- Vol. 03
- Chapter 08
Image by Jean Cooke
Je Ne Regret RienShe turned large, surprised eyes upon me.
'You,' she said.'What on earth are you doing here?'
'Gervais - he said I should look you up.'
'The answer's no.'
‘You don't know what I'm going to say.'
'No need. I can guess. The answer's still no.'
'But, Nicole, it would suit you so well.'
'Don't be presumptuous.’
I put my hand on hers. ‘I think we know one another well enough, don’t you …for me to tell you that you’d be perfect.'
'I never take any notice of flattery.'
‘I never flatter, Nicole. But there would be compensations, advantages, even. Please think about it - for old time’s sake?’
‘I’m not sentimental.’
No. God knows that was true enough.
'Gervais won't take no for an answer.'
'Then he should come himself, so I can tell him to his face.'
'I didn't think ‘can’t’ was a word that figured in his vocabulary.’
'He..he's not allowed out of the country.'
‘There’s a surprise. So you’re the messenger?’
‘It’s not a problem.’
Her eyes trained on my face, I wondered how she managed a look so direct yet guarded at the same time.
‘Been a naughty boy again, has he?’
I smiled, shook my head.
Je Ne Regret Rien‘No. Not this time.’
'I can't say.'
'Can't or won’t?'
‘I’m not… at liberty to say.’
She looked down at her hands, re-arranged them in her lap. When she looked up, the peace in her eyes was my answer. I would not take it from her.
‘I’m sorry you’ve had a wasted journey.’
‘No, Nicole, not wasted. Never that.’
And sitting there in the heat of a Provençal afternoon, looking at her sunburnt face under the ancient hat, her hands ingrained with vineyard toil, I knew my Cyrano de Bergerac days were done.