Life's a Beach and Then... (The Liberty Sands Trilogy Book 1) (5 page)

BOOK: Life's a Beach and Then... (The Liberty Sands Trilogy Book 1)
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Chapter 12



Life’s a Beach ... in Mauritius


Even after a twelve hour flight from the UK, which had been
delayed three hours due to snow, I wasn’t too tired to appreciate the look of
the Plantation House resort, designed by British architect Robert Forrester, as
we approached. As the name suggests it is built in the style of the colonial
sugar plantations, but on a grander scale and with some clever modern features.

The entrance is at the top of half a dozen steps but this
wouldn’t be a problem for you if you are in a wheelchair as there are ramps
either side.

The reception area was a pleasant cool relief from the heat
of the early afternoon sun with ceiling fans and a breeze from the glassless
windows. The view is fabulous as the hotel gardens meet the beach. I felt like
kicking my shoes off and making a run for the sea. You know me, I love the feel
of the sand between my toes.

Check-in was very civilised, seated in a lounge sipping a
cocktail, and loads of staff on hand. It beats queuing up at a desk for the
next available receptionist. It only took about fifteen minutes and then I was
taken to my room on the back of a golf buggy. I should imagine if you are in
the main building you might be expected to walk to your room with a porter
taking care of your bags.

The staff seem very attentive and eager to please without
being intrusive, and they all have their names on little metal name badges to
give a personal touch. I deliberately requested a room change, even though
there was nothing wrong with the one I was in, and my request was met with no
suggestion that I had put them to any trouble.

My room is a deluxe double with a sea view so I can sit on
my balcony and enjoy the sunset, which last night was spectacular. The balcony
is a decent size with a lounger and a table and chairs, but the terraces on the
ground floor are bigger so you could request that if you need more space.

 The room itself is easily big enough for either two double
beds or a king size and there are two comfy chairs and a table as well as a
writing desk... handy for me! The furniture is generally a bit dark and
old-fashioned, but the decor is neutral and there is a flat screen TV. The
deluxe rooms have a bath and a separate shower, and the loo is in its own
little room. My favourite thing in the room is the venetian blind at the
glass-less window that separates the bathroom from the bedroom – a little bit
of privacy if you close it but quite sexy for newlyweds when left open and I
would definitely recommend this hotel as a romantic honeymoon destination or
even the perfect location for a beach wedding.

I had dinner in the main restaurant tonight which is buffet
style and seems to cater for most dietary needs. There is a different theme
each evening with tonight’s being Asian cuisine. I opted for the Thai green
curry and I can highly recommend it.

There are two other restaurants on the complex which I shall
try out during my stay, purely research of course, so I’ll let you know how
much of the menu is available to you if you are travelling ‘All Inclusive’ like

Time to try out the comfort level of my bed and pillows...
I’ll let you know tomorrow.


Liberty Sands xx


Chapter 13



Rosemary nestled into her husband’s shoulder as he stroked
her hair. She had always found his touch calming and soothing which was just
what she needed after hearing Holly’s tragic story. Rosemary had sensed a
sadness in the younger woman the moment she had noticed her sitting on her own
in the departure lounge at Gatwick airport. She hadn’t looked like someone
going on holiday, nor had she the look of anticipation of meeting up with
friends or her partner in Mauritius.

‘What a terrible shock it must have been for her,’ Rosemary
said, voicing her thoughts, ‘to lose someone you love so much. At least we will
have time to say our goodbyes.’

Robert continued stroking her hair, not trusting himself to
speak. It had taken him years to find the person he wanted to devote himself to
for the rest of his life and he still found it difficult to believe he was
going to lose her.

The diagnosis had come out of the blue, after a routine
health check, but the experts believed they had caught the chronic myeloid
leukaemia in time, particularly as the early results with the oral chemotherapy
drugs had been so encouraging.

No one could have predicted that Rosemary would develop the
rare mutation known as T3151 that stopped the medication from working. Her body
thought it was being clever by finding a way around the block the drugs
provided but the reverse was true.

They had been told by the doctors that there was still hope
that newer, experimental drugs might work even though they had worse
side-effects, and she was put on the register for a suitable donor for a stem
cell transplant, providing the leukaemia could be brought sufficiently under

After three months on the drug most likely to work, during
which time Rosemary had experienced hypertension, severe headaches, nosebleeds
and a skin rash, a bcr/abl blood test revealed the condition was not improving.

