Miranda took advantage of the long flight to review the Book. After landing, a hired driver was waiting for her outside the airport. By the time she got to the mainland, there were plenty of people waiting. They couldn't help staring at her. She was used to it and didn't mind as long as they left her alone. She put on her glasses and observed the area. Many sailboats and boats were bobbing on the waves of the water. She didn't see any suitable boat to take her to the island and paid no attention to the ship that had just appeared.
"Mrs. Priestly?" A young man approached her. "My name is Markos, and I'm here to help you find the best place on the boat," he pointed to the ferry.
"Excuse me? Don't tell me I have to use this, whatever this is," Miranda frowned.
"Trust me, Miss Priestly. I'm following Donna's instructions, and this ferry will take you to Kalokairi."
Miranda struggled with disbelief, but when she heard the announcement, "Please come aboard. We leave in ten minutes," she got in.
"Is it safe?" Miranda was worried.
"Of course, it is safe, Mrs. Priestly. Please follow me." Markos tried to calm her, but she couldn't help being suspicious. She was relieved to feel the solid ground under her feet again. She took a deep breath of fresh air and closed her eyes.
Donna arrived at the pier at the same time. She was anxious because she had forgotten to ask what Miranda looked like. But Miranda's presence was so remarkable that she had no problem noticing her. The sun shone and sparkled on her perfectly styled silvery-white hair. Donna hadn't given Miranda's appearance much thought, but her hair color had caught her by surprise. As Donna approached, she couldn't help but notice her slender figure. Miranda presented herself in the best possible way. She couldn't wait to see Miranda's face.
"Miranda!" Donna called her name.
Miranda opened her eyes as she heard that familiar voice calling her name. She turned and saw Donna approaching her. She was wearing a beautiful embroidery blue dress. The sun danced happily in her long blonde hair.
'Oh, how charming she is!' Miranda's heart skipped a beat.
"Welcome to Kalokairi, Miranda. So nice to meet you," Donna greeted her. She could have sworn Miranda had the bluest eyes she had ever laid eyes on. And she smelled so wonderful. Donna wondered if that was her signature scent.
Donna had a huge smile on her face. Miranda couldn't help but smile as well. "My pleasure to meet you, Donna."
"I hope everything went well," Donna asked.
"Well, let's say I'm just excited to be here." Miranda didn't want to talk about her travel issues.
"Let me help you," Donna took her luggage.
Miranda was impressed by her spontaneity. "Wait, Donna. I can do this on my own," she said after a moment and followed her to the jeep.
"Get in, and we'll go to the hotel," Donna winked at her.
"I don't mean to be rude, but is this car safe?" Miranda was suspicious again.
"Don't worry, Miranda. It's safe, and I'm a good driver," Donna assured her.
Miranda said nothing and got in. Neither of them said anything during the ride. Miranda's thoughts converged on the lovely woman at her side. She was thoroughly taken aback by herself. She didn't understand what was happening to her, but she felt her feelings for Donna grow stronger.
Donna wished she could see inside Miranda's head to see what was going through her mind. She had never met anyone like her, and she couldn't remember the last time she had been so nervous and excited at the same time. The minute she looked into Miranda's face, there was something about it that gave her butterflies and made her want to get to know her better.
"So here we are." Donna's voice brought Miranda back to reality.
Miranda looked around, but she didn't see any houses. That confused her a lot.
Donna caught her desperate look.
"The hotel is up there," she pointed a finger up.
Miranda looked up. "Oh my God," she gasped.
"Hey, Sky, come help us," Donna called to the young man who had appeared in the archway.
"Miranda, let me introduce you to Sky, my son-in-law."
"It's wonderful to meet you, Mrs. Priestly."
Miranda recognized him immediately. "Miranda, please," she shook his hand. She was amused to see that she had caught them both off guard with her offer. Miranda surprised herself most of all. The locals didn't take their eyes off her, but they didn't bother her. She felt free, and she liked it.
"Let's go to the hotel, shall we?" Donna said when she regained her composure.
As they passed the ‘VILLA DONNA‘ entrance of the built archway, Donna told Miranda that the entire area belonged to the hotel.
"You'll find that getting into the hotel is quite... rough."
"What does that mean?" Miranda asked with concern, wondering what surprise she was in for this time.
