One Summer In France – Episode 20

Libby poured a mug of coffee and pushed it across the kitchen table to Chloe.

“So you’re off today, then?”

Chloe nodded.

“It’ll give me a couple of days to settle in at Aunt Helen’s and psyche myself up for work.” She hesitated before continuing. “Are you sure you’re all right about me leaving you here alone?”

“Of course. Besides, I’m not alone.” Libby jerked her head up towards the ceiling. “I have a guest. And more booked in for next week.”

“I still feel guilty, though,” Chloe said quietly. “I know we’d planned –”

“Chloe, stop it. This internship’s a great opportunity for you. Make sure you make the most of it. Anyway, you’ll be back for a holiday before you start college, won’t you?”

“Probably even before that – just for a weekend,” Chloe said. “Depending on how much work they give me.”

“Good. Now, about the car. It had a full service before we came over so there shouldn’t be any problems, but don’t forget to check the tyre pressures before you leave. I’m sure Uncle Pete will keep an eye on it for you over there.”

“Mum! Stop fussing. That’s another thing. How will you manage until you buy a car?”

“I can walk into the village – I can find most things there. Anyway, Lucas has promised to help me find a car quickly, and more importantly he’ll check it over before I buy,” Libby said.

Chloe looked at her, but before she could say anything the phone rang.

Libby got up to answer it.

“Good morning, Agnes.”

There was silence in the kitchen as Libby listened.

“Thank you. Yes, I’ll tell her.”

Libby replaced the receiver.

“Agnes thinks I’m going to be upset and lonely when you’ve gone so she’s invited me to lunch one day next week. I think she wants to show off her new kitchen. She wishes you all the best for your job. She’s going to try to pop up later to say goodbye.”

“Right. I’m going to finish packing and then load the car.” Chloe stood up.

“When you’re ready I’ll help you carry stuff down,” Libby said. “Oh, bonjour, Madame Patem. Can I get you a coffee?”

“Please,” Suzette said.

Libby, about to suggest that she went into the dining-room, decided against it and pointed to the chair Chloe had just left. One of the things she’d always liked about staying with Agnes was the friendly atmosphere that things like taking coffee in the kitchen generated. She was determined to continue the tradition.

Libby placed a mug of coffee in front of Suzette. Her guest looked as if she could do with some company this morning.

“Milk? Toast?”

Suzette shook her head.

“Just black coffee. Is there a pharmacy in the village? I think perhaps I ought to have this checked. I sprained it a couple of days ago.” She pulled the leg of her jeans up so Libby could see the bruising and swelling around her ankle.

“That looks nasty. I’m sure the pharmacy will check it out for you. I’ll ring for a taxi, shall I? I’d offer to take you but Chloe is taking the car today.”

Quickly Libby explained about Chloe’s job.

“You will miss her,” Suzette said, wondering what it would be like to have a daughter Chloe’s age.

Libby nodded.

“Of course. But children have to fly the nest, don’t they? Do you have any?”

Suzette shook her head.

“No.” She took a sip of her coffee.

Libby broke the silence that followed the brief answer.

“I know you said you don’t eat breakfast, but what about lunch? You’re clearly not going too far with that ankle for a few days.”

Suzette shrugged.

“I’ll pick something up in the village when I go to the pharmacy. I don’t eat a lot anyway. I’ve got some energy bars upstairs.”

Libby hesitated.

“Why don’t you have a kitchen supper with me this evening? On the house. It would be nice to have company,” she added quietly. “Chloe will have gone by then.”

“D’accord,” Suzette said. “I look forward to it. Now, perhaps you could ring for that taxi?”




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.