When Laura woke up the next morning, she felt more certain in her mind about what she wanted to do. She could not deny the yearning she felt to be with Sean, and also knew she owed it to herself to pursue the possibility of a future with him. Pedro was right, she needed to talk to him about it. Not just accept his offer, on his terms and go blindly off to who knows where for an indeterminate length of time, not knowing what either of them really expected. No, she had decided that they were both sensible adults, and as such surely could discuss the situation sensibly and come up with a solution that suited them both. She wasn’t sure at all what that was yet, but Pedro was right, they had to try talking about it.
Laura dressed for her morning run and headed for the beach. She hoped to run into Sean there, and perhaps arrange to have lunch with him. Lunch the previous day had been so relaxed and enjoyable for them both, she was sure that was the ideal place and time to discuss their future plans. Laura did several laps of the beach, searching the sands in both directions, hoping at each turn that she would see Sean’s formidable body striding towards her. But eventually her leg muscles were so fatigued that she had to give up and head home. The trouble was she didn’t know what to do now. He had said he was staying at the penthouse suite of the hotel, maybe she should go and see if he was there? Yes, that’s what she would do.
“Good Morning. I’m here to see Sean Fenton, he’s staying in the penthouse suite.” Laura said to the pretty blond standing at the reception desk in the hotel foyer. The blond looked her up and down with an air of disdain. Laura suddenly felt like an idiot. What was she thinking? She was drenched in sweat, loose strands of her hair sticking to her face, which was probably bright red after her longer than usual run this morning. She should had gone home first and showered and dressed. What would Sean think of her, turning up on his doorstep like this first thing in the morning? She cursed herself for not thinking things through, but the receptionist interrupted her thoughts.
“Mr Fenton left very early this morning, he said he didn’t expect to be back until later today.” The receptionist regarded her coldly. “Would you like to leave him a message?” she asked.
“No, that’s ok” Laura replied, relieved that she wouldn’t have to face Sean looking so dishevelled, but at the same time disappointed to have missed him. Later that day, she mused, maybe she would call by again later and ask him out to dinner. Tonight was her night off work at the restaurant. Yes, Laura decided, that was what she would do. She thanked the receptionist for her time, and left to head back home. When she returned, at least she could look more presentable and maybe would be afforded a warmer welcome by the hotel staff!
Laura spent the rest of the morning feeling like a nervous teenager. She spent far longer than usual in the shower, and then out of the shower trying to decide what to wear. By lunch time she still hadn’t decided and fixed herself a light sandwich, which she sat at her small table to eat, with her bathrobe still on. Once she sat down, the doubts began to creep into her mind again. What was she doing? She was chasing after a man she barely knew, looking to share a future with him that she had no ideas about. What were her dreams? She wondered. Growing up she had never been one of those kids who knew what they wanted to be. She had never wanted to be a doctor, or a policewoman, or a teacher, but she had had plenty of dreams. So why was she finding it so hard to remember them?
Laura touched her scar, knowing exactly why. She had completely locked away any memories of her childhood when her mother died. At the time it was the only way she felt she could deal with the incredible loss and guilt she felt. But now she was feeling that four years had somehow lessened the pain. She felt she was willing to slowly delve back into the memories of those happy years spent with her mother, and rediscover her dreams that she had once shared so freely with her mother and her friends.
“Oh my goodness, look at the time!” Laura exclaimed out loud. She had dilly dallied around so much that it was nearly time for her to teach the children. So much for choosing her clothes carefully she thought. There was no time now, and she would go straight to Sean’s hotel after the lesson. She quickly put on a pair of cool white summer trousers and a deep green fitted t-shirt top. Her eye was caught by the shine of the diamond necklace lying on the edge of her bed. “Why not?” she thought, it’s meant to be worn! And she fastened it around her neck. She stopped to look in the hallway mirror before she went out. She had decided to leave her hair loose today and it hung forward over her shoulders partly obscuring the necklace. Laura shook her head in frustration and grabbed a strong clip, twisting her hair up and fastening it in place securely. “That’s better” she murmured, admiring the shiny stones that seemed to drip down from her throat to her chest. Then she grabbed her bag and books which she had already placed by the door earlier, and ran down the stairs to the street, and towards the empty shop she used as a classroom.
When she arrived at the shop, she was surprised to see the door already open. Maybe the owner was there, she thought. He sometimes came to get something from the back room, then stayed to let the children in and have a friendly chat with her before leaving them all to their lesson.
She swung around the doorway and stopped dead in her tracks, stunned by the sight that awaited her inside.
