Pearl glanced at her husband and searched his face. She knew that the two men had always competed fiercely at sport and there had been no love lost between them. Jim had been a popular member amongst his team mates but not so Ricky, a loner. Jim had never possessed any of Ricky’s smooth charm that seemed to set him apart from the others and had turned all the female heads.
‘You could say we were acquaintances, yes,’ Jim muttered coldly.
‘It’s been a long time,’ Ricky nodded. ‘Congratulations.’ His eloquent tone had Pearl’s heart banging against her ribs as his gaze travelled slowly towards her.
‘You two was much older than us,’ Ruby burst out, seemingly unaware of the tension. ‘I was only just left school when you rowed for the club, Ricky. Pearl, you must’ve been what - sixteen?’
Pearl nodded. ‘Yes, about that.’
‘We used to watch the boys in the gym, remember?’ Ruby giggled, nudging Pearl’s arm. ‘ Those other two girls liked a good gander through the window too. That Stella Burns and her mate. They was always throwing themselves at anything in trousers. Dunno what happened to her. Someone said she got - ’ Ruby looked embarrassed. ‘Anyway, that was a long time ago now, but how strange that me and Ricky met up at the pictures again? Remember that film Captain Fury we saw last year, Pearl? Well it was showing again a few weeks ago and Ricky was on a weekend’s leave with one of his mates. I was with Irene Naylor from work. Don’t know how he recognized me but it was that flashy gold band on his arm that caught my eye.’
Pearl had already noted the sub-lieutenant’s gold braid and it was clear that Jim had too.
‘So you’ve joined the reserves?’ Jim said icily.
‘The Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve,’ Ricky corrected in the same tone.
‘Yeah, the wavy navy,’ sneered Jim and Pearl cringed at the derogatory expression. She was not surprised when Ricky retorted, ‘And you, Jim? No uniform?’