The Finchbottom Vale nestles comfortably between the Ancient Dancingdean Forest to the south and the rolling Pepperstock Hills in the north, those who are lucky enough to live there think of it as the rose between two thorns.
The Vale was once a great wetland that centuries earlier stretched from Mornington in the East to Childean in the west and from Shallowfield in the south to Purplemere in the north.
But over the many centuries the vast majority had been drained for agriculture, a feat achieved largely by the efforts of famous Mornington Mills, of which only three had survived to the present day and even those were no longer functional and were in various states of repair.
There were only three small bodies of water left in the Vale now one in Mornington, one in Childean and third of course was Purplemere.
And in Purplemere 29 year old Nerissa Lopez worked behind the delicatessen counter at Stephenson’s Supermarket
She was quite a shy girl who had a gentle nature and almost always wore a warm open smile on her face and she was popular with staff and customers alike.
Nerissa was a very slim and attractive girl with beautiful long dark brown hair and dark skin, reflecting her heritage as did her brown eyes.
In her ancestry she had Filipino and Spanish blood but she was born and bred in Britain and had no family ties with either country or even in Britain for that matter.
She was the only child of parent who themselves were only children and both of them were gone now.
So she was all on her own and she lived alone in a small one bedroom flat about a mile from where she worked.
You might wonder why a lovely friendly girl with a slim figure blessed with a personality that was equally as lovely as her smile, living alone in a dingy one bedroom flat.
It was certainly something she often wondered.
She lived in a small block of flats called Gladstone Court in Flat 2b.
Her next door neighbour in flat 2a was 32 year old Harry Devonshire, he though had the luxury of a larger two bedroom flat in which to live alone in, courtesy of a failed relationship some eight years earlier.
Unlike Nerissa his heritage was strictly British and he did have living family, two brothers in fact, unfortunately they were both living in Australia so he hadn’t seen either of them for over 5 years.
Harry also worked at Stephenson’s where he was the warehouse manager.
Nerissa and Harry were best friends and did everything together, if either of them was invited anywhere the other was always their plus one.
Equally if one of them wanted to see a film or try out a new restaurant the other would accompany them, in fact they were so often seen together people assumed they were a couple.
It would not have been an exaggeration to say that they loved each other but their relationship was strictly platonic and their friendship had been since forever and they were close almost to the point of symbiosis.
Coworkers at the store used to think their relationship was almost comic, when they seemed to know what the other was thinking and even finished each other’s sentences, Harry and Nerissa just got each other and their thoughts and desires remained quite esoteric.
Harry and Nerissa’s all-consuming purpose in life, their primary objective, their ultimate goal, was finding life partners, in particularly a serious romantic relationship, soul mates if possible.
But their frantic search for love remained fruitless, though not for the want of trying.
They tried online dating, blind dates set up by friends or colleagues, they frequented clubs, virtually every pub in Purplemere and a number outside of it and out of sheer desperation, speed dating.
But all their efforts were to no avail and as a result of their considerable efforts they had both kissed more than their fair share of frogs along the way and neither of them knew why they hadn’t struck gold, in fact they couldn’t explain their lack of success.
Nerissa couldn’t understand why a good looking, gentle and kind man like Harry was unattached and he couldn’t fathom why on earth a gorgeous woman like her was still single, or why suitors weren’t cued around the block to ask her out.
But regardless of their continual failure the search for love went on.
On one particularly bitterly cold Friday night towards the end of October they were walking home from work but Nerissa was being unusually quiet as Harry prattled on endlessly about the arrival of the first of the Christmas stock into the warehouse.
