|03| Penne

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|03| - "Rome wasn't built in a day." -

I'd have had to have been living in a hole-not Italy-in order to remain blissfully unaware of the scepticism surrounding long-distance relationships. Sadly, it seemed that, these days, everyone was more vocal in expressing their unfounded doubts regarding it, rather than adopting a more positive or encouraging attitude.

Countless people had raised a cynical eyebrow when I'd told them I was intending to maintain my relationship while living abroad, almost to the extent that it became annoying. It was as though they were belittling your relationship by saying that it was pointless attempting to keep a romance alive when you weren't living in the same country. By the same token, they were calling you naive and suggesting that it was silly to believe a long-distance relationship had even the remotest potential of working out.

For the most part, I brushed it off with a smile and said that we'd be giving it a go regardless, but what their sceptical reactions actually did was fill me with a fiery desire to prove them wrong. I knew Nathan and I could succeed at this. I knew we were strong enough. Without doubt, it would be difficult at times, but we'd pull through. Then, when we came out the other side, we could face those sceptics with a smile and say to them, "turns out long distance does work, after all."

I was a bundle of excitement as I waited in the arrivals hall at the airport. The large screen informed me that Nathan's flight had finally landed, and I knew it was just a matter of minutes before he walked through those glass doors and we were reunited.

Although three weeks wasn't a huge amount of time to go without seeing one another, it had felt even more intense because of the long-distance situation. Italy and England were more than a train ride away and that instantly made it feel like we were properly separated from each other. On top of that, my first couple of weeks here had been shaky as I tried to find my feet and get used to Italy's many quirks, so it had made me crave Nathan's company and soothing words.

Each time the doors slid open, my heart did a little somersault at the prospect of seeing him walk through. It was, in fact, a decent fifteen minutes later before he emerged, towing his little suitcase behind him. I could instantly tell that something about the flight had irked him but he put a smile on his face as he noticed me behind the barrier, and sped up his pace to greet me.

"Bella." He grinned, letting go of his case to wrap his arms around me.

I wound my own arms around his body, nestling my head in his chest as I inhaled his familiar aftershave. For the first time in two weeks, I felt properly content and relaxed.

As we pulled out of the embrace, Nathan lowered his mouth to mine and gave me a long kiss that would have embarrassed me if we'd been anywhere other than an arrivals hall in an airport.

"How's it going?" he asked me with a cheery smile.

From his expressive eyes, I could tell he was just as happy to see me. I didn't doubt Nathan would miss me, but I knew this experience was going to hit me harder than him. I was the one in an unfamiliar place, by myself; not much in Nathan's life had really changed apart from my location.

"Not too bad," I told him. "How was the flight?"

"Urgh," he scoffed as we headed out of the airport. "EasyJet. What a fucking joke."

"What happened?"

"They made me put my bag in the hold." He shook his head to himself. "It pisses me off because there's no point giving passengers set dimensions for hand luggage if they're gonna make some people put it in the hold anyway. It's just an absolute shambles-so disorganised. We then missed our take-off slot and were just chilling on the tarmac for half an hour."

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