Laura awoke to the sun streaming in onto her face. Momentarily she was confused, the sun did not reach her bed in the morning in her small apartment, but almost immediately she realised she wasn’t in her small apartment. She rolled over in bed, a sleepy smile forming on her face as she thought of last night and Sean Fenton. Finding the bed empty beside her, Laura sat bolt upright, her eyes scanning the room. She saw a bathrobe resting on a nearby armchair, stood up and wrapped it around her as she headed out towards the balcony and the enticing smell of freshly brewed coffee.
“Good morning” Sean said as he saw her walk out into the morning sun, her feet bare, and her hair dishevelled in an unbelievably erotic manner, framing her sleepy face as she screwed her eyes up at the strong sun beaming directly at them as it rose majestically over the sea. The sight of Laura first thing in the morning was something he was certainly looking forward to more of.
“You obviously slept well, I’ve seen you up and running by now on other mornings” he remarked wryly.
“What time is it?” Laura asked with a yawn. She never slept late, or at least hadn’t for years!
“Eight o’clock” Sean replied with a smile, “Coffee?” he offered, holding out a steaming mug towards her.
“Oh my goodness, I can’t even remember the last time I slept that long! “ Laura replied in surprise, “and yes, I’d love a coffee, thank you,” she said, taking the mug in her hands and sipping it gratefully. She felt most indulgent, sleeping late, having fresh coffee made for her. She could get used to this she thought. Then that thought nudged her awake somewhat into the reality of the morning. Time to talk, she thought. Then taking another sip of her coffee, Laura sat down on one of the wicker armchairs set on the wide balcony overlooking the sun rising over the sea, sending a river of fire shooting to the shoreline as it built up its heat for the day.
“So when do you leave Sean?” she asked, a slight twinge of nerves tugging at her as she waited to hear whether his offer to take her with him still stood. She needn’t have worried at all. Sean replied immediately.
“We, leave at six o’clock this evening. I’ve called down to reception and asked them to add an extra booking for the flight.” Sean looked at her, momentarily pausing with concern. “You did say yesterday that you were ready to leave this town, and after last night, I thought..” his voice tailed off, he now being the one to feel a little nervous. Had he assumed too much? Would she be angry he had booked a flight for her so soon?
Laura smiled broadly, she was being swept off her feet by her very own Prince Charming, she thought, and could picture her mother’s smile at that thought. She had waited far too long for adventure, she didn’t want to wait a moment longer. Although she didn’t want to be completely without control.
“Where are we going?” she asked, feeling a tingle of excitement at going into the unknown.
“My next project is in Greece, not too far, just a short flight away,” he replied. Then Sean stepped towards Laura and sat in the armchair next to her. I’m not sure yet, how we can make it work Laura. I do have my work to do, I can’t spend every moment with you...not that I wouldn’t like that,” he added with a wicked smile.
Laura sighed and set down her now empty coffee cup. Sean, I don’t expect you to spend every minute with me, nor do I want to be a burden on you. I don’t want you to feel you have to make time for me. I understand now that if we are meant to be together then it will happen. She paused, looking at Sean as if to try and gauge what he was thinking.
“Will you take me to see your new project? “ Laura asked. “Is it another restaurant?”
Sean’s face brightened, “Of course, if you would like to see it. It’s a small hotel this time, not just a restaurant. The first thing I will do is go and look over the hotel as if I were a guest, to get a feel for it myself, and how I envision the changes.” He paused, thinking how he had spent years doing this alone, never even contemplating taking someone with him. His ex-fiancée, Carrie, had never shown any kind of interest at all in his work, and he would never have even suggested she accompany him on such a trip. But the thought of sharing this with Laura somehow gave him a sense of fulfilment, and he took her hands in his as he replied from his heart. “Laura, when I said I wanted someone to share my life with, I meant it. My work is my life, I enjoy what I do, and to be able to finally share that with someone would mean the world to me.”
Laura squeezed his hands back, her heart soaring with his words, and the hope they conveyed for a future for them both together.
“Well” said Laura, “If our flight leaves at six o’clock, then I’d better get a move on to sort myself out.” But Laura’s face then fell as she was brought back to the reality of her life here and her job. She couldn’t just walk away that day! What about Pedro? What about the children’s English lessons?
