Chapter 3

18.7K 911 60
                                                  

When I awoke it was early morning and the villa was finally silent. The sunlight reflected off the pool outside, creating pretty little rippling patterns all over the ceiling, and I lay in bed and watched them for a few moments before remembering the events of the previous evening.

Of course there were no available flights back to the UK. I was an idiot for not trying to book something last night. What could I do now? Avoid Ryan for the entire weekend? It wasn't possible.

I dressed and went downstairs for breakfast, hoping I wouldn't meet anyone else this early, only to find both Gina and her father Stefano in the breakfast room.

"Megan!" cried Stefano, jumping out of his seat and sweeping me into his usual bear hug. "Why do you not come and visit us anymore?"

"I've been very busy with my new book – "

"And you have a new boyfriend? Where is he?"

"There's been a misunderstanding," I said. "I came on my own."

"Poor Megan!" Stefano took one of my hands in his and squeezed hard. I tried not to wince. "I'll find another one for you."

What was wrong with this family? "I'm not looking for a man, I'm only here to have a holiday!"

"," he agreed. "You have a lovely holiday and find a nice boyfriend too." Before I could argue further, he strode over to the sideboard and began forking up bacon, eggs and mushrooms from the hot plates, piling them onto a plate for me. "English breakfast," he beamed. "Especially for you."

I didn't want to hurt his feelings, so I took the plate and murmured my thanks, only to turn around and find Gina glaring at me.

"Where did you get to last night?" she said.

"Why, was there someone you wanted me to meet?"

She ignored that and said instead, "What would you like to do today? I thought we could take it easy; perhaps do some shopping before it gets too hot, and then laze around the pool?"

In other words, hang around the villa until Ryan deigned to wake up.

"Not a chance," I said.

"Megan doesn't want to sleep by a pool all day," Stefano agreed. "She must see the sights."

"Megan doesn't need to see the sights, Papà," Gina said. "She's been here before, many times. Amalfi, Vesuvius, Pompeii – she's done them all."

"You can visit Pompeii a hundred times and still not see it all!" he protested. "Why not wait for the boys to wake up and you can all visit Pompeii together?"

"Oh ... " said Gina, apparently catching on. "What a good – "

"I'd much rather go to Capri," I said quickly. "They have shops there too." I knew how much Gina loved shopping – and there was the added bonus of Capri being a good twenty minute boat trip away from Sorrento.

Gina slowly nodded her acquiescence, but I could see she wasn't happy about it. Presumably she thought Ryan would be long gone by the time we returned, which was certainly what I was hoping for.

Wasn't it?

* * *

We arrived on the little island paradise of Capri so early it was practically deserted. In the old days we would spend hours just wandering around, admiring the scenery and taking it easy. I was hoping to do that today too, but Gina reminded me I'd asked go shopping, so shopping was what we were going to do. Obviously I was being punished for my failure to fall for her scheming.

We took the funicular from Marina Grande to Capri town, where there were enough exclusive shops and boutiques to keep even Gina entertained for the best part of the morning. Once it became too busy, we stopped for lunch at a little café just off La Piazzetta, before returning to the harbour to beat the rush back to the mainland.

Yet despite the glamour of the designer shops, and the pretty little cobblestone streets, all I could think about was Ryan and why he'd returned to Sorrento. Was it merely a coincidence? He'd never been the kind of man to allow himself to be manipulated by others. If he was here, it was because he wanted to be. To see me? Unlikely, because that would imply he wanted us to get back together, and why would he do that, when he could choose any girl he wanted?

I sighed. Now I'd succeeded in making myself even more miserable.

"You're suspiciously quiet," Gina informed me, once we were back on the hydrofoil with all our – OK, mostly her shopping.

I couldn't contain myself any longer. "Did you know Ryan going to be here this weekend?"

She shrugged. "The band are recording a TV show in Rome on Monday. I knew Luca would be visiting my father, so I suggested he might like to bring Ryan along with him."

"You're supposed to be my friend! How could you set me up like that?"

"I hated seeing you so sad. This problem with Ryan is all in your head. He had his photo taken with a pretty girl at an award ceremony. So what? It's called having a good time. Something you seem to have forgotten how to do."

Ouch!

"It wasn't only the photograph," I grumbled, "she wrote a song about him too. They were obviously in a relationship – at the same time he was supposed to be seeing me!"

"Rubbish! If that poor girl slept with every man she's ever been photographed with, she would never have the energy to write the songs!"

Gina had a point. For a moment I was silent as I watched the rugged coastline of Sorrento draw nearer. "You think I've made a mistake?"

"I think you are like one of those hotels," Gina said, pointing to the line of huge luxury hotels perched high upon the cliffs. Some had even been built directly into the rock face.

"Big and old?" I ventured dubiously.

"High in the air, looking down on poor Ryan."

I snorted. "Seriously?"

She grinned at that. "It sounds better in Italian," she admitted. "What I'm trying to say is that maybe you've been too quick to jump to the wrong conclusion – about everything! I understand that you don't want to get hurt again. Is that why you dumped Ryan before he had the chance to explain? So he couldn't break up with you first?"

Gina knew me a little too well. I decided it was safer to remain silent.

She sighed. "Ultimately it's up to you, but Luca would never be friends with the kind of man you seem to think Ryan is. He said Ryan hasn't even looked at another girl since the two of you broke up. You should at least let Ryan have the chance to tell you what really happened that night."

Talk to Ryan? So he could humiliate me in person?

I thought not.


The Indecent Proposal (Short Story)Where stories live. Discover now