ROMANCE IN FRANCE

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Chapter 15

Carl hadn’t gone to England, as he had written in the note he had left for Mark to find. After the fight with Michael, he knew that he needed some time to sort things out. Everything was going wrong again, now that Sonya had found out about the Caravan Park. He realized that what Mark had said was probably true. She must have found out about the Caravan Park and knew that they had turned things around at the vineyard, and were now doing well.

He had sat in his bedroom, cursing himself for what he had done to Jemma. Seeing her in Michael’s arms and watching her being kissed by Michael, the jealousy had erupted inside him like a volcano. He hadn’t known he had such a temper. For a few moments, he knew, without a doubt, that he would have torn into Michael, thumping the living daylight out of him if he hadn’t walked away. If he had, he thought sadly it would undoubtedly have turned Jemma against him completely. Thank goodness that Michael had the sense to turn his back on him.’

He sighed wistfully, if only Mark had never met Sonya. ‘But for now I need to find out what Sonya is up to, so that we can stop the accidents happening at the vineyard and hopefully afterwards I can sort myself out.’

He sat in a car that he had hired from a local firm, a little way up the road from Sonya’s house. In his hands, he held the information that the private detective they’d hired had acquired for them. It wasn’t much, Sonya had given a party at Christmas and invited all her friends, but it had ended up in a free for all. That had caused a great deal of disturbance in the neighborhood. Now the entire neighbor’s in the area shunned her, the detective had told him. Apparently since Sonya had moved into the house she had caused nothing but trouble, except for the last couple of months, when it seemed all her so-called friends had deserted her.

The detective and his partner had kept a watch on the house, ever since they had been on the case, but it had all been routine work. There was hardly anything to report. The detective had smiled sympathetically; saying he was sorry but they hadn’t acquired any information on her that would give them a clue as to how she had manufactured the accidents at the vineyard. It had all been pretty boring stuff, he’d read through the reports the detective had given him and he was right it was very boring.

Carl had also called in at the police station, asking if they had discovered anything. They had come up with nothing either, no fingerprints that were traceable except their own. No evidence whatever had the police found that would give them any kind of lead at all, on any of the mysterious accidents, which had happened.

He sat in the car racking his brain, how was she doing it. The detective had told him, they had watched the house till two and three o’clock at night sometimes, as there were still lights on, but nothing ever happened. He supped the cold coffee from the plastic cup he held in his hand, ‘yuk! He was going to miss the comforts of home.’

’It had to be in the early hours of the morning, when everyone else slept peacefully in their beds he reasoned. The thing was, how, if no one came to the house? He felt determined he had to find out. Somehow, he had to stop her.’

The house next door to Sonya’s, had a for-sale notice and Carl decided to go and see the agent’s who were selling the house. The agent was only too pleased to take him to the house and show him around the property.

The houses in this vicinity were all built on a hillside and stood in their own grounds. The area of course was in the upper market bracket, the kind of area that Sonya had insisted on living in when the divorce was final.

Sonya’s house stood on a corner, between two roads that led back up the hill on either side giving the people who lived in the houses a magnificent view over the bay.

The house the agent was showing Carl around was built higher up the steep hillside, giving them a panoramic view from the upstairs window over Sonya’s house. Perched on the hillside above, it looked out over the tennis court and lawns, straight into the large living room of Sonya’s house. Carl could even see Sonya sat in her wheel chair in the living room through the patio windows.

The view was excellent thought Carl, rubbing his hands and becoming excited, at the prospect of being able to spy on Sonya without her knowledge. He could see clearly through the patio windows and around both sides of the house, Sonya sat in her wheelchair in the middle of the living room. The agent prattled on about the wonderful location and the availability of the property, doing his best to drum up a sale.

’Who owns the property?’ said Carl, shutting the agent up sharply.

‘Actually it’s the owner of the business,’ said the agent in surprise. Carl thought quickly, his brain turning over an idea.

‘Can I see the owner?’

‘Err, well, I don’t know?’ the agent looked at Carl mystified, wondering what he’d done wrong. ‘Why do you want to see him?’

