Here's the second and final part of my story - Fijian Sunset. If you missed part one - read it here first!
Fijian Sunset - part two
Copywrite Jill Shepherd 2010
As Sally approached the table, the girl laughed and that simple sound stopped Sally in her tracks. The words of the cafe owner rang in her head, something about everyone being happy. Sally looked again at the happy couple, and realised that much as she would love to make the toad suffer in revenge for what he had done to her, she was not like him, and could not take away someone else’s happiness. As she turned to walk away, she hoped fervently that the girl he was now with, was an innocent party in all this, and wasn’t part of the toad’s plan to trick her and steal her holiday.
Sally returned to the small stretch of beach in front of her shack, where she spent the next two days, relaxing, swimming and reading an old paperback crime novel she had found in the corner of her room. She tried not to think about the toad and his new wife enjoying the luxury at the other end of the beach. Mealtimes were something she began to look forward to, as the cafe owner; whose name she discovered was Luke, seemed to have taken pity on her and would join her for a drink and a chat at the end of each meal. He was easy company, and before long, Sally found herself laughing and smiling and perhaps even beginning to enjoy her holiday a little.
The next day in the early evening, Sally was sitting at her usual table waiting for her meal as it was being cooked, when she saw a couple approaching along the beach. As they drew nearer, she realised it was the toad and his wife, and they were headed straight for her cafe. Sally froze, her eyes fixed on the couple unable to move. When Luke appeared with her meal, he saw the expression of horror on her face and followed her gaze to the approaching couple.
When they reached the cafe, Sally looked on in surprise as Luke stepped in front of the empty tables and said, “I’m sorry, Sir, but we’re fully booked tonight.”
Sally felt a wave of gratitude to him, and watched on in amusement as the toad first looked up and down the deserted beach, and then back to the empty tables and chairs.
“But there’s nobody here,” he said, making a move to push past the owner and sit down.
“There is someone here, look!” the toad’s wife spoke up, pointing at Sally, seeming to see her for the first time as they tried to sidestep Luke.
The toad’s face dropped in recognition when he saw her. Clearly he had not expected to see her again, particularly not here in Fiji. Sally smiled in satisfaction as Luke, politely but firmly moved in front of the toad once more and asked him to leave since there were no tables available for him.
The toad’s face flushed bright red as he glared at Sally with a mixture of anger and embarrassment. He then turned to walk back down the beach, pulling his wife, who was protesting and gesturing back at the cafe, clearly not understanding why they couldn’t eat at the charming local beach front restaurant.
Sally smiled up at Luke as the angry couple walked away. “Thank you” she said.
“That’s ok,” he replied grinning. “I don’t want to lower the standard of my restaurant by having undesirable guests here.”
Sally laughed and lifted her drink in salute. She suddenly realised, that now, she really was enjoying her holiday.
Finally the last day of her holiday arrived. Sally sat on the beach, her broken heart almost forgotten in this island paradise. She understood now that she had not loved the toad, or she would not have been able to get over him so easily. She realised too that leaving this small island paradise was probably going to cause her a greater heartache than she had felt merely a week ago when she had arrived.
Further down the beach, Sally noticed a small boat gliding into shore. As the people aboard jumped into the gentle surf and pulled the boat up onto the beach, Sally watched as a girl came racing out from the palm trees that fringed the beach and flung herself into the arms of one of the men from the boat. Sally smiled as she watched the joyful reunion of the young couple. They hugged and then fell into a long and passionate kiss. Sally almost felt she shouldn’t be watching, but when the couple broke apart, Sally leapt up in surprise as she recognised the young girl. It was Luke’s wife! But then who was this she was kissing?
Sally’s mind was a whirl, as she turned and searched the beach and the small cafe for the handsome, kindly owner. How could his wife do that to him, Sally thought in horror. They seemed so happy together, she had even been envious of their relationship it had seemed so good. She turned back to the boat, to see the couple walking hand in hand up into the trees. Sally felt sick to her stomach at the girl’s blatant disregard for her husband, with such a public display of affection for another man!
