Chapter 5: A Sincere Request
Adam spent the better part of the morning talking to Cynthia, not only because she seemed such a nice person but also because she spoke his language and seemed to be from the same side of the pond as he was. A fellow American was hard to come by in the middle of France, so he kept her company while waiting for Fiona to finish working with the lineup waiting to pay their respects to her grandmother. Cynthia also stood out amongst the majority of the people who were attending the wake. She was a very dark skinned lady, but Adam never seemed to mind as the lady was great company and helped him kill a lot of time while waiting for Fiona.
“So what brings you here?” Cynthia asked.
“The late Mrs. Bouchard owned a company that does a lot of business with the company my father owns,” Adam explained again, “But to be honest, I’ve been a big fan of her movies so asking me to come here didn’t require much arm twisting.”
“I loved her movies too,” Cynthia admitted with a smile. “But I’m actually related to the deceased, which is why your handkerchief is ruined.”
“Keep it.” Adam said with a grin. “I have plenty more. I’m also sorry for your loss. Losing any family, no matter how close or distant is heartbreaking.”
“Thank you,” Cynthia said as she wiped it on her cheek again. “And thank you for your company. I would say you didn’t have to stay here on my account but I’m getting the feeling you’re waiting for someone.”
“I am,” Adam said as it was rather obvious even to her. “But I was happy to be helpful while I did so.”
“You are a true gentleman,” Cynthia replied, “I rarely see such manners where I come from.”
“Where is that?” Adam asked.
“Johannesburg.” She answered.
“South Africa. That’s quite a distance.” Adam said as he thought about it. She travelled just as far as he did to be there that day.
“She’s worth it,” Cynthia replied, “Caroline and I were very close.”
“I can see that by the way you talk about her.” Adam said as he could tell. Cynthia’s face and eyes would light up whenever she spoke of the late Madam Bouchard. It wasn’t just about the movies but of the woman’s appeal to do well by her fellow persons. She was a very charitable person and Adam had naturally assumed that was how the two knew one another, possibly through one of Caroline’s many charitable missions that might have reached as far as South Africa.
Moments later, Fiona came walking over to where Adam was and he stood up to greet her. To his surprise, Fiona came up and gave him a big hug. She gave him a big squeeze and he didn’t seem to mind one bit. She then noticed that Cynthia was sitting there on the couch beside them.
“Oh hello,” Fiona said as she reached out her hand. “I’m Fiona.”
“This is Cynthia,” Adam filled in, “She was nice enough to keep me company while I waited for you.”
“That was sweet of you,” Fiona replied with a smile, “Thank you very much.”
“It was no problem,” Cynthia replied. “I’m attending the service at the cemetery so I have to wait here too.”
“Did you know my grandmother?” Fiona asked.
“I did,” Cynthia replied, “I am very sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” Fiona said as she then looked back at the middle aged woman on the couch. “If you’re coming to the service, you can ride with us.”
“Are you sure?” Cynthia asked, not wanting to intrude.
“I am,” Fiona insisted and then looked to Adam. “You’re coming too, right?”
“Yes, of course.” Adam replied with a smile.
“Then it’s settled.” Fiona concluded. “Let me get my stuff and we’ll take one of the cars up in a few minutes.”
The ride up to the cemetery was rather quiet. It was as if all three of them were afraid of feeling guilty if they said something funny. They didn’t want to be disrespectful, or at least seen as such while on their way to what was going to be Caroline’s final resting place. Adam realized he didn’t have to go to the ceremony but wanted to be there not only out of respect for Caroline but to help Fiona who was obviously going to need a shoulder to cry on when it was all said and done. It took the cars less than fifteen minutes to reach the cemetery where Caroline would be put into the ground. The mourners all walked up to a place in the cemetery that had chairs and a podium already set up. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so no one had to carry any umbrellas out with them but took fans to cool themselves down if the heat became too much for them to handle.
Adam looked over at Fiona and noticed that she still had the Iris that he had taken from the hotel’s garden. It pleased him that it meant so much for her to take it with her and not dispose of it. A part of Adam was also hoping that Fiona didn’t know the exact count of how many Iris’ there were in the garden or she would instantly realize where the two he plucked had originated. He didn’t care, it was the thought that mattered and he had picked them because they were beautiful and not because he was cheap or cruel. He was proud of his choice, it was just coincidence that they also happened to be her grandmother’s favorite. Many family members took a seat in front of where the casket was placed, but Fiona refused. She stood behind the chairs and as the priest was saying a few words before committing the body to the ground, Fiona reached over and took Adam’s hand into her own and held it for the majority of the service. Adam didn’t mind and held onto her hand and not wanting to let go of it either.
“Are you all right?” Adam whispered to her, softly so it would disturb anyone.
“I’ll be okay.” Fiona replied, just as quietly.
They stood there with hands clasped and waited patiently for the service to end. Once the body was lowered into the ground, various family members were allowed to step up and throw a handful of dirt into the hole. Fiona didn’t want to but they watched as several other members of her family did so. To their surprise, Cynthia stepped forward and did the same, grabbing a big handful and tossing it in once the other members had all take their turn. Adam had forgotten that Cynthia had mentioned that she was family with Caroline but he didn’t find out what the relation was. They would never get a chance to find out that day. Once the service was over, Cynthia wandered off and most likely called a taxi to return her to whatever hotel she was staying at.
With hands still locked together, Adam and Fiona wandered back to the car that would take them back to their own hotel. They sat in the car and were even more silent on the ride back than they were on the way there, even though they both thought that wouldn’t be possible. Finally it was Fiona who broke the silence with a question.
“They’re going to read the will in a few days,” She said to him, “We’re all going to find out how the empire is going to be divided.”
“That must be stressful.” Adam replied.
“Not really,” Fiona told him, “I never needed her money before and I don’t need it now. I’ll take whatever I get and appreciate whatever she had in her heart to share.”
“That is such a mature outlook to take.” Adam said to her as he was amazed by how modest she was concerning the massive amount of wealth that was at stake. All Adam could imagine was how Jennifer would have responded if it was her fortune that was at stake. She’s go crazy waiting to find out and might even consider knocking off the competition the night before just to make sure she got a bigger piece of the pie. Fiona’s attitude towards funds was a breath of fresh air to him, filling up his lungs and his heart with warm feelings.
“I’m sure everything will be all right.” Adam said to reassure her.
“I know,” Fiona replied, confident he was right. “My grandmother loved me very much. I have no doubt she’ll leave me enough to keep me busy. I’m just concerned that my brother and mother are going to duke it out over what’s left.”
“That would be their problem, not yours.” Adam said.
“Will you be there with me?” Fiona asked.
“Of course I will.” Adam said as he couldn’t bear to be away from her and would take any chance he could to remain in her company.
“Thank you so much,” Fiona said as she reached over and kissed him on the cheek, “And I’ll cover your room until then so don’t worry about that.”
“Thank you.” Adam said as he was pleasantly surprised. He had decided once again not to mention this to his father, just to freak him out a bit. “But what are we going to do for the next few days?”
“We’ll do all the tourist stuff!” Fiona replied with a smile. “I’ve done this a million times and I’d love to be your guide.”
“Why not,” Adam said with a wide smile, “Let’s do the scenes!”