'I think we're just going round in circles, Harry', Nadia sighed, closing her laptop. 'I'm clear out of inspiration. Shall we call it a day?'
Harry nodded. 'Do you want another pot of tea making?'
Nadia laughed. 'Tea; the British answer to everything.' She bit on her lower lip then continued, looking up at him beguilingly. 'Harry...'
'You want me to stay again?' Harry smiled, then took her hand and squeezed it affectionately. 'Of course I will. I'll give the folks at the apartment a call so they know not to expect me back tonight.' He patted his pocket, checking for his mobile phone. 'Just gotta pop outside, so I can get a better signal.'
Harry got up from where he was sitting on the bed and walked across to the door to the outside, sliding it noisily aside. 'Looking like it's gonna be a cold night tonight,' he called back,' there's no clouds in the sky, and I'm already starting to feel a bit of a nip in the air. Still, it is still only February; we often get frost and snow at this time of year.'
'Thank you, Michael Fish,' Nadia giggled. 'Mind you, didn't he always get the weather wrong on those flashback montages that they used to show on tv years ago?'
'No hurricanes forecast for tonight, just a possibilty of frost on higher ground,' Harry replied, moving outside. 'If I feel any sudden gusts of wind, I'll be sure to tie myself down to the truck, okay?'
Harry pulled his phone out and began dialling. His phone was a very basic one with no additional functions or add-ons, but did everything he needed it to do. Nadia kept teasing him about it, saying that it was an 'older' person's phone and that he should throw it away and get something that could access the internet and take photographs and store all his appointments, but Harry's argument was that it was his third phone in two years and that since he'd lost one and crushed another, it was all for the best that it was as sturdy and as uncomplicated as possible.
'Hello. Oh hi, Dan! It's Harry,' Harry began. 'Something's come up again and I'm stopping over with Nadia again tonight.
Over the phone, Dan sounded grumpy, expressing his disappointment that Harry had chosen the night when he was down on the rota for washing-up duties and for cleaning the kitchen afterwards.
'What can I say,' Harry countered. 'It's just the way things fall. I'm just providing moral support and comfort when she needs it. She's a young woman living on her own; she just needs a little company now and again...'
On the other end of the line, Dan laughed, then offered some alternative descriptions for the type of company he thought Harry could provide overnight.
'Hey, man,' Harry protested. 'She's just a sweet kid. We're not doing anything like that! I think a heck of a lot about her, but it's all strictly Platonic.'
Dan went on a little longer, persistently refusing to believe his increasingly emphatic denials, but then Harry just laughed it off and then hung up on him.
'Those guys,' Harry chuckled, shaking his head.
The light was starting to fade quickly now and the stars were beginning to show, particularly in the east. Harry shivered in his hooded fleece and then pulled the door to one side again to go back in to Nadia. Standing in the doorway, he turned and looked outside again, feeling uneasy for a moment, and then went back inside.
'Nadia. I've told the guys not to expect me back tonight. I'm yours to command until tomorrow morning, my Lady!'
'I should hope so too, my vassal. While you're at it, you can boil me a kettle and then make that tea you'd promised me ten minutes ago.' Nadia giggled. 'I should have you soundly whipped for your unacceptable dereliction of your duties!'
'Yes, my Lady. Sorry, my Lady,' Harry laughed, bowing and then tugging his forelock in obeisance.
'And while you're at it, can you bring me that biscuit tin with the chocolate chip cookies in it? You can feed them to me until I begin to feel less grouchy. It's possible that there may even be one left for you by the time I'm beginning to feel more benevolent and generous.'
Harry smiled and busied himself with the tea-making paraphenalia Nadia had, taking a few moments to open the biscuit barrel to check that there were enough biscuits in it to satisfy Nadia's sweet tooth.
A couple of hours later Nadia was fast asleep. Harry was in his now-customary arm chair, leafing through a seed catalogue. A low muffled rumbling noise caught his attention and he looked up and across at the door, seeing a vertical line of light between the door and the frame.
'Nadia, hon? Wake up Nadia.' Harry hurried across, grasped her shoulders and gave her a gentle but firm shake. 'Nadia, I think there's something going on outside.'
'Wha?' Nadia looked up at him, bleary-eyed.
'Come on,' Harry said. 'Hurry!'
Harry strode across to the door, made as though to push it aside and then stopped. He then stepped back, cursing softly. 'Nadia,' he said. 'The door feels very hot. I could feel it long before my hands touched it. I think that someone's lit a fire right outside the door. I think that we've been trapped inside here.'