Chapter 20- Fun In The Sun (Previously entitled 'Off The Cretan Track' ) Edited and extra chapters.

Chapter 20- Fun In The Sun (Previously entitled 'Off The Cretan Track' ) Edited and extra chapters.

A Chapter by Repgreece

When they reached the sunbeds again, Nick sat down once more and Sal went to sit on the bed next to his, however, before she could lower herself onto the sunbed, he reached out and caught hold of her hand.

"Come and sit here for a moment," he said, leading her around to his side and encouraging her to sit next to him.

She sat down and he smiled at her, but she could see, even in the semi darkness, the tension and nervousness in his face.

"Nick," she put her hand over his, "You don't have to tell me. I think I might have overreacted. I just got a bit frustrated because..."

As Sal continued to talk, Nick really wasn't listening to her. He had already decided that he was going to tell her anyway. He just took those extra moments, while she was chatting, to consider how to begin explaining it all to her.

"...well, because you never open up to me. I'd just like it if you could confide in me a bit more, that's all. But I really don't want to make you feel uncomfortable or anything like that, I wouldn't …"

"Shhh," he said suddenly, putting a finger over her lips, "before I change my mind. I'm going to tell you," he informed her.

She fell silent for a moment, watching him with surprise. "Okay," she said simply.

He took a deep breath and reached to hold her hand again. "I just..." he paused for a moment and drew in another breath nervously. "Can you just promise me something, Sal?"

"What?" she asked, noticing her own anxiety rising to reflect his.

She felt his hold on her hand tighten then. "Don't let any of this change the way you think about me. I'm still the same person you know now."

It suddenly occurred to Sal then that she might have misjudged the gravity of what he was about to tell her. It was going to be something big, she could just sense it, and she needed to respond in the right way. It was very important that she did that. But it wasn't by any means her fear of seeing him differently afterwards that concerned her at all, it was fear that she wouldn't know how to react when he told her, or worse, that she would react in the wrong way.

"Nothing will make me change how I think about you," she assured him. "I know you pretty well, Nick... well, the most important things at least. I know you wouldn't do anything bad; not on purpose anyway."

"It's not really so much about what I did," he said, releasing her hand, "it's about my background. My family... my father..."

Her nervousness doubled on hearing that; she was nervous for Nick's safety, or his safety in the past anyway. What had Nick's father done?

"Well, that won't affect how I see you then, will it?" she said, determined to reassure him. "You're not in control of what your family do," she pointed out.

He didn't look so certain. "Yes, but their actions seem to reflect on all family members somehow. But, you're right though, it wasn't me. I did everything I could to stop it," he stressed.

Oh God, what was it?

She nodded, unable to really comment for not knowing what she was commenting on.

The silence seemed to stretch on and he knew this was it; he had to tell her.

"Just say it, right?" he said, repeating her earlier advice as if to give himself courage enough to do it.

She nodded. "Yes, just say it."

He had intended to look straight at Sal when he was telling her, but at the last minute he just couldn't and he stared over her shoulder, fixing his eyes on the palm trees and outlines of the buildings beyond.

"My father is a drug addict," he said, hating the words he was saying.

She hadn't expected that for some reason, and in one way, it was sort of a relief; at least his father hadn't physically hurt him or anything. However, in another way, the effect of watching him say that hit her more than she was prepared for because he looked ashamed. He had nothing to be ashamed of but he looked it nonetheless. That wasn't like Nick. He was the "best in the universe" at everything. He was a proud man and he had every right to be; he was a great guy. But right now, he looked so dejected. That was so hard for her to see and it brought tears to her eyes. But no, she had to hold them back. Forcing her emotions down, she closed her eyes for a moment and swallowed, then spoke to him, holding his hand.

"But that's not you," she said firmly. "You're not a drug addict, Nick. You're strong, I know you, and besides, you must be to have got through this and built a good life for yourself out here."

