|17| Lumache

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|17| - "Last night shouldn't have happened." -

It didn't end there. We had sex twice more before finally falling asleep, and then once more in the middle of the night. It was like we knew that the morning would be a new day, and with the new day came the pressure to address our issues.

Each time had been more intense than the last. It was almost as though we were competing with each other. We became braver, too, exploring more than we'd ever done before I had to call it quits, drop my guard, and tell him to stop. He didn't comment on it, just kissed my cheek in what was an unusually tender moment compared to the rest of the night.

I woke before Nathan later that morning, parts of me sore that had never been sore before. It was late morning, an hour later in Italy, so I clambered out of bed and reached into my bag for my pill. I was never too obsessive about taking it at exactly the same time every day—as long as it was within the hour—but after last night, I wasn't prepared to take chances.

After washing it down with some water, I tugged open the bedside table drawer to drop the packet inside, and my eyes landed on a packet of a different kind. The words screamed out at me.


When I lifted up the box, I saw just two cigarettes remaining. I was no expert on the quantity of cigarettes per packet, but I was sure it was more than four—and I highly doubted Nathan had bought a new packet of cigarettes, just to smoke two and hand the others away.

It brought all the issues back to the forefront of my mind. Maybe the smoking hadn't bothered me, but it was the smoking that had caused Marie's interference to come to light. I'd tried to ignore it last night, tried to pretend everything was normal. But I had to take Jess' advice. I had to get it out in the open.

Dropping the cigarettes back into the drawer and slamming it shut, I left my pill on top of the bedside table and then snuggled beneath the covers. I planned to scroll through my phone until he woke up—no matter how much I wanted to run away.

Louisa had messaged me several hours earlier, asking how I was, and I tapped out a quick reply.

- I slept with him last night. I'm so weak.

At the time, I'd felt strong and sexy. I'd felt on top of the world, like nothing was too much for me. In the light of day, I realised how caught up I'd been.

- Don't stress about it. I used to have the same problem myself.

I couldn't even bring myself to smile. We'd come a long way in the past couple of years, now able to joke about Louisa's dark past with Nathan. I just wasn't in the joking mood.

When I tried to pull the covers tighter over my shoulders, Nathan stirred behind me. He must have realised I was awake because his arm curled over my waist, his fingers spanning my stomach.


"Morning," I whispered back.

Nathan shuffled closer, nestling his face in the crook of my neck, before brushing his lips against my ear.

"Last night was out of this world... The things you did, the things you said... It was unbelievable."

"Last night shouldn't have happened."

He stilled for a few moments, and I held my breath. I hadn't meant for it to come out like that, but it had been said now. I couldn't take it back.

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