ROMANCE IN FRANCE

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Chapter 14

Jemma knocked timidly at the door of her mother’s house. She didn’t know what kind of reception she would get. Chancy was upstairs, putting the finishing touches to the rooms she had prepared ready for Jemma and Alice. Seeing the taxi pull up through the window, she flew down the stairs, pulling the door open as Jemma knocked.

‘Jemma,’ said Chancy, overwhelmed with happiness at seeing her only daughter after such a long time. ‘It’s so good to see you,’ and she pulled her into her arms, as the tears of joy rolled down their cheeks.

Poor little Alice watched all eye’s, wondering why her Jemma, and that strange woman was crying. She pulled at her hand, and Jemma turned to see the blue eye’s watching her with curiosity.

‘It’s all right Alice, sweetheart,’ said Jemma picking her up and giving her a convincing hug. ‘This is Jemma’s, mummy.’

‘Mummy’ said Alice looking first at Jemma, then Chancy with two big blue eyes.

It was then that Chancy thought about what Jemma had written and told her about Alice’s mother. She smiled at the blue eyed fair-haired child, instantly realising, why, Jemma had wanted to stay and protect her.

‘Come Alice, I have a dolly that was once Jemma’s, for you to play with,’ and she took Alice’s hand and guided them into the living room.

‘I’ve had a bed put in the little box room for Alice. Does she sleep on her own? Maybe, would you like Tad, to move it into your room when he gets home, Jemma?’

‘No.’ she turned her face towards the little girl to smile reassuringly. ‘Alice, is a big girl, she sleeps in a room all on her own don’t you Alice?’

Alice gave Jemma a questioning look with those big eyes, everything was very strange, but her Jemma was there, so she just smiled. She picked up the doll that Chancy had given her, and wandered off to sit on the settee, and examine the doll. Jemma watched her mother, as she gave the child some crayons and a book. ‘She seemed totally different, appearing to be somehow younger, and more confident. Tad was certainly doing her mother some good, or was it being in love.’

The furniture in the living room all looked different, and when she followed her mother into the kitchen, she couldn’t believe it was the same place.

’I see, someone’s been doing a lot of work round here.’

’Yes, its brilliant isn’t it. Tad works very hard.’ She smiled tentatively at Jemma ‘he wants me to marry him.’

’Well, it’s about time isn’t it mom? You’ve lived with him about two years. Don’t you want to marry him?’

’Yes love. I think I do, but I was worried when you ran away. I thought you didn’t want me to.’

’Well, I’ve grown up a bit more now mom.’

’Yes. I can see that and you have a great deal of responsibility looking after young Alice. She’s a lovely child.’

’Oh, I do a lot more than look after Alice,’ Jemma grinned confidentially at her mother. ‘I take a lot of bookings for the Caravan Park, and I help to run it,’ she said pleased with herself that she could tell her mom how clever she was. ‘We run wine tasting parties too, and Yvette, and I do all the catering.’

Jemma told her mother all about the winery and Caravan Park while they made tea and Alice sat watching the two of them, while she played with the doll. Tea was ready to put on the table as Tad walked in.

‘Hi sweets,’ he came through the door after hanging his jacket up, seeming not to notice the presence of Jemma and Alice.

’Ah, just as I like you.’ Chancy was walking away from the side her hands full. ‘Your hands full, so that you can’t stop me filling mine,’ and he stretched his hands out towards her breast. #

Then seeing Jemma and Alice sat at the table watching him, he pulled up sharply a slightly embarrassed look on his face.

’Oops, nearly made a boo boo,’ he was grinning from ear to ear, not a sign of remorse on his face.

’Come and sit down, you big soppy ayeporth. You know Jemma, and this is Alice, she said nodding towards her.’

’That’s not, Jemma,’ he said, in an amazed voice. ‘She was a skinny little runt I teased about having no boobs.’

He looked at Chancy in mock horror. ‘She’s a young woman now; I’d get my face slapped.’

’Yes, you would, from me,’ said Chancy pretending to wallop him with the spoon she held in her hand. He sat down at the table not a bit perturbed.

’She’s a real toughie your mum, bully’s me all the time.’ He put a real pathetic face on, and turned to face Alice. ‘You wouldn’t hit me. Would you Alice?’ Alice looked at Tad’s soppy face and giggled.

’See, I told you Alice, wouldn’t hit me,’ and he turned his head on one side and tickled her ribs with his big hands.

Jemma’s brain did a double take. She suddenly realised she had never met anyone like Tad before, it was she who had made the boob, and he really had only been teasing her. What a fool she had been, she need never have run away. She realised, her mother, had found a real treasure. Still, she had met Carl, and she probably never would have, if she hadn’t run away. It was probably all best forgotten she had a new life now, and her mother had too. She smiled to herself, content that everything had turned out all right after all.

The three weeks they spent in England, passed quickly. Tad enthralled with Alice, arranged lots of things for them to do, including trips to flamingo land where they watched the dolphins. When it was fine, he would go along with Jemma and Alice to the park, which happened to be only a block away from the house, treating the child like a china doll. When it came time for them to leave, he was nearly in tears and Jemma knew then, what a kind and gentle person he really was. She had enjoyed being part of a family herself and wished them all the best, telling her mum before she left that she wished he could have been her real father.

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