September promised to maintain its course of fine and hot weather. I was looking forward to life continuing in the routine it had settled into, walks, swims and just enjoying each other’s company when we had some spare time. However, the Monday after our barbeque, I was crossing the road by the park, the road which also led to the château, when a very chic powder blue Mercedes convertible raced around the corner and nearly knocked me off balance. The young woman in the car yelled the equivalent of
“Get out of the way”, although not so politely and started honking the horn impatiently when she arrived at the château gate. I recognised her at once from the magazines, Luke’s wife Suzie. From what I saw, she was every bit as beautiful as her photographs, her hair was beautifully coiffured in a casual way, her make up was just so and she was a good fifteen years younger than me. I found it hard to imagine her with Mork on the top of the cliffs on a windy day. Eventually the noise stopped, I suppose she’d been let in.
I had the most awful sinking feeling, I never believed that she really might ‘come home’. I sat down on a bench as I was also a little shaken by being almost knocked over and an elderly man came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. He’d seen what had happened and told me that he didn’t understand what Suzie had shouted but he’d understood her meaning. The rest of the day I felt empty inside and that night slept really badly. Luke and I had become really good friends over the last few months. Perhaps he didn’t see me as more than a friend to pass the time away with when Suzie wasn’t there? Should I have let things go further? There was nothing I could do about it but wait and see what happened next and anyway, Katie was coming to stay for a few days, my poor daughter wouldn’t want to spend her precious few days break with a heart broken mother.
When I picked her up from the station she spotted at once that I wasn’t “Quite right” so it didn’t take her long to tease out the whole story. She did try, but there wasn’t really much she could say to make me feel better, so during her visit, distracted me with outings and shopping and stories of her own life. On the last evening she was with me, we went out to eat in the restaurant in the village for a change. It was a really warm evening for the time of year so we were on foot and the way back involved walking the usual path through the woods. We could hear the noise of fun and games and splashing in the pool at the château. In my head, I pictured Luke and Suzie newly reunited and enjoying themselves. Katie gave me a hug and we hurried home. Before she left I was invited to stay with her for a few days to make a change, so I accepted and drove her back home.
I did feel much better while I was away, determined to make the most of my visit with Katie and change my ideas. When I was almost home one of the first cars I crossed on the road in the village was that Mercedes, so my new determination disappeared almost straight away.
I started walking the long way round to the post office and avoided walking by the beach. I really missed Mork too and wondered if he remembered me. I got back into my old routine and resolved not to think about any of them. Luke visited me in my dreams though, so I just worked harder and longer hours and went to bed later so that I was too tired to rememberif I’d dreamt about him.
Occasionally I came across Geraldine who was thrilled to have a personality as well known as Suzie living in the same village. I listened politely as she passed on the latest gossip of the comings and goings at the château. I don’t think that Geraldine realised for one moment the agony she was putting me through. She also told me that she was so pleased that she and her husband hadn’t chosen to live in San Tropez after all.
One morning I was shocked to hear Luke’s voice, he was talking to someone behind me in the queue at the post office. I really couldn’t face making polite conversation in front of everyone so I managed to sidle out without being spotted, I think. I almost ran home, and I cried when I was in the safety of my bedroom. Reason told me that if Luke was the man of integrity I knew him to be, it was normal for him to try to rescue his marriage. Reason wasn’t much of a comfort to me really. I tried to be positive. After all, I had learnt that I could get close to someone special again. My morale was at an all time low as that time of year was also the anniversary of my husband’s death.
After a week or so I felt stronger, determined not to be beaten by this and started walking on the beach again. I knew the times Luke and Mork were likely to be there, so avoided them, it wasn’t too difficult. I kept my eyes open so that I could head in the opposite direction if I saw them in the distance. I started to read Luke’s blog again although there were no clues for me there as he wasn’t writing much. I didn’t leave comments anymore.
One morning I was out for a walk just before lunch, my new time, when I saw something slumped on the beach, it looked like an animal lying down. As I got closer I could see that it was Mork! He raised his head to me as he saw me coming, struggled to move and whimpered in pain. As I approached, I could see that he was badly cut on the shoulder and was losing blood. I went towards him slowly, talking gently to reassure him. Fortunately I was wearing a scarf and took it off to use to try to stop the bleeding. All the time aware that as he was badly injured he would probably bite me if I hurt him more. I carefully applied pressure to the wound and fumbled around to find my phone in my pocket with my free hand. With somedifficulty I got it flipped open and found Luke’s number. As soon as I heard his voice I started to cry, I just about managed to explain to him where we were and that Mork was badly injured. I waited with Mork, talking to him all the time, though I’m not sure which one of us needed the most comforting.
It seemed to take an age before Luke and Monsieur Espoir arrived. As soon as Luke was close I yelled at him:
“How could you be so neglectful?” I was so cross that he’d let Mork out on his own. Luke didn’t say anything, he just looked so hurt. I noticed that he looked pretty rough and bleary eyed like he’d had too much to drink. Well, that was his problem. I helped them to move Mork into the back of Luke’s Range Rover, which was no easy task and then ran off, in the opposite direction towards home. My sunglasses were in my pocket so I put them on so that no one would see my eyes.
It wasn’t until later that I realised what I’d yelled at Luke and why…