One Summer In France – Episode 19

Napoleon the cockerel, crowing just yards away from her bedroom window, startled Suzette into fitful consciousness. Not since her childhood had she been woken by such a raucous sound. It took her several seconds to realise what the noise was and where she actually was.

As realisation dawned, jumbled, panic-stricken thoughts began to stampede through her mind. What was she doing here? She’d been stupid to leave Monaco without telling anyone what she was planning to do. If anything happened to her here nobody would know.

How had Malik reacted last night when the hotel concierge had handed him her note? The Press would know all about the accident by now. She could just see the headlines in the “Nice Matin” this morning.

Has a jêté too many finished accident-prone Suzette Shelby’s career?

As for telling the auberge owner that she was Madame Evie Patem – what had she been thinking? Why was she trying to keep her whereabouts secret? Did it really matter to the media where she recovered after this latest accident? Of course not. But she was so tired of fending off questions about injuries or about her imminent retirement. All they seemed to want to do was tell the world that she was past it.

Well, she wasn’t past it yet!  With a week or two of country living and no stress in her life, her ankle would mend and she’d be ready to return to Paris and prepare for the autumn show.

Idly she reached out and picked up her mobile phone from the bedside table. One missed text message from Malik.

I hope you had a good journey back to Paris. Look after yourself. I will see you next week when I return.

Suzette’s finger hovered over the reply button before she closed the phone and replaced it back on the table. Malik believed she’d gone home to Paris so she was free to do whatever she liked.

Fully awake now, Suzette pushed the duvet away and got up, wincing as her right foot touched the floor. Her ankle, still swollen and painful, now sported a mass of psychedelic blue, black and yellow colours. Maybe she would get it checked and strapped. But first she would shower.

Five minutes later Suzette collapsed back on the bed, exhausted from trying to stand and wash in the shower. It would have been easier to jump in the bath. Towelling her hair dry she looked at the brown pixie-cut wig on the dressing table.

She’d been determined to keep her flight from Monaco out of the papers, and hiding her blonde hair under a wig with a different style had been the answer to her passing incognito through the airport. The question now, though, was did she continue to wear the wig and keep up the pretence here in the wilds of north-west France?

If she pushed Suzette Shelby into the background of her life for a week or two, would it help her to decide about life without dancing, or not? Was this the chance she needed to truly be herself? Decide which way to go for the rest of her life?

Decision made, she pulled the wig into position on her head. While she was staying at the auberge she would be Evie, and leave the missing Suzette Shelby to deal with the world she’d left behind at a later date.



Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.