“I might have to cancel Christmas this year” she said completely out of the blue
“Why?” Harry asked
“My rents gone up again” she said “and I’ve just got my Gas and Electric bills”
“Well look on the bright side” he said trying to cheer her up “You might have found Mr. Right by Christmas”
“I’m afraid I’ll have to put looking for him on hold as well” Nerissa said sadly as they arrived at the front doors of the flats “And I’ll have to break into my savings just to get through the winter”
Harry didn’t know what to say to that and they walked upstairs in silence and when they got to their floor he said
“Right you go and get changed and I’ll get the supper on”
“I think I’m just going to have a bath and get an early night” she replied
“Are you sure?” Harry asked “Well at least come in and have a glass of wine and we can talk it through”
“That’s kind of you but yes I’m sure babe” She insisted “I’ll probably be fine after a good night’s sleep”
“Ok Hon” Harry said and kissed her cheek “I’ll see you in the morning then”
Nerissa stepped inside and closed the door behind her and took off her coat and shoes but once she was in her slippers she decided to skip the bath and went straight to bed instead where she cried herself to sleep.
And while Nerissa sobbed uncontrollably into her pillow Harry had already decided to forgo supper and opened a bottle of red wine instead and by the time he was draining the last drop from his glass and the bottle was empty, he had thought of the solution to Nerissa’s financial problems.
The next morning he was up very early, and considerably brighter than he should have been after polishing off a bottle of Chianti on his own.
He showered and shaved and then he went out, his first port of call was Addison’s bakery in Convent Road where he picked up some fresh croissants and then on to Labuschagne in the high street for two expensive coffee’s.
As he returned to Gladstone Court he could see the lights were on in her flat so when he reached the door to flat 2b, he rang the bell confident that she was up and about.
After a minute or two she opened the door looking like she hadn’t slept in a week.
“Come on sleepy head, croissants and coffee” Harry said ignoring the fact that she looked like death.
“Not for me Harry” she said
“No to croissant?” he said and put his hand to his chest as if he was having a heart attack.
“Not today” she said
“I won’t take no for an answer, so get your dressing gown on and follow me” he ordered her realizing the instant he said it that he sounded really camp.
Reluctantly, though and not with a happy heart, she did as he instructed and followed him into his flat.
“Do we have to do this this morning?” she asked “I really don’t feel up to it today”
“Yes we do need to do it now” Harry said firmly “and when you’ve heard what I have to say you’ll understand why”
“Ok give me some coffee” she said resignedly
After he had poured the Labuschagne coffee’s from the ghastly paper containers and into two proper mugs he sat down and began his spiel.
“I think I have a solution to your problem”
“Oh yes? And what might that be exactly” she said doubtfully
“I think you should give up your flat and move in here with me” he said
“What?” Nerissa asked scarcely believing her ears
“Give up your flat and move into my spare room” he elaborated
“But that’s a ridiculous idea” she said
“Is it?” Harry said
“Well isn’t it? Nerissa asked back
“Look we eat together most nights, we watch TV together most nights” he explained
“Most of the time you only use your flat as a bedroom and dressing room anyway”
“Yes but” she interrupted
“And my spare room is almost as big as your whole flat” Harry added
“Yes I know that, but” she persisted “But what will people think?”
“People won’t think anything” he said “This is the 21st century after all, and as I said you’re here more often than not as it is”
“I don’t know” she said doubtfully
“Look hon, it will be perfect, I’ll continue to pay the rent and we can split the bills for the utilities and food etc.” Harry concluded
“Well I…” she began
“And here’s the clincher, with the money we both save we might finally get that holiday we’ve always talked about” Harry said
“Greece?” she asked
“Greece” he replied
“Ok, you’ve convinced me” she agreed “now give me a croissant”
Harry and Nerissa had often talked about taking a holiday abroad, not that they ever thought that they’d actually achieve it, it was planned more in a fanciful way, a fantasy really.
The prospect of foreign travel occupied their thoughts quite a lot as neither of them had been abroad before or even owned a passport for that matter.
At first they spoke in general terms about just going away but over the years they had narrowed their search for an actual destination and had finally decided on Greece as the destination for their dream getaway, or more precisely a Greek Island.
The particular Greek island was at the time unspecified as of that moment when Harry invited Nerissa to move in with him, their only stipulation was that it mustn’t have its own airport.
The reasoning for that was that it would limit the number of binge drinking lager louts if the travel itinerary was more complicated.
Nerissa went back to her flat after coffee and croissants and had a little cry once the door closed behind her, but unlike the bitter tears of despair she shed the night before these were tears of happiness.
