One Summer In France – Episode 57

Suzette stared in shock at Malik.

“I’ll leave you to talk to your friend,” Libby whispered before she left to return to the auberge.

“Malik, what are you doing here? More to the point – how did you find me?” Suzette demanded as Malik air-kissed her cheeks. “I told you I needed time alone.” She glared and moved away from him.

“You don’t sound very pleased to see me,” Malik said, fingering the folder of papers that was still on the table. Suzette quickly snatched it up before he could start looking through it.

“I’m not,” she said. “Désolée, but that’s the truth. I’ll just put this indoors.”

When she returned Malik was standing looking at the auberge.

“I have to admit you’ve found yourself a lovely hiding place,” he said as she rejoined him.

“You haven’t answered my questions,” Suzette said. “Why and how?”

“I was concerned for you,” he said. “Worried that you were maybe having a breakdown.”

“I told you I needed time to think about the future. Do I look as though I’m having a breakdown?”

Malik shook his head.

“No. You look very well. You’re going to have to lose that extra weight, though, before ‘Swan Lake’.”

Suzette shrugged.

“It’s only a couple of kilos. It won’t take long to shift. OK, so you were concerned about me, but how did you find me?”

“It was easy in the end. Your concierge,” Malik said. “Although, to be fair, he didn’t actually tell me. He gave me an envelope with your forwarding address on it and asked me to post it. I think he thought I knew where you were. So I decided to act as postman. It’s on board the boat waiting for you to collect it.”

At the mention of the boat, Suzette glanced down towards the canal.

“Someone down there seems to be trying to attract your attention.”

Malik turned and waved his hand in acknowledgement.

“That’s the skipper. He’s waiting for us to go on board. The crew have supper waiting for us. Shall we go?”

“I’m not hungry.”

Malik sighed.

“So sit and watch me eat. We need to talk.” He held out his hand to Suzette. “Come on.” Reluctantly, Suzette took it. “Besides, I have a suggestion for you to think about.”

“You said before. Why are you being so mysterious about it?” Suzette asked. “I wish you’d just tell me.”

“Soon, I promise,” Malik said.

He continued to hold her hand as they walked away from the gîte and down towards the canal. Pascal’s car was driving along the path towards the auberge as Suzette and Malik neared the boat. Raising her free hand in acknowledgement, Suzette smiled at him and waited for him to draw up alongside them.

“Pascal, meet Malik,” she said as he wound the car window down.

The two men shook hands.

“Were you coming to see me?”

“I was, but I can see you’re busy,” Pascal said. “I’ll leave you to enjoy your evening.” He nodded at Malik and gave Suzette a swift glance before driving away.

Dismayed, Suzette stared after him. What was that all about? Malik, still holding her hand, tugged her gently forward. She sighed.

Next time she saw Pascal she would have to make a point of telling him she and Malik were old friends and nothing more. The incident made her even crosser with Malik for turning up so unexpectedly and she jerked her hand out of his.

“How long have you hired the boat for?” she asked as they approached the barge, which had come safely through the lock and was tied up alongside.

“It depends on you,” Malik said. “I have the possibility of extending the hire if I want to.”



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.