Sean could almost see her thoughts as if they were written on her face, and wasted no time in reassuring her. “I managed to catch Pedro this morning before he went fishing. I told him I wanted you to come with me, and he seemed very happy about that. Like he was somehow expecting it!” he said, with a grin. Both of them had spoken to Pedro about each other, the old man seeming to know their minds better than they did. “He said that Valentina would be sure to help him out for the last couple of weeks until the restaurant closes. If you ask me, Valentina would like to be more than just a helpful friend, and I don’t think Pedro is complaining about it!”
Laura laughed “I think you’re right about that. She certainly seems to have Pedro firmly in her sights!” she said. “Good for them!” she added, pleased that Pedro may have found someone to share his dreams with again.
“Pedro did say he expected to see you this afternoon before you leave though,” Sean continued.
“Oh! of course!” Laura exclaimed, “I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to him. But what about the children and their lessons?” she asked, wondering how far Sean had gone in preparing for her to leave this town and accompany him to Greece! Greece she thought! She’d never been there, she wondered how different from Spain it would be? another Mediterranean country. Laura realised just how ready she was to leave. Nothing seemed strong enough to make her want to stay here. It was like this was what she had wanted to do for years, but had not allowed herself. That was exactly the truth, she realised ruefully. Had it not been for the accident and her mother’s death, she would have been going on adventures for four years now. Maybe she would have already seen Greece, where else would she have been? Then she had another thought. Would she ever have met Sean Fenton? Was it all meant to be like this? She and her mother had always been great believers in superstition, fate, whatever you want to call it. Perhaps in some way, she had needed the experience of these past four years, to fully appreciate her life. One thing was for sure, she would never take things for granted again, and she would live life to the full. Sean’s voice brought her back to the present. She smiled, how easily she had slipped back into her dreaming ways!
“As I said yesterday, I have set up a trust to run the lessons from an official school from now on. That includes a full-time teacher. I must admit I took the liberty of posting the advertisement for the position on the internet yesterday,” he smiled sheepishly, waiting for Laura’s reaction.
“What!” she cried, “before you knew I would come with you?” But nothing could dampen Laura’s spirits now.
“I hoped you would change your mind, and told myself that if you didn’t I would just give you the job if you wanted to stay! You’re not angry are you?” Sean asked, stumbling a little over his words, hoping he hadn’t offended Laura with his assumptions and hopes. But he needn’t have worried. Laura fixed him with her warmest smile. Her green eyes radiating happiness as she said, “Oh Sean, of course I’m not angry. Those children will be so much better off with a proper English school to go to, than just me playing games with them.”
“I don’t know about that” said Sean, wondering how the children were going to react when they found out their beloved teacher was leaving. He had seen how much they loved and respected her. Still, he reassured himself, there are plenty of good teachers out there, he would certainly make sure they got the best! He owed that to Laura.
“Well”, Laura said, then I just have to say my own goodbyes and pack up my things. I have a few loose ends to tie up.” She said thinking of the lease on her apartment, thankfully paid a month in advance, so she wouldn’t feel bad about leaving her landlord in the lurch. It was a lovely apartment and she was sure he would find a new tenant quickly.
“Ok then, I’ll walk you back to your apartment when you’re ready, I have a few things to take care of myself, then I’ll pick you up at four o’clock to go to the airport,” Sean said, standing up ready to swing into action.
“Laura stood up and rested her hand on Sean’s arm. Thank you Sean, but I can just meet you here at the hotel? I’d sort of like to say my goodbyes to the town on my own.” she added with a nervous smile.
Sean hesitated, not wanting to let her out of his sight for a moment longer that was necessary, but then realised she was right. She was leaving her life here, he had to allow her a little space to do that. “Ok then, but I’m walking you to your apartment this morning. I want to at least have seen where you live here. Then you must be back here at four thirty so we can get to the airport in time for our flight to Athens, I don’t like waiting around at airports, we won’t have much time to spare.”
