ROMANCE IN FRANCE

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Chapter 10

They could hear the sound of the music as Michael drew the car up outside the hall. After parking up, they entered the disco. The scene that met their eyes as they walked through the door nearly made her dizzy. The array of colour’s, the sound of the music; so many people talking all at once after the quietness of the vineyard filled her with excitement, but the sound was extraordinarily loud and for a moment she felt tempted to put her hands over her ears.

Michael led her over to a crowd of young people stood in one of the corners of the large room, where he introduced her to his friends. They took control from then on. She was swept off her feet time and again, swiftly claimed by one or another of his friends and swept onto the dance floor. It was a while before Michael’s friends gave in and allowed him to claim her for a dance.

He caught her arm rather roughly. ‘I thought you came to the disco with me!’ he exclaimed angrily. Jemma smiled up at him sweetly, feeling dizzily intoxicated by the music the many charming companions and the thrill of dancing.

‘Don’t be angry Michael. Please!’ she smiled radiantly at him. ‘I’m afraid your friends were having a little joke with you. Every time one of them became tired he would wink at one of the others who would take over. They were doing it on purpose.’

‘Her smile is breathtaking,’ thought Michael, wishing he could have claimed her lips there and then. His pulses beat erratically as he gazed into her sweet face and he gave in gracefully, muttering a few words under his breath in French.

Jemma felt sorry for him and managed two dances before she begged. ‘Can we sit down for a while Michael? I think I’ve danced my legs off. I won’t be able to walk tomorrow,’ she smiled up at him eloquently, her green eyes pleading her case.

Grudgingly Michael took her arm and led her from the dance floor to a seat at his friend’s table. Once there he threatened his friends, speaking rapidly in French, warning them not to sit in the seat next to her before he walked over to the bar to get them a drink.

The rest of the evening passed in pleasant conversation intermixed with dancing and poor Michael fending off the many overtures to Jemma, until she finally called it a day. Explaining to Michael that she had to get up in the morning to look after Alice and reluctantly he agreed it was time they made their way home. Carl’s bedroom was situated at the front of the house, and from his window he could see over the driveway. He was still wide-awake, his mind full of the plans he had been talking over with his brother. Hearing the sound of Michael’s car he walked over to the window.

Curiosity and envy drawing him to watch as Michael pulled the car up outside the house. Enviously he gazed through the glass watching them as Michael leaned across the front seat of the car to give Jemma a kiss, before he opened his door and walked around the car to let her out.

Carl followed their progress, as chattering away arms linked, they walked slowly around the corner of the house to the kitchen door. ‘Would she ask him in?’ wondered Carl. He stood quietly, listening at the top of the stairs. If she let him in he would go down and make out that he had been going to make a drink for himself. Hearing the car pull away he heaved a sigh of relief and made his way gratefully back to bed.

The way he had felt about Jemma earlier in the day lay heavily on his mind. He knew that he shouldn’t let himself feel like this, she was supposed to be under his care and protection. She was entitled to a life of her own, after all, he pulled himself up sharp, damn it! She wasn’t a child. His brother had said so and he knew himself after tonight that his brother was right. Carl rolled over angrily in the bed as the feeling of wanting her returned to his body, taunting him with his need. Then he rolled over again on to his back, folded his arms under his neck and sighed wearily. He had to put her out of his mind that way. They needed her help, he didn’t want to frighten her away. The best thing for him he realised was to concentrate on his work and decided it would make life easier to keep out of Jemma’s way after that Friday night. Turning over again he eventually fell asleep by concentrating his mind on the advertising.

The next few weeks all his energy and mind power was fully diverted on the winery as he developed and organised the advertising program for the vineyard. This meant him spending much of his time away and this was what he did until they were ready.

The brochures were distributed, advertising the wine and the Caravan Park and before anyone realised it Christmas was upon them.

After the phone call to her mother on her arrival at the winery, Jemma had written weekly to her mother and Abbey; sending photos of Pup, Alice, and the house and gardens. In return she now received a lively transfer of activities and goings on from home, Abbey’s including details of her ongoing romance with Craig.

Friday nights at the disco with Michael and his friends became a regular focus of Jemma’s life. Although Jemma had, had to explain to Michael who wished to make it a permanent relationship, that she thought she was too young yet to settle to a regular boyfriend and preferred just to be friends for a while.

Michael wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, as he would have liked to claim Jemma as his girlfriend, but deferred regretfully to her wishes. When his friends realised it wasn’t a romantic alliance, he’d had to impress on them that he had found her and even though she didn’t want to take it any further, as far as he was concerned she was his. Jemma seemed happy enough to go along with this as she really enjoyed Michael’s company, and he was an excellent dancer.

Life became much easier for Jemma once Mark took control of the vineyard again. He showed her around the vineyards; explained a good deal of the process of wine making and generally filled Jemma in on many things that had intrigued her about the process of wine making and the growing of the grapes.

He related the story of how their parents had met with a motor accident that had regretfully ended their lives, and how they had come to inherit the vineyards from their grandmother, ending, by telling her some of the sad story of his marriage to Sonya.

The brothers obtained the permits for the caravan site and were soon able to put their plans into action. Mark brimmed over with enthusiasm as he gained his strength and inner vitality back. He showed Jemma around the fields, explaining in great detail the planning procedure, making Jemma aware of the work and problems involved.

He explained that they had managed to acquire a loan from the bank, and had ordered ten static caravans for the site. One field would be used for camping and trailer vans, as Jemma had suggested. The other field was for the statics, and they stood watching for a while as the men carried out their work. They were digging the ditches, and measuring pieces of the land as the field was in the process of being laid out for water pipes and toilet facilities.

It looked a complete shambles at the moment as she and Mark wandered around the outskirts, Jemma couldn’t believe it would ever look like a field again. Mark was pointing out where things would be and told her it would only be a matter of a few weeks before the camp would be fully open, the caravans and everything else in place.

A few days later Jemma and Alice, who sat in her pram, watched from their vantage point as the low loader brought the first caravans onto the site; the sites were marked out individually for each caravan and the waste pipes had all been covered with earth and concrete rectangles, except for the ends sticking out of the ground that fitted to the caravan. The men who were in charge of lying out carefully pulled the caravans onto their allotted spaces then plumbed the pipes into the caravans. Toilets were already built and plumbed in. Paths, and grass lawns were laid and by the end of the week everything was ready.

Mark and Carl sent out invitations to the villagers, inviting them to the opening of the ‘Robinson Vineyard Caravan Park.’ The Caravan Park would bring extra customers and prosperity to the villagers, and most of the people from the village were happily looking forward to the event. A large barbecue began the proceedings, organised by the brothers, who hoped it would promote their goodwill. The party ended in an evening of fun and gaiety that the villages gladly contributed to. Everyone declared what a good time they had had and thought it might be a good idea to organise the event and hold it as a regular affair every year.

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