Most of Alissa’s family was on a plane headed to Champs Les Sims, France to visit Alissa’s grandparents and cousins. Crystal wasn’t with them this trip, but she’d told her grandparents that she would come to see them in the fall. Work was too busy for her to take time off for another trip to France right now.
It had taken a lot of convincing to get Dale to agree to take the children for a visit. Alissa had told him what had happened with Solange and Pascale and he had been extremely angry! He felt better after reassurances from Alissa’s grandparents that their children would be safe at their home. They had told him that Solange would not be there during the time of their visit. She was responding well to therapy, but she was still undergoing inpatient treatment. She had recently been permitted some weekend stays at the vineyard, but during the visit of Alissa’s family, she would not be home.
Marguerite had meant it when she’d said that Pascale would not be returning to the vineyard. However, she really wanted to see Alissa again and to meet her family. Pascale had sent a letter to Cara apologizing for what she had done when they had visited the vineyard. Cara had the feeling though that while Pascale was sorry for the rock slide, Pascal wasn’t sorry for the names she’d called her when she’d found Julian with Cara. Alissa intended to take a day during their stay and go to see Marguerite.
Cara and Julian had become friends since her visit. They had remained in contact with one another via Facebook. Shawn and Julian had also become friends, and Julian had messaged them that he couldn’t wait to see them when they arrived in France! He had a girlfriend now and he wanted her to meet them as well.
Matthew and Kaye very seldom took a commercial flight for trips anymore, but the studio’s plane was being refurbished. So the family was flying first class on a commercial airline. Rémi and Charlotte had invited Matthew, and Alissa’s stepmother, Kaye, to come too.
Kelsey was one of the flight attendants assigned to first class. Every time she was in Noah’s view, Kelsey sashayed her hips a little bit more. The other flight attendant, Roberta, had seen her slip a note to Noah, something she’d done in the past with other celebrities who had caught her eye. It was an offer to meet her in the employee restroom for a trip to the “mile high club” with her.
Most of the time, her offer was accepted. Kelsey had received expensive gifts because of it. Roberta was disgusted and was strongly tempted to report Kelsey to their supervisor. Kelsey had promised that the last celebrity would be her last, but that had been a lie!
“Now I know why you volunteered for this flight, Kelsey. You knew that Noah Hall was going to be flying today. You’re going to get yourself into big trouble if you keep doing this!”
Noah frowned as he tore the note up and made sure that Kelsey saw him do it! Sharlee had seen the note although Noah hadn’t realized that she’d seen it. Sharlee wondered if she was just supposed to sit by silently and watch as Kelsey tried to seduce her husband! She’d noticed the way that Kelsey sashayed around Noah. Noah had been ignoring Kelsey just as Sharlee knew that he would, but Sharlee was sick of people assuming that they could come between her and Noah.
“You know what, Kelsey, there are a lot of women in this world. However, not all women are “ladies.” Some women are “bitches.” A big difference between a “lady” and a “bitch” is that a true “lady” doesn’t automatically assume that every man is like a dog ready to run after any “bitch” in heat who wags her tail in his face. I strongly suggest that you try to behave like a “lady” in the future or you might just get spayed!”
Noah was a bit quiet during most of the plane ride. Being around so much family at once like he would have to be in France was still not the easiest thing for him to do. He looked at Sharlee and knew how much she was looking forward to France, both meeting her great grandparents and staying at the vineyard. Noah wanted Sky to have all the love that she could get, and her great grandparents had already spoken with Sharlee and told her how happy they were that they were going to get a chance to spend time with their great great granddaughter too!
Crystal had called Noah after she heard that they were going to France. She’d known how uncomfortable Noah would probably feel about going.
“Just be yourself, Noah. My grandparents may seem uptight, but they are good people. They’ll accept you for who you are! Rémi Jr. and his sons are nice, quiet guys and you won’t have a problem with them. That old bitch Aunt Solange won’t even be there! As for the chateau, it’s sort of like living in a museum, but you did like Italy. So you’ll be okay. Just relax and have a good vacation with Sharlee and Skylar! Isn’t it about time you two got busy making me a great nephew!”
Noah laughed thinking of what she’d told him. He’d mentioned to Sharlee about what Crystal had said about the great nephew. Sharlee had laughed too! It would be a while before Crystal got her wish for a great nephew.
Noah raised Sharlee’s hand to his lips and kissed it.
Dale saw him do it and he said to Alissa,
“He really loves our girl a lot.”
She responded, “Yes, they really love each other like we do!”
Dale kissed Alissa softly. Aidan turned just as Dale kissed her. “Ewww!”
Alissa leaned over and kissed Aidan’s cheek. He was going through the don’t hug or kiss me stage, but Alissa still did it anyway, just not in front of his friends. She knew that he still needed and really wanted that affection from her and Dale.
When they drove up to the chateau, Sharlee felt right at home. The chateau was charming and looked like a fairytale come to life! She’d loved France ever since her first visit as a child and had learned to speak French fluently. Knowing that she had family here had made France even more special to her!
As soon as they were inside the chateau, Joy led her brothers over to her Great Grand-Père. He had completely recovered and was standing strong and eagerly waiting to greet them.
“Hello Grand-Père! This is my big brother, Sean, and my little brother, Aidan!”
“Grand-Mère, it is so wonderful to finally meet you in person. This is our Skylar.”
Alissa looked on, seeing how much meeting the rest of the family really meant to her grandparents. When she met Dale, Charlotte told Alissa that Alissa had made an excellent choice. Dale was an extremely good looking and charming young man!
