Here is the third chapter of New Year’s Dip, and the group are off to the Lammas Fair in St Andrews.
At about six o’clock, Julian, Anatoly and David were standing outside the girls’ halls, waiting for them to come downstairs.
“If they’re not down in five minutes, I’m chucking something at their window,” David grumbled as he stamped his feet.
“You would probably miss,” Anatoly drawled, as his friends shivered.
“Let’s not start that again!” Julian said firmly. “No more snowballs tonight children.”
“Spoil sport,” David muttered, glancing at Anatoly, wondering if the other boy was thinking, like him, that it might be a funny idea to push some snow down Julian’s neck in retaliation for him telling them off.
Anatoly pulled a face at David, behind Julian’s back, letting him know he wasn’t impressed by being called a child either, especially when he was four years older than Julian.
Darrell and Sally hurried down the stairs after getting themselves dolled up, their coats open to show off their nice dresses. Darrell was in green, and Sally in blue, both sticking to the colours that suited them best.
Julian was watching the door as the girls appeared. His breath caught in his throat as he looked at Sally. Her blonde hair flowed over her shoulders and she was wearing a lovely dark blue dress that suited her beautifully, cinched at the waist with a black belt. “You look… so gorgeous,” he told her when she stood in front of him. He pressed a kiss to her cheek as Darrell slid her arm through Anatoly’s and smiled up at him.
“You look stunning dorogoy,” Anatoly said, dipping his head to kiss her as David looked away. “But should you not fasten up your coat? I would not want you catching a chill,” he added, running a fingertip over her exposed collarbone.
Darrell shivered slightly at his touch but rolled her eyes as David examined the stars, trying not to look at the two couples as Julian and Sally kissed. She did up her coat and raised a challenging look at Anatoly. “Shall we go?” she asked, reaching for David’s arm and tucking hers through his, winking at Anatoly.
Anatoly watched, not sure what to make of things as David gave him a slight shrug and let Darrell lead him away from the dorms, her arm still linked with his. He refused to meet Julian or Sally’s eyes as he followed a little way behind, hands shoved in his pockets.
Sally sighed as she took in Anatoly’s sulky walk, hoping he wasn’t going to sulk for long and spoil the night.
Julian gave Sally’s hand a squeeze and whispered to her, “Why don’t you go and cheer him up a bit?”
“Me?” she asked, wide-eyed, “what am I supposed to do?”
“Go and talk to him. Bat those blue eyes at him Sally. You know as well as I do that you can get him to talk almost as well as Darrell,” Julian said softly. “I’ll see if I can prise Darrell from David if you like?”
Sally nodded. “He should know by now that he has nothing to worry about with Darrell, she’s never going to look twice at anyone while he’s in her life,” she said, giving his hand a squeeze, knowing she felt the same about him.
“Sally Hope,” Julian said fondly. “Dear one, do me a favour and stop crediting me and my friends with common sense?” he teased, pulling her up short a little and kissing her hotly. “For me if nothing else?” he whispered afterwards, his hands on her waist.
Sally’s heart did a little dance when Julian called her ‘dear one’ and then she felt like it was going to burst out of her chest at the way he kissed her. She had kissed him back eagerly, breathless after it ended. She looked up at him, knowing she was flushed, feeling a little dazed.
“For you, I’ll try,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound like an idiot, before slipping from his grasp and hurrying after Anatoly.
Anatoly glanced at Sally in bemusement as she suddenly slipped her arm through his and suddenly started chattering about the night’s festivities.
Julian smiled over Sally’s head at Anatoly, and shrugged at him as he raised a questioning eyebrow. Julian hurried up to David and Darrell. “I think you made him sulk,” he told Darrell when there was a lull in conversation. “Are you trying to prove a point or something?” He looked at David. “Sorry mate, not like we meant for you to be left out.”
“I’m getting used to it,” he said with a chuckle, waiting for Darrell’s answer.
