|14| - "You might have secret admirers, Izzy." -


I'd said I needed time, and I did. Time to let this sink in. Time to work out how I truly felt about the situation once the initial emotions had weakened. Time to decide the next step.

              For the rest of that evening, I didn't emerge from my room. Jasmine didn't bother me, but I could see that the light in the living room remained on for much later than usual.

             She didn't directly ask about Nathan when we ate breakfast together the following morning, either, but she did acknowledge that I might not feel like joining everyone for prosecco later on. 

              "It's totally up to you," she said. "If you'd rather have the place to yourself, I'll go out. If you want me to stay in, we can watch a film together—"

              "Actually," I said, "prosecco would be good."

              Jasmine beamed. "Excellent. It's only the usual place so it'll be pretty chilled."

              I forced a smile. "Sounds great."

              Staying cooped up in the apartment would not help me, and I refused to sit around feeling sorry for myself. Joining the group for drinks would provide a distraction from my niggling thoughts around Nathan and Marie.

              He'd messaged me when I'd woken up. It was a short text, addressing the fact I needed space, but wishing me a good day and letting me know he'd be there as soon as I wanted to talk—no matter what time.

              It had settled me somewhat, but the irony wasn't lost. A week ago, that message would have made my day. I wanted him there to talk to at all hours of the day. Of course, it was completely reasonable that he couldn't message me all the time while working, but that's what had made the lunches and evenings more significant.

              When I suggested to Jasmine that we spend the day on the bucket list, her eyes lit up. Deciding that making pasta would be a great option—fun, challenging yet practical when it came to lining our stomachs later on—we hit the supermarket for ingredients.

              "I'm literally so excited for this," Jasmine said as we queued to pay. "Everything tastes better homemade, right?"

              "I just hope we can pull it off."

              She snorted. "It's pasta. How hard can it be?"

              Very hard, it turned out. Rather than start off with a basic type of pasta, we'd got carried away and decided on tortellini. Even something as simple as rolling out the dough proved challenging.

              "Come on, Izzy, put your back into it."

              It was tearing beneath the rolling pin every time it got close to the thinness that we needed.

              "It's not working," I said through gritted teeth, my knuckles white around the handles.

              Jasmine pursed her lips together as she examined the latest set of ripped dough, before I scrunched it into a ball to start again.

              "How about we try it a little thicker, and do a control piece?" I suggested. "Just make one or two, chuck them in the water, and see what happens?"

              "Yeah, good idea. I think we probably need one of those fancy pasta rollers, really."

              "We'll have to improvise."

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