For the first half of July, Natalia had spent her summer either at home or at the lake.
She hadn't accomplished very much. Her friends having left for their vacations soon after graduation, leaving Natalia with no one to hang out with.
Enjoying the quiet time she got sitting by the lake, it wasn't so bad being on her own...even though sometimes she wished she had a certain some one to talk to.
Derek had, as usual, kept his plans to go camping with Dallas. Natalia hadn't pried any information off of him. She didn't want Derek to be in an awkward position.
It still amazed her how he could switch his roles so easily. As soon as Derek crossed the line to Toronto, he was Dallas's best friend. The second he had crossed back in to London, he was Natalia's older brother. It was like he didn't allow anything to get stuck in the middle.
Natalia had thought she would be spending her summer in town. How wrong she had been.
Derek had surprised her when he showed her the tickets to Europe.
They had spent the rest of July and the first few weeks of August traveling Europe together. Spending time in France, Italy, Germany, and England.
She had loved going to the Uffizi in Italy, all the art had been beautiful to see. In France, she had enjoyed the trip to the Louvre and then seeing the Eiffel tower, something she had never thought she would see in real life. Germany had been a wild ride, Derek had zipped them both down the Autobahn...Natalia's knuckles had been white as she held on to the dash board. England came with seeing the Museum of Natural History, going shopping on High Street, and of course witnessing the change of the guard. But no trip to England would be complete without seeing Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, and Buckingham Palace.
There was just one problem. No matter where she went, Natalia couldn't seem to patch up the hole in her heart. Sometimes the reminder of what she had lost was so sudden she struggled to compose herself. Even though she had been loving the trek through Europe...a part of her wanted to be somewhere else.
For the last two weeks of the month, Natalia found herself in Spain. They would be enjoying the sights and sounds of beautiful, sunny, Barcelona.
The room Derek had gotten for them was very comfortable. Two beds, a bathroom, television, and the INTERNET. Natalia had been more than overjoyed when she heard the last part.
It was a nice change waking up in Barcelona. They were lucky enough to have a room with a balcony. The sounds of street below were a pleasant change. People talking and laughing.
Natalia and Derek went to eat at different places. She had loved the food.
Each morning Natalia ate her breakfast out on the balcony. She loved watching the city wake up. Derek had picked the one place that was close to the beach. The view from their room was breath taking.
Most days Natalia would wake up get dressed, check her email, and go to the beach, or explore the city with Derek. She hadn't spent very much time inside.
Natalia sat by the coffee table in their room, Derek's laptop was open and on top of it. She had her breakfast beside her. Derek had gone downstairs to get something from the car. Natalia clicked on the video and watched, intently.
She forgot to listen for the sound of footsteps. “I found it!” Derek said as he entered the room. Natalia jumped as he came in and quickly closed the laptop.
“What's gotten in to you?” Derek asked, suspiciously. “Nothing...” Natalia replied, rather nervously. “Uh huh...” Derek said slowly.
Natalia decided to get out of the room while she still could. Grabbing a towel, sunscreen, and the parasol that lay near the coffee table, she headed for the door.
“I'm going to the beach.” Natalia said, opening the door. “I'll be down in a few minutes.” Derek called out as she closed it behind her.
Natalia had dressed in black shorts and a deep blue short sleeved shirt this morning. Her flip flops left prints in the dry sand as she walked along to find spot for herself on the beach.
She found one near the water and put up her parasol. Sitting under it, she looked out to the water. Everything was beautiful in Spain. The water, the buildings, even the way they presented their food.
There was just one thing missing. Natalia felt her heart pang with sadness.
Trying to avoid her thoughts, Natalia got up and headed for the water, leaving her towel and sunscreen under the shade.
The cool water made her shiver inspite of herself, as she waded in. She was almost up to her waist when she decided it was better to just go under and get it over with. Natalia knew once she was all soaked, the shivering would subside.
Natalia held her breath as she went under the waves. Once she resurfaced, she tried to wipe the water out of her eyes.
“Real effective.” Natalia muttered, realizing that she was wiping her wet eyes with wet hands.
Natalia floated on her back for a little while. The sensation was amazing. She let out a deep breath. Relaxing in the sun, as she floated on the water. She didn't have any direction, it was the water that was moving her. All she had to do was relax and allow it to take her with it.
