenzie strode into the suite. He looked around for an available chair.
‘Ah, Jake. Decided to favour us with your presence today. Hurry up and sit, please; the group are ravenous for knowledge to start.’
Jakesmiled and hesitated. There were no chairs left except the one next to Kyle Kennedy.
‘There’s a seat next to Gay Boy,’ chuckled Wilson Woodrow, the overweight eighteen year old with the zigzag haircut and buzzing earphones. ‘If you don’t mind catching AIDS.’
‘That’s enough of that,’ admonished Rifkind as mildly as he could. He prided himself on his good relationships with students and didn’t like to play the authority figure.
To avoid Wilson’s confrontational leer, Kyle stared down at the floor through his John Lennon spectacles and buried his long delicate hands between tightly crossed legs. He wore the blank expression of the diplomatically deaf.
Jake made for the seat next to Kyle and sat