Cara had laughed at her Dad being referred to as a young man!
Matthew had felt a bit nervous about meeting Devra’s parents, but they had been warm and welcoming to both he and Kaye.
Rémi II had also been glad to meet them. He was a quiet man, but he really valued family ties and hoped to get to know the rest of the family well too. After his mother had been committed, he examined himself and his own behavior. He’d been ashamed of the way that he had treated his ex-wife and shut her out of his life and his sons’ lives. He’d contacted her and they had come to a new arrangement with their sons. They were going to spend more time with her so that she could have a greater role in their lives. The boys were spending their spring break with her and so they were not here during Alissa and her family’s visit this time.
Later, after unpacking and settling in their rooms, everyone met in the dining room for dinner. Before she left France on her previous visit, Alissa had conferred with Arnaud. They knew that with Solange gone, it would be too much of a burden for her grandmother to take care of all of the cooking and cleaning alone.
So Alissa and Arnaud had hired a housekeeper and maid to work at the chateau fulltime, splitting the payment between the two of them. Their grandparents had protested, but they had insisted on doing it. Rémi II had his hands full just taking care of the vineyard and since they could not be there to help, they were happy to do anything they could to make sure that their grandparents would not have to over exert themselves.
“This is really good! Can I have some more?”
The second course was “vol au vent” which was a puff pastry, and it was served with a seafood sauce.
The third course was “foie gras.”
Aidan frowned and looked at his plate.
Aidan tasted it and liked it just as much as the ratatouille! He ate it and then asked for another serving of it.
Charlotte smiled, pleased that her family was enjoying the meal.
After Rèmi answered Kaye’s question, he looked around the table and felt a surge of contentment. Crystal had been spot on in her description of her family. They seemed to be very good-hearted, strong people and he was proud to have them as members of his family.
Rèmi II offered to give them some bottles to take back home with them.
Matthew thanked him and said that they would drink them on special occasions.
Dessert was so tasty that even though Cara didn’t think she could take another bite, she forced herself to finish it! There were two choices of tart. One was made with key limes and one with strawberries. The crust was so flaky and light that it melted in your mouth!
By the time dinner was over, everyone was comfortably full. There had been wine, cheese, fruit drinks and fresh baked bread also served throughout the meal.
“Vous êtes les bienvenus! I’m so happy that you were all here to enjoy it with us!”
“I really feel alive here. I used to get a rush from riding my chopper super fast and popping wheelies. Here, just taking a deep breath gives me a rush; looking at you I feel the same way. It makes me realize that just looking at Sky, just looking at you is all the rush I really need in my life now.”
Sharlee felt tears coming into her eyes. “Noah you are so romantic.”
“I don’t know if I’m romantic, but I do know that you and Skylar make me happy!”
She leaned down and kissed his lips softly.
They walked slowly through the countryside with their arms around each other, enjoying the peace, quiet and beauty and just happy and content to be with one another. They always savored moments like these.
Sharlee went up to her room to check on Skylar. Skylar was napping. She and Noah asked to keep Skylar in their room with them rather than in the nursery. She was shocked to see a woman sitting at the foot of the bed looking at Skylar as she slept. Sharlee recognized the woman as being her great Aunt, Solange because her mother had told her that Solange and Devra had been twins. Also, Cara had taken pictures of Solange during their previous visit.
Solange looked around the room. Then she said, “That is just as it should be. This should be a place of respite for all in the family for all the generations to come. When I first came here today, I was….. I don’t know for sure why I came. Maybe I needed to see her to remove the remaining bitterness from my heart.”
She began to cry harder. “I wish that I had not shut my sister out! What if I had tried to help her, to get her to change! I was her twin. If anyone could have reached her, it would have been me. Instead, I pushed her away and left her to her own destruction.”
Sharlee let her cry for a few more moments. Then she said, “Aunt Solange, you should not blame yourself. There comes a point in time where each of us are responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices. My Grandmother Devra chose the life that she led. Of course she could have come to Great Grand-Mère and Grand-Père had she wanted to do so! If there is one thing I do remember clearly about her, it’s that she was a very strong-willed woman, and you could not have kept her away.”
“Alright.” He took Skylar from her crib and carried her out of the room.
Cara and Shawn were in the salon and he handed Sky to Cara. Then he sent Joy and Shawn to find Rémi II and their Great Grandparents while he went back up to Sharlee.
Solange looked at Sharlee in surprise and then a small smile came across her face. “You have the open, loving heart of my Mère.”
“Mère! Que faites-vous ici?”
“I would like to see Mère and Père and my grandsons before I return to the clinic.”
Shawn sent the ball over the net!
One of the other girls on the team scored the point and the girls hugged each other, savoring their victory over the guys!
Alissa looked after Skylar one afternoon so that Noah and Sharlee could go into town and do some sightseeing. They also visited a nightclub that Rèmi II told them about. It was filled with young people their age who were happy to welcome the newcomers into their group.
Noah was drinking a beer and Sharlee was sipping a real “cafe au lait.” She was savoring each delicious mouthful even though a large cup was much larger than she had expected. Sharlee grinned at Noah. “This tastes so unbelievably good!”
Once again the days flew by and the family’s visit came to an end. Matthew thanked Rèmi and Charlotte for making them all feel at home and told them to let him know a date when they and the rest of the family in France wanted to visit the US. He told them that he would have them flown there and make all of the arrangements for them. Alissa and her family were all sad to leave but promised to stay in touch and visit often.
Thanks Anna for helping me learn more about the French lifestyle! ❤