Chapter 1

Being here this early 'in season' was probably a waste of time but I had a lot of time. Time, money and patience seemed all that was necessary for what I was doing. 'Nope' I thought, 'determination' had to be there otherwise, one could not endure the failures that resulted from my efforts without that.

Sitting down in the shade by a small corpse of trees, only 5 or 6 trees really, I stared along the beach. This was the third year I had been coming here, usually not this early. It was April and things did not start to get busy until the end of May. I had found that out before.

I looked down to my hands. They were opening and closing as if grasping some kind of elusive prey.

Back when finding Jenny, my younger sister, had been foremost in my mind, killing those who had taken her was my next priority.

By now that had rather reversed itself, well maybe not exactly reversed, my thoughts had changed though. Finding her here, even her body, was no longer something that was number one on my agenda. I still hoped but did not really think so anymore.

Finding and eliminating those who took her was now the 'prime objective'; in-fact, anyone who did that was now a 'target of opportunity'. If I could not get Jenny back then at least I would spare someone the torture I was going through.

I settled down, a basket next to me, a folded blanket and a little thing playing some songs. It had been this way a long time, although now there was something different. A few things had varied, like what was in the basket. Today Marie had packed some cheese, fresh bread, sausage and two bottles of water, oh yes, some fruit, apples today. I was eating different, as were my meal couriers.

I had leased a house this year. It was larger than I needed, quite expensive but overlooked the beach. With glasses, I could see for what looked like miles. 1 April until the end September was more than the entire season. Marie had come with the lease. She took care of the inside and cooked; while her husband drove and cared for the outside.

The rent had been $12,000 (USD) per month but it was not available for July, I offered $15,000 cash a month for the 6 months; 1 April until the end September, 6 months this year and the same 6 months for the next two years after that. It almost did not get accepted, but in the end a large set-up incentive sealed the deal or was it paying all those charges up-front that changed some minds.

I spoke decent French, some I had learned long ago. It stood me well here now. Day one I had a talk with Marie and Saatchi, her husband. "Hire some help this season, get better food and more meat for us, don't worry about the cost. (They actually got mostly more fish, but hey, other things were on my mind by then.) Here is some extra money now and as you need more, I'll add to it. I will have no set time to eat meals and much of what I eat will be on the beach. You will have to bring it to me there; I don't want you to work so hard hence getting some help. Capiche'?"

I just remembered that last word was not French, but they both seemed to understand and were pleased. They were more pleased when they found out I had taken the house all season, even more so to discover it was for several years. At least that was what I thought when I saw the look on Marie's face. You know guy's, 'that look'.

I no longer had a desire to go anywhere else though. The winter cold might change that though amongst other things. Might I have been a bit depressed?

We had wind and rain until the first weekend I was in 'residence'. It was still chilly in April but at least the sun was out. It was my first trip to the beach that year, first of many that is. School was not out yet so Marie informed me her help would only be there on weekends and late Friday afternoons starting in May until school was over. The trees were close and not many souls were 'out and about' anyway so that seemed fine to me.

So I sat and waited, waited and sat and got a bit fat, or at least fatter than I already was. Finally, I started walking along the beach, slowly at first, then a might faster until one day, that next Friday morning; I got up, felt a little cocky and went all the way into the village. Four and a half miles each way. Going there, I ran some, going back, I had to walk but only after an hour and half rest; can you say 'out of shape' three times quickly? Hint, no matter how good you may feel, watch it. Water never tasted so good too.

April faded away, soon it was May. Myself. I always hated school. Yes, yeah of little faith we had school back then, even though I had to walk uphill both ways, to and from. May brought a surprise, two in-fact; Andrea and Carmella, twin girls, maybe 15 or 16 with long blonde hair, legs to match and by looking at them you could only imagine how many hearts they would break in a few years.

These near goddesses were Marie's help of course. 'Oh my' I thought. There was a god and she liked me. I turned to Mecca, said a bunch of prayers and moved my fingers as if Tibetan prayer beads were in them. I was taking no chances if anyone of any religion was listening to my thanks for these two.

I was not a religious person but 'man oh man'; these two beauties could change a man's outlook on that. Then I looked at them and turned away, a might misty. My sister was not much older than they were when she had disappeared from here.

Marie was their boss, but on that first day I got the impression that, ugh, that, that; mmm, maybe they were older than they looked and liked older men. The smiles and their cute curtsey made that thought more possible to me. Did I say how they looked?

Saturday, yep warm weather, sunshine and two nymphs carrying my lunch made the world a nice place to be. As they got closer, these old eyes noticed something. Yep, typical French girls, they were topless. Let me see, beautiful girls, topless and sort of hips swaying side to side towards me. 'Can life get much better?' I thought. I guess it could.

They unfolded a blanket near the tree I rested against and began to place some food, wine, fruit and water about me. One of them, I still could not tell them apart mumbled something. In my man sense of humor I responded by saying that "No, there are no purple cows around here". (an old joke for most Americans trying to learn French, 'Vache' Violet' maybe. After a shake of her pretty little head, she smiled and came close.

A bit louder she said; "Madam has said we need to ask your permission to use one of the spare bedrooms and live here. We graduate next month and have asked Mama if we could stay here. We would be no bother, could be more help to Marie and take better care of you, perhaps?" I think she set a new world speed talking record in getting all that out in 3.5 seconds and without a breath.

