Tall Poppies by Louise Bagshawe

By Louise Bagshawe

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Nina Roth was destined for great things. And now she was letting it crumble to dust. Her grades had plunged. Her essays lost their sparkle. The Ivy League scholarships he'd assumed were sure things were slipping away. Mr David felt close to this girl. He'd asked around when Nina first came to St Michael's, knew all about the lazy father and the lush mother, heard on the grapevine that the kid practically ran the family store herself- no wonder she was so clear about basic business economics. You didn't have to be a shrink to see that Nina was compensating hard for her parents' failure, and he approved of that.

You think you're pregnant? ' He passed a hand through his gleaming fair hair. ' 37 It was true that they'd followed all the current teen wisdom on sex - antiseptic douches and avoiding the middle of the cycle - but Nina had no money for a doctor and no access to a birth-control clinic. South Slope was big on coat-hanger abortions and welfare mothers instead. Jeff had tried condoms before he met her, and refused to do so again. ' 'I'm late,' Nina said dully. She hadn't expected him to jump for joy - at least not right away - but this blind panic was making her nervous.

How refreshing. And whereabouts is it? ' Nina wanted to die. 'I think it would be out of your way. ' Mr Glazer frowned disapprovingly at his son. His wife pursed her lips. 'Yes,' she said after a moment. ' I'll bet you're not, Nina thought miserably. She gave Jeff a pleading look but he reached for another scone, refusing to meet her eyes. It was another dreadful hour before Jeff lumbered to his feet, muttering something about football practice, and they were able to escape. Nina thanked her hostess for the tea in as dignified a manner as she could, and took 36 her time about putting on her coat, as though it were a silver fox instead of her threadbare duffel.

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