The wind on the sea was pleasant as James stood on the deck, the motion of the ship barely noticeable as they chugged across the pond like calm of the Tyrrhennian Sea from Capri to Naples.
Behind him, over the quiet drum of the engines Helen's shoes tapped on the wood as she approached and James turned to see her walking towards him across the deck with a bottle and two cups.
"Peace offering," she murmured as he took it from her and gave him a tight smile. When he didn't return it she sighed and her shoulders sagged. "You're stuck on this tub with me for the next few hours, James."
He twisted the cap and flicked it over the side, letting his gaze drift along the Italian coast for a minute before his eyes came to rest on her face. Her hair was whipping about in the breeze and reached a finger to pull away a strand that had stuck to her lip.
"I was thinking," he began and Helen chuffed in amusement.
"I've heard it's something that you do," she teased and he curled his lip in a ghost of a smile.
"I think we should have the villa signed back to you, instead of us both," he continued and Helen opened her mouth and then closed it again. "I can't imagine I'll be coming back here, not without you at least."
Helen grimaced and held the cups as he poured, the water fizzing as it ran from the bottle. She watched the foam recede and pursed her lips.
"It's not like you're never going to see me again James," she said sadly.
"Still, I...I don't want it. I bought it for you anyway," James explained taking a long drink.
"I don't know what to say James," Helen confessed. "I can't imagine coming here without you."
"You'll become accustomed to it I'm sure." She snapped her head up and met his eyes. "Come on Helen," he mocked. "You've got it all planned out, your new life, your new Sanctuary." Helen didn't respond, just stood beside him holding her cup tightly and staring at the loose knot of his tie.
"I can't stay in London any more James," she said after a while. "I walk down the street and I barely recognise it."
"Things change Helen and so do people. You don't need to explain."
"It doesn't feel like home any more." She turned the cup around and around in her fingers.
"You don't need my permission, Helen. I'm not your husband or your keeper. You're your own woman. You always were," James said, staring past her shoulder at the blue sky beyond. Helen's mouth turned down at the corners and she stared at her hand as it trembled. "No, when we get back to London..." She raised her eyes to his face and he licked his lips, trying to avoid her gaze.
"I'll miss you," she uttered but James didn't respond. He turned to drop his cup into the trash and walked away across the deck. Helen watched his retreating figure disappear through a door and stood for a long time, gazing out across the mild swell of the Tyrrhenian sea, the gentle slough of the waves against the hull and the low hum of the engines in her ears.