She never did find out why her friends didn’t turn up that night just after Christmas. She waited for them for almost an hour at the outdoor rink. She cursed them for thinking it was too cold. And she cursed the ‘flu’ bug that was doing the rounds.
But I’m here now, she thought, so I might as well get on with it.
Christina pulled on her boots and tightened up the laces. Soon she was whirling round the ice causing her skimpy little skirt to twirl out prettily. She smiled to herself as she moved, and knew her legs looked good even in these thick granny tights. Those dance skating lessons had certainly been worth it.
She had the small rink almost to herself, and, as always, people stopped to watch. Some actually clapped. People came and went, but a group of bikers stayed put.
‘Pretty, pretty,’ called one of them. ‘Do us a twirl.’ Their English sounded funny. How did they know she was English, though?
Hot and breathless, she had to stop. She soon began to feel cold though and the hot chocolate stall looked inviting. She joined the queue, and as she waited her turn, her teeth began to chatter.
‘Wouldn’t you rather have a beer?’ called one of the bikers.
It seemed to take forever to get served.
‘Met slagroom?’ asked the ugly man when she finally reached the counter.
Christina nodded. Cream would be nice, but she didn’t know enough Dutch yet to ask for marshmallows.
She drank her chocolate. It was good and warmed her up.
‘Will you dance with me?’ called one of the bikers.
Will you leave me alone? she thought. She looked at her watch. She’d better get going. It was getting quite near the time she said she should be back home. The last thing she wanted was another argument with her parents.
As she stepped off the ice, another of the bikers came up to her. He put an arm around her waist and the stench of cigarette smoke and beer assaulted her nostrils. Then his face was leering into hers. He said something in Dutch, which she couldn’t understand. Oh, why hadn’t she gone straight home when the others hadn’t shown up? She struggled to free herself from him. He said something else. The smell of beer on his breath was even stronger now. Encouraging him, the others began to cheer and laugh, and Christina’s mouth went dry and her heart began to race.
‘Let go!’ she screamed, looking frantically around for someone to help her.
There was no help. No one seemed to think the bikers were doing any harm.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed another motorbike arrive with its tall leather-clad rider. He shouted something to the drunken biker. This time, she understood the Dutch.
‘Let her go, idiot!’ he shouted clearly and slowly. He got off his machine and as he removed his helmet, silky blonde hair tumbled to his shoulders. The drunkard stepped back. There was a rapid conversation between the tall blonde one and the others, before he waved them away. At last they began to move.
A white light pulsated from one of the bars beside the rink. Christina tried to focus on the one who was trying to help her, but the light dazzled her and she had to shut her eyes. Suddenly the world was spinning round and she felt slightly sick. She was losing control, as if her brain was seizing up.
Not that. Please not that. Not here. She knew she shouldn’t have looked at that light.
Everything went black and Christina was trapped in a narrow room from which she couldn’t escape. A band tightened around her head and she was suffocating. Then nothing at all. But it was a nothingness that seemed to go on for hours.
When she awoke, she didn’t know where she’d been. She never did.
There was a strong smell of leather. The guy with the long blonde hair was standing very close to her. She could see the other bikers still hanging around. The biker who had grabbed her was looking worried.
‘How are you, little one?’ asked the tall blonde one in Dutch.
She couldn’t muster any words together in this language, which was still so new for her. ‘I, er, I’m English,’ she stuttered.
The drunken biker wobbled forward. ‘Sorry…sorry,’ he muttered, holding up his hands.
‘Where were you then?’ asked the tall blonde biker. ‘You seemed a long way away.’
‘N-no,’ stammered Christina. She’d just been dazzled by the lights, hadn’t she?
‘Are you all right?’ he asked.
What was he saying? She hadn’t had a fit, had she? Perhaps it had just been a petit mal this time.
‘You look pale. Do you want me to call someone for you?’
‘No! I’m fine,’ said Christina. She really felt fine now. This man was very interesting. In fact, he was gorgeous. She just felt too ill to appreciate him properly. To her horror, she started to shake.
‘Oh, dear. You’re shivering. You will catch cold and must get home. Do you live far?’ The slight Dutch accent was cheerful and friendly and his eyes twinkled.
‘I’ll be all right. Honest I will,’ she managed to say.
‘I could give you a lift on my bike.’
‘No better not.’ She thought of all those warnings about not going off with strangers. How her parents didn’t like motorbikes. Then there was the question of whether she could handle anyone as sophisticated as this. He was obviously quite a bit older than her.
‘I don't drink or smoke,’ he said. ‘Or do drugs. And I’m a very safe driver.’ He touched her very lightly on the shoulder and looked straight into her eyes.
Thank goodness it wasn’t a full-blown fit, she thought.
‘You shouldn’t go home on your own,’ he said.
‘I’m Jan by the way.’
‘And I’m Christina,’ she replied.