The Age of Love

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Literary_Dreamer, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. 1943

    “Ne me quitte pas.” Don’t leave me. A young woman caught the hand of the man as he stepped out the door. “Je t’en prie.” I beg you. She was near tears. She was gaunt from lack of food and weak, if the man had wanted, he could simply have pulled away and left, but he did not.

    “Tu ne comprends pas,” he answered. You don’t understand. He struggled for words, looking for something to comfort her with. When he found nothing, the tears that had been collecting in her eyes spilled over and left damp tracks down her cheeks. The man smiled softly; it was sadder than the woman’s pathetic state. “Ne pleure pas.” Don’t cry.

    “Je crains,” she said, “je crains que tu vas mourir.” I’m afraid that you’re going to die.

    The man sighed slightly and reached forward to brush away the woman’s tears. “Idiote,” he said, “tu sais mieux que personne cela n’arrivera jamais.” You know better than anyone that will never happen.

    He turned her hand over in his, so that he was holding her hand now instead of the reverse. He rubbed his thumb over the little gold ring that adorned her left ring finger. It was an old ring, having belonged to her grandmother. There was no money for jewelry now.

    Slowly, the man raised her hand to his lips and placed a tender kiss on it. He then released her hand.

    “Non,” she breathed, realizing what was happening but too stunned to react. By the time she reached for him, he was beyond her reach. She tried to follow him but her mother restrained her. All she could do was cry, “Joseph!” after him and give herself over to her sobs.


    Laureline Vincent was nearly eighty-eight years old and most days she felt it. Today, she felt it more than other days. The move to the home had been a stressful one. She’d always been remarkably healthy and the decline of it was upsetting…to more than just her.

    She watched helplessly from her chair, with growing frustration, as Adrien, her grandson, took her things from boxes and asked, “Where do you want this, Mamie?” and “Where should I put this?” though he already knew.

    Adrien could see that Laureline was upset and, after most things had been placed, he picked up an old picture then placed it back in the box with the decision not to do any more at that moment. Laureline’s interest was piqued when she saw him put down the photo and she demanded, “What eez zhat?” her indefatigable French accent undiminished even after half a century in America.

    “Nothing, Mamie,” Adrien replied, “just an old photo.”

    “Ah want to see eet,” Laureline said, holding out her shaking hand. The corners of Adrien’s mouth pulled up in an almost grin and he pulled the photo back out of the box.

    “It’s just Grandfather Joseph,” he said as he handed it to her, not letting go until he was certain she had a firm grasp on it.

    “ ’e was such a feene man,” Laureline said, gently touching the glass over the faded old photo.

    Adrien’s smile cracked into a grin. “Ne me flatte pas trop,” he said, nearly laughing. Don’t flatter me too much.

    Laureline made a sound of mock disgust in the back of her throat and smiled, too. She tried to put it on the table next to her, but her shaking hand knocked it over. It fell, but Adrien caught it and set it right.

    “Merci, Joseph,” Laureline murmured, too low for any passing nurse to hear but plenty loud enough for the young man before her.

    Any stranger who saw Adrien and the photo together would assume Adrien got his looks from his grandfather. They shared the same round face, cut by a strong, square jaw, the same deep, piercing eyes, and the same thick curls. The fading of the old, black and white photograph left it impossible to tell the grandfather’s coloring. Joseph also wore his hair short and neat in the style of the French in the late 1940s while Adrien wore his longer, almost shaggy.

    Where strangers saw similar but distinct men, Laureline saw the same man as he had changed over the decades without aging.

    “I should go soon,” Adrien said. He picked up his umbrella, which he carried even in the best of weather, from beside Laureline’s chair. As he rose, he leaned over Laureline and gave her a tender kiss on the forehead. “I’ll be back tomorrow. If you think you need anything else from the house, just call me and I’ll bring it.”

    He moved over to the door, then turned back to say, “À demain?”

    He waited for her to answer, praying that she would ask him to say but knowing she would not when she closed her eyes.

