ROMANCE IN FRANCE

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Chapter 8

Monday morning came and Jemma came down the stairs with Alice held in her arms. Pup greeted them both with his usual bark and wagging tail, he’d already given Yvette her customary greeting.

‘Morning Yvette,’ said Jemma pleasantly as she placed Alice in her high chair.

‘Yet, yet’ said Alice

‘Bonjour Jemma, ET mon Alice.’

Yvette gently caressed the blonde head and kissed Alice’s cheek, smiling lovingly at the child, before giving her a piece of toast. Jemma sat down at the breakfast bar. Helping her self to cereal and filled a bowl for Alice at the same time, because Alice ate them better once they had reached the soggy stage.

’You know Yvette, something seems to feel different about today I don’t know what though, do you? ’Desole, everything same to Yvette, you go to village today?’ ‘Yes, I thought I would get Pup, a collar and lead. I suppose I should start taking him for injections too. Is there a veterinary in the village, Yvette?’

‘Oui, on top of the village grocer he has a yuene man he works for him. Very nice, you look good, Oui,’ she grinned at Jemma giving her a wink. ‘Time you have boyfriend Oui? You pretty girl. You not go out with boyfriend, non?’ Jemma grinned; feeling slightly embarrassed by Yvette’s remarks.

’When you have day off?’ asked Yvette.

’Oh, I don’t really have one. I go to the village and I take walks with Alice.’

‘Non, jour de conge! That’s,’ here Yvette went off into a tirade of French. Jemma had no idea of what she referred to, except the name Robinson, so she left her banging the pots about, and went to prepare Alice for their walk.

Jemma climbed up the steps that were on the outside of the building that led up to the veterinarian’s surgery. She carried Pup in the shopping bag and Alice in her arms. ‘Alice seems to get heavier each day,’ she thought, beginning to find her heavy as she climbed the stairs.

She opened the door to the reception. A young woman receptionist sat working on a computer.

’Bonjour, est-ce lapremiere fois que vous venez?’ asked the receptionist.

’Please do you speak English?’ asked Jemma politely.

‘Ah, madam is English. Yes, we do, how can I help you please?’ ‘I have a small dog, and I think he is ready for injections. Perhaps the veterinary will know and be able to tell me?’

‘He is not busy at the moment madam he will perhaps see you now. You have the dog downstairs yes?’ queried the receptionist, her eyebrows lifting suggestively.

‘Oh. No, Pup’s here,’ said Jemma, moving Alice to one side, and holding out the bag. Pup hearing his name popped his head over the top of the bag that Jemma carried him in and now held out for the receptionist to see.

‘So petite!’ the receptionist said clapping her hands together and making a tutting noise to the dog as she smiled encouragingly at Jemma and Alice and walking past them opened the surgery door and stepped inside. Returning after a few minutes, she held the door open for Jemma to enter.

‘Madam, the vet, he will see you, s’il vous plait,’ she ushered Jemma into the surgery and shut the door quietly behind them.

The vet was an elderly man with a kind face, his hair going grey at the temples. He smiled kindly at Jemma as she placed the bag with Pup in, onto the gleaming aluminum table.

’Your hands look very full,’ he said nodding at Alice and the bag she had placed on the table. ‘We see in the bag?’ said the vet, putting his hand into the bag where Pup sat, and rather quickly withdrawing it again.

The man thrusting his rather large hand into the bag didn’t impress pup. He had been sat quietly watching the people talking and seeing the vet’s hand coming towards him he had given the vet a quick nip, then began to growl and bark, cowering down into the furthest corner of the shopping bag.

At the same moment the door in the corner of the vet’s surgery opened and a young man with dark hair and bright blue eyes entered the room. He smiled across the room at Jemma, showing a perfect set of gleaming white teeth. ‘He must be the person Yvette, was telling me about, he is, very attractive,’ thought Jemma momentarily stunned by the attraction that flared between them.

While Jemma and the young man smiled at each other getting acquainted, the vet, a tall grey haired man with a deeply tanned face actually looked more like a farmer than a vet. Took his hand away from the bag holding Pup and stood investigating it to see if the needle-like teeth had drawn blood. He couldn’t see anything and eventually turned to the young man who had entered the room to speak first in French and then in English as he remembered his customer was British.

’Michael, would you mind holding this young woman’s baby, while I have a look at the dog s’il vous plait?’

