The Clerembeax Palace Hotel and Spa – Art for Art’s Sake
The beautiful Downshire village of Clerembeax St Giles was situated to the west of Abbeyvale located between Grace Hill and Bushy Down and on the outskirts was the Clerembeax Palace Hotel and Spa and when Yvonne Labuschagne inherited it from her cousin, the last remaining Clerembeax, she undertook the task of modernizing the Palace and opening a Hotel and Spa.
Staffing was crucial, and Yvonne used her contacts in the Spa world to find the right specialist people in her field of expertise’s and employed Hannah Morgan as manager to fill the remainder of the roles, on the understanding that she employ from the village populous where possible, whether they be part time or permanent, and one of the part timers was Lara Mackie.
17-year-old Lara never knew her father, and she lost her mum, Belinda, to breast cancer when she was only 12, which was how she came to be living in Clerembeax with the Moore Family.
Her mum and Helen Moore were best friends from childhood and remained in each other’s lives until the very end.
So, it was the most logical thing in the world for Belinda to entrust her daughter’s future to the safe hands of her best friend.
Lara, and Helen’s son, Steve, had grown up together, and spent every school holiday together, and when she moved in with the Moore’s Steve took her under his wing and protected her, and they became inseparable.
They were the same age and had been in each other’s lives since they were babies, and they shared the same milestones.
Even when they lived in different houses they saw each other almost every week and the untimely death of her mother just pushed them closer together so invariably they gravitated towards each other.
Her thing, her great passion, was art, it had been from the moment she could hold a pencil, and her dream, between college and University, was to go to an artist’s retreat in France for three weeks in the summer, and she had worked every shift imaginable for 12 months to pay for it, but she wasn’t allowed to go on her own, but she could go provided Steve went with her, so of course he agreed.
His parents knew that his feelings for her weren’t simply friendship or familial and furthermore they also knew that she didn’t look upon him as a brother.
But nothing had come of it, so they thought time away in France might finally get them together.
Thanks to her hard work up at the Clerembeax Palace Hotel and Spa she had the holiday paid for by the end of March and a good chunk of spending money by the end of April but then disaster struck when she fell off her bike one day on her way home and dislocated her shoulder, which meant that was the end of her earnings until after France.
All of this meant that after all her hard work and plans she wasn’t going to have any spare funds to treat herself to some new artist’s materials for the trip.
She really wanted them, but she told Steve that she would just have to get something cheaper and gave him a weak smile.
Steve managed to persuade her not to settle for less than she really wanted and just bide her time and wait for a couple more months and as every cloud had a silver lining by the time she was ready to buy them for University they would be at an even better price and in response Lara punched him on the arm for his sunny optimism, which meant she knew he was right.
When the time for the trip arrived, he sat and watched her as she pottered around the house gathering up the things she would be taking to France and he smiled.
For Steve there was no one lightbulb moment, when he could definitely say
“That was when I fell in love with her”
Because he had always loved her, and he always would, and now he had an opportunity for a demonstration of his love, and that necessitated an impromptu trip into town with his dad James.
They then had to sneak the purchases inside the house and upstairs without being seen so Helen could wrap them up, then when they were done they needed to get the wrapped presents back downstairs and into the dining room, Helen was keeping watch in the hall and indicated when the coast was clear, so they tiptoed down the stairs and across the hall and placed the packages onto the dining table.
A few minutes later Lara walked in, to find the three of them standing in front of the dining table on the other side of the room, and Steve thought she looked lovelier than ever.
She was immediately suspicious and said
“Why are you all huddled over there?”
“Well there is something we wanted to do before we have dinner” James said
“Well we know how disappointed you were about your artist materials, so here you are” Helen said and with military precision they parted to reveal the brightly wrapped parcels.
“What’s all this?” Lara asked
“Open them and you’ll find out” Steve said
So, she set about the task and as she ripped off the paper her eyes widened with delight and she smiled broadly
“It’s all the things I wanted” she said “You shouldn’t have”
Then she hugged and kissed Helen and James.
“It wasn’t us darling” Helen said “I just wrapped them”
“And I just drove the car” James added, and she turned towards Steve
“So, it was you?” she said and prodded him in the chest with an outstretched finger.
“So, what was all that tosh about me biding my time?”
“Sound advice” he replied, and she jabbed her finger into his chest again
“And “every cloud has a silver lining”?”
She asked with another prod
“And all the time”
“You were planning this”
“Pretty much” he confirmed and then she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek and said
“I love you”
The moment the words left her lips she stiffened as she realised she had said it out loud, and she regretted it instantly, not because she didn’t mean it, she did and she had often dreamed of saying it, but she regretted it because it was on the eve of their departure to France, and the location was not ideal with his parents looking on, what if they were angry, what if he didn’t love her and they would have three weeks of awkwardness, but then she took a breath and thought that regrets were pointless, it was said and it was spontaneous, but she instantly tried to backtrack.
“I mean… I…” she stammered but he put a finger to her lips
“Hush” he said “You don’t have to explain, because I love you too”
“I do” he confirmed and then her arms were wrapped around his neck again only this time when she kissed him it wasn’t on the cheek.
Helen and James were hugging as they watched their son and surrogate daughter finally expressing the love they had always held for each other, but they discreetly slipped away as the couple shared a different kind of kiss.