Under An Island Sun – Episode 11

The main characters from the story


Little Hugo charged at Hilary like a cannonball as she and Mairi got out of the car the next morning.

Chris and Isabella lived a few miles inland in a small, comfortable house with hibiscus edging the small paved area at the front.

Isabella stood in the open doorway, shaking her head at her lively son.

She looked less pale than she had when Hilary had last seen her a few days earlier.

Caring for Hugo was exhausting at the best of times, Hilary knew.

She was quietly relieved when Mairi scooped him up and spun him round, causing delighted shrieks.

“How’s my little man? Come and show your auntie Mairi what’s changed since she was last here.

“I bet there’s lots. You’re bigger, for a start.”

She carried him off, nodding as he chattered away in Spanglish, as they called his childish combination of languages.

“Antonio and Philippe have already arrived,” Isabella told Hilary as they hugged.

“They’re inside with Chris.

“They say women talk a lot, but Chris and Antonio are far worse!”

Philippe was in the living-room, studying a map of the island.

Hilary introduced him to Mairi, who had managed to persuade Hugo down by now, although he still held on to her hand.

When his “Hello” came out at the same time as hers, they both laughed awkwardly. For a second Hilary thought she caught a spark between them.

Before she could decide whether she’d imagined it, the moment was broken as Mairi was tugged back by Hugo, who wanted to show her his toy boat.

Philippe gave a pensive-looking smile and enquired if Hilary had had a good journey.

As she replied, she told herself that there could be nothing between the two young people.

Philippe had a girlfriend and Mairi had made her situation clear the previous day.

It seemed a shame, somehow.

Laughter from the kitchen preceded Chris and Isabella emerging with the other member of the team, the men carrying trays of coffee and cake.

She’d forgotten that Isabella, being hospitable, would insist on feeding them, and felt guilty that she hadn’t thought to help out.

“Mum, meet Antonio,” Chris said.

A swarthy, middle-aged man of average height placed his tray down carefully before stepping forward and holding out his hand.

“Welcome. It is a pleasure to meet you. I am looking forward to working together.”

Hilary’s first thought, as she took in his striking blue eyes, muscular forearms and slim hips, was that Antonio must have been stunning when he was younger.

The fact that he had a slight paunch merely made him more human, not afraid to let himself go a little, although nowhere near as much as some men of his age.

She felt her interest awaken in a way she hadn’t experienced for a long time.

She quelled it immediately.

Her niece wasn’t the only one who had no wish to get involved with anyone, however charming they might be.

There must be something in the air today, she decided.

Someone like Antonio was bound to have a string of conquests, anyway.

“I thought it would be useful for everyone to meet so we can get to know each other and find out more about what we’ll be doing,” Chris explained once everyone had some refreshments and settled down.

“Antonio will lead the team,” he continued. “He’s very experienced and has lived on Fuerteventura for years.

“Anything he doesn’t know about the place probably isn’t worth knowing.

“It’s a small team with three Land-Rovers, but each can fit up to seven passengers.

“Keeping the numbers down seems to be a good selling point.

“It also means that we can support smaller family restaurants for lunch rather than the larger hotels.

“With everyone fitting round a couple of tables, conversation soon flows.”

Antonio nodded.

“It’s an enjoyable experience, and the food is excellent,” he added with a wide smile.

Hilary could imagine him keeping everyone entertained over a meal, but she pushed the thought away.

She was here to concentrate on the job.

To be continued…

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