Under An Island Sun – Episode 19

The main characters from the story

Mairi and Chris helped Isabella to a chair.
“Do you think we should call an ambulance?” Hilary asked.

Isabella shook her head.

Mairi tried to think what her mother – a nurse – would advise.

“It may be quicker to drive to hospital. I know the way to the one at Puerto del Rosario.”

“Right.” Mairi stood up. “I’ll bring the Land-Rover round to the door. Hilary, can you phone to tell the hospital we’re on our way?”

“Will do.”

“What about Hugo?” Isabella asked, as her son’s lower lip began to wobble.

“I’ll look after him,” Hilary confirmed. “We’ll have a lovely time together, won’t we, sausage?”

Luckily the traffic was light, so they made good time.

In the waiting area a calm, efficient nurse confirmed that Isabella would be seen quickly.

When someone came to take them through, Chris turned to his cousin.

“Thanks, Mairi. I’ll keep you updated. If you go now, you’ll make today’s tour.”

Mairi hugged them both.

“Don’t worry. You concentrate on looking after your wife and future child, and I’ll get on with doing what you pay me for.

“We promise to try not to shout at anyone.”

The list of pick-up points produced a knot of anxiety when she realised it included the hotel where she’d collected the rude men the previous day.

It was unlikely that they would book two days’ tours in a row, but with the way things were going, she couldn’t take it for granted.

She arrived slightly early to see the hotel’s rep, Graham, waiting for her.

“You’ve got two nice couples travelling with you today,” he announced to her relief.

He hesitated.

“You look a bit pale. Are you OK?”

She told him briefly about recent events, without mentioning the meeting or just how angry Philippe had been.

“The staff on reception said those men were moaning about something last night. From what you’ve told me, I’m sure there’s nothing for Chris to worry about.

“I’ll check with some of the other passengers, but it sounds as if they definitely crossed the line this time. Wish Chris and Isabella all the best from me.”

“I will.”

Graham looked closely at her.

“Is that a Cumbrian accent I detect?”

“It is. I’m from the Lake District. And you’re from Yorkshire if I’m not mistaken.”

“Spot on, which makes us practically neighbours. How about meeting up for a drink some time? Friday?”

“You’re on,” Mairi replied as two couples came out of the hotel and waved cheerfully.

This time they were touring round the northern part of the island, where the volcanoes had dramatic names such as Tindaya, once regarded as sacred.

A complete contrast to the landscape of the previous day, the place still cast its own spell of bleak beauty and ancient superstitions.

As with the Lakes, different areas on the island seemed to have different personalities.

The atmosphere was much more relaxed, as everyone seemed to get along.

With their passengers deep in their own conversations, Mairi, Philippe and Antonio were sitting together during lunch at a small tapas bar, when Hilary phoned with an update.

“Isabella’s fine, and so is the baby. They’re keeping her in for a day or so to be on the safe side, and they’ve told her to take it easy.

“I’m looking after Hugo, so she gets plenty of rest. Oh, and Chris had a call from the senior rep of the holiday company those men were booked with.

“They’ve looked into the matter and will be reading them the riot act. Not only that, but they were very impressed with the action the three of you took.”

It was good news for them all, but the look on Philippe’s face, as though he’d just been rescued from a nightmare, made Mairi want to hug him.

Something still puzzled her, though.

“Philippe, can I ask you something?”

He looked directly at her. He really did have the most intense, grey-green eyes.

She took a deep breath to steady herself.

“Don’t answer this if you don’t want to, but when you said, ‘I don’t want to face all that again’ yesterday, what did that mean?”

He smiled – a little sadly, she thought.

“You may as well know. We all trust each other, don’t we?”

He described his teaching job, his showdown with the bullies, leading to complaints from their parents and the subsequent conversation with the headmaster.

“He suggested a sabbatical to learn to cope with people, but I know it was really a suspension.”

“No, I’d say it’s definitely the former, though it sounds as if the head could have been more supportive,” Mairi remarked.

“So, you’re here for a change and a reboot, so to speak?”

“For the time being. This job seemed ideal, although Nicole doesn’t agree.”

To be continued…

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