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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Emotional · #2123707
A young French violist discovers his partner is a spirit..
         Philippe LeClerc was nervous. He’d played violin since he was ten years old—more than twenty years. And today he’d turned thirty-two years-old. His Grand Uncle François had invited him to Château LeClerc for a birthday celebration. He had played violin in some of the grandest auditoriums and opera houses around the world, and yet, he’d never been as nervous before those concerts, as he was at this minute. He’d taken a shower and dressed, for the evening, early this afternoon, and he had been practicing music salon ever since.
         On the night of his first public concert he was seventeen years old—Philippe’s father had come backstage before the performance in National Opéra of Paris. ‘Philippe, your Great grandfather purchased a very rare Stratavarious violin for your Great Granduncle Philippe after he won acclaim before an audience in this this same theatre. But a few short months following his birthday sixteenth Philippe was killed in WWII. It was a very sad time for everyone
         “But Father, Granduncle Franc is al an adept violinist.”
         “Oui Philippe, but he does not make the instrument sing as you will do one day. The celebrated musicians in the LeClerc family have always possessed the same unusual shade of silver/blue eyes as you. You were name for two ancestors before Great granduncle, went on to become very prominent violinists.'

Since that night he’d done at least one concert per year in that opera house—sometimes two.
It wasn’t that he feared his granduncle; he didn’t. He been to the château many times—it was after all, his family seat—and, Uncle Franc had filled the void left by his father in 2010. But this night was somehow different for a reason that Philippe couldn’t quite understand. He was a renowned violinist around the world, and Uncle Franc had played violin since he was twelve years old—but following his heart attack three years ago his physician had told him that, at sixty, his tour schedule would cause undue stress. For a time, it seemed Uncle Franc had lost the will to live, but it was only a matter of months before he began giving small parties at the château.
         Although he had always praised Philippe’s accomplishments, Philippe had always felt somehow inadequate every time he played at the chateau. And was aware that Uncle Franc would, most certainly, ask him to play his favorite violin solo tonight. But the tonight’s party had not been planned, the invitation had come very early this afternoon, thus his nerves. Philippe was a tall as was his Uncle Franc, perhaps an inch or two taller. He was dark with silver/blue eyes, broad shoulders, narrow hips, and prominent facial features, including thick black hair and his curly, long, black eyelashes that brushed his high cheekbones. His full lips accented his angular face and his Great Granduncle Philippe had been dead ten-years-dead before Uncle Franc’s father was born, thus Uncle Franc never really knew his brother.
         Although Uncle Franc was an adept violinist, he could not be considered renowned musician, and Philippe had always felt that he was jealous of Philippe’s talent. His eyes were violet/blue and his once black hair had turned snow white following his heart attack. Although they had never been particularly close, after his father was killed in Afghanistan in 2010, during a non-aggression mission with the French Army Corps of Engineers, Uncle Franc had been there for him. 
And he didn’t understand his reticence to play for his uncle tonight, but his anxiety was much like the mixture of awe and nervousness he experienced each time he appeared before a new audience anywhere in the world, but why was the question.  And yet, he felt like an inept detective at the scene of a crime, although the clues were in plane sight, he still hadn't found the needle. The heels of Jean’s ankle boots clicked against the marble floors in the hallway, as he walked toward the salon.
         “Philippe,” Jean said, as he entered the salon in the large apartment that Jean had shared with him for almost ten years. They lived in one of the oldest buildings and neighborhoods in Paris. “Why are you still in this room? You have been practicing all afternoon. It is time for a break. You can’t improve upon perfet, Philippe. We will be late and you know your uncle prefers punctuality.”  He brushed a speck of invisible lint from the shoulder of Philippe’s Tuxedo jacket, straightened his blue bow tie, and smiled, over Philippe’s shoulder, and into the mirror hanging above the ornate marble mantle gracing the granite fireplace surround—a focal point in this room. He kissed the back of Philippe’s neck, put one hand on each shoulder, and turned him toward himself, kissing him passionately on the lips.
As always when around this wonderful man was in the same room as him, Philippe’s eyes twinkled, and his heart beat like a drum.
         “Philippe, there is no call for you to be nervous. Your uncle is not God, after all. Such a presence truly does not exist, you know? A point I am willing to argue. If there were such a deity, your uncle is not he.”
         Philippe laughed. “Jean,” he said softly. “I can always count on you to introduce brevity into the situation, but this night is somehow different. It would take a Philosopher to adequately explain my reticence, and then even he would probably be wrong. It is an excitement that I have not known since my first           premier before a new audience.”
         Jean straightened Philippe’s tie again—in France they still dressed rather formally for special occasions, which meant wearing white tuxedoes, silk shirts, lace cravats, and white ankle boots. However, Philippe had nixed the tailor’s suggestion that his boots boast the exaggerated one-inch heel. ‘I do not serve in Louis XIV royal court, and don’t even think about introducing a periwig. I agreed to this tuxedo, and that’s as far as I will go.’
         “Do you believe your uncle will present you with a special gift on this night,” Philippe?” Jean asked. Philippe looked up at the fine Swiss timepiece atop the marble mantle as it chimed 1300 heurs (5:00p. m.) “I do not know, Jean, but I’m sure Uncle Franc will ask me to play this particular selection tonight.  I must practice one more time.”
         “You will do well, Philippe,” Jean said emphatically, shaking his head.  “Besides, too much of good thing ruins the effect.”
         Jean was very talkative, unusual for him. “So, you are not immune to these feelings of unrest either. You are nervous as well?” 
         Jean like Philippe was tall—not an unusual characteristic in Paris where many families were mixed with Dutch blood, a consequence of centuries of religious wars. Long black eyelashes accented heavily-hooded eye’s the color of chocolat syrup, and full, red lips. His fair skin was evidence of his Dutch ancestry. 
         “Oui, my love, I am nervous too. You are right, something about tonight is different from all other nights. I have felt it since we received that invitation early this afternoon, but I’m sure we have nothing to worry about.”
         “Very well, Jean, I’ll take a break and eat a light snack before we leave. You’re right of course, I’m obsessing again.”
          “It is to be expected, my love. It is after all your Birthday.”