After a hot shower and a quick tidy around her flat she went back to Harry’s.
So around midmorning they were sat in his flat looking through a stack of old holiday magazines.
When Nerissa asked out of the blue
“Are you sure?”
“Sure about what hon?” he replied
“Me moving in here” she said
“Never more so” Harry said and then he leant over and kissed her forehead before asking
“So have you seen anything you fancy?”
“Andros” she replied instantly and handed him the magazine.
“Well that was very definite” he said and after reading the full article in detail he replied
“Andros it is then”
Harry got up and switched on his laptop and went online, he typed in the address and navigated around until he found the relevant page.
“Here we go” he said and Nerissa moved closer.
“It will be cheaper if we go before the School summer holidays”
“June” Nerissa said “that will give us more time to save, and we’ll get our Easter bank holiday pay in May”
“Ok” he said “two weeks in June”
“Two weeks?” she asked “Are you sure we can we afford two weeks?”
“Absolutely” he said pointing at the figure on the screen.
“Oh” she said as he “Two weeks in June for us then”
He entered his details in the form and picked up his wallet from the table, entered his credit card number and hit the button.
“Booked” he said
“We’re really going then aren’t we?” she said and giggled.
“Yes Indeed” Harry concurred “We are taking our search for love and romance on the road, so to speak”
It was actually more like a train, a plane, a coach, two ferries and a bus but “Romance on the road” was near enough.
“Hooray” Nerissa yelled and danced around.
“Let’s open a bottle to celebrate” Harry suggested
“Let’s not” she said “Lets save the money and open one in Andros instead”
“Damn you’re so sensible” Harry said
On Monday morning Nerissa gave notice on flat 2b and over the following month she completed the move into Harry’s flat.
This involved helping him clear the spare room and redecorating it to her taste.
They then had to decide what she would take from the old flat and what would have to be dumped or sold.
She and Harry then gave her flat a thorough clean and they were rewarded for all their hard work by the return of her deposit in full which meant she could clear her bills and put the remainder straight into the holiday fund.
As of the 30th of November she was properly moved into the spare room and there was no turning back because the day after a new tenant moved in to her old flat.
As a result of the holiday being booked the pair of them had to become quite boring and put on hold any hopes or expectations of finding Mr. or Miss Right as their focus was one hundred percent on the holiday and saving every penny towards it.
The decorations went up promptly on the first of December which was Nerissa’s first official day as a tenant and that Christmas they had twice the decorations to put up so they went mad.
The run up to Christmas was very profitable for them and added extra money to the holiday coffers as they picked up extra shifts due to the age old tradition of seasonal panic buying by the Purplemere residents.
They also restricted their spending on entertainment by only attending certain festivities, like staff parties and such like, and by cutting back on buying Christmas gifts.
This was a difficult decision as they were both huge Christmas fans and liked to make the most of the season but their new maxim was “needs must”.
What they didn’t stint on during the festive season though were the festive services at St John’s Church from the first Sunday of advent to Christmas morning.
After attending St Johns for the morning service on Christmas day they really pushed the boat out when they got back to the flat, despite having spent a pittance.
They bought the damaged or reduced items wherever possible and used their staff discounts on the rest and as a result they had a sumptuous feast for virtually nothing.
“Well that was very indulgent” Harry said as they sat on the sofa after dinner.
“Very” Nerissa said and burped
They both laughed and Harry patted his stomach and said
“I don’t know why I’m laughing this belly isn’t going to look great with my speedos on the beach”
“Damn I hadn’t thought of that” Nerissa said and patted her own tummy and burped again.
When they exchanged presents they both had novelty chocolates and one main present each.
Harry bought Nerissa a small Gold crucifix and she bought him a Gold tie pin engraved with his name.
On New Year’s Eve, which was normally a night when they would hit the town hard, they spent that New Year’s Eve at home where they saw in the New Year quietly watching the meagre offerings that the television had to offer and when Big Ben chimed they toasted the New Year with a glass of cheap fizz.
But on New Year’s Day they were fit to work and did a shift and a half at double time which mightily swelled the holiday fund.
