19 Janice changes her mind

Carlisle (England)

c11.5 It turned out there were actually at least two bottles of blackberry wine, and the Professor was generous with both of them.

c11.6 The old wall clock ticked on and soon Janice wasn’t the only one laughing. When Euan smiled she had to look twice at him, such a change.

c11.7 Harald knew archaeology jokes, and they had spent enough time digging around now to get the humor. His dry presentation was perfect.

c11.8 Then Euan told the best story of all, about a computer geek and a frying pan. Janice laughed until finally he was laughing with her.

c11.9 Janice’s stories weren’t jokes but rather funny things she’d seen in the newsroom: editor mishaps, odd interviews, rabid reporters.

c12.0 It grew late, and Harald still had notes to record and a few letters to answer. Soon Euan and Janice were alone again in the attic room.

c12.1 She began to tease him. “You’ve been pretending,” she said. “It turns out you aren’t a morbid depressed impossible person after all.”

c12.2  He blinked. “What a lovely compliment.”  When he looked again Janice was smiling, and he smiled back at her in spite of himself.

c12.3 “You’re nice,” she said then. She came to where he stood, and touched his hair. “Such blue eyes, and when you smile there is a dimple…”

c12.4 “…here.” She touched his face, marking the dimple. He drew back. She turned, stepped to the bed and sat down on the edge of it.

c12.5 “Euan,” she said. He said nothing. “Euan!” she said again.
“Oh what?” he answered. He still stood alone, looking at her.

c12.6 “You can sleep in the bed tonight,” she said. He looked alarmed. She smiled, then she added. “I will take the floor. It’s only fair.”

c12.7 There was an old hand-braided rug on the floor, then a quilt, & on top a thick duvet. It was a hard floor, Euan knew from experience.

c12.8 “You won’t like it,” he said. But Janice was already taking off the wool jumper she had worn over a turtle-neck pullover.

c12.9 Euan turned away. In a moment she was under the duvet on the floor. “Not so bad,” she said. He knew better.

c13.0 He pulled the chain of the bare bulb that hung from the low ceiling. He undressed in the dark, tossing his outside clothes in a heap.

c13.1 He pulled the thick covers up & relaxed into the soft bed. The comfort was overwhelming after the nights on the floorboards.

c13.2 Some moonlight suddenly came through the gable window. Minutes passed. “Euan,” Janice said. He heard her roll over to face the bed.

c13.3 He said nothing. She spoke louder. “You asleep yet Euan?”
“Not any more,” he said. The moonlight gave way to deep darkness again.

c13.4 “Tell me something,” she said. “Do you remember that time I kissed you?” He hesitated. She heard a deep breath.
“Of course I remember it,” he said.

c13.5 “Did you like it?” she said. He didn’t answer. He heard her move. She spoke again, from some place close to his ear. “Did you?”


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