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Monday, 12 September 2011

Another taste of the sequel 'Paving the way'

Chapter 7
A tall, dark-haired woman stepped off of the plane and made her way down the makeshift stairs on to the tarmac. The sound of her stiletto shoes vibrated through the metal steps, but she was careful not to get her three inch heels caught between the gaps. Tiny droplets of perspiration began to form on her forehead. She wasn’t sure whether it was due to her nervousness or the intensity of the heat that had hit her as she had come out from the aircraft. Her dark brown eyes narrowed as she looked around the airport; she could not believe that she had finally found the courage to come to Skiathos. Confronted with this reality, mixed feelings flowed through her body, but there was no going back now. Her life had recently taken an unexpected turn. Even though it was a hard decision to make, she was sure that Skiathos held the answers to the questions that were swimming around in her head. These domineering thoughts of closure gave her the strength to carry on with her mission. So, putting on her sunglasses, she continued on into the airport. A sense of expectancy bubbled in her stomach as she waited patiently for her luggage, and she couldn’t help wondering what the outcome of her trip would be. Tiredness soon crept over her and her feet were throbbing. The only thing that kept her focused was the thought of getting in a nice cool shower when she finally reached her hotel. She breathed in a deep sigh as her eyes wandered around the large room, when they suddenly focused on a rather angry looking man. Her first thoughts were that he was on his own, and she instinctively felt the need to go and help him. But when an attractive lady came up to him and put her arm around his shoulder, it became evident that he was not alone. She watched the couple and could see that the woman was trying to console him, but by the irate look on his face, she wasn’t having much luck. The mystery woman became distracted when the familiar sight of her bright pink suitcase came along the conveyor belt, and she bent over to pick it up. The couple were soon forgotten as she made her way through the lounge and started heading for the main entrance. As she came to the large glass doors, she reached for the handbag that was usually hung over her shoulder, and was overcome with sheer terror when she realised that it wasn’t there. Panic stricken, she desperately tried to think back to where she could have left it. She remembered having it while waiting for her suitcase, because she had put her passport in the tiny compartment in the side. So, she turned around and walked back to the baggage lounge.
"Please be there, please be there," she said under her breath repeatedly, crossing her fingers. She scanned the room and was relieved to see her black patent handbag on one of the chairs. She thought that this was rather strange because she had been nowhere near the chair, but guessed that some kind person had picked it up and put it there in clear view to be found. She hurried over to claim it, furiously looked through the many pockets, and was pleased to find that everything was still there. She held her bag to her chest like a long lost child, and closed her eyes. Her heart was racing because she had feared the worst. It was not just her purse that was of great value to her. She took in deep breaths to overcome her panicked state, and by the fifth breath, her heart was back to its usual rate. Delighted by the outcome of this near disaster, she opened her eyes and took another look in her bag. As she rummaged through the contents, she discovered the brown envelope. The familiar handwriting on the front caused her heart to miss a beat, quickly reminding her of why she was there. ‘Only to be opened after my death,’ were the words written in bold, black writing. Tears stung the back of her eyes as she re-read the heart rendering statement, and it took all her mental strength to keep them under control. Swallowing down the pain that had tried to reduce her to tears, she placed the envelope back in to her bag and walked back towards the main entrance. With her head held high and her pain safely put away, she elegantly walked past the irate man from earlier. Strangely, he was now standing with a gun pointed to his head. He looked like a frightened rabbit, and from what she could make out, he was trying desperately to plead with the Customs Officer. His pleas for justice were obviously being ignored, because the officer was just looking at him with a very stern look on his face. ‘That man looks in need of a good lawyer,’ she thought to herself, smiling. ‘It’s a shame that I am off-duty,’ her train of thought continued, as she walked out of the door conscious that she should not get involved. With her prize possession back in her hands again, the tall, dark-haired woman stepped out of the airport. The flow of holiday makers was now just a trickle, which made it easier for her to find an available taxi. The heat from the sun was still very hot, and it did not help that she was dressed in black. Her tight blouse attracted the intense temperature, causing it to stick to her skin, and the thought of that long awaited shower was becoming more appealing by the minute. With her luggage in the boot of the taxi, she was driven to her hotel.