Laura was standing looking at a classroom! There were tables and chairs neatly set out, and the children were sitting at them, with books and pencils in front of them. Along the back wall of the room were bookcases filled with even more books and at the front of the class stood another larger desk, with a plush swivel chair. Behind the desk was a large whiteboard, with marker pens and a board rubber sitting on a ledge below, and all around the classroom were posters, the last of which Sean was putting up now. He turned when she came in and smiled at her, waving his arms out around the room.
“What do you think?” he asked. Sean looked across at Laura, at the light in her eyes as she looked around the room. He noticed too that she was wearing the necklace he had given her last night, the diamonds enhancing her natural shining beauty even more than he had thought possible. God he wanted her with every cell of his being, he thought as she stood there in the doorway, the bright sunlight surrounding her outline making her look almost angelic. He felt his body respond to the sight of her, and knew in that moment that he could not let Laura go.
At the sound of his voice, the children looked up and saw Laura. They all began shouting at once, pointing at all the new furniture and posters and lifting up their new books and pens to show her. Laura was astounded. She could not believe what she was seeing. She looked at Sean whose face was lit up with a grin of such childish delight that she could not help but laugh.
“I take it that means you like it?” Sean asked again
“Like it?” Laura said. “Sean, this is amazing. You did all this? But how? Why?” Laura set her books down on the new teacher’s desk. She looked across at Sean and her heart threatened to leap out of her mouth. Buying her a diamond necklace was one thing. He obviously had money, and it was a nice gift. But this was a gift for her and the children, and even the town! How much more she could do with the children now with new resources and a proper classroom setting. That thought suddenly brought with it another that hit her like a freight train whose tracks she had wandered onto unaware. This made her job here teaching easier. Her job, here. Sean no longer wanted her to go with him. He couldn’t be thinking of staying here, of that she was sure. She felt a sickening feeling in her stomach, and sat down on the plush chair abruptly.
“I called a friend in Madrid yesterday after seeing your lesson, and arranged to have some things sent down for you to use. They were things that were needed and I could provide them! Seeing the reaction of the children when they arrived, and yours when you came through that door, it was worth it.” Sean came over to the desk where Laura was sitting and sat on the edge of it smiling down at her. “But you don’t look so sure now Laura, what’s wrong, did I forget something?” he asked, his eyes searching the room for whatever was missing.
“No, Sean, it’s wonderful. It will make teaching here a lot easier for me with proper resources to use.” But her voice lacked the usual enthusiasm she had when she was talking about teaching.
Sean looked at Laura. She had seemed really pleased at first, but now the excitement was gone. She seemed sad and resigned. “So what’s wrong Laura?”
“Oh Sean, don’t you see? This just makes my commitment to teach these children even stronger. You asked me to go with you last night because my job was finishing and I had nothing to hold me in this town. But you’ve just highlighted how important teaching these kids is. They need me here,” she finished, her shoulders sagged.
“Laura, these children love and respect you, and what you’re doing for them is a wonderful thing. But you aren’t irreplaceable as a teacher,” Sean said.
Laura looked up at the children in the classroom, grateful that they were still too busy looking through their new books to have noticed she was talking to Sean rather than starting their lesson. She looked up at Sean, still not sharing his enthusiasm for the situation. “Who else is going to teach these children for no money?” she asked hopelessly.
“Nobody needs to when there is a paid position on offer.” Sean replied triumphantly. “I spoke to the shop owner and he has agreed to sell me this shop, and I’m going to set up a trust fund to run an English language school here for the children. The fund will be sufficient to employ a full-time paid teacher.
Laura just stared at Sean. This was too much for her to take in right now. She didn’t know what emotion to feel. Relief that she wasn’t tied to staying and teaching these children, knowing that the lessons would continue without her, she was free to leave town if she chose. Anger at Sean for taking over something that had been hers without asking her about it. Or simply joy because she was in the same room as Sean Fenton and that one thing made her feel alive. Her train of thought was interrupted by the children.
“Are we going to have a lesson today, Laura?” a boy with short dark curly hair and large brown eyes asked.
Laura looked up and shook herself mentally. Time to concentrate now, she could worry about everything else later. “Yes, sorry everyone. All these new books and tables are just so fantastic, I was thanking Mr Fenton for them.
“Can I say something?” asked Sean, looking at first Laura and then the class, who were all sitting in their new seats, waiting expectantly.
“Of course Mr Fenton, please do,” Laura replied, standing up from her chair and stepping to the side of the room so as to place the focus squarely on Sean who was still sitting on the corner of the teacher’s desk.
