|33| - "We've always made a great team." -
When Nathan asked if I had any preference over how to spend my final days in Italy, one thing in particular sprung to mind.
"If it's okay with you, I'd love to go back to that lake."
He rolled over in bed to face me, propping himself up on his elbow. "Of course it's okay. Why wouldn't it be?"
Shrugging, I reached to brush some longer strands of his blonde hair away from his eyes.
"It's your place. I know you've taken me there before, shared it with me, but it still holds personal significance to you. I don't want to tarnish that or risk turning it into something it's not."
"You wouldn't, Bella." Nathan smiled and threaded his fingers through mine, squeezing my hand. "I actually love that you want to go back there. It is special to me, and so are you. What could be better?"
In truth, I'd worried that I was forcing myself into a chapter of Nathan's life that had been special to him before we'd met. Yes, we were in a relationship, but that didn't mean he was obligated to share every part of his past with me. I hadn't always been with him, and it sometimes felt like an intrusion to delve into parts of his life that existed before me.
"Want to go today?" he asked, easing my concern.
Half an hour later, we were showered and dressed. Jasmine had left in the very early hours, claiming that she'd found an ideal spot to watch the sun rise with Sean. It all sounded very romantic—even if it was for photography purposes and she had nobody else to go with.
Abbie and Ant had left Italy the previous week, and despite Meg's icy exterior gradually defrosting over the course of the year, her friendship with Jasmine wasn't quite at the level where they would enjoy an early morning trek to watch the sun rise together.
Not wanting to third-wheel with Nathan and me, that had only left Sean to accompany her. Despite her half-hearted attempt at justifying it, Jasmine seemed pretty happy with the arrangement. They hadn't put a label on their romance, but neither of them seemed bothered by that kind of formality.
Nathan and I grabbed breakfast en route to the station and I gave him one final chance to change his mind.
"You said the lake was very tranquil. We could go there this time?"
"Probably not quite so tranquil at this time of year," Nathan replied. "Let's go to the church first, and then we'll have some idea of how busy it is at the shore."
Doing the journey in summer rather than winter was like an entirely different experience. Vibrant colours whizzed past the train windows and the mountainous drive up to the church didn't feel quite as perilous in the bright, midday sunshine, beneath blue skies.
Climbing out of the taxi at the church, the air was still and birds chirped within the trees. Despite the seasonal differences, though, the sensational view over the lake struck me just as powerfully as the first time I'd seen it.
"I don't think I will ever see a view that beats this one," I said to Nathan.
He chuckled. "It's special. There are so many other places to see in the world, though. We've got lots more exploring to do."
"True. And a whole lifetime to do it."
We cuddled under the shade of the trees, not feeling the need to say anything. The view spoke for itself. Even this high up, I could just about make out movement along the lake's shoreline, so Nathan hadn't been wrong with his prediction about how busy it would be.