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Home > Sands of Time(34)

Sands of Time(34)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

"You should be singing professionally," Raoul told her.

She remembered the expression on Raimu's face when he had seen her. No, she would never risk exposing herself publicly again. "Thank you," Teresa mumbled.

He was touched by her embarrassment and shyness, and tried to draw her into conversation.

"I haven't been to eze before. It's a beautiful little town."

"Yes," Teresa mumbled.

"Were you born here?"

"Yes."

"Do you like it?"

"Yes."

Teresa picked up her package and fled.

The following day she found an excuse to go back to the shop again. She had stayed up half the night preparing what she was going to say to Raoul.

I'm glad you like eze...

The monastery was built in the fourteenth century, you know...

Have you ever visited Saint-Paul-de-Vence? There's a lovely chapel there....

I enjoy Monte Carlo, don't you? It's wonderful to have it so close to here. Sometimes my sister and I drive down the Grande Corniche and go to the Fort Antoine Theatre. Do you know it? It's the big open-air theater...

Did you know that Nice was once called Nikaia? Oh, you didn't? Yes, it was. The Greeks were there a long time ago. There's a museum in Nice with the remains of cavemen who lived there thousands of years ago. Isn't that interesting?

Teresa was prepared with dozens of such verbal gambits. Unfortunately, the moment she walked into the shop and saw Raoul, everything flew out of her head. She simply stared at him, unable to speak.

"Bonjour," Raoul said cheerfully. "It's nice to see you again, Mademoiselle De Fosse."

"M - merci." She felt like an idiot. I'm thirty years old, she told herself, and I'm acting like a silly schoolgirl Stop it

But she could not stop it.

"And what may I do for you today?"

"I - I need more muslin."

Which was the last thing she needed.

She watched Raoul as he went to get the bolt of fabric. He set it on the counter and started to measure it out.

"How many yards would you like?"

She started to say two, but what came out was, "Are you married?"

He looked up at her with a warm smile on his face. "No," he said. "I haven't been that fortunate yet."

You are going to be, Teresa thought. As soon as Monique returns from Paris.

Monique was going to adore this man. They were perfect for each other. The thought of Monique's reaction when she met Raoul filled Teresa with happiness. It would be lovely to have Raoul Giradot as her brother-in-law.

The following day as Teresa was passing the shop, Raoul caught sight of her and hurried outside.

"Good afternoon, mademoiselle. I was about to take a break. If you're free, would you care to join me for tea?"

"I - I - yes, thank you."

She was tongue-tied in his presence, and yet Raoul could not have been more pleasant. He did everything he could to put her at ease, and soon Teresa found herself telling this stranger things she had never told anyone before. They talked of loneliness.

"Crowds can make one lonely," Teresa said. "I always feel like an island in a sea of people."

He smiled. "I understand."

"Oh, but you must have so many friends."

"Acquaintances. In the end, does anyone really have many friends?"

It was as though she were speaking to a mirror image. The hour melted away quickly, and soon it was time for him to go back to work.

As they rose, Raoul asked, "Will you join me for lunch tomorrow?"

He was being kind, of course. Teresa knew that no man could ever be attracted to her. Especially someone as wonderful as Raoul Giradot. She was sure that he was kind to everyone.

"I would enjoy that," Teresa said.

When she went to meet Raoul the following day, he said boyishly, "I've been given the afternoon off. If you're not too busy, why don't we drive down to Nice?"

They drove along the Moyenne Corniche with his car top down, the city spread out like a magic carpet below them. Teresa leaned back in her seat and thought: I've never been so happy. And then, filled with guilt: I'm being happy for Monique.

Monique was to return from Paris the following day. Raoul would be Teresa's gift to her sister. She was realistic enough to know that the Raouls of the world were not for her. Teresa had had enough pain in her life, and she had long since learned what was real and what was impossible. The handsome man seated beside her driving the car was an impossible dream she dared not even let herself think about.

They had lunch at Le Chantecler in the Negresco Hotel in Nice. It was a superb meal, but afterward Teresa had no recollection of what she had eaten. It seemed to her that she and Raoul had not stopped talking. They had so much to say to each other. He was witty and charming, and he appeared to find Teresa interesting - really interesting. He asked her opinion about many things and listened attentively to her answers. They agreed on almost everything. It was as though they were soul mates. If Teresa had any regrets about what was about to happen, she resolutely forced them out of her mind.

"Would you like to come to dinner at the chateau tomorrow night? My sister is returning from Paris. I would like you to meet her."

"I'd be delighted, Teresa."

When Monique returned home the following day, Teresa hurried to greet her at the door.

In spite of her resolve, she could not help asking, "Did you meet anyone interesting in Paris?" And she held her breath, waiting for her sister's answer.

"The same boring men," Monique replied.

So God had made the final decision.

"I've invited someone to dinner tonight," Teresa said. "I think you're going to like him."

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