One Summer In France – Episode 59

The barge was still moored up near the auberge when Lucas arrived to see Libby. Since she’d had lunch with him and Veronique, Lucas had started to call in to see her most evenings after surgery had closed.

The nights he didn’t arrive there was always a phone call saying he’d been called out or surgery had over-run, and a sense of disappointment would run through Libby.

Lucas glanced across at the barge.

“He’s still here, then? Any idea who he is?”

“Just a friend. I think he’s leaving tomorrow,” she said.

“Pascal will be pleased,” Lucas said. “I saw him today and he asked if I knew what was going on. It’s not like him to want to gossip about anyone. I think he likes Evie.”

“Come on, let’s take supper and sit under the pergola,” Libby said, deciding a change of conversation was needed. She felt uncomfortable not being able to talk truthfully to Lucas. “I need to talk to you about next week.”

Despite having told Helen she didn’t need to make a list of guests for her party, Libby knew she had to start organising things. A “to do” list would have to be written soon.

“I really don’t want a fuss made,” she said now to Lucas.

“It’s your birthday, so do what you want,” Lucas said. “Though, personally, I’m looking forward to making a fuss of you. It is a milestone birthday, after all.”

“You’ll be trotting out that old cliché next – life begins at forty,” Libby said, laughing.

“You’re at the beginning of a new life over here, so maybe there is some truth in that saying,” Lucas said, a serious note in his voice. Catching hold of her hand, he squeezed it, looking at her intently. “You’ve already started to change your life and it will continue to change – with me in it more and more, I hope.”

Libby’s laughter faded away as she realised the implication behind Lucas’s words.

“Oh, Lucas,” she said. “I’m not sure I’m ready.”

“You will be,” Lucas said confidently. “First I become your best friend and then voilà, you find you can’t live without me!”

The way he waved his hand in the air with delight made Libby laugh again and this time Lucas joined in.

“I mean it, Libby. Soon friendship alone won’t be enough for me. I want to look after you. To love you.”

“Lucas, I don’t know what to say,” Libby said softly.

“Say nothing. Just think about it. Now I must go.” He gave her a fleeting kiss and left.

Later, as she prepared for bed, Libby thought about his words, and then about her life with Dan before she came to France. When Dan died she’d believed her life was over and she’d never find love again, but here was Lucas professing love and wanting her to be in his life.

Admittedly the thought of being part of a couple again, especially with Lucas, was exciting. The days she didn’t see him always seemed so empty, as if there was something missing. Something or somebody?

Was it too soon, though? She’d barely spent a summer in France. She had known Lucas for only a few short months. Was it long enough to acknowledge that yes, she would like to think of a future with him? And Chloe? How would she react?

*  *  *  *

The next morning as Libby cleared the kitchen after serving breakfast to the guests, she glimpsed Suzette standing down on the canal path, waving goodbye as Malik’s barge started to make its way back upstream. Guessing that Suzette would walk up to the auberge afterwards, Libby turned to put the coffee on just as the phone rang.

“Agnes! How’s the holiday? And the packing?”

“The holiday was wonderful,” Agnes said. “We should finish the packing soon. Then we come home in time for your party.”

“Good. We have missed having you here,” Libby said.

“Is Evie still with you?” Agnes asked.

“Yes. She seems happy living in the gîte.” Libby hesitated. “She’s had a friend turn up unexpectedly, which has made her tense. Why do you ask?”

”I discovered something recently. I’ll tell you when I get back,” Agnes said. “I shall see you soon.”

Briefly Libby wondered if it were possible Agnes had stumbled across Suzette’s real identity. If she had, and intended to challenge her, Libby prayed Suzette wouldn’t assume she’d broken her promise and given the secret away.

There was a knock on the kitchen door and Suzette appeared.

“You look a bit frazzled,” Libby said. “Coffee?” Without waiting for an answer she poured one and handed it to Suzette.

“Thanks. Malik has given me an ultimatum. Decide whether I return to dance ‘Swan Lake’ one last time or not,” she said, looking at Libby. “You’d think it would be an easy decision.” She shook her head. “Part of me says to dance. Another part says to retire gracefully and start my new life.”

“Only you can decide,” Libby said.

Suzette nodded.

“I know. Have you seen anything of Pascal? I haven’t seen him since Malik arrived.”

Libby shook her head.

“No. He was asking Lucas about you the other day, though.”

Suzette looked at her with a smile on her face.

“Was he? I’ll ring him soon and arrange to meet up. But first I have to decide what I’m going to do.”

Libby hesitated.

“You know how I promised to keep your secret? I promise you I have, but Agnes is due home soon and from the conversation I’ve just had with her, I’ve a funny feeling she knows you’re not who you say you are. So it’s make your mind up time on all fronts.”



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.