Under An Island Sun – Episode 20

The main characters from the story

Philippe told them about his girlfriend’s reaction.

“It’s understandable.” Mairi nodded. “She was probably upset at the thought of you being away.”

“She seemed more upset that I was defying her. I’m hoping to persuade her to come here for a holiday.”

“It sounds as if you’re going to be busy.”

“But not too busy to enjoy time with the rest of us,” Antonio put in. “Why don’t we go out for a meal on Friday to celebrate coming through our trial by fire?”

“I can’t,” Mairi replied. “I’m meeting Graham that night.”

Her companions grinned and leaned forward.


After she’d told them, Antonio grinned even more.

“Are you blushing, Mairi?”

“No! It’s just a bit warm today.”

“I think romance is in the air,” Antonio teased.

“And I think it’s time we were moving on. Hilary was quite specific about the itinerary when I told her I’d be able to make it today.”

“She is a wonderful woman,” Antonio remarked as they stood up. “You are very lucky to have her as your aunt.”

Mairi just about managed to keep a straight face. Could romance be in the air for Hilary, too?

Whether her aunt wanted it was another matter.

She exchanged an amused smile with Philippe. His whole expression softened, making her insides give an unexpected lurch.

Feeling her face reddening even more, she pretended to check something on her phone.

What on earth was happening? He had a girlfriend, after all. Graham was much more suitable.

Suitable or not, she was glad when everyone had returned, and they were back in the Land-Rovers.

After all the initial drama, the next weeks and months were among the happiest Hilary had ever known.

Isabella’s family stepped up to the mark, helping out at home.

They were warm and friendly, as were many of her and Mairi’s neighbours.

Now free to carry on with the tours, she grew to know more about the island, as well as looking after the tourists.

Many of them were fascinating people with their own stories to tell.

Antonio, too, was fascinating, although if he had stories, he kept them quiet.

As she got to know him better, she liked not only the way he’d supported Philippe, but also his charm and tact, sometimes laced with mischief, in dealing with their passengers, and his gentle way with the quieter ones.

Philippe and Mairi were making progress, with Mairi especially becoming more like the happy girl she remembered.

Going out with the likeable Graham was also boosting her confidence.

“It isn’t likely to develop into anything, as he’s due to be transferred to another resort soon, but we’re enjoying spending time together in the meantime,” she told Hilary.

Both Mairi and Philippe had flown home for a couple of short visits, including Christmas.

Hilary had stayed on the island, sharing the festive season with Chris and Isabella, while Antonio had gone to Italy over the New Year, visiting his two daughters, who were both married.

There was no mention of a wife, which meant he must be divorced or widowed. If Philippe knew, he wasn’t saying.

Mairi’s parents also came over for an enjoyable family reunion, although Hilary’s sister, Jan, confided that her husband had been overdoing things, due to a shortage of help on the farm.

They were only able to get away when a cousin agreed to look after the animals for a few days in the relative lull before lambing started.

In the meantime, life was busy. Today had been no exception, with a long drive to the centre of the island and its former capital, Betancuria, where she could sense the past as intimately as if the inhabitants were standing next to her.

Although satisfying, it was also tiring and hot, with no sign of cooling down, even when the sun was low in the sky.

Hilary was looking forward to getting back to the apartment and having a shower, when Antonio made a suggestion before everyone set off on the return journey.

“After we’ve dropped our people off, why don’t we go to the beach for a swim?

“I know a little place further along. Tourists don’t go there.”

“Won’t it get dark while we’re there?” Hilary asked.

“Yes, but it’ll be fine. The conditions are perfect, with the moon and no wind.”

“Let’s do it,” Mairi said. “I’ve never had a night swim. It’ll be an experience, as well as cooling us down.”

Hilary still held back.

“I’m not a good swimmer.”

“The sand shelves in gently and the water is very calm,” Antonio assured her. “You won’t get out of your depth.”

To be continued…

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