Off The Cretan Track Chapter 48

Off The Cretan Track Chapter 48

A Chapter by Repgreece
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Comfort from Sal

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After hours of self-reprimanding and soul searching, Nick finally fell into a fitful sleep. He was awoken by his mobile phone ringing and he sprung up in bed in a panic, wondering what he was late for, where he was, and who was trying to contact him. Then the awful previous night came back to haunt him when reality struck with a vengeance.

Reaching out to the bedside table, he grasped his phone and glanced at it. It was Sal!

“Hello,” he said, sounding somewhat surprised that it was her.

“Hey you, aren’t we going to Knossos today?”

He struggled to a sitting position in the bed, feeling a sharp pain shoot through his head as he did so.

“Oh sorry Sal, I must have slept in. What time is it?” he asked.

She laughed. “That’s my job; I usually sleep in. It’s nearly 12 o clock.”

“Oh hell, I’ve got to go see the guests at some point today too.”

“I’ve spoken to Fay and they want to come; Adam hasn’t been to Knossos either,” she said enthusiastically. “You do want to still go, don’t you?”

“Err, yeah,” he replied.

Hmm, he didn’t sound very sure.

“You go and see the guests first then, and then we will have the whole rest of the day. It should be fun, the four of us. Don’t you think?” she said, trying to cheer up an unusually glum sounding Nick.

“Oh yeah, course.”

There was a pause.

“Nick.”

“Hmm.”

“Is there something wrong?” she asked.

If he were honest, his mind wasn’t fully on what she was saying, or on anything that day would bring, apart from coming to terms with what Jen had told him last night. But he did need to figure out the Knossos trip. Maybe the distraction of their day out, and the whole ‘quest’ project, was going to prove to be a godsend for Nick; it would stop him from dwelling on whether he was going to be the father of Jen’s child or not.

“Err, no. I’m…I’ve just woken up, that’s all,” he replied.

“Oh, okay. Well, what time do you want to meet us? Adam offered to drive,” she informed him.

“Oh that’s good. Give me an hour and a half. I’ll pick you up on my bike and drive us both to Adam’s house.”

“Okay. See you at one thirty Nick,” she said.

“Yeah, see you then Sal.”

Nick threw his phone down on the bed and collapsed back into the pillows. Could he really face today? He just wanted to curl up there in a ball for a month, and then… he didn’t know what then. He couldn’t imagine things turning out any better after the month either. And how would he feel seeing Sal today, knowing that sometime in the future he might have to tell her that Jen and he were having a baby! That would clearly put a permanent end to any chances he ever stood of making Sal his. Couldn’t he just go back to yesterday, or the day before, or any time between when he met Sal and last night? Then he’d always had hope that perhaps they could be together, and he’d known the excitement of anticipation, of ‘what would happen if?’

Okay, but he couldn’t just lie there; Sal, Adam and Fay were waiting for him, as were ‘The Quest’ tourists. He’d just lie there for a few more minutes in the hope that his head would feel less like it was splitting in two, and then he’d jump in the shower.

Nick picked up an excitable Sal on his motorbike, and he arrived at Adam’s house to more chatter and enthusiasm when all three of them got together. He felt as if he were viewing the scene from above, as he didn’t feel part of this lively, every day scene, in which everything was normal for the people involved. It was as if someone had placed a huge lead weight in his chest that was bearing down on him constantly. He became like a robot, automatically answering questions and smiling at the right times to appear as if everything were fine. But inside he was crying out for help, and desperately wanted to ask his closest friends for it. Conversely however, he needed to hide the pregnancy from the three of them, of all people, because it was Sal, Adam and Fay whose respect he wanted the most. Finally, they had all piled into Adam’s car and now, at least for the next forty five minutes, Nick could pretty much sit in the back with his own thoughts until they reached Heraklion.

After passing the airport on the main highway, Adam turned immediately and headed towards Heraklion city centre, making another turn just before the mayhem of the main square, to progress down Knossos street, leading to the famous Palace of Knossos. Knossos Street, became considerably more rural the nearer they got to the palace, with areas of fields and olive groves to be seen stretching out on either side of them.

