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About seven months later, Izzy lay in a hammock on the balcony of her bungalow, which was on the beach and faced out to sea, catching the last meagre rays of the day.
She was considering her reply to Chris’ question after her first dive on Koh Tao. And yes, she had handled it all very well so far, very comfortably. She was really enjoying ‘island life’ – everything from the beach yoga class she’d joined, to swimming alone in the sea late at night. She loved that she was leading such a carefree life with no pressing obligations for the foreseeable future.
She did have to be available to work all day, every day, but still had more free time than she’d bargained on. This had resulted in her finishing her writing course quite quickly and starting another one, an interior design course.
Izzy missed her family and her friends from home, and the people she’d made friends with in London, but she’d also met hundreds of interesting people from all over the world as they’d spent time on the island, which meant she was never lonely.
She was just thinking of emailing Julianne and Pierre, a couple from Canada she’d met and had a really good time with, when she heard someone approaching her bungalow across the sand. She sat up in the hammock and turned to see who it was. The last thing she felt like was taking a dive group out now; it would be dark soon.
“Oh my god!” she laughed when she saw her visitor’s face.
“No, it’s just me, Kyle. Remember me?” he joked and bound up the bungalow steps as Izzy scrambled out of the hammock. He looked relaxed – and gorgeous – in a navy Quicksilver T-shirt and beige cargo shorts.
She quickly adjusted her bikini, which was tiny and striped in shades of pink and brown, to make sure everything was in order.
“I could never forget you!” she said as they gripped each other ecstatically in a warm hug.
Izzy dashed into her room and put on denim shorts and a taupe vest over the bikini, then let her hair down as she slipped into her black flip-flops. She came out grinning and took Kyle straight to the pool bar, where she ordered them each a Singha beer.
Kyle looked around, taking in the relaxed atmosphere of the tourists drinking and chatting at the picnic tables, contrasted by the excitement of those splashing each other noisily in the swimming pool.
“This was so unexpected, really out of the blue! I can’t believe you’re here, in Thailand,” she said excitedly as she put the beer in front of him on the picnic table and sat down. “So spill, what are you here for – business or pleasure?”
“A bit of both, I hope!” he smiled cheekily. “I need to learn to dive, and then I’m headed home to do an underwater photography course. I want to freelance so I have to get as much under my belt as I can. I decided to do the diving bit here so I could hang out with you for a while.”
“And for how long will I be the recipient of this great pleasure?” Izzy fluttered her eyelashes bashfully, only half pretending to be flattered.
“For as long as you like. I was thinking about a month, but it could go either way,” Kyle shrugged casually.
“Either way?” Izzy’s eyebrows furrowed in exaggerated confusion.
“If you get sick of me tomorrow, you can send me packing. If you decide to keep me forever, I can be convinced.”
“Ah… But what would convince me to keep you forever?” she teased.
“You mean aside from my charming good looks? The fact that this place is phenomenal and I’d get down on my knees and beg you!” Kyle’s voice took on a quality of fake panic and Izzy laughed, happy to hear the familiar humour.
“Oh, the good looks should get you by, maybe… We’ll see.”
“Enough about me,” Kyle smiled. “Tell me, what have you been up to?”
“Where to begin? Well – diving occasionally, tanning regularly, meeting all kinds of weird and wonderful travellers…”
“It must have been cool having Alice here with you in the beginning. How’s she doing?”
“She’s excellent. She met a guy when she got home. His name’s Ryan Pierce, I think. And he likes Nickelback, so he can only be cool. He has a yacht, which he lets out on day charters, and they’ve left Cape Town and moved to Plettenberg Bay.”
“Plett’s near Knysna.”
“I know. They’ve already been to see my folks twice. Last time I heard from Alice, she said they were thinking of moving to Knysna because the waterfront is so pretty and their yacht would fit in nicely, being so classy and all,” Izzy reported with an amused look; it was typical of her friend to contemplate the aesthetics first and foremost when faced with such an important decision.
“And your folks, what are they up to?” Kyle asked with genuine interest. Izzy realised how fond he’d become of them during their time in London.