“Is he really sulking?” Darrell asked in surprise, “just because I’m walking with David and not him?”
“I think so, not in a big way,” Julian said with a smile. “Had you not noticed that he’s very keen on keeping you close Darrell?”
“He’s oh so soppy when he’s waiting around for you,” David added, gently teasing. “He’s worse than Julian mooning over Sally, as he was doing last term.”
“Anatoly isn’t the soppy sort,” Darrell argued, though she knew he was genuinely fond of her. “Do you mind David?” she asked as she slipped her arm from his.
David shook his head and waved her away, “It was lovely while it lasted, thank you Darrell.” He kissed her cheek and rolled his eyes at Julian who laughed.
“Gracious in defeat,” Julian told him as Darrell stopped walking and waited for Anatoly and Sally to reach her.
She tucked her arm into Anatoly’s smiling at Sally on Anatoly’s other side. She rested her cheek against the rough wool of his long double-breasted coat, inhaling the crisp spicy smell of him, made more prominent by the cold air.
Anatoly had a nasty clenching feeling in his chest as Darrell kissed David on the cheek, but then she was slipping her arm into his, holding herself much closer to him than she had David and he relaxed a little.
Sally gave Anatoly’s arm a squeeze and then moved off to take Julian’s again, giving Anatoly and Darrell a little privacy as they wandered up towards Market Street.
Anatoly freed his arm from Darrell’s and wrapped it around her shoulders. “You are just the right height for that,” he said, as she fitted herself neatly in against his side.
Darrell smiled and wrapped her arm around his waist. “I like being the right height for that,” she told him as they reached the end of Market Street and their eyes needed to adjust to the bright lights of the funfair.
“Everyone meet by the fountain about quarter to twelve if we get separated?” Julian suggested loudly over the noise.
Anatoly pressed a kiss into Darrell’s hair, breathing in the apply smell of her shampoo before looking at Julian. “It is a plan,” he said, “what do we want to do first? We could try out some of the rides?”
“Let’s have a look at the stalls first, have a good look around,” David said with a smile.”Then we can see what rides look good. I can hear the dodgems from here!”
They wandered around, having a brief look at all the stalls and rides, seeing what there was before deciding what they wanted to do. Anatoly was pleased when he saw a shooting range where you could win prizes, mostly tat by the looks of it but there were some stuffed bears and he thought Darrell might appreciate one.
“Anything catch your eye?” Julian asked him over the noise as David was inspecting one of the antique stalls with Sally and Darrell.
“Shooting range,” he said, nodding his head towards it. “I could clean up at that,” he said, stating a fact without considering it might sound boastful.
“I bet you could,” Julian said with a smirk. “I want to challenge you, but it will be a challenge I lose, I know that much. I’ll watch you beat some other chap though,” he added.
“Think I could persuade David to have a go? He is a country boy, I imagine he has fired a gun before?” Anatoly said.
Julian let out a snort. “No Toly, I don’t imagine he has,” he said, patting his friend on the arm. “David isn’t that kind of country boy. He’s not the lord of a manor, anyway.”
Anatoly shrugged, “I will ask him anyway, I cannot imagine either of the girls will want to try.” He went over to the antiques stall and nudged David’s arm with his elbow. “Care for a little competition over at the shooting range?” he asked.
David looked over his shoulder, where Anatoly was pointing. The girls turned to look as well, and exchanged looks. “Well, I’m not very good, but all right,” David said with a shrug.
Anatoly gave him a grin and led him over, paying the sixpence for both of them to have a go. They each had a range of targets of varying sizes and distances to hit, and in order to win a prize they had to hit them all with a limited supply of pellets.
David picked up the gun, Julian leaning on the side of the booth, smirking. “Go away will you Kirrin,” David muttered as Anatoly loaded the gun. David did the same and then knelt down and took aim at the stands. “You go first Toly,” he told him, putting the gun down to watch his friend.
