Episode Four: Behind the spa
Updated: May 28
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Monday 8th June
Oliver’s head hit the ground hard. He had been running through the alleys trying to lose them for ten minutes but had stumbled into a dead end and they had surrounded him. He let out a gasp of pain as a boot hit him in the ribs.
"I hope you're getting the message, Oliver. No one messes with the boss.”
“Loud and clear”, said Oliver.
“You’ve got until Saturday night. If the cash isn’t with us by then, you’ll be getting another visit … and maybe your girlfriend too.”
He lay there, panting, waiting for the gang's footsteps to disappear before getting to his feet and heading home.
Wednesday 10th June
“Anna, I’m just going to a meeting with Sid. I should be back in an hour or so,” said Amelia as she came out of her office. She looked a little stressed. “I’ve got my mobile with me if you need me for anything, but I’m sure you’ll be fine,” she continued.
Anna replied that she had everything under control and watched Amelia head out of the reception. As soon as her boss was out of sight, Anna put the ‘Back Soon!’ sign on the reception desk and popped into Amelia’s office, closing the door behind her.
She knew it was wrong, but Amelia wasn’t there to see - Sylvia was busy in the restaurant and it would be a few hours until she came back out. Anna knew that there was always a stash of glossy magazines in the office, and she intended to take at least fifteen minutes catching up on all the juicy celebrity gossip; there might even be something about Kyle Rockfort and his latest girlfriend, Candy Kane. She had heard a rumour that they were coming to stay at Les Liens in the next few days, so she needed to know all the latest news. Kyle was a bit of a crush of hers, and at one time she had a poster of him on her wall, much to her father’s annoyance.
Before she had a chance to see Kyle’s face gazing out from the cover of ‘Bonjour!’ magazine on the top of the filing cabinet, she was distracted by something much more interesting.
On Amelia’s desk there was a pile of paperwork covered in sticky notes, and those sticky notes were covered with her father’s easily recognisable scrawl. Of course, she couldn’t help but look through them.
It seemed that Pierre had found some accounting inconsistencies; was Amelia taking money from the business? It certainly looked to be the case, and it appeared that Amelia was giving it Victor Brassard, the local mayor. There didn’t seem to be any other explanation, but it was quite surprising that Amelia would have been so clumsy as to not cover it up in the books. Did she really think no one would find out? ‘At least Papa is on to it’, she thought, ‘he won’t let her get away with stealing from him.’ Quite how he would deal with Monsieur Brassard though was an entirely different matter as Brassard had connections with many dangerous people. Anna knew that if her father were to take on the mayor, it would be the mayor who would win.
From reception there came the sound of a bell ringing, followed by a call of, “Is anyone there?”. Anna quickly grabbed her phone, clicked the camera, and snapped a few shots of the papers. ‘Maybe these could be useful at some point,’ she thought to herself, roughly planning out ways they could be used against Amelia.
Thursday 11th June
Dr Bonnie Clyde held back the blinds and waved to Pierre as he went past on his golf buggy. Oliver, the gardener, was tending to a bush just outside and thought she was waving to him - he smiled back and flirtatiously winked at her. Bonnie quickly closed the blind and relaxed in her chair.
She had resisted the temptation to tell Pierre about his daughter’s romance with the gardener, but when she had seen them in a rather passionate embrace behind the spa, she decided that he needed to know.
Bonnie had heard that Oliver Bonheur was a bit of a player and in all likelihood he would be seeing other girls at the same time; when she told Anna this, Anna said he had vowed that he was being faithful, that she was the only one for him. When asked if she was aware of his drug use, Anna had replied, “Of course, and what’s the problem with that?”
play the video below now...
The sweat was dripping from Pierre’s brow as he lined up for his next shot. His swing was disturbed by Oliver Bonheur shouting across the green, and Pierre sighed as the ball failed to meet its intended spot.
“Monsieur Laurent! Can I speak to you?”
“Je suis occupé!”, he angrily shouted back. “Can’t it wait?”
Oliver pretended he hadn’t heard and jogged over to Pierre.
“Monsieur Laurent, I have worked here for over a year now. I think it’s time I took on more responsibility. Sid thinks I could start doing more on the course.”
“Sid is an idiot.”
“Well, maybe, but he knows his grass, and he thinks I’m good enough to be in charge on his days off.”
“Non”, replied Pierre firmly.
If Oliver thought that this spontaneous attack during a round was any way of gaining promotion, he was severely mistaken, especially considering the rumours that Pierre had recently heard.
“It is not happening. You are not ready. You are not good enough.”
