The Perfect Lover

The Perfect Lover by Penny Jordan Read Free Book Online

Book: The Perfect Lover by Penny Jordan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Penny Jordan
gone through the normal student ritual of drinking at the bar in the students' union during the first few weeks "at university, but that had simply been a rite of passage, something to be endured rather than enjoyed.
    The red wine was rich and fruity, warming her throat and heating her cold, empty stomach.
    Louise sank down onto the floor, owlishly studying the mass of paper she had spread all around her. Katie's handwriting danced dizzily before her eyes. Frowningly she blinked as she tried to focus and concentrate, quickly finishing off her glass of wine.
    It was making her feel distinctly better—lighter, number. It was even making it possible for her to think about Saul without that wrenching, tearing pain deep inside her, threatening to destroy her.
    As she walked erratically back from the kitchenette, having refilled her glass, Louise tried to summon up Saul's beloved mental image and found, to her consternation, that she couldn't—that for some reason his beloved, adored features had become amorphous and vague, sliding away before she could crystallise them into a hard image. Even more infuriatingly, the harder she tried to visualise him, the more impossible it became. Instead, the male image that came most easily to her mind's eye was that of Gareth Simmonds.
    Frantically Louise took a deep gulp of her wine, keeping a firm grip on it as she searched feverishly through her diary for the photograph of Saul which she always, always kept there.
    Louise was clutching the photograph when she heard someone knocking on her door.
    Katie... Her sister had changed her mind, cancelled her date realising just how much she needed someone to be with her. Tipsily, Louise lurched towards the door, yanking it open as she cried out, 'Oh, Katie, thank goodness you're here. I...'
    Her voice faded away as her visitor stepped grimly over the threshold, firmly closing the door behind him.
    'You!' she said shakily as she looked up into the merciless gaze with which her tutor had swept the room before finally coming to rest on her tear-stained face. 'What do you want...?'
    'I came to bring you these,' Gareth Simmonds told her, and held some papers. 'You left them on my desk this morning...'
    'Oh... I...' Awkwardly Louise reached out to take them from him, forgetting that she was still holding not just Saul's photograph but also a half-full glass of wine.
    As she reached for the papers Saul's photograph slipped from her fingers. Immediately Louise tried to retrieve it, accidentally bumping into Gareth Simmonds as she did so, wine slopping from her glass onto both his wrist and her own arm.
    Before she could stop him Gareth Simmonds was bending down to pick up Saul's photograph.
    'No. Don't...' she began, but it was too late.
    As he picked it up he paused, studying Saul's features thoughtfully and then looking from the photograph to her face before declaring ironically, 'He's a very good-looking man, Louise, I'll grant you that. But is he really worth messing up the whole of your future over? He's too old for you, anyway,' he added dismissively.
    Louise's temper, rubbed raw during her earlier dressing down at his hands, burst into crazy pain.
    'No, he's not...he's...' To her consternation she felt fiery tears beginning to burn the backs of her eyes. Pouring the rest of the contents of her glass down her throat, she gulped rebelliously, 'I'm not a child, you know. I'm a woman...'
    The derisive look in his eyes demolished the last of her precarious hold on her temper and pushed her over the edge of caution into reckless fury.
    'What is it?' she demanded. 'Don't you believe me? Well, I am, and I'll prove it to you... Saul would have wanted me if she—Tullah—hadn't come along...'
    'How much of that stuff have you had to drink?' she heard him demanding as he ignored her furious statement and removed from her hand the glass she was still holding to sniff it with an irritated frown.
    'Not enough,' she told him forlornly, adding

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