Mediterranean Madness

Faced with her husband’s inability to take a hint and Lorenzo’s tempting invitation, what will Della do?

Della distractedly chewed her lip as she tried to ignore the same tight little knot of anxiety that always accompanied her whenever she was in an aeroplane.

“You OK, love?” asked Henry absently, as he frowned over his crossword book beside her.

Della nodded and reminded herself of her utter surprise a few days ago when Henry had casually mentioned that he’d booked this late availability holiday.

He’d even suggested that it could be a “sort of second honeymoon” and Della had been unable to hide her delight.

Who knew that her husband of many, many years would think of this all by himself!

“So where are we going?” she’d asked, her heart a-flutter at the thought of a little romance before she was too old to remember what the word meant.

“Well, it’s eleven letters beginning with B.” Henry had looked up from his crossword, grinning.

Della had pondered briefly. “Oh, Bridlington! Or perhaps that lovely hotel I liked in Bournemouth!”

“Um… a bit further away…” Henry spoke gently to soften the blow; he knew she wasn’t keen on flying.

But Della’s smile had slowly slipped as the penny dropped.

“Just a short flight to Spain, love,” Henry had reassured her. “You’ll just love Benalmadena!”

But Della had raised a cynical eyebrow and felt crotchety for the rest of the day.

Now though, peering out of the window as the plane rumbled and bumped its way through the layers of thick white cloud, her face broadened into a huge grin as, far below them, she caught a glimpse of the twinkling blue Mediterranean Sea.

Soon they’d be coming in to land, she could exhale the deep breath she’d only just realised she was holding, and all she had to do was enjoy herself!

So, when the taxi deposited them at a very average hotel and an ancient lift laboriously transported them up four floors to their rather jaded room, Della’s heart had already plummeted with disappointment.

“We’ll be OK here, won’t we, love?” asked Henry, tentatively.

Della mustered a bleak little smile. She really didn’t have the energy for another fight; they’d argued rather a lot lately.

“Well, at least the shower is new and the balcony is a good size,” she conceded as she started to unpack. The thought of the glorious sunshine on her winter-white limbs was already lifting her spirits.

“We mustn’t overdo it on our first day,” she cautioned, as she applied sunscreen and then stepped into her new, floaty sundress especially purchased at the last minute along with some rather impulsive purple underwear.

Henry’s faithful old red shorts with palm trees and coconuts on fitted him rather snugly these days but he whistled happily as they headed off to explore.

Another English couple smiled as they passed the pool bar.

“You heading to the beach?” they said.

Della, itching to explore, nodded a little impatiently, but Henry had perched himself on a bar stool and was already shaking hands with Warren and Trixie.

“Will you join us for a drink?” they asked warmly.

Della opened her mouth to decline just as Henry beamed in agreement.

“Actually, I’m rather weary,” Della excused herself. “So I’m going to head down for a paddle.”

She just wanted to be alone with her muddled thoughts and, as she strolled along the warm sands, she felt certain that a “sort of second honeymoon” just wouldn’t be happening in their bargain basement hotel.

Reluctantly acknowledging that the five-star luxury she’d been rather hoping for was just a silly dream, she sighed and placed her hopes in the sunshine and sangria. Maybe they could work their magic and blow away the cobwebs of her rather faded marriage?

So, waking the next morning to glorious blue skies, Della left Henry on their balcony engrossed in his crossword and headed for the beach feeling more in a holiday mood.

“Buenos dias!” A deep, warm voice interrupted her musing. “We meet again!”

“Do we?” Della surveyed the rather attractive olive-skinned man perched on an upturned boat with interest. Returning his rather charming smile she couldn’t help notice his battered flip-flops, frayed shorts and delightfully shaggy, dark, tousled hair.

“I saw you yesterday. I’m Lorenzo,” he explained, his dark eyes lingering on hers. “You looked sad. It’s not a happy holiday?”

“Oh… well, I’d … um… only just arrived,” muttered Della, taken aback.

“But you will have some holiday fun, yes?” Lorenzo raised a mischievous eyebrow and his eyes twinkled.

“Well… I… of course I will,” Della informed him loftily.

A little unnerved at having her thoughts so accurately read, she hastily turned back towards the hotel.

Henry was in the dining room chatting to Trixie and Warren. Della made her way to the buffet breakfast to indulge in some comfort food before spending the first day of her holiday in total relaxation.

Indeed, the day passed very pleasantly and, with the gentle sunshine enhancing everyone’s mood, Della felt rather mellow as she and Henry enjoyed a sunset tipple on the balcony later that evening.

“Shall we go down to dinner a little later tonight?” she suggested, a cheeky sparkle in her eye.

“We can’t, love.” Henry had never been any good at reading signals. “We’re meeting Warren and Trixie at eight.”

So, with Henry playing golf with Warren the next morning, Della just happened to be paddling along the edge of the sea not far from Lorenzo’s upturned boat and returned his friendly wave with a grin.

“Buenos dias!” he greeted her with his devastating smile. “You having fun, yes?”

“Oh, I am!” Della nodded enthusiastically.

Lorenzo raised a questioning eyebrow as he fixed her with his dark gaze and an awkward silence descended.

“Well… I… um…” Della turned to walk away.