’Of course,’ Michael said, answering the vet in perfect English and smiling warmly at Jemma, and he purposefully crossed the room with long strides that took him around the table to where Alice and Jemma stood. On reaching her side, he lifted Alice out of Jemma’s arms giving her an extra warm smile as he did so.‘It seems, the dog doesn’t want to come out of the bag,’ said the vet. ‘Perhaps you can persuade him,’ the brown weather-beaten face of the vet crinkled engagingly, as he turned to look hopefully at Jemma.

Alice meanwhile had heard Pup yapping and was pointing to him, chattering away in her own language and waving her arms. Michael carefully stood her up on the end of the table so that she could watch, while Jemma took Pup out of the bag.

’I think he’s a little afraid of men,’ said Jemma. She placed Pup on the table and stood holding on to him. ‘I found him, he had been abandoned, tied up in a cardboard box and left to starve.’

The vet said a few angry words in French and Michael gasped. ‘It seems you have a very kind mama,’ he said, jiggling Alice about on the end of the table and trying to amuse her.

’Oh, Err, I’m not Alice’s mother,’ said Jemma shyly, ‘just the baby minder.’ She didn’t want this great looking young man to think she was a mother. The words had gushed from her mouth hurriedly. She felt her skin flush as the young man grinned at her significantly, lifting one of his dark eyebrows and giving her an ecstatic smile. ‘He is in very good health,’ said the vet. ‘To say, that you found him abandoned.’ He was examining his ears and began to check his teeth warily. ‘He is probably about three months old. Has he had his vaccinations yet?’ He lifted his head to look at Jemma enquiringly, then back down again quickly. ‘How long have you had him?’ he asked Jemma, this time not taking his eyes off Pup.

’Just over two months,’ said Jemma.

‘Then he is probably about three months old, time for his injections, perhaps you would like me to give the vaccinations now?’ he asked politely.

‘Oh, yes please, if that’s possible,’ she said smiling at the vet. ‘I thought I may have to make another appointment.’

The vet gave Pup his jabs, watching him intently as he did so. ‘He will need to be brought back again in three months,’ said the vet, warily giving Pup a quick pat on the head.

Jemma placed Pup back in the bag, then pushing the bag up her arm, she held out her arms in preparation to take Alice off Michael. The vet looked at his assistant knowledgeably.

‘Perhaps, you would carry the baby down the stairs, for the young woman. Please Michael?’ he smiled confidentially at Michael, giving him a knowing nod.

The vet was very astute and had witnessed the looks of attraction that had passed between the two young people. He had no inhibitions about pushing them together. Life should be for living in his opinion. Michael picked Alice up and carried her down the stairs, putting her into the pram when they reached the bottom. Jemma following Michael down the stairs after paying the receptionist caught Michael up as he began trying to fasten Alice into the pram.

‘It is a bit awkward if you’re not used to it,’ she said smiling gratefully at him.

He smiled back engagingly. ‘It’s my lunch break in a few minutes, perhaps you would have a cup of coffee with me?’ he smiled disarmingly, his head slightly on one side.

Jemma couldn’t resist his gleaming white smile and open invitation. She smiled back happily accepting his offer.

‘We can meet at the cafe across the street, ten minutes’ my Cherie?’ He left her with a cheerful grin, turning to run up the steps’ his long legs taking them two at a time. Stopping at the top, he turned, to give her another of his beaming white smiles before vanishing into the surgery.

Michael walked into the surgery full of elation, grateful to his employer. He didn’t want the English girl to escape. She was an unusual young woman, he thought, shy, but yet confident. He already felt a great attraction towards her, she had certainly set his pulses racing, and he smiled to himself as he entered the reception area.

Jemma pushed the pram across the cobbled street towards the cafe. It was a beautiful afternoon. The sun was shining high in the clear blue sky and the village was an enchanting place to be. The honey coloured walls of the houses reflected the sun, surrounding the village with a warm glow, even on cold days. The bougainvillea and honeysuckle filled the air with their scent and climbed abundantly over the stone walls. The orange pinks and mauves of the bougainvillea blending in with the many trees and coloured flowers, that draped attractively from the hanging baskets all playing an important part in making the village an interesting and inviting place to visit. Jemma enjoyed her trips to the village. She would often sit in the square, watching and listening to the French people talking, gradually soaking up the calm environment, the different culture and language.