    “À demain.” Until tomorrow.
  2. It was odd. Such a beautiful day and yet the woman felt cold as if she was siting on a ice block instead of a lawn chair with peeling purple paint. There was a light breeze in the air carrying the smells of spring. Spring. How this season brought memories to the woman swirling them all in her head. Memories of love and of loss. She thought back to years ago. As if watching a movie she saw out across the lawn a couple was lying on a blanket having a picnic under the ancient oak tree. The handsome man laughed at something the woman said.

    He sat up and looked at her lovingly taking her hand in his pulling her up into his arms. The woman nestled against him happily. The man gently moved the woman back a mere inch from him and ran his hand nervously through his hair as one of his hands slipped into his back pocket. He was speaking though it was obvious that he was stumbling over the words. The woman watched speechless as the man took her hand and slipped a beautiful diamond ring. All she seemed to be able to do was nod and wipe away the tears of joy that slipped down her cheeks. The man picked her up and spun her around kissing her lips passionately.

    “Anabell?” An older woman asked looking over to a pretty nurse sitting on a chair outside of the nursing home. The young woman looked over slightly embarrassed and smiled sweetly running a hand through her flaming red hair. “Sorry Beatrice. It’s such a beautiful day that I got swept up in my own thoughts,” She said with a musical laugh though she looked back over to the old oak tree seeing nothing but green grass now. Shaking her head she asked, “Shall we go back inside? I hear Randall’s grandchildren are visiting today. Perhaps they’ll provide some amusement for the afternoon.” Getting up from where she sat Anabell Whittaker brushed off her white skirt and straightened her shirt before walking over to wheel Beatrice inside once more.

    “I should say not! I’d much rather stay away from those two monsters. Last time they were here I ended up flying down the hallway. They’re quite the trouble makers,” Beatrice said remembering their visit last month. Her chair was still a little squeaky from her crash stop. Anabell chuckled and said, “Beatrice, they’re only bored children. Don’t be too hard on them because no one was actually hurt.” The older woman snorted in disagreement and said sassily, “You’re too good. Open those green eyes of yours. They’ll end up in juvenile hall before they’re thirteen.”

    Shaking her head Anabell knew better than to continue with this conversation. Beatrice Langley was the residential sour egg. She didn’t like hardly anything or being around anyone in general. She always seemed to have a remark or jibe though she didn’t seem to mind Anabell or the stray cats that found their way to the outside area. Humming a light tune she pushed Beatrice’s wheelchair down the hallway and towards her room. “Here you go,” Anabell said with a kind smile as she opened Beatrice’s door and rolled her over to the window pulling out a book from the nightstand.

    “Let me know when those monsters are gone,” Beatrice muttered as she opened her romance novel and began reading. Shaking her head Anabell grinned and shut Beatrice’s door behind her. As she walked down the hall she checked her watch. In 15 minutes she’d need to go supervise medicine hand out, then Mr. Peskousy would need a bath that that was always a battle it appeared. After that she’d go –

    “Did you see the new woman’s grandson? Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm,” came a shushed whisper from the staff room. Anabell stopped being pulled from thoughts of all that she still had to do from the day. “Oh he’s one f-i-n-e piece of hunk pie if you ask me,” came another hushed but excited voice. “Surely he’s as smart as he is cute,” the first one giggled. Sighing Anabell shook her head. She wished this were the first time she’d overheard her co-workers gossiping about the relations of the charges they were responsible for however it was not.

    Opening the door she slipped inside and closed the door firmly behind her so hopefully none of the elders would be able to hear. “I had hoped that we had all agreed not to gossip about the relatives,” Anabell said in a stern voice as the other nurses noticed she’d entered. At her scolding they looked down slightly ashamed. “Honestly we’re here to take care of the men and women here . . . not hit on or simmer over their children or grandchildren!” She said exasperated. “Don’t you all have more productive things you can do to help the tenants here?” Anabell asked letting her icy gaze fall over each of them one by one. When she was satisfied that each of them felt uncomfortable enough to hold their tongue Anabell walked out of the room once more and continued down the hall.
  3. Adrien walked up the path to the nursing home’s door, umbrella leaning against his right shoulder to shield him from the pale rays of springtime sun. With a fluid motion, he the door. He artfully sidestepped the sunlight that was streaming through the glass door and put his umbrella down. He tied it shut before turning it over and using it like a 19th century gentleman with a cane.