The remainder of January was a hard and depressing month, the decorations were packed away and as a result of them having double the amount of decorations up in the first place the flat looked exceptionally bare.
Then the weather turned bitter cold and prolonged periods of snow followed and it was a long 5 weeks until payday.
The January depression was made all the worse by not being able to go out and enjoy themselves but staying in meant no expensive treats like takeaways and alcohol.
However Nerissa came up with a plan to enable them to out without them spending a penny and furthermore her plan would add money to the pot.
They picked up the odd evening and weekend shift at the Worsted Viper Hotel.
Nerissa waited tables in the restaurant and Harry worked behind the bar.
And every hour they worked there meant more money to spend on their holiday or to buy clothes for it and it helped them to get through a difficult month.
When their January pay day did eventually arrive they paid the bills and applied for their passports and totted up their savings.
February brought yet more bitter cold and more snow but no valentine cards save for the joke ones they gave each other, it also brought more shifts at Worsted Viper and more importantly a much quicker payday.
March followed which brought an end to the cold and the snow and the produced the first hints of spring.
It also brought Easter and the long holiday weekend which was another chance for them to earn extra money which would be in their pockets in time for the holiday.
But following the spring like March, April brought nothing but rain, rain and more rain in fact the only bright spot of the month was the arrival of the passports.
May however was a horse of a different colour, the weather was milder and the days were sunnier and they were only one payday away from their holiday and when they had their pay slips it was time to do a final tally.
Harry got his laptop and opened the spreadsheet and entered the figures and totaled up the columns while Nerissa looked on nervously.
“Well?” she asked “is it enough?”
“You tell me” he said and showed her the screen “this is what’s left after the holiday is paid for”
“It can’t be that much” she said “Check it again”
“I’ve checked it three times already”
“Does that mean we can go shopping then?” she asked
“That’s precisely what it means” he replied and two days later Harry and Nerissa went on an all-day shopping trip to Abbottsford including a long leisurely lunch in the Phoenix Shopping Centre.
And a couple of weeks later they packed their cases and they were all set for Andros.
The first week of June was tortuously long but the day finally arrived and they got a cab to the station at the crack of dawn and got on the first train out of Purplemere.
They were so eager to get on their way that they arrived at the airport two hours earlier than they needed to.
Harry had only been to the airport before to either drop someone off or pick someone up, Nerissa on the other hand had never been to an airport before in her life.
They were so excited about actually going on holiday, and to Greece of all places, that they didn’t care that they had two extra hours to kill, so the pair of them just wandered around and soaked up the vibe.
Harry and Nerissa didn’t care about the crowds or the queue’s the extortionate prices in the cafes, they were determined to enjoy every minute of it as they had no idea when or if they would do it again.
When they eventually got on the plane and stowed their bags they settled themselves into their seats and then both of them sat very quietly and for the first time that day their overwhelming feeling was not of excitement.
Neither Harry nor Nerissa had flown before and as a result the two of them were quite scared but neither of them wanted to mention it to the other.
It was basically a fear of the unexpected rather than of impending doom but as the plane raced down the runway they held hands.
Once the plane was airborne they soon relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the flight to Athens and the nervousness was once again replaced by excitement.
The anxiety did return briefly when the seat belt light went on and the captain began his decent but it was short lived but they did hold hands again just in case and as the wheels touched down Nerissa said
“We have arrived” and then she giggled.
However even once they had landed in Athens and disembarked, they were still a long time and a long way from their final destination.
Firstly they had to wait half an hour for their luggage and after they had claimed their bags then when they had rendezvoused with the holiday rep there was a further 30 minute wait for a coach.
The coach trip then took a similar duration to drive them to the docks where they boarded a ferry.
On board the boat they had to wait a further 40 minutes before the ferry departed on a journey which took two hours to carry them across the Aegean to the Island of Andros in the Cyclades.
To the seasoned travelers among the passengers, the journey would have been very tedious indeed but to Harry and Nerissa being novices at foreign travel, they didn’t mind it a bit as they saw everything about the journey as a great adventure that they would remember forever and on the journey they were rewarded for their patience by the appearance of a pod of porpoises who escorted them across the azure blue Aegean sea.
