Under An Island Sun – Episode 27

The main characters from the story

“Once my wrist is stronger, why don’t we go to the beach by Cofete at sunset, like you said?”

“Are you sure?”

“I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t.”

They had just finished chatting about it and making plans when Philippe arrived, bringing more flowers to add to the collection.

Straight away, Hilary could see there was something different about him, but couldn’t put her finger on what or why.

It soon became clear that he had news of his own.

On the evening of Hilary and Antonio’s accident, Philippe and Nicole had been finishing their meal by the ocean in Corralejo when Philippe got Mairi’s message.

He’d frowned.

“Mairi’s leaving. Her father’s ill and she’s going home. That’s terrible.”

Nicole shrugged.

“Too bad.”

Philippe only half listened as he read to the end. “Good luck for the future. It’s probably for the best.”

He was still puzzling over what it meant when Nicole pushed her plate aside to show him details of Paris apartments on her phone.

“Now that we have nothing in our way, we can start to make progress.”

That’s when the pieces began to fall into place.

“Did something happen between you and Mairi last night?”

Nicole shrugged again.

“I told her a few things she needed to know, just to make matters clear.”

Philippe stiffened.

“Like what?”

“Whatever it was, I did it for us.” She smiled. “For love.”

No wonder Mairi had been quiet. When Philippe replied, his voice was icy.

“No, it wasn’t love. You don’t know what love is. But you know control.

“Well, you won’t control me anymore. I’m not going to Paris with you. We’re finished.”

After a moment of shocked silence, Nicole lifted her chin.

“Very well. Just remember there are many men who would be glad to be seen with me, even if you are no longer one of them.”

Philippe watched her until she disappeared, head held high, between the buildings of the old town.

Somewhere in the background someone started playing a guitar as the evening’s entertainment got under way.

His last few weeks on the island passed in a blur. Instead of feeling sad at the prospect of leaving, he felt numb.

Since replying to Mairi’s text, hoping that her father recovered and wishing her well, he had heard nothing further, and it didn’t feel like his place to contact her again.

Philippe knew a little of what was happening in Mairi’s life.

Hilary told him that Ross was back at home, under doctors’ orders to take things easy.

“Just when they need all hands to the pump, so to speak, for the lambing season.

“Jan helps out when she can, and they have some other helpers, but it’s Mairi who’s taking her father’s place.

“I’d go over, but I wouldn’t be much help with this wrist, and of course I’m busy here, with Chris and Isabella and little Maria.

“So much new life is heartening, if exhausting.”

Among everything else that had been happening, Isabella had quietly been admitted to hospital, and had given birth to a healthy daughter.

Philippe was as pleased as everyone else at the news but couldn’t help feeling adrift.

With Chris and Isabella consumed by family life, and Antonio and Hilary growing ever closer, he felt isolated.

His dismissal of Nicole was met with approval and Hilary was conscientious about keeping him informed of Mairi, including making sure he knew that she and Graham were no more.

Did the last point make any difference? Probably not, since Mairi hadn’t been in touch.

He needed time to process all that had happened, anyway.

“It is time to move on to the next stage in your life,” Antonio said, when Philippe confided in him.

“I’m sure it will be a good one. Just make sure you follow your heart this time.”

The trouble was, the next stage seemed a complete blank, even with his likely return to teaching.

As before, there was one person he trusted above all others.

To be continued…

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