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The story follows two students, William Thatcher and Philippa Jameson, of English literature from Oxford in the s. They both fell in enmity with each other in their first sight. The mutual hatred began a fierce sense of competition between them which enabled them to outshine their contemporaries, but to remain neck-to-neck with each other.


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Some people, it is said, fall in love at first sight but that was not what happened to William Hatchard and Philippa Jameson. They hated each other from the moment they met.

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Home Forum. She tried not to show her true feelings when at her deputy, Phil Haskins, presented her with a complex twelve- document that required the ature of a director before it could be sent out to the client. It was always the same on a Friday. The phones would go quiet in the middle of the afternoon and then, just as she thought she could slip away, an authorization would land on her desk. One glance at this particular document and Diana knew there would be no chance of escaping before The demands of being a single parent as well as a director of a small but thriving City company meant there were few moments left in any day to relax, so when it came to the one weekend in four that James and Caroline spent with her ex-husband, Diana would try to leave the office a little earlier than usual to avoid getting snarled up in the weekend traffic.

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She read through the first slowly and made a couple of emendations, aware that any mistake made hastily on a Friday evening could be regretted in the weeks to come. She glanced at the clock on her desk as she ed the final of the document. It was just showing She suspected that the paperwork had been on his desk since that morning, but that holding it until was his only means of revenge now that she had been made head of department.

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Once she was safely in the elevator, she pressed the button for the basement garage, calculating that the delay would probably add an extra hour to her journey. She stepped out of the elevator, walked over to her Audi suburban, unlocked the door, and threw her bag onto the back seat. When she drove out into the street the stream of twilight traffic was just about keeping pace with the pin-striped pedestrians who, like worker ants, were hurrying toward the nearest hole in the ground.

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The chimes of Big Ben rang out before spokesmen from each of the three main political parties gave their views on the European election. John Major was refusing to comment on his future. Diana felt guilty—she was among the 64 percent who had failed to register their vote. As her car crawled round Russell Square, she began to think about the weekend ahead. It had been over a year since John had told her that he had met another woman and wanted a divorce. Since her appointment as a director, she had to admit they had spent less and less time together.

And perhaps she had become anesthetized by the fact that a third of the married couples in Britain were now divorced or separated. Her parents had been unable to hide their disappointment, but then they had been married for forty-two years. The divorce had been amicable enough, as John, who earned less than she did—one of their problems, perhaps—had given in to most of her demands.

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She had kept the apartment in Putney, the Audi suburban, and the children, to whom John was allowed access one weekend in four. None of the senior staff at the office had ever gone further than asking her out to lunch. Perhaps because only three of them were unmarried —and not without reason.

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The one person she might have considered having a relationship with had made it abundantly clear that he only wanted to spend the night with her, not the days. Men are so vain, she thought. A woman had to make only one mistake and she was immediately labeled as promiscuous.

Then every other man on the premises either smirks behind your back, or treats your thigh as an extension of the arm on his chair. Diana groaned as she came to a halt at yet another red light.

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She opened the glove compartment on the passenger side and fumbled in the dark for a cassette. She and Daniel had majored in economics at Bristol University in the early s, friends but never lovers. Then Daniel met Rachael, who had arrived a year after them, and from that moment he had never looked at another woman. Three children had followed in quick succession, and Diana had been proud when she was asked to be godmother to Sophie, the eldest.

Although they were convinced that she led an exciting and fulfilling life, Diana often envied their gentle and uncomplicated existence. Although she enjoyed her work, it had been a bloody week.

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Another traffic light changed to red. It took Diana nearly an hour to travel the seven miles out of the city, and when she reached the first two-lane highway, she glanced up at the A1more out of habit than to seek guidance, because she knew every yard of the road from her office to the farm. She tried to increase her speed, but it was quite impossible, as both lanes remained obstinately crowded. She began to wonder if she could pick something up on the way, then remembered there was nothing but service stations between here and the farm.

When she reached the traffic circle that led onto the A1, she managed to push the car over fifty for the first time. She began to relax, allowing her mind to drift with the music.

