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Eduardo was standing behind an ironing board in the middle of a small room full of pipes and radiators. Clothes were hanging from the pipes, and Eduardo was running an iron over yet more clothes. When Kylie came in and found him, she was pink-cheeked and sparkly-eyed.

'Oh, there you are, Eduardo!' she said, skipping over to him and slipping her arms around his waist.

'Yep, here I am,' said Eduardo, 'drying in the drying room.'

Kylie looked around the room, and her eyes widened at the sight of all the clothes surrounding her.

'This can't all be ours,' she said.

'Most of it is,' said Eduardo. 'That's why I'm trying to dry stuff with the iron – everyone's getting mad that I'm hogging the drying room. But stuff doesn't dry in here!'

'How long since you washed all this?' asked Kylie.

'Hours.'

'Maybe you shouldn't have done so much at once.'

'We don't know when we'll have access to a washing machine again.'

'The next stop is London,' said Kylie. 'I'm sure there are plenty of laundromats in London.'

'Oh yeah, London,' said Eduardo, suddenly sounding more cheerful. 'That should have everything we need within easy reach.'

Kylie dropped her arms from his waist and looked sulky. 'You don't like Orkney.'

'I do!' said Eduardo. 'I think it's real pretty.'

'That's not liking it – not really.'

'Ky, come on, don't be unreasonable,' said Eduardo. 'Different things speak to different people. I'm just not into all the ancient history and stuff like you are. As I think I told you around Christmas, I'd rather think about the here and now. But,' he added, putting down the iron and raising Kylie's chin with his hand, 'I'd put up with just about anything to see that sparkle in your eyes.'

'Oh yeah?' said Kylie, smiling slightly now. 'So what exactly have you had to “put up with” here?'

'Apart from being in the middle of nowhere, having to walk miles between amenities or wait hours for a bus, or a freaking boat, and being cold even though it's July? Nothing – nothing at all.'

Kylie gave him a half fond, half admonishing look and a light slap on the arm. 'I thought we were going to have fun on this trip.'

Eduardo resumed his ironing. 'We are.'

'You're not – you're stuck here trying to dry all of our clothes because you'd rather do that than come with me on my evening ramble.'

'I'd rather this stuff had dried and I had gone with you, but okay, I admit I don't mind missing it. I mean, I think it's great you're so into all these local legends and ancient farmsteads and stuff, that you went to all that effort to get us here. It's just that I wouldn't choose to do it except to make you happy. You can't hold that against me.'

'I'm not holding it against you.'

'So then what's the problem?'

'Oh, I don't know,' Kylie said irritably. 'I guess I just figured it'd be more of a bonding experience if you were as much into it as I am. But you're right – you can't help it if you're not.'

'I'm into all of our other bonding experiences,' said Eduardo, putting down the iron again, then turning and snaking his arms around Kylie's middle.

They were enjoying a passionate kiss when a young woman opened the door of the drying room with a washing basket on her hip. She looked disapprovingly at them for a moment, then cleared her throat loudly. She succeeded in separating them, and Eduardo smiled sheepishly at her.

'Sorry, Kate,' he said. 'I'm just seeing if the iron'll get it dry.'

'Working, is it?' Kate said wryly, in a mild Scottish accent.

'Um.' Eduardo put his hand on the garment he had been ironing. 'Yeah, it kind of is.'

Kate dumped her washing basket outside the door, asking, 'How long do you think it'll take you to get through everything?'

'Hours,' said Eduardo. 'Let's clear the space, Ky – we'll just have to find places to hang it up in our room and hope it dries there.'

'Well,' said Kate, taking a step through the doorway and looking around, 'you don't have to take all of it. If you just clear half the space, I'm sure the rest of us can manage.'

'I feel really bad now,' said Eduardo. 'I don't know what I was thinking, washing everything at once.'

'Oh, I understand,' said Kate, with a reassuring smile. 'When you're living out of a suitcase, you take your washing opportunities where you can get them.'

'We'll get this stuff out of your way,' said Kylie, beginning to take her bras and underpants off the low pipes with her right hand, and hanging them over her left arm.