She had planned her quest with precise intricacy, and had specifically chosen a hotel that was in the middle of the town. She felt that it was important for her base to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of holiday life, where it would be easy to blend in with the other tourists on the island. If for any reason her plan was to backfire, she knew that she would be able to get lost in the crowd, and this was a comfort to her.
In next to no time, she was in the elevator of her hotel. Slowly, it went up to the seventh floor, then it stopped and the doors opened. Armed with her key in one hand and her luggage in the other, she walked along the corridor in search of her room. She was grateful for the air-conditioning, but still felt sweaty and uncomfortable from her journey. Her feet were now swollen, and she could not wait to take off the shoes, which were now causing her to limp. She found her room, opened the door and walked inside. Without hesitating, the shoes were flung off, and she gasped a sigh of relief when the cool air that circulated the room touched her throbbing skin. Putting her bags down, she looked around. As her eyes scanned the room, its quaintness took her breath away. Everything was neatly in its place. As she admired her accommodation, for a split second she forgot why she was there. The sun’s rays that shone through the window lit up the room, radiating a warm glow that enhanced her surroundings. Suddenly, she had to remind herself why she was there, quickly bringing her back to her senses. ‘I am not here on a holiday,’ she thought. ‘I have got a job to do.’ She grabbed her handbag from the floor and went and sat down on the bed. There, she unclasped the bag and pulled out the brown envelope. ‘This is why I am here,’ she thought, staring at the familiar handwriting on the front. ‘This is why I have come all of this way.’ Tears stung her eyes as the bitter memories penetrated her heart, and she was taken back to only four months ago when her life had changed forever. She thought back to that day at her grandmother’s house, and her tears began to flow. Back then, she knew who she was. Back then, she had direction, but the envelope held in her hand, had changed all of that, revealing the lie that her life had been built on. Now, all of that had been cruelly taken away. A ball of resentment evolved in the pit of her stomach, bringing with it a deep sense of grief that made her feel sick. Finding the truth still hard to believe, she took a deep breath and put the envelope back into her bag. ‘I must be strong,’ she thought to herself, doing up the clasp. ‘I cannot let my emotions get the better of me.’ Wiping away her tears, she gathered her thoughts together and went over to get her suitcase. Her stomach rumbled and she looked at the time. She had no desire to eat anything, but she needed to keep her strength up. After her long awaited shower, she decided to take a walk through the town in search of a good restaurant. On many nights, whilst away on business trips, she had dined alone, and this would be no different, she thought. To her, this was all that it was, purely business.
Back at the Oasis Hotel, Pannos and Danielle walked hand-in-hand up to Pannos’ room. They had left Mick down at the bar, and he was busy telling Yannis about his life-threatening experience at the airport. Pannos was relieved to have his beautiful Danielle back by his side again; this was evidenced by the smile that was now a permanent fixture on his face. The conversation was flowing between them, and it was as if they had never been apart. As they walked up the stairs, Danielle felt in awe of her surroundings, but she couldn’t have been any happier. She was back with the man of her dreams, and she could have cried with joy. When they reached Pannos’s room, Danielle was overcome with nervousness as he opened the door. When he walked her over the threshold, her heart began to beat faster, and she was once again confronted with a welcoming bouquet of flowers. She stood still as he shut the door behind them. Her mind was instantly taken back to her previous visit and her last night spent in this room, and all of the feelings of that special time sailed through her body. No words were said as Pannos took her into his arms and kissed her. He sighed deeply at her response, and all of his anxieties of never seeing his Danielle again deflated in their embrace. Time stood still, and they were overcome by a deep desire that both of them had tried to deny for the past few weeks. The love that had been cleverly disguised was ignited again, bringing with it a passion that was too hard to contain. Pannos instinctively led her over to the bed and laid her down. He kissed her again, but then he had to pull away. He looked deep into her eyes and was once again mesmerised by their beauty. He was afraid to carry on, so just concentrated on calming down his quickened heart rate.