Natalia stood up after a while of floating and wandering, and found herself in shallow water. Instead of swimming to a deeper part of the water, Natalia waded. She could feel herself getting nervous as the water reached up to her waist, but still she moved forward.
As she walked, she was about to take her next step when she lost her footing. Natalia could feel the panic brewing in her. She flailed her arms trying to get herself up, it was no use. She fell in to the water.
Natalia felt her sand underneath her hands as she anchored herself. Forcing herself to be calm, she brought herself back up to the surface. Natalia gasped for breath as her head broke through the water.
She ran a hand through her wet hair. That had been close, she thought. She started to move back towards the shore.
“Senorita! Are you okay?” Natalia heard a voice call. Natalia turned in the direction of the voice, only to find a guy standing with a group of guys. He had started to walk through the water towards her.
Natalia could feel the embarrassment bubbling up. She knew her face would be red soon.
He was tall, and tanned. His brown hair had a copper glow to them in the sunlight. His blue eyes were glacial.
“Yea...I'm fine.” Natalia said, wishing she could disappear.”Thanks, for asking.” She told him as he came near.
“Your welcome.” He said to her, his English was coated with a thick Spanish accent. His 'r's rolled.
“Where are you from?” He asked as he stood beside her. “Canada.” Natalia muttered. “What about you?” She asked the stranger next to her.
“Madrid.” He told her, with a smile that reached his bright blue eyes. He looked to be around her age.
“My name is Gerrard. Who might you be?” He asked her, holding out a hand. “Natalia.” She shook his hand, he kissed it.
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Natalia. You are as beautiful as your name.” Gerrard told her with a smile. Natalia could feel the heat rising, her cheeks were red once again.
Gerrard laughed. “I am very sorry if I embarrassed you.” He told her. “It's okay.” Natalia said.
“So what brings you to Barcelona?” Gerrard asked. He seemed genuinely interested.
Natalia smiled. “Well...” She started.
Natalia saw Derek as she headed back to get her things. He was sitting under the shade of her parasol.
“Who's that?” He asked her, as she reached him. Natalia saw the expression on his face.
It was questioning her. He looked ready to interrogate her.
“Gerrard.” She said, grabbing her things quickly and heading for their room.
Dinner had been quiet. Derek had gone out to grab something, while Natalia had preferred to stay in the room. She had turned on the television.
It was rare for either of them to watch anything. During the most part of their stay, Natalia and Derek had been out and about.
As Derek entered the room. Natalia greeted him, before shutting off the television.
“So how was your trip?” Natalia asked, she turned to face him as her brother sat on his bed.
“Good. I got us some snacks and stuff for our tour tomorrow.” Derek told her.
They were quiet. The sounds of cars and people enjoying a night out entered the room from the open doors leading to the balcony. Night had fallen on beautiful Barcelona.
“So...I know what you were doing on the laptop...” Derek said in a quiet voice.
“What? How?” Natalia asked, in surprise.
“You forgot to delete the history...” Derek said to her. He looked at her, he looked amused. Natalia turned to look away.
“You were watching Dallas' interviews?” Derek said incredulously. Natalia stared at him.
“You said what happens in Europe stays in Europe!” Natalia interjected, trying to get him to drop the subject.
Derek shook his head.
“I thought you two broke up?” Derek asked. He watched her intently for some sign.
“Why are you watching it? Weren't you the one who ended things?” Derek asked her, quietly.
Natalia turned away, she got off her bed and headed for the balcony. She needed to clear her head. She placed her arms along the railing of the balcony.
Derek followed her silently.
“What if I...still...” Natalia trailed off. “Love him?” Derek completed for her.
“Do you still love him?” He asked.
Natalia rested her head on her arms. She stared out to the water that now shone with moonlight. The full moon hung over head.
“It never stopped. Without him...I'm just miserable and everything just falls apart...” She finally told Derek.
It was about time she finally admitted it to herself.
“I'm crazy and stupid for ever getting myself into this mess...” Natalia turned to face her brother. “It was foolish...I am foolish...” She said.
“No, you're not. You're just in love.” Derek told her, softly.
Natalia looked back at the water.
