"I don't think we thought this through very well Nick," Sal said as she squelched up the road towards her apartment. Her dress was forming an uncomfortable second skin against her shivering body and the sea breeze was chilling her to the bone.
"Well I gave you the chance to take the dress off," he reminded her. "I'd offer you my shirt but I don't see how it's going to make any difference." Sal stopped suddenly then and pulled Nick into a shop doorway.
"Give me that shirt! I'm a desperate woman," she exclaimed as her teeth chattered with cold. He handed her the shirt he was carrying with a grin.
"Feeling frisky Sal?" he asked, watching her attempting to peel the sodden top half of her dress down behind the barrier of his shirt.
"I'm always feeling frisky Nick as well you know," she chatted away, fighting to free her arm from one of the straps, "but at this precise moment I'm just a little more focused on not freezing to death. And besides…" she began, looking up but stopping when she noticed him watching her. She stared back at him and he turned his head abruptly away, pacing the pavement just outside the shop.
"Hurry up Sal, I'm not that warm myself."
"Okay, let's go," she said, emerging from the shop porch wearing his shirt with her arms wrapped around it at her middle and the upper half of her dress peeled down to her waist.
"I have to tell you Sal, that's not your best look," he joked.
"Well it's a good job that there are no hunky men around to see me then isn't it," she said, continuing up the street.
"Hey," he said following her, "aren't I hunky then?"
She laughed. "Yes, you are hunky don't worry but I don't need to impress you."
"Why not?" he frowned.
She sighed and stopped to face him. "You know why." He looked non the wiser. "Because I've known you for what seems like forever and you've seen me looking worse than this before so there's no point in me trying," she shrugged, resuming her walk. He watched her stroll away and stood, contemplating her comment.
God only knows what I'd be like if she did try! It's bad enough right now! Not that she would try anyway, not with me. Damn it!
"Are you coming Nicholas? Or are you just going to stand there freezing to death?" she called back to him.
"Coming Sal," he answered, trudging after her.
When they finally reached her apartment Sal raced up the steps and called over her shoulder to Nick,
"Gotta get out of this dress. Get the kettle on will you?"
"Tea or coffee," he shouted, searching the cupboards for some mugs.
"Tea please," she answered after a while, emerging from the bedroom dressed for bed in a skimpy pair of shorts and a pink, strappy top with the words 'Come and get me' written across it. He turned to see her standing in the doorway and gave her a wry look.
"Sal don't you possess any nightwear that isn't suggestive?"
"Don't be silly," she smiled, sliding on the sofa and curling up in the corner. "My motto is always be prepared. You never know how an evening is going to pan out. Besides, this is my least suggestive nightwear Nick. I put it on just for you."
"Thanks," he said, pouring boiling water into the mugs. "You really know how to flatter a man Sal!"
I wonder what her most suggestive nightwear is like then! God! Okay, concentrate on the tea!
"When's Jen coming back?" Sal asked out of the blue.
Nick paused for a moment in the middle of pouring milk into the mugs of tea.
"At the end of the week, why?" he asked.
"Just wondering," she said, resting her head against the back of the sofa.
"Here," he said, passing her the mug of tea and taking a seat next to her. She sighed. He looked sideways at her.
"What's up?" he asked.
"Nothing," she replied without conviction. He nodded and sunk back into the sofa with his mug of tea.
"Sal," he began.
"Hmm," she responded lazily.
"Do you ever get a chance to make the most of your suggestive nightwear?"
Of all the questions to ask, she wondered where that one came from.
She thought for a moment. "Nick."
"Promise not to tease if I tell you something," she said mysteriously.
He looked interested. "Scout's honour."
"Contrary to what everyone thinks I'm not with a different man every night you know," she explained.
"I never thought that for a second," he said instinctively.
"Truth is that I'm not much good at all at the one night stand thing," she admitted. "If I'm honest I really don't want that."
"What do you want?" he asked, watching her closely as she stared up at the ceiling.
"I don't know…someone to stick with I guess. I mean don't get me wrong," she said, looking at him suddenly, "I don't want to turn into an old fuddy duddy with curlers in my hair and cocoa before bed every night."
He chuckled. "I really don't think there's much chance of that happening Sal."
She shook her head with a serious expression. "No. I mean I want lots of passion and excitement in my life but I just want someone to think I'm worth sticking around for a while." She laughed. "Maybe I'm being a bit unrealistic."
"Why do you say that? I don't honestly think that a string of one night stands every night is what anyone really wants."