“But a girl needs happy holiday, yes?” Lorenzo persisted.

Della wasn’t given to moments of pure madness but something made her turn around and very slowly nod her agreement.

Lorenzo’s face lit up as he rattled some keys in his pocket, gently took her hand and led her towards the sea.

Meanwhile on the golf course, just as Henry was teeing off, Warren was gazing out to sea to watch a jet-ski go whipping across the waves.

His jaw dropped open in complete astonishment. Wasn’t that Della on the back, her head thrown back with laughter as she clutched the waist of a swarthy Spanish man?

Perhaps not – he’d only just met her after all. But even with her hair flattened by the spray, it did look remarkably like her. He thought it best to keep it to himself.

As the days unfolded Henry played a fair bit of golf with Warren but he also discovered the siesta. Della was pleased; what better time to rediscover each other away from the fiercest heat of the day?

She gave him a playful wink one afternoon as she left him on the balcony with his crossword book, and lingered under a fragrant shower. Then, a splash of her favourite perfume, an appreciative peek at her sun-kissed glowing reflection in the mirror and she hummed happily as she popped on her expensive but thoroughly gorgeous new lacy underwear.

It was at that precise moment that the unmistakable sound of rhythmic snoring could be heard drifting in from the balcony.

Della’s heart briefly plummeted before seething fury took hold.

She yanked on her sundress, deftly tipped Henry’s large glass of sangria over his head, hurled his specs and his crossword book an impressive distance over the balcony and stormed out of the room letting the door slam behind her.

She headed for the beach, stomping angrily across the sand, convinced that the steam coming from her ears would soon fog up her sunglasses.

“Oh dear, is not good, no?” Lorenzo looked up and stopped tinkering with his jet-ski as she approached.

“Don’t ask!” instructed Della, scarlet with embarrassment.

Lorenzo gave her a slow, lazy smile. “You have three more days for fun, yes?” he asked, raising a mischievous eyebrow.

Della, still popping with anger, nodded wordlessly as Lorenzo took her hand.

The cloudless skies and endless sunshine were effortlessly seductive and when the holiday finally came to an end, Della felt relaxed and in good spirits as she meandered along the beach for the last time.

Lorenzo’s eyes were twinkling flirtatiously as he proffered his cheek for a goodbye kiss and Della grinned as she leaned forward, but then he deftly turned his head to face her and brushed his mouth very softly against hers.

Della’s resolve almost weakened as he started to kiss her again, this time rather more thoroughly.

Breathlessly she pulled away, flushed and flustered but just a little bit flattered.

“I… um… really must go!” she gabbled.

“But… we enjoy fun, no?” asked Lorenzo softly, his dark eyes sparkling wickedly under his tousled hair.

“Well, yes… and thank you… for everything.” Della’s voice seemed to be working without her brain as she walked off, waggling her fingers in a farewell wave.

Then, with a last lingering glance at Lorenzo’s heart-stopping smile she headed towards the sea and wondered if he was watching her; she rather hoped he was.

As she took a final paddle, with thoughts of Henry whirling around in her head, she immediately softened as she recalled how his kisses always used to ignite a deliciously fizzy spark of desire; rather like a glass of champagne, she thought.

Lorenzo’s impulsive kiss had been delicious and comforting but just a bit salty; rather like a bag of chips, she mused, chuckling softly to herself.

Just then a jet-ski hurtled by, causing ripples of water to splash over her feet.

Squinting in the sunlight, she could see it was Lorenzo and started waving vigorously.

Then she noticed that his passenger on the back was another clinging, giggling, shrieking female. She suddenly felt utterly foolish and glad to be going home in a few hours.

Later, on the plane, Henry put down his crossword book and tenderly touched her hand.

“I’m sorry, love,” he said, softly. “I messed up, didn’t I?”

“Well – yes,” replied Della, abandoning any pretence. “But it doesn’t matter.”

“But it does!” Henry looked truly contrite. “So I’ll organise a proper, luxury second honeymoon when we get home –
I promise, love!”

“No need.” Della couldn’t help a silly grin. “I’ve already booked it, online!”

“What!” Henry looked astonished. “You have? Where to?”

“It has nine letters and begins with M.”

“Morecambe!” guessed Henry.

“No…” Della’s heart did a little skip as she announced, “It’s Mauritius!”

Henry’s jaw dropped open with disbelief as he gazed at her, bewildered.

“But that’s a really long flight!”

“Mmm, I know,” Della agreed. Somehow after her totally thrilling jet-ski trips across the waves, the hair-raising banana boat rides and the utterly exhilarating paragliding with Lorenzo, she felt far more self-assured about flying.

“It’s a fabulous hotel and it also offers an excellent therapy designed just for couples like us.” Della’s eyes began to dance with amusement.

“What sort of therapy?” Henry looked rather apprehensive.

“Well, it begins with S and has three letters…” She stifled a giggle as Henry eyebrows shot up.

“Um… well, what sort of thing will that involve, then?” he asked, tentatively, paling a little.

“I’m not entirely sure, but we’ll have fun finding out, won’t we?” Della couldn’t help a chuckle.

She would inform him that it was actually Spa Therapy, of course she would… but all in good time!

Our My Weekly Favourites series of feel-good fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.

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