The jewelers on the crooked line of buildings in the small town of Wantchurch was exclusive. Angela Mottram rang the bell and was greeted by a man in a beige suit as two assistants leaned over velvet in the display window.
Pointing at a chair he answered the slimline phone at a desk. Another assistant checked a credit card receipt at the till standing at his side as the customer waved from the door carrying an elegant gray bag with gold writing. Angela looked up at the security camera above a staircase leading to an upstairs office when it suddenly moved. Noticing his gaze she reached for a bracelet from the manager who smiled as customers browsed at glass shelves of China.
Taking a spiraling leaf from her shoulder entering the spa salon nearby caught from a basket hanging outside the doorway on the warm July afternoon she waited for Susan Richards to finish painting a client`s nails scarlet red. Wearing a black uniform she led Angela from the sophisticated salon of aquamarine bottles and lemon leather stools to an office passing a bubbling whirlpool.
Handing strong Mexican coffee to her friend Susan opened a transparent bag of handmade chocolates before reading her diary for the next expected appointment.
Selecting wine at an Italian restaurant later that evening Susan clicked her fingers at the waitress who tied a navy blue and white striped apron around her waist. Thirty-six and single Angela worked at a florist and had finished early to collect a present from the jewelers for Susan who lived with her partner Paul Wright, an estate agent in Wantchurch.
Paul`s father Andrew Wright a solicitor at Wantchurch lived with his wife Patricia who owned the florist shop where Angela worked. Living at a newly constructed converted barn with natural wood windows overlooking a garden of wild flowers they were finally relieved to be free of the extremely boring architect who became excited with each aspect of the building often arriving in a muddy jeep to examine every brick.
Francesco Rocca the jeweller and his business associate Hans Santz toasted each other with glasses of red wine in the Italian restaurant from a trendy alley of shops of eastern antiques, chocolates and lace on wrought iron next door to a hair salon as the stylist with waist length tresses of blonde hair handed a client an appointment card who left from the open door, the fragrant aroma from products in the air.
“Does Andrew know what he`s signing?” Angela asked about the solicitor.
Francesco a client regularly attended his office from Milan to ask Andrew to sign papers without letting him read them.
“I doubt it,” Susan laughed loudly drawing the attention of the two men. The waiter quickly walking to them with a sway of the hips patted white linen stained with wine before going to the bar picking up a tray of drinks slipping on the waxed pine. The waitress running from the kitchen swept a floor before mopping it. Emerging through the swinging door she looked into a mirror checking her dark brown hair with vibrant red streaks before taking the orders from diners snapping at cheese sticks. The waiter unaffected from his fall shook a cocktail container glancing to a group of cricket players celebrating an important win who clapped the captain.
Angela waved at Patricia`s daughter Christina tutting at her boyfriend George at the bar with an early drink, with hungry friends. Another waitress rushed off her feet wearing uncomfortable high heeled shoes tapped a notepad with a pencil waiting for him to return to the table.
Susan`s father Douglas clapped his neighbour from the garden mauve painted fence when the golf ball went into the hole, his lawn a miniature golf green displaying a small flag.
“He`s joined Wynchpark golf club,” her mother Margaret referred to the neighbour sitting at the patio from opened doors to a lounge with Barbara Whitmore, a mortgage advisor at a bank in Wantchurch.
“Really,” she watched Margaret open the bag from the jewelers, her leaving gift after retiring from the bank.
“It`s lovely,” she smiled holding the bracelet as Barbara looked up to a golf ball fly into the pond crushing a delicate water lily.
The head receptionist at Raven Hall an international hotel from country roads outside Wantchurch Amanda Morgan looked up from the desk as a red Ferrari sports car roared at the entrance. Francesco Rocca walked past with Annabelle Plankton, her blonde hair loosely tied up. Andrew and Patricia Wright looked to Nigel Sinclair-Baxter at their table in the restaurant, a barrister who had recently purchased an apartment on the edge of Wynchpark golf club owned by Annabelle`s father Peter Plankton. Patricia stretched her neck as Caroline Roberts pulled her clingy black dress over tanned legs after greeting her friend and the glamorous Francesco wearing a white suit.
