A few minutes later, the two women were seated at a table just outside the kitchen where Cleo could keep an eye on things, with cups of lemon and ginger tea and pieces of cake.
‘What is this? It’s delicious,’ Bev said, taking a bite of the crumbly confection.
‘It’s a new one Ruby delivered today. It’s called a figaro cake. Italian. A coincidence as I had lunch atThe Firenzeyesterday.’
‘Half your luck. I love it and haven’t been for ages. What’s in this?’
‘Figs, pine nuts and egg whites. Not much else from what I could gather from Ruby. She wasn’t very talkative this morning.’ Cleo didn’t share the one thing Ruby had said which had put an extra smile on her face.
‘I see a bright future for you,’ the old woman had muttered as she unloaded the basket on her bicycle. ‘But there may be a few obstacles along the way. Don’t let them force you from your true path.’
Cleo knew about the old woman’s habit of making odd pronouncements, of predicting the future, but wasn’t normally a recipient. It had only happened once before. It had given her a strange feeling. But, before she could ask for clarification, Ruby had gone, cycling off in a rush, leaving Cleo unsettled and wondering if she’d heard correctly.
‘So, yesterday?’ Bev persisted. ‘Did I hear something about a surf lesson?’
‘How did you know?’ Cleo gazed at her friend in surprise.
Bev tapped her nose. ‘You forget Will and Martin are close. Will may have mentioned to my brother that he intended to give you a lesson, and Martin may have mentioned it to me when I had dinner with him and Ailsa last night.’
‘Oh, well, I did and, much to my surprise, I loved it. But I can’t see myself becoming a mad surfer.’ She bit her lip.
‘There’s something else?’
Bev was too perceptive.
Cleo took a sip of tea before replying. ‘That woman appeared, the one Will is trying to discourage. It was a shock. I get the feeling she could be really vicious, Bev. She scared me.’
‘Really? But she’s just another tourist, isn’t she? She’ll be gone soon.’
‘I’m not so sure. You didn’t see the way she looked atme.’
‘What did Will say?’
‘He was lovely, but… I’ve never come across anyone who seemed to hate me just because someone they wanted likes me.’
‘Hate? That’s a bit strong, surely.’
‘I felt I was in the presence of pure evil.’ She gave a grim laugh. ‘Listen to me. I sound as if I’ve been reading too many horror stories. Maybe I was imagining it.’
‘Maybe… but be careful. I doubt you’re in any real danger, though what is it they say about a woman scorned?’
‘Mmm. Sorry to dump on you. The rest of the day was wonderful. I feel like pinching myself, Bev. I never thought I’d find someone like Will. Heck, I didn’t even like the guy when we first met.’ She chuckled. ‘Anyway, you didn’t just drop by to ask me about yesterday, did you?’
‘No. The food and wine festival. It’s coming closer, and we need to be prepared. I’m sure you have everything in hand, and I know you’ve been liaising with the surfing fraternity re promotions. I just need to get my head around what’s happening.’
‘Let me get my notes.’ Cleo disappeared into the kitchen to reappear with her iPad.
‘Now…’ she opened the screen and scrolled through till she came to the file titled Food and Wine Festival, ‘…here we are.’ Cleo turned the screen to face Bev and began to run through the preparations she’d made.
‘So, as you see, we’re all set. Will and Martin have been great with their plans to offer vouchers and do joint promotions. They plan to provide us with banners to promote the surfing festival too. It’s a win-win situation. We just have to pray for good weather.’
‘That looks great, Cleo. I never doubted you could pull it off yet again.’
Cleo grinned. This would be only the second time she’d been involved in the festival, and last time she’d been flying by the seat of her pants, never having been involved in anything like it before. All the cafés and restaurants in Bellbird Bay took part with tables and stalls set up on the beach and esplanade where they offered samples of their wares. Then there were the ticketed events at which the larger restaurants served meals to the long tables filled with diners. It was a weekend when the population of Bellbird Bay doubled with an influx of tourists from other parts of Queensland and interstate. And it was a great money spinner for the entire community, not only the food outlets.
‘Thanks, Bev. I’m only glad I’m able to prove your faith in me was justified.’ It had been a lifesaver to Cleo when she and Hannah arrived in Bellbird Bay to find work atThe Pandanus Garden Centre and Café. It was like having her own café again but without the worry. And she loved it here. Now she said, ‘Ruby has promised to come to the party, too, and to provide a larger than usual selection of her wonderful cakes in small bite-sized samples.’
Mentioning Ruby, brought back what the old woman had said that morning.Her true path. What was her true path?