The train from Penzance was running late. When the announcement was over, Hugh Ankerton looked at his companion and raised his eyebrows. Lucinda smiled back, shrugging ruefully. During Hugh's first year at Bristol University they'd had plenty of opportunities to become resigned to the vagaries of British Rail.
'You'd better phone your mum,' he suggested, 'and then we'll go and have some coffee.'
He watched her as she went into the telephone box, marvelling as he often did that this pretty, slender, delightful girl should have chosen him from amongst all the men she could have had for the asking. She was tremendously popular with old and young alike. His parents adored her and he knew that his mother would have liked nothing better than to have welcomed Luanda as her daughter-in-law.
Hugh frowned and turned towards the station buffet. Unfortunately, during Lucinda's week at his parents' farmhouse on Dartmoor there had been a strain in the relationship which his molher had been quick to notice and, he suspected, would mention. As he ordered Iwo coffees and carried them to a corner table. Hugh cursed himself for his inability to control his emotions. It had already led to a sequence of events he would never forget. His guilt seemed to poison his life and he was beginning to despair that he would ever be free of it.
Lucinda slid into the seat opposite and Hugh thrust his thoughts aside, smiling quickly at her.
She nodded and reached for her coffee, her long blonde plait falling forward over her shoulder. Sensitive as always to his moods, she was determined that they should part on a cheerful note.
'I spoke to Mummie. She says she'll check before she comes to meet me. She sends her love to you.'
'That's nice,' said Hugh absently - gave a mental shake and pulled himself together. 'I'm going to miss you. It'll be odd with you so far away.'
'Eastbourne's not that far.' Lucinda sounded encouraging but she looked worried. 'I shall miss you, too, but we can get together most weekends.'
Hugh fought with conflicting emotions. Lucinda, who had been taking a year out during his first year at Bristol, was about to begin a one-year course of home economy at a residential college in Eastbourne. Although he knew that he would miss her terribly, part of him felt almost relieved. Despite her efforts to help him overcome his guilt, he was unable to allow her into his inmost thoughts; a situation which had worsened in the last few months. Yet part of him longed to seize her and never let her go.
Lucinda watched his troubled face and sighed inwardly, recognising the gloom cast by Charlotte's shadow. She sought a way to raise his spirits, hating the thought of leaving him in this distressed mood. She reached out and took his hand and he held it tightly, smiling at her, longing for all to be well between them.
Til write as soon as I've settled in,' she said, trying to create an air of intimacy in the noisy little cafe". 'Let me have your telephone number at your new house as soon as you know it, won't you?'
'Of course I will.' He sounded almost hearty and her heart sank a little.
'Oh Hugh,' she said, and touched her cheek to his hand. 'I do love you.'
'Oh Lu.' His grip tightened. 'I know. Me too, you know that. It's just—'
'Yes, yes,' she said quickly, not wanting to go through all the reasons -or excuses - with which Hugh tried to disguise the real problem between them. 'I realise we're young and all that. I just want you to know.'
The Tannoy crackled into speech and Lucinda gathered up her belongings. She and Hugh held each other tight and kissed almost desperately before she climbed on to the waiting train and settled herself by the window. She loved the journey from the West Country but today her attention was only partly held by the view. Her gaze was inward. From the moment that she'd first met Hugh at his sister's engagement party she'd had the odd sensation that they belonged together. That they were both very young made no difference to her. She just knew deep down inside that they should be together.