Getting Into Hot Water

For a small island, there seem to be a remarkable number of places to hide. Either that, or everybody but me knows a secret way off the island and spend most of their time elsewhere.

Lacking any customers to serve, I settled myself down at one of the tables, intending to try to kick myself back into the writing mood. Going back over my notes, I realised I had gotten Hargreaves and Garrick mixed up. Either that or I was subconsciously making a point about the fluidity of relationships in Serendipity and the absence of traditional gender roles. Most likely is that I just got it wrong, having neglected the story for some weeks. I know I wrote myself a ‘dramatis personae’ somewhere, but I could not find it tonight. Perhaps it is in the pocket of another jacket. I really must get myself some sort of document case or shoulder bag to carry them around in.

Beyond making the above corrections, I did not get very far. The lady from 15th century Northumbria, Cicely, came in wanting a cup of tea, and, when I suggested it, a snack. I made the tea and cut her a slice of chocolate cake. It was only when I brought it down for her that I realised that she would most likely not have met chocolate before. She asked me to join her at the table, which I was happy to do, since there were no other customers to deal with.

She had addressed me as Lord Nathaniel, which I suppose is technically true, but I asked her to just call me Nathaniel, telling her that I disliked the use of titles except when absolutely necessary. She seemed to accept this, but for some reason, the comment brought her husband to mind, apparently something she said she did not wish to be reminded of. She would not speak further of him other than that he was a brute and showed no interest in her at all. I found this surprising, though on reflection I should not have because hers could well have been a political marriage, being as how she is a very attractive woman, and said so. She was clearly flattered and told me that she had not seen him in many a year. The conversation then turned to matter of living alone and loneliness.

Now, it has been said of me that I can be phenomenally dense when it comes to women. I would be first to admit it, at least, I would if certain other people weren’t so keen to point it out to me. I have heard tell that I left some broken hearts back in London, simply through not noticing that people were attracted to me. However, in this case, even I noticed that Cicely appeared to be flirting with me. The way she was licking the cake off the fork; the enquiries into my state of loneliness; her insistence that there should be more to life than books and poems, they were all subtle hints. And, of course, the part where she suggested that we retire so somewhere more private – in this case, the hot waters of the bath house, which she had said earlier that she was fond of. That was probably a very big clue. However, even with my somewhat adventurous past, that was a rather surprising invitation. I prevaricated for a moment, trying to ascertain quite what she meant, by asking if that was entirely proper. Thank the deities, equine or otherwise, that Aoibheann wasn’t around; she would have had a fit! Fortunately, I was saved by the bell, or, at least, the chime of my watch, reminding Cicely that she had to be elsewhere. She left quickly, so we never got as far as finding out what might have happened in the bath house. While I am sure she is a very nice person, I am not sure I need any further complications in my life. On the other hand, the inestimable Niles has apparently been paying her some attention, so this might be a good way to, what’s the phrase Gwyn uses – piss him off.

I must confess I was a little distracted during the conversation. When she first spoke of the bath house, I mentioned that the owner was a friend of mine, which set me thinking about the conversation I had had with Brigitte the previous evening. I love her dearly, but had never had any thoughts in her direction beyond our friendship. I am probably over thinking it. I guess I should just put it down to mind games and nothing more and forget it. Now that is almost certainly a complication I do not need.

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