Under An Island Sun – Episode 28

The main characters from the story

The following month, after saying goodbye to everyone, Philippe was doing yet more driving, this time into the mountains of the French Pyrenees, all the shades of green around him dazzling and surreal after his time on Fuerteventura.

His spirits lifted as he came within sight of the village where his grandmother lived.

He needed her advice, more than ever before.

In her warm kitchen, she nodded slowly as he told her all that had happened.

“That is quite a story. You have done much since we last met, and learned a lot of lessons, I think.”

“But what should I do, Grandmaman?”

“I liked the postcard you sent me from Fuerteventura.” She gestured towards the dresser, where it was displayed.

“Perhaps you can you send me one from the Lake District.”

No matter how many times Hilary came to the untamed south-west of the island, the panoramic view over Cofete, with the endless beach and mountains stretching into the distance, never failed to take her breath away.

This occasion was no exception, although being evening, the sun was lower in the sky, casting the scene in a deeper, glowing light, and she wasn’t leading a tour but was alone with Antonio.

With the beach deserted this late in the day, they settled down on the sand in time to watch the sunset’s golden path on the water before the giant orange disc slid over the horizon.

It was as magical a sight as Antonio had promised all those weeks ago.

As they shared their simple picnic of crusty bread, olives and goats’ cheese, the light didn’t so much fade as tactfully withdraw.

Ocean, sand and mountains could be sensed rather than seen.

The only sound was the crash of the waves, their white horses flickering in the dark.

“I wonder how Philippe’s getting on,” Hilary mused, crawling into her sleeping bag and leaning against Antonio’s shoulder as the air cooled.

Even this far south, nights still had an edge to them at this time of the year.

“He should be in the Lake District by now, staying in the pub I recommended.”

She could still remember how she had almost whooped for joy when he had contacted her, announcing he was going to see Mairi, and asking for directions to the farm.

“I’m sure one of them will let us know if anything does happen. Have you still not contacted Mairi or your sister?”

“Philippe asked me not to. He wouldn’t even let me tell Mairi about splitting up with Nicole, remember.

“He said he wanted to do things in his own time.

“I hope he doesn’t lose his nerve and chicken out. Honestly, those two are as bad as each other.”

“He’ll be fine. They both will.

“We agreed we have to let them find their own way, which means no interfering!” Antonio stretched out his arms and clasped his hands behind his head.

“Dear Hilary, always worrying about something. At least you don’t have to fret about Chris and the business any more.”

That was true. The tours were booking well, Chris had taken on two reliable drivers to replace Mairi and Philippe, and the company which had threatened to put him out of business had been found to have “accounting irregularities”.

“Isn’t it wonderful? And all on top of having a baby granddaughter to make a fuss of, as well as keeping Hugo happy so he doesn’t feel left out, although he adores his little sister.

“It’s good to see everything falling into place at last. I might even get to go home and see my little house.”

“To England?”

“I’ll be here for a while yet. I want to see more of my grandchildren, for a start, and it will be nice to have a bit of time on the island without having other things to do.”

She turned her attention back to the sky, now an almost impossibly dark blue.

“Oh, my goodness, look at all those stars. I can’t believe how many there are.”

“This is only the beginning.”

Seconds after they’d settled into a contented, watchful silence, Hilary spotted a shooting star and made a wish.

It turned out to be the first of several, which was just as well as she had plenty more wishes to go with them.

She eventually fell asleep with the calming sound of the ocean in the background.

To be continued…

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