‘I have a proposition to put to him,’ Carl answered shortly. ‘Do you have a mobile? Do you have his number?’

‘Yes’ the agent replied, his face displaying a great deal of trepidation at the direction things were taking.

‘Then, please phone him,’ Carl’s attitude left the agent no choice. ‘See if you can make an appointment for me to see him today!’ Carl said sharply, giving the agent no option but to do as he was told.

The agent, now looking more perplexed than ever at the sequence of events that seemed to be overtaking him, haughtily decided to ring the number of his boss

‘Hello! Mr. Alleine? This is agent Plaisone. I have a gentleman here,’ giving Carl a disapproving look as he uttered the word, ‘who wishes to make an appointment with you, about your property as soon as possible.’

’Can’t you deal with it?’

‘I’m sorry. No. He says he has a proposition to put to you.’

‘Very well, send him to my office. I’ll be here for a couple more hours,’ and he began to put the phone back on the hook, thoroughly disgruntled, then stopped. “Why did he bother employing people,” thought Mr. Alleine, and asked. ‘What’s his name?’ ‘Mr. Carl Robinson’ said the agent.

‘What! Oh! Yes, send him over.’ “Must be something to do with that damn Robinson woman, hadn’t she caused enough trouble?” thought Mr. Alleine.

The agent shrugged eloquently as he put the phone back into his jacket pocket. ‘He says to send you over now, as he’ll be there for a couple more hours.’

He wrote the address down on a piece of paper and let Carl out of the house. Disappointed at losing a sale, he locked the doors and stood shaking his head, as Carl hurriedly drove away.

A couple of days later, Carl let himself into the house he had acquired, through the door that led into the house from the garage. The garage stood in situ at the other side of the house away from Sonya’s sight. Under one arm he carried a video camera that he swiftly conveyed upstairs to the bedroom overlooking Sonya’s house, where he established the tripod in the bedroom window. A camp bed, an electric kettle and a few groceries he carried up afterwards.

The owner of the house had agreed to let Carl rent the building after he had explained the circumstances, on the agreement that he would vacate the premises if anyone wished to buy. Mr. Alleine had told Carl, he would be very happy if he could get rid of that Robinson woman, she had made life hell for them when she first moved in. Mr. Alleine had two children, and he and his wife had moved the children’s bedrooms to the front of the house. All because of the noise and disgusting carrying ’s on that had occurred after Mrs. Robinson had moved in, and finally he’d explained. His wife had given him an ultimatum, either they moved out, or she would leave him.

Carl settled down to a dreary existence of sandwiches and coffee, relieved occasionally by a take-away. How much he missed the lovely meals he’d enjoyed at home. Worse still, he quickly came to realise how he missed seeing Jemma. It had been hard enough keeping out of the way all day, but the pain of being away from her, had been relieved by the evening meal at least. Now he didn’t know when he would see her.

He had put the video camera on, and lay down on the camp bed, going over that night in his mind. He dreaded to think what he would have done if she hadn’t fainted. His mind hardly dared to think, as he remembered the softness of her lips beneath his, the warm feel of her breasts to his touch, the peaks hard, thrusting against his hands. As he thought about her, he could practically feel her soft breast again in his hand. He knew if she hadn’t fainted, he probably wouldn’t have stopped, she was constantly on his mind.

Was this love or lust? He wasn’t sure, and after his brothers fatal marriage he felt disinclined to trust his own judgement. He just knew, the more he thought about her, the more he wanted her, and his body began to come to life at his thoughts. He shut his mind against them, shaking himself impatiently; he needed to sort this lot out with Sonya, first.

He shuddered involuntarily as he thought about the fire. Sonya knew that Mark had the rooms downstairs. Had she deliberately set out to kill him? Carl could hardly believe she could be so calculating and cruel. The accidents in the vineyard, she had probably instigated those too. He could imagine her doing those they were her style. Then he thought about the brakes on the car. How could she possibly have done that? She must have a partner. She surely wasn’t capable of cutting the brake pipes on her own. He was certain; she had always maintained she didn’t know the first thing about cars.

