Meet Me Under The Ombu Tree

Meet Me Under The Ombu Tree by Santa Montefiore

Book: Meet Me Under The Ombu Tree by Santa Montefiore Read Free Book Online
Authors: Santa Montefiore
to get to Brown’s Hotel in the middle of the night from South Kensington when she had no money of her own. He had obviously been under the impression that she was staying at Brown’s. She had to be there.
    It wasn’t long before her mother and aunt were sleeping heavily in their beds back at the hotel. Aunt Dorothy began to snore loudly through her nose as she lay on her back. Once or twice a particularly loud snort nearly woke her; for a second she balanced between consciousness and unconsciousness before drifting back into her secret world of dreams. Emer, more delicate than her sister in both size and sound, slept quietly, curled up into a ball.
    Anna stepped silently into her clothes, stuffed pillows down her bed to give the impression that she was there in case one of those snorts woke her aunt or mother, and rummaged around in Aunt Dorothy’s purse for some money. The concierge was most helpful; too polite to raise an eyebrow, he did as she asked and called for a taxi. Thanking him for his trouble, as if there was nothing unusual about her midnight outing, she sat in the back like a fugitive and watched the bright city lights pass by her window.
    At a quarter to midnight Anna was sitting once more in the armchair in the corner of the lobby. Under her coat, she had on the new dress her mother had bought her in Harrods, and her hair was still pinned at the nape of her neck. The hotel was busy for such a late hour. A group of fashionable young people entered with an explosion of laughter. They must have been out on the town, she thought enviously. No one seemed to notice she was there. She placed her hand on the chair next to hers and ran her fingers over the leather imagining it still warm from when he had sat there with her. He had been so refined, a real gentleman. He had smelt of expensive cologne and came from an exotic land far away. He was cultivated, educated, handsome and obviously rich too. He was the prince she had dreamed of. She knew there was more to life than Sean O’Mara and dreary Glengariff.
    Anna sat nervously watching the door. Should she look expectant or nonchalant? She decided she would look ridiculous if she tried to appear casual; after all, what else would she be doing in the lobby of the hotel at midnight? Then she wondered what she would do if he didn’t turn up. Perhaps he had played a joke on her. Perhaps he didn’t intend to meet her after all. He was probably out with his friends laughing about her. Laughing like her cousins laughed at her
    back home in Glengariff.
    As the clock chimed twelve Paco Solanas stepped in through the heavy hotel doors. He saw Anna immediately and his face creased into a wide smile. He marched over to her in his navy cashmere coat and took her by the hand.
    ‘I am happy you came,’ he said, his eyes sparkling under the rim of his hat. ‘So am I,’ she replied and felt her hand tremble in his.
    ‘Come with me.’ Then he hesitated. l Por Dios! I don’t know your name.’
    ‘Anna Melody O’Dwyer. Anna,' she replied and smiled. He found her smile completely captivating. It made him feel warm on the inside. l Ana Melodfa — qu Undo. That is a beautiful name, just like you.’
    ‘Thank you. What’s your name?’
    ‘Paco Solanas.’
    ‘Paco. Pleased to meet you, I’m sure,’ she replied shyly and he led her by the hand out into the night.
    The weather had cleared towards the end of the day and they found themselves walking up the streets under a bright, starry sky. It was very cold; their breath misted in the frosty air, but neither of them felt it. They wandered up the empty back streets towards Soho, laughing and talking like old friends, then made their way down to Leicester Square along the glittering pavements still wet from the drizzle.
    Paco held her hand all the time and after a while it no longer felt strange to her but more natural than it had ever felt with Sean O’Mara. He talked to her about Argentina, painting a rich picture in her

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