Ben Chatham was relaxing on the sofa enjoying a glass of one of the most exclusive french absinthes available. Opposite him lounged a still beautiful and immaculately dressed woman in her early fifties who smoked a cigarette with elegant grace. Ben congratulated himself on deciding to take up the offer of Gisele Camboux, the successful French actress and a friend of his father, to stay with her in her Chateau on the outskirts of Aix-En-Provence in the south of France. Madame Camboux was intrigued by Ben:
"So tell me darling, what made you decide to visit me again after all this time? You know I simply adore you and yet you wait so long?"
"I've had one of the most stressful weeks of my life. First of all there was the problem with Jake being arrested for selling mushroom flapjack to the woman who runs the canteen at Cambridge police station. Apparently the uniformed officers spent the next two days staggering around the streets of Cambridge seeing turquoise flowers in the sky while two CID officers set up a peace camp outside the station lavatory. I had to use Operation Delta's special status to get him off."
Madame Camboux smiled:
"Oh how drearily bourgeois of them. Here in France we expect our police officers to relax a little."
"Then I had a chance meeting with an ex of mine Charles in the Fitzwilliam Museum. I expect he was visiting friends in Cambridge as the last I heard he'd emigrated. I tried to talk to him and he just said 'Hi Ben' and walked off. No attempt at conversation at all".Ben's dark eyes fill with tears and his golden fringe falls over his face. Madame Camboux goes over and hugs him closely, stroking his hair.
"Poor, poor Ben."As she does so, a young man of nineteen enters with another bottle of absinthe. It is Piers, Madame Camboux' young boyfriend, a model from Paris. Piers stares angrily at her comforting Ben:
"Hey what is going on? Why do you hold him so close?"
Madame Camboux looks up:
"Don't be jealous darling. Ben was upset."
Piers is petuant:
"You make me very upset by hugging this English boy." He throws a glass at Ben which just misses and storms out.
Meanwhile Katie and Kyle are taking Craig and Isobel round Aix-En-Provence to see the city. Ben wanted to use the holiday to broaden Craig's interests a little. Having looked at the Cathedrale St Sauveur they were about to go to the Musee du Vieil Aix. Craig is unhappy:
"This is not stirring my interest. I'm bored and tired."
"Oh stop whining. I'd have thought you'd love gothic cathedrals. You'd certainly like french poetry, you being such a moody, depressed youth."
"Yeah but me and Isobel just want to go round on our own. Then I might appreciate stuff without you slagging it off".
Katie laughs sardonically:
"Ha, you'll be laughed at by the locals because of that ridiculous emo get up . The youth of Aix are immaculately dressed, they don't skulk around in black."
"Ere just leave him alone alright. Let 'im and Isobel go round on their own an' we'll find a bar or summat".
"Which means I'll be stuck in Aix all afternnoon alone with a chav. Great!" Katie retorts.
Back in the Chateau, Ben has gone to his room fetch a bottle of 1865 claret that he had bought for Madame Camboux as a present. As he fetches it out of his bag he senses someone in the room behind him. Before he can turn around he feels a blow to the back of the head and then the darkness rushes over him........
.......... to be continued.