The story so far: Vera is having boyfriend trouble with Robby because her old friend Ruben started flirting with her.
Bang went the front door. From the kitchen table the house residents just caught a glimpse of Vera walking to her room before she slammed that door too.
‘This can’t go on,’ said Derk. ‘Ever since all that fuss with Robby she has shut herself up all week and doesn’t talk to anyone. We’ve got to do something.’ All the others nodded in agreement, except Bianca. ‘What though? I have already tried to talk to her but you don’t get anywhere.’ An awkward silence fell, in which Willem-Jan showed excessive interest in the tablecloth and Bianca looked hopefully at Derk.
‘That’s it exactly: we’ve got to do something instead of talking,’ said Derk. ‘Get her outside, away from it all. Give her something else to think about. What if we all took part in the New Year’s day dip in the Rhine?’
The suggestion was not exactly welcomed with open arms but after a heated discussion Bianca and Willem-Jan were finally persuaded. Only Filippo stuck to his guns. ‘Sorry man, I do want to cheer her up, but no way am I going to swim in freezing water. You have to go without me.’
A couple of weeks later the holidays were in full swing and Derk had convinced all the others, including Vera, to go down to the Rhine. Once there Vera collapsed on the grass. She clearly had no intention of going into the water. Bianca glanced hesitantly at Derk who was getting ready to go for a swim anyway. So she and Willem-Jan started to get changed, shivering all the while.
‘Come on in, Vera,’ insisted Derk. ‘Yes, come on. A refreshing start to the new year,’ said Willem-Jan. All he got for his pains was a dirty look.
‘OK, well we are going in,’ said Derk. At that moment Filippo appeared at a run, wrapped up warm. In no time he had stripped off down to swimming trunks with the Italian flag and a Unox woolly hat. He gave the astonished Vera a kiss on her forehead and ran headlong into the Rhine.
As soon as he felt the water on his legs he he started yelling and cursing in Italian. Willem-Jan ran over to him and pushed him over, only to be ducked under water himself. Derk followed suit and as Bianca went down to the water she glanced questioningly at Vera. She shook her head. But Bianca could have sworn she saw a hint of a smile for the first time in weeks.