My sincere thanks go to Angelina for helping to prepare this little yarn for posting.
It was Monique, my assistant-come-companion who was the first to see them approaching. Following a very productive morning, a pleasant light lunch, and a couple of circuits of the pool, Monique and I were relaxing on sun-loungers. I had a plan to contemplate the inside of my eyelids for a while, while at the same time allowing the warm sun to dry me off. Knowing Monique as I did by then, I suspect that she had the basic plan of ... well with luck, catching the eye of some handsome -- unattached -- millionaire. Actually, there was no shortage of prospective takers, if you understand me; Monique was a beautiful young woman. But she was also uncommonly ... selective about which – if any – guys she would allow to court her.
Whatever, we were both partaking of our usual afternoon labours when Monique grabbed my attention by saying, "Oh dear Roy! I think you might have a couple of unexpected visitors."
I forced my eyes open and -- as best I could without turning my head -- followed Monique's eye-line until I saw that a member of the resort's staff was inexorably guiding two teenagers in our general direction.
We were in a very exclusive, up-market establishment, where usually residents could be assured of complete privacy. It was the sort of place that didn't take to non-residents wandering around unescorted, or usually even allow them to get inside the grounds uninvited.
But neither Monique nor I had any idea that my children even knew that I was living in Europe. Andre would escort them to Monique and my corner of the patio, where he'd hand them over into our care.
"Looks like you could be right there, girl!" I replied, as calmly as I could muster. "I wonder how they got past security."
I was more than surprised at their sudden appearance; I was shocked actually and somewhat emotionally excited. However, I did my best to keep my cool, carefully modulating my voice and somehow preventing myself leaping up from the lounger and running over to greet them. It took more than a modicum of self-control, I can assure you.
"Roy, from the moment I saw them I knew that they were your son and daughter. No one who's met you could mistake the fact, and the guys on the gate are more observant than most."
"Is there such a pronounced likeness, do you think?"
"Oh yes," she assured me.
"Bugger, suddenly I find myself feeling very sorry for my children."
"Christ, Roy, you don't half talk some crap sometimes! You're one of the best-looking guys living around here. For your age anyway."
""Watch it, kiddo, who are you calling an old fart? Anyway, you only say that because you want my body," I chided her, doing my best to keep the serious expression on my face.
"Don't be silly, boss, you're a prime catch. I'm surprised that one of these bloody gold-diggers kicking around here hasn't managed to turn your head."
"Monique, you know you're the only one..."
"Cut it out, Roy! Besides, business and pleasure never mix, that's your own mantra, if I remember correctly. And I could never afford to live in a place like this if I didn't work for you."
"We could be man and wife?"
"Give-over, Roy; you know you don't mean that; anyway you're still ... besides you'd go bloody barmy every-time one of those randy old buggers made a pass at me, you're bad enough now. The master-slave relationship suits us both very nicely. Anyway what do you think your children are doing here?" she asked ignoring any more of my jibes.
As she'd shown, Monique -- although she'd never met them -- was well aware of who our visitors were. She'd probably recognised them the instant she'd laid eyes on them. After all, beside the apparent likeness in facial features she just mentioned; many times she'd also seen the photos I carry around in my wallet.
Or maybe I should rephrase that ... that Monique carries around in my wallet! You get the idea, Monique is my private secretary and -- as I tended to spend a lot of my time during daylight hours, dressed in little but swim trunks and a tee-shirt – Monique carted all that kind of crap around in her ruddy great hand bag for me. She'd also clout me with the bloody thing on occasions, if I became a little too cheeky. Monique and I had a somewhat ... unique employer-employee relationship; very often bordering on the sort an elder brother and younger sister might have between them.
"I've no idea, kiddo. Can't be money. Leticia's rolling in the stuff; she didn't even bother suing for maintenance, I don't think. No one's ever come looking for any, anyway."
Like me, Monique had no idea why -- after almost four years – my children would suddenly show-up in the south of France to visit me. Or -- come to that -- how they had managed to discover my whereabouts in the first place; not that I was trying to hide or anything.
"But I suspect that we'll soon find out. I wonder how they found me ... and just whom they've talked into bringing them down here? I somehow doubt that it's going to be their mother."
"You're really not all that hard to find, Roy; if anyone cares to look hard enough, that is. It's just that ... from what you said, I was under the impression that they weren't going to be inclined to look."
"So was I, girl. Curious, isn't it? I suggest that we play things by ear, until we know what their game is. So, we should also inject a certain amount of caution into our ... interactions with them."
"Give-over, Roy, they're your kids; give'em some slack."
By that time the two youngsters were almost upon us and possibly within earshot, so I did not reply to Monique's comment.
"Mr Granger, there're two young people to here who wish to see you sir. They claim that they are your children."
"Thank you, Andre. It is my penance I'm afraid; but they are who they claim to be. Perhaps, if you would be so kind, you could arrange refreshments?"
Andre informed us that he'd send one of the waiters over, and then withdrew; I gestured for the two – rather contrite looking -- new arrivals to sit on adjacent loungers. At that time they could not see my eyes behind my sunglasses; so they had been unaware that I had watched the looks that they'd given Monique and thrown my way as they'd approached.
Monique went to get up to leave at the same time as they sat, but I gestured for her to stay. Then I turned my head towards my children and removed the dark glasses. They looked back at me with ... well, somewhat annoyed expressions on their faces by then.
"So, to what do we owe this unexpected pleasure?" I asked.
The twins looked at each other for a second or two without replying and I kind-of got the idea that they hadn't thought this part of the operation all the way through. Then my son Peter turned back to look at me; giving Monique another disapproving glance in passing.
"We wanted to talk to you, father ... in private."
"Well, talk, young man, ask your questions or say whatever you came to say."
Peter's eyes moved from me to Monique and then back to me again.
"Monique is my private secretary, Peter; I have no secrets from her. She'll also act as a witness to this exchange. I'm not at all sure that I'm allowed to be in your company without the correct ... er, court appointed, responsible adult present anyway."
A slightly confused expression came over Peter's face.
"What ... were you not aware that that there has been a court order in place, forbidding me to contact either of you directly, until ... Well, until after your eighteenth birthday anyway."
Surprised -- or maybe disbelieving -- expressions came over both of my children's faces, as they exchanged glances with each other. I gleaned from that, that they were unaware of the court order's existence.
"Ah ... that takes you by surprise, does it? What did you take me for, the kind of person who could walk away from his children without a second glance?"
"But..." Peter said.
And "but" that was all that he said, his utter confusion was clearly audible in his voice and visible on his face. On both of their faces actually.
"You didn't really believe that after almost being father and mother to you for all those years, I'd be able to just walk away and desert you, did you?"
"But you went away," my daughter Alex (short for Alexandra) spoke for the first time.
"I got a job, Alex. You and Peter knew that I had wanted to for a long time ... well, that I was getting more than a little peeved about the situation at home, anyway. But one member of our family forgot that it was I, who had put my career on hold to allow her to follow her own. You know that you two joined our family at a very inopportune moment, much earlier in our marriage than your mother, or I intended. Not that we weren't both extremely pleased and excited at your arrival on the scene. But it was just a little ... premature for our plans. Then, while she was still pregnant, your mother was offered a post that ... well, let us just say that it was an offer she'd regret turning down for the rest of her life. So being the supportive and considerate husband, I offered to put my career on hold for a few years and play housekeeper ... and children's nanny. So that your mother could go off and pursue her dream career."
At this time a waiter appeared and refreshments were ordered all around. He must have returned with the drinks shortly after, but his presence went unnoticed on my part
.... There is more of this story ...