Here is a link to the French to English translations I have compiled for your reading aid.
Violette droned on about some more of her shallow friends from lycée. He tried really hard to pay attention, but she was just so boring. She didn’t even have a sense of humor. In an attempt to stifle a yawn, he distracted himself by pulling at a loose thread in the bottom seam of his shirt. After all of two seconds, the seam started to unravel. In a panic he tried to break the thread, but it continued to undo the hemline. He held the thread close to the shirt and wrapped the end around his finger hoping to break it. After a few failed attempts that turned the tip of his finger blue, he pinched the seam between his thumb and his forefinger and pulled one last time, snapping the thread off. “Ha!” He cried out, interrupting his date. “Je suis désolé.”
“Phillippe, have you even been listening?” She glared at him across the table, annoyance written in her olive green eyes, breaking the steady motion of twirling her ashy brown hair she had maintained while talking.
“Non, Vi. I got distracted. I apologize. Would you like me to get you a refill on your drink?”
“Ouai, si tu veux.”
He grabbed her glass and headed to the café counter, glancing at the clock on his way. 11 h 30. They had only been here a half an hour? Sighing he asked for a refill on her limonade as he paid the check for their food. Bringing the glass back to the table, he had to blink a few times as there was a young man sitting in his seat, clearly flirting with Vi.
“Oh,” Vi glanced up at him irritated at his interruption. “Paul, c’est Phillippe. He’s a...family friend.” She returned her gaze very intently toward Paul, licking her lips without shame.
“Violette, I brought you your drink, but I just looked at the clock and it’s time to go. Your family wanted you home soon and I have fencing to get to. It was nice to meet you, Paul.” He couldn’t resist mimicking Vi’s tone of voice when he said Paul. Ignoring her protests, he pulled out Vi’s chair and made sure to flash his Bugatti key for Paul to see.
“Au revoir, Paul.” She winked at him before Phillippe took her arm and escorted her out of the café. “What was that for? This date was finally getting interesting.”
“Just get in.” He opened the red car door as she slumped into the seat with folded arms. They drove home in silence since Vi always complained about his choice of music. When they pulled through the gated driveway at the De La Fontaine winery and estate, he still got out and opened her car door and walked her up the driveway. “Thank you again for déjeuner. I hope you had a good time.” He managed to say before opening the richly adorned front door for her to go inside. Leah was just inside the door and smiled at Phillippe as Violette stomped inside.
“How did it go?” Leah asked.
“Always a pleasure, Madame De La Fontaine.”
She smiled sweetly back as if they alone shared the secret of how frustrating Violette was. “Daisi will be sad she missed you. She’s still over at a friend’s house.”
“Daisi is always a ray of sunshine I am sad to miss.”
“She’s still disappointed that she’s not Violette.”
He laughed. It felt good after the frustration of another failed date. It had always been painfully obvious how much more Daisi cared for him than Violette did. “If I were younger, she’d have my heart. She already does, but that’s more in a sisterly capacity.” He glanced at his watch. “Well it was very nice to see you again, merci encore.”
“Au revoir, Phillippe!”
He waved as he ran back to his car. She was always so polite. Obviously, Vi got her personality more from Stéfan. As he drove, he found himself wishing it were Friday again. Yesterday had been so busy at the winery that he hadn’t had time to head back to Domfront, and now that it was Saturday, he wasn’t sure Rose would be free. Something about her fascinated him. She carried herself so gracefully and confidently for someone so shy. She was incredibly cordial and polite, but at the same time she had no idea how to talk to strangers. And she was so content with such a bland life.
Of course it was her beauty that had first caught his eye. Her moonlit eyes and that honey colored, overly animated hair that had all the bits of attitude that she lacked. But it was something about her personality that stuck with him. Of course he wanted to go back and see her again. Maybe it was her apparent lack of money that struck him. He never spent time around anyone except the winery investors and the De La Fontaine family. She was such a contrast to Violette, the otherwise occupied woman he was destined to marry. Not that he would ever date Rose after the promises he had made to his parents at such a young age. He took promises very seriously. Vi just made it difficult to keep his word.
He had to go and talk to his dad again. Paul had pushed things a little too far. Vi was clearly less interested in him than he was with her, maybe because the arrangement had been made before she was born. As he pulled up to his own family winery and estate, he tried to shake off his anger with Vi so he could calmly confront his father about the situation. Heading straight for Hubert’s office, he had to sneak behind the statue his mother insisted on keeping in the entryway to get around the tour group in the foyer to make it up one of the marble staircases. When he reached the end of the hallway he stopped outside the oak door to take a deep breath. Without knocking he headed right inside. “Père, I need to talk to you about Violette.”
“Encore? Vraiment?” He looked up from his enormous desk, stress written in every wrinkle on his fairly young face. “I don’t have time for this, mon fils.”
“But she was flirting with another man! She has absolutely no interest in or respect for me. I was trying to be polite so I went to get her drink refilled and I come back to Paul sitting in my seat. It’s infuriating!” Phillippe didn’t realize he was pacing across the floor.
“Assieds-toi.” Hubert gestured toward the seat across the desk.
Reluctantly he sat and shoved his hands into his pockets and stared off to the side at the floor to ceiling bookshelves that filled pretty much the rest of the room.
“Things are not looking good, Phillippe.” He passed over a small stack of financial reports. Hubert had always tried to include his son in the business conferences, as the business would one day be his.
As he looked over the reports, he realized why his father had seemed to age so rapidly. Things did not look good at all due to the most recent argument between Hubert and Stéfan that had been widely publicized. “What are you going to do?”
“Je ne sais pas. There are some temporary options. Cut down on staff, possibly sell a vineyard. I haven’t run the numbers yet. This can’t keep going on. You’ve got to keep trying with Violette. That’s the only permanent solution. Did you hear they lost two major investors? It has certainly been a rough month.”
“Ne t’inquiète pas. I’ll try harder with Violette.” He handed back the paperwork to his father and left the office, softly closing the door behind him. Sighing, he resigned himself to his father’s solution. He had to marry Violette when she was old enough. It didn’t matter how she chose to live her life, he would have to accept the fact that his marriage would not be a happy one. He was willing to do it for his parents and for the De La Fontaines who had always treated him so nicely, well excepting Stéfan who was just as stressed as Hubert. Maybe the feud really was genetic.
“Oh, Phillippe! I didn’t expect you home so soon. How was Violette?” Aubrée approached her son.
Phillippe rolled his eyes and said, “Bien. Of course, that was after Paul came along. Before that...” He left his thought hanging.
“He’s the amorous young man who took my seat while I was refilling her drink. Is this how things will always be between the two of us?”
“Oh, I’m sure she’ll mature as time goes on.”
“Isn’t that what you said about Daisi growing out of her crush on me?”
Audrée let out a soft, sweet laugh that could only be compared to a baby bird taking first flight on a summer breeze. “You’ll find a way to make everything work out, just like your father always does.”
“Merci, Mama.” He turned and left, wondering why he couldn’t have a future with someone like his own mother or Leah. Violette was not the family type, so he wasn’t totally convinced the both companies would survive much longer after the union. Clearing his mind of every thought of his future with an unreliable wife over a failing wine business, he changed into his fencing uniform and ran out to the gymnasium off the back of the house to wait for his fencing instructor.