Cursing myself for falling asleep in the late afternoon sun, I stumbled along the dirt track leading away from the beach, swiping at the mosquitoes’ that eagerly flitted around my bare shoulders. It was early evening and with the exception of a distant figure walking his dog, I’d woken to an empty sandy shoreline. Even the Surf Lifesavers hut was abandoned. Shit. I should’ve stayed on the private beach at the resort. It would take me at least twenty minutes to reach my bungalow from here. And the coastal road was a steady uphill climb. I hummed to myself. No need to freak out, Rosie. There’ll be other people on the main road, just keep walking.
I picked up the pace, rounded the first turn in the road and there he was, standing in the shadows of the trees. A young man in a shabby linen suit, a navy scarf tied loosely around his neck, he held an old clay pipe in one hand and a small leather pouch in the other. Rather eccentric, I thought as I reached him.
“Good Evening” he smiled broadly. Ah, he was English.
I returned his smile “Hello”
“You’re staying at the resort?”
I nodded. Clearly, I wasn’t a local. I wondered where he was from. “You live here?”
“Yes” he held out his hand “My name is Louis – Louis Butler”
“I’m Rosie – Rosie Franklin,” I panted, catching my breath “You’re very lucky to live here – it’s a gorgeous island”
He nodded, squeezed the leather pouch and stared across the road, towards the ocean "it's paradise" he said simply.
“Well, I better get going, it’s late…” I brushed past him and continued on my trek, only to hear his footsteps falling behind me. Immediately a chill settled uneasily in the pit of my belly.
“Sorry, Miss Franklin…?”
I turned to glare at him but something in his dark eyes held mine, a silent plea, an unspoken understanding. Who was this man? The name Butler sounded familiar. I felt an overwhelming urge to run from him, and yet I remained rooted to the spot.
“Have you seen the view from over there? It’s the most beautiful place…” he gestured towards the edge of the cliff face. Without hesitating, he led me towards a large flat rock. The scent of sweet jasmine hung thickly around us, insects buzzed in the nearby undergrowth and below, I could hear the large waves crashing against the cliff face. Louis settled on the rock, opened his small leather pouch and pulled out a wooden flute.
The most beautiful notes floated above us, a seductive lullaby, entrancing, captivating. Closing my eyes, I lay back on the sandy rock and let his sweet music wash over my body. Nothing mattered now, I only wanted to sleep, my legs were weary and the afternoon sun had zapped my energy.
Suddenly, his music stopped, I sat upright. “Louis?”
Footsteps crunched along the gravel road and laughter pierced the air. What the hell? Two women clad in the hotels white uniforms loomed in front of me, worried expressions replacing their early joviality.
“Miss –are you a’ right?” The older of the two spoke “Are ya… lost, love? Tha ‘otel is just up da road ‘dere”
“I’m okay…I was just listening to… Louis’ music”
The ladies exchanged a knowing glance and nodded in unison “Well, now – best we get you back to ‘de ‘otel” the older lady offered her hand, gently pulling me from the rock.
As we walked towards the lights of the hotel, I searched for Louis “do you know him – Louis? He’s a local, an Englishman, I met him by the trees”The older lady smiled “Oh yes, we know Louis –he’s been in these parts for a long time now, I don’t expect he’ll be leaving anytime soon.”
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