Anatoly knelt too, the position not his usual for a firing range but not an unfamiliar one. He braced the rifle against his shoulder as he held it in both hands, one finger curling around the trigger. It was lighter than he was used to and he didn’t anticipate any recoil, but he wasn’t sure how well it would shoot so he started cautiously with the nearest targets, smiling to himself as he hit the bull’s-eye with both barrels. He caught the stall owner looking faintly uncomfortable as he reloaded and carried on hitting bull’s-eyes down the range, right to the smallest and furthest away target he assumed was meant to be the final challenge that prevented people from winning a prize.
“Phew!” David said, as Julian and the girls clapped and cheered. “Now I know why Julian turned you down! I don’t think I should even bother!”
“I paid threepence for you David, do not waste my money,” Anatoly said with a grin as he stood up and bowed.
David sighed and settled himself in Anatoly’s place. He did the same as his friend, lining up the targets and hitting the bigger ones in the bull’s-eye but not quite dead centre as Anatoly had done. He got a little less precise as they got smaller, and his last shot went wild, hitting the back of the stall.
“Not bad at all David,” Anatoly said, clapping him on the back. “I could make an agent of you yet,” he added quietly with a little wink. “So, Darrell, what prize should I claim?” he asked her.
Darrell was surprised and looked wildly around at her friends. “Whatever you like Toly?” she queried, unsure at what he was getting at as Julian shook David’s hand in congratulations and Sally kissed his cheek.
Anatoly stepped over to the glowering stall holder and picked a prize, keeping it behind his back as he approached Darrell. “Seeing as you would not pick, I chose for you,” he said, presenting her with a teddy bear wearing a green scarf.
Sally giggled as Julian and David guffawed loudly.
“Thank you Toly,” Darrell said quietly, smoothing down the bear’s scarf. She hooked her hand around his neck and pulled him down so she could kiss him without needing to stand on her tiptoes. “He’s gorgeous,” she said giving the bear a squeeze and then slipping him into her pocket.
“You like it?” he asked her, “I think it is a custom is it not, for a boy to win his girl a prize at one of these fairs?”
“Did I just not say he’s gorgeous?” she challenged him, a smile tugging at her lips.
Julian groaned and looked down at Sally; “Does this mean I have to win you something now? Has Anatoly set precedence?”
Anatoly’s lips quirked into a little smile as well. “Not as gorgeous as you,” he said quietly.
“You don’t have to,” Sally said, looking up at him, “but you can always try.”
Julian laughed at her and put an arm around her shoulders. “I will try, but I’m not going up against Toly for anything,” he said softly. “Shall we have a look around Sally, and see what there is for me to have a go at?”
“I’m sure there are plenty of things you could beat Toly at,” Sally said, “but let’s do a few things just the two of us before we all have a turn on the rides?”
Julian looked up at the others for a second, noticing how Darrell had her arm around Anatoly’s waist and David was trying very hard not to roll his eyes or look upset. “Sounds good,” he said to Sally. He looked up at their friends again, cleared his throat and suggested, “Shall we have a little wander then meet up for the rides in about half an hour?”
“Sounds good to me,” Darrell said smiling at Anatoly.
David shrugged and gave Julian a half smile. “All right. Dodgems first though,” he said with a grin, trying to appear natural. He turned on his heel and walked away before anyone could really say anything to him, wishing he had stayed in Shropshire, or brought Peter with him. He knew he had been a third wheel towards the end of the term, but it was worse now, with Julian and Sally finally becoming a couple. He shoved his hands in his pockets and sniffed, finding his way to a hot donut stand that sold hot toddies and mulled wine as well, deciding that if he was going to get through the evening, he could do with having a little drunk.
Anatoly felt a little guilty at the way David had walked off, he knew it couldn’t be easy being odd one out with two couples. Still, he had gone to quite a bit of trouble to be able to come back to St Andrews early, and he’d done it to have time to spend with Darrell.
