Forgot the translations link again! Here it is!
As the wineries eased their way into a brisk December, temperaments dropped with the temperature. Attempting to relieve some tension, Phillippe had called up his fencing instructor so he finally had a reason to stay out of the house. He was sweaty and exhausted. Everything was becoming too much. How had it all escalated so quickly? Oh yeah, apparently it was his fault.
Then he got jabbed in the chest.
“Phillippe, are you even trying anymore? I know you’re tired, but you need to focus!”
“Do you want to take a break? We’ve been sparring for une heure. You need water.” Gilles pulled off his mask, revealing his dark face and eyes made darker by his starkly white fencing gear. He was also covered in sweat, despite his claims that his bald head allowed for a better airflow during a bout.
“I want to keep going.” Phillippe refused to take off his own mask, needing an outlet for his shaky adrenaline.
“You haven’t scored once then entire time I’ve been here! You’re not yourself today.” He grabbed a bottle of water, which his dark lips quickly drained.
“Then clearly I need more practice.”
Gilles turned and stared at his sparring partner, eyebrows raised. Stretching his thickly muscled arms, he leaned against the wall and slid down to sit on the floor. “Is this because of that girl?”
Maybe it had been a mistake to tell Gilles about Rose, but he didn’t exactly have anyone else to talk to about things like that. He only had two other friends. One was Rose, and he couldn’t go to her for advice about herself. The other was Dai, and if she knew that he had feelings for anyone other than Vi, his current situation would only get worse. Besides, he always told Gilles all the things he couldn’t tell his parents. But Rose wasn’t the issue forcing its way into every part of his mind, no matter how badly he’d rather focus on Rose’s eyes, which he had noticed were the same color of the beach the day they visited ten days ago. But he couldn’t think about that anymore because of Vi. “It’s not that girl.” Knowing Gilles wouldn’t fight until he got this out of his system, he put down his foil and pulled off his mask. His sticky brown hair dripped onto his forehead, and in an effort to dry off, he shook his head like a wet dog.
Laughing, Gilles wiped Phillippe’s sweat off his arm. “Violette? Is this why you cancelled on me last week?”
He rolled his eyes and nodded. “It happened the night after you last came. Our families were all invited to a special charity dinner and auction held by a client to raise money for her son’s cancer treatment. Naturally, my parents forced me to take Violette as my date, so we go to the dinner and she starts to make a scene because my tie didn’t match her dress.”
“Oh, I think I know where this is going.” Gilles handed over a bottle of water. He knew all the stories that included Vi, and he knew that none of them ended well.
He paused the story to take a drink, but kept his eyebrows raised and a hand held out. The story was nowhere near over. “We finally get our food and we’re eating, and Vi purposefully spills sauce on my tie and insists I go home and change. I didn’t have the patience to deal with her at all, so I told her the truth.”
“Oh, yes. I said that I didn’t even want to be there with her so it didn’t matter whether my tie matched her dress or not. She was extremely offended, and rightfully so because I didn’t handle it well. That was when she started to ignore me, which is still going on.”
“I know your stories about her. That’s nothing. What else happened?”
“Stéfan overheard what I said and immediately sided with her. We had a brief conversation, and I thought I placated him.”
Gilles smile fell as he realized the story was no longer lighthearted.
“Unfortunately, the wine kept coming all night. During the auction, he noticed my father was bidding on an antique vase and decided to compete. Leah finally stopped him and my father won. That didn’t sit well with Stéfan and they started fighting in the middle of the auction. It was worse than awful. Someone filmed the argument on their phone and now it’s all over the internet.” He started pacing, unable to keep still. It was so maddening. “I’ve spent the last week and a half being the face of the company while my father has been locked away in his office, hiding until things die down. It’s never taken this long to sort these things out. The press is going crazy because it was a charity fundraiser! If that boy dies, it’ll be on our heads.”
“And it’s all linked back to you because of Violette.”
“But only my father and Stéfan know that, which is why I have to clean up everything.” He kicked his foil and it skittered across the floor.
“You need a break.”
“I need to go visit Rose.”
“If I want to have a family or a business to come back to, I have to stay here.” He had spent three Fridays in a row with her. They’d had so much fun. And now he had disappeared from her life. The worst part was the text.
She sent him a normal, friendly text the day after the charity event and he was so busy dealing with drama that he forgot to respond. By the time he remembered, it had been an entire week. What if she was angry with him now? He wouldn’t even be able to make it out to visit her this week either. Next week, if he could get away, he would have to do something big. “Enough complaining though.” He put his mask back over his head and picked up his foil from where he kicked it across the room. “En garde.”
“Merci! Au revoir!” Rose closed the cash drawer on the register as the customer left the shop.
“Are all days this boring?” Dahlia sighed loudly as she rolled her eyes and spun herself around in the chair.