Disappointed Hans Santz had not arrived because of an urgent trip she wiped a tear with a napkin as Francesco kissed Annabelle`s hand.
Major Keith Farrington standing at the bar ordered brandy for Andrew and Nigel Sinclair-Baxter, “Playing with Andrew?” he asked.
Andrew a member of Wynchpark golf club lifted a crystal glass and looked to the barrister who slowly placed the brandy under his nose.
“Yes,” the barrister stared at Andrew who wasn`t an exceptional player, “I`m interested in joining your gun club,” he looked seriously at the Major.
Pulling out a paper from his tuxedo jacket pocket Keith Farrington quickly took a pen from Andrew.
Walking from a long corridor to the reception after the barrister had left the Major whispered to Andrew, “Is Francesco still your client?”
“He`s been seen entering another solicitor`s office in the town, you know the one who deals with divorce cases only.”
“Michael Temperton,” the Major looked over his shoulder, “he drives a very expensive car.”
“I met him at the annual solicitor`s dinner, he`s been married four times.”
Angela elaborately wrapped a bouquet, the customer taking a card from his wallet watched as she carefully tied a bow. Patricia stepped down from the display in the window and lost her balance knocking over plastic buckets.
“Can`t stop,” Amanda peeped around the door, “meet for a latte later,” she smiled at the customer taking the red roses from Angela and headed for the travel agents.
“Fine, in an hour,” Patricia shouted from the pavement to Amanda noticing her blouse which was falling from the hotel uniform skirt. The florist van reversed from the one-way street between two jeeps as Patricia smiled at pedestrians looking at a long vase in the window with an exotic green and red flower. The florist getting out of the van with a sunflower painted on its side placed her hands on her waist looking at the wing mirror on the road from the jeep after scraping past it.
Angela took flowers from the temperature controlled sliding glass as the florist went into the back room to make a cup of tea.
Patricia following sat down wiping her wet feet with paper towels from a dispenser on the wall above a sink.
The door swung open to a man carrying a wing mirror demanded who was responsible, “not me,” the florist holding a biscuit insisted, “probably an estate agent.”
Believing her account of the incident he glanced at flowers from rows of buckets as a fan circled above his head, “could I have those wrapped?” he pointed to orange buds with a hint of raspberry.
“Certainly,” Patricia swept vivid orange tissue paper to the roses tying them with a raspberry ribbon.
A taxi arrived at the Balearics island of Mallorca to lime trees in gray slate containers on each side of the hotel`s entrance. Trapped in a strap on the lawn after stepping from the taxi carrying a holdall bag Angela was released by Susan with a strawberry pink jacket over her other arm.
Palm trees reached the fourth floor of the Palma hotel which Amanda had booked with a considerable discount from a travel agent who was her cousin.
Angela sat under a white parasol flicking her honey brown fringe after visiting the hotel`s hairdressing salon. Susan dipping her feet into light green water slurped a cocktail from a black straw turning to Angela.
A sunbather woken up by Susan took off her sunglasses nudging her suntanned husband who rubbed his dark hairy chest.
“What are they staring at?” she asked placing a tangerine sundress over a black bikini.
“Search me,?” Angela replied noticing a glossy magazine placed on a fluffy towel with an expensive sun lotion.
Walking along cobbled streets passing orange and lemon buildings they reached a cinema with a mahogany door opened to the narrow pavement. Looking up Susan decided to go inside.
Leaving the hushed queue waiting for the box office to open she turned to Angela as tourists rushed by after realising the movie was in Spanish, “fancy a coffee?”
Passing a shaded entrance of the opera house they stepped under a red canopy and sat down reaching for al fresco menus. Shaking a sachet Susan ignored a man who winked waiting to cross the busy street.
