With my hair still dripping, making my shoulders damp, I turn right out of the hotel and walk along the familiar path down to the beach. It is dark now, during that strange hour between the start of dinner and the end of the bar session, when people are firmly established in one restaurant or another, waiting to savour the local cuisine or already tucking into the colourful dishes. Nobody moves about at this time.
The little road is deserted, apart from the usual occasional stray, who trots toward me to break the boredom of yet another lonely day. I pick up my step, I know there is nothing to worry about, but I don’t want to hang around here either; it’s a bit eerie.
Suddenly, I feel, rather than see, a figure approaching from my right. My heart misses a beat, but my head tells me there is nothing to worry about. I’m not sure which one to trust.
‘Hey. Did you have a good day?’ Sanka falls into step with me.
‘Yes, lovely thank you. Erm… What are you doing here?’
‘Waiting for you.’
‘Why?’ And my sense of unease grows. There is no reason whatsoever for him to be here, and no reason whatsoever for him to be waiting for me.
‘Because I like to see you. You like Kiri?’
The question is so out of the blue that I can’t think of a witty answer. All I can say is ‘Yes,’ and pick up my pace. I fold my arms over my chest to make sure there is no possibility of contact between the two of us. We turn the corner at the end of the old wall, and we are on the beach.
I turn to Sanka ‘Bye then!’ And walk off toward White Sands as quickly as I can without breaking into a run. What the hell was that all about? I hope Kiri didn’t see any of it, or it would look as if I was up to no good.
Luckily, he is bending over the table Cindy and Greg are sitting at, talking to them, his beautiful smile flashing at them both.
‘Hey!’ I join them. They all turn to me. ‘Hey!’ They chime in unison. I stand next to Kiri, who puts an arm around my waist.
‘What can I get you?’ he asks huskily. I’m dying for a nice, cold beer. What happened to the cocktail girl I’ll never know!
‘Want to share a beer?’ I ask him. He nods, straightens up and walks to the bar.
Greg has got me a chair, and I ease myself on it. ‘How was your day, guys? What have you been up to?’
They describe their adventures with the whale watching and the way they managed to borrow a scooter for the afternoon and explore the magic of the unspoiled inland area. They are clearly happy, and it looks as if they are rather loved up already. They will not have nine thousand kilometres to contend with, but it won’t be a walk in the park for them either. Then again, Greg doesn’t seem to be too tied to any one place in particular. And Cindy is very capable of carrying out her business from pretty much anywhere in the world, as she has proven time and time again.
I’m happy for them, and I don’t want to spoil their time together, so I go in search of Kiri.
He is talking to Sanka at the bar. I feel queasy. He is sitting on a stool facing the bar. Sanka is on his left. I can’t see Kiri’s face. He doesn’t turn around, but Sanka looks over to me. Smirks and then jumps off the stool and leaves. I really don’t want to approach right now. My gut tells me to give him space. So, I go back to Cindy and Greg.
‘All right with you if I just sit here for a bit? Kiri is busy.’
‘Ay lass, sure. You don’t even have to ask.’ But Greg looks over at the bar and sees Kiri bent over the counter on his own. I can see his train of thoughts, and I’m grateful he doesn’t question what is going on.
Cindy is sitting to his left. She is wearing little makeup. Too hot to slap chemicals on your face, she’d say. She doesn’t really need any makeup anyway, she is gorgeous just the way she is. She is wearing a white cotton dress which flows loosely to her ankles, a beautiful blue beaded anklet and a silver chain with a pale-blue stone pendant around her neck. Her silver loop earrings frame her face, which is now glowing with a touch of tan.
She is drawing on her cigarette, looking lovingly at the sea and holding Greg’s hand. She turns around when I sit down and looks at me.
‘Are you okay, Maddy? You’d tell me if anything was wrong, wouldn’t you?’
My laughter is a bit too strained when I assure her I am absolutely fine. I know she hasn’t bought it. I know she will push me for more information later, but not now. I breathe a sigh of relief.
He is still at the bar on his own. As far as I know, he has never even looked toward us. I can see he is drinking.
This is bloody ridiculous! We are adults, not stroppy teenagers. So, I go up to him, put my arm around his shoulders and tilt my head to face him. He doesn’t look around. He doesn’t say a word.
‘What’s up? Why haven’t you joined us at the table?’ He looks at me, his expression inscrutable. Blinks and then turns his eyes back to stare at the back of the empty bar. Well, I detest the silent treatment, and I have no intention of hanging around! I retreat toward the table without saying anything.
‘I think I’ll head back, guys. See you later, or tomorrow.’ I manage a bit of cheeky sarcasm, even if I feel my insides chill.
‘Everything okay, Maddy?’ Cindy’s eyes stare all the way into my soul. I can’t hide from her that I’m upset. I nod and mouth I’ll tell you later, and I turn to go.
‘Want us to walk you to the hotel, lass?’ Greg, ever the gentleman.
‘No, thank you, I’ll be fine. Have a good night.’ I turn and make my way down the wooden stairs, over the beach and then back up the little incline to the road.
‘Where are you going, meeting your boyfriend?’
I turn around and see Kiri striding toward me at speed. His hair bouncing off his shoulders. In the dark, he looks quite scary. He is nearly upon me. His eyes are on fire. He looks demonic. He grabs my arm tight and pulls me about. I see lights and hear an engine approaching. Someone stops and asks if everything is okay. Kiri seems to snap out of a bad dream, his expression changes and his mouth relaxes into a smile. He looks at me. He is a different person.
‘Are you okay? Are you tired? Can you stay a bit longer, please?’
His head tilts on one side, and his eyes are puppy soft. I can’t resist his smile. He envelops me in his arms and holds me tight. Then he turns me in the direction of the beach, put his arm around my waist and pushes me along. We walk back to the beach. Sand catching between my toes, I have abandoned my sandals near the road. We walk without talking. I’m afraid to ask what happened back there. I don’t want to push the wrong button in his head. I’m sure Sanka has something to do with it.