Another bit from the first year’s action that went in the great Lydia takeover. Once again I note my fondness for ‘C…l…’ names. I was rather sad to ditch Milly…
Georgia came up the road at a jog, hair flapping, cheeks rosy. ‘Hi, Colette.’
‘Morning. I don’t know how you’re so energetic. It’s January, and it’s tipping it down!’
‘I’ve only been down to Clifford’s Bridge and back,’ Georgia said, as if that wasn’t half-way across the city, and then, ‘Some days I just need to run and run.’
Colette did not know what to say to that. She just nodded. ‘Have you had breakfast?’ she asked. That at least was a safe question.
‘I had phase one of breakfast before I went out. Phase two is now.’ Georgia ran a hand over her forehead, shiny with rain and sweat. ‘Drat. I meant to get some milk on the way back.’
‘Whoops,’ Colette said. She shook the last reluctant envelope into the recycling bin and turned to go back indoors. Georgia followed her upstairs to the kitchen.
The timing was unfortunate. Olly was using a tea-towel to dust off a perfectly clean bowl. Seated at the table was a rumpled looking (but oh-so-sexily rumpled!) girl with big blue eyes and dishevelled blonde hair. She was wearing what Colette recognised as Olly’s dressing gown, and, by the looks of it, not much else. She looked better than she had any right to at that time in the morning and in that garment.
Olly stared at Georgia. Georgia stared at Olly. The air grew denser, and the girl looked at Colette. Colette said, helplessly, ‘Hi. I’m Colette.’
‘Camilla. Milly.’ There was money in her voice.
Colette gestured at Georgia, who was hitching up her damp jogging bottoms. ‘Georgia. We’re Olly’s housemates.’
‘Hi. Hi.’ Camilla – Milly – smiled slowly, apparently oblivious to the thickening awkwardness.
Georgia was not going to help. Colette asked, ‘So, how do you know Olly?’
‘Oh, one of my friends dragged me along to Archery yesterday afternoon, and of course Olly was there as a member.’
‘You’re a first year?’
Georgia said, ‘Excuse me,’ and stomped off to the bathroom. Olly shrugged, but, since he was standing behind Camilla, only Colette saw.
‘Which hall are you in?’ Colette asked, having failed to think of a less boringly Freshers’ Week sort of question.
The newest, shiniest hall of all. That figured. ‘Do you like it?’
‘It’s not too bad.’
No, she must be aware of the atmosphere; she’d be talking more if she were genuinely unaffected. Desperately, Colette asked, ‘What are you studying?’
‘French and Spanish.’
French and Spanish. Colette probably knew something about French and Spanish, if only she could think of it, and if only Olly would stop gawping at her and turning progressively redder in the face. ‘Cool. I believe Stancester’s Languages School is pretty high up in the league tables.’
Camilla shrugged; the dressing gown slipped a little way down her shoulder. Colette tried not to look. ‘Yes, it’s not bad. I tried for Oxford, of course.’
‘Didn’t we all?’
Olly, contributing to the conversation at long last, said, ‘Oxbridge rejects, the lot of us. Don’t worry. There are plenty around.’
Colette was running out of small talk. She said, ‘Well, I need a shower. Stuff to do. Nice to meet you,’ and fled.