Off The Cretan Track chapter 9

Off The Cretan Track chapter 9

A Chapter by Repgreece

Sal sleeps in by mistake


Nick sat at the bar in The Wheelhouse and sighed, flipping the beer mat in front of him for the umpteenth time. Ruth dived across the bar and swiped the beer mat off him.

"What on earth is wrong with you Nick? You've been driving me to distraction all morning!"

"I'm bored," he sighed again.

"Good God, you've only been back one day! I thought you were going to get yourself a bike? Why don't you go out for a volta or something?" she suggested.

"Can't," he sulked, "not picking the bike up until later this afternoon."

Ruth rolled her eyes. "Well, what about meeting someone for lunch then?"

"Everyone's working," he said, reaching for the beer mat in Ruth's hand. She held it away from him.

"What about Sal? She's not working today," Ruth pointed out.

He hesitated. "She was supposed to meet me for breakfast but she never turned up. No big deal."

Ruth frowned. "I'm sure there was a good reason why Nick, she wouldn't have done it on purpose. You know Sal; she's probably just overslept."

"Yeah well like I said, no big deal," he repeated.

"Hmm." Ruth looked at him dubiously. "So, did you two have fun last night?"

"Yeah, it was alright," he replied with little enthusiasm.

"Where did you go?"

He shrugged. "Just to Mardi Gras."

"Anywhere else?" she grinned.

"Nope," he said, finishing his coffee and cringing at the taste of the lukewarm liquid.

Ruth crossed her arms on the bar and leant closer to him. "You two were spotted Nick. You know what this town is like; a late night swim never goes unnoticed."

Nick looked a bit uneasy for a moment. "Well, it was hot. I'm not used to this heat."

Ruth didn't look convinced. "You'd better be careful Nick; if Jen hears that kind of gossip, you'll be in trouble."

"She knows that Sal and me are just friends...and besides, we were both fully clothed at the time," he stressed. Ruth watched him for a moment as he traced the handle of his coffee mug absentmindedly.

"When is Jen coming back then?" she asked.

"End of the week," he replied, keeping his eyes on the coffee mug.

"So, you two got back together then?"

He nodded.

"Do you think you'll stay together for the whole summer?" She was pushing him and perhaps interfering a little too much, but she couldn't help herself.

"You never know," he said, looking up at her with a smile that went far from reaching his eyes.

"Do you want to stay with her?" she asked, noticing his expression. He sighed, a little frustrated with all the questions, most of which he didn't know how to answer.

"You know what's funny?" he began bitterly. "The crazy woman keeps coming back to me!"

"You sound surprised," she observed.

"Well, we haven't exactly been getting on; I kind of expected her to give up before now," he said, handing her the mug and indicating for her to pour him another coffee. She took the mug but showed no signs of moving away at that moment.

"And what about you Nick? You sound as if you're just staying with her because she keeps coming back to you."

"Well, not exactly. You know Ruth, I just want to make a success of something," he confided. "I seem to have messed up everything else in my life, so I thought I'd try and make this thing work for once. And she seems to want it to work too...I guess. She must do or she wouldn't keep fixing things between us."

"So, may I ask why you have to keep fixing things?"

"I don't know," he sighed. "She wants to do her things, and I want to do mine. But I try to show an interest in her friends... and I even went to meet her parents! Sometimes though I'd just like it to be the two of us. I thought that we'd have more time to spend together when we went back to England. I mean, before that it was always work that came between us here. Okay, I get it that she's dedicated to her job and all, that's a good thing right? It's just that her job here seems to take over, and then any free time she has she's trying to catch up with the rest of the reps. So in all of that, when do we get time to spend together? Maybe I'm just being selfish and unrealistic," he concluded.

Ruth looked surprised at the rush of words that had come out of Nick's mouth. He wasn't one for talking about his feelings at all. Everything with Nick appeared to be casual. He'd talk about the football or his bike, he'd ask about who'd been in the bar that day and he'd tell jokes or tease the female workers; but beyond that, he kept his feelings to himself. He had briefly mentioned to Ruth that his father was ill before returning to the UK last November, but then he'd added that they never saw each other anyway and that neither of them was bothered about that. Ruth had read between the lines nonetheless, but anyone who didn't know Nick would say that he was quite shallow. Ruth knew different.

"You know what I think?" Ruth came out with suddenly. "I think that you're really just a big softie underneath," she said, briefly stroking his cheek with the back of her hand, "and what you really want is just someone to share your life with, to share the ups and downs with grow old with you, sit by the fire with you and bring you cups of tea when you're too doddery to manage it yourself," she teased.

He pulled a face. "Are you kidding? That will never happen. More likely I'd need someone to lift me onto my bike and hop on the back before we go cruising off into the sunset."