“Round about here you should be telling the guests about Authur Evans’s villa over there Nick,” Fay reminded him, pointing to a collection of white washed buildings, half hidden by trees, to the right of them. “And maybe mentioning the fact that underneath most of the land that can be seen all around us now lies the ancient city of Knossos.”

“Yes Nick, come on,” Sal said, nudging him. “You can just pretend me and Adam are like dumb tourists and know nothing.”

“Err, Sal, I hate to admit it, but we are like dumb tourists and we do know nothing…about Knossos anyway. Shame on me, I should have taken time off work to do this before now,” Adam commented.

“Yeah sorry,” Nick said, running a hand over his face. “I’ll start from here.”

For not the first time that day, Sal glanced at Nick with concern. Something just wasn’t right with him.

“So, Fay is correct, the Greek government just doesn’t have the money to excavate the whole site. Remember that we are going to see the palace, which was the centre and most important building in the ancient city, but below us for miles around, are the remains of all the other city buildings and houses etcetera. And opps, yes, we have just passed the villa of Sir Authur Evans, the English gentleman who devoted practically all of his wealth and many, many years of his life to the excavation of the Palace of Knossos. Did I miss anything out Fay?” he asked.

“Oh boy, if you did, she will pick up on it,” Adam warned.

“That’s okay; I could do with someone to fill in the bits that I miss,” Nick said.

“You know what, at this stage, I would just stress what an amazing find the Palace was and how incredibly old it is, dating back to 1900BC. Considering how advanced the facilities of the Palace were, it makes the age of it even more amazing. People have said that if a modern day person were to ‘book’ into one of the palace rooms as it is now, they would enjoy practically all the comforts of a modern day hotel room,” Fay pointed out.

“Cool, let’s book in,” Sal chuckled. “I’ve never stayed in a palace before.”

“Hmm, I somehow don’t think that’s allowed Sal,” Fay replied. “You could also mention that Evans began excavations in 1900, and maybe that he came up with the idea of the Minoan civilization which inhabited Knossos, naming it after the mythical King Minos, who was supposed to have ruled Crete. Oh and also that he discovered two types of ancient script which he named Linear A and Linear B, and that Linear A, used by the people of Knossos, is still not understood.”

“Yeah, I should have thought of that. I really should have brought a pen and notebook,” Nick admitted.

Fay went into her handbag and pulled out those exact objects, passing them over her shoulder to him.

Adam laughed. “She’s damn organized too.”

They parked the car in the main car park for the Palace, which was only a few minutes walk away from the entrance. The section of road between the car park and the entrance was lined with tavernas and souvenir shops, selling every kind of ornament, poster and guide book relating to the palace. At the entrance, they strolled under a shaded walkway of vertical wooden posts, supporting an open lattice roof, and emerged into a courtyard where they found the ticket booth, the Palace’s official souvenir shop and a café.

“Here,” Nick said, reaching into the pocket of his shorts and pulling out his wallet, “go get us four tickets, and see if you can sweet talk the guy into giving us a company discount,” he said, taking out a fifty Euro note and handing it to Fay.

She frowned at it. “No, don’t be silly, we can pay for ours.”

Nick shook his head. “No, you’re doing me a favour; I’ll pay.”

“No you won’t,” Adam cut in. “You get as many ideas as you can off Fay and then you can do the Knossos tours for us, so we will pay this time. You can pay for us when you rake in all the money from the quest.”

Nick looked down at the fifty Euro note that was still in his hand, thought for a moment, and then shrugged, slipping it back into his wallet.

“You’re the boss,” he said.

“Ha ha, yes he is,” Sal grinned, watching Fay and Adam approach the ticket booth.

It was then, when Nick had time to think again, that the anguish of his situation hit him once more, and all the more so for having seen a man sitting in the café with a baby on his knee.

Sal turned just in time to see the look of utter turmoil on Nick’s face and her heart thudded with concern.

“Nick, what’s wrong?” Sal said, taking hold of his arm.

He checked himself, running a hand over his face. “It’s nothing; I’m just tired,” he replied.

No, she wasn’t buying that at all.

“Hold on a sec,” she said, rushing up to Fay and Adam who were waiting in the queue for tickets. “We’ll be back in about ten or fifteen minutes,” she told Fay, “we’re just going to look in some of the souvenir shops across the road.”

