One Summer In France – Episode 29

“Where are you?” Malik demanded angrily. “I’ve been off my head with worry since I got back and discovered you’d disappeared. And why haven’t you been answering my calls?”

Suzette sighed. She’d been dreading this conversation. She had, in fact, switched off her mobile phone for the past few days to postpone the inevitable for as long as possible. This morning, though, when she’d picked up her mobile and seen the long list of missed calls and voice messages – all from Malik – she’d felt guilty and knew she had to speak to him to try to explain.

“I’m just having a holiday where no-one knows who I am,” she said now. “I’m sorry you’ve been worried, but I’m fine.”

“You being fine isn’t enough. For goodness’ sake, Suzette, the Press will have a field day with you when they find out you’ve gone AWOL.”

“They don’t have to find out,” Suzette said. “I’m not planning on telling them, and I hope you won’t, either. All I’m asking for is some private time to think about my future.”

“Why can’t you do that here in Paris?”

“Because I can’t.”

Malik was silent. Even down the phone line Suzette could sense his frustration.

“How did Monaco go in the end? Did my understudy perform well?” she asked, hoping to change the conversation.

“Yes,” Malik said. “She’s a star in the making, that’s for sure.”

It was Suzette’s turn to be silent. It was so many years since that had been said about her.

“How’s the ankle?” Malik asked.

“Responding well to gentle exercise,” Suzette said, guiltily standing on one leg and making a circling movement with the offending ankle. She’d totally forgotten about exercising it this weekend.

“Good. I presume you’re still planning on doing ‘Swan Lake’ with me? You’ll need to be in tip-top condition for that.”

“No worries,” Suzette answered.

“Exactly how long are you planning to stay wherever it is you are? Are you likely to be back before I go off to Geneva next weekend? Somebody there is interested in sponsoring a modern ballet I’m keen to choreograph, so I have to go for a meet up.”

“I think I’m going to stay a bit longer,” Suzette said. “I’ll talk to you when you get back.”

Although clearly disgruntled with that answer, Malik didn’t press her on the subject again and the call ended.

Thoughtfully Suzette crossed over to the bedroom window and stared out at the canal and the wood on the far side. Down below in the auberge grounds, Napoleon and the chickens were enjoying dust baths over by the fence.

She’d not been entirely truthful with Malik when she’d told him she intended to stay a bit longer. If the idea that had occurred to her in the middle of the night worked out, she would be here for the whole of the summer. Alone and anonymous with nobody from her real world having any idea where she was.

First, though, she needed to find Libby and talk to her about the feasibility of her idea. She would keep her fingers crossed that Libby wouldn’t dismiss the idea out of hand.



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.