“No one’s making you stay here.” Rose laughed softly as she pushed the chair to spin around again. She didn’t realize how boring Domfront was until Dahlia had mentioned it for the thousand-and-first time.
Actually, it was when Phillippe didn’t show last Friday, or the Friday after that she realized how monotonous life in Domfront could be. She empathized with Dahlia. When another Friday came and went without Phillippe, Dahlia seemed concerned, but Rose was okay with it. Furious, Dahlia swore off “les hommes stupides” and dragged her to ice cream to “conceal the pain”. Rose was too numb to feel pain.
The pain hit earlier, after a week with no responses to her text. She didn’t deserve ice cream for her brief relationship with him when it was against her aunts’ wishes. She never should’ve expected anything else to come from that. Maybe Dahlia was right and he was in love with her, but when they stayed platonic for too long he gave up on her. At least she still had Dahlia spinning in the chair to distract her.
“Seriously, something needs to happen or else my head will explode from boredom.”
Mystie laughed at Dahlia’s agony from across the shop. She was cleaning the fitting rooms.
Then, the door burst open and two women just older than Rose and Dahlia stormed in, arms full of shopping bags and noses turned up into the air.
“Bienvenue! What brings you ladies in today?”
The one with auburn hair looked Rose up and down with her nose scrunched up like something smelled sour, but didn’t respond.
The one with darker, browner hair glanced around the shop, ignoring Rose, and said, “Well I guess we can look in here, but I don’t think we’ll find much.”
Dahlia stifled a snort, while Mystie had to catch her shock and huff out her anger. Rose didn’t respond.
As they roamed, Rose couldn’t help but notice their extravagant outfits and mounds of jewelry. It was a bit excessive, but she had dealt with these kinds of customers before. She always wondered why they stopped in tiny little shops in tiny little towns like this.
“Don’t you sell any Chanel?” one scoffed.
“Or at least Dior?” The other chimed in, leaving clothes on the floor after shaking her head with eyebrows raised.
“Aubrie, this one would look great on you.” The dark haired one snorted and threw a dress in the other’s face.
The auburn one, Aubrie, held up the dress, then dropped it on the floor with her mouth shaped in a horrified “O”. “Eww!” She shrieked. “Brut! Give it to Ella. She’s probably actually wear it!”
Both cackled as another young woman entered the shop quietly. Her arms were also leaden with shopping bags, her short blonde hair covering her face as she kept her eyes on the floor. “Aubriènne, Damiènne, how much longer do you want to stay here?” Her voice was so quiet that it was almost lost in the racket made by the others. Based on her simple brown jacket and jeans, Rose never would have associated her with the others.
“Where have you been?”
“Cleaning up the last store you ransacked.” Finally she raised her deep blue eyes toward Rose. They held the apology the others refused to express.
Rose nodded in return. “Would you like some help with those bags?”
Ella nodded, placing them on the counter before cleaning up one of the piles of clothes.
“Tant pis, Ella. We’re heading to the next place. Better hurry up!” They left the store without another word, slamming the door behind them.
“Let me just apologize for my sisters. I’d like to say that I don’t know what possessed them, but Damie’s just angry after the incident this morning.”
Rose joined her with a handful of hangers, Dahlia on her heels. “What happened this morning?”
“She claims I put a mouse in her bed.”
“Did you?” Dahlia asked, intrigued.
Ella’s kind smile turned slightly sinister as her eyes twinkled. “I may or may not have led it in a certain direction, but I never thought it would end up in her bed. Now Lundy is making me follow them around while they shop. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to clean the wake of hurricane Damiènne and tornado Aubriènne. I’m used to it, but merci for your help.”
“Are you three visiting?” Dahlia started to restock the racks.
“We come from Paris, but my father owns a house here. We’re here for a...a little while. Do you both live here?”
“Oui. I work here. Dahlia just spins in that chair over there.” Rose laughed.
“I keep Rose entertained when no one is here.” Dahlia corrected.
“Bien sûr, Dahlia.” Mystie caused all the girls to laugh as she took a handful of hangers from Dahlia.
“I’m Ella. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Rose. C’est Tante Mystie. She and her sisters own the shop.”
Mystie waved, and Ella waved back.
“If you’re free come Vendredi, you can join Rose and me for lunch. That’s her day off work every week, so we actually get to go out and do stuff.” Dahlia jumped in, knowing Rose would never ask.
“I’ll see if I’m available. There’s a lot to do at the house though. No one’s been there in years and it needs a cleaning overhaul. I’ve got a lot to do, but maybe I can sneak out for an hour.”
“Well, I have to go save the next shop, but I’m sure I’ll see you around again. Au revoir!” She grabbed the mass of bags off the front counter and ran out the door.
“I like her!” Dahlia announced.
“You like everyone.” Rose rolled her eyes, grateful. The idea of another new friend would distract her from Phillippe.