“You are so beautiful,” he said, claiming back his breath. “I have missed you so much.” They lay there, captured in each other’s stare, and he smiled.
“I have missed you too, Pannos. It is hard to explain just how much,” Danielle replied, locked into his soft brown eyes. He nodded, aware of what she meant and kissed her again. He pulled her closer and kissed every part of her face. He found it hard to believe that she was there and breathed in this special lady.
“I love you,” he said, completely captivated by her. “Thank you for coming back to me.” Danielle mouthed, I love you, back, and she felt relief at being able to say them again. She nodded for him to carry on, and they made love. The promise Pannos made to his father quickly slipping from his mind.
Mick found himself alone at the bar. Yannis had been distracted by one of the guests, and this left Mick alone with his thoughts. His mind went straight to his estranged wife, and he couldn’t help wondering what she was doing. He pictured her distraught face when she found out where he was, and he felt himself puff up with pride. ‘Now, who’s got the upper hand?’ He thought. ‘Now, who’s in control?’ He picked up his beer and took a big swig of it. He relished the thought and freedom of being able to do whatever he liked, and breathed in this wonderful feeling. Then, he scanned the room and smiled. ‘I don’t need Tracey,’ he thought, noticing a young lady sitting on her own. ‘Oh, it’s so good to be back.’
Three quarters of an hour later, Pannos and Danielle walked down to the bar. Mick was now talking to a group of people at the bar, and he was happy to entertain them with his funny ways. He had plucked up the courage to talk to the young lady, but was met by an unforeseen obstacle when she had revealed to him that she was married. Her husband had had to go back to their room to get something, and Mick was overcome by disappointment when she explained this. This did not deter him from his happy frame of mind though, and he brought her a drink anyway. He still managed to get in his story of maltreatment at the airport before her husband appeared, and he left her also feeling quite angry with the Greek security system. Mick wandered back over to the bar where a group of male guests had gathered. They welcomed him as he stood beside them, and he took this opportunity to share his story. He was relieved to have gotten their attention, so he spent the rest of the time, whilst waiting for Danielle, talking to them.
Pannos kissed Danielle and walked behind the bar. As guests witnessed this act of love, the room went quiet. Pannos watched the men’s faces as they looked at Danielle, stunned, and pride oozed out of him. One man in particular caught his attention, and his mouth dropped open when he saw her. This made Pannos laugh.
“You look like you have never seen a beautiful lady before,” he said, his statement aimed at the gawping man. The man’s face went bright red, so to hide his embarrassment, he just laughed.
“This is Danielle, the lady I spoke about from England,” he continued. “And, I see that you have met my good friend, Michael… They are friends.” Pannos took hold of Danielle’s hand and kissed it. “They will be staying awhile,” he said. Danielle’s face now turned a deep scarlet. All the guests at the bar said hello to Danielle, each one of them welcoming her back to the hotel. Danielle was overwhelmed by the response to her arrival, and she was reminded of the way that people reacted to her when she was with Pannos. She was overwrought with pride. Turning to Pannos, she smiled. The expression on his face said it all, and she couldn’t help feeling special in the presence of this man.
“Pannos, my friend, drinks all round,” Mick said, interrupting their eye contact. “Just put it on my bill.” Pannos obliged Mick’s request and busied himself with the many orders that flew across the bar. Their conversations began to flow again, and the room was filled with laughter. Mick was the instigator of the joy that lit up the hotel, and Pannos was delighted to have his two favourite people back in his life again. Pannos’ mother walked out of the restaurant, and her face lit up when she saw Danielle at the bar. Then she looked at her son and felt happy seeing him full of the joys of spring. She smiled at her son’s fortune for having Danielle back by his side, and went over to greet her. Danielle turned around and her heart skipped a beat when she saw Pannos’ mother walking towards her.
