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It was late afternoon and the air was getting cooler and the sky darker when Lottie realised she had left her book on the bench. She walked along the narrow pathway that led down the hill towards the sports field and paused to take in the now familiar scene of the school grounds.  A green blanket was laid out beneath her, the grass catching the last few rays of sunlight so it looked almost like glass.  To her left was the front lawn and a long building which contained most of the classrooms on the ground and first floor and younger year dorms at the top.  Further along, stood the red bricked square gymnasium that had only been erected a few years before and beyond that, the swimming pool.  Looking down, trees dotted the edge of the vast playing field, but the land stretched on and on until it met the darkening sky.  The woods on the right of the field looked harmless when bathed with light, but there were rumours of a mental hospital only a few miles away and girls often scared each other with talks of escaped patients who would go up the hill and tap on the windows of their house.  At the edge of the woods was a bench hidden in the shadows of a large oak tree where pupils went to smoke or just sit and gossip and the older girls in the years above went further in to the woods to avoid being seen by teachers from the school. Fliss had shown Lottie the bench on one of her first few days at Meridien so she tried to sit there as much as possible; to gather her thoughts, be alone and mostly to get away from the Blique who had been picking at her constantly since she had stood up to Eden the previous weekend. She was so lost in her thoughts she didn’t notice someone was standing by the bench reading her book until she stumbled at the bottom of the hill and bumped into him.  He was very tall with golden hair which he wore long at the front and which flopped over his forehead.  His eyes were squinting from the last rays of the sun, but Lottie could see they were a clear moss green.  He wore light coloured chinos and a pale blue shirt which was slightly crumpled and rolled up at the sleeves to show off lightly bronzed arms with a smattering of hair.  He wore a silver chain round his neck from which a charm dangled.  Lottie was transfixed and drank him in.  She didn’t think she had ever seen such a handsome boy, not even that pop star who went solo recently could look this good in the flesh.  The boy was staring at her too and it felt like minutes before either of them spoke and when they did, it was at the same time. “I’m ss sorry...” Lottie stuttered, “I didn’t see you there.”  The boy smiled to show large, slightly uneven teeth, but the imperfection made him seem even more attractive in her eyes.  “No, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to surprise you.” Lottie was slightly unnerved by his blatant stare, but she realised she was in a girls school and he was most definitely not a pupil or a teacher. “Er, what are you doing here?” she asked

“Oh yes, I realise that probably does look strange!  Actually I am just waiting for someone, but if she doesn’t turn up, you’ll do!” Lottie blushed from the roots of her hair to the tips of her toes and didn’t know how to reply until she noticed her book in his hands.  She looked pointedly at it and he held it out towards her, “Is this yours?  It looks interesting and I would have nicked it if you hadn’t turned up!”
“Um, well, you can borrow it if you like.  It’s no problem.”
“You sure?” he raised an eyebrow and smiled again.
“Yes of course!  Look, I better go, my friends are waiting for me” she gestured up to the top of the hill where her house was.
“Oh, OK.  Well, nice to meet you and thanks for the book,” he held out a hand which was warm and dry.  They stared at each other again and Lottie felt waves of shyness so turned around and stumbled again before walking quickly up the hill.  She was half way up when she heard him call out, “Hey, I don’t even know your name to return your book!”
She turned around and shouted, “It’s Lottie,” before walking again and when she got to the top she realised how rude and abrupt she had been not even saying goodbye properly and especially not even asking his name.  She ran to the dorm feeling flushed and breathless, her heart racing.  When she opened the door, Jenny was siting on her bed looking impatient. “There you are Lottie, the movie is about to start, I’ve been waiting for you especially!  Hey, where’s your book?”  Lottie paused in the doorway watching Eden who was standing in front of the mirror fluffing up her hair and smoothing her eyebrows.  She looked at Lottie watching her, “What?”
“Oh nothing.  I’ve just seen a boy!”
“A boy?” Jenny wanted clarification.
“Yes, a boy, at the bench.  He was reading my book!  Strange really, but he said he was waiting for someone.  He was so....”
“Oh that would be Teddy,” Eden said through layers of lip gloss.
“Teddy?” Jenny and Lottie asked at the same time.
“Yes Teddy”, she replied impatiently, wiping a smudge of gloss away that had gone over her lip line.  “We’re going out on a date tonight, he’s meeting me there.”  Lottie’s heart sank as everything clicked into place.  Eden had mentioned earlier she was going out Teddy, but she thought they were meeting in the high street.
“Anyway, I must have kept him waiting long enough so must dash.  Ciao ladies,” she said as she grabbed her bag and walked out in a cloud of hair spray and perfume that was so sweet it made Lottie want to sneeze.

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