One Summer In France – Episode 47

Once she’d showered, Libby flicked through the hangers in her wardrobe, wondering what to wear. In the end she settled for a favourite flower-patterned tea dress that had a hint of the 1930s about it, and a scarlet pashmina to throw around her shoulders if the evening grew cold.

To Libby’s delight, Lucas was driving the Delage when he arrived.

“I am honoured,” she said, coming out of the auberge and locking the door behind her. “I’ve been dying for a ride in your car.”

“Bonsoir,” Lucas said, kissing her on both cheeks before opening the passenger door for her.

Suzette was sitting outside the gîte as they drove out on to the canal path.

“Enjoy your evening,” Libby called out as they passed.

Suzette waved happily back at them.

“You, too.”

“I’d forgotten she was going out this evening as well,” Libby said. “I hope she has a good time. I don’t think she’s been very happy recently.”

“Why do you say that?” Lucas asked.

Libby shrugged.

“Just a feeling I have.”

Libby was surprised at the amount of traffic making its way down to Chateauneuf.

“I didn’t realise it was such a big festival,” she said.

“It’s grown over the last few years,” Lucas said. “Nothing like the music festival in Carhaix, of course, but we do get some well-known jazz players turning up.”

After parking the car, Lucas took a picnic hamper out of the boot.

“I could have contributed something,” Libby said. “You should have told me.”

Lucas shook his head.

“It’s my treat. But if you can take one side of the basket it will be easier to carry. Right, let’s join the party. Everyone should be over there.”

Carrying the hamper between them, they made their way over to a cluster of people laughing and joking together as they all arranged themselves on picnic rugs spread out on the bank of the river. As Lucas started making the introductions, a glass of rosé was thrust into Libby’s hand.

Knowing there was no way she’d remember all their individual names – there must have been at least ten of them – Libby simply smiled at everyone as she said hello. She’d get Lucas to whisper the names to her again later when they were settled on the rug themselves.

As food started to be passed around, Libby noticed Lucas was drinking some lemonade.

“Not drinking?” she asked.

“I’m on call so I can’t take the risk.” He shrugged. “Have to be ready. I can eat, though, and these are delicious.” He picked up a small cocktail biscuit with a sliver of smoked salmon and some caviar perched on it and held it up to Libby’s mouth. “Try this.”

Obediently Libby opened her mouth and Lucas fed her. The innocent act turned into something more intimate as Lucas held her gaze for several seconds, smiling at her. In that instant Libby realised her feelings towards Lucas were changing. When he placed his arm around her shoulders as they settled down together on the rug she didn’t move away.

Lucas’s friends included her in their conversations, although it was obvious they shared a lot of history and there were a lot of in-jokes from past festival parties which, delivered in rapid French, Libby didn’t always catch. But she didn’t mind. She felt content and happy being there with Lucas.

Sitting watching as the swallows made their last swoops of the day over the river to scoop up a final supper of insects, seeing the stars and the moon appear in the darkening sky, Libby knew the magic of the evening would stay in her memory for ever.

When at half past ten Lucas frowned and took his mobile phone out of his pocket, Libby sighed, knowing instinctively the evening was about to end.

“I’m sorry, Libby. An old client has an emergency with her dog. I have to go. I’ll ask Marc if he’ll take you home.”

“Can’t I come with you?” Libby asked. Staying on without Lucas didn’t appeal. “Or you could drop me off on your way?”

“Wrong direction. Are you sure about coming?”

“I’m sure,” Libby said, jumping up and beginning to pack things away in the hamper.



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.