They were getting into the car before she dared say anything. It had been playing on her mind, nagging at her.
She cleared her throat. ‘I’ve been thinking…’ she began.
‘We should delete each other’s phone number from our phones. That way we can ensure that this was just a lovely holiday romance.’ She paused. ‘Like we agreed.’
‘Okay.’ His voice sounded cautious. He started the car without speaking, manoeuvred it into the lane and finally, his thinking evidently done, he spoke. ‘That was the deal. You’re right. We should delete those numbers.’
‘Great,’ Lily said, not feeling great at all. ‘And we’re not likely to see each other ever again, are we?’
‘You don’t think you’ll come here for another holiday?’
Lily shrugged. She tried to imagine Will on a holiday like this. ‘No, I doubt it.’ Would she be with Will in the future? Would he want to come back? Would she have him back?
‘Shame, because you’ve done so well at surfing. You should keep it up.’
‘We’ll delete those numbers together, when you drop me off.’ Lily took a deep breath. ‘Anyway, you won’t be here will you?’
‘Probably not, if things pan out. Although I might pop back for the odd holiday.’
‘So what will you do with your place?’
‘I’ve put it with a letting agency. The cleaners go in tomorrow and it’ll be a holiday let after that.’
‘So if you pop back you’ll have nowhere to stay.’ She laughed. ‘Except your beach hut.’
‘Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve slept in it.’ He laughed. But, Lily noticed, he didn’t sound any jollier that she felt.
‘No,’ she mused, remembering that night, their first night together.
He pulled up outside her holiday cottage and switched off the engine. He reached into his pocket for his phone.
‘Ready?’ Jackson waved his phone at Lily.
She pulled his number up on her phone and, holding the phones side by side, they pressed delete. Then laughed, though to Lily’s ears both their laughs sounded false, hollow.
‘Let’s hope neither of us needs to get in touch with the other, eh Lily.’
‘Why should we? Anyway, if we’re meant to meet again, fate will engineer it. I’m a great believer in fate.’
‘Fate. Yeah.’ Jackson jumped out of the car and pulled Lily’s holdall from the back seat. He waited for Lily.
‘Let’s say goodbye here,’ Lily said. ‘I don’t want any of Gemma’s smart remarks today.’
‘Thanks for a great time, Lily. Thanks for making the last few weeks of my freedom such fun. Thanks for the best no strings, no past, no future nine days of my life. Thanks for having mermaid hair.’ He kissed her – a passionate kiss to remember. Her knees almost buckled, she felt a tingle in her spine.
‘Same here,’ Lily said, recovering enough to pick up her holdall and walk away. She inhaled deeply, half turned and waved over her shoulder. She couldn’t look at him, couldn’t watch him drive away, couldn’t let their fun time mean any more that it was supposed to.It was over.
Holiday romance: done.
This is an excerpt from chapter nine of Mermaid Hair and I Don’t Care. This is a first draft so please excuse typos etc.