At lunch that day, Sally sat awkwardly eating her food, wondering what on earth she was going to say to the owner when he joined her for their regular drink and chat. Should she tell him? Or was it really none of her business. He seemed as happy as ever, and had not mentioned the unusual absence of his wife as he cooked.
After the meal, Sally tried to make conversation, but was unsure of what she should or should not say, and quickly ended up making the excuse that she had to pack her bag for her boat trip back to the mainland tomorrow. A crazy excuse since she really had no luggage to speak of whatsoever!
By the evening, guilt was gnawing away at Sally’s insides. She really couldn’t leave without telling Luke what she had seen, could she? Over the week she had become very fond of him as they had chatted and gotten to know each other. She couldn’t bear the thought of him being hurt as she had been by the toad. Sally made up her mind to tell him that evening.
After her last swim in the sea, the sun was beginning to lower in the sky. The brightness of the day slowly gave way to the more subtle tones of evening and Sally went inside for a shower and then dressed for dinner.
When she emerged from her room and turned to walk the few steps across the sand to the cafe, her breath caught in her throat. She saw a single table and two chairs, moved down to the edge of the water. It was set with a brilliant white table cloth, and a small vase with a single, beautiful island flower stood as the centrepiece. The rays of the setting sun, bathed the scene in a golden light, and the sun glanced off the sea in a million golden sparkles. It was the perfect romantic setting.
After her initial surprise at the setting, Sally then faltered, wondering who it was set up for. Her heart then sank as she realised that Luke and his wife must have decided to have a meal together tonight. Perhaps his wife was feeling guilty for her earlier indiscretion. Whatever the reason, Sally knew that she had no place here. She turned to go back into her room. Oh well, she could manage without dinner tonight. A good night’s sleep, then tomorrow would be the journey back home, to reality.
“Sally, wait!” she heard a voice call as she reached for her door. Turning around she saw Luke, dressed in smart beige shorts and a white shirt open at the neck. She was suddenly struck by how handsome he looked, then a wave of anger rode through her at the thought of how his wife was cheating on him. He ran up the beach towards her, a look of worry on his face.
“Don’t you want dinner tonight?” he asked, seeming to be almost pleading with her to say yes.
Sally looked at him, then down at the romantic table setting by the sea. “Oh, no, I’m not really hungry, you and your wife enjoy your meal in private,” she said, and felt her heart squeeze as she looked into his warm kind eyes.
“My wife?” he said in puzzlement.
Sally looked at him in confusion. What had he just said? “I assume you’ve set the table for a romantic meal with your wife,” Sally said.
Luke looked at her frowning, then his face opened up in understanding. “You think that Sarah....” and then he laughed, a big, hearty laugh that came from deep inside him.
Sally just looked at him, more confused than ever. “What is it? Why are you laughing at me?” she demanded.
“Sarah isn’t my wife” he explained. “She’s my sister! We run the cafe together. Or at least we did. Today her fiancé returned from the mainland and they tell me they will be leaving in a week to be married and live over there.” He shook his head, still chuckling. “You thought she was my wife?” he said again.
Sally felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her chest. So his wife wasn’t cheating on him. He didn’t even have a wife! Relief washed over Sally as the truth of the situation sank in. But then her eyes turned back to the romantic table setting, and then back to Luke.
“Then who’s that for?” she asked, holding her breath, barely daring to hope, as a sudden understanding of the past week hit her consciousness.
The handsome cafe owner took her hands and looked into her eyes. “For us, Sally. From the moment I saw you walking along the beach towards me a week ago; I have not been able to stop thinking about you. You are simply beautiful,” he said.
Sally’s eyes filled with tears. This week had been the happiest time she had known. She suddenly realised why. It was because of this man. Was it possible to fall in love in such a short time, she wondered?
Looking out to the table by the sea, framed by the spectacular Fijian sunset, Sally felt the world of possibility open up before her. She let Luke lead her to the table and into a new life.
If you enjoyed this short story - then please do come back on Sept 1st when I start publishing my first romance novel chapter by chapter each day over 3 weeks.
Stay tuned for Laura's Dream - set in the beautiful south of Spain!