One Summer In France – Episode 35

They stopped to watch a group of young boys launch their canoes and, with lots of encouraging shouts to each other, begin to head up stream. A couple of cyclists and a lone jogger overtook Libby and Helen as they stood there for a few moments before moving on. As the path followed the river and wound away from the houses, they heard a series of barks and yapping in a field bordering the path. A large notice by the entrance proclaimed it to be a dog-training session.

A dozen or so people were standing in a long line, all with a dog at their side. One by one the dogs were paraded up and down the line to try to convince the instructor they were well behaved.

“Isn’t that your vet boyfriend?” Helen asked, indicating the instructor, who was standing apart from the line watching and occasionally offering a quiet word of advice. “I think he’s got quite a fan club going there with women of a certain age. There isn’t another man in sight.”

Libby nodded.

“Yes, it’s Lucas. But he’s not my boyfriend.”

“Well, he did ask you out,” Helen said. “I still can’t understand why you didn’t accept.”

“Like I told you and him – I’m too busy.” Libby laughed as a young border collie slipped its collar and made straight for Lucas, jumping up and down and running around him.

“I’d love a dog again,” she said, watching the collie and remembering Tess the dog who’d been a part of their family for over 14 years. She, Chloe and Dan had all been devastated when Tess had died – just six months before Dan himself.

“Maybe I’ll look out for one when summer is over and I’ve got more time.”

“Then you can join this class and Lucas can help you train it,” Helen teased her. “Look, he’s seen us.”

Libby acknowledged Lucas’s wave with one of her own and a friendly smile.

“Come on. Let’s leave them to it and get back to the restaurant.”

She wished Helen would stop going on about her getting together with Lucas. As far as she was concerned, it was a definite no-no, although she was grateful for his help with the car.

If she did get a dog in a few months, she’d train it herself. No way would she join this Sunday morning fan club of his.

Twenty minutes later they were sitting at their table, glasses of rosé in hand, studying the menu.

Helen looked at Libby.

“It’s good to see you looking happy again. You are happy, aren’t you? I mean, I know you miss Chloe, and Dan, of course, but you’re building a new life for yourself here.” Helen sighed. “I’m quite envious, actually.”

“Envious? Oh, Helen, please don’t be. Yes, I am happy here, but I still miss Dan. I’d love it to be the two of us running the auberge. Living our dream together.” She glanced at Helen. “Promise me that when you get back you’ll talk to Peter. Get him to take things easier. You need to start living whatever dreams the two of you have – before it’s too late, like it was for Dan and me.”

Agnes was at the bottom of her garden, creating a small border and planting some bedding plants around the olive tree, when Isabelle arrived.

Delighted to see her daughter, she stood up to give her a hug, before stepping back and looking at her.

“You look well,” Agnes said. “Positively blooming. How is Alain? I am so sorry he hasn’t come with you.”

“He’s fine. Just very busy at work. He sends his love.”

Agnes smiled.

“You were very mysterious on the phone with your father. What’s this visit all about?” She didn’t mention the phone calls that had gone unanswered. The quicker they got any bad news out of the way the better, but Isabelle shook her head.

“Later. I need to talk to you both,” she said, then looked around her. “This garden will be amazing when you’ve finished.”

“Thank you,” Agnes said, stifling a sigh. Needing to talk to them both didn’t bode well.

“Come on. Let’s go and get you settled in. I’ve put you in the big room at the back that used to be Grandma’s. I hope you like it.”

“It’s weird coming here and not to the auberge,” Isabelle said as they made their way up the stairs. “I nearly gave the taxi driver the wrong address. Are you settled and happy here now? And how’s Libby coping at the auberge?”

“Libby’s doing well. I couldn’t have sold to a better person. She has a full house this week and is loving it,” Agnes said. “And yes, I think I’m settled and happy here now.” Whether she was to remain happy or not depended on what Isabelle wanted to talk about.



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.