Holiday romances are a terrible cliché and should not be taken seriously at any cost but I’ve just come back from a Nile cruise followed by 3 nights in Cairo and guess what? I fell in love.
Having steeled myself never to allow another man anywhere near my heart ever again (my body is another matter . . . ) this Prince of Egypt with his devastating good looks, liquid eyes, batwing eyelashes and thick black locks swept me off my feet the second my gaze lit on him.
I didn’t seek it - I didn’t want it - I didn’t need it! - but there it was: heart fluttering like a trapped butterfly, breath catching in my dry throat, clammy palms, nervous giggles – the whole nine yards.
Of course when I say ‘in love’ I actually mean ‘in lust’. He was – and is – drop dead gorgeous.
For the first few days we flirted: little flashes of eye contact, secret smiles, looks than lasted longer than was strictly necessary. A tentative dialogue began: about the temples and the tombs at Luxor, the camel ride to the Nubian village, the felucca boat near Aswan and all the wondrous wonders of his amazing ancient world.
Almost subliminally, he began to materialise wherever I happened to be: on the sun terrace, round the pool, in the lounge, the dining-room, the reception area, the Panorama Bar. Late one afternoon at sunset, when everyone else had gone to their cabins to get ready for the Galabaya Party, I stayed writing up on deck. A lone figure lingered near the prow gazing out as the languid river drifted slowly past.
My concentration deserted me. I closed my laptop and wandered over to where he stood. And when he looked at me directly, up close for the first time, I drowned . . . drowned in the eternal well of his smouldering chestnut eyes.
What quirk of fate is this? I thought. To come away with my sister to a country no one wanted us to go to and find this magician, this weaver of spells, this legend of the Pharaohs right here in my face?
“Hello again” he whispered, as if we’d known each other long ago in another place and time. The words felt like warm treacle being spread across my breasts.
With very little more passing between us, we contrived to spend more time together. Intimate glances became our private language and I knew – as a perceptive woman – that something special had begun.
We snatched an hour on the last night, up on deck beneath a lemon moon - talking, teasing, our voices thick with promise. I told him (rather cleverly I thought) that my mobile was not receiving calls and would he mind dialling it. So now he had my number.
When time ran out, we said goodbye. He took a step towards me . . . then shook my hand instead. The kiss hovered unfulfilled between us in the air, the power of the visceral more intense than the carnal. We had our chance but didn’t take it. Nothing as base as cabin-hopping for the likes of us!
The minute I left, the texting began. I miss you. I need you. When will we meet again? How can I survive without your smile?
God knows what my bill’s going to be but you know something? I don’t care. Connections like this don’t come along that often and although I’ll probably never see him again, it was a lovely interlude.
And a little bit married.
So now I’m going to get on with my life and not cry because it’s over but smile because it happened.