Chapter 4: Caroline's Funeral
Adam had woken up very early that morning, somewhere around seven in the morning. He still wasn’t used to the time difference so he was a little tired as he stepped into the shower. Feeling the hot water pound on his head and back for about twenty minutes seemed to do the trick as he felt refreshed and ready to take on the day. He had pre-ordered his breakfast and it arrived at seven forty five as he had requested. Before eating the simple dish, Adam made sure his clothes were laid out and ready to go after he cleaned up and brushed his teeth. Adam’s Dad didn’t have to lecture him about representing the company but that never stopped the old man from lecturing him the night before. He took great pleasure raiding the mini bar while the old man tried to give his pre-funeral pep talk. He didn’t say anything about his former fiance and given what he was about to do, Adam was relieved his Dad didn’t bring her up. He imagined where she could be right now, whose couch she was crashing on. Considering what a fine suite he was in at the moment, Adam couldn’t help but laugh at the situation. He still had a funeral to attend, something he had studied up on while his Dad was yapping at him.
They had certain traditions in France and Adam took the time to look them up so that he wouldn’t do anything that would give his father a reason to strip him a new one. It took him less than a half hour to finish his breakfast and get ready to go. As he was walking down the hall, Adam had hoped that he would run into Fiona but it never happened. She was probably either still asleep or doing the business she was in town to do. Rather than mope about it, Adam took the lift to the lobby and had the man at the desk call a taxi for him. His father had given him all the information he had needed. The address, what he should wear and even what he should say if approached by the new owners of their client. Adam took notes in case he got stuck and needed a little help but was confident he would be all right. While he was waiting outside the lobby for his taxi, Adam couldn’t help but notice an amazing array of flowers growing in the garden next to the main doors. They were a beautiful purple flowers growing out of the ground and since his taxi was already on the way to pick him up, Adam made a bold move as he plucked two out of the grounds and made them presentable. It took the taxi less than ten minutes to drive him to the requested location but things looked strange when they arrived. The cab had taken Adam to what looked more like a residential area. A neighborhood that had fancy homes and no sign of where they would host a funeral, which made Adam feel rather uncomfortable.
“What’s wrong?” the driver asked. “This is the address you gave me.”
“Well, I’m here for a funeral.” Adam explained, “But this doesn’t seem right.”
“It likely is.” The driver replied, “In this country, it is French custom for the deceased to ‘lie in state’ at their place of residence so that it’s friends and family do not have to travel far to pay their respects. The surroundings of home also make people feel more comfortable than being in a place they’ve never been inside before.”
“I had no idea,” Adam said as he paid the driver, “Thank you very much.”
“Your change?” the driver offered.
“Keep it,” Adam replied, “Thanks for your help.”
“Au revior.” The driver said before speeding off for his next client.
Adam walked up the long driveway and then followed another crowd that had just arrived to not stand out. Once he was inside the large house, he was reminded again how popular and very wealthy the deceased was. She was a retired actress but didn’t need to work because her husband was one of the biggest business men in Europe. It was rumored that the hotel chain was started just to give the lady of the house something to do and then it turned out to be a very lucrative endeavor as well. Adam grabbed a glass of water, relaxed and strolled around the first floor, looking around for the location of the ceremony. It was then when Adam found the large living room that had been converted to host the wake. There were seats everywhere for people sit down, likely for a ceremony later on. There was also food, coffee or tea and even some wine for those who needed something stronger. For now, Adam had chosen to take some water and a few small bite sized pieces of food while waiting for the line to die down a bit as there were a long of people waiting to pay their respects. Adam could also see four people standing up near the casket, which he knew was likely the family saying hello to those in line as they passed through to pay their respects. The new owners, the very people his Dad wanted to make sure Adam didn’t embarrass himself with or it would cost their fragile company one of their biggest clients. Eventually Adam got into line when his nerves settled down and it only took about ten minutes for him to reach the family waiting. Adam walked up and offered his hand while holding the two purple flowers in the other.
“Hello.” Adam said as he reached out his hand out to the first family member. He was a young man about his own age. “I’m Adam Lucas.”
“From Lucas Images?” the young man replied, “I really hope you didn’t come all the way out here to just pander for business.”
“No, of course not.” Adam replied, already in damage control mode. “I actually volunteered to come out because I am a fan of your mother not only as a business woman but as a fine actress as well.”
The young man’s demeanor changed as he also noticed the flowers. “I am honored you made the trip to show your respects. I’m George Bouchard, Caroline was my grandmother. This lady is my mother, Barbara Bouchard. Her late husband was Caroline’s only child.”
“I’m sorry we couldn’t meet under better circumstances.” Adam said as he shook Barbara’s hand. “Please accept my sincere condolences.”
“Thank you Mr. Lucas,” Barbara said with a smile, “So nice of you to come.”
