One Summer In France – Episode 56

When Libby arrived she looked at all the paperwork.

“You have been busy.” She picked up a glossy brochure showing lots of highly decorated haute couture dresses. Reading the accompanying price list, she glanced at Suzette.

“Do people actually pay these prices?”

“Yes.” Suzette nodded.

“So, what do you want to talk about?” Libby asked.

“I know my embroidery is as good as anything I’ve seen,” Suzette said. “I’m convinced I can make a business out of it. The big question is, where do I set up business? Paris, or somewhere down here?”

“Why do you want to stay in Brittany anyway?” Libby asked.

Suzette shrugged.

“I’ve discovered I like it here. My family originated from here years ago, so maybe it’s in my genes.” She frowned as she searched the file. “I thought I had some sample materials in here. They seem to have disappeared. Oh, maybe I dropped them in Pascal’s car. I’ll ring him tomorrow and check.”

She sighed, picked up some loose papers and replaced them in the folder.

“I feel a bit guilty, actually. Pascal told me I could do this from anywhere, but I bit his head off. Told him moving to Brittany wasn’t a part of the plans for my future. Only I’ve been thinking since. Why shouldn’t it be? Rather than go back and become Suzette Shelby the retired ballerina who is now a needlewoman, why don’t I stay here to do it? Continue to live as Evie Patem?”

Libby looked at her, dismay written all over her face.

“Oh, Evie. You can’t be serious. Just think about the problems it would create for you. Not with your work – although I think the name Suzette Shelby would open doors that might remain closed to an unknown Evie Patem – but with your personal life. Things like finding somewhere to live, registering with the doctor, opening a bank account. They’d all have to be done in your real name so certain people would know who you were. Your name would be almost sure to leak out. Oh!” She stopped.

“I’ve just realised why you paid me in cash! And what if you meet someone special? I take it you haven’t told Pascal your real name?”

Suzette was silent for a moment.

“No. I like Pascal a lot, but so far there’s been no reason to tell him. We’re just friends. And if I go back to Paris . . .” she shrugged “. . . that will probably be the end of things anyway. Long-distance friendships rarely survive.”

“Well, if you do decide to live in Brittany, why not come clean and just tell everyone who you are?” Libby said.

“I’m not sure about doing that,” Suzette said. “Particularly as far as Pascal is concerned. Once the news leaked out, the media would be swarming all over the place for days until they tire of the story. He’d hate the attention that invariably surrounds me.”

“I’m sure he’d cope,” Libby said.

They both turned to look at the canal as the sound of a boat’s engine chugging downstream reached them.

“Do you have to go and work the lock for them?” Suzette asked curiously.

Libby shook her head.

“No, thank goodness. People have to do it for themselves these days. This barge looks like one of the charter ones from up Brest way. They usually have a skipper on board to tell everybody what to do.”

As they watched, a man leapt on to the quay and began the process of opening the lock.

“I’ve never actually seen a boat going through the lock before,” Suzette said. “You don’t seem to get many on this stretch of canal.”

“It’s because they blocked the canal to build the dam at Lac de Guerlédan. I think there are probably more on the stretch down to Nantes,” Libby said, turning back to Suzette. “Like I was saying, I’m sure Pascal . . . Evie, whatever is the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Suzette didn’t answer – couldn’t answer. She merely pointed at the man who was now striding towards them.

“Surprise, surprise, darling. I’ve come to stay with you for a few days,” Malik said, smiling at her.



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.