'Keep on ironing, I would,' said Kate, as she retrieved her own basket of washing from outside the door. 'I don't suppose anyone'll want the board and the iron for a wee while.'

'Thanks, Kate,' said Kylie, bundling as many wet clothes into her arms as she could. 'Sweetie, you do that and I'll see what I can do with this stuff.'

*

When Eduardo returned to their room a short while later, he found Kylie standing by the window flapping her copy of Anne Brontë's novels at two T-shirts and a pair of jeans that were hanging from the curtain rail. Eduardo dropped the bundle of clothes he was carrying, went up behind her and put his arms around her waist.

'You really think that'll help?' he asked.

'Probably not, but it can't hurt,' said Kylie. 'God, you just never know what'll happen, do you? I didn't realise it was so hard to dry your clothes on a Scottish island.'

'It's my fault,' said Eduardo. 'But I got a lot of stuff dry with the iron – there is now officially a light at the end of the tunnel.'

Kylie laughed, turned in his arms and snuggled into his chest.

'Maybe you were right about this place,' she said. 'It's out of the way, and it's so hard to get anywhere, and you can't dry your clothes, and if you're not into the history then there really isn't anything going for it. You must hate it here.'

'I do not hate it,' said Eduardo. 'It's beautiful, and the people are friendly, and you can get a double room in a youth hostel at a very reasonable price, and at least it has a washing machine, and most important of all...'

Kylie squeezed his middle and smiled against his sternum. 'Go on.'

'You're here,' he said.

They kissed deeply again for a while, then Eduardo stopped it to say, 'We got one more day here, right? What's left that you want to do?'

'Well,' said Kylie, 'the good news is, it's all on the mainland. I want to see Maeshowe – that's a Neolithic burial tomb – and the Barnhouse Settlement and Skara Brae – they're prehistoric villages – and there are a couple of sets of standing stones I'd like to see as well.'

'Standing stones, huh?' said Eduardo. 'You mean those big rock arrangements that were set up so long ago, nobody knows why they're there?'

'Exactly,' said Kylie. 'I just think that's so cool! But obviously you don't.'

'I might,' said Eduardo. 'You never know – I haven't seen them yet.'

'You think it's stupid.'

'No I don't.'

'Yes you do.'

'Who knows what I think – me or you?'

'Okay,' said Kylie, smiling again, 'so what do you think?'

'I won't know until I get there,' said Eduardo. 'Whatever happens, I'll love to see you happy and caught up in everything. And who knows? Maybe I'll start to feel the same way.'

'Well,' said Kylie, 'don't force it.'

'I couldn't do that. That kind of thing is like an orgasm – if you think about it too much, it goes away.'

Kylie laughed, then detached herself from him and said, 'All right, let's pack up those clothes you brought that are dry, and then see about going to bed.'

*

The morning was bright and windy when they found themselves approaching a big green hill with a stone doorway leading into its centre. Several other tourists were milling about, some going in or out of the doorway, others sitting in the surrounding greenery and simply enjoying each other's company, or their own. Kylie, carrying a small shoulder bag, approached the doorway in the hill and walked through it. Eduardo stopped outside, and began to look uncomfortable.

'What's up, sweetie?' asked Kylie, popping her head out of the hill.

'This place gives me the creeps,' said Eduardo. 'Is it the Neanderthal burial tomb?'

'Maeshowe, yes,' said Kylie. 'You mean you didn't know? Wow, you really are picking up on something. Do you want to wait for me outside?'

'No, I'll go in,' said Eduardo. Then he grinned at her. 'But you'll hold my hand, won't you?'

Kylie laughed. 'Of course.'

They entered the doorway hand in hand, and Eduardo found that he had to duck as they made their way down a stone passageway, which then emerged into a large chamber in which he was able to stand upright.

'You okay?' asked Kylie.

'Of course I'm okay,' said Eduardo. 'It's just an old burial mound full of tourists – nothing's going to happen to me here.'

'Are you telling me or yourself?'

'Both, I guess. Don't you think it's creepy?'

'I guess I do,' said Kylie, 'but then I like creepy things, don't I? Anyway, it's perfectly okay to feel creeped out even though you know nothing's going to happen. It just means there probably is something there, but it's not going to do anything to you. Maybe this place has a Hogboon.'

