Shivering outside the little station on Christmas Eve, with no sign of their promised ride, Kathie's insecurities began to get the better of her.
"You should have told them, Nance."
"Mmmm, I've been thinking that myself," was the less than reassuring response.
"Maybe," Kathie began hesistantly, "it would be better if we didn't... I mean, if we pretended... If we just..."
Nancy took a quick glance round the deserted car park, before pulling her partner into her arms. "It'll be fine, Kathie darling, I promise."
"You don't know that." Kathie's voice was muffled, as she had her face buried in Nancy's coat. "What if they're appalled? What if they hate me? What if the reason no one's come to meet us is because they've already decided that they disapprove of our relationship?"
"Well, it can't be that, whatever else it is," Nancy said lightly.
"Because we haven't told them we're in a relationship yet, remember?"
Kathie fully intended to explain to her partner exactly why this was not a comforting thought, when she suddenly found that Nancy had been plucked from her grasp and was being twirled around as though she were no bigger than Kathie herself.
"Happy Christmas, Pipsqueak!"
Kathie wanted to laugh at this; 'Pipsqueak' was definitely not a term she herself would have associated with Nancy, although she had to admit, next to the burly man she assumed was one of her partner's numerous siblings, Nancy did look considerably smaller than usual. In the interests of tact, however, she kept her giggles to herself, and focused on the somewhat disputatious exchange currently taking place.
"You're late, as usual," Nancy retorted, deciding to ignore the highly inapposite childhood nickname.
"So are you," the man replied. "Who doesn't arrive until Christmas Eve?"
"And just when did you arrive?" Nancy asked suspiciously.
"I haven't yet - I'm picking you up on my way." He grinned at Nancy, before turning to meet Kathie's fascinated gaze. "And you must be the famous Kathie Ferrars. Nice to meet you. I'm Nancy's brother Paul - her best brother," he added, to the accompaniment of a snort from Nancy. He shook Kathie's hand, took her suitcase from her, and started to lead the way over to his somewhat dilapidated car. "And I have to say, our Nancy has a better taste in women than you have, Kathie."
Kathie flushed bright scarlet, unsure how to respond to this rather backhanded and completely unexpected compliment.
Nancy, struggling to drag her own suitcase through the snow, had no such qualms. "Hey! I heard that!" she exclaimed indignantly.
"You were supposed to," Paul grinned.
"And was that meant to be a compliment or an insult?"
"Intelligence never was your strong point, was it, Nance?" he asked, shaking his head in mock despair and leaving Nancy speechless with indignation. "I'd have thought by now you'd have learnt to recognise an insult when you hear one - you certainly used to get enough of them!"
"I thought you said you hadn't told them about us?" Kathie muttered, dropping back to keep pace with Nancy and distracting her from whatever retort she had been contemplating.
"I hadn't. Never said a word," Nancy replied promptly.
"You didn't need to," her brother put in cheerily, "if you mean telling us about the two of you."
"What gave it away?" Nancy asked, curious.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" he teased.