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There was no warning. Although she immediately slammed her foot on the brakes, it was already too late. There was a dull thump from the front bumper, and a slight shudder rocked the car. Diana swung onto the hard shoulder and screeched to a halt, wondering if the animal could possibly have survived.

She reversed slowly back to the spot where she thought she had hit it as the traffic roared past her. And then she saw it, lying on the grass verge—a cat that had crossed the road for the tenth time. She stepped out of the car and walked toward the lifeless body. Suddenly Diana felt sick. She had two cats of her own, and she knew she would never be able to tell the children what she had done.

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She picked up the dead animal and laid it gently in the ditch by the roide. She gave it one last look before walking back to her car. Ironically, she had chosen the Audi for its safety features.

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She climbed back into the car and switched on the ignition to find Gloria Gaynor still belting out her opinion of men. She turned her off and tried to stop thinking about the cat as she waited for a gap in the traffic large enough to allow her to ease her way back into the slow lane. She eventually succeeded but was still unable to erase the dead cat from her mind.

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Diana had accelerated up to fifty again when she suddenly became aware of a pair of headlights shining through her rear windshield. She put up her arm and waved in her rearview mirror, but the lights continued to dazzle her.

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She slowed down to allow the vehicle to pass, but the driver showed no interest in doing so. Diana began to wonder if there was something wrong with her car. Was one of her lights not working? Was the exhaust billowing smoke? Was …? She decided to speed up and put some distance between herself and the vehicle behind, but it remained within a few yards of her bumper. She tried to snatch a look at the driver in her rearview mirror, but it was hard to see much in the harshness of the lights.

As her eyes became more accustomed to the glare, she could make out the silhouette of a large black van bearing down on her, and what looked like a young man behind the wheel. He seemed to be waving at her. When one appeared she slammed her foot on the accelerator, shot across the roundabout, and sped on up the A1. She was rid of him at last. She was just beginning to relax and to think about Sophie, who always waited up so that she could read to her, when suddenly those high headlights were glaring through her rear windshield and blinding her once again.

If anything, they were even closer to her than before. She slowed down, he slowed down. She accelerated, he accelerated. She tried to think what she could do next, and began waving frantically at passing motorists as they sped by, but they remained oblivious to her predicament.

She tried to think of other ways she might alert someone, and suddenly recalled that when she had ed the board of the company they had suggested she have a car phone installed. Diana had decided it could wait until the car went in for its next service, which should have been two weeks ago.

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She brushed her hand across her forehead and removed a film of perspiration, thought for a moment, then maneuvered her car into the fast lane. The van swung across after her and hovered so close to her bumper that she became fearful that if she so much as touched her brakes she might unwittingly cause an enormous pile- up. She flicked her headlights onto high, turned on her hazard lights, and blasted her horn at anyone who dared to remain in her path.

She could only hope that the police might see her, wave her onto the hard shoulder, and book her for speeding. A fine would be infinitely preferable to a crash with a young tear-away, she thought, as the Audi suburban passed for the first time in its life. Without warning, she swerved back into the middle lane and took her foot off the accelerator, causing the van to pull up with her, which gave her a chance to look at the driver for the first time.

He was wearing a black leather jacket and pointing menacingly at her. She shook her fist at him and accelerated away, but he simply swung across behind her like an Olympic runner determined not to allow his rival to break clear. And then she remembered, and felt sick for a second time that night. In a flood, the details of the murder that had taken place on the same road a few months before came rushing back to her. A woman had been raped before having her throat cut with a knife with a serrated edge and dumped in a ditch.

For weeks there had been s posted on the A1 appealing to passing motorists to phone a certain if they had any information that might assist the police with their investigation.

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The s had now disappeared, but the police were still searching for the killer. She had reached it far sooner than she had anticipated. In three miles she would have to leave the motorway for the side road that led to the farm. She began to pray that if she took her usual turn, the black- jacketed man would continue up the A1 and she would finally be rid of him.