|09| - "Was it really that dirty?" -
In the first week of December, Nathan made his final trip to Italy for the year. It would also be the final time we saw each other before Christmas, and the break between this trip and my return home would be the longest period apart we'd gone so far.
With that in mind, we were determined to pack as much into the trip as we could, starting off with the Christmas market in Bologna.
When I'd imagined Christmas markets, I always had this very specific image of areas full of wooden huts, decorated with lights. A huge Christmas tree would loom over the square while people wrapped up winter clothes would weave in between all the stalls, cupping drinks of mulled wine to stay warm. Christmas carols would blare out of hidden speakers, adding an extra element to the seasonal environment, and snow would begin to fall, coating the streets in pure white.
Bologna Christmas market wasn't quite like that. Then again, I wasn't in Germany, where my stereotypical vision of a Christmas market had likely stemmed from—according to Nathan.
It was cold, but it wasn't snowing. There was a huge tree, though, and Nathan and I spent some time trying to take a decent selfie underneath it before a kind Russian man offered to take the photo for us.
In terms of the wooden huts, there were several stalls—some of them made from wood—but they weren't as tightly packed together as I'd imagined, failing to create that little Christmas city that my head had conjured up. Nevertheless, they sold some lovely things, and Nathan and I made a good dent in our Christmas shopping by purchasing some traditional Italian delicacies before stopping for a drink.
"It's nice," he said.
"No—well, yes, the wine, too—but I meant the Christmas market. They've made a good effort."
"I know," I agreed. "I just wish it wasn't so damn freezing."
"Oh, stop your whinging. You're guaranteed to have a better summer than England so a little bit of cold won't harm you."
"Little bit of cold? My toes are numb."
"We're obviously not doing enough walking, then."
"And what about my fingers?"
"What about them?"
"They feel like they're about to fall off."
He smiled at my dramatic attitude but shuffled his chair closer, before taking the wine glass from my hand and setting it on the table.
"Here," he said, unzipping his jacket and then curling his fingers around my wrists.
Slowly, more so for his benefit than mine, Nathan pulled my hands towards him and then slid them beneath his top. His warm skin contracted at my icy touch, but he kept hold of my wrists, encouraging me not to move them.
When my fingers began to thaw, the sensation returned to them, and what had started as an innocent way to warm me up turned into something more intimate. My eyes remained on Nathan's, but my fingers were spanning the contours of his six pack, gliding over his smooth skin and exploring his body in a way that felt exciting to do in public.
My hands were warmer now, and the rest of my body had a hot thrill running through it, too.
"I think I'm good now," I said, my voice coming out much lower than I intended.