Under An Island Sun – Episode 21

The main characters from the story

A darker shade of blue was creeping across the sky and the first stars were already making an appearance as they changed behind the rocks, leaving their clothes folded under them.

Hilary settled into a relaxed doggy paddle, rising with the soft swell of the waves that lapped against the shore.

She could hear Mairi and Philippe chatting quietly where they were treading water further out.

She stood up in the water and took in the atmosphere. Apart from the companionable murmur of the ocean, everything was still as the coast faded to a shadow.

A distant lighthouse blinked every so often on a silhouetted headland.

Antonio, sleek as a seal, barely made a sound as he swam towards her.

“Look at the sky,” he whispered. “Have you ever seen so many stars?”

Hilary looked up and gasped. It was beautiful.

“There are even more stars to the west, over the wild Atlantic.

“Of course, we cannot swim there, but a picnic on the beach would be perfect, don’t you think?” Antonio added.

Hilary imagined lying on the sandy beach near Cofete, staring up at the constellations.

“What about the track coming back? There are no crash barriers. One wrong move and you’d be over.”

“We would take our sleeping bags and spend the night on the beach. We could drive back in the morning,” Antonio replied, a faraway look in his eyes.

“We’d get there in time for the sunset and open a bottle of wine just as the sun slips over the horizon and into the water,” he continued.

“Then we’d lie back to look at the stars and listen to the mighty waves.

“I have done it many times when my soul needs restoring. Memories of nights like that stay with you for the rest of your life.”

Nights like this stayed, too, Hilary thought as they dried themselves and dressed behind the rocks.

A breeze had picked up, making her shiver, and the moment was over.

“Maybe we could go to that beach one night, just the two of us?” Antonio suggested, sounding tentative as reality began to seep in on their walk back to the Land-Rovers.

Nearby, she heard Philippe open the door of his vehicle just as his phone buzzed.

“Nicole,” he said quietly, though not so quietly that she couldn’t pick up the surprise in his voice.

She turned to Antonio.

“I don’t have a sleeping bag.”

“Then buy one. Or just use a blanket.”

It took Hilary a long time to drift off that night, as she lay awake, imagining the scene.

Four days later Philippe was at the airport, waiting for Nicole.

Having given up hope that she would visit, her text announcing that she had booked a flight and a hotel room had been unexpected.

Floating effortlessly on the water, he had enjoyed listening to Mairi’s soothing chatter about her family, some of whom he’d met during their recent stay.

She had also told him more about her reasons for coming to Fuerteventura.

It seemed he wasn’t the only one who had been glad to get away from their problems.

Now, not for the first time, he wondered what had prompted Nicole’s change of heart, when she had previously claimed she was too busy to travel.

He soon spotted her among the passengers drifting out of Arrivals.

Immaculate as always, she stood out among the more casually dressed holidaymakers and ran over, the heels of her white sandals clacking, to greet him with a kiss that caused several raised eyebrows.

“Look at your tan,” she declared when she finally drew back. “You look so handsome.”

Philippe blinked. Normally Nicole liked tailored, well-groomed men.

The first time they’d met, he had been in a formal suit at a friend’s wedding.

Sometimes he wondered whether she would have been attracted to him if she’d first seen him in jeans and a T-shirt.

“And you are as beautiful as ever,” he replied, meaning every word.

To be continued…

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