Travel: Your holiday romance

Lorna Read found love with a pilot in the US Air Force. Then the elements intervened ...
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The Independent Travel
I was alone in the hotel bar on my first night in Puerto Soller, Majorca. My friend, who suffers from a flying phobia, had pilled herself up for the journey and had gone straight to bed on arrival. Suddenly, the door burst open and a bunch of noisy US Air Force males surged towards me. "Look after him, he's drunk," said one, and a tall blond figure crashed onto a bar stool next to me. His name was Skip and he was 25 to my 28.

Soon, he was sobbing into his beer as he told me of his miserable marriage. I dragged him off to a disco and danced in his arms to the strains of Elton John's "Skyline Pigeon". Oh, the irony of the line, "Please release me from this aching metal ring"!

Four days later, I was more in love than I'd thought possible. Skip spent every moment of his off-duty time with me and I was thinking seriously of taking up his offer to find me a flat in Madrid, near his HQ, while he went about getting a divorce.

On the seventh night, he lay in my arms as a violent storm erupted. Suddenly, we heard screeching tyres and voices below the window, yelling his name. Skip and his fellow radar experts had been recalled urgently to Madrid. I sobbed as the jeep sped away in the driving rain.

The second week of the holiday passed in a heartbroken blur. Skip couldn't contact me as the storm had brought down telephone lines in the mountains. I hadn't even had time to write down my address in London.

Six months later, believing I would never hear from Skip again, I started going out with Alan. That autumn I took him back to that same hotel in Majorca and, after 10 champagne cocktails, accepted his proposal of marriage. Next day, I went to see Lilian, an elderly lady I had befriended the previous year, to tell her the good news.

Three weeks later we were married and back at the same hotel for our honeymoon. That's when Lilian dropped her bombshell. "A few days after you and Alan went back last month, guess who came to see me?" she said. "Skip! He asked for your address in London but I said you were engaged now and wouldn't give it to him." I felt as if lightning had struck. I could hardly move or breathe as all my passion for Skip came flooding back. I realised my marriage was a sham, a rebound thing.

In fact, Alan and I got divorced two years later. I became a romantic author and wrote a book, Wings of Silver, about my affair with Skip, which was published in the early eighties. Two years ago, after the break-up of another unhappy romance, I wrote to the Pentagon asking for help in tracing Skip. There was no reply.

Last October, I went off to Turkey, leaving my flat in the care of a male friend. On my return he informed me, "Some American rang you from San Diego. He wouldn't give his name and rang off."

Was it Skip and did he think my friend was my partner? I shall never know. Yet I can't help thinking that this was the last act in a tragedy of bad timing, the first of which robbed me of the potential love of my life that night of the raging storm.