'A what?'

'A Hogboon. They're goblin-like creatures who inhabit old burial mounds in the Orkneys.'

'Only in the Orkneys?'

'That's what I've read.'

'Well then,' said Eduardo, 'I'd say this place definitely has a Hogboon.'

'Not necessarily,' said Kylie. 'See, they don't like visitors. They'd be better off in any of the other burial mounds which are just lumps of earth, where people aren't always in and out to see all these surviving chambers and runes and things. Ooh, I know – let's find the Viking runes!'

Eduardo smiled indulgently as she went skipping off to examine the walls. When she settled on a particular spot and peered through the dim artificial light at the stonework, Eduardo strolled over to stand beside her.

'Weren't the Vikings a lot of raping, murdering, pillaging assholes?' he asked.

'Some of them,' said Kylie, 'but not really more than any other ancient settlers. The world used to be extremely uncivilised, you know.'

'Yeah, I know. So uncivilised we still haven't quite finished fixing it yet. People still do exactly this, don't they?' He gestured at the Viking runes. 'This is vandalism, right? I mean, this place was sacred to the native people before the Vikings got here.'

'Yes,' said Kylie, and flashed him a smile. 'There, I knew I wanted to travel the world with a handsome, intelligent man.'

'Oh, anyone could think of that,' Eduardo said modestly. 'Does anybody know what this stuff actually means?'

'Are you interested?'

'Not really. I just can't really see the point of looking at it if no one knows what it means.'

'Well,' said Kylie, 'there are some rough translations, but I won't tell you if you're not interested.'

She walked off and looked at another wall. Eduardo sloped after her. Neither of them said anything for a while. Kylie wandered into a small cell off the main chamber, stayed there for a minute or so, then wandered out again. They met in the middle of the main chamber, looked at each other, and laughed.

'What are we doing?' said Kylie.

'Well,' said Eduardo, 'I'm waiting for you to admit you want to tell me what the runes mean.'

'Oh yeah?' said Kylie. 'Well, I'm waiting for you to admit you want me to tell you what the runes mean. Which you just did!'

'I did not!'

'Don't you want to know, then?'

'I don't care.'

'Fine,' said Kylie, and went wandering off to another small cell, opposite the one she had first entered.

Eduardo followed her, took her into his arms and said, 'Let's not do this again. I give in. Tell me.'

'You really wanna know?' asked Kylie.

'Yes, I really do.'

Kylie grinned. 'Okay. I've read that most of them mean pretty much the same thing as some of the graffiti we see in New York all the time, like Somebody-or-other carved these runes and Jerusalem men broke into this hill.'

'Seriously?' said Eduardo. 'And there was me thinking you'd tell me it was something really historical and important. But I guess that doesn't make any sense, does it? If you'd come to desecrate a conquered people's burial mound, that's just the kind of thing you would carve into the walls.'

'Right. There's some sexual innuendo as well, so I've heard.'

Eduardo laughed. 'What, like, Hildegard takes it up the back passage?'

Kylie laughed too. 'Something like that. In fact, I think I did read that there's something about many women coming in here and bending down, or something.'

'I wonder which part says that,' said Eduardo, leaning his head out of the cell to look at the wall with the runes on it.

'I'm afraid I don't know,' said Kylie. 'But hey, at least you're interested. You'd better take a picture of the runes.'

'Okay. You gonna pose for it?'

'What, you mean bending down like the Viking women?'

Eduardo laughed. 'Sure.'

'No.'

*

A short while later, they were walking hand in hand between a road and a cow field, Kylie on the strip of grass running alongside the wire fence and Eduardo on the right-hand edge of the road itself.

'Are you sure this is against traffic?' asked Eduardo.

'Yes,' said Kylie. 'This is still the UK, remember. Anyway, what traffic? If anything comes, we'll see it a mile off.'

'Yeah, you can see everything a mile off here,' said Eduardo. 'Oh look, now it's sheep.'

'Hello, sheep,' Kylie said cheerfully, as she stepped across the border to the sheep field, and Eduardo laughed. Then she pointed at something in the middle of the field. 'And that must be the Barnhouse Stone. That means we're close!'

