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Anne Mather - Come the Vintage

Anne Mather - Come the Vintage

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Published by: sarita_shetty on Mar 19, 2012
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08/16/2013

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COME THE VINTAGE
 
Anne Mather
 
 
 Her situation was impossible, Ryan realized, more impossible than even Alain could imagine.What had he said? "We are married, Ryan. I suggest we attempt to salvage something from the wreck." But friendship was something she and Alain could never share, and she shrank from his pity. If all he could offer was friendship for appearances' sake, there was no future for either of them.
CHAPTER ONE
A FINE grey drizzle filtered down through the bare branches of the trees and dampenedthe shoulders of the few mourners gathered about the open grave. It was a fitting day for afuneral. Since early morning, clouds had hung low over the valley, and a chill wind brought thebreath of snow from the Jurals not far away. The cemetery was erected on the hillside, above thevillage, and the weathered gravestones of its occupants were streaked with rain and soddenleaves. Autumn had come late to the valley, but it was here now, and Ryan shivered in spite of her warm coat and trousers.She had her arms wrapped closely about her as if to ward off the chill which came asmuch from within as without. Despite the solemnity of the occasion, the brass-handled coffinlying in its six feet of earth, the sombrely clad group around her, she found it all very hard tobelieve. Was it possible that in the spate of four short weeks her whole life could change sodramatically that she no longer recognized it as being her life?
 
Four weeks ago when Aunt Maggie died, her grief had been tempered by the letter heraunt had left. The letter, which had given her her father's address and begged her to go and seehim. Since Ryan's mother had died five years before, Aunt Maggie had talked often about herfather, softening the bitterness she had always felt towards him on her mother's behalf. AuntMaggie had tried to make her see that Pierre Ferrier had not been wholly to blame for the break-up of her parents' marriage, there had been faults on both sides; most particularly her mother'srefusal to return with him to France.Ryan had thought for a long time before contacting her father. It was ten years since shehad seen him, and then she had been a mere child of some nine years, totally incapable of  judging what manner of man he might be. But the realization that with the death of her aunt shewas alone in the world had persuaded her to send him a letter advising him of her aunt's death.His reply had been reassuringly swift, in the form of an invitation, urging her to give up her jobas an assistant librarian in a small south coast town, and join him at Bellaise in the valley of atributary of the River Rhone. The Ferrier vineyards were there, her father's inheritance, and hewished for her to share his life.In the days that followed Ryan had pondered his suggestion. Although her father wasFrench, she was not, and although she spoke the language she had been taught at school, not byexperience. It was a big step, expecting her to give up everything she had known and cared aboutand leave England to make her life in a strange country.She had discussed the matter at length with her aunt's solicitor, and it was this which hadfinally decided her to go. Her aunt's house was rented, she was told, and the owners requiredpossession as soon as possible. What little money her aunt had left would barely pay the funeralexpenses, and her own earnings would scarcely enable her to rent a flat in these inflationarydays. If she remained in England, she would need to find a room in a boarding house, and thatprospect had filled her with dismay.The priest's voice was droning on and Ryan felt a certain dryness in her throat. Couldanyone have foreseen that fate would play such cruel games with her? If she had known herfather would die of a heart attack within four days of her arrival in France, would she then havecome? Would she have risked so much for four short days?She did not know. Meeting her father again after all the years had been a bitter-sweet

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