From the coolness of the canopy into bright sunshine, they slowly walked from the street to an archway.
“He`s hiding behind there.” Angela whispered from a large courtyard as he sprang from one concrete column to another, “can I help you?”
Susan tapped him.
“It`s Ok,” he smiled, “I`m looking for my girlfriend,” stepping backward wearing a white t-shirt, “I`m not her,” she replied smiling.
The hotel manager wearing a severe black suit and gray tie glanced towards them standing at the elevators dealing with a guest querying a mini fridge bill as classical music played at the reception.
“Francesco is in Cala d`Or,” Susan looked at the guest as the manager shook his head studying the computer as an assistant standing behind him agreed. Amanda had contacted Susan at a shoe shop situated along a sloping street to tell her the manager`s brother ran a restaurant in the city and Francesco was booked to go there that evening.
Lifting a designer bag from the gray marble floor as the elevator door opened Angela waved at him responding with an emotional look.
Angela in the elevator smiled at the guest and his large wife wearing a long tunic top who pushed Susan against the emergency switch, “why?” as the elevator jolted.
“His brother is always nervous when he goes to the restaurant,” the tall assistant manager waiting outside as the doors slowly opened quickly checked the elevator controls.
Designer clothes strewn over the candy striped chair greeted them in the master bedroom at a villa owned by Hans near to the resort of Cala d`Or Susan held the balcony rails looking down at the swimming pool as Caroline and Annabelle were at Francesco`s yacht moored at Cala d`Or.
“Caroline is staying here,” Angela held a sparkling white sleeveless gown, the whereabouts of the villa found by Amanda.
“Looks like it,” she replied reading a yachting club business card.
Leaving by the unlocked patio door they were soaked by water from the garden spray.
Waiting at traffic lights in a hired jeep behind a sports car Susan hesitantly overtook it as the lights changed colours, the driver taking his sunglasses off winked at them, “they seem to have all the time in the world,” Angela waved at him turning sharply to another street.
Caroline reluctantly handed a credit card to the waiter when Francesco and Hans left the restaurant in Palma heading for Cala d`Or from wooden doors as guitars played passionately to flamenco dancer`s steps. Leaning back in the chair as Annabelle clapped Caroline swept black hair over her shoulder after a dancer`s skirt hit her face.
The head waiter took Susan`s plate, his gold watch glistening with diamonds, “do you wish to order anything else?”
“The raspberry mousse, thank you.”
“No problem,” he walked under sweet smelling purple flowers from the courtyard to the restaurant inside.
“He`s not the head waiter,” the hotel manager`s brother sat down, “he`s one of Francesco`s business partners.”
“Why is he suspicious of us?” Angela joined the applause as the musician`s bowed.
“Buying a bracelet from him and coming to Palma,” he replied leaving the table as dancer`s stamped on stones with arms held above their heads.
Confidently taking a voucher with an international hotel group headed on the front from the lime green bag Susan gave it to the head waiter who examined it closely. Wearing a white shirt and black trousers he returned to the table arriving with a complimentary bottle of champagne.
Struggling to walk in lime green cork sandals with ties around the ankles on cobbled streets they returned to Cala d`Or.
Standing at a distance from the yacht they saw the two men watching a football match on a wide screen television noticing the galley door open.
Taking a bunch of keys from the yacht as they shouted for a team Susan fell down a flight of steps to the galley when a goal was scored.
A concerned Angela who waited outside from the bustling crowds of tourists helped her back to the hired jeep placing the keys into the lime bag. Stalling the jeep from the yacht owner`s car park alerting a family on a yacht sailing past she headed back to Palma.
Rubbing her swollen foot on the balcony at the hotel as a gentle breeze cooled the back of her neck she got up from the wicker chair and watched the late night swimmers dive into the lit pool, “shall we go for a swim?” she turned to Angela biting into a hotel chocolate.
“Wiping her chin of the raspberry and champagne centre from dark chocolate she nodded.