“No problem,” Fay replied. “We will be a while in this queue anyway, and then we’ll probably just get a drink.”

“Okay, we’ll meet you in the café,” Sal answered, rushing back to Nick. “Come here, I want to talk to you,” she said, grabbing him by the hand and leading him, heart pumping, back out to the road. They walked a little way back towards the car park, until Sal spotted a low brick wall in the tiny garden of a padlocked building. She stopped there and took a seat, pulling Nick down next to her.

“What’s up?” he said, trying his best to sound as if nothing were wrong as far as he was concerned.

“Nick,” she sighed, taking hold of his hand again. “I care about you, and I know you pretty well by now, which is why I know there is something very wrong.”

He stared at her, completely at a loss as to what to do or say. He wanted so badly to share his problem with her, but he just couldn’t. Finally, so strung with tension, he exhaled loudly and hung his head in his hands.

“Oh Nick,” she said, putting her arms around his shoulders and resting her head against his arm, “what is upsetting you so much? You can tell me you know, whatever it is.”

“Thanks Sal,” he said simply, resting his cheek against her head.

Why wouldn’t he tell her?

“Is it your father?” she asked. “Is that what is making you so sad?”

He had to say something.

“Yes,” he said finally, sitting back up. She dropped her arms but sat beside him, watching him intently. “Partly, It’s my father, and ….just everything at the moment. It’s all getting on top of me I guess.”

Taking his hand again, she lifted it to her mouth, pressing a kiss there and then resting her cheek against the back of his hand, before looking up at him with incredible sympathy.

“I’m here sweetheart, when you need me. I’ll always be here for you,” she said.

Damn it, he couldn’t cry. Not there, and mostly because he was afraid that if he broke down, he’d end up telling her about Jen. But what she’d just said was the exact thing that he feared most: that she wouldn’t be there for him once she found out about a baby.

“I’m just so worried I’ll upset you and push you away,” he suddenly blurted out.

“What?” Where did that come from? “Don’t be silly. Me? I won’t get upset with you,” she smiled.

He suddenly needed to know how she would react if she found out that he was going to father Jen’s child. Maybe she would still stick by him. Maybe it wouldn’t affect them. Oh God, but it probably would.

“You’re kind of the only thing that makes sense in my life,” he went on. “I don’t want to let you down.”

A frown flickered across Sal’s brow, a frown from both confusion and the pain that she was feeling for him. Her eyes intensified to the brightest green, searching his frantically, trying to understand him.

“You won’t let me down; you couldn’t,” she assured him.

“But what if I did, it’s just that it wasn’t deliberate?” he asked.

“Then it would be out of your hands, and not your fault, and I’d forgive you this terrible thing that you are supposedly going to do,” she laughed, trying to lighten his mood.

It worked. With her, it always worked. Her words made everything so incredibly simple, as though by just saying them, she could make it happen, and in that moment he believed her. Maybe she really would be there for him. For the time being at least, she’d taken a huge weight off his shoulders and he felt free again.

He smiled back at her and gave a small laugh. She laughed too.

“Come here silly,” she said, reaching out for him again, and hugging him around the middle. He put his arms around her, feeling her soft ‘Sal’ curves against him, and inhaling her perfume as he kissed the top of her head. It was so comforting just being with her. “Nothing is going to go wrong, and I’m never going to desert you; we’re friends forever, remember?” she said, nuzzling against him.

“For sure,” he replied. “Sorry Sal… for being stupid.”

She leant back from him. “You’re not stupid, and you can talk to me any time, about anything. Okay? But for now I think that Adam and Fay will be waiting, and you, my bestest friend, oh and the ‘best rep…” she paused and tutted at herself, “…in the world,” she laughed, “have got the most amazing ancient palace of Europe to show me round.”

“Yeah, come on,” he said, jumping up off the wall and throwing an arm over her shoulder as they strolled back towards the entrance. “Best rep in the world eh?” he chuckled.


© 2013 Repgreece


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Added on January 21, 2013
Last Updated on January 21, 2013
Tags: love, romance, fun, summer, friends

Off The Cretan Track