One Summer In France – Episode 63

Before she could answer, Helen bustled into the kitchen and Libby smothered a sigh of relief. Now she wouldn’t have to deny or confirm Agnes’s theory. She hoped and prayed Agnes wouldn’t choose the party this evening to challenge Suzette.

“Libby, Peter wants to know if you have any outdoor fairy lights? If not you’ll have to go and buy some.” Since she’d arrived yesterday Helen had been in bossy mode with regards to the party. “Oh, and coke for the barbecue, please.”

“Lucas is bringing lights over later when he drops the music system off,” Libby said. “Barbecue coke is in the shed at the back.”

“Right. I hope Chloe gets here soon. I need her to do something for me.”

“Can’t I help?” Libby said, but Helen had vanished as quickly as she’d appeared.

Libby glanced at her watch. Chloe had said she and her friend were catching the overnight ferry, so in theory they could be here any time now.

The noise of a powerful motorbike driving into the auberge parking area caught her attention and she went to the front door. There weren’t any guests booked in to arrive today and she was full, so these tourists were going to be unlucky if they were looking to stay at the auberge.

“Hi, Mum. Happy birthday,” Chloe called out as she took off her helmet and shook her hair free before swinging her leg over and stepping off the bike.

Chloe had come on the back of a motorbike?

“You hate bikes,” Libby said, bemused, as she watched a fair-haired man carefully balance his helmet on the wide handlebars and headlamp before leaping off the bike. Behind her Libby was conscious of Agnes starting to laugh.

“You said nothing would ever get you on the back of one,” Libby said.

“Incredible what love will do,” Agnes whispered. “I’ll see you tonight. ’Bye.”

“’Bye,” Libby answered automatically, turning to hug Chloe.

“Hi, Chloe’s mum. I’m Alastair.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Libby said, shaking his hand.

“Mum, we’re starving. Can I rustle us up something to eat?”

“Help yourselves. Look out for Auntie Helen, though – I think she has plans for you!”

Libby turned as she heard more vehicles on the canal path. She watched as Lucas drove in, followed closely by Pascal in the garden centre lorry.

“We’re going to run out of parking spaces at this rate,” she said as Lucas leaned in to kiss her.

“Pascal, what are you doing here?”

“Delivering your birthday present from Evie and me. I’d ask you where you’d like me to plant it, but will you trust me to put it in the best place?”

Libby nodded.

“You’re the expert. Is it a magnolia tree? Wonderful. I’ve always wanted one of those.”

“I’ve brought the lights and the music,” Lucas said. “I can set the music up later, but right now I have to dash back to the clinic, so if Peter could do the lights?”

“I’ll tell him. Maybe he can rope someone in to help,” Libby said. “I’m still stunned about that,” she said, shaking her head as she pointed at the red and cream motorbike.

The rest of the day was equally busy and passed in a flash for Libby. At six o’clock, at Helen’s insistence, she went up to her apartment, had a bath, and got ready for the party.

“Don’t come downstairs again a minute before eight o’clock. No, actually, stay there until someone fetches you.”

“There’s still a lot to do,” Libby protested.

“Nothing that we can’t cope with,” Helen said. “Go. And no peeking out of the window!”



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.