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The English woman across the street, a short story, Part 4

Updated on December 31, 2012
Snowy landscape at Crozant, by Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927)
Snowy landscape at Crozant, by Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927) | Source

I helped her to the sofa, and before she lowered herself on it, I said :

- "You need to get out of these wet clothes !"

- "Do you have anything I could borrow ?" she said".

- "Probably nothing very feminine, but let me look". I went to my bedroom and came back with a pair of flannel pyjamas and a silk robe, the only other I have besides the one now ruined . She started to undress and I headed for the door :

- "It's all right, Tony, you don't have to leave !" No puritan Victoria era thought crossed my mind. :

- "I know, but I'd prefer ". And I walked away in direction of the kitchen, calling myself all kinds of names for not staying. I reloaded the Rayburn with more logs, and after giving her a good fifteen minutes, I came back to the living-room, not without knocking on the door first. She was laying on the sofa again, looking positively adorable wearing my oversized nightclothes :
- "Thank you , Tony. Are you the one who rescued me ?" Her hand, soft and fresh, was now resting on my forearm :

- "I suppose you can say that. Would you care to tell me what happened back there and what the hell you were doing driving in this kind of weather anyway?". There was a million unanswered questions I was burning to ask :

- "Of course, Tony, I'll tell you everything. But please, not tonight. I am very tired and you got me tipsy with that thing you made me drink. We'll talk in the morning, I promise ". Then, she smiled at me, closed her beautiful blue eyes, and within seconds, she had fallen asleep. I set myself for the night in the big leather club chair closest to the sofa where she was sleeping. Reglisse reluctantly climbed into the other leather chair, by the fireplace. He turned around three times before letting himself fall heavily onto the seat. Then, he sighed loudly, giving me a resentful look. I knew exactly what he was thinking : with all the warm and comfortable beds available in this house, why exactly are we sleeping in those hard chairs ? I also knew that my lower back and my arse would kill me in the morning ! God works in mysterious ways, they say ! Well, so does lust, apparently !

When I woke up in the morning, the whole house was silent. I mean not a hint of a noise. This kind of complete silence almost painful to the ears. I knew immediately that there was a heavy coat of snow outside, muffling any possible sound. As expected, my back and butt reminded me that I was alive. Then only, did I become aware of the smell, a combination of fresh brewed good coffee mixed with the fragrance of this wonderful French bacon. A quick look at the grandfather's clock informed me that it was almost ten. Wow, I had slept a lot ! No sign of Belinda or Reglisse . The latter had obviously followed the chain of food. I painfully extracted my aching old body from the chair, and headed for the kitchen. Belinda was still wearing the flannel pyjamas I had given her. She had rolled up the sleeves some, and the bottom of the pants was sweeping the kitchen floor tiles, but what a delightful sight she was ! Need I say I found her adorable ?

- "Good morning, Tony, quite a night, huh ?. Without ever loosing sight of the eggs and bacon in the frying pan.

- "Good morning to you too, Sweet", I said while petting Reglisse's head. He was sitting right next to her by the gas range, drooling unashamedly. Just in case she would feel generous, or some food might fall off. Dream on ! The thought crossed my mind that we sounded and looked like a couple having spent years together. If only ! I loaded some more logs in the wood burning range, and within minutes, we could hear the roaring fire crackling inside. We had breakfast at the kitchen's table, small and intimate. I made eye contact with her several times, but our morning meal was pretty much a silent one. Finally, as I was finishing my second cup of coffee, I couldn't take it anymore and said :

- "Belinda, dear, you're going to have to give me some explanations, here. I'm not sure how aware you are of the odd situation we are in, right now ?".

- "I know, Tony, I know !" She started crying silently, so I left it alone. For now ! I was beginning to get some idea about what took place the night before, wishing I was wrong. We tidied up the kitchen, and uncapable to resist any longer, I hugged her. For a long time too. She nestled her head against my chest and it felt good.. We went back to the living-room, and I offered to go to her house get some clothes for her. I had sensed she didn't want to go back there for some reason. I mean, her house was just across the street. I think that's what decided her to finally open up to me :

- "Oh, would you, Tony, that would be so nice!"

-- "I need your keys though".

- "the door shouldn't be locked, I think!".

- " All right, let's see what can be done, here !'. I couldn't wear my defunct wet robe anymore, so I went back to the bedroom and grabbed a waterproof anorak. My rubber boots had dried up by the open fire, so I could wear them again. I had to fight the buildup of snow accumulated by the door again. As usual, Reglisse had to be the first one out. The first thing he did was to pee in the immaculate snow. Maybe we hadn't got the 24 inches of snow promised, but we sure got 18. The countryside around us was beautiful. More beautiful than any Christmas card I had ever seen. The road had disappeared, and everything seemed level, It was difficult to walk into that deep, powdery stuff but I managed. The dog didn't have that problem. He just jumped from one spot to the next, all excited and happy. Ah, being young again ! My first task was to check on Belinda's Mini Countryman. Back at the scene and in broad daylight, it was easier to realize what took place. As she was driving out of her courtyard, she needed to make a sharp left turn in order to clear my house. Well, she didn't turn quickly enough, or maybe the car skidded, but she hit the corner of the cottage, knocking off a couple of stones. The car had bounced against the wall and she lost control, an easy thing to do considering the weather and the condition she was in. The car had nose dived into the gulley. Elementary, my dear Watson ! I looked at the way the vehicle was wedged down into the ditch and realized it was going to be quite a job to get it out of there. I painfully walked back towards her house and reached Belinda's front door. Not only it wasn't locked as expected, but it wasn't even closed, and some snow had made its way inside.

- "What the...?" Inside the house was a complete mess. It looked like a bunch of drunken sailors had a fight in there ! I climbed upstairs, tying to avoid broken glass everywhere. I found the bedroom where I made an educated selection of warm clothes in Belinda's closet.I felt like a voyeur violating her privacy, and in some ways, I probably was. Can't honestly say I hated it though !

I walked back to my house, my arms loaded with Belinda's garments, which made it even more difficult. Reglisse was jumping around, having a mighty great time. Sure, everything was beautiful, but I thought I would have appreciated it even more without the drama I was now unwillingly in the middle of...

To be continued...

Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns.


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