To say that Peter was a Francophile was probably an exaggeration but he did like France and had spent a lot of time there on business, albeit mainly in and around Paris. But Paris wasn’t the real France – not the beautiful rural part of central France oft overlooked by the once-a-year visitor and on the few occasions he had managed a couple of days away in this heartland, he had been seduced by its space, quiet and natural beauty.
He was particularly fortunate because his forays into the French countryside had been made possible because his sister and her husband had bought a cottage in a tiny hamlet deep in the Creuse Valley several years ago and, although it still required quite a lot of work, it was habitable and reasonably comfortable.
Despite the success of his business, life had recently dealt Peter a bitter blow. The endless business travelling that he had to do almost certainly contributed to his break up with Sara and when his five-year affair ended he was devastated, even though he had seen it coming. His relationship had been intensely passionate and like all wild fires had burned itself out after the first three years and had smouldered on for a further two before he finally conceded that it was at an end.
His only sibling saw his distress and suggested he take a long break – four, perhaps six weeks and to use their cottage in France to sort himself out. He could pay his way by doing some of the many little jobs that still needed doing around the place.
At first Peter rejected the notion, but gradually came to see the sense of it, so he spoke with his business partner and agreed a sabbatical, packed a few personal items and set off for Dover. Ten hours later he turned off his car ignition outside the cottage – it would have been eight hours only the traffic going through Paris had been horrendous.
The small grey stone building stood on the side of a grassy slope above a lane that was so narrow it barely allowed the single file passage of cars. With a dense wood as a backdrop, it brooded darkly in the sunset, its interior guarded against the world by firmly closed rough oak shutters.
Taking the house keys that his sister had given him, he got out of his car and approached the front door and unlocked, first the shutter, then the door itself and entered the single unlit room that was the entire downstairs of the dwelling. The temperature inside was several degrees cooler than the balmy evening air outside and Peter shivered as he picked up the conveniently placed torch which he used to find his way to the main power switch.
Once he had switched on the lights, he turned on the water and plugged in the fridge. Then, to make the house hospitable he lit a small wood fire in the expansive nineteenth century grate. He collected his bags, a box of groceries and a single Duty Free bag from the car and disposed of them appropriately, the latter, he placed on the large solid dining table that formed the centre-piece of the room.
With everything stowed away he collected a fine cut-glass tumbler from the cabinet, the duty free bag from the dining table and slumped wearily into a chair by a fire that had flared up joyously while he had been unpacking. From the plastic bag, he took out the bottle of single malt whiskey that he had purchased on the boat and poured himself a large measure. He sipped the pale liquid and watched the fire flicker as he let his brain unwind and the tension of the journey fade. He napped for a couple of hours before he finally capitulated and made his way to bed where he slept the sleep of the dead for ten full hours.
By the time he rose the sun had climbed high in the sky and the day was already warm. He ate a large omelette and drank a pot full of coffee for his breakfast before embarking on his first task – a visit to the local town for fresh bread and a couple of other essentials before starting on his list of ‘chores’.
A couple of hours later he had collected his bread, cut the lawn and trimmed the hedge and was now, dressed only in his shorts and sandals, perspiring gently as he energetically cut logs for the fire.
His first sight of her was just a glimpse – or rather a flash of bright colour through the garden hedge. He stopped and watched as the colours moved along the hedge until they eventually reached the gate where the hedge parted and he had his first full view of her.
She was a dazzlingly beautiful young women – slim, well shaped and with a glorious cascade of corn-coloured hair that danced about her head as she, almost skipped, along. Her dress was plainly cut and rustic – brightly coloured and very, very ‘country’.
As she passed by she looked sideways at him, not by turning her head, but out of the corner of her eye, determined to see him and that he had noticed her, but without acknowledging him in any way. A perfect coquette.
Peter just stood and stared, but in seconds, she was gone, leaving, like the Cheshire cat, only her enigmatic canlı bahis smile hanging in the air.
