When he emerges from the bathroom she is awake, propped up against the pillows and flicking through the travel brochures that were beside his bed. She is wearing one of his T-shirts, and her long hair is tousled in a way that prompts reflexive thoughts of the previous night. He stands there, enjoying the brief flashback, rubbing the water from his hair with a towel.
She looks up from a brochure and pouts. She is probably slightly too old to pout, but they've been going out a short enough time for it still to be cute.
"Do we really have to do something that involves trekking up mountains, or hanging over ravines? It's our first proper holiday together, and there is literally not one single trip in these that doesn't involve either throwing yourself off something or"she pretends to shudder"wearing fleece."
She throws them down on the bed, stretches her caramel-colored arms above her head. Her voice is husky, testament to their missed hours of sleep. "How about a luxury spa in Bali? We could lie around on the sand . . . spend hours being pampered . . . long relaxing nights . . ."
"I can't do those sorts of holidays. I need to be doing something."
"Like throwing yourself out of airplanes."
"Don't knock it till you've tried it."
She pulls a face. "If it's all the same to you, I think I'll stick with knocking it."
His shirt is faintly damp against his skin. He runs a comb through his hair and switches on his mobile phone, wincing at the list of messages that immediately pushes its way through to the little screen.
"Right," he says. "Got to go. Help yourself to breakfast." He leans over the bed to kiss her. She smells warm and perfumed and deeply sexy. He inhales the scent from the back of her hair, and briefly loses his train of thought as she wraps her arms around his neck, pulling him down toward the bed.
"Are we still going away this weekend?"
He extricates himself reluctantly. "Depends what happens on this deal. It's all a bit up in the air at the moment. There's still a possibility I might have to be in New York. Nice dinner somewhere Thursday, either way? Your choice of restaurant." His motorbike leathers are on the back of the door, and he reaches for them.
She narrows her eyes. "Dinner. With or without Mr. BlackBerry?
" "What? "
"Mr. BlackBerry makes me feel like Miss Gooseberry." The pout again. "I feel like there's always a third person vying for your attention."
"I'll turn it on to silent."
"Will Traynor!" she scolds. "You must have some time when you can switch it off."
"I turned it off last night, didn't I? "
"Only under extreme duress."
He grins. "Is that what we're calling it now?" He pulls on his leathers. And Lissa's hold on his imagination is finally broken. He throws his motorbike jacket over his arm, and blows her a kiss as he leaves.
There are twenty-two messages on his BlackBerry, the first of which came in from New York at 3:42 A.M. Some legal problem. He takes the lift down to the underground car park, trying to update himself with the night's events.
"Morning, Mr. Traynor."
The security guard steps out of his cubicle. It's weatherproof, even though down here there is no weather to be protected from. Will sometimes wonders what he does down here in the small hours, staring at the closed-circuit television and the glossy bumpers of £60,000 cars that never get dirty.
He shoulders his way into his leather jacket. "What's it like out there, Mick?"
"Terrible. Raining cats and dogs."
Will stops. "Really? Not weather for the bike? "
Mick shakes his head. "No, sir. Not unless you've got an inflatable attachment. Or a death wish."
Reprinted by arrangement with Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Copyright © 2012 by Jojo Moyes.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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