Still not comfortable with herself in this situation, Kitty looked out the window of the coach winding it's way along the beautiful coast line. The setting sun playing with colours on the water all the way to the horizon. She should have been in her element to experience this but not Kitty. This was the first time she did anything as adventurous as this. And on her own.
Kitty was thankful that the seat next to her had stayed empty. At least she did not have to take part in any idle chatter with a stranger. I do hate wasting time on nonsense. I am not even sure I should have come on this trip but Mother insisted after I was made redundant at the library. I am quite okay, why would she think I need a break? she thought.
Kitty had been the assistant librarian at the local library ever since she graduated from university. She loved the solitude and the only time she connected with people was when they needed to know where a book was. This suited her perfectly. She loved being on her own and even spent a lot of her free time in the library reading.
The towns finances were under severe constraint and cuts had to be made and much to Kitty's chagrin, it was her position at the library that was made redundant. I hate that word. It makes me feel that I am unnecessary. Oh, let me forget about all that and try and enjoy this trip.
An hour later the coach pulled into the terminal and Kitty saw a chauffer with her name on a placard.
"Good evening, I am Miss Whitehead," she said to the driver. "I will collect my luggage and we can be off."
"Don't worry yourself Mam, you just relax and I'll see to all that!' the driver had a huge smile and talked loudly. "I'm Max and I am here to see that you get to the hotel safe and sound. How was your trip?"
"All good thank you." Kitty replied as she stepped away and stood one side. Why does everyone always want to chat. I am sure he is not really interested in my trip. She let her eyes wander over the terminal, not wanting to engage in any conversation.
"There we go Mam, is this all your luggage though? Only one suitcase?" Max seemed amazed. "I thought you were staying for the month. You must be planning to go on a shopping spree. Good for you, that's the way to holiday. Fancy hotel, new clothes and if you are not engaged there might even be a new boyfriend waiting in the wings."
Kitty was getting really embarrassed by now. The other passengers could hear this conversation and some smiled and nodded as if they agreed.
"Yes, just one suitcase. Please let's get to the hotel, I am really very tired!" Kitty replied.
Righty-ho, let's be on our way then!" Max picked up her suitcase and she followed him to the car.
Kitty' first day at the coast started better than what she thought. Her hotel room looked out over the ocean. The balcony was the perfect place to have breakfast in peace so she showered, ordered room service and with her book in hand, she sat at the table on the patio to enjoy a morning of solitude. This is better than I expected, she said to herself. I can relax on my own.
The week went by with Kitty keeping much to herself except in the evening when she would have dinner. On occasion she would take her book and take a seat at one of the tables in the garden but invariably other residents would stop for a chat. She had to admit that she did find herself relaxing and didn't mind the interruption so much anymore. What if I did meet a new boyfriend on my holiday, Kitty thought mischievously. Never in a million years.
"Hi Kitty, are you enjoying the ocean? Have you had a swim yet?" Kitty's mother had called her just after her breakfast on the balcony one morning.
Mother, you know I don't swim but I do enjoy the view of the ocean from my balcony where I have breakfast every morning!" she replied.
"You must get out, my child. That is why you took this trip. By the way, Kitty, did I ever mention Uncle Leo to you?" her Mother asked.
"Never heard of him. How is he related?" from Kitty.
"I think on your Father's side, way back he married into the family but not sure. Anyway he passed away and one of the family brought the news to your Father." Mother went on. "Enjoy you holiday and see you in a weeks time."
Two weeks later Kitty was back home and she thought she was going to miss the ocean in some weird way and the solitary breakfasts, but it was back to the real life. I must admit, it was good but better start looking for employment. My retrenchment package will not last forever, she thought as she opened her computer.
Better do my CV and put some feelers out for a position.
Kitty first read her emails. There was one from a Mr. Donoghue, whom she did not know, she started reading.
'Dear Miss Whitehead. I have been instructed by my client to make sure that you attend the reading of the will of Leo Hampton on this coming Thursday. I have arranged for you to be collected at nine in the morning. Thanking you. George Donoghue.
That's a bit of a cheek telling me what he has arranged and why on earth would I need to attend the reading of this will. I don't have a clue who this man is. Kitty thought indignantly but Thursday morning her curiosity got the better of her and she was ready when the cab came to pick her up.
Mr Donoghue sat across the desk and looked at Kitty. She was prim and proper and he actually thought she was a bit dull and uninteresting.
"Let's get down to business," he started. "I have three envelopes here to be read in a particular sequence at my client's request. Before I open the first envelope I want to ask you a question. I personally knew Leo but he has never mentioned you. How are you related?"
"I really don't know. I had never heard his name until a week or so ago," she answered.
Mr. Donoghue opened an envelope. "Leo personally came and delivered these to me some time back before he fell ill. He passed away last month after a short struggle with cancer. Let's see what he has to say." Kitty did not answer and sat silently as Mr. Donoghue read.
'Dear Kitty, I am that Uncle that no one likes to talk about. So let me tell you a bit about myself. All my life I felt that I needed to be a free spirit. Some thought it was rebellion and some thought I was just weird but I never wanted to live within the boundaries. I inherited a large amount from my mother, by the way her name was also Kitty and she was a formidable and adventurous lady. A beautiful spirit and my role model. I decided to buy a small island off the Greek Coast, with my inheritance, which I developed into a resort where free spirited people could come and enjoy their time. This has grown into an exclusive resort with a considerable income and is now worth an absolute fortune and I do not have a single close relative to leave it to. This is where you come into the picture. I selected you because of your name and in the hope that you would be like my Mother.'