Eduardo looked sceptically at the lichen-covered column of stone in the middle of the field.

'What's the point of that, then?' he asked.

'Nobody's really quite sure.'

'Oh, one of those.'

'Well,' said Kylie, 'the interesting thing about it is, it's perfectly aligned to the Maeshowe entrance.'

'Yeah, it doesn't look like there'd be anything more interesting than that about it,' said Eduardo.

Kylie elbowed him lightly in the stomach. Eduardo laughed, rubbed his stomach and said, 'Sorry.'

'Well,' said Kylie, 'we already talked about how you can't force it. I guess I just got my hopes up a little after you were interested in those Viking runes.'

'Yeah, well, we had some idea what those meant,' said Eduardo. 'But that thing... it's nothing!'

They walked on, and at one point Eduardo had to step onto the grass verge as a car went by. They happened to be adjacent to the Barnhouse Stone at the time. He looked over at it and said, 'They don't mind the sheep hanging around that thing, do they?'

'I think it's fenced off,' said Kylie, squinting at the stone.

'As important as that, huh?' said Eduardo, hopping back down onto the road again as they walked on. 'For all we know, it might not have any significance at all. Somebody might just've put it there to annoy their neighbour or something.'

'Maybe,' said Kylie, 'but that's an interesting idea enough in itself, isn't it?'

'Not really,' said Eduardo.

Soon after this they came to a crossroads. Kylie stopped and pulled out a map.

'Why are you stopping?' asked Eduardo. 'Not lost, are you?'

'No,' said Kylie. 'Everything else on today's agenda is off in that direction,' and she pointed to the right. 'But there's also a gas station with a store straight on, and there won't be another opportunity to get anything to eat until we get to Skara Brae, and that's a long way and I'm not even sure how we're getting there.'

'How far is it?' asked Eduardo.

'Not as far as the bus brought us from Kirkwall,' said Kylie, consulting her map, 'but noticeably more than half. From the Ring of Brodgar I think it's about, um... four and a half miles?'

'Well, we thought nothing of four miles in Haworth, did we? And what do we do when we're done at Skara Brae – bus back to Kirkwall?'

'Yes, we'd have to.'

'I vote we walk there.'

'Okay,' said Kylie, looking at her map. 'In that case, let's carry on this way to the gas station and get some sandwiches or something. It's not far, then we can come back and take this turning, and then it's not far to the Standing Stones of Stenness, and then it's not far to the Barnhouse Settlement, and then it's not far to the Ring of Brodgar. Then it is far to Skara Brae.'

'It's not. What's four and a half miles?'

'Well, it's not nothing. Why are you so keen on walking all of a sudden? Back home, you never want to walk anywhere that's more than ten minutes away.'

'I guess I just like walking around new places with you,' said Eduardo. 'Come on – let's go get these sandwiches if we're gonna.'

*

At the Standing Stones of Stenness, Eduardo's entire countenance showed that he was very unimpressed. He watched Kylie enjoying the stones for a while, then turned his back to them and looked at the nearby loch.

'Okay, I'm done here,' said Kylie, going up to him and slipping her arm through his. 'Now, the Barnhouse Settlement is just along this road.'

'Is that the place we bought tickets for in the Victorian mill museum?'

'Yes.'

'Well, I guess an ancient settlement might be a little more interesting,' said Eduardo. 'I mean, at least we know what the point of a settlement was.'

Kylie turned him round and led him along the road to the Barnhouse Settlement, which turned out to be a large area of greenery peppered with ancient stone floors and bits of wall that came no higher than Kylie's knees. She walked among them, drinking in the atmosphere, while Eduardo stood a little distance away on the narrowest strip of path between the two nearby lochs, admiring first one body of water and then the other. After a while, Kylie went to join him.

'You found another standing stone,' she remarked.

'I did?' said Eduardo, looking at the lichen-covered column of stone to his right. 'Oh, yeah, I guess I did. But I like the lakes better. Sorry, I mean lochs, don't I? What are their names?'

Kylie took out her map and consulted it. 'The one you're looking at right now is the Loch of Stenness, unsurprisingly, and the one on the other side is the Loch of Harray. We'll have that one pretty much right beside us all the way to the Ring of Brodgar.'

