She's Getting Married?
“She’s getting married!”
Heidi Mortimer rolled over and buried her head in her pillow, suddenly wishing she’d never picked up the phone, she was tempted to hang up, bury her head, but she couldn’t. She heard the voice, knew it was her brother, but couldn’t begin to imagine who the 'she' was. Lifting her head, she held the phone at arm’s length, and looked at it quizzically, then returned it to her ear. “What? Who?”
Finally, she climbed out of bed, she needed coffee, desperately, she had a feeling this was about to move from a bad dream to a full-blown nightmare.
Lucas laughed, “only you would pretend this wasn’t happening. Mother dearest, of course! She’s getting married. Seven months a widow, and all of a sudden she’s in love AND getting married!”
Heidi sat back down abruptly, glad that she wasn’t in the middle of the hallway, there was no way her legs would hold her up. This was all rather sudden, and horrendously bizarre somehow, she’d entered the Twilight Zone. She glanced at her pillow, if she hung up and went back to sleep, could she start this day all over again?
She hated that she could feel tears prickle at her eyes, her heart had broken when her father had died, and it was all still so raw. She couldn’t imagine that her mother was ready to move on already.
But then what would you know? That internal voice questioned her, because she had barely spoken to her mother in that time, let alone visited her in the family home in Cyprus.
“Really? That can’t be right.”
She could hear Lucas breathing erratically as he paced the room, a mannerism so typically him, she could vividly imagine him pacing his perfect riverside pad, probably stepping between some of the many women who throw themselves at him regularly. He never could resist a desperate female, and wow, did they all seem to love him. “Oh yes, really! He is apparently a Greek shipping magnate, and they are head over heels in love.”
“Shit!” Heidi leaned back on her pillow and closed her eyes, “this all sounds rather surreal.”
Lucas laughed out loud, “that little sis is an understatement...but the fact that he’s rich, successful, and apparently devoted to dearest Mama, means we may a little less to worry about?”
There was a silver lining to every cloud, that was for sure, and she was so busy with her emerging business that she couldn’t give her mother the time and effort that she should. But then her father wasn’t meant to die, they were happy in their retirement home. They had years left together.
“I suppose you’re right. It sounds selfish, but I know where you’re coming from, at least she isn’t going to end up penniless in a couple of years...so how do you know all this?”
Chuckling again he replied, “I have my spies.”
“You heard it via Fred?” with a sigh, she curled up into a ball on top of her bed. Since the first day of primary school he’d been inseparable best friends with Freddie. Coincidentally both their mothers were also best friends. Over the years Cheryl, had been the font of all knowledge when it came to their mother, finding out all their secrets she passed down to her son not realising that he was relayed it all on to Lucas.
Lucas was spluttering and it dragged her back to the here and now, “not actually Fred, Cheryl herself called me! I think she’s secretly concerned it’s too soon. That maybe she’s lost her marbles. We need to check up on her, don’t we?”
Heidi thought for a few moments, ’we’ never meant Lucas, it always came with a doe-eyed, pleading smile. And she always gave in. “So, does this mean I’ve got to drop everything and head to Cyprus?”
Lucas sighed, and she could hear him gathering up every pleading, begging tactic he had, “you handle her so much better than I can do.”
Ah today, was flattery!
“Coward!” she replied indignantly, but she knew in all honesty, that her brother would be useless in this situation, so with an air of inevitability, she agreed to deal with things, and hung up.
It wasn’t easy to just walk away from work. Heidi had worked so hard to be who she was, as her father had warned her as a teenager, it was extremely hard to get a job in the fashion world. But that hadn’t stopped her grafting at University. She got a place on the most prestigious course at the University of Arts London. And from day one, she was hooked. This was what she wanted to do, a passion, a life’s work. So much more than a job. Oh - the elusive job.
There had been a lot of dead ends, but due to a bit of luck, and a lot of perseverance, she set up her own, very small clothing label. She was CEO of not very much, but her clothes were featured in Vogue, and that single lucky break was her shining light. Two years ago, she’d been headhunted to design a budget range of clothing for a huge supermarket chain. Everything she ever wanted. Simple, yet stunning designs that didn’t break the budget, she was never someone who wanted to create an artistic vision on the catwalks of the world. She just loved seeing people wearing the things that she had created. So, whilst she wasn’t a household name, her clothing was, and as a designer she couldn’t be anything but happy.
As each season approached, she was inundated with deadlines, and she thrived on it. But typically, her mother couldn’t announce this news (not that it had been announced to her formally) when she had just released the latest range. Instead here she was a month before D-day trying to organise every possible outcome of every possible situation so that she could go council her mother and meet her new fiancé.
Fortunately, she had the best assistant in the world, Polly was awesome, she seemed to know what Heidi was thinking before Heidi did – invaluable in business, and friendship. If the other woman wasn’t five years younger than her, she’d swear they were twins, separated at birth. The next morning, when she explained all to Polly, her trusted colleague was blasé at the thought of her designer boss being absent.
“You HAVE to go Heidi; I can handle everything...you’re only ever a FaceTime away. Honest.”
Heidi paced the room, her shoulder length dark hair masking her frown of concern, “but there are the final fittings...the adjustments, the details…”
“Which I can do!” Polly rolled her eyes, “you’ll be gone a couple of days, worst case scenario, you’ll have to pull a double shift when you get back, but that’s only if I can’t cope.”
Heidi looked up, “the accessories have to be approved!”
Polly laughed, “I can email you the photos, you can email me back. I’ll get the most detailed images for you, every angle and line them up with the fabric choices. Anything else?”