This bonus they took as a good omen for the holiday ahead.
When the ferry docked on the Island they were met by another holiday rep and another bus that took them on a 20 minute journey to the village of Batsi.
As Nerissa and Harry walked into their apartments they had travelled for a total of 12 hours door to door but they thought it would all be worth it when they met the person of their dreams.
On the afternoon of their first day they had an orientation meeting with their tour rep who gave them all the spiel about the resort and handed out information on places of interest, transport timetables, day trips and local entertainment.
However the two of them were less interested in the talk than they were in their fellow tourists as they were looking for suitable candidates for romance in the sun.
But as they scanned each and every face in the assembly they noticed that there appeared to be no singles present.
Although Harry and Nerissa both noticed independently they chose to keep their discoveries to themselves.
However over the next 24 hours they both came to the conclusion that they had come to the wrong resort for romance because the other visitors, without exception, were already paired up and presumably loved up.
Over an Al fresco breakfast on the waterfront the next morning, as they sat in the fresh morning air at a quayside café it was Nerissa who broached the subject.
“Have you noticed they’re all couples?” she asked
“Yes I have” he replied
“We’re not going to find them here are we?” she asked
By “Them” she meant their soul mates, their perfect other halves, Mr. or Miss Right.
“I’m afraid not” he agreed
“So what do we do now?” Nerissa asked
“Now we just have fun and enjoy our hard earned holiday” Harry said and so they resigned themselves to the fact that they were not going to find who they were looking for and decided they should just enjoy every minute of their holiday instead, they had after all worked hard enough for it.
With their search for love over, they spent a lot of time on the beach or in the water, or alternatively on a boat and when they weren’t close to the sea they were in the bars and Taverna’s.
So they filled every possible moment of the holiday with fun and laughter, walking along the beach together playing in the waves and having fun, before finding a quiet sheltered spot or a shady tree to siesta under.
They also took day trips to Tinos and the Church of Panagia Evangelistria and visited the monastery of Agia Zoodochos Pighi and to Andros town of course.
Evening entertainments included cocktails at the Koala bar,
Nightcaps at the Paradise Club, Greek dancing, Beach BBQ’s and a Greek night of local cuisine and drink.
But most of all they spent their time in or near the water and one of their favourite spots was a narrow stretch of beach, north of Batsi at Agia Marina with its own beach side Taverna run by a colourful old character called Stavros where they often had lunch.
He was an elderly man with deeply wrinkled skin the colour of tanned leather and when Harry introduced him to Nerissa he said,
“Oh what a lovely name, Nerissa means goddess of the sea you know?”
Harry thought that might make her big headed but Nerissa blushed.
Mind you when Harry watched Nerissa walk out of the water wearing her yellow one piece swimsuit he could see what Stavros meant.
As the holiday drifted amiable into the second week they continued in the same vein and any casual onlookers could have been forgiven for thinking that Harry and Nerissa were in fact a couple, they behaved like a couple in almost every respect and a happily married couple at that.
Every evening the pair dined together happy in each other’s company but unknown to everyone around them, they slept alone.
One day the beaches on their side of the island was covered in dead jelly fish, each translucent disk was roughly the size of a dinner plate.
Apparently June was the spawning season for jelly fish and having spawned out at sea, they promptly died and drifted in to shore and then two days later drifted back out to sea on the tide never to be seen again.
One afternoon Harry was lying on his stomach on the beach snoozing off his lunch and Nerissa picked up a dead jelly fish from the lapping waves and from a height of four feet, dropped it squarely in the middle of Harry’s back.
“What the hell” he yelled and looked over his shoulder to see Nerissa wearing a pink bikini, almost wetting herself with laughter.
“Oh” he said “I suppose you think that was funny?”
“Oh yes” she confirmed and laughed even harder
“Right that’s it” Harry said scrambling to his feet
Nerissa, still laughing like a drain turned and ran down the beach with Harry hot on her heals holding a jelly fish freshly plucked from the waves.
