Jealousy

This is another extract from a novel I am planning to write about a British couple in the Dordogne. This part is written from the man’s point of view. They are invited to dinner by their friends.

 

Dinner was reaching the end. It was getting dark. We were no longer hungry after the foie gras, salade de gesiers and lush dessert but the wine continued to flow. Debbie and Fred kept talking, comparing house prices in the South West, redecoration, his job in an investment bank and their son  Tim who was a little genius, very advanced for his age and currently studying at Bedales. Isabella was sitting next to me. Her husband was unwell. She was very quiet. To be fair Debbie and Fred were not giving her much of a chance to voice her feelings.

“Are you really planning to stay here all year?” Debbie shouted in her shrill voice.

“Yes, we are, very much so.” Isabella sounded very determined.

“Well, I can tell you, it gets really quiet in the Winter. Not much to do here, apart from a few shopping trips to Bergerac and Perigueux or even Bordeaux if you’re lucky.”

“It suits me fine” I answered. I am planning to work on my novel.

“Ah, the great novel of the century. Isn’t that an old fashioned concept?”Fred had put his glass down and was leaning over me, somewhat aggressively I thought. But maybe it was just my imagination or my overblown male ego.

” I am sure John will find plenty of inspiration for his novel” piped in his wife. “And what about you?”she turned to Isabella “are you planning to start a family any time soon?”

Isabella let out a hollow laugh: “Well, we’ve got plenty of time.” I offered her some more wine.

Then I heard a laugh. It was Tessa. She was talking to some French guy Fred and Debbie had invited. He did odd jobs on their property and some gardening. His name was Gabriel. He was still a student and from what Tessa had told me yesterday he pretended to be a Marxist. He spoke no English, so since Tessa was the only one to speak proper French, they had been sat next to each other. She was laughing and imagelaughing. I realise she was completely drunk. Her cheeks were flushed, her blond hair dishevelled, and she was gazing at him with a look of utter abandon. The top two buttons of her shirt had come undone and her cleavage left little to the imagination. I felt a sense of outrage. I was a respectable man, I worked hard for a living, I deserved a woman like Tessa. What could that French layabout say for himself? And what about her? How could anyone fall for her crude manipulation, her pathetic attempts at flirtation? She is 38 for God’s sake and she is MY WIFE. I tolerate her of course but I will not be made a fool of.  This is what I was thinking, trying very hard to stay calm. She was talking to him again, whispering something in his ear. I finished my glass in one go.

Isabella was telling me all about her IVF:

“You’re so patient to listen to women’s problems. My husband is fed up with it I think. He wants us to give it up. But I really really want a baby. It´s so draining though. It takes all the pleasure out of sex. You feel… You feel a little bit like an animal, demeaned. And he doesn’t appreciate all the efforts I make to get through this.”

I understood. I understood everything except Tessa’s behaviour. I tried to be nice to Isabella. With her chestnut eyes and Bambi looks she moved me in a way.

Then Tessa laughed even louder. She had spilled some wine on her dress. I must have clenched my fist. There was a thud on the floor and blood dripping in my hand, not much, just a light trickle. I had broken my glass. The wine was starting to soak the carpet.

“Are you okay?” Isabella asked.

” I’m fine don’t worry.”

” You know, I don’t think what she’s doing is right.”

” I’m going. Will you thank the hosts for me? I’m sorry.

” Are you sure you’ll be okay to drive?

” Don’t worry. I might go for a little walk first.”

I got up, grabbed my coat and made way for the door. My head was pounding. I could still hear Tessa’s voice  and laughter as I left the house.

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Dear Isabella

Dear Isabella,

 

So sorry darling that it took me so long to answer your letter but the past few weeks have been pretty hectic to say the least. Now at last we seem settled here and having a bit of time for a rest and a glass of wine or two.

How are you and Tom doing?

John is happy here with his books and enjoying the peace and quiet of the French countryside.

As for me, you know I was a bit reluctant to leave London at first but we have finally made our escape and found some inner peace , which is the most important thing, don’t you think? Eymet is such a wonderful place, a quaint little village in the heart of the Dordogne, with an old church and tower, plenty of shops (ok, the clothes are pretty dreadful but they’re so damn cheap!), and of course, nice cafés where you can just relax  and drink some Bergerac ( the local wine) or Bordeaux if you’re feeling snobbish! They even have an English bookshop and a grocer’s shop called ‘A taste of Britain’ if you’re feeling nostalgic for home!

As I told you before, we haven’t had much time to ourselves, refurbishing the little cottage we bought a few months ago. We are hoping to turn it into a B&B or gîte as  they call it here. For the time being most of our visitors have been friends and acquaintances, but of course, we are trying to get advertised. Your help in that department would be more than appreciated…if you could spread the word for us in London.

You will come to visit us quite soon, won’t you? I’m sure you will feel like the Lady of the Manor here. John and I often joke that we have become country squires, without the rain and the ghastly foxhunting!

Mark and Sophie are settling in just fine. The French educational system does have its advantages and people learn so quickly at their age! No need for overpriced and incompetent French tutors now, they are really going native. Of course they miss their friends but they are adjusting  to their new life…plus having a swimming pool in the garden helps!

As for me, I don’t miss my job or the london fog. Who wants to be a financial advisor anyway? Not my childood dream… At least now I will be able to concentrate on my painting  and John on his writing. No more stress, pollution, hours of coummuting and liquid lunches with creeps. It really seems like heaven at the moment.

it´s really hot here in July and we have met lots of fun and interesting people. Our neighbours, Debbie and Fred, even threw a party for us yesterday. Of course it was mainly British expats but we’re hoping to make friends with the locals pretty soon.

I’m afraid we both came home a bit tipsy…oops. Anyway, we’ve got to make the most of the Summer. I guess the place will get considerably quieter in the Winter months. John’s moods have improved tremendously since we movved here. Sometimes I wonder if I am married to the same man! He was so tense and stressed over work and all the financial problems that you know only too well. So it seems we have turned over a new leaf…and are looking forward to a bright future. You only live once!

I realise I haven’t asked you too much about yourself but I do think about you a lot. I hope the IVF treatment is going well. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you. Remember, you are only 35 and have your whole life ahead of you. Always think positive sweetie.image

 

Lots of love and hugs,

 

Tessa.

 

 

 

 

By annagaelle