“Danielle... Ah, Danielle, it is so good to see you again. Welcome back,” she said, putting her arms out to embrace her.
“H-hello...... It is so lovely to be back,” Danielle replied, putting her arms out in response to her kind gesture. Pannos’ smile widened as the two women embraced, but then he noticed his father standing at the entrance of the restaurant. He felt the smile slip from his face as his father looked at him, but it was soon restored when his father smiled. Pannos was relieved to see kindness generated through his father’s expression, and felt honoured to have such an understanding father. He turned his attention back to Danielle, and his father continued to walk over to the reception. Danielle felt at ease as she spoke to this adorable Greek lady. All her worries soon disappeared, and she felt right at home. The warmth of his mother’s voice, and the kindness that was displayed on her face, reassured Danielle that she had made the right decision in coming back to this beautiful place. Then, Anna entered the bar, and she went straight over to say hello to Danielle. The three women talked like long lost friends for almost half an hour, and Danielle relished the friendliness of her Greek hosts. Pannos was busy accommodating his thirsty guests, but he still managed to keep Danielle in his sight. His heart was ready to burst as he watched his Danielle interact with his family; he couldn’t have wished for a better start to the week he was to spend with the love of his life.
The town was an array of happy holiday makers, all taken in by this beautiful island. The dark haired lady walked through the bustling High Street; she couldn’t help being inspired by this wonderful place. As she mingled amongst the many people, she spotted a busy Taverna across the road. Now dressed in shorts and a vest top, she wandered in to get something to eat. She was met by a gorgeous Greek waiter who showed her to her table. After taking her drink order, he left her to look through the menu. She still felt sick to the stomach, so she decided to have something light. The waiter soon returned with her beverage, and she disclosed to him her wish for a Greek salad. He wrote down her order and then walked away. Her eyes scanned around the room and to her surprise, she started to feel extremely homesick. Although she was not married, she missed her life back in England. She had many friends who occupied her spare time, and she longed to see a friendly face. Marriage was the last thing on her mind, because she was more than content with her work. She was a well established lawyer, one of the top in her field, and this was more than a fulltime job for her. There was a special man in her life, but she had kept him at arm’s length. He had been persistent in his pursuit of her, but she did not want to get too involved. When the huge blow came that shook her very foundations, the last thing that she needed was the bother of a long term relationship, so she chose to put her focus on sorting out what was left of her crippled life. She sighed heavily when she thought about the mess that it had now become, and she could have cried. Her mind wandered back to that dark day and a tear escaped down her face. ‘Why did this have to happen to me?’ She thought, wiping away the solitary tear. Her food was placed down in front of her; she took a deep breath to claim back her strength, and began to eat.
An hour later, the mystery woman was walking back to her hotel. Darkness had crept over the island, and the selection of coloured lights coming from the many bars and restaurants stole her view. As she witnessed the happy people enjoying the welcoming atmosphere, she secretly wished that she was there on holiday, but once again was reminded of why she was there. The deep sense of sadness that had made itself a home in her heart did not deter her from her mission when she found herself outside of her hotel.
Five minutes later, she was shutting the room door behind her. She turned on the light and lay down on the bed. Her mind was racing. She just didn’t know where to begin. The events of the past few months had put her mind in complete turmoil. She had never felt so confused. Leaning over the side of the bed, she picked up her handbag. She reached in and pulled out the brown envelope again. Her hands were shaking slightly as she opened it, her heart beat quickly in her chest. She sat up, took out a wad of papers and placed them on the bed. As her thumping heart echoed through her head, she stared at the letters and documents that were in front of her. She picked up one of the documents and carefully unfolded it.

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