    When he reached Laureline’s room, he knocked lightly on the door before entering. “Bonjour, Mamie.”

    “Adrien!” she cried. “I wasn’t expecting you!”

    “You should,” he answered. “I’ve come every day.”

    “You shouldn’t,” Laureline said. “C’est trop dangereux.” It’s too dangerous.

    A dark smile flitted across Adrien’s face, disappearing quickly as he crossed the room to Laureline’s chair. He leaned over her and lightly brushed his lips against her weathered forehead, a greeting that had quickly become his usual.

    “Six cents,” he murmured to her, barely moving away. “J’ai six cents ans.” I am six hundred years old. He leaned back and gave Laureline a smile far warmer than the one that had just previously left his face. “Parfois, je pense que tu oublies.” Sometimes, I think that you forget.

    “Je n’oublie pas,” Laureline answered. I don’t forget. How could she? He’d lived for six hundred years and he would live another after she was gone, and another, and another, until the end of time. She could not put into words how much she worried about him and all those years alone. She wouldn’t say it even if she could because it would hurt his pride and he would be forced to remind her that he’d survived quite well for five hundred years before she was born. Still, her worry enough to stay up nights wondering if she’d made the right decision to not become like him. In the end, she knew that she had because she was not made for eternity.

    “Hmph,” was Adrien’s reply as he straightened and looked around the room. He’d brought the last of Laureline’s things the day before. He’d spent that afternoon arranging and rearranging everything to Laureline’s liking. He’d not gotten a chance to admire his work because then a nurse had come to summon Laureline to supper and Laureline had decided it was time for her grandson to go home.

    “It looks almost like home,” he said with a pathetic smile. Laureline laughed lightly, knowing that they both agreed that it did not.

    “There is a piano in the front room,” Laureline said, speaking of the large room where the residents of the home could socialize, “which helps. I don’t think it is played much, though. Perhaps you could lighten the mood with some music, hm? Since I cannot play anymore.”

    Laureline’s tone was jovial, but it hurt her more than she wanted anyone to know that she could not play the piano anymore. She had a great talent for music and playing the piano had been one of the few things that had come easily to her in her youth. That she had lost it was another painful reminder that her time left was short.

    Adrien suspected more than Laureline wanted him to but played innocent because he knew how hard she was trying to hide it.

    Adrien could play many instruments but his ability came more from decades of practice and a love of music than from any innate talent. That wasn’t to say he was a poor player. He bordered on great but he would never be extraordinary no matter how many years he practiced.

    “I wouldn’t want to be a bother…” Adrien said, reluctant to showcase his skills in public.

    “But I want to hear you play,” Laureline said. “It’s been too many years.”

    “That’s why I shouldn’t play,” Adrien said. “I’m out of practice.” But he’d already given in. Laureline smiled and held out her hand for him to help her up. “You should take your walker,” he said, going to set it up for her before he helped her out of her chair. She abhorred the thing and could get around her tiny room without it so it had been relegated to a corner.

    “Nonsense. The doctor said I should walk as much as I can without the walker to keep up my strength.”

    The doctor had said no such thing. He’d told Laureline to walk as much as she could to keep up her strength but to use the walker because her balance wasn’t what it had been. Laureline had deigned to begin using a dignified cane some years before (not one of those four pronged ones that were only a step before a walker but a beautifully hand-carved one that looked more like a fashion accessory than a cane) but a walker was utterly beneath her.

    Adrian knew full well what Laureline had been told but he didn’t want to argue with her, not when they had so little time left to be together. Reluctantly, he left the walker and helped her out of the chair. She clung closely to his arm as they proceeded slowly out of Laureline’s room and toward the front room with the piano.

    Laureline had been a tall, willowy woman in her youth with masses of red curls. Now her hair was pure white and fine like spider’s silk, bound up in a tight bun at the back of her head so that it was impossible to tell if it was curly or straight. She’d one been nearly as tall as her husband but now she only came up to his should, a combination of no longer wearing heels and the loss of height that comes with age. She maintained her slim, willowy figure but that was more a sign of her fragile health than anything. She still managed to carry herself with dignity, though Adrien was bearing most of her weight.

