Playing by the Greek's Rules(3)

By: Sarah Morgan

‘What’s his name?’

‘No idea. The company is very secretive. We have to arrive at a certain time and then his security team will let us in. Four hours later I add a gratifyingly large sum of money to my bank account and that’s the end of it.’

‘Four hours? It’s going to take five of you four hours to clean one house?’ Brittany paused with the water halfway to her mouth. ‘What is this place? A Minoan palace?’

‘A villa. It’s big. She said I’d be given a floor plan when I arrive, which I have to return when I leave and I’m not allowed to make copies.’

‘A floor plan?’ Brittany choked on her water. ‘Now I’m intrigued. Can I come with you?’

‘Sure—’ Lily threw her a look ‘—because scrubbing out someone’s shower is so much more exciting than having cocktails on the terrace of the archaeological museum while the sun sets over the Aegean.’

‘It’s the Sea of Crete.’

‘Technically it’s still the Aegean, and either way I’m missing a great party to scrub a floor. I feel like Cinderella. So what about you? Are you going to meet someone tonight and do something about your dormant love life?’

‘I don’t have a love life, I have a sex life, which is not at all dormant fortunately.’

Lily felt a twinge of envy. ‘Maybe you’re right. I need to lighten up and use men for sex instead of treating every relationship as if it’s going to end in confetti. You were an only child, weren’t you? Did you ever wish you had brothers or sisters?’

‘No, but I grew up on a small island. The whole place felt like a massive extended family. Everyone knew everything, from the age you first walked, to whether you had all A’s on your report card.’

‘Sounds blissful.’ Lily heard the wistful note in her own voice. ‘Because I was such a sickly kid and hard work to look after, no one took me for long. My eczema was terrible when I was little and I was always covered in creams and bandages and other yucky stuff. I wasn’t exactly your poster baby. No one wanted a kid who got sick. I was about as welcome as a stray puppy with fleas.’

‘Crap, Lily, you’re making me tear up and I’m not even a sentimental person.’

‘Forget it. Tell me about your family instead.’ She loved hearing about other people’s families, about the complications, the love, the experiences woven into a shared history. To her, family seemed like a multicoloured sweater, with all the different coloured strands of wool knitted into something whole and wonderful that gave warmth and protection from the cold winds of life.

She picked absently at a thread hanging from the hem of her shorts. It felt symbolic of her life. She was a single fibre, loose, bound to nothing.

Brittany took another mouthful of water and adjusted the angle of her hat. ‘We’re a normal American family, I guess. Whatever that is. My parents were divorced when I was ten. My mom hated living on an island. Eventually she remarried and moved to Florida. My dad was an engineer and he spent all his time working on oil rigs around the world. I lived with my grandmother on Puffin Island.’

‘Even the name is adorable.’ Lily tried to imagine growing up on a place called Puffin Island. ‘Were you close to your grandmother?’

‘Very. She died a few years ago, but she left me her cottage on the beach so I’d always have a home. I take several calls a week from people wanting to buy the place but I’m never going to sell.’ Brittany poked her trowel into the ground. ‘My grandmother called it Castaway Cottage. When I was little I asked her if a castaway ever lived there and she said it was for people lost in life, not at sea. She believed it had healing properties.’

Lily didn’t laugh. ‘I might need to spend a month there. I need to heal.’

‘You’d be welcome. A friend of mine is staying at the moment. We use it as a refuge. It’s the best place on earth and I always feel close to my grandmother when I’m there. You can use it any time, Lil.’

‘Maybe I will. I still need to decide what I’m going to do in August.’

‘You know what you need? Rebound sex. Sex for the fun of it, without all the emotional crap that goes with relationships.’

‘I’ve never had rebound sex. I’d fall in love.’

‘So pick someone you couldn’t possibly fall in love with in a million years. Someone with exceptional bedroom skills, but nothing else to commend him. Then you can’t possibly be at risk.’ She broke off as Spyros, one of the Greek archaeologists from the local university, strolled across to them. ‘Go away, Spy, this is girl talk.’