When Maya arrived at the Landgraab mansion in Sunset Valley, she was in awe by the grandeur of the estate. Their three bedroom home was five times the size of her home in China, which itself had not been a small house. The mansion was huge! The floors were marble, the bathrooms were exquisite and the furnishings were absolutely beautiful. The property had a pond, a pool, and as it sat high on a cliff, a view of the ocean that on a clear day went on for miles. She found herself drawn in by that view and a sense of peace settled over her washing away the stress from the past three months.
Nancy Landgraab was a lovely lady who seemed genuine in her affection for Maya. She was very elegant in the way she carried herself and in her manner of speech, that made Maya wish to emulate her every move. She asked her many questions about every aspect of Nancy’s public life. Nancy was very patient in her teachings and at times, a little amused at Maya’s enthusiasm to learn. She told Maya that deep down she felt they were kindred spirits and was blessed to have been given a chance to know her. They became very close and Nancy made it her mission to introduce Maya into good society to help with her social standing. She was always very gracious as to not mention Maya’s public indiscretions, which unfortunately had been many since she had met Eddy.
Geoffrey Landgraab was also just as kind, although since he was a doctor, Maya didn’t get to see him much at home. He did however, come visit her in the hospital while she was painting, or he would bring her food for lunch. He had a very quiet demeanour about him that Maya imagined made him a better doctor. He told her that currently he was working on gene therapy and even though she had no idea what it was, he made it all sound so very interesting during their lunch time meals. In the short time she had been with the Landgraabs, she felt like she had really become part of the family.
Maya had kept her word and called Chloe when she first arrived in Sunset Valley. Chloe thanked her for calling and advised Maya to keep her phone turned off for a while.
“He’s looking for you Maya. He has no idea where you are and he is going out of his mind trying to find you. I’ve received eight calls from him already. He keeps saying to tell you how sorry he is and how it is all just a big misunderstanding.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry Chloe!”
“Don’t be sorry! You didn’t do anything wrong! But I strongly suggest you keep your phone off while you are there and let him stew for a while. He won’t show up on their door step even if he does find out where you are. So you are safe. If I need you, I will call the house. Have a good vacation!”
“You too. Say hi to Scott for me!”
Maya knew how much Chloe had been looking forward to going home and spending the holidays with her family and her boyfriend Scott. She felt terrible that Chloe had been put in the position of go between because of Eddy’s indiscretion.
Maya worked hard at completing the mural in the children’s wing at the hospital. It was a tougher job than she thought and very physically taxing on her muscles. She had planned on painting for eight hours a day with a goal of finishing the wall in four days. But after that first day her shoulders were incredibly sore from having her arms up above her head, and her calves ached from standing on a step stool for hours. So she changed her plan to painting four hours a day and to take the rest of the day relaxing and exploring the town.
She had started the routine of rising early and spending some time on the beach below the Landgraab house, just staring out at the water and watching the ripples of water roll up onto the beach. The calm of the quiet morning was the perfect time to contemplate the direction her life had taken since she had left her country home in China. Leaving her first husband had been the right thing to do, of that she had no doubt. It wasn’t that he was a bad man but it was that they literally had nothing in common. He had been raised with the traditions of the Chinese people solidly ingrained into his morals and ideals. She couldn’t relate to that as she thought most to be degrading to a woman’s intelligence and their dignity. It was like living with an acquaintance. She had tried to find love for her husband, but there just was no spark and a great deal of that had to do with those ideals that he had been taught. He was so closed off that he barely spoke to her other than to direct her in the running of his home. So she had gone about her day fulfilling her duty as his wife by cleaning his home, washing his clothes and preparing his meals. At night in the bedroom, she had learnt to lie still while he had performed his husbandry rights. Maya had wondered at the time, if he had taken more time to consider her needs in the bedroom, if perhaps she would be able to find the beginning of the love a woman should have for her husband. When she had approached the subject with him he looked at her like she was a whore for asking. Lying with him made her feel dirty inside and out and she had learnt to lie as still as she possibly could while he laid on top of her grunting and pushing till he was done. His desire to have a son to carry on his family name, had made the episodes become a nightly ritual. The more she opened for him, the sicker she became inside. She lived in fear that the herbs she had been taking wouldn’t work and he would either get his son to raise in his image or a daughter that he didn’t want. She knew what happened to girl babies born to men like him. She couldn’t stay with him, feeling the way she did.
When she first met Ian that day at her front gate, it was desperation that made her do what she did. In China, sleeping with another man automatically made a marriage null and void. No man would want a wife that had been soiled by another man. Sleeping with Ian was the safer choice for Maya at the time. If she had followed through with her plan to sleep with a local boy, she may have put her life in danger from her husband. Traditional values ran deep within him, but she wasn’t sure if that also meant he was capable of murder or having her killed. If she was going to take this risk, it had to be with someone who could get her out of China and Ian fit that bill.