He worked on until he was hungry and stopped for a light lunch of bread, cheese and rather more chilled Beaujolais that he should have drunk. Then, shaded by the large green canopy of an apple tree, he reclined his seat and slipped away into a gentle sleep to dream of the beautiful young girl he had seen earlier.
He was awakened by the sound of a woman’s voice, ” Monsieur, Monsieur.”
He opened his eyes and she was there – the same woman – but why was she was older? Her hair had grey streaks mixed with the gold and it was shorter – she was shorter and was wearing another dress? A silly thought went through his mind – had he slept for years like Rip van Winkle?
Rubbing sleep from his eyes and looking at her again he could see that she wasn’t actually the same woman – they were very alike, but this was someone else.
“Bonjour! Mademoiselle,” he stammered in French with his thick English accent
She grinned and corrected him, ” Madam.”
“Pardon, Madam,” he looked sheepish having almost exhausted his limited French vocabulary.
Thankfully, she continued in broken, but understandable English,
“You might like these, I think. A gift of welcome,” She offered him a bowl containing fresh eggs and a jug of milk.
When the mist of sleep had completely cleared in his mind he remembered that the lady here before him lived with her husband in the farmhouse that he had passed as he entered the lane. The chickens he had scattered as he drove by would have been responsible for these eggs. He knew also, that the couple had become firm friends to his sister and brother-in-law.
“You are the brother of Jane, No?”
He stood up and smiled, took the eggs and milk, placed them on the table and offered her his hand. She took it and shook it warmly as he said,
“Please call me Peter and thank you so much for these. Let me offer you a drink,” but before he had completed his sentence she had decline politely with a wave of her hand.
They looked at each other awkwardly and after a silence that lasted a few seconds too long she spoke again,
“My husband, he ask me to invite you to eat with us tomorrow evening?”
Peter eagerly accepted her offer – motivated by the prospect of not having to cook for himself – and she seemed delighted.
“OK, we see you tomorrow then?” and with that she turned and left, looking back only to wave as she left the garden.
“What a lovely woman,” thought Peter as he sat down again and poured another half glass of wine.
Despite the fine weather on the following day, Peter busied himself indoors until the time came for him to shower and change. Around seven o’clock he dressed casually, if expensively and walked the half mile or so down the lane carrying his gift of one of the finest wines from his sister’s wine rack.
The farmhouse was set quite a long way back from the road and the front door was approached through a tidy if sparse, garden. Before he reached it, the door was opened by the fair lady from the day before and behind her stood a man with his hand affectionately placed on her shoulder – clearly her husband. Peter’s hosts insisted that he call them Marie and Andre and they both welcomed him into their home as if he were an old friend. With the greetings over he was taken through to a cosy, if somewhat gloomy, living room and offered a seat and a drink.
It was a little early for his usual drink, Scotch, so he accepted a Pastis and water knowing that the ice and water would dilute the aniseed spirit by about the right amount. He was also aware that few French homes were without this unusual aperitif.
As he sat and sipped his drink, his appetite was tantalised by the wonderful aroma of Maria’s cooking as it wafted through from the kitchen and hung in the air of the farmhouse. He was, therefore, delighted when he was asked to take his place at one of the four places set around the large table.
“Please to take some paté, Peter,” invited Marie as he sat, indicating a large tureen in the middle of the table. “Odette will join us soon.” “Odette?” he queried. “Mais oui – our daughter,” she glanced proudly towards her husband who nodded enthusiastically. The reason for the four place settings now becoming clear.
He helped himself to a generous potion of paté and spread it on a slice of the crusty bread that he had cut and had just swallowed his first mouthful when Odette entered.
He would have sworn that, had he not already swallowed the food, it would have fallen from his mouth as his jaw fell open. She was absolutely stunning and he recognised her at once as the vision that had drifted past his gate on the previous day – except that now she looked even more beautiful than he remembered and she lit up the dismal kitchen like a golden sunbeam. Marie saw his reaction and smiled at her husband. “This is Odette, Peter.” She bahis siteleri turned to Odette and said, “Odette, this is Peter – he is staying at the cottage of Jane for a few weeks – he is her brother”
Peter stood, his napkin fell from his lap and took her small hand, afraid to shake it least it detach itself from her arm and said, “Bonjour, mammoiselle.”