         As the chauffeur drove the limousine toward Versailles, Philippe sat back into the leather upholstery. He relaxed a fraction, but only a faction. And a colony of butterflies still maintained a commanding lead in his stomach. However, his mind wondered back several years to before his Great grandfather died. He’d spent his last enjoyable summer at Château LeClerc where he listened as Great grandfather regaled him with stories about the history of the château which had been built in the late seventeenth century, perhaps even before that. There was even as story that original patriarch had been a sailor in Louis XIII private Corsair/Boucanier Navy during the seventeenth century. Grandfather said the stories were never disproven, and he had therefore accepted them as truth. 
         The château—one of the few chateaux in and around the city of Paris, that although fire nearly destroyed during the French Revolution, had sustained only minimal damage had was located seven miles north of Versailles. And many of the beautiful European white-stones on the outside still remained gray, as a result of the fire—and on the inside, all the expensive furniture and fabrics in the downstairs rooms were replicas of original Louis XIV and Louis XVI pieces. The rooms themselves had been heavily smoke-damaged, and the shattered multipaned windows on all four floors, had, of course, been replaced. In the ‘90’s his grandfather had steam-cleaned the stones on the lower two stories of château white again, leaving the third story a dull grey\white. Being an insatiably curious individual, Philippe asked why.
         “Why do you not clean all of the stones, Grandfather?”  “Château LeClerc is now the home of the living, Philippe. It is not necessary for every building in Paris to wear the scars of history.”
         “But Grandfather, why leave the third floor stained?”
         “Philippe, as it is not necessary for the whole house to be scared, neither is wise to forget the time of madness that nearly destroyed France and this lovely home, as well.”  With those words Philippe was satisfied.

