Yesterday, Paula posted a Tuesday Story prompt. I’d never seen this one before (ah, but I see it is only #2!), but she posts three pictures, and the challenge is to come up with some story that links all three. Sounds like a neat idea, huh? Why not give it a go?
So this time around, the three pictures are
and my response is…
Jo had stopped being a party-girl years ago, she was not a fan of tacky, and had an air of elegance about her. But after a particularly bad Thursday, she had agreed to venture out with a couple of colleagues after work. They ended up, late, in a wine bar, where Jo attracted the attention of a very dishy Frenchman.
Jo had not a clue about soccer, but her colleague certainly did. Laurent Gilbert, French international, recent big-money signing for Spurs, the talk of the town. He had been playing in a European game just a few hours before, and he, too, was here winding down with some friends. With his little English, and her schoolgirl French, they seemed to hit it off – that she had never heard of him was undoubtedly part of the attraction. So when, at the end of the evening, he had asked for her phone number, she had not objected.
The call came through at the weekend. “Jo, eet’s Laurent”. “Shouldn’t you be playing football?”, was the best joke she could muster. In his best English, he told her that he was not due to play again until Monday, and then very disarmingly asked her out. “to ze restaurant”, he had said. “French, of course.”
The first surprise of the evening was that he picked her up in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, the next that the car made its way to a delightful-looking restaurant in Pimlico.
“I know ze patron, ze, um, owner”, before adding with some pride that other people had to book this place months in advance. She could not remember a more delicious meal, and this undoubtedly wealthy man was, actually, very down-to-earth. He talked about the pitfalls of his profession with such a passion, in a way she felt sorry for him. And, she was not surprised to learn, when the owner came out front to join them, that he himself had two Michelin stars to his name.
As this evening too drew to a close, Laurent offered a nightcap at his place – he explained that the club were lodging him in a nearby serviced apartment, just until he got himself settled into London life. As a sweetener, Laurent promised that Henri, his driver, would be on call, and could take her wherever she wanted to go, whenever she’d had enough of him.
At the apartment, the first thing she saw was the decanted bottle of wine. It has been breathing, he’d explained. Jo felt that she had already had enough to drink, but Laurent enticed her with his description of just how sublime this Chateau Margaux was, how the chateau was located just a few miles from his birthplace, how he had grown up surrounded by vines, how he dreamed of becoming a producer once all this was over. He talked about Bordeaux’s soccer team – Girondins – were his childhood club, and would always be his true love. In fact it was both surprising and refreshing to hear this man talk so passionately about a club he clearly loved – with that much money involved, she had expected a mercenary. As the clock ticked by, they unwittingly drained the decanter and Jo realised that she did not want to go home tonight.
The next morning, Jo awoke to see Laurent dashing around the apartment, clad in track suit. “Preeeety Lady”, he cooed, before explaining that he was late for training, but that Henri would be back, just as soon as he’d dropped him off, to take her anywhere she wanted. And, in the meantime, she should make herself at home, that the fridge should be stocked. Wiping sleep from her eyes, she managed: “How can I get hold of you?”. He rummaged around, pulling a business card out of his pocket. “Thees is Jean-Claude. He acts for me. You want to speak to me, he will get you through. And, I have your number also.”
When it got to a week later, and Laurent still hadn’t called, Jo dialled the number. Voicemail. A French voice, not Laurent, older. She left a short message asking if Laurent could call her. He was, after all, a busy man.
Six weeks later, and Laurent still had not called. She dialled the same number. Voicemail again, same voice. “It’s Jo. Tell Laurent I’m late”, she hissed, before curtly hanging up.