home for christmas – part two

by Sharon Santoni

The second part of my little christmas tale.   Thank you for your kind comments,  if you missed the first chapter you can read it here

Her conversation with Françoise was the trigger that she needed.    Instead of feeling devastated about losing her job, she was fired up about the wide horizon of opportunities opening up in front of her.    She returned to her apartment that afternoon and quickly sorted through some paperwork, pulled out an old map of France, and most importantly drew up a list.    .   She quickly listed her assets:  

 1.  time, yep, she had plenty of that now

2.   energy, she felt ready to take on anything

3.  finance, years of earning good money and managing it well meant that Jen was in a comfortable position

With this in front of her, she felt even better, now she just had to decide what to do next.   She had the means and the time to get up and go, but she wasn’t ready to become a full time traveller, on a permanent holiday.  Besides the world of finance, what else could she actually do?   This question was her sticking point.   The truth was that Jenny had spent so many hours, and months and years moving on in her career that she had neglected other aspects of their life, and now found herself without a hobby or alternative skill

“Françoise said I’ll work that step out later, that’s what reinvention is all about”, she said out loud, even though she was all alone at her desk.

Talking to Françoise, who was so chic and looked so French,  had reminded her how much she had enjoyed Paris on a visit with John many years ago.    She had vague memories of a romantic and beautiful city; good food; old stone buildings; fresh bread …..  “OK then, let’s start with Paris!”

Jen knew that an old friend had moved to Paris the year before.    She searched through her list of contacts,   Kathy, kathy, kathy, …..   Pentague!

Before she went to bed she quickly wrote an email to Kathy  “Hi Kathy, how are you?   Haven’t been in touch for a while but  something unexpected has cropped up here.     It’s a long story to explain now, but I’m looking for a change of direction and am thinking of heading out to Paris.   Just wondered if you are still in the city and whether we could meet up when  I arrive?    Best regards ….”

Jen went to bed dreaming of a new life in Paris, the eiffel tower, provence and fields of lavender.     The next morning she smiled to find an email from Kathy in her inbox.   “Hi Jen, what a lovely surprise.   Yes, I’m still in Paris and loving every minute!     I have an apartment with a spare room if you would like to stay here when you first arrive.    I’ve created my own business making pastries, can you believe it!   We’ll have lots to talk about.   If you arrive before Christmas there’ll be a big party and I can introduce you to lots of people.     Let me know, Kath  x

“Before Christmas?!, Jen gasped, “but that means this week! …..Who can get ready in a week? ….. I need to pack ….. I ought to say goodbye, but hey?….. Well why not, if I’m going to make a change I may as well get on with it!”

With her mind made up she became ruthlessly efficient.     She called her Mom first “Hey Mom, just to let you know that I won’t be coming home for Christmas … yes, I know, I’m sorry , but I have to go Paris, it’s complicated, but don’t worry everything is fine, and I’ll come to see you before I leave”

The rest of the day was spent with her bank, organising cards and transfers.   She also bought an air ticket, open ended, and  sorted her visa.

 

She landed at Paris Charles de Gaulle exactly one week from the moment that email dropped into her box.    She was buzzing with excitement at having made such a big change in her life, and so quickly.

Following Kath’s instructions she grabbed a cab from the airport and gave him Kath’s address, rue Perronet in the sixth arrondissement.    The taxi drove slowly from the airport through heavy end-of-afternoon traffic  , and Jen was able to observe the city as they left  the peripherique and headed up avenue Grande Armée towards the Arc de Triomphe, before driving down the Champs Elysées;   As they crossed the river, the Invalides with its golden dome was lit up against the dark sky   

 

She could feel her heart beat a little faster as the taxi edged its way down the bvd St Germain, then turned left and then right ”Voilà Madame, rue Perronet, ça vous fera 68 euros”, Jen paid the driver and got out of the taxi, while the driver lifted her heavy bags onto the sidewalk.     The front door was dark grey, and there was a carved stone  head set into the wall above the doorway.   It was charming.    Kath had warned Jenny, “I’m on the third floor without a lift, so be sure to let me know when you arrive at the door and I’ll help you with your bags”.

She looked at the door bells, searching for a familiar name ‘Pentague’, “that must be it”.      She rang the bell and after a few moments a woman’s voice crackled over the interphone.    “Hello”,  “Oh hi, Kath?  It’s Jen, I’m here!”     “Oh my goodness Jen, come on up, third floor, I’ll meet you halfway for your bags”

By the time Jen was up to the first floor, Kath was already clattering down the stairs.   “Welcome, welcome, bonjour!    Oh I’m so glad to see you”   They chatted together as they climbed up to Kath’s floor and she flung open the door wide, “this is it!”

Jen gasped, the flat was charming; wooden floors, high ceilings, white walls and long grey velvet curtains.    Kath showed her to her bedroom, and then said “I have to let you settle in alone I’m afraid, I’m catering a big brunch  tomorrow morning early, and my assistant has called in sick, I just don’t know how I’ll manage to make all the food they’ve ordered”

“Well can I help”, offered Jen, “I love to bake”

Kath didn’t need much persuasion, and after she freshened up Jen was quickly equipped with an apron and a cutter, and put in charge of the cinnamon cookies in christmas tree shapes.  They chatted easily as they prepped and baked side by side.

Three hours later and the kitchen was clean and tidy, with a tall pile of boxes on the table, ready for an early start the next day.    “That was such fun, thank you Jen for all your help.  I wish it was always that easy to share my kitchen space, I have such trouble finding reliable assistants.    They are either too inexperienced and I have to redo half the stuff, or they know everything and don’t want to follow my instructions!”
Kath smiled, despite the fatigue of her long journey, she felt relaxed and happy.   “Well let me know if I can help you again, I loved it!”

