One Summer In France – Episode 40

It was late afternoon when her taxi from the station pulled up outside the auberge. As the driver got the two bulging suitcases out of the boot, Libby appeared.

“Evie. Welcome back. The gîte is all ready for you. Gosh, however did you manage one case, let alone two?” she said, struggling to pick up the smaller one. “This weighs a ton.”

“With difficulty,” Suzette admitted. “But there was so much I thought I might need.”

If she was truthful, too, she was trying to avoid the possibility of having to return to Paris again before she was ready, to collect some item that suddenly became indispensable in the coming weeks.

“I’ll leave you to unpack and settle in,” Libby said. “Dinner’s at the usual time, if you’d like some?”

Suzette shook her head.

“I won’t bother tonight, thanks. I’ll get on with things in here.”

“I have put a few things in the fridge for you if you get desperate,” Libby said. “Before I forget – I left your clothes and other things in your bedroom in the auberge. If you’d like a hand moving them over, just ask.”

Once on her own in the gîte, Suzette opened the suitcases and set about turning her temporary home into her own space. A large cream throw over the settee, a couple of her red velvet embroidered cushions strategically placed, perfumed candles on the coffee table, her favourite pillow on the bed.

She put books and photographs on the bookshelves, her laptop on the kitchen table, plugged in and charging. She placed a round pink stone floor light in the corner at the foot of the stairs and switched it on before looking around her with satisfaction. She’d even managed to make a small space to do some barre work by tying the handle of the broom between two chairs. Not ideal, and there was no mirror, but it would be good enough for her at least to start practising movements again.

It was only then that she noticed the envelope Libby had propped against the vase of flowers in the sitting-room. Curiously, Suzette looked at it. Nobody knew she was here so who could it possibly be from?

Carefully she opened it and pulled out a glossy black and white postcard photograph of the old village school, circa 1900. She turned it over and read the message scrawled on the back. She smiled. It was an invitation to dinner from an unexpected source, with a telephone number to ring if she wanted to accept. If she didn’t ring it would be understood she’d declined the invitation and there would be no hard feelings.

Thoughtfully Suzette placed the photo on the table. Should she go? She’d think about it while she finished emptying the suitcases of her clothes and hung them in the wardrobe.




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.