The village shops, the cafe amongst them, stood in a square formation. Surrounding a small fountain, that sparkled as if it were a myriad diamonds, flashing in the brilliant sunlight. A patisserie was one of them, the windows displaying delicious croissants and bread, cakes and frothy confections in every shape and size. Jemma would occasionally buy some of these fantastic confections of fresh fruit and cream, for a treat. The delightful smell of new bread wafted under her nose as she crossed the square, making her lift her head and sniff appreciatively, as she pushed the pram across the square to the pretty cafe passing the lovely green grassy oasis that surrounded the fountain, flowers blooming around the edges in gay abandon. Seats strategically placed around for the children and village’s to sit on. On one side of the village square stood the local wine shop, the window exhibiting many delightful shaped bottles of wine that caught in the sunlight splashing erotic flashes of colour onto the passing pedestrians.

Sitting outside at the wooden chairs and tables, were the inevitable old men, smoking their pipes drinking wine and playing the usual game of boles. The men’s brightly coloured neckerchiefs fluttered in the slight breeze, drawing attention to their brown wrinkled faces and greying hair that hung beneath the black berets.

The cafe, where she was to meet Michael stood at an angle across the square from the veterinarian’s surgery. Jemma tucked the pram in at the side of one of the tables outside the cafe. Sitting down to admire the waitress with her neatly tied back black hair, frilly hat and apron, as she skipped deftly between the tables narrowly missing the customers with her tray as she passed.

The jumble of tables spilled out onto the pavement, in a typically French fashion, the people never seeming to mind the disarray. The parasols that stood over them were in a kaleidoscope of colour, their scalloped edges fluttering in the gentle breeze. Pretty blue and white checked tablecloths were anchored to the tables with tiny vases of flowers and menu’s that stood in steel frames. One or two of the tables had customers who sat engrossed in reading the local newspapers. Cups of the strong black coffee the French all seemed to drink wafted its delicious aroma into the sunshine laden afternoon. She had just seated Alice and settled herself, when she looked up to see Michael striding across the street towards her.

He had removed his white vet’s coat and the blue tee shirt he wore matched his deep blue eyes. Jemma sat back to admire the lean length of him as he approached her. His hair was blue black, glossy, shining in the afternoon sun and it swept back over his head in a deep wave that curled attractively around his ears. His face was long with a generous mouth and a straight nose. The tanned skin highlighted the white even teeth as he came to her side smiling, the admiration plainly showing in his deep blue eyes. She greeted him her eyes smiling up into his face, surprised and happy to see the admiration in his eyes.

’Ah, Cherie I am so grateful you waited for me. Perhaps you would like a sandwich, or, maybe something else to eat?’ When Michael spoke his French accent was evident, even though his English was near perfect. The sound she found exciting, his voice deep and melodious awakening a sort of longing in her, for what, she wasn’t quite sure.

’No. Thank you. Just coffee, please,’ she replied, gazing up at him feeling elated and excited little realizing the picture of innocence and sexiness that she portrayed as the sun glinted off the auburn hair, highlighting the sparkling green eyes that shone excitedly above the slight smattering of sun kissed freckles that bridged her nose.

Michael stared for a few seconds, mesmerized by the strawberry coloured mouth. He licked his lips, wishing it were hers he tasted. Alice’s happy chattering seeped gradually into his mind, and with a start he suddenly arrived back on earth.

’And Alice, I will get her an ice-cream.’ He said quickly, slightly embarrassed that he had been staring at her. Then he was off, and into the cafe, to return a few minutes later, to sit himself down in the nearest seat to Jemma.

’The waitress, she will bring the coffee in a few minutes. Now, I want to know all about you. Your name, where you live, and how long you have been here, and most importantly. Why, My Cherie? He said, lifting his hands expressively his blue eyes searching her face. ‘Have we not met before?’

She smiled joyfully appreciating the obvious flattery because he did it with such charm. His English seemed flawless and he made her feel so very special. It was immensely pleasing she found, to find that this handsome young man was so obviously interested in her.

They chatted away pleasantly for a while, enjoying each other’s company. Jemma answering as many of his questions as she could, between wiping Alice’s face and feeding Pup, with Alice’s leftovers. Before eventually Michael rose reluctantly from his seat, apologizing, saying regretfully that he needed to return to his work. Jemma walked back across the road with him. After climbing the stairs, he turned to beam one of devastating smiles at her and wave a last farewell from the top of the steps before he disappeared into the veterinarian’s reception rooms.

Jemma hugged the gloriously happy feeling of the afternoon’s experience to herself as she pushed Alice home in the pushchair. Up to now it had been a very pleasant day indeed. She would have to ask Carl if she could go out Friday night, but she didn’t think he would mind. She always put Alice to bed about seven o’clock and Carl was usually around the house somewhere. Alice didn’t often wake-up in the night.

