"There's been an accident, a crash… She didn't make it Sophie, your mum… She's gone"
Sophie woke with a start, her hand flying to her chest as she struggled to catch her breath. She wished it had just been a dream, a nightmare out to fool her, but it was a memory she could recall all too clearly. Standing in the hotel lobby, watching Sam answer the telephone. A common occurrence, perfectly normal behaviour, just as it had been normal for her to wave Donna off as she travelled to the mainland to meet with suppliers. A quick kiss on the cheek and a simple 'I'll see you later mum', all perfectly normal.
But then she saw the pain in her stepfather's eyes, their usual brightness gone in a flash. She knew instantly that something was terribly wrong. Sam reached out and took her hand, sadness and heartbreak etched on every feature of his face. It was a moment that she was never going to be able to forget, the moment in which Sam had to tell her that her beloved mother had been killed in a road accident.
Now fully awake, Sophie looked around the darkness of her bedroom as she sat up in her lonely bed. Normally there would be the comforting warmth of her husband Sky in the bed beside her, but he wasn't there. He was thousands of miles away in New York, learning the hotel business from the very best. How she wished he was here now. It had been a long time since she had last had that flashback and she had to wonder what had brought it on. Donna had been gone for nearly fourteen months now, and Sophie had fought hard to make her peace with the pain. It was never going to go away, but she had to look forward.
Perhaps it was the strain of missing her husband that had brought on the bad memory dream? Or perhaps the pressure of the hotel reopening only being a day away? Either way, Sophie knew that there would be no going back to sleep now. Pushing back the covers, she stood from the bed. The gentle flickering of the bedside clock told her bluntly that 4am was no time to be awake, but there was simply too much on her mind for her to rest now.
Grabbing an old hoodie of Sky's from the wardrobe, Sophie wrapped it around herself to keep off the early morning chill as she gave a quick look to the two photographs on the dressing table. One of her and Sky, happy and laughing on their wedding day. The other of her and Donna, with their matching blue eyes and carefree smiles. That seemed like forever ago. She picked up her phone, hoping to see a notification, some sign that Sky had been in contact, but nothing.
All was not well. Life in the big city was beginning to appeal more and more to her adventurous Sky, but there was no way Sophie could leave the island. Her heart was torn between her love for Sky and her love for the place for mother had called their personal paradise. Since their last phone call, in which Sky had told her that he had been offered a job and that he was tempted to take it, the married couple had not spoken and now Sky was not answering her calls.
With a heavy sigh, Sophie stepped out onto the balcony. She thought that she may as well try to enjoy the peace whilst she had the chance. Within a few hours the hotel would be full of people putting the final touches on the set up for the grand re-opening party, plus Tanya and Rosie would be arriving later. From her position on the balcony, Sophie could see across the island. It was beautiful. The hotel had been closed for refurbishment for the last year as Sophie had set out to create the perfect holiday destination her mum had always wanted to build. In the early morning light, Sophie could see its potential. New bars, an added luxury spa, lovely new rooms with ocean views and a stunning courtyard draped in fairy lights and gorgeous floral displays. The Hotel Bella Donna was ready, Sophie only wished she was.
The grand re-opening party had to be a success if she wanted the hotel to thrive. People needed to know about this island, this paradise at the edge of the world. She had invited millionaires and journalists, influential people would could make or break her business. Everything had to be perfect.
She had also invited the most important people in her life. Tanya and Rosie were going to be there, promising her that they wouldn't miss it for the world. They had been a constant in Sophie's life for as long as she could remember, her mum's greatest friends and her adopted Aunts. Yes, they were a little odd at times, but they were hers and Sophie knew that they would always support her.
With Sam living on the island, only minutes away from the hotel in a small cabin him and Donna had made their little home, he was going to be there at the party. But as much as Sophie adored him, and wished that she could do something to restore all of the light into his life, she also wanted the two other thirds of her dads there with her. If it had been any other day, Bill and Harry had told her, if it had been any other day they would have been there in a heartbeat. But no. Harry was busy in Tokyo securing a huge business deal and Bill was accepting an award for his work. Sophie couldn't remember the exact title of the award even though Bill had told her in one of their recent phone calls, but she had settled with telling anyone who asked that he was getting the award for being the best Swede ever, which in her opinion he was.
But of course, if wasn't only going to be Bill and Harry missing the re-opening. Due to be in New York for six weeks, Sky would also be absent. With two weeks still to go, Sophie knew that all that he would learn about the hotel business would be worth it, if he came home to show off his newly learnt skills. After everything, Sophie wasn't sure of anything about their relationship. Was he angry at her for not wanting to join him there? Was he going to come home when the six weeks were up? Did he even want to be with her anymore?
Lost in her thoughts, Sophie had barely noticed the island greeting a new day around her. The sun was awake, showering the hotel in a warm and golden hue. Lights were flicking on through various windows around her and a gentle babble of conversation from the kitchens reached Sophie on the balcony. 'Another day' She said to herself 'You can do this'.
As she turned to step off of the balcony and walk back into her bedroom, a voice distracted her. "Early morning thinking again?". It was Sam, someone who knew Sophie was one to waste time overthinking everything. He was stood in the courtyard, looking up at her, a gentle yet somewhat sad smile on his lips.
"You know me too well Sam" She replied "But I've been awake for hours. Bad dream"
Sam gestured for her to come down and join him at a table in the courtyard. "A problem shared is a problem halved Kiddo"