'That's more standing stones, right?'

'Right.'

'Are they any different from the last ones?'

'I think they're further apart from each other than the last ones.'

'Oh.'

'Don't you have a sarcastic comment to make?' asked Kylie. 'I mean, I heard that – I could not have made them sound less interesting.'

'But you find them interesting,' said Eduardo. 'I don't wanna make fun.'

Kylie laughed. 'What do you mean, you don't wanna make fun? You would've two or three years ago.'

'Like we'd be here if it was two or three years ago. Come on – let's go see these standing stones. Then we can have our nice long walk to this other place.'

They walked along the strip of road between the Loch of Harray and the Loch of Stenness. Soon, much more land appeared between them and the Loch of Stenness on their left, and a very little more land appeared on their right. Very soon after this happened, the Ring of Brodgar became visible on their left.

'It's fenced off,' Eduardo remarked.

'It can't go all the way around,' said Kylie. 'Look, there's people walking around in there.'

They carried on alongside the fence, then took a left turn onto a rough footpath and found the way was open to them.

'So,' said Eduardo, as they approached the stones, 'I know no one knows what these standing stone things really are, but what do you think? I mean, what would you like them to be?'

'I'd like them to be giants that were turned to stone,' said Kylie, 'but I think it's more likely they're some kind of calendar.'

Eduardo raised an eyebrow. 'More likely? You didn't get that from being a Ghostbuster for three and a half years, did you?'

'Well,' said Kylie, 'I guess I'm mostly thinking about Stonehenge marking the solstices. I don't think it's so easy to see things like that on other standing stones, but it makes sense they were for the same kind of thing.' Then she dug him in the ribs, and added, 'Like you care.'

'I care what you think,' said Eduardo.

'Well,' said Kylie, 'whatever we feel about this place, I think we should stay for a while and rest up before the walk to Skara Brae.'

*

'Oh look,' Kylie said some time later, when they were walking alongside yet more fields. 'We're at the T-junction – that means we're more than halfway. We must've come almost three miles.'

'Didn't seem like anything, did it?' said Eduardo.

'It was okay,' said Kylie, 'but now I'm definitely ready for a sit-down and a gas station sandwich. Look, here's a nice big piece of grass verge.'

'Doesn't it belong to the farm, or one of these houses?' asked Eduardo.

'Doesn't look like it,' said Kylie. 'It's not fenced off, and anyway if they're not gonna provide benches, what do they expect? Besides, the people here are all so nice, I'm sure no one would mind us sitting here for twenty minutes or so. Obviously we'll take our trash with us.'

'Everyone must be very good about that,' said Eduardo, as they settled themselves on the roadside verge and Kylie took two plastic-wrapped sandwiches from her bag. 'There's no trash cans for miles, but no one litters.'

'Well, you don't really see anyone walking along these roads but us,' said Kylie. 'Maybe people leave their trash on the bus.'

'I don't think so. I think everyone's making a real effort to take care of these islands.'

'Not like the Vikings, huh? Oh, sorry – you're not interested in that.'

Eduardo gave her a look. 'I am interested. I had plenty to say about the Viking runes. And I liked that Yorkshire farmhouse with the tax-exempt window, didn't I? And I was able to tell you all about the history of Día de Muertos when the occasion called for it, wasn't I? And if you'd come to the Mayan remains on Cozumel with us last year, you'd have heard me trying to engage Carlos in the history of el Arco.'

'All right, all right, I'm sorry,' said Kylie. 'Now calm down and eat your sandwich.'

'Well,' Eduardo went on, 'it's true that standing stones don't speak to me, and I admit even the stuff I am interested in doesn't sweep me away, like what happens to you here.'

'There, then, I was right,' said Kylie. Then, after a pause, she asked, 'What does sweep you away?'

'Oh,' said Eduardo, 'I thought you knew!'

'Well, if you won't talk about your feelings...'

'I do talk to you about my feelings! All the time!'

'I know, sweetie, I know,' said Kylie, giving him a soothing pat on the knee. 'Of course I know what sweeps you away. Well... well... there's, um... well, I sweep you away.'

Eduardo smiled. 'Correct.'