Adam could have sworn he saw someone else there but that person wasn’t there when he arrived to the front of the line so he disregarded it and moved onto the casket itself. As he slowly approached the old lady, she was as shadow of the women he remembered watching in all those movies when he was younger. Still, he could make out the features of the woman he adored on screen, the graceful smile was there and she looked so peaceful. Adam paused for a moment before taking one of the purple flowers he had brought with them and tucked the stem under her elbow. He didn’t want to put it into her hand like in the movie as he was afraid that someone would think he was trying to lift her watch or rings. After the quick movement to place the flower, Adam moved on and b-lined to what looked like a full bar. Leave it to the French to let everyone get laced at a funeral. When he got there, Adam ordered something modest and nursed it. He was after all still representing the business at what could be the biggest funerals he’d like ever attend in his lifetime. An award nominated actress, owner of a billion dollar empire. It was all so surreal that he could barely believe it. He was a few sips into his drink but nearly dropped it when approached by the last person he expected to see there.
“Fiona?” Adam called out. “Hi.”
“Hey you,” Fiona said as she walked up, “How are things going?”
“Not bad,” Adam replied, “I just paid my respects, did my thing.”
Fiona looked down and realized he was only holding one flower. “You gave her the flower already! I missed it?”
“Sorry,” Adam apologized, “I didn’t know you were here.”
“I’m the one that should be sorry,” Fiona said as she sighed, “I went to the bathroom and that just happened to be the time you did your thing. But you really did your homework, nice job!”
“What do you mean?” Adam asked as he literally had no clue to what she was referring to.
“You brought an Iris,” Fiona replied, “It’s so beautiful and it also happened to be her favorite.”
“How do you know that?” Adam asked.
“Well, there are whole bunch of them outside the hotel.” Fiona answered, “She planted them all there herself.”
“I didn’t know that.” Adam said as he was only being half honest about that. He gave her a warm smile and held out the other. “Would you like this one?”
Fiona reached out and took the Iris from him. “Thank you. That’s so sweet.”
“I had no idea you coming.” Adam said, trying to keep the conversation going. “You didn’t come out here to keep me company, did you?”
“No, I’m afraid not.” Fiona replied as she bit her bottom lip. “Remember I told you I was here on family business.”
“Oh dear,” Adam said as he thought back about their lunch together. He had been rambling on and on about the funeral and never bothered to ask what her business in town was. “You’re related to the deceased?”
“Yes,” Fiona confirmed with a half smile, “I’m Fiona Bouchard. If you’ve paid your respects, then that means you’ve met my mother Barbara as well as my brother George.”
“Okay,” Adam said as he processed the news, “So you’re also Caroline’s granddaughter?”
“Yes,” Fiona answered, “I’m so sorry I didn’t mention it earlier. I just didn’t want to make things awkward.”
“No, it’s all right.” Adam said as he was once again in damage control. “I really hope I didn’t say anything disrespectful last night.”
“No not at all,” Fiona confirmed for him, “What you said about her, what you did today with the Iris’; that was so sweet. You’ve made what should have been the ugliest week of my life just a little more bearable and I’m thankful for that.”
Adam took a deep breath. “I’m just glad I didn’t make an ass out of myself.”
“You did a little,” Fiona said with a giggle. “But it was so sweet.”
Before they could say anything else, George walked up and pretty much barged in between the two of them, as if he was defending his little sister.
“Excuse me.” George said with a tone that was as harsh as his glare towards Adam. “My sister needs to return to the line to greet her guests.”
“Of course,” Adam replied, “My apologies for holding her up. I was merely paying my respects because I didn’t get a chance to when I went through the line.”
“I understand, Mr. Lucas.” George said as he turned to Fiona. “We must return to the line.”
“Alright,” Fiona said as she patted George on the shoulder. Before she left, Fiona turned back to Adam. “Please don’t go. I would really appreciate some company at the service.”
“I’ll be here,” Adam confirmed, “Happy to help.”
“Thanks.” Fiona said as she grabbed his hand and then held onto it for a second before letting go to follow her brother back to the main room to continued greeting people in line.\
Adam watched from a distance as Fiona stood there with her mother and brother and shook hands, kissed cheeks and hugged each person as they came through the line to pay their respects to her grandmother. She must have been there for at least an hour as more people continued to stream in. Thankfully the wake started at nine in the morning as they might need all day to give everyone a chance to grieve. Adam wasn’t used to how they did things in this country, but he did his best to go with it. It was at this point when Adam spotted someone in the hallway that was crying. She was pretty broke up, a lot more than the average person there, and naturally Adam was drawn to see if there was anything he could do to help. While walking towards the lady, he reached into the pocket of a man that was eating horderves and swiped a very fancy handkerchief from his pocket. The lady was of African ethnicity, looked to be a little older than Barbara but seemed to be like him a fish out of water. He didn’t reach that conclusion based on ethnicity, he could just tell she was more normal than the other people there, except for Fiona of course.
Adam inspected it to make sure it was clean before finally offering it to the older lady that was crying. “Here you go.”
“Thank you.” The lady said as she took the hanky from him. “Do you always have one of these handy in case a lady needs it?”
“Only at funerals.” Adam admitted, “I’m Adam Lucas.”
The lady smiled back after wiping away a tear. “I’m Cynthia.”