“Welcome to La Creuse, Peter. Please sit down.” she replied in faultless English and he sat, finding himself even more impressed with this beautiful young women.
She took a place opposite him and he held her gaze whilst he fumbled for his fallen napkin, but finally asked, “I’ve been here several times in the last few years, although only for odd days, but I have never met you before, Odette?”
Her eyes were like her mothers – a fierce azure blue that stirred every romantic nerve ending he possessed. Her lips pouted slightly and her even white teeth flashed as she grinned before replying,
“I have been at school in Paris until this year.”
Her mother, keen to boast about her daughter’s achievements, ventured, “She has been studying English and has now, a degree.”
Odette blushed and her parents beamed.
As the meal progressed Peter found himself staring for quite indiscreetly long periods of time at this delightful young women. He could not remember being in the presence of anyone more beautiful and was completely smitten with her – so much so, that it was some time before he was able to string a coherent sentence together. Nevertheless, as the evening progressed, despite her beauty and excellent English, he felt that there was a vulnerability – almost a naivety, about her – a sadness that somehow added to her attraction.
His awkwardness with their daughter amused Marie and Andre and, as the meal came to an end, they served Peter a large Cognac and quietly disappeared to wash the dishes.
Peter was left alone with Odette and they chatted like old friends until the time came to say goodnight. Somehow, he felt like a teenager on his first date who had been invited to dinner specifically to meet Odette. If that was the case, then it was all right by him. He rose from his chair, “I must go, I know farmers rise early and I’m keeping your parents up. Where have they gone by the way?”
“Mama! – Papa!” she shouted, ” Peter, il parte”
No sooner had she spoken than they both appeared – Marie wiping her hands on her apron.
Peter turned to them, ” I must thank you for splendid meal, Marie and a wonderful evening. You must allow me to return the favour although please do not expect such fine cooking.” Marie laughed and Andre patted his shoulder taking his outstretched hand and shaking it firmly. Peter, hoping he remembered his French etiquette correctly, took Marie’s hand and kissed both her cheeks before turning to Odette. He took both of her hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes. “Good night, Odette. Thank you for a wonderful evening and I am sure that we will meet again soon.”
It was Odette who leaned forward to plant a chaste kiss on Peter’s cheek that he returned feeling tiny sparks jump between them as his lips brushed her warm flesh. The pressure, as she squeezed his hand, told him that she also thought that they would meet again soon.
The next day the weather had changed. It was overcast and windy and dark clouds scurried by overhead – but it was dry. By mid afternoon Peter was pruning the fruit trees when Odette appeared at the gate. She stopped and leaned against it, watching him toil dressed, once again, in only his shorts and sandals. He was a fine man, tall athletic and handsome and, as she watched him stretch and the muscles ripple across his broad back, a part of her became a little moist.
“Bonjour, Peter,” she shouted after a few moments of watching him.
He turned, saw her and stopped what he was doing, “Hi there!” He walked over to the gate. She was dressed in another country outfit only this time it was pure white and, unlike yesterday, she carried a parasol. He pointed to this, “Very Parisian,” he joked, “only it looks like rain.” “Mais non,” she replied, “In La Creuse, the weather, it is always changing. These clouds will blow away.”
They passed pleasantries for a few more minutes and then she bade him au revoir and skipped on down the lane. Peter watched her until she had turned the bend then returned to his pruning.
However, he was right. Within ten minutes the sky turned black and the first large droplets of rain fell. He hurried into the house and stood watching the downpour through the small window at the rear wondering where Odette may be sheltering. Such rain? Surely it could not rain this hard for this long?
With the onset of rain the temperature had dropped and, although not really cold, there was a chill in the air so, with the evening only an hour away, he decided to light the already prepared fire. He had made a pot of coffee and was sat drinking it and watching the flames bahis şirketleri as they danced around the dry logs when there was a rap on the door – not an ‘Oh hello, I was just passing’ knock, but a ‘for goodness sake let me in’ knock. He reached the door in three strides and pulled it open wide.