’Michael’s French-ness was intriguing, he was also very attractive and he’d asked her to go to the Disco on Friday. It was a real date. Michael had said he would pick her up at the house at eight in his car. Today certainly was turning out different.

She hummed one of the latest tunes she had heard on the box to herself as she pushed the pram along the road. The sound of the bees, buzzing in the hedges, filled the air with their song as they wandered along the road leaving the last few straggling houses of the village behind them. She feasted her eyes on the soft green fields full of summer produce; beans with their bright red flowers hung over tall wooden frames, peas hanging succulent and ready for picking, and lettuces beginning to look a little limp in the hot sun.

While the little dog ran backwards and forwards, enjoying sticking his nose into every clump of grass along the way, then quickly running after her whenever the distance lengthened between them. After a little while she knew Pup’s legs would become tired and he would sit, refusing to budge. Then she would pick him up and place him in the shopping bag until they reached the drive of the house. When they reached the gate at the bottom of the drive, she stopped and taking Pup out of the bag and left him to wander up to the house in his own time, while she headed for the side door with Alice.

Lifting Alice out of the pushchair she carried her into the kitchen and came to a sudden stop at the sight of a stranger sitting in one of the kitchen chairs.

Alice struggled, trying to get down when she saw the stranger and began to chatter excitedly. Jemma reluctantly put Alice down on to the floor. She was getting too heavy to struggle with for long. Immediately Alice fell to her knees and crawled across the kitchen floor to the stranger, who now sat, smiling and holding his arms out to her. He bent to pick her up and swung her high into the air. Alice giggled and laughed excitedly, while Jemma gazed on the scene in bewilderment. ‘It’s all right. You don’t have to look so worried,’ said the stranger kindly, giving Jemma an apologetic smile. ‘I’m Alice’s father and I’m sorry if I frightened you. I’m Mark, and you’re Jemma. I’ve seen you around the house. I’m sorry I haven’t introduced myself before. As you can see,’ here he patted the cane resting on the chair at his side. ‘I was in a bad accident, and I’m afraid it’s taken me some time to adjust. Now at last, I think I have come to my senses! I had a talk with Carl, last night. He and I have been working on a number of plans.’

Jemma trembled inside, suddenly feeling afraid; as she remembered the first morning she had come to the Robinson Vineyard. This man had wanted to know where the woman was that they were supposed to have employed. ‘Could this be the end of her job, wouldn’t they need her any more?’

Alice had climbed down off her father’s lap and stood at his knee, she had seen Pup, who stood, poking his nose around the corner of the kitchen door. She began taking one tentative step after another towards Pup, taking four steps, before she finally fell to her knees and began crawling very fast towards him. Jemma quickly ran after her, picking her up just before she reached him. She knew Alice would squeeze him and as he was still probably a little sore after the injections, she didn’t want him to snap at her. He was usually very good with Alice and Jemma thought he loved the baby as much as Alice seemed to love him. She picked Alice up and put her in her high chair giving her a biscuit and trying to calm her down, explaining that Pup had been to the vet for his injections and she didn’t want him to snap at her. Although she didn’t think the child would understand, she knew that her father would.

‘Oh, is that where you went, Carl told me how you found him, Pup isn’t it,’ he said, nodding towards the dog who still stood in the doorway his nose stretched into the kitchen sniffing audibly. ‘I’ve seen him too, running around the house and garden. I think he’s grown quite a bit since you came. I think he likes me a little bit. Here Pup.’

Pup came around the door and ran over to Mark his tail wagging. Jemma watched in amazement as Pup ran across the tiled floor. ‘I always seem to get on pretty well with animals,’ Mark explained, turning his face to smile up at Jemma.

The light from the open kitchen door flashed across his features and Jemma witnessed the red criss-crossing lines that stained his face. It came as a shock to Jemma, not only because she hadn’t seen them before, but also because of his similarity to Carl.

‘His hair, appeared to be perhaps a shade fairer,’ she thought, as a tiny sound left her lips alerting him to the fact she had seen his face, and Mark’s brown eyes gazed at her frankly, seeing the look of concern and compassion on her face.

‘I’m sorry if it was a bit of a shock,’ he smiled apologetically, trying to ease her concern, ‘but the doctors have told me that they will fade, given time.’

‘I’m so sorry.’ Real sympathy etched her voice as she smiled back at him.

‘She has a tender heart,’ thought Mark, smiling in acquiescence.

