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A not so traditional Christmas Carol, except her name is not Carol.... Part 11
We hugged for a long time, none of us wanting to break the sweet embrace. After a while, I heard her sniffle and I knew she was crying :
- "Oh Bertrand, I had such a good time with you, I just can't believe it's over".
- "I know Chantal, and I did have a good time too!" I kissed her on the forehead and put a little distance between us. "I'll call you later and we'll talk, all right ?"
- "Thank you, B. I'm glad you're strong for the two of us". I wished ! I walked backwards, still looking at her while closing the door of the appartment. And then I felt something I didn't remember ever experiencing before : a physical sense of loss. For the last week or so, except at night when we were asleep, we hardly ever lost sight of each other. But suddenly, she was no longer there and I could feel the void. I hated this sensation.
The cold in the street made me take a deep breath and that unwanted feeling somewhat went away. I walked back to the Sunbeam, in which everything reminded me of her. Suddenly, I realized that without even thinking about it, I was driving towards the office. The traffic had died down some, so I got there quite quickly. I didn't bother to go to the underground parking lot and parked the car in the street, until then a no-no for me. The lobby of our office building was completely deserted at this time, and I took the elevator. On the 12th floor, I headed straight for Audrey Audincourt's office. I knew she would be there, still working. She favored this time of the day when everybody has gone home . The door of her office was open, but because I was wearing sneakers,she didn't hear me come in.
- "Hello Audrey, how are you, long time no see!". She jolted in her seat and her hand went to her chest.
- "Bertrand! Hey, are are you, you scared the living hell out of me. Aren't you supposed to be in London? What are you doing here? When did you come back?" Too many questions, asked way too quickly. She was obviously nervous and uncomfortable...
- "Sorry if I scared you, I certainly didn't mean to. And yes, I am supposed to still be in London, or at least, that was the initial plan. As for what I am doing here, it's very simple. What the hell is going on Audrey? I called you twice from London, but you never returned my calls. But then, you called Chantal and I'm pretty sure you called Cara as well, but not a single word to me, and I don't know why!
- "My, you're on a first name basis with everybody now, aren't you? So, how did you get along with Chantal, she's a handful, isn't she?"
-- "Do not deflect my question, Audrey! If you have something to say to me, just say it. I have never known you as being shy before!"
- "Well, give me a little time, all right? I mean, you just barge into my office unannounced, and now you are bombarding me with questions!"
- "Sorry I didn't make an appointment, but I never had to until now. And I asked you ONE short, clear and simple question, so please answer me. Whatever it is you're having such a hard time to tell me, you know I'm going to find out anyway, so why don't you just spit it out?"
- "All right! I might as well tell you now since eventually, you're going to catch up and read the papers.
I sat down in one of the comfortable leather visitor's chairs without being invited to do so, crossed my legs and waited. And then, she finally proceeded to tell me what she didn't want me to find out from an outer source. It turned out Audrey Audincourt, my lover, Editor in Chief of Femmes de Paris, a success story younger women and girls dream of, a brilliant woman in every possible way, was also a relentlessly ambitious one.
The day before I left for my trip to England, she said, she had met a man at one of the numerous cocktail parties she attends regularly. The man happened to be no less than Damien Desjardins, commonly known as D.D. in the media and the public at large. As in Damien Desjardins Aviation, , the largest and most successful private jet manufacturer in Europe. As in Damien Desjardins, the manufacturer of the DD 17, a supersonic attack jet plane that he couldn't make enough of to satisfy the demand of our always war-hungry planet. Besides being Mister Aviation himself, the man was also known for being the most famous widower in France.
Not because of him directly, but more because of the way he became a widower. His wife had been kidnapped three years before for a handsome ransom, which D.D. allegedly paid. But three days later, her dead mutilated body had been found by a couple of hikers deep inside the Fontainebleau Forest. A year long conspiracy theory had followed, hinting that he may have had his own wife kidnapped and killed.As in any similar tragedy, there were facts to sustain both sides of the story but in the end, the young and ambitious District Attorney in charge of the investigation ruled the death as an unsolved murder case and the story faded away quickly after that
So, Audrey Audincourt and Damien Desjardins hit it off one night at a lavish party on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, and it was lust at first sight, according to the paparazzi. Of course, both of them being extremely well known people, the affair made it to the front pages, the eight o'clock news and the internet. But by that time, Chantal and I had left Paris for England, and as surprising as it may seem, we never heard a single word about it. Well, at least I didn't! Of course, nobody at the office had the cojones to give me a courtesy call either and put me out of my misery. Which in many ways I understood. I mean, who's gonna call someone and go ;"Hey, pal, just a quick call to let you know your mistress is now screwing the richest man in the country, anything I can do to help?"
If the story in itself wasn't bad enough, it got better. Three days after they first met, the media, already speculating on a potential wedding date, Damien gave a press conference to discuss the matter of the manufacturing problems with his DD 17 fighter. All it took to veer everything sideways was one little smart ass journalist who had the nerves to ask him if wedding bells could be heard ringing, which made the whole audience burst with laughter. And prompted Damien to loose a legendary short temper, him being also known for a lack of any sense of humour. So, he stated publicly that the Editor in Chief of that "ass-wipe of a female magazine" and himself were just acquaintances. And even though they had been seen together at different public venues, there was no cause for jumping to any premature conclusion, since as a matter of fact, they had parted ways and were no longer seeing each other at all.
The story got around at the pace of burning gunpowder and it was all over the evening papers that very day. And this time again, some people saw some sort of conspiracy in all that, since in the process, Damien Desjardins never got to adress the issue of the fighter jet problems, which had been the basis for the press conference in the first place. The art of politics!
So, over the span of some four days, Audrey had gone from the status of a well respected and envied Editor in Chief, to the future Madame Damien Desjardins, a title only coveted by half of the female population of this planet, to end up in the unenviable position of the repudiated mistress...
As she finished her story with teary eyes, a highly improbable occurence for Audrey, hey even wild panthers have their moments of weakness, Audrey looked at me and I asked her, maybe with a hint of sarcasm in the voice :
- "And what part of all that exactly was it that you found so difficult to tell me ? Or is it that you were so fond of me that you didn't want to hurt my feelings?" Come to think of it, yes, I was sarcastic!
- "It's true, Bertrand, I didn't want to hurt you, and I didn't know how to begin to tell you!"
- "So, if I had been in France at the time, I would have found out from the newspapers, like everyone else? Let me refresh your memory about a couple of things, Audrey. You're the one who approached me and wanted me to get into your knickers, remember? But I always treated you right and with time, you grew on me. To the point where I was going to ask you to come with me to our big family Christmas Eve dinner. Which for me would have been a major step and if you knew my mother, you would understand why. During all the time of our relationship, I stayed in your shadow, making sure not to ever interfere with your professional life, because i never wanted to cause you even a hint of embarrassment, if people had found out about us. Which by the way, apparently everyone knows, so now, I even suspect you're the one who leaked the information because I never told one single soul about us. Furthermore, I think you had met this Desjardins guy way before what you're telling me. Then you learned from my boss, Thierry that I was going to England for a week and you killed two birds with one stone. I was going to be away, leaving you full freedom to maneuver, and you threw a little bone my way in the form of Chantal, hoping that something would develop between us and then I would be the bad guy. You are a cold, calculating sorry woman Audrey and I am extremely disappointed in you"
To be continued...
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.
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