She was given another drug that had made her so sick that
she couldn’t keep any food down. After a month of being violently sick after
each dose of medication, even though there was nothing but bile in her stomach,
she had lost two stone in weight, and there was still no improvement in the
leukaemia. That was when she had told Robert that she was going to come off the
medication. He remembered her words with absolute clarity.
sorry Bobby, I’m just too much of a coward to carry on,’
she had said,
which was not true as she didn’t have a cowardly bone in her body.

She had cried then for the first time since the diagnosis
eighteen months earlier and he had cried with her.

Rosemary broke into his thoughts.

‘You’re very quiet,’ she said. ‘What are you thinking?’

‘I was just thinking how much I love you,’ he replied,
hoping she wouldn’t notice the wobble in his voice. ‘And what a kind person you
are to care so much about Holly when we’ve only just met her and you have your
own troubles to deal with.’

‘You know me, Bobby. I’m a sucker for a sob story, and
besides I get the feeling that there is much more heartbreak in Holly’s life
that she has kept bottled up inside,’ she said, arching her neck so she could
look up at him with her cornflower blue eyes. ‘I want to help her.’

‘Well let’s start by asking her to dinner with us again
tomorrow,’ he said. ‘Maybe she will open up a bit more when she knows us

Her husband had clearly forgotten they were dining with
Philippe the following evening but Rosemary hadn’t.

‘That’s an excellent idea,’ she said, a smile touching her


Chapter 14



The smooth even strokes running up and down her back, and the
heady aroma of frangipani in the body oil were working their magic on Holly.
Good decision to book the spa treatment for this morning, she thought,
particularly as it had rained overnight and was still looking grey and
threatening. Not only that but every muscle Holly had used during the beach
volleyball game was now hurting, even her fingers.

Maybe her aching muscles were the reason she hadn’t slept
particularly well again. It wasn’t the air conditioning this time. Perhaps the
heavy rain beating down on the corrugated iron roof had disturbed her, or
possibly the mattress was a little too firm for her liking.

Most likely it was the guilt she was still feeling at lying
to Rosemary and Robert. That feeling hadn’t lessened at all when she had bumped
into them as she was leaving the restaurant after breakfast and they had
invited her to dinner that night. She had been about to say no and fabricate
some excuse, after all she was working and her best blogs were when she mixed
with as many diverse groups of people as possible, but there was something
about the woman’s expression that meant that before she knew it she agreed to
meet them for dinner in Waves restaurant at eight o’clock.

I will still be working, Holly reasoned, as I’ll be finding
out what’s on the menu if you’re all inclusive and a vegetarian.

Holly was regretting her decision to claim to be vegetarian
on this trip, wishing she had gone for gluten-free instead so that at least she
could have sampled some of the delicious-looking seafood. I’ll have to go to
dinner away from the resort one night, she thought, as it would be such a shame
not to try at least one of the local fish recipes.

Without warning the masseuse started kneading very firmly
into her shoulders and she had to bite her lip to stop her crying out in pain.

‘Madam is very tight,’ he said, which made Holly giggle into
the massage bed, despite the discomfort.

The word tight could mean so many different things in
different situations. He could mean she was tight with money, which in Holly’s
case was usually true as she didn’t have a lot of cash to splash around. He
could have been alluding to the growing closeness between Holly and her new
friends. He could even be suggesting, in urban speak, that he thought Holly was
stylish and cool. That was the one that made Holly giggle as nothing was
further from the truth. She made as much of an effort with her appearance as
was possible on a limited budget, but she would never describe herself as
stylish. Maybe she was just a little bit cool, at least that was what Harry’s
school friends had thought.

She was quite different from the other mothers at his school.
She was younger than the majority, she dressed in jeans and T shirts most of
the time, she worked in publishing and she allowed Harry to drink beer and wine
at home.

Nothing cool about that, she thought. Holly knew he would
have experimented with alcohol anyway so at least by allowing him to drink at
home she could keep an eye on him and not make it seem so special and grown-up.

Holly’s plan had worked. After the initial interest, when he
was about fourteen, Harry could take or leave alcohol.

He’s probably the most sober second-year university student
in the UK, Holly thought proudly, and yet, judging by their Facetime call the
previous evening, he still managed to have a good time. At least he can
remember the fun he’s had, she thought.

The masseuse was now rotating Holly’s left arm and digging
his fingers into her shoulder blade. This was more like a form of torture than
the gentle massage she had been expecting. He moved around the table and
repeated the process on her right arm and then pulled both arms behind her
forcing her shoulders up from the table.

