Extract from Chapter Three. Novel set in the 1960s
| The House Near Fallowfield|
Extract from Chapter Three
Mancini was the name of the restaurant. In a wooded area, just outside the town, stood what at first appeared to be a continental style house which gave onto a discreet car park. Here they left the car and made their way up the steps. The glass doors were all open and the aroma of pizza and herbs almost overwhelmed her.
The French owner seemed to be waiting for them in the entrance and effusively greeted them in French. Bernard responded with equal enthusiasm, also in French and introduced his companion. Unusual for England, thought Frankie, with its austere reserve but something with which she was well acquainted in Iowa, especially when accompanying her wealthy employer.
They were shown to a table. There were several people already seated, but the dining room was far from full. Jean Pierre brought them a drink, which he called an aperitif, along with a plate of green olives.
‘A French, Italian restaurant. Unusual.’
‘Jean Pierre was in England studying when Paris was invaded. He joined the British army. He was wounded, while fighting with Monty against Rommel, in North Africa. Spent two years in Italy, convalescing and
learning to cook.’
A waiter uncorked a bottle of red wine and poured them each a small
glass. Once again she began to feel quite euphoric. The lunch, an exotic salad, followed by Osso Buco and a dessert of chocolate and clotted cream was nothing like the food in the Italian restaurants of Iowa. By the time they finished, she realised she had drunk more than half the bottle of wine and still wanted more.
They had chatted over lunch about Italy, France, Iowa and when the Germans invaded Paris. There was something else she wanted to talk about but she found that she was not able to remember. Then she said,
‘Do you think Albert's all right? I really should get back. That was a nasty bang on the head. Maybe we should have called the police. And taken him to hospital. I don't know how I ran off like that.’
Bernard grinned at her.
‘Yes. Let's be getting back. Look it's beginning to get dark already.’
‘It gets dark so early in winter in England. I didn't remember that when I lived in America.’
‘Well it's nearly Christmas. These are the shortest days of the year. By the way, what are you doing on Christmas Day?’
‘Nothing at all. I have no family here.’
‘Neither have I. But my friends have invited me to Christmas lunch in a
village, not too far away from here. Would you like to come with me? They told me to bring a friend. And I think we are now friends. Wouldn't you say?’