Finally, he asked, “So, who is he then?”
I shot him a confused glance. “Who is who?”
He heaved an irritable breath. “This bloke you fancy.”
Oh. Oh. I’d mentioned liking someone while we ate dinner, and I’d made it sound like there was some mystery man when, in fact, the person I liked was Neil himself. There was something about the dark and being miles away from civilisation that made me feel like I could speak freely. At long last, I wanted Neil to know how I felt about him. Then he could decide what he would do with the information, and it would be out of my hands. The ball would be in his court, so to speak. And besides, it wasn’t like he was completely indifferent to me. He was obviously attracted to me given what he’d said about my looks and the very obvious erection he sported when he pinned me to the blanket earlier.
“I’m not sure how to put this,” I said, and he groaned.
“Christ, don’t tell me it’s someone I know.”
“It is, actually.”
He raked a hand through his hair then stared up at the sky as if talking to a higher power. “This is a sick joke, isn’t it? You’re going to keep on doing this to me, aren’t you?”
I reached out and grabbed his arm. I met his gaze, and my voice was sincere when I said, “Neil, it’s you! You’re the bloke I fancy.”
He blinked. Then he blinked some more. Then he just stood there, dumbstruck.
I laughed awkwardly. “Say something.”
He swallowed thickly. “You fancy me?”
I more than fancied him, but tonight wasn’t the night for that conversation. I lowered my gaze. “Yes, I do.”
“I didn’t know.”
“Duh. That’s why I told you.”
He fell quiet again. I nudged him with my elbow. “This is the part when you tell me you fancy me back.”
His eyes flickered between mine, and there was such intense emotion in them that I felt taken aback. He moved closer, and my breath caught. His hand came to rest on my shoulder, and his eyes practically blazed. My throat thickened, and just like that, he didn’t need to say a word. He was channelling his attraction at me so intensely I felt like my skin might burst aflame.
Neil’s hand moved from my shoulder and slid all the way up to cup my cheek, “I fancy you,” he breathed, and my insides heated. He glanced at my mouth, and I thought he wanted to kiss me, but then his eyes traced my features before he exhaled reluctantly. “We should get back.”
I nodded, a little disappointed that he didn’t kiss me, but my skin still tingled with awareness as we made our way back to the campsite. The atmosphere between us had changed. It felt lighter and heavier all at once.
Outside the tent, we quietly used bottled water and toothpaste to brush our teeth. Neil had even brought a tiny bottle of mouthwash. He always thought of everything. For a second, I imagined us as an old married couple with one of those His and Hers bathrooms, the two of us standing side by side as we completed our night-time rituals.
After my unexpected confession, Neil was looking at me differently. He seemed charged like a battery overflowing. Once we were done brushing our teeth, he politely offered to wait outside while I changed into my sleep clothes. A part of me wanted to reply and say I didn’t mind at all if he came in and watched.
“You can come in now. I’m decent,” I called as I shimmied into the toasty sleeping bag. I noticed with delight that when Neil had gone to relieve his bladder earlier in the evening, he must’ve snuck in here and placed a hot water bottle inside my sleeping bag.
“Where did this come from?” I asked, showing him the hot water bottle as he entered the tent.
“I boiled some water on the gas cooker. You said you were worried about being cold.”
“Is there one in your sleeping bag, too?”
He shook his head. “I only brought one. I don’t mind if you have it.”
“Nonsense. We should share it.”
“How could we possibly share it?”
“We could unzip both our sleeping bags to make one big sleeping bag. Then, we could put the hot water bottle between us,” I suggested brazenly. I certainly wouldn’t have suggested it if I didn’t have several cans of lager in my system and if I hadn’t just confessed that I fancied him and vice versa.
Neil started to pull his jumper up over his head, and I watched with rapt attention, not even bothering to look away. Sadly, he still had a T-shirt on underneath, so I didn’t get to glimpse what I was certain was a very nice male chest.
“We’re not doing that,” he replied stiffly as he began to work on the fly of his jeans.