    When they reached the front room, they went directly to the piano and sat down, Laureline on the bench next to Adrien. Laureline was thankful when they sat; she’d overestimated her strength in walking to the front room without her cane or walker.

    Adrien played a few scales on the piano, determining that it was just slightly out of tune but not enough for an untrained ear, or certainly and old, untrained ear, to notice. Slowly, he began to play the adagio from Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata by memory.

    Laureline watched him play as if there were nothing else in the world, lost in memory.


    Joseph had returned for her after the war and they’d gone back to his home together for, though the Resistance had brought him to her, his home was far away. Laureline was young; she’d never been so far from home before. She missed her family terribly and, when she was alone, she felt unbearably lonely.

    Joseph had gone to town for something and she did not know when he would be back. She’d decided to keep herself busy by exploring his old mansion-house. The more she explored, the more oppressively alone she felt. She wondered how Joseph had been able to live there with no one else for as long as he had.

    As if to illustrate her loneliness, as she crossed from one wing of the house to another after hours of exploration, the sound a mournful piano drifted through the corridor. She followed it to a room she hadn’t visited before. There was a beautiful old piano and Joseph was playing it, having returned some time before without her knowing.

    “Tu joues du piano?” she breathed as the last notes of the song died. You play the piano?

    Joseph turned around to smile sheepishly. “Pas bien.” Not well.

    His smile, so completely opposite of the mood of the song he’d just played, broke the spell of the music and Laureline felt brave enough to approach the piano. She sat on the bench beside Joseph and lightly touched the worn ivory keys.

    “Tu joues magnifiquement,” she said. You play beautifully. “Joue un autre morceau.” Play another piece. Joseph grimaced and she thought that he would refuse but then his fingers were flying across the keyboard in a spirited reel.

    Laureline was never lonely when Joseph was there and it was only when he was gone that she began to forget why she’d left her home to be with him.
  4. “Mr. Peterson,” Anabell Roberts called softly knocking on the door to one of the rooms on her hall. “Mr. Peterson . . . . Mr. Peterson . . .” She called twice more before opening the door. There on the bed lay a sleeping elderly man, his face had evidently once been very defined and even with the wrinkles now tracing his skin he was still what the ladies here called ‘a strong glass of iced tea’. For a moment Anabell paused by the door wondering if she should let the man sleep or wake him for their weekly routine.

    She watched as his chest rose slightly with the intake of his breaths. When she had first started here fresh out of the university the other nurses had told her to always keep the patients at a distance, to never get attached. They had told her that one day the person could be there and the next shift you walking into could find their personal belongings being boxed up and the room scheduled for another. Anabell however didn’t think like that. She poured her heart into all she did for the elders who were here and tried her best to always be there for them in any way she could.

    Which is how she had gotten into this weekly routine with Mr. Peterson. It had started simply as conversations in passing as she was going about her routines with the other tenants. Then on one of her days off she’d stopped by to pick up her check and he’d tempted her into a game of chess. She had been horrible. Her beginner knowledge was no match for his years of experience. The next day off they had had a rematch. It continued again and again until it had become a routine.

    Anabell knew that he would be upset if she let him sleep through their one time a week she could sit down and play a full game with him. Sighing deeply she gently applied pressure to his shoulder shaking him awake. His eyes fluttered open and once they focused on Anabell he smiled and allowed his head to bob up and down in greeting. “I’m up,” his raspy voice said as he started to cough violently. The young woman helped him sit up and rubbed his back soothingly with one hand as the other poured a glass of water from the nightstand beside his bed.

    “You’re too good to me my dear,” He said once his violent coughing fit had subsided. Anabell laughed and shook her head at his compliment, “You’re such a charmer Mr. Peterson. If only you were 50 years younger . . .” “My grandson is . . .” The older man said slyly hinting for the hundredth time that she should make a point to meet his grandson. Anabell bit her lip not sure what excuse she should give him this time.

