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The Road To Beira

By Adam Mann



Description

Colin and Monique meet one another on a dusty road about one hundred miles from Beira in Mozambique. They had a previous strong attraction back when they were students, but that was over twenty years ago, and their lives had taken completely different paths.

Monique has just been through a nasty divorce, and wanted to settle down to raise her two children while getting on with her career as a recruitment specialist.

The tall dark Colin, a long-term bachelor, still attracts her and she realizes that she would have to take the lead if their relationship were to develop and romance were to blossom!

Despite middle age creeping in, can her glowing auburn hair, her still attractive breasts, and passionate body still be enough win Colin's heart again? Or will the trouble her ex-husband's lawyers cause destroy any chance at happiness?


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Excerpt

Chapter One

Durban

“Hello, can I speak with Laura?”

“Just a moment, I’ll see if she’s available. Who shall I say is calling?”

The phone made some whizzing noises in her hand.

“My name is Monique Dreaper, and I’m calling from South Africa.”

“Hold a moment, please,” said an English voice.

The phone receiver made a few more clicks.

“Monique,” said an excited female voice, suddenly compassionate. She remembered her friend’s recent and difficult divorce. “How are you?”

“I’m feeling much better, thanks, but that’s not why I’m calling.”

“Oh?”

“Did you get the invitation to come to the unveiling ceremony for the new hotel at Mount Vanduzi?”

“Oh, yes, will you be there?”

“I’m going to try to get there, but if I know you’ll be there I will try even harder.”

“How’s the staffing going?”

“I was going to ask you that,” said Monique. “The recruitment of the manager and head chef is critical, but we’ve been lucky managing to find some trained catering staff in Beira. The only trouble will be their lack of English.”

“I’ve sent the developers, I think a Mr. Hugh Greene, a bunch of CVs, and I’m waiting to hear from him. It is a bit remote, and we might have a problem attracting good staff to work there, even though he’ll pay them well.”

“I’ve suggested that Hugh Greene conducts the interviews for the senior staff here in Durban. Did you get my email?”

“Yes, great idea, especially as several come from South Africa, or that region.”

“Well, can you come down, Laura?” asked Monique. “Stay with me in Durban, the children would love to see you again, and we could have a good chat, and then after the interviews we could travel on to the new hotel together, couldn’t we?”

“You’re very persuasive, Monique my dear, I’d love to see you again. How many days would I need?”

“You could fly direct to Durban, I’m sure. The interviews will take two days at the most, and then we could fly on to Beira, and get a hire car from there.” She paused to get her breath. “The ceremony would take another day, two at the most to allow travelling time, and then we all go home.”

“I’ll try to persuade Hugh to hold the interviews on Thursday and Friday, and hold the unveiling ceremony on Monday, so I’d only have to be away five days at the most, and not all in the same week.”

“OK, Laura, please email me,” she said and was about to put her phone down.

“Monique, before you go, what will the communications be like at the new hotel?”

“I’ve not been there, but I’ve been told the electricity is working, water is clean and on tap, and I’m told they have satellite phones working that will accept the Internet and emails.”

“Great! Bye, Monique. I look forward to seeing you.” Laura switched her mobile phone off.

Monique took a deep breath and felt better just talking to her friend. They had worked together for several years in Amsterdam, and then Laura had moved to a new recruitment agency in London, and Monique after a few more months, had gone home to Durban.

Her mind was preoccupied with the new hotel arrangements, but then she remembered meeting her husband in Pretoria, and becoming Mrs. Clive Coetzee. Clive was tall and blond, and they had not wasted any time conceiving two children, who were now teenagers. They lived in Durban, and Clive was the manager of a local chain of hotels along the coast, so his absence from home for a few nights was not unusual. Until, that is, he didn’t come home at all.

The reason was a woman named Elizabeth and she lived in East London, along the coast. Her father was a partner in a law firm and they had handled the divorce.

Monique kept the house, and gave Clive unrestricted access to the two children, but as she had a full-time job the allowance he had to pay for the children was minimal. The first weekend the children went to East London was a disaster, and they both came home in tears.

Monique brushed away a tear herself as the phone rang on her desk, and she picked it up.

“Monique,” said her assistant, “could you please come to look at some of these applicants for the hotel jobs in Beira?”

“On my way,” Monique said and put down the phone.

They had arranged to interview the staff in groups and today was Reception, tomorrow would be Accounts, and on Monday it would be Security.

As she entered the meeting room, all the potential staff respectfully stood. Her opinion had a strong influence on their long-term employment.

Most of the applicants were female and young, and their eyes glistened as they listened to Monique’s assistant outlining the new hotel development.

“Most of the work on the buildings is complete, and there is a separate block to accommodate all hotel staff, with your own dining room. At this stage we need to appoint only four of you, who will have to share a room for the time being.”

The applicants looked at one another wondering who they wanted to share a room with.

“I’m going to see the new hotel myself, there is an unveiling ceremony in two weeks, so we will make arrangements for the successful applicants to travel there as soon after that as possible,” Monique said to the seven applicants.

“Could you please explain to us exactly where the new hotel will be?” asked a tall girl.

Monique turned to a large printed map on the wall showing the Zambezi River delta in Mozambique, and the hills behind it going towards Zimbabwe. She used a pointer to show the position of the hotel, south of the Zambezi.