You didn’t have to spend much time with Ian to see the truly good soul that he was. He was kind, generous and loving, qualities that you could see just from one look into his beautiful brown eyes. She believed that he must have been very well loved as a child and raised by two parents who spent a lot of time with him teaching him values to be proud of. She knew his parents must have been greatly in love. Her son will do well being raised by him. Perhaps Ian will find a new wife and begin again. Someone who would be a good mother to her child. The thought of it made her ill to her stomach and she chastised herself for being so selfish. Ian deserved a good and happy life. If it wasn’t going to be with her, then it was selfish of her to want him to be alone the rest of his life. Then why did the thought of it turn her stomach into knots?
A great deal of her alone time was spent thinking about Eddy and the path her life had taken since she met him. As a child dreaming about celebrity life, she never thought about the ins and outs, or the maze of right and wrongs one has to navigate when being a celebrity of her status. Winning the lottery and meeting Eddy had thrust her into a lifestyle that she was no where near ready to experience after coming from a small village in China. She had thought that she would come to university to study the arts, improve her skills and meet some influential people that could help further her career. She had to say in all honesty that the Landgraabs were the first people who qualified in that respect. But instead, her life had been filled with scandal after scandal, which was not the reputation she was hoping to create for herself. How naive am I? she thought. She had taken one look at Eddy and saw stars. Before she arrived at university, she couldn’t wait to explore what the male population had to offer her in the bedroom, and she realised how idiotic that notion really was. She was not the bed hopping kind of girl so why was she trying hard to be something that she clearly was not? But she knew why. Her thoughts had been so clearly focused on her miserable life in China that she fantasized how great the other side of the fence would be. Living like a westerner, fast and loose. But she was starting to understand, that wasn’t her. She wanted to be successful in her field and well respected for herself as a person and her work. She wanted to be loved and be secure in that love. She wanted to be cherished.
“Why can’t I have it all?” she posed to the clouds. But sadly, no reply came back to her.
On her third day of creating the mural for the children’s ward, Maya’s back was a mess of strained muscles and painful knots. Feeling like she could use a little exercise, she decided to check out the local gym and then perhaps a relaxing massage at the spa. The workout area was very busy and she had to wait for half an hour in the mezzanine before a machine became available. She spent that time talking to some of the local residents asking them questions about the town. Everyone was quite friendly and seemed to be very proud of all their town had accomplished. She appreciated that no one made a fuss about who she was, and she wasn’t sure if that was because they didn’t know or they just didn’t care. It was a relief to be out in public without a gaggle of paparazzi following her every move. Finally a weight machine opened up and she had just started into her first set of reps when she heard a group of men talking below the mezzanine at the front door of the gym. She strained to hear what they were saying. There….just there….that sounded like….. But it couldn’t be. She rose from the machine and walked to the railing overlooking the foyer and the front door.
But she had missed the men as they left. Her mind must be playing tricks on her, because she could have swore she heard Ian’s voice in that group of men. But that wasn’t possible. Ian would be back on Midnight Sun Isle, happily living there alone with her son. She gave her head a shake and went back to the weight machine. Counting off reps she mentally pictured her husbands face and imagine what could be happening on the island at that very moment.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Ian became increasingly unsettled in the thought of not spending Christmas with Maya. He had faith in his plan but felt perhaps he should be doing more. He had already arranged for Maya to stay with the Landgraab family in Sunset Valley while she was there to paint her mural. Ian and Nancy had become close friends since he had painted a family portrait for them. She of course had been referred to Ian by Olivier Harbucks in Roaring Heights. They spent a great deal of time talking about family during their meetings and it was then he heard about Eddy’s family history. Taking a leap of faith, he confessed to Nancy all his woes about Maya. Together they concocted a plan for Nancy to help Ian while Maya would be in Sunset Valley. She was very excited about helping Ian win back his wife! She told Ian that it was very obvious how much he loved and need Maya in his life. Love like that should never be let go, she had said. By the time Maya arrived in the Valley, Nancy felt like she had known her for weeks.
Nancy had helped Ian find a place to stay in the Valley on the other side of town. The house belonged to a famous artist who had taken her infant son home to France for the Christmas holidays.
She was more than happy to help out a friend of Nancy’s. The house was a little more feminine than Ian would have liked and was full of bright colours.
But at this moment he just didn’t care, for he was in the same town as Maya and would be for the full seventeen days. Plus it was set up for a toddler and already had a nursery for Jin, which was his biggest worry in finding a place to stay.
It was time to get to work, putting all the pieces into place. But he had to do it without being seen by Maya. She couldn’t know he was here until she was ready to see him. Even though there was a rift between her and Eddy, Maya was still no where near ready to come home.
*Ian’s rental house created by me
*snail, frog and ladybug pics by marcorse
*black and white painting of female by aloleng
*white sculpture painting by Devirose
*master bedroom carpets by PralineSims