Odette stood there absolutely drenched, still holding her absurd parasol. “You were right,” she almost cried. He pulled her inside and she stood, dripping on the tile floor. “Why on earth didn’t you take shelter?” “I thought that I would make it home,” she whimpered, close to tears. He took the parasol from her, shook it and leaned it against the wall then ran upstairs and returned with a couple of large bath towels and one of his sisters bath robes.
“Here,” he said holding them out towards her and then noticed, for the first time, that the rain had made her white dress semi-transparent allowing him to gaze upon her almost naked slim form. The wet cotton clung to every curve of her body and her dark tipped breasts thrust forward against the wet cloth. The material hugged her hips and dipped between her legs giving him a glimpse of the darker triangle inside her equally soaked panties.
She saw him looking and took the towels, holding them against herself coyly. “Where shall I change?” she asked, looking down at the swelling pool of water around her feet.
“I’ll go upstairs and you can change by the fire.” replied Peter.
“There is no need for that,” she replied, then noticed how his jaw dropped open again. She smiled at his obviously wrong assumption and, with a raised eyebrow and a cheeky grin, said, “You only need to turn around if you promise not to look.”
He stuttered his promise then added, “I’ll pour you a coffee.” He turned towards the small kitchenette in the corner of the large room and walked over to the stove. Seconds later he heard the sound of wet cotton sliding over wet flesh and felt a wave of glorious agony in the pit of his stomach. A quiet plop told him that she had dropped her sodden dress onto the floor and his imagination told him that she would now be standing naked next to the fire. The agony in his stomach dropped into his groin and he discretely re-adjusted himself.
Rustling sounds came from behind him as she dried herself on the fluffy towels until finally she said, “You can turn around now.”
He had expected a vision and he was not disappointed. She sat on the settee in front of the fire wearing Jane’s oversized robe with one of the towels wrapped around her head, so that her beautiful face, glowing pink in the firelight, peeked out from a ball of white fluffy cotton.
He can’t remember whether it was then or when he had first seen her in the lane that he had fallen in love with her, but now, all his thoughts were of her – and he was very ashamed by the rather erotic content of some of those thoughts! He handed her a hot cup of coffee that she took in both hands and nursed, pulling her legs up underneath her.
“I’ll dry these. If I give them a spin and hang them by the fire – they will take no time at all.” He picked up her dress leaving her panties on the floor. He looked at them, then at her and she smiled a most mischievous smile. He stooped to collect the tiny garment with a kind of reverence and then deposited both in the washing machine. After several futile attempts to get the machine going, Odette got up. “Here allow me.”
She brushed him aside, deftly set the machine and pushed the ‘ON’ button causing the thing to burst into life. “Damm things!” he swore. She giggled and sat back down and began to dry her hair. He collected his coffee and joined her on the settee completely bereft of anything to say. Here sat a mature, experienced man of twenty-six totally tongue-tied in the presence of this lovely young women. Finally it was she who broke the silence.
“How long is your stay, Peter?”
“I don’t know – four, maybe five weeks,” he answered but in his mind he added, “for ever if I could spend it here with you like this,” then asked,
“And you? When do you return to Paris?”
“Oh, I have finished my studies – now I must find work.” She said aloud but thought, “or spend my life with a gorgeous man like you.”
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
“I would like to fall into your arms and have you smother me with love and be very, very naughty with me,” she thought (in French), but answered, ” I would like to teach English in a good French school, I think.”
“What a waste,” he thought and answered,” I’m sure you would make an excellent teacher.”
Her hair was almost dry now and had returned to its glorious shining corn colour. She shook it one last time and it flowed about her head like the yellow flames that danced on the logs. In shaking her head, her robe fell open just enough to allow him a delightful view of her pert young breasts jiggling playfully inside. He tried not to stare, particularly as she was looking at him and had seen that he had seen. She looked away so as not to embarrass him but felt the beginnings of desire deep within her. She re-adjusted her position on the settee and for an oh-so-brief second or two showed his hungry eyes her soft upper thighs.