Laura agreed readily, and after a light breakfast together on the balcony, followed by a shower, Laura dressed in her clothes from yesterday, since she had no others with her, not having expected to be out all night, she thought with a blush. Then collecting her bag, they left the suite together, hand in hand, for the short walk across town to her small apartment. They descended in the lift, then walked out past the reception desk. The blond receptionist was there, the one who had regarded Laura with such disdain the previous morning when she stood there sweating from her morning run. Laura gave her her most winning smile as she walked past, Sean added a cheery “Good Morning Marie!” but didn’t notice, as Laura did, the scowl that crossed Marie’s face as she watched the happy couple walk out of the hotel hand in hand. Laura felt like a teenager again, walking out with the coolest boy in the school, the envy of all the other girls!
Sean walked Laura to her apartment then insisted on coming inside to see where she lived. She didn’t let him stay long, aware that she only had a few hours to pack and say her goodbyes. Once he had left, Laura sat down for a moment and took a deep breath. She was leaving this beautiful town, and her safe life here. She searched for any last doubts she may have had, and was relieved to find there were none. She had come to Spain to escape further from her past, and she had succeeded. Long enough it seemed for her pain to have faded somewhat, and her mind to have finally come to terms with the past. Sean Fenton had been the final catalyst needed for her to bring herself to live life again. Laura stood and looked around her room, deciding where the best place to start packing was. She did not have many possessions and knew it wouldn’t take long to fill her two small suitcases.
Once she had packed, Laura visited her landlord to let him know she would be leaving. She was surprised when he hugged her and wished her well. In the year she had lived there, she had spoken to him often, but he had never shown any emotion. She knew him to be well respected and loved by all, and took it as a great compliment he seemed to respect her in return.
Then, Laura walked to the restaurant to say her final goodbyes to Pedro. As she walked to the restaurant, she felt sad. Pedro had been so good to her, and such a big part of her life this past year, it was going to be hard to say goodbye.
“Hola!” she called as she arrived at the restaurant. Pedro came straight out, he had clearly been expecting her.
“Laura, querida, “ he came forward and kissed her affectionately on both cheeks, then hugged her warmly. “Laura, I want you to know how happy I am for you,” he said sincerely. I said from the moment he arrived that you and Senor Fenton were meant to be together, did I not?” he asked beaming from ear to ear.
“You did Pedro, and you were right! As always you seem to know me better than I know myself!” Laura replied, realising how much she saw Pedro as a father figure, just as he had told her that he thought of her as a daughter. Tears sprang to her eyes as she then realised she was saying goodbye to what represented her family now.
“Now don’t you cry Laura, you have nothing to be sad about,“ Pedro scolded, wiping a stray tear that had escaped from her eye. “You mustn’t worry about me, and the restaurant. I have spoken to Valentina and she seemed very pleased to be able to help me out in the final weeks before the restaurant closes.” He leaned closer and whispered, “I’m actually thinking of asking if she would like to come on my boat with me after that,” then he chuckled, and Laura saw the fire of excitement burning in his eyes as he talked of Valentina.
“I’m sure she would be more than willing to accompany you on your boat Pedro. I’m happy for you too!” Laura added with a smile that let Pedro know that she knew exactly what was brewing between him and the lovely Valentina.
“Now who knows who better than who!” declared Pedro with a hearty laugh.
The pair spent a couple of hours chatting over coffee and cakes, before bidding each other a fond farewell and promising to stay in touch. Perhaps they would meet up again somewhere else in the world, Laura had said. Hoping it would be true, but also realising that this part of her life, shared with Pedro, was over. They would both go their separate ways now, and meeting up was just a distant possibility.
As Laura left the restaurant, she was almost ready to leave. She just had one more person to say goodbye to. Fernando.
Sean spent the rest of the morning packing his light case, and confirming the last of the details for the upcoming renovation of Pedro’s restaurant. The contractors were all ready to start in two weeks time, and he had confirmed the plans with them. He also spoke to one of his project managers who was flying in to oversee the work and check all was being done according to his specifications. He had done this so many times before that he was aware of more or less any potential problems or issues that may arise, and pre-empted them to ensure there were no hold-ups in the work.
