A Year In France – Episode 51

Supplied © A Year In France illustration by Mandy Dixon

Getting ready to meet Luc the following day, Maddy found herself still thinking about Dannie. She’d been very quiet after Jason’s text.

“Why couldn’t he have wished me all the best like I did him?” she’d said sadly.

Maddy had refrained from saying anything. Instead she’d shrugged and offered Dannie some more spring rolls, and in an effort to get her thinking about something else, she’d started talking about the party Luc was taking her to.

“I’ve no idea what to wear,” she’d said. “Luc just said it’s informal and to wear whatever I like. I was thinking my best jeans tucked into my pink cowboy boots and a sparkly sweater. As my resident fashion expert, what do you think?”

Dannie had stood up.

“Can I take a look in your wardrobe?”

Half an hour later, she’d vetoed the pink cowboy boots, but given the thumbs-up to the knee-high black ones to go with the jeans. The sparkly sweater had been replaced with Maddy’s favourite black sweater livened up with a scarf tied artistically, and she was to wear her pale cream leather biker-style coat.

By the time Dannie had pronounced herself satisfied with Maddy’s outfit, she was humming happily to herself.

Now, sitting on the Tube with Luc on Saturday night as it made its way across town towards Edgware, Maddy hoped she’d worn the right outfit and that she’d fit in with Luc’s friends, whoever they were.

“Will there be many people at this do?”

“About fifteen, I think, including us,” Luc said. “My sister’s house would burst at the seams with more.”

“It’s at your sister’s?” Maddy said, surprised. “I thought it was friends from work, not family. I wish you’d told me.”

Luc glanced at her.

“Not a problem, is it, meeting my sister?”

“No,” Maddy replied, wondering why he needed a plus one to go to his sister’s party. Surely he didn’t need the moral support.

Did Luc introducing her to his sister mean anything? Or had he invited her so his sister could check her out? Give her approval or otherwise?

“I think the two of you will get on,” Luc said.

Maddy’s heart sank at his words. In her experience, when somebody thought two people would like each other, it usually ended in disaster.

But before she could say anything Luc got to his feet as the train drew in at a station. He held out his hand.

“Come on. This is our stop.”

Five minutes later they were walking up the front path of a terraced house with lights shining from every window and the sound of music filling the evening air.

Luc didn’t bother to knock. He simply opened the door and ushered Maddy in, calling out “Tahilha” as he did so.

From the little Luc had told her about his sister, Maddy had no idea what to expect. Would she be as unusual as her name suggested? Would she be friendly?

“Luc, you made it!” If the girl greeting Luc with a hug was Tahilha, she certainly lived up to her exotic name in her velvet bohemian dress, with long blonde hair framing her face.

Maddy gave her a nervous smile.

“Don’t let her looks deceive you,” Luc said as he introduced them. “She’s not as soft as she looks tonight. She wears a power suit with attitude in her day job in the city.”

Tahilha punched Luc on the arm.

“Shut up, you.” She turned to Maddy. “Hi, it’s nice to meet a girlfriend of Luc’s. They’re usually mythical creatures kept far away from the family for some reason! You must be special,” she said, regarding Maddy with interest. “Luc says you’re a literary agent. You should sign him up. He’s always writing something.”

“I have,” Maddy said, wondering about the bit about being Luc’s girlfriend.

“And there was me thinking you were his girlfriend, not just someone he works with.” Tahilha sighed.

“Well, for once, you’re wrong,” Luc said, placing his arm around Maddy’s shoulders. “Maddy is my literary agent, but I’m working on the girlfriend bit. Just don’t scare her off or tell the parents yet, OK?”

“Right,” Tahilha said slowly, giving her brother a long look. “Food and stuff is in the kitchen. Go and help yourself while Maddy and I have a chat.” Turning back to Maddy, she said, “Let’s put your coat in the bedroom.”

Luc groaned.

“Don’t believe a word she tells you. It’ll all be lies.”

Maddy gave Luc a smile as she followed Tahilha. She couldn’t wait to hear what secrets Tahilha had to tell her about her brother.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.