“So why were you watching the interviews?” He asked her again. Derek had come to stand next to her on the balcony.
“Just to hear his voice...to see him...” Natalia mumbled, feeling rather stupid.
“I'm an idiot...” She muttered. “No you're not. You're just human.” Derek said to her.
They were quiet. Natalia looked out to the moonlit beach. It looked beautiful.
“Derek...” Natalia started. “Yea?” He asked, upon hearing his name. “Thank you.” She told him simply. Natalia hugged her brother tightly.
Through everything, she knew he would always be there for her.
“You're always welcome, Lia.” He told her, as he held her.
They walked along the cobble stone alleys. The street lights illuminated their path. Gerrard had gotten Natalia to come with him on an evening walk on the streets of Barcelona.
“So where are we going?” She asked. He hadn't told her their exact destination. Everything had been vague. Just like Dallas, Natalia thought in spite of herself.
“We are going to roam the streets of Spain, so that you can see the flavor of our people and how the city looks beautiful in the dark as it does in the light. Besides Spain has its own interesting night life.” Gerrard told her, his accent made everything sound so musical.
Natalia smiled as they walked through another alley way. He was really patriotic. He had taken her to watch a soccer game at some cafe, the day before, where all the other patrons were busy cheering on Spain as they versed Italy.
Everywhere they went, Gerrard pointed out the types of architecture, significant historical facts, he was like a walking encyclopedia. Before Natalia could ask him a question, he would have it and a lot more answered; always keeping many steps ahead of her thoughts. It was impressive.
Gerrard slowed down as they reached an enormous water fountain. The water trickled down, making soothing bubbling noises. Lights lit up the water from below, but the water that was sprayed from the top glowed from the moonlight overhead.
“It's so beautiful.” Natalia whispered. Gerrard turned to face her with a smile.
“I know. That's why I brought you here. You seem to love these things.”
Natalia walked around the fountain. Encircling it to see the entire structure.
“Here. Make a wish and throw it in.” Gerrard handed her a coin from his pocket as she reached him.
“You don't actually believe it will work? Do you?” Natalia asked, with a grin on her face.
“You never know.” He said with a wink.
Taking out another coin, Natalia watched as Gerrard closed his eyes. A moment later he blew on the coin, he opened his eyes and tossed the coin in to the water. It made a 'splunking' sound as it broke through the water.
Natalia sighed. Following Gerrard's lead, she closed her own eyes. She didn't need to rack her brain for long. She already knew what she wished for. She blew on to her own coin, and tossed it in to the water before opening her own eyes.
Sitting down on the circular platform that enclosed the fountain, Gerrard motioned for Natalia to join him.
“That wasn't so hard. Now was it?” He teased her. “You have no idea.” She muttered, sitting beside him.
All was quiet, save for the sounds coming from the fountain. The clear night gave a distant view of the stars. The shine of the moon illuminating everything. Natalia tentatively touched the water. Her hand making ripples through the water.
Gerrard turned to look at Natalia.
“You must love him very much.” He told her quietly.
Natalia was stunned. What was he going on about?
“Who?” She asked.
“Who ever it is that you left back home.” His voice was gentle.
“I don't have anyone back home...” Natalia said, as she looked at the water, not being able to meet Gerrard's eyes.
“That can't possibly be true.”
“What do you mean?” Natalia asked, sounding puzzled.
“The look in your eyes, it looks so forlorn. Like you miss something very much.” He told her.
Natalia didn't say anything.
“Most tourists come here to find romance or for a summer fling. I never see you with anyone...unless it's your brother.” Gerrard observed.
“Are you offering?” Natalia asked, trying to tease him.
At this Gerrard laughed. Natalia smiled.
“Maybe I would, had I not seen the look in your eyes.” He said, his voice was kind.
“What look?” Natalia asked. She didn't think there was any emotion that would tip anyone off about what had happened.
“Your eyes, they look so sad. It just looks like you love someone very much, and that it hurts you to not be with him. He must love you very deeply to make you miss him so much.” Gerrard was very good at analyzing her.
Natalia was quiet. She tried to find the words to express what she felt. It was hard. How was it that a perfect stranger could tell her how she felt, when she, herself, couldn't admit to these feelings.
