I shake my head. “So what’s in store for the middle of the night?”
“It’s six o’clock in the morning,” he scoffs.
“The only way I see six o’clock in the morning is when I’m coming home to go to bed.”
“Well, Mick Jagger, that wild way of life is over for the moment, so instead we’ve got wake-the-day meditation.”
“Did you just compare me to a rock star who looks like a raisin on a pair of legs?” I blink. “Wake-the-day meditation,” I say in a tone of absolute disgust. “What the fuck is that? Am I to be responsible for the sun coming up on this ship too?”
Eli tosses a bundle of clothes at me. “I’m sorry to interrupt your messianic leanings,” he says, not at all apologetically. “Put those on and hurry up. We’ll have breakfast afterwards.”
I look down at the tight, grey marl, full-length leggings and black vest in dismay. “Surely there must be something else we can do?” I say, and I can hear the desperation in my voice. “My brother’s the spiritual yoga person in our family.”
He stops and looks at me curiously. “Is he? Is he any good?”
“Very,” I say, hearing the pride in my voice. “He teaches a class in the village now.”
“That’s an accomplishment for him, I think.”
I peer at him. “He had a stutter,” I say. “You could probably hear a trace of it in the way he speaks now.”
He nods. “It must have been nice having you as a brother.”
I wince. “Not really,” I mutter, feeling his interest sharpen, but he doesn’t ask me any questions. His infuriating lack of pushing for answers always makes me want to knock him over the fucking head with them. “I was a terrible brother,” I admit. “I was away at boarding school anyway, but when I was at home I was impatient with him and distant. I’m trying now, though,” I finish earnestly. “I want a relationship with him.”
“You must be doing something right,” Eli says in a mellow voice. “He obviously loves you.”
“That’s family. You can’t help that,” I scoff. Nevertheless, I feel a relaxing in the tenseness that always surrounds me when I think of the mess I made of the relationship with my brother.
“Not always,” he says, and there’s a finality in his voice that makes me drop the conversation.
Even though it’s early in the morning, there’s still a bustle to the ship as staff hose down the outside decks and sort out the bars to the accompaniment of a multitude of languages spoken in bright, eager voices.
I follow Eli up the steps towards the top deck, trying not to stare at his arse in those leggings. It’s actually impossible, as if my eyes are magnetized and he’s got an iron backside. Nevertheless, I manage to wrench my gaze away from the magnet’s pull and that’s when I spot it.
“Is that a tattoo on your back?” I ask, looking at the grey lines I can see as his vest shifts.
He looks back, smiling slightly. “It might be. Why?”
“No reason,” I immediately say, trying for an air of studied disinterest. By the quirk of his mouth I’m guessing I’m not hitting any acting strides today, so I give up. “I like tattoos,” I say instead.
“It is a tattoo,” he says. “It’s a dragon, which is very stereotypical for a Welsh man. And also stupid because it fucking hurt having something that big over my back.” He looks at me. “Have you got any?”
I shake my head. “Nope. It’s not really good for an actor.”
He comes to a stop, the breeze blowing strands of hair around his clear, unlined forehead. “But loads of actors have got them.”
“Now they have. When I started in the business it wasn’t encouraged.”
He nods seriously. “I guess they were too concerned with introducing sound into films at that point.”
For a beat I stare at him and then, to my amazement, laughter bubbles out and I give a disgusting snort. “Yes, damn those pesky talkies.”
Eli grins at me happily before turning round and mounting the stairs in his characteristic long-legged strides. I’ve noticed that he never seems to rush anywhere, but somehow he seems to get to places quicker than anyone else.
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