15th May 2023

With luncheon fast approaching chauffeur Gordon had completed his usual thorough performance by finding and booking a reservation for the meal at a local winery within their most picturesque outdoors eating facility. He has also confirmed that the guest list was to include Claudine and Annette as well as Zara and Atsuko, a most amenable quartet according to Colonel Lothlys own inimitable description.

All four ladies, with a little pleasant squeezing, were able to fit onto the back seat of the limousine, a most amenable and stimulating way to travel.

“Thank you so much for arranging all this Gordon, and of course for including me.”

Annette Grubber was really the most pleasant and openly straightforward of people. Gordon was quickly gaining the upmost respect for her as an individual and professionally. Far too many police persons were inclined to talk down to someone they perceived mere chauffeur, but Annette was ever considering itself, and would never have to beware of the well-used Ruger automatic nesting in the back of his trouser belt. The Colonel kept Gordon on the payroll for a purpose.

The ride to the Winery eatery but barely ten minutes, the last five of which mainly involved a circuitous sightseeing tour about vast fields of sprouting vines. The main building had presumably by its grandeur been a nobleman’s mansion in a previous stage of its no doubt sparking existence. The establishment now functioned as the offices and home base of the Maudling family, the main shareholders in the wine production business. The orangery to the rear served as an open-air restaurant and tastery during the spring and summer months, weather permitting.

The girls exited the tight confines of the back seat and hastily rearranged crumpled and creased clothing.  All the with exception of Zara whose abaya and hijab seemed impervious to anything as wholly unacceptable as the wear and tear of daily interactions.

“I have a knack for avoiding disturbances.”

Zara simply took a small compact from her tiny clutch bag and with some care inspected her eye and lip make up.

“I am such a vain individual, ‘tis my most pressing sin.”

Her simultaneous petite chuckle seemed to suggest the validity of that statement was highly unlikely.

” Please just text me when you are finished with your meal and I will be awaiting to return you back to the compound, just leave to bill for my later attention.”

“Gordon, you are an absolute star.”

“Miss Annette.”

His salute on this occasion had some significant feeling attached to gesture.

The meal fully live up to the sumptuous setting. The sunlight that managed to penetrate the shading boughs of the orange trees was just warm enough to make the occasion wondrously comfortable.  The quartet found conversation easy and liberating, their perspectives, no matter origins, were fundamentally compatible.   

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