 

…o0O0o…

Next chapter in a couple of days, thank you for reading me!

Home for Christmas

Part one

Part two

Part three

 

31 comments

Marisa Joyner December 29, 2016 - 12:24 pm

Hi Sharon I am enjoying your story but in the last paragraph I think you meant Jen smiled (not Kath)

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Sharon Santoni December 29, 2016 - 5:54 pm

Thank you Marisa, I’m on it!!

:))

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Diane December 31, 2016 - 3:38 pm

Im loving your story, thank you!

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Judi December 29, 2016 - 1:31 pm

I want to jump on a plane, find Kathy, and bake! Love your stories!

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Victoria Savu December 29, 2016 - 2:06 pm

Dear Sharon,
Love your story. I have loved all of your stories over the years, but this one makes me feel good in so many ways. First, your description of Paris seriously makes me feel like I am in the taxi with Jen. For so many reasons I will never be able to go to France and anytime I can read something that takes me there in my mind I greatly appreciate. Second, I retired and panicked with no plan and no direction. I decided to bake for a hobby, so that part of the story speaks to me. Two years ago my husband built me a bakery in our home. I spend hours teaching myself to bake decadent and lovely pastries. I sell some but mostly share them because I don’t want the joy to be taken away by making it a job.
Can’t wait for your new book and hope if you do a USA tour I can meet you again.
But back to the story I love it. Can’t wait for part 3. Love Victoria xx

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Stephanie Guillory December 29, 2016 - 3:27 pm

I’m hooked. Can’t wait for part 3!

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Eve December 29, 2016 - 3:42 pm

Looking forward to the next installment! Happy New Year!

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Julia December 29, 2016 - 3:56 pm

Can’t wait for the next installment!!!

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jenny danna December 29, 2016 - 5:00 pm

Love,love, love!!!

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Diana Ferguson December 29, 2016 - 5:57 pm

Another feel good story in the making, I think….
Just what we need to chase away any post festivities blues. Loving it, as ever, Sharon. Thank you and best wishes to you for 2017.

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Emm December 29, 2016 - 6:15 pm

Carpe diem, that’s the spirit, Jen! Loving this story.
Minor editorial quibble: If Jen has a US passport, she doesn’t need a visa for a short visit, only for longer than 90 days.

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Sharon Santoni December 29, 2016 - 6:25 pm

Hi Emm, thank you for your comment …… valid point about the visa…. unless Jen is thinking of staying longer than 90 days 🙂

xx

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Emm December 30, 2016 - 7:01 pm

Heh. I thought of that. But unless she has a really cooperative consulate, getting the visa in a week is a no-go. *shoves Inner Editor back into closet*

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Kristin December 29, 2016 - 7:56 pm

You have my reader eyes and heart fully engaged in the story – looking forward to the next installment.

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Leslie in Little Rock December 29, 2016 - 8:05 pm

Yay! Loving this!

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Von Ann December 29, 2016 - 8:29 pm

I am enthralled and looking forward to the next chapter. I am retired and hoping that this year I will be more brave and adventurous. For me, I think the timing of this story is just what I might need. Have you ever thought of doing a book of your short stories? Wishing you a Happy New Year from Texas.

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Bieke December 29, 2016 - 9:04 pm

Golly, I am enjoying your story. I hate to wait for the next addition! Ah, well…something to look forward to. Thank you for sharing!

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Kay December 29, 2016 - 9:27 pm

Love this! Thanks so much.
Kay

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Margaret December 30, 2016 - 12:16 am

So enjoyed reading the first two chapters and look ing forward to the final installment.Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017

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Debra Sams December 30, 2016 - 2:04 am

I am loving the story. You have me wondering what happens next. Great!

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Colleen Taylor December 30, 2016 - 4:21 am

I’m truly loving where this is going Sharon. Thoroughly enjoying this & can’t wait for the next chapter.

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Linda December 30, 2016 - 7:06 am

Can hardly wait for the next chapter. Such fun to read another of your stories. Happy New Year!

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Susan December 30, 2016 - 9:43 am

Anxiously awaiting part 3. Love a good story!
Happy New Year to you and yours!

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Valarie December 31, 2016 - 5:28 pm

This is very good.

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Gail Gentry January 2, 2017 - 1:15 am

Love pictures, story lines

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Ann Maxwell January 4, 2017 - 4:26 am

Love this story and pictures,really has put me in a very good mood!!!

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Dee January 5, 2017 - 3:59 am

Thanks Sharon for another of your lovely stories.
You take me all the way from Western Australia to beautiful Paris. I had the wonderful opportunity to visit, for a very short time, in 2014 and left a chunk of my heart there. A very gracious, elegant city! I follow your blog with great interest and am never disappointed. Thank you again. Dee

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Kathy in Memphis January 5, 2017 - 11:51 pm

Interesting story, waiting for the next installment.

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Shell Parsons January 6, 2017 - 10:30 pm

Hi Sharon,

I woke up here in Australia to find Part 2 in my inbox. The thing is, somehow I missed seeing Part 1! I remembered how much I loved your story from last year so was super excited to have two parts to read over breakfast and a cup of tea.

My only criticism…I wanted to keep reading but sadly have to wait for part 3. What a lovely story so far<3

Have a lovely weekend.

Shell.x

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Karen Lehto January 7, 2017 - 6:45 am

Love it! Thank you! Cant wait for the next one!

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Pat January 9, 2017 - 9:56 pm

So enjoying your Christmas story, eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Pat

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