Vanessa picked up a silky dressing gown from the floor, and wrapped it around her body. Walking to the glass doors, she pulled them open, and pointed outside. Martin felt the blast of heat enter the room, overwhelming the still-running air conditioning. “Look over there, Martin, next to the pool house. Those old garages”. He stood up and joined her at the window, looking over in the direction indicated by her hand. “You had all your stuff boxed up and sent over by courier. It all went in there”. Across a covered terrace, he could see a huge swimming pool, and beyond that a row of white buildings. “If you had a typewriter, and had it packed away, it will be in one of the boxes inside there. I have certainly never seen it since we came here”.
There was a splashing sound in the pool, and he turned to see what had made it. A young woman was pulling herself from the water, long dark hair, soaking wet. Her slim body was tanned, and she was topless, wearing only the briefest bikini bottoms. As she saw the couple in the opening, she grinned and looked away, apparently embarrassed by Martin’s naked body. Grabbing a towel, she turned to her left, and walked off quickly. Vanessa spotted the vacant look on his face. “I suppose you don’t remember Melanie either? My daughter? She decided to come with us”. He shook his head. She couldn’t stifle a chuckle. “I tell you, Martin, if you’re taking the piss out of me, you are going to be in so much trouble. Put some clothes on, for Christ’s sake”.
Much of the rest of the day was spent acquainting himself with the house and grounds. And Melanie, who turned out to be alright, for a twenty year-old. Martin considered that he had been remarkably restrained, considering the huge sum he had won. The house had five other bedrooms, in addition to the master suite he had woken up in. Each one had it’s own bathroom, and there were numerous separate toilets dotted around the house too. The kitchen was huge, decked out with everything needed, and there was a separate dining room, looking over the terrace at the back. The main living room took up most of the front of the house, but was rarely used, according to Vanessa. “We spend most of our time outside, on the terrace or around the pool. And the rest in the bedroom.” That last was delivered with a knowing wink.
Most of the housework was done by Consuelo, a local woman who came in every day, dropped off by her husband. His name was Luis, and he also did occasional jobs, such as trimming the trees, and sorting out the landscaped gardens. When Consuelo had some big job on, like changing all the beds on the same day, or cleaning the windows inside and out, she brought a young girl with her from town, Elena. The house was three miles from El Palo, almost ten from Malaga. If there were any neighbours, Vanessa had never seen any. Melanie didn’t work. She had dropped out of University to go to Spain with them, and had some vague idea about starting up her own make-up brand. Outside the front of the house was a curved driveway, with a nearly-new Range Rover parked on it. It was brilliant white, with tinted glass all round. Not far behind it was a bright pink Fiat 500. Vanessa told him he had bought that for Melanie.
Once he knew where everything was, and who was who, Martin sat on the terrace, drinking a cold beer. He couldn’t believe how hot it was, and Vanessa had told him it would be much hotter next month. He had also not failed to notice that he was very tanned, so that left him wondering why he wasn’t used to the heat. No point keep going over it, just accept it. Save more brain ache. Sipping the beer, and enjoying his tenth cigarette of the day, he had to conclude that it was a pretty good deal. Vanessa was curvy and attractive, and exactly his type. It was as if he had designed her with the help of a sketch artist. She was neither stupidly dull, nor annoyingly intellectual, and she really seemed to like him. Mind you, for two hundred million euros, she could probably like anyone.
The house was great, the woman was sexy, and even her leech of a daughter was pleasant enough. She spent most of the day in her room, doing stuff online. According to Vanessa, they wouldn’t see much of her. And from checking his online financial statements, he discovered that he had spent less than six million euros for the lot. Nobody was hassling him with deadlines, or pretending they knew him. He could just chill out, enjoy the new life, the money, and Vanessa. Especially her. But despite the reality check, he just knew he wouldn’t settle, not until he found that old typewriter.
Vanessa joined him on the terrace. “What do you say we drive down into town tonight. Perhaps have a nice paella? We could go to that place you like, the one away from the front. You know, the quiet street.” He turned and smiled at her. She lit a cigarette, and drank some of her iced tea. When he didn’t reply, she grinned. “You didn’t fall for it then? You didn’t say, oh that place, I like that place”. He wagged a finger at her. “I thought you believed me? You know I won’t remember any restaurants, or which way to drive to town. Trying to trip me up like that just makes me think you really don’t trust me”. She shrugged, puffing on the cigarette. “Well you must agree it is all sounding a bit far-fetched, Martin? I mean, I appreciate you didn’t seem to know where anything was, and you did look surprised to see Melanie. But it’s been a year. You must remember something?” He rubbed his hand over his eyes. “The thing is, Vanessa, I genuinely don’t. All I know is what you tell me. You could tell me anything, and I would have to believe it. Imagine how frustrating that is for me”.
Her tone softened. “So you don’t remember telling me that I was your ideal woman, and the sexiest most beautiful person you had ever been with? Or that you will stay with me for the rest of your life, and be the happiest man in the world. Or that you promised me I could have one million euros for new clothes?” She started laughing at that last one, and Martin had to laugh too. He chuckled, and finished the beer. “I may not remember saying it, but I do believe it’s true. Well, except not a whole one million”. She smiled sweetly at him. “Flatterer. And by the way, you call me Ness. You have done, ever since that night at The Ritz.
The quiet part of town was busy enough. He would hate to see the busy part. Ness showed him where to drive under an arch, and that led to a spot behind the restaurant where they could park the car. According to her, he was such a big spender, they had insisted he could always park there. They walked back to the entrance, holding hands. The baking heat of earlier had been replaced by that nice evening heat that made you feel you could go on all night, even sleep under the stars. As they walked through the front door into the chill of air-conditioning, a middle-aged man dashed over, a beaming smile on his face. “Mister Martin! How lovely to see you again. And the lovely lady. Good evening sir, good evening madam. I will show you to one of our best tables. Please to follow me”. He sat them at a table in a dimly-lit area at the back, and handed them two menus the size of billboards. “I will send someone to take your drinks order”.
A couple of minutes later, Martin’s perusal of the menu was interrupted by a friendly voice. “Sir, Madam, what would you like to drink, please?” He looked over the top of his menu, and Ness was already replying. “Gin and tonic for me, I think”. She turned to Martin. “Do you want to share some Sangria instead, or will you be sticking with red wine?” He didn’t reply. He was looking at the slender young man with the nice teeth. A man who looked like he should be riding a Vespa. The waiter turned, awaiting his decision on the drinks. Martin’s face was like stone. “I know you. It’s Pablo, isn’t it? Do you remember me?” The younger man looked puzzled. “Of course sir. You and the lady come here a lot. I serve you many times before. Pablo. Yes, Pablo.”
Martin’s expression didn’t change. “No, not here. In London, a Tapas Bar, in Stoke Newington. I used to leave you a big tip. You knew all my favourite Tapas dishes. You were open from eleven until eleven”. Pablo grinned. “London sir? No, never London. I have not been to England. I live all my life here, in Malaga”. He pointed in the direction of the larger city to the west. “You must make a mistake about me”. Martin shrugged. Oh well, obviously my mistake, as you say. Make it a bottle of Rioja, a Gran Reserva”. The waiter nodded, and walked away to get the drinks.
Something about his eyes told Martin it was the same Pablo.