Her laughter quickly turned to squeals as he chased her and she ran about a hundred yards before she fell over in the lapping water and as she lay on her back in the wet sand.
Harry, with great delight, dropped the jelly fish on her exposed belly.
Nerissa screamed in disgust and it was Harrys turn to laugh.
Later that evening as the sun was setting, the sultry air was heavy with the scent of oregano as they sat on the terrace of the Medusa Taverna accompanied by the familiar symphony of evening birdsong Nerissa said
“It’s been another lovely day”
They had ordered their dinner and were just enjoying an aperitif, the cracking of ice cubes was clearly audible in their Gin and tonics.
“It really has” he said and they chinked glasses
After dinner and the best part of two bottles of wine and a hilarious reliving of the afternoons jelly fish escapades the subject of the conversation took a familiar turn.
“Of course there is one thing that could have made today even better” Nerissa said
“And what’s that?” Harry asked before draining his glass
“Our perfect partners” she replied
“Oh yes, I’d forgotten about that” he said
“Of course it would help if we could recognize them if we saw them”
“Well yes that would help” Nerissa concurred “But I don’t think they’re on the Island anyway”
“If they were I don’t think I would have noticed” Harry said “I’ve been having too much fun”
As they sat on the terrace of the Medusa Taverna after having had a lovely meal and perhaps too much wine Harry thought Nerissa looked lovely.
And on that night he was particularly pleased to see she was wearing the gold crucifix he had bought her for Christmas.
After a short while the perennial subject of their perfect partners had come up again in their conversation.
“Ok then” he said “do you have pen?”
He already knew the answer, Nerissa always had at least three pens in her bag.
She fished in her bag and produced one.
“So what is your ideal?” he asked
“What do you mean?” she replied with a puzzled expression
“What would you want in a partner?” he elaborated
“Tell me what qualities you are looking for and we’ll make a check list”
“Oh I see, ok” she said “Well the usual I suppose”
“Let’s write them down then” Harry said and using a napkin he headed the list “The perfect other half”
“Someone I can trust” she said
“Dependable” he wrote followed by “trustworthy”
“Someone who shares my values and my faith” she added
Harry wrote “Christian” and “Moral compass”
“Someone who makes me laugh and laughs with me” Nerissa said
“Good sense of humour” he wrote
“Someone who loves me, and will cherish me” she said
He wrote “Caring” and “Romantic”
“Someone who will be there for me” she said “whenever I need them”
“A friend” he put
“Someone who listens to me and understands me” she added
“And who values me”
Harry thought for a moment before writing
“A confidant, kindred spirit” and for good measure “Open and honest”
“Someone I can grow old with” she said “who will want to grow old with me”
Harry wrote “Soul mate”
Nerissa was silent for a moment as she gave it some more thought and then said
“That will do I think”
Harry took another drink and then read down the list and his brow furrowed.
He read each item and mused over it, added the occasional word to it, and muttered under his breath as he studied it and in the end, after what seemed to Nerissa like an age, he nodded his assent.
“Are you ok?” she asked with concern
“I agree with every single one of those” he said
“Good” she replied
“And furthermore I know the person who has all of those qualities and more” he added
“Really?” she said open mouthed
“You Nerissa” Harry said
“What?” she asked
“It’s you” he said “you tick every single box on this list, you are my perfect other half”
“Don’t be daft” she said
He didn’t say anymore but handed her the napkin.
Nerissa took it from him, and started reading down the list of her suggestions and his additions and was very thoughtful for a few moments and then she went down the list in front of her again.
“You’re right” she said finally “you are the perfect other half of me”
Knowing smiles were exchanged and then they sat in silence as a confused turmoil raged inside them and thoughts raced in and out of focus.
Harry and Nerissa sat in silence on the terrace of the Medusa Taverna after the startling revelation that they were each other’s “perfect other half” and as they sat in silence a confused turmoil raged inside them and thoughts raced in and out of focus.
“More wine sir?” the waiter asked breaking in on their silent deliberations.
“Absolutely” Nerissa said and returned to her thoughts.
