Cecilia could hardly curb her excitement as she waited outside her house, with her bright red carry-on, for her cab to arrive. She hoped that old Mrs.Higgins was not spying on her. She disapproved of single, middle aged women travelling on their own, to God forsaken places. The cold, bitter wind slapped her face and she shivered slightly. The soft, silky t-shirt under her parka was hardly any protection against the Canadian winter. She glanced at her watch. Any minute now! She clutched her handbag and rolled her suitcase towards the limo as it pulled into her driveway. Travel in style or don’t travel at all, was her motto.
As the limo sped towards the airport, Cecilia leaned back into the soft, leather seat and recalled the events of the last few days. Her sister Margaret, had booked a two week vacation at the Dreams Palm Beach Resort in Punta Cana. An all inclusive retreat at a beach front property with eight restaurants, sports and outdoor pool. A fantastic deal for only a grand. Cecilia closed her eyes and dreamt of lush, tropical gardens and palm studded beaches.
The sister were different in personality as well as physical appearance. Cecilia was petite and mild mannered and found Margaret’s domineering ways rather intimidating and embarrassing, especially when she yelled to push through the crowd. But she was protective of her and had a generous heart. Cecilia was ashamed to harbour such negative thoughts about her. After all, she was paying for her vacation. Margaret made plans on the spot and Cecilia followed without questioning her motives.
When she reached the airport, she looked around the crowded room for Margaret’s broad back and short bob. She spotted her waiting in the queue. Because of her quick thinking they sailed through the airport security and were at the boarding gate half an hour early. When they landed in Punta Cana, they were welcomed with garlands strewn with yellow marigold flowers by the Spanish dancing troupe. In a few minutes they cleared the customs and were seated in an air-conditioned luxury bus. The friendly guide offered them a chilled beer. Margaret who was sweaty from the trip accepted it graciously. It took twenty minutes to reach the resort.
The magnificent building boasted a huge entrance with gleaming marble floors and chandeliers on the ceiling that sparkled in the sunlight.The cool breeze of the ocean drifted in and Cecilia could taste the salt on her lips. They approached the immaculate front desk and handed their passports to the receptionist with the soft, foreign voice. She informed them that their suite was not yet ready. She apologized by offering them chilled champagne in crystal glasses and suggested a walk on the beach.
It was early morning and the sun had cast its golden glow on the shimmering ocean. They heard the screech of the seagulls as they circled and dived into blue water to catch their first prey. A flock of pelicans flew above their heads and disappeared into the blue horizon. Margaret took her shoes off and dug her toes into the warm sand. They stopped by a small thatched hut and ordered breakfast of coffee, pancakes and a bowl of fresh pineapple and mango fruits.
When they returned, the receptionist handed them the key to their suite and a bell boy escorted them to the third floor. The room was gorgeous with a wide balcony overlooking the turquoise sea and creamy white curtains billowing in the gentle breeze. They hugged each other and danced around the room with sheer delight.
Suddenly they heard a sound in the bathroom, like a rat scurrying around and then they heard the tap run. Someone was there! Taking a shower. Margaret picked up the bronze statue and lifted it above her head, ready to strike. With the stealth of a burglar she approached the door. She pushed it gently but it did not budge. She knocked and a voice yelled out.
“Who is it? Can’t you see I am busy?”
They were shocked to hear a man’s voice. Eventually he came outside, a towel wrapped around his waist, his hair wet from the shower. He was tall and good looking, with dark, curly hair and a tanned, brown skin. He was a Cuban, probably from Florida and he spoke with a fluent American accent. His dark eyes flashed with anger which quickly turned into disappointment as he stared at the two elderly women.
“Who are you? I am supposed to share this room with my friends from Cuba.”
“Cuba?” retorted Margaret, her face flushing with anger. “We are Canadians and this our room.”
“That’s utter nonsense.” he yelled back. “I am sharing this room with my friends.”
“Let’s sort this out.” Cecilia interrupted. “I am sure there has been some mistake.”
The receptionist checked their booking and nodded. Yes it was meant to be shared by three people. Hence the bargain.
Margaret was still furious and started yelling at the girl.
“We booked it just for the two of us. There was no indication that we had share with someone else. And a man at that!”
The receptionist accustomed to dealing with irate tourists, waited until the tirade was over and then replied.
“I am sorry but we are fully booked. Please make the best of the situation.” She whisked them away.
Cecilia pulled Margaret into a corner and whispered.
“Let it be. We don’t want to ruin our vacation, do we? Do you really want to go back home to the cold, depressing winter?” Margaret shook her head.
“We will have to put up with him.” She glanced at the young man, fuming and pacing the floor. “He looks cute. This may turn out to be quite an adventure.” She winked at Margaret.
They cautiously approached the young man, apologized and agreed to share the room. He was reluctant at first but then, when he saw the dejected look on their faces, he laughed. They walked over to the bar and ordered margaritas to celebrate their new friendship.