    It was always the same thing with Mr. Peterson. He always wanted to set her up with his grandson and so far she’d managed to dodge his tries for a set-up between the two. For Anabell it would cross a clear line in her personal and professional views one that she prided herself never crossing. She took a deep breath ready to pull something out of thin air when there was a knock on the door. “Now who could that be?” Mr. Peterson asked though in a drawled out way that made Anabell’s stomach knot. “What have you done?” she asked in a quiet voice as the door to the room opened.

    Beep Beep Beep

    Anabell’s eyes fluttered opened as her alarm went off signaling the start of another day. Sighing deeply she hit the snooze button as she watched the pale dawn light flittering into her bedroom windows through the light blue curtains. It was her day off. The one day she could do anything she pleased. Go to the movies or perhaps veg out on the couch watching I Love Lucy reruns. The ideas came to her mind and left as quickly as they had appeared. Sitting up she stretched her arms above her head before slipping out of her queen size bed.

    Walking to her kitchen she smiled in satisfaction noticing that her never-fail coffee maker had not failed this time either preparing a full pot of hazelnut blend. Anabell pulled down a big green cup down from the cabinet above her head. The cup was the equal of three. It might be a little assessive however Anabell lived off coffee. She found her sleep patterns were irregular. Some nights she slept soundly while others she tossed and turned waking up nearly every hour. Now it had become a habit really even when she didn’t need the energy giving substance to function.

    Humming a jingle for a random commercial she’d heard the other day Anabell added a little milk and some sugar stirring it up before taking a small sip. Inhaling deeply she picked up the cup being careful not to burn herself or spill her coffee as she walked softly back to her bedroom just as her alarm went off again. “Perfect timing,” she said to herself as she sat her coffee down and turned off the alarm.

    Going to the bathroom she took a hot shower letting the water fully wake her up. Thirty minutes later she stepped out, dried off quickly wrapping the towel around her, and brushed her teeth then combed her hair. Walking to her bedroom once more she drank a few gulps of her coffee since it’d cooled down considerably. Looking at the clock she saw it was a little passed 7. She dressed quickly wearing a flowing black skirt that came just past her knees and a sky blue blouse. Anabell filled an on-the-go coffee cup with the last of the pot from this morning and left her house being sure to lock the door tightly.

    Getting into her rich purple ford focus Anabell drove to her work place. Some called it sad that she spent her days off at work with the patients she cared for during the workweek. Her co-workers were always pestering her to go out with them but Anabell always refused. To Anabell work was her passion, her life. She lived to help the people who came to live there. Most where on their last legs so to speak. Anabell wanted to be there for them in any way they needed. In her time there she had mended broken relationships with relatives, become a surrogate grand-daughter, a caregiver and a friend to many that had passed through their halls.

    Pulling cleanly into her parking spot she parked and took a drink of her coffee as she noticed a male walking with an umbrella towards the facility. How odd . . . but Anabell shrugged this thought off as she noticed it was past 8 already. “Ohhh . . I’m late,” She muttered to herself quickly grabbing her coffee and hurrying out of her car. Locking the door she walked up the sidewalk to the double doors her small black heels clicking on the concrete. “Anabell,” One of the secretaries upfront said unsurprised to see her there. Running a hand through her red hair still slightly damp she smiled a greeting heading towards the front room.

    “And I’m telling you Randell those grandchildren of yours are little monsters who belong behind bars securely,” Beatrice’s voice came sharply from the front room. “Oh they’re fine. Just harmless kids,” Rendell’s voice came with a chuckle obviously unoffended by her tone. Anabell thought she had better step in before this turned into a fight. Putting on a smile she walked into the sitting room. “Hello all,” she said brightly interrupting Beatrice’s snarky comment. Their faces lit up as they saw her and she made the rounds of the five elders sitting around the television that was muted. It’d be a mystery why they always wanted to have it on but not actually watch it.

    She walked around and hugged each of them tightly. “Sorry I’m a little late this morning,” Anabell said apologetically as she sat down in a chair. Taking a sip of her coffee she looked around the sitting room as she heard the piano music floating on the air towards them. Sitting on the bench she saw the woman who had arrived a few days earlier. She was still very beautiful even in her aged state. Anabell had not had a chance to meet her yet as she wasn’t on the woman’s rotation this past week though she was on her listing for this week. She noted the male sitting next to her, the one playing the piano; though Anabell only gave him a glance remembering the way the other nurses had described him. She smiled warmly nodding her head in time with the music as she looked back to her group of elders.
  5. As Adrien finished playing one of the women came moved toward the piano, clapping furiously. “Bravo!” she said, “Bravo, or whatever you say in France. That was simply wonderful.”