Both of them shared the same thoughts and were afraid, afraid to take a chance, afraid of being wrong, afraid of getting hurt but most of all afraid of losing their best friend in the whole world.
The wine came and they drank in silence as they continued their internal struggle, until in a moment of perfect clarity Nerissa looked at Harry and smiled as it dawned on her that they had come to Andros looking for love but the romance they had searched for wasn’t on the island at all, they had brought it with them.
And when Harry saw her smiling countenance he was immediately entranced and all his doubts melted away and the deep passion for her, that he had always harbored subconsciously, stirred within him and rose to the surface.
Her inner beauty exposed Harry reached his hand across the table and Nerissa took it.
“All this time I was looking for Miss Right and she was there right under my nose”
“Living next door” She added
“Living in my spare room even” Harry corrected her
It was a miracle finding their heart’s desire so close at hand.
“How could we have been so blind?” Nerissa asked as she caressed his hand.
“Love is blind” Harry replied
“Yes” she agreed “yes it is”
Neither of them could comprehend how it was possible that they were both so short sighted.
He had always thought she was lovely but now Harry’s feelings for her were of love for his soul mate who lived in his spare room.
On the moonlight walk back to the apartment’s they were holding hands and drinking in the heady atmosphere of the night, not wishing to forget a single second of it and when they reached her door they kissed for the first time and it was a kiss that made the hairs stand up on the back of their necks and their skin tingle from head to toe.
“That was a first kiss to remember” Nerissa said and giggled
“Let’s try number two” Harry suggested and she obliged
“Wow” Nerissa said after kiss number two
“I think we should sit down for a minute”
“I think so too” Harry said
Nerissa walked a few feet and sat on the wall and Harry sat next her, she immediately leant in to him and rested her head on his shoulder and he put his arm around her.
So they sat there quietly in the moonlight, their hearts filled with a new found love and their minds awash with previously undreamt of possibilities.
Nerissa kissed Harry once more and it was the equal of its predecessors.
But as much as they wanted each other in that moment they resisted the desire until their minds were clear and their desires not fueled by cheap wine and Gin and tonics.
So they reluctantly said goodnight and slept alone.
Though neither of them actually slept.
Harry and Nerissa were both up and about early the next morning all though in truth they hadn’t really gone to bed.
However both of them had made independent decisions on their futures.
The quandary was, had they both made the same one.
There were three possibilities, and two of which could cost them their friendship forever.
Harry was sitting on the terrace drinking his coffee when Nerissa appeared looking beautiful.
Harry smiled and stood up to greet her but remained frozen to the spot so she returned his smile and said
“Hello soul mate”
The relief Harry felt in that moment was palpable.
He found he was able to move again and he stepped forward and scooped her up in his arms and said.
“Hello, my perfect other half”
And then he kissed her as he had the night before, without the aid of alcohol, and the feeling was just the same, no that wasn’t true it was actually better.
Their complete and utter surrender to each other came later that afternoon when they made love for the very first time when loves consummated passions reached the ecstatic heights of fulfillment.
To the untrained eye the remainder of the holiday appeared to go much the same way as the days before their epiphany.
Harry and Nerissa still appeared as if they were a couple, as they behaved like a couple, a happily married couple.
Every evening the pair dined together happy in each other’s company but now unknown to everyone they did sleep together.
Harry and Nerissa had gone to the Cyclades in search of love and romance and it turned out they had actually taken it with them.
All too soon they were on the ferry heading away from the northern most isle in the Cyclades, and looked back at Andros, bathing in warm sunshine, the hills and valleys, the groves and vines and painting the hillsides in differing hues.
They would miss the place and its warm hearted people, the scent of herbs on the warm night air, the culture, the food, the warm sun, the blue sea and the golden sand and the soft sea breezes.
But most of all they would miss it because it would forever be the place where they fell in love.
Harry and Nerissa stood at the stern of the ferry, for one last look across the Aegean as Andros faded from view.
“Will we ever come back” Nerissa asked with a tear in her eye
“Oh yes definitely” Harry replied “On our honeymoon”
And in response Nerissa turned and she kissed him.