Jemma still stood at the side of Alice’s high chair; she stroked her hair sadly and gulped, knowing that she had to ask the question that was uppermost in her mind.

’Will you still want me to look after Alice?’

The quiet sadness in her voice quickly alerted Mark to the situation. He looked up from stroking Pup the surprise evident on his face.

’Of course. You didn’t think I wanted you to leave. Did you Jemma?’ the sound of real consternation was in his voice as he answered her.

’Well, you did say that you had made a number of plans’ with Carl,’ she looked at him inquiringly. ‘I thought, perhaps you might have made different plans with Carl for Alice too?’

Mark looked at the worried young face. Realizing he should have made himself clear from the start, he felt angry with himself for having upset her. She was very young, but he knew she had worked hard, looking after Alice and bringing the house up to scratch.

’No Jemma, we definitely haven’t made any other plans for Alice, please, put your mind at rest. I’m really pleased with the way you look after her, and I’m happy to keep her in your care. Carl and I have a great amount of work to do in the next few months. We need to construct order and continuity into the business to bring things back on an even keel. We will need your help with Alice and the house too. Carl has told me all about your management abilities. In fact he thinks you may be able to help us a great deal more but I will leave those plans till later. Carl, should be back in a little while, perhaps I can do something to help you meanwhile?’ he smiled questioningly at her and Jemma realized that he was indeed a charming young man even with the scars.

’I usually feed Alice, and put her to bed. Then I get the evening meal ready,’ she smiled back shyly at him, feeling slightly embarrassed at him asking if he could help her.

’How about if I feed Alice, while you start preparing the evening meal?’ without more ado he made his way to Alice’s high chair.

Jemma popped Alice’s meal into the microwave and put Alice her bib on then left Mark to feed her, while she prepared their evening meal.

Carl came home a couple of hours later to find Mark hobbling backwards and forwards on his cane, helping Jemma to lay the table. They were both nattering away to each other like a pair of magpies, and Carl experienced a twinge of jealousy.

’I see my big brother has wheedled his way into the kitchen,’ he said. Shutting the door behind him and hanging his car keys on the rack at the side of the door. ‘I hope you’re making him pull his weight Jemma?’ were his next words, and he passed through the kitchen, grinning mischievously at his brother.

Mark was still carrying things over to the serving hatch, then hobbling round into the dining room to put them on to the dining table.

’Don’t you be long, little, brother? We’re having spaghetti Bolognese and if you‘re too long I shall have eaten it all.’ Replied Mark, good naturedly enough although he emphasized the words a little. He was thoroughly enjoying the repartee with his brother, it was good to feel whole and enjoy other people’s company once again. Carl entered the dining room and sat down in his chair, placing two bottles of wine on the table as he did. Jemma passed the spaghetti through the hatch and Mark placed it on the table, and then picked up one of the bottles to read the label.

‘That’s our best wine,’ he remarked, staring astonished at Carl.

‘It certainly is,’ said Carl, sitting back in his chair with a smug look. His fingers were stuck into a pretend waistcoat simulating a company director, his chair balancing on two legs as he rocked backwards and forwards. ‘Tonight, we are celebrating a new era for the Robinson Vineyard and, I think that as we are introducing Jemma, to our wine, she should try the best don’t you Mark.’

‘Most certainly,’ said Mark, intent on joining his brother in the pretence and getting up to fill a glass with their best wine he then placed a serviette over his arm pretended to be a waiter as he held the bottle and waited for Jemma to taste the wine.

Jemma smiled back happily and tasted the wine. Keeping up the pretence with the two delighted young men, then she sat back and watched the two brothers, content, hardly able to believe the change that had come over Carl.

‘Good, then we can tell her all about the plans we have made.’ Mark replied, hungrily beginning to tuck into his spaghetti.

‘It’s your cooking that’s brought him out of his den you know Jemma. He thought he was missing out on things,’ said Carl grinning happily at his brother across the table to take the sting out of his words, as he gazed into his brothers brown eyes.

Jemma smiled shyly unused to their camaraderie. The two brothers had been teasing her since she sat down, and she was thoroughly enjoying the friendly rivalry. Carl the serious faced young man whom she had never seen smile was happily laughing and enjoying the meal with her and his brother. ‘He looks ten years younger,’ thought Jemma, amazed at the difference the brothers coming together had made, ‘and, so very handsome.’ The thought whizzed through her head unexpectedly and she turned her gaze towards him.

