|06| Conchiglioni

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That was Nathan: an addictive, intoxicating substance that hit me harder every time.

And, judging by the things he whispered in my ear about what he wanted to do to me, it seemed he felt the same way.

☼ ☼

"I can't believe there are Christmas decorations up already," I said with a sigh as we strolled hand-in-hand down the festive streets of London.

"People like to milk it. Christmas comes but once a year, so we'll try to make it last as long as possible."

"It tricks me into thinking I'm home for Christmas, though," I said. "Feels weird that everywhere is festive, and yet I'll be flying back to Italy soon—not actually coming home for Christmas for over a month yet."

Nathan chuckled and squeezed my hand. "Just think: by Christmas, you'll be a third of the way through your Year Abroad."

There was no particular purpose for our trip into town; more than anything, it was a chance to get out of the flat—or, rather, Nathan's bedroom. Spending time in bed together, whether it was just for cuddling or more strenuous activities, was nice enough, but we were both conscious of me wasting my weekend by not venturing outside of the four walls.

When we sat down in a café to grab a bite to eat, Nathan began filling me in on the latest developments of his work Christmas party.

"So, they're thinking seven places," he said. "You know, lucky number seven and all that."

"Seven?" I repeated, tipping the orange juice from my Tropicana bottle into the glass that I'd been provided with. "That's a lot, isn't it?"

He shrugged. "I think it's pretty standard for a bar crawl. The whole point is that you visit a lot of places."

"Suppose so. Presumably you don't spend much time in each bar, then?"

"That's the idea," he said, before taking a bite out of his sandwich. After he'd swallowed, he elaborated. "It's supposed to be a challenge, I think. You have, say, half an hour in each place, and everyone has to have at least one drink."

"And finish it during that half hour?"

He nodded. "Exactly. Our last stop is a club, and we stay there for however long we want. So, if you want to sneak off early, you can get away with it. If you want to stay until lights on, then that's fine, too."

I chuckled. "Sounds like uni, drinking competitions and all that."

"Who says you have to be a student to get the uni experience?" he said, winking at me.

"Oh, please," I replied with a laugh. "You've been sponging off my university experience for two years now."

He laughed and wiped at his mouth with the edge of his serviette. Nathan, being the outgoing soul that he was, would probably enjoy his bar crawl, whereas it would be my idea of Hell.

"I'm sure it'll be fun," I said, knowing it would be for him and wanting to show my support.

"Hopefully, as long as it's run properly. There's nothing worse than a disorganised event where you're constantly having to round people up before moving on."

As we finished off our lunch, he started to tell me about the official Christmas party—the one that the company was organising, likely to be a lot more classy than Nathan's team event. It was to be held in an old Victorian building in Central London and included a three course meal, then a dance.

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