         During what was surely the Worst of Times, as Charles Dickens had later written in his novel A Tale of Two Cities. Irreparable damage had been done to many of the châteaux, maisons, villas, and places of business, including the palaises, in and around Paris. Some had been restored, but many had been abandoned since immediate family or friends had never returned Paris, and the family remaining in France had chosen abandonment rather than restoration, as the expense to restore had been astronomical. It was likely that although they didn’t live in Paris, many of the families did not survive the revolution. Although the use of the Guillotine had been outlawed, it was used until well into the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s. The Revolution and the three-year Terror which followed had definitely been a time or madness, ruled over by one insane man who called himself God, promoting God to the seat of Highest Honor as the Supreme Being. This God-being fantasy, Jean words, with which Philippe agreed, also believing this deity was truly an illusion created by ignorant men who thirsted for power and control. If such a loving entity existed, he would never allow his creation to commit mass murder in his name.
         Jean interrupted Philippe's thoughts. “Philippe, I see you have begun to relax. You must be thinking about the château again.”
         “Oui, Jean, It is a source of never-ending intrigue.”
         “My Great Grandfather also told me many stories about that time,” Jean said. Even today, many in Paris believe the Revolutionary’s settled for only a bone when they might have eaten steak every night for the rest of their natural lives, and Napoleon never did keep his promises to restore the city’s beauty.
         “Oui, Jean, I fail to understand how a man can call mass murder the humane solution. No matter the weapons  used, it’s still murder—how many flowers one plants on the battlefield or the grave of a soldier doesn’t alter the reality that the soldier is dead and war is still war.
"And war is terrorism.
         “I agree.” Jean said.
         The speaker in the ceiling of the limousine crackled to life. “Monsieur Philippe, we will be arriving at Château LeClerc within twenty minutes,” the chauffeur said.
         “Merci, Paul,” 
         “Relax, Philippe, your uncle is but a man. He loves you.”
         "I am just obsessing, again. I can’t understand why this visit to the château seems different than any other visit.”
         “As I said earlier, Philippe, perhaps your uncle is going to present you with a special gift on this night.”
         “Perhaps,” Philippe said, and lapsed into silence again as Paul turned the corner onto the semi-circular, tree-lined cobblestoned lane leading to the château. Philippe opened the car window, sniffed at the air, and sighed. The smell of fresh cut grass mingled with the light scent of Lavender, wafting through the air on the breeze, from Uncle François’ small Lavender field behind the château might have made travel pleasant, as it was an apt incentive to relax. It took a crew of ten men, two days to manicure and mow the lawn surrounding the chateau, tend to the flowers in the Jardins, behind the chateau, and water and prune the Lavender in the small field beyond the jardins. The three-story white stone structure sat regally upon a low mound in the middle of the property. Château LeClerc was so far north of Versailles, had been owned by neither aristocrat nor noble, and had been located off the beaten trail—but the Revolutionary Guard, in their hunger for, and their jealousy of anything resembling money, had nearly destroyed Paris,.  Although they had thrown many torches at the châteaux and maison in the vicinity, the men did not remain to be sure the fire continued to burn once the glass shattered and the draperies caught fire.

{indent}Abruptly, Jean found himself standing on the street in Paris on that terrible day. he heard the frenzy and confusion . . . Some citizens were actually dancing in the street around La Place de Revolution as Louis XVI—the scapegoat of the Revolution—was led to his death. A brave man stood nude before the rail of the scaffolding, and attempted to make the defense that been denied him by the High Court. The low rumble of the drums grew steadily louder until it drowned out the king’s resonating voice. Resigned to his fate, and refusing to have his hands tied behind him, Louis turned proudly away from the rail, and without a fight, lay upon the on his stomach on the plank table. The apparatus mechanism began to work and the plank table swung out over the crowd, as the force of gravity caused the king's arms to fly out to sides, in self-preservation. It was as though he might fly away. Many screamed, others cried, and a few actually danced and sang around a small fires burning for warmth around the La Place de la Revolution. As the Plank table came back, the blade dropped against the back of Louis’ neck, but it was so thick that when the blade dropped, it did not sever. The plank table swung out and back once again, the blade dropped a second time, the king’s head dropped from his shoulders . . . and into te basket the Pugilist held out to catch it. He grabbed the head by the hair, and held it up for all to see. “Surely this man was innocent and the Revolution has been lost.” The Pugilist mumbled as he held the king's head in the air. Mob violence reigned, and at the same time, a once joyful crowd suddenly realized the gravity of what they had just done. Although they hadn’t played an active role, these men and women had been as guilty as if they’d collectively wielded a giant rapier severing their king’s head. The citizens of Paris had committed Regicide. And they now began to cry for an entirely different raison, but tears after the fact, were useless.
         Louis was the first to be sacrificed; then hell reigned for three years until Robespierre himself became the victim of his own humane solution. Wasn’t it just like the crew of the ship to hang the captain in the midst of the storm, and as his dead body dangles in the wind and the ship is fast sinking, they cry for mercy?
         Jean was filled with anger, fear, and revulsion.  He watched in horror as the thick heavy plumes of smoke churned and roiled high into the Parisian sky.  He choked, his eyes and throat burned and his stomach churned and rolled over as the bile rose in his throat. Acrid smoked asailed his nostrils, and his limbs were as heavy as a lead bar. The fires burned until late into the night, brightly illuminating the night sky.