“What shall we do now, dorogoy?” he asked her, “are you hungry? Or would you like to have a turn at the shooting or something?”
“I could go for food,” Darrell said with a smile. “What about you?”
“I can always eat,” Anatoly said with a shrug of one shoulder.
Darrell rolled her eyes at him and slipped her hand into his. “Come on then, let’s find something you can eat,” she teased.
Sally bit her lip as David all but stormed off. “Are we being unfair on him?” she asked Julian.
Julian looked at the way David had walked and sighed. “A little maybe,” he said softly. “I think he just misses Peter more than anything, and we’re all sort of, paired off. I guess it wasn’t so bad before the end of term.” He looked down at Sally and smiled wanly. “Would you hate me for saying we should go after him?” Julian asked as Darrell and Anatoly wandered off.
“Not at all,” Sally said softly. “Of course I’d like to have time just the two of us, but I don’t like the idea of David being on his own.”
“You’re such an amazingly unselfish girl Sally,” Julian said honestly, turning to look into her eyes. He swooped down and pressed a sweet kiss to her lips and held her close for a moment. “I’ll make it up to you I promise,” he said when he was done. “I’ll take you for lunch tomorrow after the dip? How does that sound?”
“Lunch sounds lovely,” she said a little shyly, wondering if it counted as a proper date. “As long as you don’t have a raging case of the flu by then!”
“Unless you want to do something else?” Julian asked her, taking her hand, and leading her after David. “Anything you want Sally, or do I need to come up with a proper first date?” he teased. He laughed, “I won’t have the flu! Not by lunchtime!”
“Lunch in one of the cafes, preferably in front of a roaring fire sounds just the ticket after a freezing dip in the sea,” Sally said, “assuming we can sneak off on our own then.”
“We should be able to,” Julian said. “Just as long as everyone doesn’t want to come to lunch,” he teased as he spotted David wandering aimlessly around the stalls. “There you are Morton! We’ve been looking for you, haven’t we Sally?”
“We have,” Sally confirmed with a smile.
David looked up and smiled awkwardly. “You didn’t have to, I don’t mind being on my own, I know that you probably wanted some time alone.” He looked down at the scarf in his hand and put it hurriedly back on the stall. “I was looking for something for Peter anyway,” he explained clearing his throat.
Sally smiled, “the scarves are lovely,” she said, running her fingers over a few of them.
“They are, but I don’t know if she’d like a scarf,” David said, clearing his throat. “Maybe you can help Sally? What would you want as a present from Scotland? I mean, would a nice woollen tartan scarf be nice, or would you want something more… unique.”
Julian did his best not to roll his eyes, but had his hand around Sally’s waist as she listened to David’s question. He wondered if he didn’t win her anything, if she would let him buy her a scarf instead.
“Umm,” Sally said awkwardly, “I’m not sure, I don’t know Peter at all, so I don’t really know what she’d like. But the scarves really are nice, you could buy one in her favourite colour?”
“I think her favourite colour’s blue. She wears it a lot and looks good in it,” David took a deep breath. “Sorry, I’m making you uncomfortable aren’t I?”
“Why would I be uncomfortable?” Sally asked, “I just don’t want say ‘buy her this’ if it’s going to be something she won’t like.” She examined the scarves on the stall and picked out some pretty blue ones in different shades. “Which do you think would suit her best?”
David looked at the scarves and then at Sally. He let out a deep breath as Julian leant forward.
“I’d go for the lighter blue one, David, you’ve said she’s got brilliant blue eyes, that one’ll bring them out more,” he said smoothly, winking at Sally. “If it was me, I’d pick the darker one for Sally because she’s got sea blue eyes,” he explained. “And a scarf is a nice thing to send.”