    “This is Madame Susan Baker,” Laureline supplied, introducing the woman to Adrien. “She sits at my table in the dining room.”

    “It’s nice to meet you Madame Baker,” Adrien said. “I’m Adrien, Laureline’s grandson.”

    “Calling me Madame,” Susan said, flushing a little, “makes me feel all fancy. But you don’t have to introduce yourself to me, I’ve already heard all about you from Laureline.”

    “Really?” Adrien asked, turning to give his grandmother a sidelong glance.

    “They were all bragging about their grandchildren, so I thought I should too,” Laureline explained.

    “Oh, I hope she hasn’t said anything embarrassing,” Adrien said.

    “No, no,” Susan assured him, “only good things. I don’t think she did you justice, though.”

    “You flatter me, Madame,” Adrien said with a slightly uncomfortable laugh.

    “You’re so polite, Adrien,” Susan commented. “You could teach my granddaughter some manners. She’s just about your age, actually. She’s very pretty, too. Perhaps you should meet her sometime.”

    Adrien’s expression darkened just enough for Laureline to notice, but not enough for Susan to see. Suddenly it brightened and he smiled charmingly at Mrs. Baker. “Certainly, and perhaps I should bring my wife along she always loves to meet new people. But you have to excuse me now.”

    With that, Adrien got up and stalked off before he said anything more inappropriate. A shocked Susan sat down where he’d been, leaving Laureline to explain how Adrien hadn’t been serious, he wasn’t married and he would probably love to meet her granddaughter.

    Adrien took a seat near the only other person in the room that appeared to be under the age of sixty. She was a lovely red-head who reminded him vaguely of Laureline when she was younger. Perhaps that was why he chose to sit by her, because the real Laureline had turned traitor.

    He understood Laureline’s reasons, of course. He couldn’t have failed to notice them. After all, it wasn’t until Laureline had learned that she was dying that she tried to pair him up with every eligible woman she met. It was commendable that she was worried about what would happen to him after she died but it was also a little insulting. It felt like she didn’t believe he could take care of himself on his own.

    “I was unforgivably rude just then, wasn’t I?” he asked the young woman next to him. “I should go apologize. But it is a little insulting when they fling their grandchildren at you, isn’t it? Look at them, they’re probably planning my wedding without my consent right now…” He glanced over at the young woman and smiled sheepishly. “I’m sorry, I’m talking more to myself than anything. Feel free to tell me to shut up at any time.”
  6. The elders that were sitting near her were chatting happily boasting about their grandchildren allowing Anabell to relax. Her eyes had wandered to a table near the window where a table sat with a chess set on it. She listened to the new woman’s grandson play thinking that her late father-in-law would have enjoyed the music as much as she was. He’d always had a appreciation of finer things and had always surprised Anabell with his vast knowledge of literature, art and music. However when the gentle tones drifted to a stop Anabell looked back over to the piano to see what had happened.

    She saw the scene play out between the young man and Mrs. Baker. ‘It was bound to happen sooner or later,’ Anabell thought to herself as she looked down to her coffee taking a sip of the still hot liquid. She felt someone sit next to her and assumed that it was one of her charges. Smiling brightly she looked up to greet whoever it was but was surprised to see the grandson sitting there instead. He began speaking instantly allowing Anabell a few moments to recover from the shock.

    She couldn’t help but chuckle amused by his words. She remembered how it was when she’d started. All the elders with grandsons and even one of the women who had a lesbian daughter had constantly tried to get her to meet them or pushed them to go out after they’d met here. “Well since you spoke out loud I shall respond as every question spoken deserves a proper answer,” Anabell said with a soft smile towards him. “You were rude but not unforgivably so. You aren’t the only one who gets pushed into set ups so don’t worry too much. It’s a common reaction and in most cases it won’t deter it from happening again,” she said with a soft laugh remembering how persistant they could get.

