“You check the bread delivery, I’ll go talk to Alvaro. Oh, and make sure the beer order’s ready, Jordi’s coming by later. We need a couple of extra crates of Cruzcampo, we’re running low.”
Dario smiles and mock salutes before he heads into the back of the café. I make my way outside, shielding my eyes from the early morning Majorcan sunshine. It looks like it’s going to be another beautiful day, even though we’re still a week away from the start of high season. It’s been an unusually warm April for the island, but I’m certainly not complaining.
“Adelina! Bella como siempre!”
Alvaro is telling me I’m beautiful, it’s something he always does, it’s his stock greeting to me. I smile and plant two light kisses on his cheeks. He’s a born flirt. Every morning he delivers our bread, and in all that time he’s never once failed to throw me a compliment, which in turn never fails to make me smile. Alvaro Rodriguez is like a second father to me, has been since I moved to this beautiful island almost two years ago.
“Buenos dias, Alvaro. How’s Luna this morning?”
He hands me his clipboard and I quickly sign for the delivery.
“She’s doing much better. The doctor has instructed her to rest up, she’s been overdoing things recently, but you know how she is. Gabriella has told her time and time again that she can organise the wedding herself, but Luna…” He shrugs and waves a dismissive hand in the air. “I need you to come see her, mi hija. She listens to you.”
I smile again at the way he calls me “his daughter”; the way he’s made me a part of his family, I will never forget what they’ve done for me.
“Luna listens to no-one, Alvaro. You should know that by now.”
He laughs, and then he glances over my shoulder, into the café behind me. “That is true,
“He’s unpacking the order out back. And I’ve told you, Alvaro, he’s not ‘my man.’ Okay?”
“And why is that, bella? He’s a decent boy, he’d be good for you.”
“He is good for me, but not in that way.”
Alvaro frowns, a concerned expression flashing across his face. “You have spent too much time on your own, Adelina. Don’t make me worry about you.”
“I’m just not ready yet.”
“It’s been almost two years.”
“It’s still too soon.”
He throws back his head and sighs quietly. “You are a beautiful woman, Addie. You deserve to be loved, and Dario, he loves you, no?”
“And I love him, but we’re friends, Alvaro. Just friends.”
He waves another dismissive hand in my direction, as though he’s refusing to believe what I’m telling him, but it’s the truth.
“I thought I could feel my ears burning.”
I look back over my shoulder as Dario emerges from the café and joins us outside, slipping his hands into the pockets of his dark grey jeans.
My best friend.
“We’d only just started talking about you, actually.” I reach out to touch his cheek, pinching it gently. “Mr. Conceited.”
He takes my hand and squeezes it, kissing my knuckles, his bright blue eyes meeting mine, and I smile the widest smile. This man means the world to me. The day I met Dario Moreno, my shattered life slowly started to piece back together, and now it’s whole again. I’m alive once more.
“Mis hermosos hijos,” Alvaro sighs, hugging the clipboard to his chest, his mouth curling up at the corners, a wistful look in his eyes as he glances from me to Dario. “My beautiful children.”
Dario and I look at each other, and smile.
“Anyway, I must go,” Alvaro continues, opening the door of his truck and throwing the clipboard onto the passenger seat before climbing inside. “Buen dia, niños.”
“You have a good day, too.” I smile as I wave him off before making my way inside the small café-bar I help run alongside Dario and our friends, Caro and Raf.
“You okay?” Dario asks me as I crouch down to write today’s specials on the chalkboard before I set it out front of the café.
I throw him a quick glance over my shoulder. “I’m sure.”
He leaves it at that and busies himself unstacking chairs and tables.
We spend the next hour or so setting up for another day – carrying the chairs and tables outside, stacking napkins, restocking the fridges with beer, wine and soft drinks as our small team of staff begin to trickle in. I love this time of the day, when the resort slowly starts to spring into life. It’s so different to what I left behind in the UK, and yet, my mother was born just a few miles away from this resort, in Illetes, not far from the city of Palma. My heritage is Majorcan. I’ve visited this island many a time, over the years, for holidays, family visits; my honeymoon…
Dario’s voice snaps me back to reality, and I turn to look at him. “Sorry, did you say something?”
“Jordi’s on his way. Do you want me to sort out the beer order?”
“Yes. Okay. If you like. I’ll go finish up outside.”
He gently lays a hand on my arm, our eyes meeting again. “Are you sure you’re all right? You’ve been a bit distant lately, and I know it’s almost time…”
“When is it going to get easier, Dario?”
He slips his hand into mine and pulls me against him, holding me close, and for a second we just stand there.
“It’ll happen, Addie.” He kisses my forehead and cups my cheek, smiling the kind of smile that instantly makes me feel better. I don’t know where I’d be without that smile. “I promise.”