'And, um... Whitby?'

'Yes.'

'And various things that you do with Kevin, like reading Harry Potter together, and checking his Spanish homework and realising there are no mistakes. And... and sea turtles, sometimes.' Then she smiled secretly, snuggled into him and said in a low voice, 'Making love on a secluded beach in the dead of night.'

'Well,' said Eduardo, putting his arm around her, 'your lovemaking sweeps me away anywhere, Ky.'

'See? I do know.'

'Then why'd you ask?'

'Because you're not very demonstrative. You might be feeling all kinds of things on the inside that I don't know anything about. Y'know, all of those things are very much of the present. You were right about your mind being in the here and now.'

'I know I was right. I'm very in touch with my feelings.'

They ate in silence for a while, then later as Kylie was putting the plastic sandwich wrappers back into her bag, she said, 'Speaking of feelings, how did you feel about your gas station sandwich?'

'I felt pretty good about it,' said Eduardo. 'I wouldn't expect more from a gas station.'

'There's a tea room not far from Skara Brae,' said Kylie. 'We'll be able to enjoy one more round of cakes baked this morning with jam made from people's home-grown produce and stuff. I doubt they have those in London.'

'We'd better get going,' said Eduardo, rising to his feet. 'I'm sure we'll both be glad to see some restrooms by the time we get there.'

*

Unlike the Barnhouse Settlement, Skara Brae's entire layout and much of its function could be seen from its remains. Most of these consisted of stone-built homes that were pretty much still complete, with only their roofs missing, allowing a good view of the layout from above. The houses had been built into a small hill by the coast, with the earth dug out and the buildings sunk into the ground.

'These doorways are about the right size for you, Ky,' Eduardo remarked, as he ducked into one of the roofless houses.

'Maybe that's why I like ancient history,' said Kylie. 'Everybody was the right size back then. Wow – this place is amazing! You can see where they ate and slept and made their bread and everything!'

'Why is there a big hole in the middle of the floor?' asked Eduardo.

'I don't know,' said Kylie. 'I'll check.' She produced a visitor guide from her bag and consulted it. 'It says here they might have used it to boil water.'

'How?' Eduardo asked sceptically.

'By filling it with water, heating stones on the fire and then putting the stones in the water.'

'Why didn't they just heat their water over the fire?'

'Because, um... oh, they put fish in there. They used it to boil fish. Well, they might have.'

'Might have,' Eduardo said scathingly. 'For all anyone knows, they might have used it as some kind of animal pen, or a foot spa, or they might have pissed in it.'

'They definitely didn't piss in it,' said Kylie. 'They have a drainage system for that.'

'Where?' asked Eduardo, looking very surprised.

'Outside somewhere. You wanna go look at it?'

'Yes,' said Eduardo, and he followed her out of the house. 'How old did you say this place was?'

'About five thousand years.'

'That's before the Romans, isn't it?'

'Yeah, way before.'

'Well then, why does everyone say the Romans invented drainage systems? I'm never gonna believe anything I hear about history ever again!'

'It's good to question things that are presented as historical fact,' said Kylie, as she drew to a halt by a covered hole in the ground. She consulted her guidebook again. 'This is the drain as far as I can remember, sweetie. Yes... yes, this is it. So, you find this interesting, huh?'

'Yeah, I do,' said Eduardo, crouching down to examine the drain. 'It's not sweeping me away, and it's not as interesting to me as some other things from history, but it is interesting.'

'More or less interesting than the tax-exempt window?'

'About the same.'

'I know what it is,' said Kylie. 'You're interested in things that raise questions about how the world works. Why do people feel the need to desecrate other people's property? Is it right that people had to pay window tax at all? Given that they did, is it right that they could get out of it by carving Dairy on the lintel? Is everything everyone says about the Romans actually a steaming pile of horse crap? That kind of thing.'

'Yeah, I guess so,' said Eduardo, as he got up from examining the drain.

'Now it all makes sense,' said Kylie. 'You can't get anything like that from standing stones.'

'Does everything have to make sense?' asked Eduardo. 'Do all the things that speak to different people have to speak to them for a reason?'