“I wanted to ask you all a question.” Sean said. “Why do you all want to learn English?”
The class looked from Sean to Laura and back again. Then the same boy who had spoken up earlier answered, “Because I want to be a pilot, and they have to speak English.”
Sean nodded and smiled at the boy, “That’s great! Thank you! Anyone else?”
Slowly the children shouted out their various reasons for learning English, which were mostly to enable them to do a particular job, or to allow them to travel. Sean spoke again, “It is wonderful that you all have such dreams for your future. You must always have dreams. Isn’t that right Laura?” Sean asked, turning to Laura.
Laura felt uncomfortable. For a start she was not in control of her own lesson. Not only had Sean come in and redesigned the whole classroom, now he seemed to be taking over her role as teacher. On top of that he was trying to involve her with a personal question he knew she was struggling to answer to herself, let alone to a class full of children. Determined not to let her emotions show in front of the kids, Laura replied, “Yes Mr Fenton, dreams are important. What about you? Would you like to tell us all what your dreams are?” She smiled at him tightly, but found herself holding her breath to see if he would answer the question, and what that answer would be.
Sean put his hand on his chin and looked upwards thoughtfully. “Well” he said finally, “I have my own company, I have a lot of money and I get to travel all over the world.” There were murmurs from the children and then one bold girl asked a question, “Do you have your own aeroplane?”
Sean smiled at the girl and answered, “Yes, I do have my own private jet, and a helicopter too!” This revelation caused even more murmurs and whispers amongst the children. Then another question, “So do you have everything you want?”
“Well maybe not everything.” Sean replied carefully. “I am grateful for all I have. I have worked hard to get where I am, but I know I am lucky to be in the position I am in. My dream would be to have a family to share it all with.” He looked across at Laura as he said this last part, and Laura felt her knees go weak with the force of his look. Did he really mean he wanted someone to share things with? He had already told her that he had no time for a relationship in his life. Was he just providing the children with an answer to their question, or was he changing his mind? He certainly had given her a meaningful look as he said those words. What did that mean for her? She forced herself to bring her attention back to the class, telling herself there would be time to speak to Sean afterwards, to find out what he meant. Then she heard the question being directed back at her, and she froze. She looked out at the class of children, who had all just told their dreams, then across at Sean who had, it seemed given his too. But what could she say?
“I don’t have a particular dream,” she answered, knitting her brows together in concentration, trying to think of something else to say. She couldn’t very well say, “When I grow up I want to be a .....” She was a grown woman, surely she was beyond that. And yet, here she was, all grown up, and didn’t know who she was or wanted to be.
“I want to experience life,” she said slowly, realising that her answer was truthful. She wanted to start living again. She’d finally had enough of hiding away. She wanted to grab at life with both hands and take the adventure. Laura suddenly felt her mind open up, like the clouds finally parting after a storm, to reveal clear blue sky above, endless and limitless. She turned to Sean, and looking directly into his deep black eyes, she said, “I want adventure.”
One of the children spoke up, “Maybe Mr Fenton can take you on an adventure in his helicopter!” That produced several sniggers and murmurs amongst the class, and Laura decided that it was time to stop chatting and have at least some semblance of a lesson today.
“Well thank you Mr Fenton once again, for all your contributions to our class. We still have a little time left, let’s do a bit of study shall we?” Laura walked back over to her new desk, turned and started writing on the whiteboard behind her. Sean realised he had been dismissed from the class, and with a wave to the class, and a whisper to Laura, “I’ll wait at the Sonrisa Del Sol,” he walked out of the classroom.
Laura taught the remainder of the class with her usual enthusiasm, but kept checking her watch, aware that Sean was waiting just across the street, and wanting more than anything to be with him, and talk to him of dreams and plans, now full of hope that they could have a future together. Finally the class ended, and Laura, left her books on the desk, locked up the classroom and headed straight over to the cafe where she had shared lunch with Sean, a few days earlier.
She saw him sitting at one of the outer tables, watching her approach. She felt the heat of his gaze as she walked closer, her whole body shivering with anticipation as she reached the cafe and sat down opposite Sean, never taking her eyes off him. This was the connection they shared, this feeling she was experiencing right now, and she knew, to the very core of her being that it was a shared connection, that he could feel the same intangible flow of energy between them that she was, and that their paths were inexorably linked. That certainty she felt right at that moment, made the doubt over where those paths would lead, pale into insignificance.
The story continues tomorrow.....