“All of these buildings are a new development,” she explained, “and the preferred access is by road from the local airport, although most of us would prefer to drive there from Beira.”

“As you all know, the hotel management has agreed to a six week tour, and then a week off, for each of you. You can stay there if you want, or go home, or look around the district,” she repeated, and they all nodded.

One girl stood, her pregnant belly pressing against her clothing and said, “Sorry, I didn’t know that when I applied for the job.” She made her way to the door.

Monique’s assistant pointed to a name on the list. That left four to select out of six.

“Does anyone else have problems with that before we make our final selection?”

A smart young man who had been sitting silently said with a grin, “Who’s going to share a room with me?”

They all laughed.

“If you’re selected, the hotel management will arrange for you to share a room with a man from Accounts or Security,” Monique’s assistant said without the trace of a smile on her face.

“Right,” said Monique. “We’ve arranged a buffet lunch for all of us, and we’ll make the final selection this afternoon.”

Plates and cutlery rattled in the adjoining room, and they all trooped in there to eat.

Monique and her assistant watched the applicants silently as they helped themselves to food, and took their plates to a place at a table. This was a critical part of the selection process, as although they were all trained receptionists, their relationship between themselves and with other staff would be critical in that remote area of Mozambique.

The final selection was the young man with the smile and three young ladies who all looked smart and capable. One was a bit older and had two years’ experience at a hotel in Johannesburg. The hotel would be providing uniforms for them, even for Accounts—two each initially, one on and one being cleaned.

It was late in the afternoon when Monique’s assistant came to see her.

“Accounts tomorrow, and Security on Monday,” she reminded her.

“I’ve asked the provisional head of Security to join us on Monday, and we’ll probably leave most of the selection to him,” agreed Monique.

“What about Catering?”

“We’re leaving that to the local staff in the hotel, and they’ve agreed to make most of their selection in Beira,” Monique reminded her, “so they’ll probably all speak Portuguese in the kitchen!”

“Who did they select for the head chef?”

“I got an email this morning telling me that the chef is Italian, and his wife is a pastry chef.”

“I’ll bet the food will be great then.”

Monique stood and tidied her desk.

“I’d better go and see what my mavericks have done at home.” She smiled at her assistant.

“OK, see you in the morning.” They both left the office.

Monique had an old Land Rover that rattled as she drove home. Her colleagues often teased her about her choice of vehicle, but as she said, “We all like going on Safari or camping whenever we can, and that’s the best vehicle for that job, and apart from that nobody will ever want to steal it!”

At home Monique went to her kitchen where her two children were preparing a meal.

“Hi Mum,” greeted her daughter, Liz. “I hope you like spaghetti.”

“Yum,” she acknowledged. “What’s Rob doing?”

“He’s making a fruit salad, but don’t blame me.” Her daughter laughed.

“Can I leave you both to it?”

“No problem,” both children agreed.

Monique entered her bedroom. The house was just big enough for the three of them, but as Liz grew up she was taking longer and longer in the bathroom, whereas Robert had to be hard pressed to even go in there. She smiled to herself.

She looked at herself in the mirror and sat on the stool in front of her dressing table. Using a hairbrush, she brushed her auburn hair that turned blonder when exposed to the sun.

She was now forty-five. “You still look good,” she told herself.

Getting a bit pudgy now, she slapped her thighs and chided herself, but she never had time to exercise, she reasoned.

Standing in the middle of the room, she took off all her clothes, grabbed a towel and tiptoed to her bathroom. She stood under the shower, and washed off the grime of the day, looking at herself in the long mirror on the wall.

“Still got some shape,” she said to herself, “breasts not sagging too much, my waist a bit fat but not too much, and she smacked her own bottom deciding that it was not too big, yet.”

She stared at her legs and lifted her arms.

“No muscle sag on the upper arms, and the thighs still firm,” she said to herself, “and my feet and hands are still in good working condition.”

She dried herself, walked back to her bedroom, found a clean bra and panties, and dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, even managing to do up the metal button on the waist without breathing in, much. Satisfied, she went downstairs.

Robert had laid the table Italian style; just a knife and fork and a napkin. Liz came in with a large bowl of spaghetti bolognaise that smelled of garlic and fresh herbs. She had also made a green salad with a light dressing of olive oil and lemon.

They chatted idly about school as they ate.

Monique said, “Sorry, but this weekend we can’t go camping as I have a big job to do early on Monday morning.”

“That’s OK, Mum,” said Rob. “Do you mind if I go with the Roberts?” Something he often did if they did not go camping together.

“I’ve got an end of term exam next week so a bit of revision wouldn’t go amiss,” Liz admitted.

“Let’s go to Vernon Crooks next weekend,” suggested Rob, “as I’ve heard the butterflies are in full bloom, and I have to write an article for a school project. I can get a lot on the Internet, but I’d like a few real photos of my own, even if they’re a bit out of focus” He grinned.

“It’s not so far,” agreed Liz. “So do you think we could go on Friday night and get a whole weekend there, Mum?”

“Well, I’d better tell you both now that’s the weekend after I have to go to Beira, and then to see a new hotel at Mount Vanduzi, and I’ll be away for about six or seven days.”

“You lucky devil,” they both cried together.”

“Can’t you smuggle us in your bag?” suggested Robert.