She got closer, real close. With those big blue eyes and blonde hair swirling around I lost my focus. Oh I was focused all right, just not on what she was saying. I heard she might be older; they might be older than I thought. Suddenly those two sets of jutting appendages looked a might bigger than when they were covered.

When I asked her to please repeat what she had said, she looked at her sister and laughed. The twin came close too and repeated those words I could only dream to hear. They wanted to stay here, all the time, day and night and they would graduate. I wondered if they might enjoy some travel later on.

"One more time girls say that again I was not paying attention I guess."

They both placed a hand on my chin and raised my big head up to eye level.

I heard, now in stereo, what they had asked. My mouth was open a might and no words came out of my mouth to answer. My big head was starting to go up and down; it was following that 'other' head I think.

In the distance, I saw Marie. She was standing on the deck, arms folded and looking at us. I think she was laughing at them, or maybe at me. The only words that came out of my mouth were, 'Ask Marie where..."

Two sets of soft but not yet bouncy bookends threw their arms and chests at me. They now hugged, kissed me and stood up to run back towards the house giving each other what looked like 'high five' salutes. I think I had agreed to whatever they asked. Hell, I would have agreed to anything they wanted dressed (not) the way they were.

We had a visitor that evening. For some unknown reason I came back early and decided to stick around the house and pool. Right, no particular reason at all; well maybe there were some incentives. A local constable paid a visit. Marie brought him out to the pool and sat him down next to me. We talked, better I should say, I listened. The words he spoke were not at all what I expected.

"I wish to marry the girls' mother. (Andrea and Carmella I assumed, both of which had mysteriosly gone inside)

I have been informed you seem to be a good man, at least Marie and Saatchi think so. They think you must be wealthy, they tell me you will be here a long time. The girls have no life here, nothing. They are young and very beautiful. I try to protect them and see to it no harm comes to them. Do you understand what I mean?"

"I think so, kidnapping, slavery who knows what, correct?"

"Oui! They both think that being with you is a better future than that. Do you see what I am saying?"

"Oui! However the lesser of two evils is not always good. I would protect them from others though I wonder about myself, they are both too cute."

"Ha! Tell me. My future wife begins to wonder about them now that they are women. N'est Pas!"

I had to agree that who I thought were girls were not, they were full-grown women, at least some parts of them were.

Marie put to rest my other fears later. They were both 17, soon to be 18 and in France, girls were considered to have reached 'the age of consent' at 13. This I did not know. She further told me that if I did not accept them as mine, they would end up wishing for death. So it had been for many of the girls here in and around the beaches. I thought. 'What's a guy to do?' Right, it would be so difficult. I did the only thing I could think of, I asked 'my' new girls. Yes 'my girls' for I would not lose them also like Jenny had gone away.

We had a talk, rather they talked and I listened. What they said surprised me, well, not really. That people had tried to grab them since they we 15. Pierre, their potential new step Dad had been watching over them at the behest of their mother.

When school was over, both had graduated, I know I attended that event. I really did not know what to buy them. Back home high school graduation was a big thing. In France, I was not sure how important it was. When I told them what my gift was, I found out though.

How did I know they had never been to Paris nor flown in a helicopter. I told them we were spending the day shopping, sightseeing, stuffing food then ice crème in our faces, I was taking them to 'Berthillon', the original one on Point Marie. Not certain what scored higher. Nah, I knew, it was the ice crème. (Chocolate, mmmmm)

Ask anyone about Paris, Hell anywhere in France and he or she will all say, 'the French hate a tourist'. Translate that to mean prices are 'sky high'. Not so, if you speak French like a native, have two pretty girls on your arms bouncing up and down and appear as one of the gang not some shriveled up prune, then you might be surprised.

It was a little over 2 hours to Paris. We landed at the Crowne Plaza, not an airport and for a few considerations (tips) got a map of places to see. I guess girls are the same all over. Jeans, shirts, shoes, 'parfume' and I had to force them to get some things for a later surprise. No it was not lingerie although I wish I would have thought of that.

I did get them to buy clothes we would need for dinner. That ended up a supper; I was not used to waiting until 10 or 11 at night to eat. The girls did not seem to care.

Going back I had another surprise for them, for a not so small 'consideration' (120 Euros) our pilot took a detour, flying 10-15 minutes around the beach then landed near 'our' house.

I think the ice crème and that detour were the most enjoyable to them. So it was worth it. They each bought a suitcase and carry grip for travelling, under protest that 'they never went anywhere anyhow'. I hoped that would change in October.

Two hugs and a lot of kisses were my reward. I called them back and handed them banking cards. Each had accounts with 5,000 Euros in it, a sort of 'new start' for them in whatever they were to do with their life. They started crying with that. Why do girls, excuse me, women cry so much?

Marie was right there, shaking her head. I looked at her, shrugged my shoulders and she hit me; hard too. 'Women, who knows!' I thought. I almost forgot, the girls bought some gifts for, Marie, Saatchi, Monica, their mom, Pierre, 2 cousins and three girls from school. I was glad we had landed near the house.

Some wine, apple, cheese and grapes were the late evening meal. The girls went to bed. I needed to think, a lot. Marie's, "So now what?" was not what I wanted to hear. I was already thinking about things I had promised myself would never happen.

As it was, I knew I could not stay in France past 30 September. I also knew it would be impossible to own anywhere here. Money would never be a problem; a few other things certainly would though.

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