“He did...I just found it hard to believe him.” She said, at last.
“How come?” The question was one that Natalia had been trying to answer for a long time.
Natalia looked at Gerrard, his face lit by the lights in the water.
“I guess it just never really made sense to me...I mean what could he possibly see in me to love me?” Natalia shrugged.
Silence settled over them once more.
“Maybe he saw the same thing everyone else does...that you're different from other girls.” Gerrard's voice was low.
“Maybe he saw how much fun it is to spend time with you, or how you like to know everything, the fact that beauty draws you to itself...perhaps he saw that...or he realized how fascinating you are and that pulled him in to know more...” His voice trailed off. His arm was over her shoulder.
Natalia tried to understand what he had just said.
“I'm not fun...or fascinating...” She muttered.
“Really? I think you are. I've never met anyone who questions everything, or who soaks up knowledge like a sponge. You are a very unique person, you should know that.”
Natalia was glad there wasn't enough light. Her cheeks felt like a flame was heating them. No one had ever complimented her, unless it was her family or friends...or Dallas...
“I really screwed up...didn't I?” She asked the Spanish teenager. Although they hadn't known each other very long, he had figured her out very quickly.
“Yes...but life is full of these things...sometimes it takes time to realize it...I'm sure that you can fix it...life always gives second chances...” He grinned at her.
“What if I'm too late?” She asked.
Gerrard was quiet. She saw his gaze turn to the water before he looked back to her.
“I don't think you can ever be too late...especially when it comes to love...even more when the other person loves you just as much.” He gave her shoulder a squeeze. Maybe he could be right...hadn't Natalia's mother said the same thing...Natalia pondered over his words.
“Shall we get a move on?” He asked her. Natalia smiled.
“Let's go.” Natalia told him.
They got up from the ledge and started walking through the alleys once more.
As they walked Natalia couldn't help but feel grateful to the boy next to her. He had given her more hope.
“Thanks Gerrard.” She said as they walked.
He put an arm around her shoulder once more.
“You are very welcome, Natalia.” He said, kissing her head, as they walked along the streets.
Natalia couldn't believe how fast their time in Spain flew by. She and Derek had gone to visit various historical sites including the Alhambra.
When they had gone to the Alhambra, Gerrard had tagged along. Natalia was surprised to hear the extent of his knowledge about the place.
He had been better than the tour guide.
The last day of her summer in Spain came much too soon for Natalia. The next day she and Derek would be boarding the plane that would be taking them home.
Natalia sat in the patio of a restaurant with Gerrard. He had joined her for lunch. Natalia had enjoyed his company. He was funny, charismatic, and easy to be around.
They had both finished eating. Paying the bill and grabbing their things, they left to walk back to the place where Derek and Natalia had been staying.
“So, tomorrow you will be on your way home?” Gerrard asked her.
“Yes.” Natalia replied.
“Here.” Gerrard said, as he took a card out of his bag and handed it to her.
The card was a collage of pictures, some were the places she had visited. There were some of her and Gerrard at the Alhambra. There were even some with Derek.
“So you won't forget your time in Spain.” He told her. Natalia was touched. She didn't know what to say. He had already done so much for her.
“And...so you won't forget me.” Gerrard told her with a grin. Natalia gave him a hug.
“Thank you! I would never forget you, Gerrard.” She told him, honestly. He had made her trip more enjoyable, and he had given her something else...the hope hadn't faded yet.
Silence settled over them. Natalia checked her pockets. She found a scrap of paper which she tore in half. Getting a pen out of her pocket, she scribbled her email on to one half.
“We can still write.” She said to him, hopefully. Natalia handed him her email. She gave him the empty scrap and pen. Gerrard smiled, and wrote his own on to the other half; handing the pen and paper back to her.
“Yes we can...you can tell me if everything goes well when you get home...maybe one day I will come to Canada, then you can show me around and introduce me to him.” He said with a grin.
“Definitely!” Natalia promised.
They walked a bit further until they reached the building where Natalia and Derek had been staying.
“Have a safe trip, senorita.” Gerrard told her, giving her a hug. He kissed her cheek before leaving Natalia at the entrance.
Natalia waved to him as he walked away. Summer had come to an end.
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