One Summer In France – Episode 52

Wandering around Agnes’s house watering her various plants, Libby realised she’d completely forgotten that tomorrow was another change-over day – generally her busiest day of the week. Thankfully Odette was booked to work tomorrow from eight a.m. and there were only four bedrooms to change and clean. And even better, none of the new guests were due to arrive before five o’clock so there was plenty of time to get back from Lucas’s.

Watering the last plant on the window-sill in the sitting-room, Libby briefly wondered what Lucas’s sister would be like.

Despite Lucas telling her she didn’t have to bring anything, Libby couldn’t go empty handed so she filled a container with her home-made cheese biscuits to take with her the next morning.

Leaving Odette to help herself to lunch and promising to be back by three o’clock, she set off for Lucas’s. It was the first time she’d been to the vet surgery a kilometre or so outside the village, and she looked around as she parked alongside Lucas’s muddy estate car.

A hedge of beech trees separated the modern single-storey building from the surrounding fields on three sides, while the front was open plan with lots of parking spaces. The flower-beds on either side of the entrance were filled with sunflowers and daisies.

As she got out of the car, the green flashing neon light on the building signalling the surgery was open stopped flashing, the door opened and Lucas appeared.

“Welcome,” he said, kissing her on the cheeks three times. “Come and meet my sister, Veronique.” Holding Libby by the hand, he led her through a maze of small rooms and into his apartment at the back of the building.

“Veronique has set everything up outside,” he said. “I have to warn you that she can be a bit bossy sometimes,” he whispered.

Libby laughed. She couldn’t imagine anyone bossing Lucas around.

French doors led from the kitchen on to a paved terrace where Veronique was putting the finishing touches to the table for lunch. Lucas quickly made the introductions.

Libby found herself shaking hands with a tiny woman sporting a blonde elfin haircut.

“Nice to meet you,” she said. “How long are you here for?”

“Just the weekend. I come up every couple of months to help Lucas sort out his paperwork. I’m an accountant and Lucas is useless with figures,” Veronique added, shaking her head at her brother. “Let’s eat.” She gestured at the table. “I’ll fetch the first course.”

“I brought some home-made cheese biscuits,” Libby said. “Lucas said I didn’t need to bring anything, but . . .” Libby shrugged apologetically as she offered the container to Veronique.

“He was right, but merci,” Veronique said before she bustled away to the kitchen.

“See, I told you she was bossy,” Lucas murmured.

“Bossy, but nice,” Libby whispered back.

Conversation over lunch strayed from subject to subject, but for Libby the best part was when Lucas and Veronique began talking about their childhood. Lucas, according to his sister, had apparently been a very mischievous little boy, for ever getting into scrapes she had to rescue him from.

“No, no. That’s not how I remember it at all,” Lucas said at one point, wagging his finger at Veronique. “You were desperate to join in, not to rescue me.” He stopped as his mobile phone rang.

Veronique pulled a face at Libby and leaned in to speak.

“He is for ever on call. I hope you can accept that.”

Surprised at her words, Libby looked at her, but before she could respond, Lucas was on his feet.

“Sorry, girls. There has been an accident on the route nationale. A cattle truck has got caught up in it. I have to go.” He turned to Libby. “I’ll ring you later. Don’t dash off. Stay and talk to Veronique.” And he was gone.

Veronique sighed.

“I’ve lost count of the number of times emergency calls have interrupted Lucas’s off-duty life.”

“It’s like doctors, isn’t it?” Libby said thoughtfully. “Neither profession is ever really off duty. But Lucas clearly loves what he does.”



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.