"Ha! Got you! See, you're just an old romantic at heart!" she exclaimed. He tutted but smiled.

"But you know," she continued, "maybe Jen isn't the 'jump on the bike and cruise into the sunset' type. And I don't think that she's going to change; she's too set in her ways. She has her life all nicely organized: house, job, social network, and I get the feeling that she's comfortable with that. But she can't make you happy with that, anymore than you can make her happy with what you want."

Nick's eyes hovered on Ruth's until someone from the other end of the bar called out for another drink. Ruth looked reluctant to move for a moment.

"Pass me that newspaper over there will you on your way back?" Nick said, reverting to his usual casual self.

Ruth smiled, realising that perhaps she had said enough. "Sure, and I'll bring you that coffee too."

Ruth placed a pile of newspapers and another coffee in front of Nick and went back down the bar to talk to the customers there. He searched through the papers but found that he had read most of them already as none of them were new, so he settled for reading the Athens News which printed a lot of its articles in English.

He turned the pages with little hope of finding anything interesting to read; that was until a small article in the left hand side of one page caught his eye. He chuckled to himself as he read it, but afterwards he found nothing else of interest, so he placed the paper down on the bar and picked up his mug to take a sip of coffee. As boredom began to set in once more however, he found his eyes returning to the newspaper on the bar in front of him. Searching through the pages again, he found the article and read it for a second time. He contemplated the article for a while as the seed of an idea began to grow in his head, after which he finally jumped off his bar stool, grabbed the newspaper and moved over to the PC in the corner of the room.

He was still engrossed in the website that he'd found when Sal burst into the bar half an hour later.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry Nick. Will you ever forgive me?" she exclaimed, collapsing into a chair not far from him. He moved his head briefly to look at her and then turned his attention back to the screen.

"Nick, I'm really sorry. My alarm didn't go off, or I forgot to set it, I'm not sure which... but I slept in," she grimaced.

"Don't worry," he shrugged, keeping his eyes on the screen.

She frowned. "You're angry with me," she observed. "And you have every right to be...I mean, there I was last night going on about never letting you down and now I've kind of done it," she finished slowly as she realised the truth in her words. "But it was only a mistake," she said forcefully, "I'd never really let you down on something big Nick. And you know I didn't do it on purpose; you do know that I didn't do it on purpose don't you?"


"Nick," she said, touching his arm and urging him to look at her. "I had such a good time last night. I haven't had so much fun in ages and I loved the time we spent together. You had fun too didn't you?" she asked hesitantly.

"Yeah, it was good to catch up with everyone," he replied, matter of factly.

It was good to catch up with him. Why was he being like that? They got on so well last night, but now he hated her!

"Nick," she began again.

He interrupted her abruptly. "Sal, sorry but I'm busy with something here." She watched him for a while and then slipped off her chair and slowly made her way to the bar.

He sat with his hands poised over the keyboard, having completely lost track of what he was going to type in. Turning his head slightly, he glanced out of the corner of his eyes to the bar where she was standing. Ruth hadn't noticed her, and most of the people were sitting at the far end, and yet she simply stood at the bar on her own with her eyes lowered. He suddenly felt a sense of remorse and left the computer to join her.

"Hey!" he said, jumping up behind her, "want to know something really exciting?"

She moved away from him to lean forward over the bar so he went around her and leant backwards against the side to see her face. She turned her head away suddenly and called over to Ruth, however, he could have sworn that he saw tears in her eyes before she moved.

"Sal, what's wrong?" he said, moving to the other side of her to look at her face again. "I have a hangover, I'm going to splash my face with water," she said, abruptly brushing him to one side and heading down the bar.

It was only minutes later when he found himself following her. He stopped when he came to the open door of the ladies room and saw her leaning over the washbasin with her head down. She jumped when he nudged the door open further to get a closer look at her and she ran her hands quickly over her face. Moving into the room, he took hold of her by both arms and she looked up at him in surprise.

"Are you crying?" he asked bluntly.

"Don't be stupid!" she said, turning back to the sink and proceeding to splash water onto her face. "I told you, I'm just hungover." He wasn't sure that she was telling him the truth; she seemed to be avoiding him a lot. He pulled a paper towel out of the dispenser and handed it to her with a smile.

"You know what'll cure your hangover?" A glass of orange juice to get the vitamins and sugar back into you, and a couple of aspirin. Ruth's got some; they'll be waiting for you on the bar when you come out," he said, putting a hand in her hair and reaching forward to kiss her on the cheek before leaving the room. She watched him go and her face slowly lit up with a smile.

© 2011 Repgreece

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Added on July 9, 2011
Last Updated on July 9, 2011

Off The Cretan Track