“But, Monsieur Laurent…”
“You are not good enough for the job. And you are not good enough for my daughter. Stay away from her.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” protested Oliver.
Pierre stepped forwards and raised his club ready to strike. “Stay away from her. Keep your dirty hands to yourself,” he threatened. Oliver slowly backed away, retreating to a safe distance.
He had already scoffed at her enthralment with the celebrities who had booked into Les Liens earlier today. She couldn’t help it; Anna had never missed an episode of Kyle’s show, so it was understandable that she was excited.
She knew her culinary skills were not that great and laughed along with Oliver’s gentle ribbing at her choice of menu for their romantic evening.
“What’s wrong with fish fingers? I like them!”
“So do I, but I’m not sure they go that well with the wine."
“And where did you get that from? It’s not exactly cheap!”
“Better you don’t ask.”
Perhaps she had drunk too much wine, or maybe it was just that she couldn’t resist his charms; either way, she knew she probably shouldn’t have told Oliver, but it had just slipped out. Bonnie Clyde had already warned her about him, but there was just something about his ‘bad boy’ reputation that appealed to her. Bonnie would probably say she was rebelling against the strict upbringing she had received from her father.
“Olly, I honestly thought it was Amelia doing it … but I think I was wrong. It was Papa.”
“What? Are you sure?”
“I think so. But why would he do that? Getting mixed up with Victor Brassard is such a bad idea.”
“Sometimes you have to grease the palm to get what you want. I’m sure he did it for sound reasons, Anna.”
Anna was totally shocked when she realised that her father had been bribing the mayor. If she hadn’t taken those photographs and studied them closer, she would still have thought Amelia was up to something.
play the video below now...
Anna went to the bathroom to 'make herself comfortable', Oliver pressed the 'send' button and the photographs pinged into the inbox of Le Journal de Marseille.
Friday 12th June
“So ... you are seeing him again tonight?” asked Bonnie.
“Yes. But don’t tell Papa. I think he already suspects, but best not to say anything. I don’t think he would approve.”
“I’m sure you’re right, Anna. I’ve already told you to stay away, but it’s your choice … your mistake to make.”
She wasn’t naive; Anna knew that Oliver had been involved with one of the local gangs when he was younger, but she was positive that he had left them behind a long time ago. Okay, so maybe he smoked a little of something he shouldn’t, but where was the harm in that?
“Your father is a good man, Anna. Don’t disappoint him,” continued Bonnie. “Bonnie, I always disappoint him; that’s what I aim for! It’s fun!” replied Anna. The doctor’s sudden support and concern for her father was puzzling, and she had never heard Pierre Laurent referred to as ‘good’ before – argumentative, protective, stubborn yes, but never ‘good’.
Anna turned the screw and uncorked a bottle of rose. She carried it and two glasses into the lounge and sunk into the sofa, getting close to Oliver.
“Hard day?” he asked. “You could say that,” she replied, but that was a bit of an understatement. Her father had been furious earlier. She didn’t hear everything that went on in the office that morning, but had gleaned enough to know that he was not happy with Amelia. It sounded as if the press had somehow got hold of the paperwork showing that he had bribed the mayor. Anna knew that she hadn’t been to the press, so thought it was likely to be Amelia.
“It must have been Amelia who told them. Thankfully, they didn’t publish, but I don’t know why. If they had, we would all be out of jobs soon. Hopefully, he will get rid of her.”
“And you’ll be boss.”
“That would be good. I’d do a better job than she does. Thinks we don’t know about her secret drinks drawer,” she said, taking a large gulp of rosé.
He moved closer to her and gently kissed her neck. She found herself recoiling as the smell of marijuana was overpowering. “Sorry,” he said, "I’ll go and wash".
“No, it’s fine.”
“I’ll stop. I’m done with it.”
“What do you mean?”
“No more smoking. I’ve paid my debts, and I won’t be doing it anymore. You are too important to me, Anna. Its too much of a risk. I can’t lose you.”
“You are not going to lose me, Olly. What risk? There is no risk?”
“Not now, there isn't.”
He kissed her again, partly because he liked it, but mainly to avoid answering any more questions.
“And don’t worry about your Papa,” he said, “I’m sure Pierre will worm his way out of whatever trouble he has got himself into. And if the mayor is involved as you think, he’s unlikely to let this ruin him … let alone your father.”
“Don’t talk about Papa … not now,” she whispered.
She kissed him, partly to avoid any more questions, but mostly because she enjoyed it.
Now move on to 'The Interviews: Anna and Oliver'.
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