"Yeah, but I can't be that strong, can I?" he came back. "I left the UK, left him there. I feel pretty bad about that," he admitted, glancing downwards at the sand. "But Sal," he began with more energy then, looking up at her, "I tried everything to stop him, but he just wouldn't stop. I tried to get him treatment, but he wouldn't go. I begged him, I threatened him, nothing worked. And in the end, I just couldn't bear watching him destroy himself... so I left and came here."

"Oh Nick, there was nothing you could do? Like you said, you tried to help him, but you have a right to a life as well. You have the right to be happy. Everyone has the right for a chance at happiness," she reasoned.

"I know what you're saying, and I know it makes sense, but how can I stop myself from feeling guilty?" he asked her.

Funny, she had thought that she could find an answer for anything, but for that, she had absolutely no idea what the answer was.

"What about your mother?" she asked suddenly. It seemed strange that he hadn't mentioned her. Surely she had to help in some way. Why should Nick feel like he needed to shoulder all the blame and responsibility?

He shrugged, "She left, I don't really blame her, I left too."

Sal thought for a moment. "Ok, but you're still in touch with her, aren't you?" she replied.

He glanced away and shook his head.

She gasped. "But why?"

This was probably the hardest part for him.

"She couldn't take it, being with my dad," he said, not knowing what else to add.

She frowned and, with almost a feeling of panic, she asked, "Yes, but why does that mean that you and her aren't in touch?"

He groaned, finally answering reluctantly, "She left a long time ago. I was pretty young when she left. We just lost contact."

"How young?" she asked. "How young were you?"

He knew she would push this and keep asking questions. To be fair, he was in fact attempting to conceal part of it all from her. He just didn't want it to sound so bad. Nevertheless, he knew Sal wasn't going to let this go.

"Eight... or something like that," he said with a dismissive gesture.

"Eight!" she exclaimed. "She left you with him when you were eight!"

He sighed. "Yep."

"But why didn't she take you with her?" Sal asked.

"I dunno, Sal, do I? I never got the chance to ask her!" he snapped.

In the back of her head, Sal realized that her earlier resolution to react in the right way to his news had gone right out of the window at that point; she was just so shocked by what he was telling her that she was struggling to take it all in.

"I'm sorry," he relented, seeing the look on her face. "I just... I don't know why she didn't take me, Sal."

"But...but..." she stammered, "well, who looked after you then?"

He turned more on the sunbed then to face her directly and took both of her hands in his. "Sal, you have to understand, I could very easily have been put into care. Everything in my life was falling apart but at least I had my home, my friends nearby, and my dad. Okay, so my dad wasn't so great but I couldn't stand the thought of being taken away somewhere strange and being so helpless. At least at home I had some control over what happened to me."

"But who looked after you?" she repeated weakly in a whisper as her voice caught in her throat and she felt the prickle of tears forming in her eyes again.

"I looked after us, but it was okay," he assured her. "I was a pretty bad cook," he laughed, an attempt at lightening the mood, "but we survived." He sighed, "it was later that was tough though...I mean, I think the hardest thing about my dad was, I feel like I failed him... because I couldn't get him to stop and then I left him. But it's so hard to love an addict you know because, there is only one thing that is most important to them, only one thing they value and want... and that's the drugs." A silence followed his words; it was an eerie, empty hollowness as the truth in what he had said hung in the air.

The thought of his mother abandoning him, and his father being too engrossed in his own gratifications to love his son was too much for Sal at that moment and she lost her battle to keep her emotions in check as tears began streaming from her eyes. Damn it, she had vowed she wouldn't allow that to happen but she just couldn't stop it.

It took Nick a moment to realize what was happening, but the silence and stillness in Sal made him glance up at her to see the tears falling down her cheeks.

Somehow, the fact that she was sitting so still and silent while the tears poured down, affected him more. She wasn't sobbing and weeping and wailing dramatically, it was just a genuine release of compassion. He had never seen an outpouring of such genuine sadness from someone before. The look on her face, her tears and her sorrowful eyes tugged at his heart which reached out for her, wanting to protect her from all the hurt and pain in the world. She was too kindhearted for it all.