At that moment the rain started again, rattling on the
corrugated iron roof, and Holly realised what was missing from this treatment
room. There was no soothing, relaxing background music and the lighting could
have been a bit softer too. It was more like the rugby club physio room, where
she had occasionally been allowed to spend time with Gareth after a
particularly physical match, than a luxury hotel spa. It was a shame really as
the entrance was beautiful walking through the Japanese style water garden to
the treatment rooms. It was just the rooms themselves that spoilt the overall

The massage had moved down to her legs now and the gentle
pressure of thumbs against her sore calves felt good.

Ten minutes later her time was up and she was led back to
the reception area to sign for her complimentary treatment.

‘Do you sell nail varnish remover?’ Holly asked. The polish
had chipped off one of her nails and Holly hated the unkempt appearance it gave.

‘I’m afraid we don’t,’ said Diana, the girl behind the
reception desk, ‘but you should be able to get some in the hotel shop, or if
you fancy a walk into Flic en Flac it would be cheaper in the chemist’s.’

‘Thanks for the tip,’ said Holly smiling. ‘How long would it
take me to walk into the town?’

‘About twenty minutes along the road, or thirty minutes
along the beach,’ she replied. ‘Or you could take the bus. It stops right
outside the hotel and it’s only a few rupees.’

Very honest and helpful, thought Holly as she flip-flopped
her way towards the hotel shop, splashing the back of her legs with water that
had yet to dry up from the recent rain shower.



The grey clouds had cleared away by the middle of the
afternoon, leaving behind a few of the white, fluffy variety in an otherwise
clear blue sky. Holly decided to walk along the beach in the opposite direction
to Flic en Flac to check out what some of the other hotels had to offer in
terms of location and style.

In the near distance she could see a small cluster of houses
which she surmised must have incredible views of the entire beach. Beyond them
were the mountains of the south of the island with dark grey rain clouds
shrouding them like old men’s beards.

It was very warm so Holly was wearing factor 50, her
baseball cap and a loose cotton kaftan to protect her shoulders. As she walked
she couldn’t help but notice how sunburned some of the people were who had
arrived with her two days previously. Holly couldn’t understand the logic. What
was the point of sitting in the sun and turning red? It was one of the topics
of the welcome speech that Fleur had most definitely not skipped or even
hurried through.

It annoyed Holly to see that some people had ignored her
sound advice for themselves, but she found it upsetting to see children with
red shoulders and faces still playing in the full glare of the sun.

She had noticed how particular the Italian couple had been
with their little girl the day before, just as she had been with Harry when he
was a baby, even though they rarely ventured beyond their back garden where it
wasn’t exactly tropical. The baby had let her mum put the thick white lotion
onto her arms and legs and tummy and then she had ‘helped’ her mum to rub it
in. Her mum had carefully smoothed it over the little girl’s face so that it
didn’t go in her eyes and had put a sunhat with a big brim on her daughter for
extra protection.

They had come onto the beach near her again today, just as
she was about to set off on her walk, and had volunteered to watch her stuff,
which Holly had happily agreed to, not that there was anything worth taking.
She was carrying her camera with her to take some pictures for her next blog
and everything else of value was locked away in the safe in her room. It was
nice of them to offer though and it would give her the opportunity to talk to
them about the facilities for families with young children if they were still
there when she got back from her walk.

Holly had passed several hotels fronting onto the beach, all
quite different from the Plantation House. Most of them were set back from the
beach a little so that you had the hotel gardens and swimming pools to relax
and enjoy the view but a couple fronted directly onto the beach and in these
places the beach appeared more crowded. There was quite a variety in style too
from the ultra modern, boxy Mar et Ciel built almost entirely of glass, to the
more traditional grass-roofed huts of La Badamier, named after a local tree
whose big waxy leaves offered shade from the heat of the day.

Eventually the beach gave way to vegetation and Holly
decided to turn back rather than tackling the damp earth and giant tree roots
in her bare feet. It was a shame as the pretty houses of Tamarina Bay were
almost in touching distance now.

Maybe another day, she thought as she carefully picked her
way across a mound of coral washed up by the tide. She pulled out her camera to
take a photograph of the thousands of weirdly shaped pieces. She zoomed in to
get a close-up but with a shudder realised that it looked like a desecrated
graveyard with the bones of corpses piled high. She trained her camera lens on
the houses at Tamarina instead, wondering idly who might live there.

BOOK: Life's a Beach and Then... (The Liberty Sands Trilogy Book 1)
13.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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