David nodded and smiled thankfully at his friends. “I think you’re right,” he agreed. “Sky blue it is.” He nodded at the man behind the stall and handed the money over. The man wrapped it in tissue paper and handed it to David, who put it in his pocket. “Thank you,” he said to his friends. “And I’m sorry about earlier,” he added as they walked away.
“It’s all right,” Sally said slipping her arm through his. “We did rather leave you in the lurch, but it wasn’t intentional.”
“I know,” David said as Julian rolled his eyes. “I should have behaved better, of course you four want to do things on your own I know.”
“Forget it David,” Julian said.
“Yes do,” Sally agreed with a smile. “Let’s just enjoy ourselves tonight and then we’ll worry about ditching you another time,” she teased. David smiled and gave her a sudden hug around her shoulders.
“You’re awfully decent you know Sally,” he said affectionately. “And Julian’s not too bad either,” he added as his friend began to protest. “Has he won you anything yet?”
“No he hasn’t,” Sally said, smiling slyly at Julian. “What do you think he should try his hand at David?”
“Well I’ll be kind, what about the coconut shy? With a rugby pass like he’s got he should be able to win you something from there,” David said, winking cheekily at Julian. Julian gave David a shove and smiled wryly at Sally.
“Come on then Julian,” she teased him as they got to the front of the stall. “I’ve seen your rugby passes, let’s see what you can do to a coconut!” she giggled.
“It’s a little different, but I’ll try my best,” Julian said with a mock sigh as they got to the front of the line. He paid the three pence for a turn and received five small but hard rubber balls, brightly painted.
“If you knock one coconut off, you got some candy floss,” the man running the stall told him. “Two and you get a small prize, three or more a big prize.”
Julian nodded and smiled at Sally and David who were watching avidly. Sally pressed a kiss to his cheek before standing back to he had enough room to throw. Julian weighed one in his hand and with an underarm throw and good aim, managed to knock one coconut off its perch. Sally and David cheered, as Julian grinned. He missed the next one, but managed to knock one off on his third try. Julian smiled to himself as David and Sally whooped. He had one more ball left and threw it, not really caring if he knocked another off or not as he had got a prize for Sally already. The fourth ball sailed through the air and knocked off a third coconut. Julian found Sally pulling his face down to kiss him.
“My goodness you’re good!” she giggled, pulling back from him, her cheeks flushed.
“Never mind about that,” Julian smiled. “What prize do you want?”
“Surprise me,” Sally said as David rolled his eyes.
“Shall we leave him in peace to choose?” David laughed as the man beckoned Julian around to the prize table. Julian felt a bit self-conscious looking at the prizes and having to choose for someone else. He didn’t want to copy Anatoly and get Sally a teddy bear, but he wasn’t sure what else to get her. Then he spotted a pretty pin with a four leaf clover on it and picked it up, with a sheepish grin at the man and hurried back to David and Sally.
“Here,” he said, embarrassed. “It was the only thing I thought you might like,” he explained to her, handing over the pin.
“Oh Julian, it’s lovely. Thank you!” Sally said hugging him. “Will you pin it on me?”
Julian nodded and pulled off his gloves to pin on the small pin. “Just to remind you that you’re my good luck charm,” he told her quietly, hoping that David wouldn’t tease him about it later.
Sally kissed his cheek and smiled softly at him. “Thank you,” she said again, stroking his cheek as David looked the other way, smiling a little. “I hope I remain your good luck charm,” she added.
“Don’t worry, you will,” he said quietly, kissing her properly before turning back to include David. “Shall we go and wait by the dodgems then? The half hour is almost up!”
David nodded, noting Sally’s arm still around Julian’s waist and smiling. “Yes, come on,” he agreed. “But I get Sally on my team!” he added with a wink.
“All right David, just for you, and you’re driving!” Sally said with a smile, slipping her arm through his.
“You look after her Morton,” Julian added with a grin.
“Don’t worry Ju, I will. Now, where are these dodgems?”