Foreign Fields

“OK. Now tell me,“ said Melanie. “You can’t keep me waiting any longer.” He had refused to tell her anything throughout their drive across the city and he had remained silent through the process of being shown to their table at the Beach Café. Then she had had to wait even longer while Nat ordered and the waiter poured their tall flutes of sparkling champagne. Now she was desperate to hear what he had to tell her.

Nat smiled at her across the table. “Well, honey,” he said. “You know how we always dreamed of living in Paris, how we used to imagine strolling along the Seine, wandering through art galleries and stopping by the market to pick up some cheeses and crusty bread on the way home?”

“Yes, I remember but it was never very realistic, was it, not once the girls came along?”

“But the girls are grown up now. What would you say if I said our dream could come true?”

“What do you mean?” stammered Melanie. “How could it? You’re retiring in two years.”

“Yes. I know but this opportunity has come up.” Nat’s eyes were shining. “The company wants me to go across and help Dale Edmonds to set up a branch in Paris. I wouldn’t be the manager. I’d just be there in an advisory role for a couple of years. As soon as Mike brought it up I thought of our dream. I know we are no longer young but we’re certainly not too old for the city of romance. I told him I’d have to talk to you about it but I knew what your answer would be. What do you think?”

Melanie swallowed hard. “That’s wonderful, darling,” she said trying hard to control the tremor in her voice.

“I knew you’d be thrilled. I couldn’t wait to tell you. Shall I say yes then?”

“Um.” She took a slow sip of her champagne. “Shall we just wait until the weekend so we can talk to the girls? And my mother. She might take a while to get used to the idea.”

“They’ll be over the moon,” said Nat. “What girl wouldn’t want to be able to pop over and visit her parents in Paris?” He raised his glass to her across the table. “Just think. This time next month we could be sipping coffee and eating croissants in Montmartre!”

Melanie forced herself to smile. “You’re right,” she said. “Davina’s been worrying herself sick about moving to Boston to college but she will learn to manage. She’s always relied on me too much and I suppose it will be good for her to be a bit more independent.”

“There you are then. And your mother can come and visit. So shall we give it a go?”

Mel pictured her increasingly frail mother who was too nervous to go to the mall on her own these days, terrified by news reports of attacks on the elderly. How would she manage to travel across the Atlantic on her own?

“Well?” said Nat. A slight note of doubt entered his voice.

Melanie looked at him. There was a new sparkle in his eyes and he was looking at her with such anticipation. Maybe it WOULD be good for Davina to find her own way.  Maybe her mother could come to Paris with one of the girls.  He had been such a great support to them all. How could she disappoint him now? “Yes let’s,” she said clinking his glass. “Here’s to Paris. Paris will be wonderful.”


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