Three times now he had nearly lost his brother. He remembered the first time vividly. All the times he had visited Mark while he was in the hospital, the first few weeks of constant, watching and worrying. How long, it had taken him, to return to health and sanity. Most of the healing processes having happened after he’d brought Jemma home. He had a lot to thank her for he realised, but how would he ever be able to face her again, after what he’d done. He pushed his hair back, sighing heavily. He had to find a way, but first there was Sonya to deal with, no way would she wreck their lives again, somehow he had to stop her.

He looked at his watch, two o’clock; it was time he had a look to see if anything was happening. The lights were all on, in the house below and he could see clearly through the windows. He switched the video camera on, then watched in complete amazement, as she got up from the wheelchair and walked across the room. Helping herself to a drink from the cabinet, she returned to her chair. Three weeks he had been watching her, and this was the first time he had seen her move. He looked at his watch it was three o’clock in the morning.

So, this was how the bitch was getting away with it, he switched the camera off again, from now on he would sleep in the mornings and watch at night. He stood and watched her through the bedroom window, till all the lights went off downstairs and she walked out of the living room. An upstairs light came on and went off again. He didn’t think there would be any more movement, but watched for a little while just in case. Finally he lay down to sleep.

Four nights later he sat watching her again. She was rolling large pieces of paper out, on a table that stood at the back of the room. How he wished he had a pair of binoculars. He might have been able to see what was on the sheets of paper. He could see she was studying them and making marks on the paper. She turned from the table, and looked straight up at the window where Carl stood. For a minute he thought she knew he was there, and then she turned away and went to a corner of the room he couldn’t see. A few minutes later she walked towards the patio doors and flung them wide open, wild music blared out.

Slowly she began to dance around the room.

Her jet-black hair was pleated up into soft rolls on the top of her head. She loosened them slowly, taking the pins out one at a time, until; her hair flowed in soft waves around her head and shoulders, as if it were a midnight black cape. Then she began to whirl faster and faster to the music, her hair flaring out around her head making a black pool. The music slowed to a soft sensuous beat and so did her body turning bending and twisting sensuously, conjuring up in the mind of Carl, the sensual movements of a striking snake. Eventually the music changed again and she began to undo the buttons down the front of the filmy red dress she wore, revealing beneath it a bright red Basque that cupped her exquisite breasts. Sensuously she began unclipping it to display a tiny red g-string.

Carl felt really spooked. Was she doing it on purpose? Did she know he was there? Surely not, he hadn’t had a light on since he’d been there in fact he’d learn″t to find his way about in the dark, and during the day he’d kept out of the window. He turned the video camera off. It had seemed rather obscene to video the performance but he needed proof, even if it was only for himself. Then the thought ran through his mind ‘that this was probably what the estate agent’s wife had objected to.’

Eventually the lights blinked out, one following another, it was nearly six o’clock in the morning. Carl lay down thankfully for a sleep, after putting the alarm on to wake him at ten.

He awoke with a start as the alarm rang out; rising from his bed he walked into the bathroom rubbing his eyes. He washed his face and cleaned his teeth, then returned to the bedroom. He was just in time to see a taxi pulling up at the side entrance of Sonya’s house. He watched Sonya being helped into the taxi by the driver.

He swore softly to himself. ’Damn he’d nearly missed her. Picking up his jacket and keys, he ran as fast as his legs would go down the stairs. Remembering to lock the door on his way out, which wasn’t a usual habit? At home there always seemed to be someone about and it wasn’t a necessary precaution.

He unlocked the garage and climbed into the car swearing to himself at all the unnecessary fiddling about unlocking and locking doors after himself. The car decided to start up first time and he pulled out into the road, just in time to see the taxi pull away around the corner.

’Where was she off too?’ thought Carl, ‘I didn’t expect her to get up till about twelve o’clock like she normally does, it’s a good job I put the alarm on for ten.’ He followed her carefully keeping well back; he didn’t want her to get suspicious.

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