We pull up to a collection of picturesque villas, nestled in amongst the olive trees. We're relieved to have survived the hair-raising taxi journey over the Cretan mountains, eyes squeezed shut as our driver took swigs from a can of lager mounted to his dashboard while negotiating the hairpin turns on the narrow road. My brother and I heave our heavy suitcases out of the boot and Mum and Dad sort out the keys to the villa.
We're getting our stuff together when a friendly guy, about my parents' age, with a charming Northern accent pops out of the adjacent villas and invites us over for a welcome drink. Being the sociable types we are (and we're from Croydon so we don't turn down a free drink), we gratefully accept his offer, dump our bags, and head on over. When we arrive we're introduced to the family - his lovely wife, two sons (one around my age, one younger), his daughter and her boyfriend.
Now I'm eighteen, so obviously the older son and I don't really communicate, but I definitely notice him in his battered New York Yankees baseball cap. The whole family have brilliant Geordie accents and seem like a good laugh. This family holiday (a last resort after I failed to get myself organised to do anything else) is actually looking up.
It's a few days later and the holiday's going well. I'm spending most of my time swanning around in a bikini and sarong, pretending to be oblivious to the admiring looks I believe I may be receiving from Boy Next Door. We've exchanged a few words now, sat outside having a nightcap with the others before bed. There's definitely chemistry. I blush when our eyes meet, though luckily the
sunburn tan doesn't make it too obvious. One evening, after the parents have retired to bed, boy next door, his little brother, my little brother and I all decide to head down to the beach to have a paddle.
Little did we know... (August 1998)
The little brothers are at an age where they are incapabe of making conversation so after the paddle, they leave Boy Next Door and I chatting and go off to skim stones. Eventually they bore of this activity and decide to head back to their respective villas. Boy Next Door and I are alone at last. We talk and talk (and paddle) and talk until the sun starts to come up. Nothing's happened, so on the walk back to the villas I feign a stumble and he grabs my hand to steady me. And he doesn't let go. At the top of the path we stop to marvel at the beautiful starry sky and finally share our first kiss.
The next day I decline my parents' offer of a daytrip to the other side of the island and spend the day with Boy Next Door. It's the last day of his holiday, while we have another week to go. My family are out for the evening too, so I go for dinner with the Boy Next Door's family - a delicious meal of Greek gyros pittas, and then we split off from the rest to head to a bar for a drink. He buys me a huge tumbler of Baileys on ice, and we watch the world go by.
We take a detour on our walk back to the villas, heading back down to the beach to chat again until dawn.
The next day, Boy Next Door popped round to my villa and we exchanged email addresses before he left. The rest of my holiday dragged, and the second I walked through the door back home in Croydon I rushed upstairs to log onto the family computer to check my emails, fully expecting an empty inbox. But Boy Next Door didn't disappoint.
Eight years later we headed down the aisle. Eleven years after that fateful holiday to Crete, Miss E and Mr A joined us. And all thanks to my now father-in-law for inviting us in for a drink. Cheers Graham!
Mr & Mrs (December 2006)
Writing Workshop at Sleep is for the Weak. I chose prompt 1 'Have you ever had a holiday romance?'