"Oh, sweet Sally, sweetheart, don't cry for me. I don't want you to be sad," he said emotionally.

Instinctively he moved closer, taking her face in his hands. His fingers became entwined with her shimmering, droplet earrings as he gently wiped away her tears with his thumbs. But the more he wiped them away, the more they kept falling from those beautiful green eyes that were shining back at him, bursting with emotion.

"Sal, come on, don't get so upset. I'm okay now," he assured her.

"But I wish I had been there for you. If I had been there, I could have done something," she said.

"What could you have done, eh, little eight-year-old Sal?" He smiled at the thought of her as a child.

"I would have done something," she said defiantly with absolute conviction, sitting back to wipe the tears from her eyes.

He chuckled. "You know, I think you probably would have too."

"I would," she agreed. Then her spirits lifted slightly at a thought. "I made a little den to play in down in our basement. I made it really nice in there. You could have stayed in my den."

He laughed. "Thanks, Sal."

"You're welcome," she chuckled.

He touched her cheek briefly then in an affectionate gesture.

"I may have had a tough time then but look at me now, I've got you, the best friend a guy could ask for, willing to give up your den for me," he smiled. "And I live in this beautiful place," he said, glancing around at the beach, the palm trees and the sparkling water. "And I have Fay and Adam, and Ruth and all my other friends..."

"And Jen," Sal added.

"Of course, and Jen," he confirmed.

"I have a wonderful life," he summed up. "I'm the luckiest man in the..." He was going to say 'world' but changed his mind and finished, "Universe."

She giggled. He was back to the old Nick again. He was right, he hadn't changed, she just knew him more now.

"I'm sorry," she said suddenly. "And I'm sorry for earlier... and I'm sorry for..."

"For what?" he interrupted, "You haven't done anything."

"Well... but... I shouldn't have cried," she said, wiping the last remnants of tears from her face with her fingers. "I could have been stronger than that." She glanced down at the sunbed.

"Hey," he said, making her look up at him, "don't ever be anything different than what you are, Sal. If you changed, what would I do? I'd have no Sal."

She laughed. "Don't be silly, I'd still be Sal, just the new improved version."

"But it's all your imperfections that I like the most," he smiled.

"All?" she said.

"Hmm?"

"You make it sound like I have a billion imperfections!" she exclaimed.

"Not quite a billion," he grinned.

"Not quite!"

"A few less than a billion," he laughed.

"Thank you very much, Nick!" she said, slapping him on his arm playfully.

He recoiled dramatically, pretending to be hurt. Then a thought occurred to him and he said, "Sal," with a grin beginning to form.

"What?" she asked suspiciously. She had seen that mischievous grin many times before.

"Don't you need to freshen up?" he replied.

She paused for a moment, wondering why he had asked that.

"Maybe cool down, splash some water on your face?" he suggested.

Then it hit her and she edged away from him on the sunbed.

"It's okay," she said, "I feel quite fresh," she assured him.

"Yeah but, you look really hot. I've got an idea..."

She laughed nervously, moving to the far end of the sunbed. "You don't need to worry about it, Nick. I'm perfectly fine," she insisted.

"I'll help you," he said, suddenly jumping up from the sunbed.

She sprung back, stumbled slightly but regained her balance and sprinted across the sand away from him.

She could hear a rush of air behind her just before he caught her with two strong hands around the waist.

She yelped and laughed, gasping for breath as he easily lifted her up and over his shoulder.

"Come on, Sal, time to freshen up," he said, laughing in the most wicked way as he headed towards the water.

"Put me down!" she squealed between hysterical laughter as she wriggled in his grasp, trying without a hope to free herself.

She knew without a doubt where this would end; looks like they were going swimming!



© 2020 Repgreece


Author's Note

Repgreece
If someone could give me some feedback it would help me so much to write more chapters. I'm not sure what the readers think :s

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Added on August 6, 2020
Last Updated on August 6, 2020
Tags: romance, love, fun, friends, summer, beach, travel, vacation, holiday