The Primrose Line – Episode 46

Illustration by Ged Fay

Some 500 miles away Laura’s husband, Martin, climbed out of his brother’s car at Geneva airport.

“Thanks for the lift, Marc, although I’m still wondering if I’m doing the right thing. I’m sure that your back is nowhere near better.”

Marc shook his head.

“You’re sceptical enough to be a doctor at the hospital, unless it was my natural charm that made them want me to stay another day!

“Don’t worry about me. I’ll be careful, and I know I’m better off looking after your hotel than lying fretting in a hospital bed when some unfortunate might need it more than me. Besides, I can let Camille handle any real hard work!”

Martin smiled.

“Thanks, Marc. This is all a bit sudden. I should have telephoned to let Laura know that I’m on my way.”

“Nonsense. The look on the kids’ faces when you walk in the door will be worth it, not to mention Laura’s. I’d like to be there myself just to see that.

“She seemed so upset at you not going with her – you’ve got something special there with that woman, Martin.”

“I know. You do, too, with Camille, though why she lets you get away with some of your antics I’ll never know.”

“All part of the magic.” Marc laughed as he edged the car into the airport traffic. “They’re getting fussy about stopping too long in this drop-off area, so I’ll go. Have a good flight and forget about the hotel; it’s in safe hands!”

Martin walked into the airport. All he could think of was seeing Adrienne and Emile in a few hours’ time and of holding Laura in his arms. Marc was right, the surprise would be worth it.

*  *  *  *

“As late lunches go, that was something else. Where did you learn to cook like that?” Laura put down her knife and fork and looked across the rustic oak kitchen table at Sean.

“Della and I went on one of those cookery course holidays in Provence some years ago. I enjoyed it so much that I carried on when we came back. It became a passion.

“It may even have contributed to our marriage failing. When I do anything I have to do it a hundred per cent and that used to get on Della’s nerves quite a lot.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No need to be. It was all amicable in the end. We’d been drifting apart without realising it for a while.

“I think a lot of couples do, but just accept the changed state of things. I’m glad we had the courage to do something about it; give ourselves a second chance in our personal lives.”

Laura took a sip of water.

“That second chance, as you put it, seems to be more and more frequent these days.”

“Couldn’t agree more. Glad you see it my way.” He swirled the wine in his glass before taking a long, appreciative swallow.

“Actually, Sean, I don’t see it your way. Whatever happened to commitment in a relationship? You’re suggesting that when the going gets tough . . .”

“The tough get going,” he finished for her. “It makes sense; life is short.”

“So marriage, for you, is a bit like a house? When something more to your taste comes on the market, you go for it?”

Sean’s eyes became wary, as though he saw the trap before him.

“Even I’m not that cynical. I’m just saying that people expect too much from their relationships. Disillusionment is always there, waiting in the wings.

“You know what, Laura? I’m a man who’s never disappointed, because I learned from an early age to control my expectations from life, especially people.

“When some business associate behaves badly, I’m ready for it. The person who assumes his fellow man will act honourably is vulnerable. That philosophy has given me all this!”

He gestured around the vast, exquisite kitchen.

“Yet you’re here alone.”

“Not true. You’re here.”

“And if not me, I guess it would be someone else.”

“We had something special once upon a time.”

“I agree. But it was once upon a time.”

The table was huge but as he leaned across it he seemed to make it much smaller.

“Laura, I admit I’ve been around the track a few times since those days, but it’s what makes me an expert. When Fate took me into your hotel it did it for a reason.

“I didn’t imagine the vibes that were going on between you and me. I could see that faraway look that was in your eyes as you thought back to those days. The way they were; what they could have become; what they still can become if you let them.

“Here, let me pour you some wine instead of that water.”

He looked out of the window.

“I believe Fate is taking a hand again. It’s snowing heavily outside, earlier than the forecasters predicted. We get cut off from the motorway system quite quickly here, so you’d be crazy to leave now!”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.