"We call it 'stairway to heaven' or 'hell,'" Donna winked at her. "Depends on your current mood."
"Stairs?" Miranda rolled her eyes. "As if I don't have enough stairs at home," she muttered.
"The stairs are very steep and uneven, so you have to watch where you put your feet. I mean, wearing high heels isn't the best choice," Donna winked at her.
Their eyes met.
"Let's go," Donna broke the emotional and electrifying tension between them.
Miranda nodded and made her way upstairs. Her breathing was intermittent as she walked further and further up the endless stairs.
"Are you okay, Miranda?" Donna asked when she heard her breathing.
"I think I need another pair of lungs," Miranda whispered.
"We'll be right there."
"That's good to hear," Miranda gasped.
When they reached the top, Miranda was stunned by the view. "Wow! What a gorgeous view!"
Donna could hear the genuine joy in her tone. "I'm glad you like it here," she beamed.
"Is this the hotel?" Miranda stared at the house set into the rock.
"It used to be a hotel. We've done some renovations inside, and now we reserve it only for our friends and distinguished guests."
"So no tourists?" Miranda asked in a shocked tone.
Donna shook her head. "That's why I could guarantee that no one would disturb you. Let me show you to your room."
"The stairs seem to be my companions here," Miranda sighed.
"So this is your room, Miranda." Donna opened the door. "I hope you like it, though it's far from luxurious."
Miranda surveyed the spacious room, separated into a living room and bedroom by a magnificent curtain.
"We did a lot of rebuilding last year, so the bathroom is en-suite now," Donna opened the door.
"Wow, what a wonderful surprise," Miranda peeked inside. Then she looked out the bedroom window. "What a magnificent view facing the sea!" Miranda was full of praise for it. "I'm so excited about this place."
Donna had a feeling that Miranda was serious about it.
"There's another surprise you might like," Donna said. She opened the French window onto the spacious terrace. "You can lie down here in complete privacy. No one will disturb you, and maybe a hot tub will come in handy."
"Wow, that's beyond my expectations. I'm touched by how much you care about my comfort and privacy."
"Are you hungry or thirsty or...?"
"Stop for a moment, please!" Miranda grabbed her hand.
The suddenness of her voice surprised Donna. "I'm sorry, I'm acting like a fool," she whispered.
"Excuse me?" Miranda couldn't believe her ears. She lifted Donna's head, and this time, Miranda looked into Donna's beautiful blue eyes. "You're the most charming person I've ever met in my life. No one has ever treated me as nicely as you have."
Donna realized how close their lips were. Someone knocked on the door. They pulled away from each other, trying their best to hide their excitement.
"Come in," Miranda said.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, but a customer is demanding to speak with the hotel owner," Sophie apologized.
"Miranda, this is my daughter Sophie, the most precious thing I have." Donna kissed her on the cheek.
"It's wonderful to meet you, Mrs. Priestly!"
"Miranda, please," she smiled at her.
Sophie didn't hide her astonishment. "Oh, may I call you Miranda?
"Of course," Miranda smiled.
"I wonder why they call you The Dragon..." Sophie thought aloud.
"Stop right now and apologize!" Donna stopped her.
"Lady?" Miranda finished the question. "You know, the crap you hear about me could be true, or it could be as false as whoever told you. But I don't care how they talk about me," Miranda smiled.
"You should smile more often. You have a beautiful smile," Sophie said instead of the expected apology.
"I'll think about it," Miranda laughed. She was enjoying the experience of trying them both to feel relaxed in her presence. It was so refreshing.
"Well, I think it's time to leave you alone now so you can get some rest. I can only hope that despite this awkward moment, you will enjoy your time here. If you need anything, let me know."
"I will, thank you."
After they left, Miranda sat down in a comfortable chair by the open French window. All the unexpectedly exciting moments that had occurred between her and Donna were preventing her from calming down.
"What's gotten into you?" Donna still couldn't understand what had just happened.
"But Mom, she was cool with it," Sophie gave her mother an innocent look.
"Cool with it?" Donna fumed. "Are you kidding me? I'm grateful for Miranda's kindness in letting it go. Damn! You told me Miranda was horrible, and look at you! You're the one who crossed the line. Congratulations, Sophie. What a first impression!"