AT THE END of an exhausting game the friendly family invited her to take afternoon tea with them as they were celebrating the grandparents’ diamond anniversary. Refusal, they told her, was not an option, so after nipping back to her bungalow to quickly shower and change she joined them in a private lounge where she ate cakes and no one pointed out the fat content.
It was the first time Angel had enjoyed herself since she had arrived, or even come close to relaxing, though watching one of the grandchildren who was Jasmine’s age did make her throat swell with emotion as she wondered what her daughter was doing.
As a result, she ate more cake and stayed longer than she’d intended. So after the lively afternoon the silence and emptiness of her bungalow felt rather depressing. Not that it wasn’t a lovely room—actually it was a two-bedroom suite furnished in a very expensive version of rustic, with dark, chunky wooden furniture and floors with splashes of colour provided by the original art displayed on the white walls.
All the bungalows had flower-bedecked private terraces with spa tubs, some with a view of the pool with its mountain backdrop; others, like the one that Angel had been allocated, had a sea view. The sand lapped by the turquoise waves was sugary white and dotted with palms. The storm of the previous day seemed a dim and distant memory this evening.
Before stepping back into her room Angel dusted the sand off the soles of her bare feet. It was not hard to see why the place was popular with honeymooning couples lucky enough to be able to afford the prices the very upmarket resort charged. But then paradise didn’t come cheap. As gorgeous as it was, the place lacked a vital ingredient that was essential for Angel’s paradise.
God, she thought, giving her head a tiny shake before she crossed the room to the side table, her bare feet silent on the wooden floor. Her chest tightened and she felt the sting of tears in her eyes as she picked up the framed photo of Jasmine.
‘Here five minutes and homesick already! Your mum is a wimp,’ she told the picture of the laughing child before she kissed the glass, swallowed the emotional lump in her throat and with a brisk, ‘Pull yourself together, Angel,’ she replaced it carefully on the side table.
Then after a last wave to the photo she straightened her shoulders and headed for the open French doors, pausing to slip her feet into a pair of flat sandals as she headed for the bedroom. It had been made very clear that the drinks party was not optional! And she was... She glanced at her wristwatch. Yes, she was running late.
So no time to change.
‘Drinks and butter up the rich owner...?’ She pursed her lips, staring as she aimed a frown at her reflection in the full-length mirror.
The frown was for the rich owner who would most likely have a monumental ego, and the question was purely rhetorical. The thin cotton dress she was wearing was not by any stretch a cocktail dress. It was little more than an ankle-length cover-up she had chosen earlier, a deep cobalt blue shot with swirls of green. It left her smooth brown shoulders bare, or they would have been if it hadn’t been for the straps of her halter bikini.
Angel might move in the world of high fashion but she was no slave to the latest trends. She knew what suited her; she had an individual style and the confidence to carry off anything she wore.
Poise, the scout from the talent agency had called it. It was, he had told her later, the reason he had picked her out from countless pretty girls in the park that day, that and the length of her legs. Her legs were quite good, and Angel and the scout were quite good friends these days despite the fact that her brother, witnessing the first encounter, had warned the middle-aged man off in no uncertain terms. Her brother was the only male of her acquaintance who thought her incapable of taking care of herself. Exasperating, but she tolerated it because she knew his intentions were good, though his methods sometimes a bit Neanderthal.
She reached the bow behind her neck and, tongue caught between her teeth, managed to unclip the fastener of her bikini. She gave a grunt as she managed to whip it off without disturbing the dress. Already moving towards the door, she slung the top on the bed as she twitched the neckline, pulling it a few modest centimetres higher over the slopes of her breasts as she glanced in the mirror.
‘Or should we add the pearls?’ She chuckled to herself before warning her mirror image darkly, ‘First signs of madness, Angel.’ Snatching up the string of pretty green beads she’d bought at a crazy cheap price from an enterprising trader before a security guard had given him marching orders from the private stretch of beach, she left the bungalow at a trot, looping them around her neck as she went, reflecting it wasn’t what you wore, it was the way you wore it. A cliché but true nonetheless.