He had everything organised and packed earlier than expected and found himself pacing up and down the balcony waiting for Laura and the time they would be leaving; together. Finally he decided he couldn’t wait any longer, and despite Laura’s protests that morning, he decided to go to her apartment to meet her. Surely she would have luggage that she would need to carry, yes, helping her with her bags provided him with the justification to ignore the fact that she wanted to meet him at the hotel. Thinking that the blue convertible sports car probably wasn’t the best car to collect someone with lots of luggage in, he asked at reception if they could provide him with a larger car for an hour or so. Of course, they obliged, for the guest of the penthouse suite, no request was ever to difficult! Sean climbed into the large Sedan they had provided him with and drove the short distance to Laura’s apartment, parking across the road a little in the only available parking space.
Laura decided to stop at the bakers shop on the way back to her apartment to say her final goodbyes to Fernando. Funny she thought, that just a few days ago, she had believed that she would end up spending her life with Fernando, in this town. She was glad now that they had spoken a few days earlier and he had realised that she didn’t love him, and so had decided to move on. It would make saying goodbye now a lot easier, now they were just friends, neither of them expecting any more, although she was still a little nervous as to his reaction when she said she was leaving, in a couple of hours!
She knocked on the door of his shop, which was only a few doors down from her apartment. She waited a few moments until she heard footsteps coming towards the door, and when the door opened, Fernando stood there, a smile on his face, and she knew everything was going to be alright.
“I heard you were leaving” Fernando said with a smile that Laura thought bore a hint of sadness.
“Yes, this evening” she replied, twisting her fingers together nervously, this the final step she had to make before letting go completely of her old life to look ahead to the new.
“It’s what you should be doing Laura,” Fernando said reaching his arms forward to hold her gently by her shoulders. “You don’t belong here, you never did. I’m happy for you that you’ve finally chosen to live your life.”
Laura’s heart twisted as she saw in Fernando’s eyes that he was hurt that she was leaving, but nonetheless managing to wish her well and trying not to let his feelings show.
“Oh Fernando, you are such a wonderful man. I hope you find a woman who truly deserves you.” Laura said, then kissed Fernando gently on both cheeks before wrapping her arms around his shoulders for one final embrace, to wish him happiness, and in her own way, she felt to thank him for the love he had shown her over the past year, never expecting anything in return. They held each other for a few moments, acknowledging the times they had shared, and the fact that they had come to a natural end, they destinies now taking them in different directions.
Sean had been just about to shut the car door, when he happened to look up the street. His eye had caught sight of Laura standing in front of a shop door, he recognised instantly her fantastic dark wavy hair, tumbling in waves over her shoulders. He was just about to call out to her when the door in front of her opened and there stood the man he had seen Laura with at the restaurant. The man he has asked her about when they had had lunch together but she had never answered him. He held his breath as he watched them exchange a few words, then Laura kissed the man and pulled him into such an intimate embrace that seemed to last for an eternity.
Sean was filled with a rush of emotion. Surprise and anger, with Laura, and with himself for allowing a woman to pull him in so completely. What had he been thinking! Yes she had seemed so genuine, pouring her heart out to him about her tragic past. All those words about loving him? And all this time she was playing around with some local guy! So that was why she hadn’t wanted to leave this town. And that was why she had not wanted him to meet her at her apartment. She wanted to see her lover before she left with him! Loose ends to tie up indeed!
Sean raked his fingers through his hair, and found himself shaking with anger. He cursed and climbed straight back in the car, revving the engine and screeching the tyres as he sped back to his hotel, seething with anger and having been duped. She was probably after his money. Most of them were, he could just usually see through their little ploys. Damn, he cursed again, as he thought back to Laura’s initial pretense of being a local Spanish waitress, only letting slip she was English when she became angry at the revelation he was buying Pedro’s precious restaurant. He should have listened to his instinct then, it had told him to be wary of her, but he had become blinded by physical attraction.
Well, at least he had discovered the truth before he took her away with him and let her into his life. He had been right all these years to stear clear of women who wanted relationships. They were nothing but trouble. That was the last time he would allow himself to believe he had room in his life for anyone or anything other than his work.
Sean drove back to the hotel, grabbed his bags and headed straight to the airport, where after checking his bags in, he sat down in the first class lounge to a stiff drink to calm his nerves and wait for his anger to abate.
The story continues tomorrow.....