She looked amazed. "You don't?"
He shook his head. "No."
"Yeah but what about people like Dan and Boycie? That's what they come back here for every year isn't it? To have girls fall all over themselves to be with them."
"Hmm," he looked unconvinced. "That's what they think they want but they will wake up one day and realise that that kind of life doesn't make them happy at all."
"You sound like you're talking from experience," she observed.
He sipped his tea and stretched out his legs. "Well, I had more freedom than I knew what to do with in my teenage years and I thought for a while that my luck was in, what with girls running after me all the time…"
Sal swung her head to face him with a wide eyed look and cut into his sentence, "Ooh, Nicholas, you stud!"
"Yeah but it really wasn't that great, most of the girls I met were so bloody shallow. And then I came out here and my whole outlook changed. For the first time I met people who cared, people who would put themselves out for others. And I met a whole load of women who restored my faith in the female race, like Ruth, Fay, Ann, Susie…and you of course."
"Haven't you missed someone out?" she asked with surprise. He hesitated. "Jen you idiot!"
"Oh yeah, Jen," he added quickly. "But I guess I was talking about women in a non relationship sense," he said, trying to justify his omission.
She nodded and finished her tea, laughing as a thought hit her. "And now you're surrounded by women again but this time you're not out to seduce any of them…apart from Jen that is…" As she continued to babble away he put his mug of tea on the coffee table and watched her with amazement at how utterly oblivious she was to other people's feelings towards her. Yes, she was an expert at understanding everyone else's relationships but she was useless at understanding her own. "…but then you have already seduced Jen so that doesn't count. Not that you need to stop trying to seduce her a bit, got to keep the old passion in your relationship Nick. That is unless you think that it's all going pear shaped between you two, in which case I reckon that you should start searching for someone else to seduce…" She paused and he thought for a minute that she'd finished, that was until she added a little more, "…not of course until you have finished it with her…if that's what you want to do…not that you do." He finally growled and put his hand to her mouth to stop her from speaking.
"Enough!" he exclaimed. She narrowed her eyes at him and a playful mood hit her as she went to bite his hand. He anticipated her action however just in time and moved his hand away from her mouth, launching himself at her instead and tickling any part of her that he could reach behind the hands that she held up for defence.
"What are you doing?" she giggled.
He grinned. "I'm doing what the T shirt says, coming to get you!"
"You're crazy!" she laughed, fighting his hands off.
"Not as crazy as you are," he chuckled, "You're a chatterbox."
She pouted. "I'm not a chatterbox, take that back!"
"I won't," he said, as they continued to tackle each other on the sofa, falling into fits of hysterics. When it became painful to laugh any more and both of them could barely breathe he finally threw his arms around her and held her still as they both panted for breath. She was still trying to control the giggles when a feeling hit him so suddenly, catching him unawares. From nowhere he had such a strong urge to hold her, touch her, kiss her and tell her everything; so much so that he had to let her go and spring off the sofa for fear that he would do just that.
She looked up at him with surprise. "Are you okay?"
He gave a small laugh in an attempt to trivialise his action. "Yeah, I just realised the time."
"Oh yes," she looked at her watch and stood up to join him, running a hand through her dishevelled hair. "I guess you need to go."
"Guess I should," he nodded, heading for the front door.
"Hey, you'll freeze to death out there," she said with a frown as he turned to say goodbye. She grinned, "Want to borrow one of my tops? Yours is still soaking wet."
He laughed. "No thanks Sal, if I walked through town wearing a pink 'come and get me' top I'd fear for my life!"
She chuckled. "I guess you're right." Reaching out she rubbed his bare arms up and down, "There, now you're nice and warm. Well you will be for a bit anyway."
Carry on touching me like that and I'll not be going anywhere! God Sal, have you not the slightest clue what you do to me?
He grinned. "Thanks Sal, I'd better go before my temperature drops."
"See you Nick," she said as he opened the door to leave. "Hey, do you want to meet for breakfast tomorrow? I know a great new place that does real English sausage and bacon."
"And bacon," he teased, "Well I guess I can't refuse then can I?"
"No, you certainly can't. Meet you at the bridge at say eleven," she suggested.
"Okay, see you then," he said, taking one last look at her before he turned and made his way down the stairs. She closed the door behind him.
Hey, he really does work out at the gym a lot!
This is the last chapter for 'Off The Cretan Track' that I will post on here. All following chapters will go onto the story space I have created for this story only.