Mr. Donoghue took his spectacles off and looked up at Kitty. She sat listening with no emotion. What have you done Leo, he thought. This woman is nothing like you and you Mum.
He slipped his spectacles on again and continued. 'I am leaving half my fortune to you which George will put into a trust account." George Donoghue looked at Kitty again to see her reaction. There was nothing. Leo, I am your friend, why did you not talk this through with me. I don't know what to think about all this.
George had difficulty going on but this was his clients wish. 'The other half of my fortune I leave to Wills Donoghue...' George dropped the document on the desk and stood up. "I need some water! Leo was my friend and Wills is my son! What's going on here?" he looked at Kitty who calmly looked back at him.
He downed his glass of water and picked up Leo's will and continued. '... also to be put into a trust account. At this moment I must tell you Kitty, that I am smiling. You must be astounded and according to my instructions, you are there alone and Wills does not know anything yet. There is a tiny little condition that must be met though. You will be flown to the island at a set date where you will meet up with Wills. You two will run my business successfully for a year. George will oversee this business arrangement. I have given you and Wills the ideal setting in which to get to know each other. Next year on the anniversary of my death, if you and Wills marry each other on the island, both trust accounts will be paid out and you make call the island yours. You may have no contact with George or any of your family for the entire year. After a year George will then meet you on the island to see if my conditions have been met. I have left two other envelopes with George and your answers will determine which one is opened and which one is destroyed. George, my friend, I know you will see to my every wish.'
George wiped the sweat off his brow. Kitty was still silent. "I need a whiskey!' said George.
The private jet circled the island for Kitty to have a look at her new home for the next year. I must be crazy but the idea of staying on my own island for a year, after enjoying the ocean from my balcony on my holiday gave me this nudge to take this idiotic dare. And it wasn't like I was employed back home. Now at least I have a job for the next year. Kitty couldn't believe she had agreed to the conditions in the will but as the plane touched down and she stepped onto the tarmac, she was pleased that she had this decision.
Exactly a year later George flew in on the same jet. He wiped his brow as he disembarked but this time it was the heat getting to him. Kitty was there to meet him. She was still very reserved but this time she smiled at him. He could not believe this was the same girl he had in his office a year ago. She was relaxed and had a deep tan.
The two walked toward the resort. Wills was waiting for them, a huge smile on his face. "I am so happy to finally see you and speak to you Dad. It's been hell not being able to make contact," he hugged his father.
"Right, let's get down to business." George said and produced the remaining two envelopes of the will. Kitty remembered those same words used a year ago. She smiled and looked over at Wills. "Tell me what has been happening on the island?"
"Business is booming and we are constantly making sure that we stay up to date with what our clients want. I am happy to take you around so that you can inspect everything to see that all is ship shape. I have to say that this has been a fantastic year and we enjoyed it here. I would like to get back and see Mum and my friends again, I have really missed them," Wills did most of the talking about the business and the finances. He really is rather good at all that Kitty thought I could really not have done it without him. Wills took George off on a tour of the island resort and Kitty went back to seeing to her guests.
At lunch George was the first to broach the subject of their futures. "I supposed you kids will now be pleased the year is over and you can get back to normal lives!"
Kitty looked from George to Wills. She placed her hand over Wills' hand that was resting close to hers. "May I do this Wills?" Wills nodded and she then turned to George. "George, we have something to tell you. This year has been wonderful here, I have even ventured into the ocean," she laughed. She's pretty good looking when she laughs thought George and Kitty continued. "This money it really does not mean anything to us. We have discussed it extensively."
George had the two envelopes in his hand. "The answer from you two determines which envelope I open."
"I don't know how to tell you and it might seem corny or weird and we don't know what really happened to us here on the island," Kitty was now looking at Wills, "We have spoken about the fortune left to us and that does not matter to us. I have changed in this year and found a freedom that has nothing to do with money. It is a freedom and a confidence from within and for that I thank Leo."
"I too must say that I never knew I had the ability to manage a business like I have this past year," Wills went on. "I have grown in leaps and bounds and I too have found that carefree spirit on this island that I know I can take anywhere with me."
George sat back in his chair. Leo my mate, I wish you were here to see what you have done. You have changed their lives and they don't want your money. He chuckled. "So it seems you two have really benefited by this experience and will be going home to carry on with your lives again. I am pleased you saw this as an opportunity to grow and didn't jump into the whole deal of being pushed into a marriage that you did not want. Good on you two."
Wills and Kitty had Cheshire cat smiles on their faces. "Dad, we have to let you in on a secret, Kitty and I are genuinely in love, from the first day we set eyes on each other and we are getting married. Because we love each other and not because of the conditions of the will."
There was silence at first from George, then "Are you two for real? It is a serious matter to get married." They just sat there smiling and nodded "Well, then let me open this envelope and see what the next surprise is." He sighed and shook his head.
George opened the envelope and started reading. 'If you are all sitting together reading this, you can know I am smiling down on you. May you spend eternity together. Wills, I always knew you had a head for business and Kitty, you were the gamble I took but your name did it for me. You were the only other Kitty I knew and if you were anything like my mother, then I knew you and Wills would make a match. Thank you George, my best friend, for seeing to my wishes. Now burn the other envelope.'
Looking over the table at Kitty, George thought This lady is anything but dull and plain. How she has changed. "We need champagne!" he said.