Under An Island Sun – Episode 18

The main characters from the story

Mairi was aghast when Hilary told her the news.

“Those men were a complete pain. You wouldn’t believe the comments they kept making about women drivers.

“At least Graham gave me a lovely, understanding smile when we dropped them off.”

Hilary, having been there, had noticed. She wouldn’t be surprised if the lad had taken a shine to her niece.

“It’s so unfair!” Mairi suddenly burst out. “Why do the mean people always seem to win? Well, I’m coming to the meeting, too.”

“There’s no need. You’re not to blame.”

“I don’t care. Philippe’s a nice guy. If Chris is going to give him a hard time, he’ll have to contend with all of us.”

Chris seemed put out at the sight of them all arriving.

Then there was Isabella, also up and about. Surely, she should have a bit longer in bed?

Just over four months pregnant, she looked pale and drawn again. All of this couldn’t be good for her.

Chris folded his arms and leaned against the door frame as they approached.

“I only told Philippe to come. There’s no need for the rest of you.”

“We were all there yesterday,” Hilary replied. “I’m sure we all have something relevant to say.”

The five of them sat round the table in stony silence.

“I trust you all know why I’ve asked to see Philippe this morning.

“The two gentlemen who complained . . .” Chris glared at Mairi as she snorted “. . . maintain that you humiliated them for simply going into the water for a couple of minutes.”

Philippe stared fixedly at the surface of the table.

“They were swimming when they had been specifically warned not to. Myself, Antonio, Mairi and another member of the party had to rescue them.”

“That’s not how they put it. They said you took it upon yourself to wade in and drag them out as if they were children.”

“Then they’re lying,” Mairi snapped. “They were out among the breakers. We had no choice but to get them out.

“The other person was a former lifeguard. He must have thought the danger was real enough to take action, or he wouldn’t have joined us.”

Chris scowled.

“That still leaves Philippe’s behaviour towards them.

“They’ve said that unless I give them a full refund, they’ll leave a review that will push our ratings right down.” Chris slammed the table with his hand.

“Bad reviews are the last thing we need at the moment.”

“And how bad would the reviews be if they’d drowned?” Hilary argued.

“Granted, Philippe could have handled it better, but it was his first day. It would be incredibly unfair if he was penalised for someone else’s bad behaviour.

“I’m as much to blame for not keeping an eye on them. If you’re going to sack anyone, sack me.”

“I am in the same shoes as Hilary,” Antonio added. “If you fire Philippe, then I will resign.”

“So will I,” Mairi said.

Chris stared at his mother and cousin.

“So even my family are turning on me now?”

“We’re not turning on you,” Hilary assured him.

“We’re trying to make you see sense. If you’re worried about reviews, contact the rest of the people who were there.

“They’ll confirm how it was, and probably be happy to post good reviews to counter them.”

Philippe gave her a grateful smile.

It was heart-warming the way the team had gelled even after their short time together.

She was also pleasantly surprised at her own assertiveness.

She would never done this a few months ago.

Chris sat back and rubbed his hands over his face.

“You’re right. I’ll draft a reply and make it clear to their rep that they’ve been economical with the truth.” He turned to Philippe and gave him a wry grin.

“In the meantime, you need to learn to hold your tongue.

“Watch Antonio and see how he deals with awkward types.”

An air of relief prevailed as everyone stood up and got ready to set off on that day’s tour.

It didn’t last long.

Isabella came into the room, her complexion grey.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Chris, but I really don’t feel well.”

To be continued…

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