'No, I guess not,' said Kylie. 'Still, I like to understand as much as I can.'

'Except what the hell the point was of standing stones.'

'But I do understand about that. I understand that I like standing stones because I'm intrigued by the mystery. I think if I ever did find out the answer... well, then the magic would be gone.'

'Well,' said Eduardo, 'the good news is, you never will find out.'

'I'm hungry,' Kylie announced suddenly. 'Let's go get some cake.'

*

A couple of hours later, they were standing at a bus stop with Skara Brae and the coast still in view, and Kylie was frowning at the bus timetable.

'I don't believe a word this thing tells me,' she said. 'I bet six fifty-four actually means six forty-four, and we just missed it, and now we'll have to wait for like an hour.'

'Ky, come on,' said Eduardo, gesturing at the view. 'Look where we are! There are far worse places to wait for a bus.'

'I know that,' said Kylie, 'but we do have to get up early tomorrow. God, I hope our clothes are dry!'

'Right,' said Eduardo, his smile drooping, 'more travelling around this country that it's so hard to travel around. How do we get to London?'

'Plane.'

'You mean... just a plane? Just one plane?'

'Yes,' said Kylie. 'Well, then we have to get to our youth hostel. There's no simple route from Heathrow Airport, so I thought we could splash out on a taxi rather than trying to get there on a bunch of trains and buses.'

'Sounds good,' said Eduardo. 'So, we're definitely going straight back to the hostel now? You're sure you want to leave without making love on one of these wild, desolate beaches?'

'Well,' said Kylie, 'I was wondering about that. The problem is, it doesn't seem to get completely dark here, does it?'

'Well, we're not a million miles away from the North Pole, are we?'

'No, we're about two thousand miles away from it, which sounds like a lot but it isn't.'

'Doesn't feel like a lot either,' said Eduardo, shivering slightly. Then he smiled and began stroking Kylie's hair. 'Let's just make love in our nice, warm youth hostel bed, shall we?'

'If we ever get back to it,' said Kylie, trying to sound grumpy, but she was smiling as Eduardo wrapped his arms around her.

They were lost in a deep, lingering kiss when suddenly the sound of a car horn cut across them. They jumped apart like startled rabbits, looked round and saw Kate waving to them from a car window. They scurried over to her.

'Do you two do anything besides snog?' she asked jovially.

'Oh, one or two things,' said Kylie.

'There's room for two more if you want a lift,' said Kate.

'Are you sure?' asked Eduardo, looking dubiously through the windows of the almost-full car.

'Absolutely,' said Kate, 'if Kylie sits on your lap. Even if the local bobby sees us, he won't care. Please get in – I don't want you waiting for a bus half the night. Move over, you lot – we're taking two more.'

'Thanks, Kate,' said Kylie, as the people in the back of the car squished together, and she and Eduardo climbed in.

'You're leaving tomorrow, aren't you?' said Kate, as she started to drive off.

'Yes, we are,' said Kylie, who was indeed sitting on Eduardo's lap. 'How sweet of you to remember.'

'Where are you going?'

'London.'

'Well,' said Kate, 'that'll be a change. The buses there are extremely frequent, but the drivers are absolute arseholes – completely power mad. You take my advice and stick to the trains.'

'We'll remember that,' said Eduardo.

'Can I have an email address for you both?' asked Kate. 'I'd like to stay in touch.'

'Of course,' said Kylie, smiling broadly. 'I bet the people aren't as friendly in London, are they?'

Kate laughed. 'You'd get next to no odds on that bet, Kylie. Och, no, I don't really mean that – most Londoners are nice enough. You might not exchange email addresses with anyone there, but you'll be all right.'

'What are you planning to do in London?' asked one of Kate's companions, a young man.

'Not sure yet,' said Kylie. 'Anything you recommend?'

'Loads of stuff,' said the man. 'If you like your history there's the Tower, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Pudding Lane and the Monument – all that stuff.'

'What if you don't like your history?' asked Eduardo, exchanging a smile with Kylie.

'The London Eye, of course,' said Kate. 'But you'd be going on that whether we told you to or not. They didn't put it there just to be ignored by American tourists.'

'Cool,' said Kylie. 'Then that's what we'll do first.'