was a lot of that everywhere in that country at that time of year. I’ve never met anEskimo, although I would very much like to and I saw the polar bear in London zoo.”
He was smiling now and she grinned back at him as best she could while stillbattling to cope with the cold.He stopped for a moment, his gaze cast to the tarmac and dust of the pathwayand she realised that, as was often the case, some part of him was still...
“This?” He questioned softly. A lon
g forgotten memory brought a seriousness tohim - being huddled close for warmth with others in a cave at high altitude. There hadbeen a merciless, howling wind outside the cave and the howling of a predator manytimes more deadly than a bear carried by t
he wind. “so bad,
is not that. Cold?
That can be a vicious thing, truly.”
There it is again
; she thought. When he was reflective there was sometimes thetrace of an accent in his voice and his words seemed to tumble into a sentence in anawkward way. It was weird, because although he had told her he was an orphan, hehad never said he came from outside Australia.
“All very well for
to say,” she finally replied as another chilly July gust madeher teeth chatter, “guys are like h
-heaters on l-legs..
She had worn her thin green coat. It had looked great on her in the toastywarmth of her unit back in Preston, but she bitterly regretted wearing it now. She hadactually imagined a walk through the park being just
their meal at arestaurant that was just insanely romantic
even while a saner voice in her mind - italways sounded suspiciously like her mother -
told her she wasn’t dressed for it.
Why do I always do these things
? she thought, finally admitting defeat, ready toconfess she just could take the cold any more...
and yes, it was her idea, and no, shehadn't realised how cold it would be, and she promised she wouldn't do it again eventhough she probably would, because she always did stupid things like that
. Suddenlyher life seemed to made out of teetering, swaying pieces, ready to tumble andshatter and she realised none of this was going to work out because it never, everdid.But then he did something that changed everything.
“You must have this,” he said and removed his leat
her jacket in a fluid, graceful
movement. If she hadn’t known he was a painter she would have thought he was a
“But you’ll be freezing!” she shrieked, trying hard not to stare at the jacket
“I did not realise your discomfort until
now, I don't feel the cold as most people
do,” he stated and continued with dry humour, “and in any case the sound of yourteeth is truly disturbing.”
She laughed at that, but the laughter was cut short, punctuated by a suddengasp as she found him right in close behind her, draping the jacket around her sogently she hardly felt it come to rest upon her shoulders. She could smell hisaftershave and the fresh laundered smell of his clothes, mixed with the faint animalodour of the jacket. The warmth of his breath clouded against the back of her neckand something delicious crackled and charmed down her spine before radiating justabout everywhere.