I smile faintly back at him, and step out of his arms.
He can’t promise me anything. He can’t know if it’ll happen. But I’ll never stop hoping it will.
“Raf wants to know if the beer order’s been put through… Dario? Are you listening to me?”
I spin around to see Caro standing behind me. “Sorry, I was miles away.”
“Yes. You were. So, is that extra beer coming?”
“Jordi’s on his way over. I called him and managed to catch him before he left, so, yes, we have a couple of extra crates on the way. And if Raf can give me some concrete numbers, I’ll speak to Jordi when he gets here and order more in. Are we okay for soft drinks?”
“We are. We could do with a few more bottles of red wine, though. And a couple more of brandy, the sangria’s proving very popular, thanks to the weather.”
Caro and her brother, Rafael, have been with me since the beginning, when I first opened this place a few years ago. The three of us met at school, stayed close even after we left, they’re like family to me, and I need them around.
“Okay. Fine. Anything else?”
“No. Everything else is in hand, as it always is.” She throws me a wink before she heads back inside. I stay out here, lean back against the wall and stare out ahead of me, watching as the park across the road starts to fill with more and more people. It’s still early, not yet 9.30am, but because of the sunshine the tourists are making the most of each day they have here on this island. My home.
“Caro said you wanted these.”
Raf’s voice drags me from my thoughts and I turn my head to look at him.
“For the drinks order.”
I take the sheet of paper he hands me. “Yes. Thanks. Are you sure this is all we need?”
Raf nods and leans back against one of the tables out here on the pavement, crossing his arms and tilting his head slightly as he looks at me. “You all right?”
“Of course I’m all right.”
“Only, we know it’s…”
“She’s fine, Raf.”
“Okay.” He pulls himself away from the table, sliding his hands into his pockets. “I’d better get back inside. I’ve still got a few things to do before we open up.”
I stare back out front, watching as bread vans and drinks lorries hurtle past on their way to the many bars, restaurants and hotels that make up this resort, making sure they’re all stocked and ready for another day. It’s a busy place, full of life and noise and people enjoying themselves, and I love it here. I love that Addie loves it here, too. I love that she listened to me, stayed with me; became a huge part of my life.
“Day dreaming again, huh?”
My face breaks into a huge grin as Addie joins me, leaning back against the wall beside me.
“I thought you might want one of these.”
She hands me an espresso cup filled with the strong black coffee I love. “Gracias.”
“Are you any closer to asking Rosa out for a drink? Maybe dinner?”
I throw her a half smile and sip my coffee. “Rosa isn’t interested in me.”
“Rosa’s very interested in you.”
“She is, huh?” I raise an eyebrow, because I’m not convinced.
“She told me as much, when I spoke to her the other day.” She sits down at one of the tables, crossing her legs and shielding her eyes from the sun as she looks out across the street.
“And what did she tell you, exactly?”
“That she’s bored of waiting for you to make a move.”
“It’s the twenty-first century, Addie. She’s quite welcome to make the first move herself.”
She gets up, comes back over to me, and I love that she’s smiling now. She wasn’t before, but this is a tough week for her. “Sometimes we women actually do want to be romanced, Dario. The old-fashioned way.” She cups my cheek and leans in to me, her lips lightly and quickly brushing my cheek. “Call her.”
She disappears back inside, but I remain where I am, once more turning my attention to the park opposite. The growing stream of tourists taking a morning stroll. The restaurant over on the other side of the street as it receives a delivery of fresh vegetables.
This is my life.
It’s a simple one, no fuss, no dramas. A life full of people I love, it’s almost perfect.
I pay the taxi driver and smile my thanks as he lifts my suitcase from the trunk of the car and hauls it onto the pavement. Grabbing the handle, I look up at the hotel entrance, and I’m pleased to see that, as promised, all those last-minute touch-ups we ordered to be completed have now, indeed, been done. No corners cut. No expense spared. The PlayaSun Hotel Group don’t do second-rate, we only deal in the best.
Hearing the taxi start up behind me, I glance back over my shoulder as it makes its way down the driveway that leads from the hotel entrance back onto the street. A hotel that, tomorrow, will be welcoming its first visitors, just in time for the start of high season here in Majorca. And I’m on the island to oversee that opening, to make sure this hotel is up to the job of giving everyone who stays in it a little bit of luxury at an affordable price.
Wheeling my case up the palm-tree, shrub-lined ramp that leads up to the main entrance, I realise I’m still wearing my suit jacket. My tie is still fastened around my neck, I’m way too hot, but I’ve got to find that balance between comfort and still maintaining an air of authority, so, even though I’d much rather be in shorts and a T-shirt, I can’t do that. Not yet, anyway.
“Welcome to the PlayaSun Hotel Bonita, Mr. Hofmann.”
