When you have pure liquid sodium chloride, what is the behavior of the individual sodium and chloride ions? Do they retain some loose semblance of "structure" as per their crystal lattice? If not, what forces are evident between the ions? I've thought about this question and I don't feel as if each cation and anion would pair up and then each "salt molecule" would be free flowing. However, on the other hand, having only free ions with electrostatic attraction and repulsion forces seems just as unlikely.
I've been looking for answers for this for hours and nothing has helped so far.
I understand that melting solid sodium chloride means that the ionic bonding present in the crystal lattice is "broken down" to the point where the lattice itself is no longer evident. I just can't seem to grasp what is happening at the atomic/molecular level.