Carl looked up at the same moment and their eyes met. Just for a split second, the brown eyes looked deep into the green ones. Jemma felt a sudden shiver of awareness, a strange new sensation invaded her body, and suddenly she felt quite breathless.

‘Right,’ said Mark lifting his head and unknowingly breaking the spell that was beginning to weave its tender tendrils around the two young people sat at the table.

Two pair of startled eyes turned to look at him questioningly. ‘I think it’s time to outline our new plans to Jemma, now don’t you?’ he inquired looking at Carl, who gazed back at his brother absent mindedly.

‘Right, I’ll carry on then,’ said Mark, wondering what was going on in Carl’s head. ‘First thing’s first, we have decided to give you a wage once a month Jemma, if that’s all right with you?’ said Mark, smiling engagingly across the table at her. ‘And, as the business increases so will your wage.’

Jemma was content to accept whatever the brothers said. After all, she had a roof over her head, a bed, food and she was happy. What more could she ask for? So she smiled complacently at each brother in turn and murmured softly. ‘Thank-you very much it’s very kind of you.’

‘You will also be compensated for the time you have worked for us up to now. I don’t believe my dear brother has given you any wages yet.’ Mark said, giving his brother a frosty look. Carl grimaced rather shamefacedly but kept his mouth shut. ‘Once we get the harvesting done and things are running smoothly again we thought you might like some time off, maybe to visit your family, or a holiday, that’s up to you Jemma.’ He gave her a smile and looked again inquiringly across the table at his brother to confirm what he had said.

‘If you need any time off before then, you must not be afraid to ask,’ said Carl, turning to smile warmly at her. His smile was so warm and he was so friendly. She felt an overwhelming feeling of tenderness envelope her. For some strange reason she wanted to reach out her hand and touch him, but he sat at the further end of the table. She shut the thought from her mind and smiled warmly at the two brothers.

‘Then, if you don’t mind I have a favour to ask before we go any further. I met a young man in the village today. His name is Michael, and he works for the vet. He asked me to go to the village Disco with him Friday night.’ She turned to look steadfastly at Carl. ‘I was going to ask you tonight, but everything had changed when I arrived home.’

Carl experienced another twinge of jealousy and surprise, then realised he shouldn’t have. Her attractiveness was very noticeable and he himself had felt the aura of her femininity. He realised that tonight she had woven her spell around him too. Probably if he hadn’t been so distracted by the business he would have expected this development before now. Thinking about it, he didn’t want to let her go only he knew it wasn’t really his business.

Mark had expected Carl to answer her, but they seemed to be sat so long waiting that he eventually spoke up for him. ‘Of course you can Jemma. Any night you wish to go out just say so. I won’t be going out much and as we’re claiming all your days we can’t expect your nights as well.’

Mark and Carl began explaining the rest of their plans to Jemma. They wanted to bring small parties of people to the winery for wine tasting parties, the same as they had done once before. They were hoping that Jemma, and Yvette would be able to manage the catering side. This they hoped would help to expand the business and hopefully bring in more trade.

Jemma broke into their conversation, with a thought that came off the top of her head. ‘If you had a couple of spare fields, you could open a holiday camp.’

The brothers looked at her, and then turned to stare at each other; she thought they didn’t understand what she was talking about.

‘You know,’ she waved her hands expressively. ‘They have them all over England, camping and caravan sites, and the people camp on the field and you could invite them to the wine tasting too then show them around the winery.’

‘What a brilliant idea,’ said Mark.

‘Would you believe it?’ said Carl. ‘We sat last night racking our brains, trying to come up with something to boost the business and Jemma, just comes out with the idea like that,’ he said, snapping his fingers together.

‘We have a couple of fields,’ Mark said excitedly. ‘And, it’s only a couple of miles to the beach from here.’

’You have?’ said Jemma, and the sea’s near to here as well, that should make it even more interesting, you will have customers by the dozen,’ said Jemma, pleased with herself for coming up with the idea. They both gazed at her in astonishment, their faces shining with excitement.

‘We’d have to get planning permission,’ the excitement entered Carl’s voice as he realised it was a possibility.

‘I’ll get on the phone to the bank manager tomorrow,’ said Mark his face alight.

Jemma left them to it while she cleaned up. Later, she passed the dining room on her way to bed. Saying goodnight to the two young men as she passed them, their heads together bent over the table thoroughly engrossed in their plans. The dining room table was covered with papers and Jemma smiled to herself as she remembered what she had said to Yvette that morning, this had certainly been a different day.

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