Heidi stopped suddenly almost dramatically falling off her high heels in panic, “the factory...”
Grinning Polly patted her on the back, “I called the manager earlier and faxed over the paperwork, they’re waiting on confirmation of the quality of the fabric before they mass produce. It’s all in hand Heidi! This can literally run itself. I swear.”
She flopped into her seat behind the huge mahogany desk that filled her office. She’d bought the desk before she had the office; it was antique, previously owned by some legendary QC in the bar. She’d picked it up at an auction where she’d intended to purchase a rare Singer sewing machine. She lost the machine but gained THE most awesome desk that she’d ever seen. Not that it was cheap or a bargain...but it made her feel successful. As she perused the office, and her desk, today she could admit easily that success was more to do with her luck finding Polly than a wooden desk. “You’re a star. I’ve got two days to sort things, I’ll be back for the launch, I promise.”
Within seconds she was tapping into her computer finding a flight.
Unfortunately, Heidi’s boyfriend was less enthusiastic. She’d met Casey at a party held by her agent six months earlier; he was a City banker, who loved working and playing hard in equal measure. She fitted snugly into the latter part, her quirky dress sense and curvy figure made her stand out amongst the crowd he associated with, and she knew that her uniqueness made him feel special. They never failed to gain attention, her with her unusual self-designed clothes; him in his well-cut suits. He was over six foot, blonde, and physically very fit. In fact, he ticked all the boxes that most women seemed to desire in terms of attractive qualities. But for Heidi there was something missing. But then there was always something missing. She’d yet to find a man that she cared enough about, this time was no different, she had once again fallen into a relationship out of convenience rather than anything more.
She was packing things into a holdall when the doorbell rang that night, opening the door she saw Casey impeccable as ever, scowling down at her.
“You’re going away? Were you going to even tell me?” he burst past her into the lounge, helping himself to a glass of wine from the bottle on the side table.
She bit back her anger at his over familiarity, “sorry Casey things have crept up on me, this is all a bit last minute.”
“That’s a reason? You leave me in the dark so that your secretary can tell me gloatingly about you going away instead?”
Heidi stopped turning to square up to him, “A – Polly ISN’T my secretary and B – there was nothing gloating or underhand about it all. You are paranoid. I’ve got a family crisis and it just so happens that my mother lives in Cyprus, hardly the other side of town. Now if you have nothing nicer to say, you can leave that wine and go, I’ll see you when I get back.”
She turned back to the sofa, and the mountain of clothes she’d shortlisted for her trip, after all it was the height of summer, and that meant glorious weather in Cyprus. She couldn’t afford to spend that much time there, but she also didn’t know how long it would take for her to get to grips with the whole situation. As she was folding some of her favourite strappy tops and sundresses, she heard the front door slam, and with a sigh she got on with her packing.
Two days later she was flying first class to Larnaca, continually working on her laptop until they landed four hours later, then she transferred to a taxi that wound down to her mother’s villa in the hills above the town. Heidi couldn’t fight the sadness in coming here. It reminded her of her Dad, this was her first visit since she’d attended his funeral seven months earlier.
Her parents had always travelled, her father had been a freelance nautical engineer, her mother his PA, organising his life. For the whole of her growing life he and her mother had taken short term contracts all over the globe. Heidi and Lucas had attended boarding school, something she’d hated, yet Lucas had loved, which just about summed up their polar opposite personalities. She’d been at the end of her University years when both parents finally retired to Cyprus. They’d visited lots, but it was never enough for her, not really, and within seven years her father was dead.
Cosmo loved it in Cyprus, it was his favourite office in his multinational company. But then this specific office did have a view of interminable cerulean sea, and white sand. Behind the building was a busy port, but this view, people would pay millions for the view alone.
He looked at the message pad on his desk and the list of calls needing returning, lots from the same people, people he didn’t want to talk to. Except for Cesare. He always had time for him, for his wit and good humour.
Picking up the phone he called him, and of course, the older man was desperate to spend time with him. His life was in such a pathetic place at the moment, that the thought of spending some time with Cesare was the only thing that made him smile. As tragic as that was.
He’d dressed down to travel back from New York and was wearing linen trousers and an open necked casual shirt. Normally he’d dress to meet Cesare, but a beach front restaurant meant he could go as he was.
A short walk along the beach lightened his mood, this really was the most beautiful part of the world, and he was so lucky to spend time there.
Cesare was sat on the terrace of the beachside restaurant and waved as he arrived.
“How was the Big Apple?”
He nodded as he hugged the older man, “hot, dusty, but all went to plan. Hopefully I won’t need to go back there for a long time. And Athens? How is my home?”
Cesare grinned, “beautiful, hot, busy, but as wonderful as ever. It is great, we should do more there.”
Cosmo, laughed, “as much as I love the polluted hell hole, I would rather have more time here. He gestured around him, “the air is clean, the sun, these white beaches. You have to venture to some of the more isolated islands to find beaches like this.”
“But they are there!” Cesare beamed, he loved and missed Greece with a passion unrivalled. But there was a layer of rose-tinted lenses over his memories.
“And the most beautiful are in such difficult places to get to, that you have no attempt at luxury. You and I are a long way from that level of effort.” It was true, they were rich, they lived well, Cesare would never manage to make his own breakfast, let alone walk a mile to the nearest grocery store.
Finally, the older man yielded, because they both knew that Cyprus had it all. Quiet, beautiful almost isolated places, but also a busy shipping port, a city that was big enough to manage their business. And houses with dream like views and infinity pools. A millionaire’s playground.