Jean shook his head as he came to himself again. Forty years ago, Philippe’s Great grandfather had commissioned the same team of landscapers who tended the enormous property, to plant Palm trees on each side of the cobbled lane, a Weeping Willow tree had been planted to the left and right if the pf chatau in the large lawn near each flight of stairs up to the front terrace. “Jean, are you alright? You look as though you might be ill.”
“I am well, it is all in my mind,” he said.

         Tonight, there were no guests at the chateau but following an exquisite dinner in the formal dining room down the west hall near the kitchen, Uncle François, Philippe, and Jean had retired to the Grand Salon—the most impressive room in the château. A white grand piano sat in the middle of the large room. Several couches, recliners and even two antique chaise longues had been tastefully arranged around two Persian wool area carpets which covered the marble floors.  “Philippe, my son, I hope you and Jean did intend to stay at Château LeClerc for a couple of days,' Uncle Frank said. "Did you not? I have some very special activities slated for tomorrow evening.”
         Philippe smiled at his uncle. “Of course, Uncle, don’t we not always come prepared?” If Jean had been experiencing the same emotions as Philippe, his stomach had just turned a complete summersault. Staying the night was common practice whenever they visited Philippe's uncle. But two days? 
         “The maid has prepared your suite upstairs, and Paul’s small suite on the third floor west of the servant’s wing.
         “Now that I have informed you of my plans, I must ask you to wait here for a few minutes while I go up to my suite and get your gift. I have been very busy making sure everything is just right for this evening, as well as, tomorrow evening.          I promise you will like your gift.”
         After Uncle Franc left the room, Jean and Philippe exchanged glances and listened as Uncle Franc’s footsteps echoed through the foyer, up the stairs, and faded away as he turned north down the hallway toward his suite of rooms in the north wing.
         “Did I not tell you your uncle was going to present you with a very special gift on this night?” Jean reached into the left pocket of his tux jacket, drew out a blue linen envelope, and tracing, with his finger, the gold fleur de lis embossed on the front, an handed it to Philippe. “This was delivered  with the invitation early this afternoon. I must admit I did read it.  It is the raison I was also nervous. I can’t imagine what your uncle’s special gift might be though.”
         "If I was not nervous before, Jean,” he said. I would most certainly be nervous now.”  He drew the white card from the envelope.
         “I am sorry for keeping a secret from you, Mon Cher,” Jean said as Philippe read the raised black letters on the white linen invitation. With trembling fingers, he put the card back into the envelope and handed it back to Jean.
         “Under the circumstances, Jean, you didn’t have much choice. I wonder what the gift is.” He said as Uncle Franc walked into the salon carrying a violin case and a blue velvet cloth. He set the case on the floor, spread the velvet cloth the width of the glass top on the coffee table. He then laid the case upon it and opened it. There, lying atop the red Felt lining, lay a highly polished Stratavarious violin, and beside it a gold bow.”
         “My father gave this to me when I turned twenty-one years old. I must admit I have selfishly coveted it for years, but when I could tour no longer, I did private concerts. But tonight, I present it to you. Happy Birthday, Phillippe. You have earned this.”

         Philippe stood, from the chair, and gently grasped the handle of the instrument. Lifting it from the case, he held it in both hands, and stared at the lovely instrument as though he’d never seen a violin before. He’d always envied Uncle Franc and often wondered why Great grandfather had chosen to give the violin to him, but he'd never asked.  Each time he attended a concert at one of his uncle’s Galas, or when his uncle performed in a theater, Philippe imagined another man standing in his uncle’s place, or behind him as a coach. Uncle Franc didn’t play that solo often anymore. As a matter of fact, the last time he’d played it was at Aunt Eloise’s funeral.
         “Come now, Philippe,” his uncle chided good naturedly, bring Philippe back into the salon. “It will not bite. I assure you.”
          Philippe ran his fingers over the polished surface of the beautiful instrument, stared at it for a couple minutes longer, and then carried it across the room to the piano, where, after Jean had played a few chords on the piano, Philippe set the violin beneath his chin and drew the bow gingerly across the strings.
         “Uncle, I do not know what to say,” he said.
         “Don’t speak at all, my son,” he said. “Simply, play.”
He drew the bow over the strings and then, steadying himself, he closed his eyes and played Méditation. As he played, his heart constricted, a lump collected in his throat, and warm tears began to flow from his eyes. He relaxed into the music as it flowed, not from him but through him from some otherwise heavenly place.
He played . . .