    “Insulting?” She repeated what he said about the situation thoughtfully. “Honestly I think you’re looking at it wrong. Your grandmother has talked highly of you. They think you’d be good for their granddaughters enough to suggest a meeting to see what could happen. I thought it was flattering . . . a bit annoying at times when they persistently asked but flattering all the same,” Anabell explained her opinion to him hoping it’d put him at ease with the future meeting proposals.

    “You should give the meeting a chance,” She suggested looking over towards the chess table again. How many times had she turned down Mr. Peterson’s offers about his grandson? How many times had she made excuse after excuse to avoid the metting? Mr. Peterson, never being one to let a chance pass him by had finally taken matters into his own hands and invited his grandson to the facility when he knew Anabell would be with him. In the end they had been the perfect for each other. She’d wasted so much time she could have had by turning down the offer to meet his grandson, Ethan. “It could be just the love you need,” Anabell said softly a sadness creeping into her voice.

    Taking a deep breath she took another drink of her coffee and shook her sadness from her mind before looking back to the man next to her. “I’d never tell anyone to shut up . . . be quiet perhaps but never shut up,” She joked to lighten the mood. “Your company is welcome. It’s refreshing seeing new faces. I’m Anabell Peterson,” She said lightly, “I haven’t had a chance to meet your grandmother yet but I hear nothing but good things.”
  7. “I’m Adrien Vincent,” he said, returning the greeting. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. Your advice was wise and I appreciate your…candor. I suppose I should have considered my words more carefully before I spoke. You are right; Mrs. Baker’s attentions don’t insult me. It is my own grandmother’s actions which offend me more. As for the meeting, I hope you’ll appreciate that I have my reasons for not looking for love.

    “About my grandmother, though,” Adrien continued, brightening his tone, “she’s a charming woman, remarkable really. I’ve never met a person who did not like her. The only time I’ve ever heard a bad word about her was from some sour old women who were jealous of her because of my grandfather’s rather extraordinary circumstances. They claimed she only married him for his money, as if there were no such thing as love in the world. If you can get past her accent, which I sometimes think she makes stronger than it has to be on purpose, she has some really fascinating tales to tell. She likes to make herself sound like the heroine from a romance novel but with a life story as incredible as hers, it suits her stories.”

    “Adrien,” Laureline called. “Je suis fatiguée. Je voudrais revenir à ma chambre.”

    “D’accord,” Adrien answered. He turned to Anabell, “She tends to switch to French when she’s tired or excited, though. If you tell her that you don’t understand, she should switch back to English, though. She doesn’t like to speak English, you see, it’s always been rather difficult for her. I have to go, now, though. I have to take Mamie back to her room. Perhaps I’ll see you another time, Miss Peterson.” He stood then and crossed the room to help Laureline up. They left the room the same way they had entered it, walking slowly with Laureline leaning most of her weight on Adrien.

    When they arrived at Laureline’s room, Adrien made her promise that she would take the walker the next time she left the room or, at the very least, her cane. Laureline grudgingly agreed. Satisfied, Adrien set her up with a blanket and a book before he left. Laureline’s eyes were surprisingly good for her age and so she continued to read but she’d lost patience for reading in English, saying it gave her a headache, so Adrien had obtained all of her favorite books in French for her.

    Once Laureline was settled in with her book, Adrien gave her his customary kiss on the forehead and left for home.

    When he reached home, he was alarmed to find a strange car in the driveway. Not expecting company, let alone an unfamiliar car, Adrien entered the house prepared for a fight. He let his guard down when he found a lean blond man lounging in his living room with a glass of wine pilfered, no doubt, from Adrien’s collection.

    “Hello, Adrien,” he said with a polished London accent. “It’s odd every time we change names; I still want to call you Joseph. Anyway, you weren’t home so I let myself in. I hope you don’t mind.”

    “It’s always good to see you, Ryan,” Adrien answered, pleasantly surprised to see his old friend who normally kept to Europe. “You’re always welcome but you really should have said something if you were coming.”

    “I would have,” Ryan replied, setting down the glass of wine on a side table and getting up, “but it was an emergency. I have some very bad news.”