By Vera Berry Burrows
Mainstream, 290 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald
Rodi Bartlett sits on a plane taking her to the land of her conception. She can’t call it the land of her birth because when her mother was sixteen years old, she had flown back to England from Corfu at the end of two weeks in the sun, unaware she was pregnant. When her mother, Adele dies young, details of the father, Cory Demetriou are exposed in her will and he has never been told of his daughter’s existence.
Rodi’s relentless search for the father she has never known, takes her to Corfu, mainland Greece and beyond. Filled with determination, setbacks, hope and love, this is the story of a young woman's quest to fulfil her mother's dying wish, but will Cory Demetriou accept her as his daughter twenty-six years on?
Rodi looked at the postmark on the envelope for a long time before she found the courage to open it.
11 October 1982
Dear Miss Bartlett,
We are in receipt of certified copies of your birth certificate, your United Kingdom passport and of your mother, Adele Bartlett’s will. It is not possible for us to supply information without legal proof of relationship to a citizen of Greece, but we understand the nature of your enquiry. Taking into consideration that the identity of the person you claim is your father cannot be proven, personal details of that person may not be disclosed.
She sat down and handed the letter to Jake. “Damn and blast the Cypriots,” she declared acidly. “I somehow had a feeling this might happen. The gist of the previous communication from them more or less warned me.”
Jake took her hand. “What can I say, sweetheart?” he asked. “I’m as disappointed as you are, but we’ll just have to re-think our plans.”
“All our research so far is up the Swanee, she said despairingly. “I don’t know what else we can do. We traced him to Cyprus, but now we don’t know whether he was there or not.”
“Reading between the lines,” Jake said, “I think he definitely was there. They actually said they cannot disclose personal information which to me means they have that information on file, but are unable to let you have it.”
“Do you think we should go to Protaras?” she asked without the previous enthusiasm she had shown earlier in the search.
“I don’t know,” Jake told her. “Let’s sleep on it and work out what we should do in a couple of days. In the meantime, we have some work to do before we can take our winter leave and some intense negotiation with the real estate guy if we are to buy the house overlooking the bay in Paleocastritsa. We don’t want to miss out on that view.”
“No, we don’t,” Rodi agreed, “but we’ll have to change those pink walls! Why would anybody want a bright pink house? Five bedrooms all with en suite will be perfect. We could open our own hotel!”
“I don’t think so, darling. Those bedrooms are for our family and friends, not to mention our children.”
“Hold on, Mr Saunders. Too many things on the agenda before then,” she said laughing.
“Well, at least I got you smiling again,” Jake said as he hugged her and kissed her cheek. “Come on, Hotel Helenya needs us.”
~ * ~
Moving into the house put the search on hold. The pink villa was transformed into the white house and most of Rodi’s furniture was transported by container ship to Corfu and then along the dusty roads to their new home. By the beginning of December, everything was in place including new furniture for the master suite and a new kitchen with all the latest integrated appliances.
“We’ll spend a wonderful Christmas in our first home together,” Rodi announced at breakfast on the first day of their winter break.
“We’ll enjoy that,” Jake agreed. “I can’t believe how much has happened since last Christmas. At least this year we don’t have to go north to visit my parents!”
“Will they be sad that we’re not in England for Christmas?” she asked.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “They’re used to me being away. Even before I met you, I didn’t always go home for Christmas. Usually one of the team invited me to stay and for a time, that was preferable to Mum trying to set me up with most of the available girls in Rivington.” He paused, coughed deliberately and then continued. “That is, all the available nice girls in Rivington. Mum’s choice and mine never matched...until now.” He winked at the young woman who had made him happier than he had ever been.
“Thanks, babe,” she said and blew him a kiss across the breakfast table.
“All thanks should go to you for applying for a job on my team,” he said with a grin, “but I’ll take some of the credit for seeing your potential straight away.”
Rodi laughed. “You are incorrigible...” She paused pointedly. “...but I like you!”
“Only like?” he asked with affected offence.
“Play your cards right and I might just improve on that before the day’s out,” she told him.
Jake shook his head slowly. “What are you like?” he asked. “But what are we going to do about the search, babe? We’ve been so wrapped up in the house, we haven’t thought about it for a while.”
Rodi rested her elbows on the table and cupped her chin in her hands. “I never stop thinking about it, Jake. I can see no way of getting further with the Cyprus information other than trying to find the hotel where he worked. I know it might sound mad, but do you think we could find a list of hotels in Protaras and simply phone them and ask? It would be cheaper and less time consuming than going there, especially if we are on a wild goose chase.”
“I think that’s an excellent idea,” he said excitedly. “I’m not sure how we’ll find a list of hotels, but we could see if Telly at the hotel will allow us to use the computer. There might be a database for Grecian Tours hotels. It’s worth a try.”
“That’s a brilliant idea, but failing that, we can get a whole pile of holiday brochures and see what turns up for Protaras in those,” she added. “Let’s see what we can find before we start sorting out Christmas.”