by April Hollands
Elodie chopped some carrots opposite Thomas, who patiently listened to her talking about her plans for the future.
“I’ve found a place to live in the Alps, Thomas,” she said, smiling warmly at Thomas.
“But why would you want to move there when there is so much on offer in Paris?” he asked.
Thomas wanted Elodie to stay, but he knew she had to follow her dreams.
“I love the snow,” she said, “and I love the way the sun burns off the morning mist to reveal the green valleys below. I’ve enjoyed my apprenticeship here, but in a month’s time when I’m qualified, I want more than Paris has to offer. I want a restaurant in a pretty village, and it must be made of wood.”
Thomas shrugged his shoulders and said, “You've told me this a hundred times, but what about the things that Paris offers that you can’t get in the Alps?"
"Thomas, you don't understand. Have you seen snow falling and sparkling in the trees? Have you felt the tranquility of the mountains?"
Thomas frowned. "I've never been to the Alps."
He thought they would make the perfect couple, but he loved the fast pace of Paris, and he knew that the mountains could never satisfy him. Besides, he didn’t know if she thought of him in any other way than the sous chef she worked with.
"Will you come to visit me in the Alps?" she asked.
"Of course. You can teach me how to ski." Thomas smiled, imagining his arms around Elodie's waist as they skied down in tandem. Elodie smiled back.
The month passed quickly for Thomas, who struggled not to tell Elodie how he felt. Elodie and her workmates celebrated her last day with champagne in a bar after work. Within a few hours, the other chefs had left, and Thomas and Elodie were alone. They flirted and laughed between glasses of champagne. Eventually, Elodie reluctantly announced that she had to go: she had a long drive ahead of her the next day. Slowly, they put their jackets on and ambled towards the door.
"Can we share a taxi?" Thomas asked.
"No, I live just a few blocks away," she said.
"Well let me walk you home."
Elodie smiled and thanked Thomas, and they walked arm in arm to her house. When they reached the door, he took an envelope out of his pocket.
"This is for you," he said. "Don't open it until the morning."
He kissed her on both cheeks, finding it hard to resist her lips, then gave her a hug goodbye.
The next morning, she opened the envelope. In it was a hand-written letter that said:
I've wanted to talk to you for so long, but the moment never felt right. I'm writing this letter with no plans of giving it to you, but I will take it with me tonight when I see you and maybe I'll take a chance and hand it to you.
I've loved you from the day I met you. My feelings have grown since then, and I will be lonely at work without you. I'm always lonely at home without you. I couldn't burden you with my love while I've been working with you because I know you have to follow your dreams. I would never want to stop you from opening your own restaurant in the Alps, and I hope I can still come and visit you. Just to be with you again would feel amazing, and I think you would like that too.
Take care of yourself and no matter what happens, you'll always be in my heart.
All my love,
Elodie didn't know whether to be relieved that she hadn't imagined the feelings between them, or angry that he hadn't told her sooner. She packed the letter safely into her car with her other belongings and hit the road. On her way to the Alps, she thought about the letter and wondered if she should have stayed. She imagined them as a couple, then remembered her plans for a restaurant. If only he could share her dream!
Five months later, Elodie had settled into a small village with pretty views. She was excited that Thomas had agreed to visit her for a week. They had spoken about the letter over the phone, and they both wanted to see each other again. In fact, they had spent hours talking on the phone, and Elodie felt as if she had already started a relationship with him even though they had never kissed. She counted down the days until he was due to arrive.
A car engine stopped outside Elodie's house and she checked if it was Thomas. From her window, she saw him open his car door. She skipped to meet him and he gave her a long hug.
"Elodie, this place is beautiful," he said, "and so are you."
Elodie smiled at him and held his hands in hers.
"Are you hungry?" she asked.
After dinner, Thomas put his arms around Elodie's waist and said, "Elodie, I've waited so long to kiss you…"
She turned to him and he kissed her – the first of many that week.
At the end of the week, Thomas took Elodie in his arms.
"Elodie, I can see why you love it here. I love it here too. I love the mountains and the crisp air and the snow. And I love you."
"Don't go then," Elodie whispered.
"I'm not going anywhere."
Six months later, Elodie looked out the window of a restaurant kitchen, then turned to Thomas. "It's everything I dreamed," she said.
Thomas kissed her softly. "Let's make it ours."
About the author: April was born in Australia, where she began her career writing technical manuals. Itchy feet took her to England, then France, where she continued to write for a living, moving into journalism and using her spare time to write fiction. She is a chocolate-lover, who has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Linguistics, as well as a keen interest in observing cultures and human nature. www.lefrancophoney.com