         When the music finally ended, he dropped the bow to one side, the violin to the other, and just stood where he was, listening for someone to speak into the vast silence that had fallen over the large room. Suddenly he heard applause, and his eyes shot open, as he discovered he had an audience. The chef and her kitchen staff had come into the salon from the kitchen, and were standing just inside the salon door. The Butler, the doorman, all three house maids, and even Paul, his driver, were also present.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Even Jean’s and Uncle Franc’s face glistened with tears. Jean stood from the piano, together they bowed, and walked back to the coffee table. Philippe laid the instrument gently atop the Felt lining in the case, and placed the bow alongside it. He stepped back a few steps, and sat down, again, in the recliner.
         “Awesome!” His uncle said. “Even when I played that song, it did not sound so good!”
Jean leaned forward, “Mon Cher,” he said to Philippe in low voice, “I have also never heard that particular solo played so reverently before.” 
         “Merci, but it was not I who played the solo. It was as though the music flowed through me from some, another place. I swear someone was guiding the bow over the strings.”
         “Ah, then you have sensed it also, Nephew,” his uncle said. “I have often said that violin is enchanted.”  He looked around the room. “The concert is over, Messieurs and Mademoiselles. You may depart the room.”

         The next night as he and Jean slept, a strange thing happened.  “Philippe,”
Philippe opened his eyes and sat up in the bed. He’d fallen asleep while lying on his back again, something he often did in this comfortable bed. When he and Jean came up to bed, following his uncle’s gala, he had still been salivating from the Fillet Mingnon and Spinach Soufflé that Uncle Franc’s chef had prepared for dinner. She was as good, if not better than most male chefs whose food he’d tasted over the past ten years. The Gala had been an enormous success. Many of Uncle Franc’s guests had spent the night, as wine before, during, and after the meal had left them feeling much too good to travel. That afternoon Uncle Frank’s attorney had also come to the château and the four of them had retired to the study. Where, after an hour of discussion, it had been decided that upon his uncle's death, Philippe would inherit the chateau. And his uncle signed the documents transferring Château LeClerc into Philippe’s possession. And finally, several hours ago, he’d performed that violin solo for close to fifty guests, and he could swear it sounded better tonight than it had last night. Tomorrow afternoon he and Jean would return to Paris. 


         He looked around the room. Although the drapes were closed, he’d opened one of the French doors a crack earlier, before he left for gala, allowing the aroma of Lavender to drift on the wind, into the suite. The form of a man was outlined in colorful sparkles in the narrow shaft of moonlight that peeked through a slim crack in the heavy drapes as they billowed gently. He blinked, rubbed his eyes, and looked over at Jean, who lay sleeping.
         “Just listen. I cannot stay long," the voice said. Do not worry. Jean’s sleep will not been disturbed. I am sorry that you can only see my outline. I have been fully absorbed, you see. I am called a Sparkle. I suppose it is because I blink in and out, like the blink of an eye. In life, I was your Granduncle Philippe. I played that violin only a few times before I went to war. I have spent these many years waiting for the right person to play it. My brother, your Uncle Franc might have been that man, but he is too timid, and while he is adept, he plays without passion. Plus he feared my guidance. He doesn’t let his heart burn through his music. When I attempted to guide his fingers, he was unwilling. He also feared his own talent. When he feels himself drifting into the music, he resists. But tonight, and last night you just relaxed into the music as I guided you bow. You understood that the music did not come from you, but through you.
         “I sensed something special happened last night and tonight as well" Philippe said. My heart was so full of emotion I could hardly breathe.”
         “I will be present within you during each performance until you have developed the confidence to let your emotions speak. My father would be so proud. This was my suite when I lived in this house. François was born to my father late in life, after he married for the second time. Therefore, I did not know him as my brother. But on some level he does understand. Tell Jean about this encounter. Françoise is aware of my presence, but he will not admit it. You will become more than what you are. You will become passionate. “
         With those words, the sparkles of color disappeared, and the curtains fell strangely still. Philippe lay back against pillow, closing his eyes again.