From behind reception, an extremely pretty young woman throws me a wide smile, her blonde-hair pulled back from her face in a neat top-knot, her make-up flawless. She’s wearing the navy blue and yellow jacket and neck-scarf that is the uniform of all reception staff in every single one of our hotels, her name badge prominent and fixed to the lapel of her jacket. I take a quick glance at it, and return her smile.
“Thank you, and good morning, Rosa.”
“How was your flight over from Germany?” Rosa asks, her eyes meeting mine. Engage with the customer, she’s following every guideline we expect from all of our PlayaSun staff. Good start.
“It was uneventful,” I reply, my eyes scanning the reception area, from the plush cream couches dotted about the airy, open-plan atrium to the large flat-screen TVs on various walls showing everything from the hotel’s many amenities to images of the resort that awaits our guests once they step outside of the hotel grounds. “And on time.”
She smiles again as she hands me a key card.
“Your suite is ready, Mr. Hofmann. Is there anything else you need?”
“No, thank you. I’ll go up and unpack before I start my final checks. I trust we’re all ready for tomorrow?”
She nods, and her eyes are still fixed on mine. Pretty blue eyes. But she’s really not my type. I’m not even sure I have a type. Love, commitment, anything even verging on that is pretty much off the agenda, for now, anyway. I’m barely in one place long enough to take a breath, never mind hold down any kind of relationship.
“We’re all ready.”
“Then we have nothing to worry about, do we?” I slide the key card into my pocket and head toward the elevators, looking all around me as I walk. This hotel – originally built in the 1970s – has undergone a number of refurbishments over the decades, but when the PlayaSun Group acquired it just over a year and a half ago, we made sure we renovated it to the point where it was impossible to tell just how old the building was. And I think we’ve achieved that, in quite a short space of time. It’s now a bright, white modern building, with lots of wide open spaces and splashes of colour. We’ve built two brand new pool areas, added roof-top suites with private splash-pools; upgraded what was once an average three-star establishment into a plush, contemporary five-star hotel. My grandfather would be extrememly proud of what we’ve achieved here.
My suite is one of the brand-new roof-top ones, but I’ll be checking every single room over the course of today. All guests – whether they’re staying in a standard room or a suite just like mine – are guaranteed a clean and quiet space in which to relax and enjoy their stay.
Leaving my case by the door, I walk further into the suite, tugging my bag off over my shoulder and dropping it onto the huge, king-sized bed. Slipping off my jacket I lay it over the back of the beige couch in the small living area before reaching for the TV remote on the coffee table. All rooms have large, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs with various satellite channels, and I want to check that all those channels are working. I want to avoid as many teething-trouble complaints as I can, although, I’m not naiive enough to think there won’t be any. This is, to all intents and purposes, a brand-new hotel, there are bound to be some minor issues we’ll have to deal with, but the key is to make sure we’re ready for them. That we’re ready for everything.
Satisfied that the TV in this suite is working just fine, I slide open the extra-wide French doors and step outside onto the private terrace. The sun is now blazing down from a clear blue, almost cloudless sky and I reach for the sunglasses hooked over my shirt pocket.
The splash pool has been filled, the water’s surface shimmering in the sunshine, and alongside it are two hand-crafted white wooden sun loungers, thick blue and yellow pads offering comfort and that little touch of luxury we’re trying to create here at the Hotel Bonita. There’s a small rattan table and chairs near the front of the terrace, and a double cabana on the other side of the pool, providing any shade or shelter should the sun get too hot, but being so close to the sea also means, on some days, a welcome, cooling breeze is there to take the edge off.
Walking over to the glass-fronted barrier at the edge of the terrace, I slide my hands into my pockets and stare out at the sea. It’s a beautiful view, from up here. I’ve seen so many oceans, countless sunsets and sunrises; an infinite amount of incredible views over the years, and I thought I’d never, ever tire of it. But I was ready to give it all up, not that long ago.
Closing my eyes and dropping my gaze, I inhale a small, deep breath and immediately lift my head, snapping my eyes open. My grandfather started this company. My father took it over when I was a teenager, I grew up only ever wanting to do this. And now the PlayaSun Hotel Group is mine. This is my life, and whatever made me even think about walking away, that’s over. Forgotten.
Sighing quietly, I step back inside and close the French doors. I need to check the air conditioning is working. And as I feel the cool air hit the back of my neck I wrench off my tie and unfasten the top button of my shirt. Fuck it! I’m in Spain. It’s hot. I’m tired. Maybe a walk around the resort, a chance to get re-acquainted with the place before I oversee these final checks and start those countless meetings with department managers is what I need to recharge my flagging batteries.
I’m here for the next two weeks. I might as well make the most of it.
I’m here for the next two weeks. I might as well make the most of it.
Copyright © Michelle Betham 2018
Second Chance Summer is available to download HERE.
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