         Philippe had been unusually quiet since late Monday afternoon when they returned to the apartment. Once he had shared the apparition with Jean,  he’d been unusually contemplative.

Jean sat alone in the suite, when Philippe had told him about the previous night's apparition, he realized the own time in human form was quickly coming to an end. He'd had been so thankful for the opportunity to be with his perfet love over these past ten years, that he had forgotten what Philippe had told him the day had rescued him. They had not been together since WWII when Jean shielded Philippe’s body with his own, as they were being programed in the alley in the small village north of Paris, during the French Resistance. He came alert when he heard footsteps coming toward the bedroom.
         “Jean, Philippe said as he entered the room, walked to the bed, and sat down beside Jean. For a time, he remained silent, staring into the golden-blue flames of the fire. He sighed, and continued. “We need to talk.” He walked to the chair across from his side of the bed, and sat down. “I have been doing a great deal of thinking since we left the château. I am as you are, correct?”
         “We are both Infinites, yes, Philippe, but there is a difference. I am born to die. Let me explain. In human terms I would be called an Eternal Warrior. We are always born males. I have died in every war since the fourth century, always in France, well, except the one time in Scotland, of course. We did not meet, you and I, until shortly before that war. We were very close. You were shot by an English dog, I believe they were called back then. I carried you to safety and I was shot upon my return to the battlefield. We did not meet again, until shortly before the Terror began. My father was one of Louis XIV closest friends and confidants and he knew the Revolutionaries were coming for him, so he brought me to my uncle’s maison in a mountain village in the north for protection. It was there that we met. But we grew too close, and my uncle being quite religious, did not appreciate our affinity toward each other. He arranged a marriage between me and the daughter of one of his business associates. Ours was a marriage of convenience, you see? For religious raisons—oh, there were also the monetary concerns—but it was chiefly for the sake of religion, and to save face, I suppose. Minette gave birth to my son and I came to love her very much. I began to believe our amiability was mutual, but I was deceived. After she gave birth to my daughter, she informed me the girl had been her lovers. And so it was. She took her daughter, and ran away to be with her lover who escaped far to the north, as he was a soldier in Louis XVI army.”
         “You and I came together again, and fought in Napoleon’s vast army.”
         “Yes, although you did not fight, I died in one of Napoleon's many wars.”
         “But again, you saved my life.”
         “That is how it was meant to be.”
         Philippe walked across the room to the credenza, and poured two glasses of wine. “You shielded my body with your own during the French Résistance in WWII. I carried a heavy burden of guilt with me for a very long time, until a friend told me it was meant to be.” Philippe took a sip of wine, set the glass on the small coffee table, and went to the fireplace to
put another log on the fire. “The other night, on the way to Château LeClerc, you were remembering what happened during the Revolution, were you not?” He asked.
         “Oui, you are correct.”
         “Ten years ago, when we met, it was meant to be. But will you die in another war?”
         “No, Your uncle redeemed me, for lack of a better word, before he was assimilated. You see he is a Sparkle. I was born to a wealthy Parisian in 1979.”
         “How much longer do you have?”
         “My time grows short, Mon Cher. Once I have completed my assignment, your Uncle Philippe will become a sub-Source and I will be a Shimmer. But I will be present at every performance until you come into your own. About ten years, I think. After that I will be assimilated, and you will go on to perform for another ten years.”
         “And when I die, I will be as you are, Philippe said.”
         “Can you not reside in my great grand uncle’s rooms at Chateau LeClerc after you are assimilated? I am sure my uncle will not mind.”
         “By the time I need a place to reside, your uncle will be quite beyond caring. Besides the château is yours now.”
         “You know, I have been thinking these past two days. How would you like to move to the château within the  next two or three months? I am sure it will not be difficult to sell this apartment.”
         “That sounds great, Philippe. I was hoping you would choose to move out there. I love the château.”
         The intercom crackled to life. “Oui, Charles,”
         “Dinner will be ready within the hour, Monsieur Philippe.”
          “Call when it is time.”
           “Very well, Monsieur.

5,413 words
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