Louis St Clair is the girl’s favorite. He plays the piano, and is a real sweet talker. The girls hang on every word he says.
Louis is best friends with Tristan de Lévis-Mirepoix, who’s a sort of aristocrat – just like Louis and Philippe… and Clotilde. And Louise…
Louis looks at me a lot, and smiles… and winks! But I don’t know if he’s laughing at me… Then again we had so much fun together when we went hiking, so maybe…
The girls are queuing for the library, and Louis tries to catch Taïga’s eye as he leaves.
Clotilde doesn’t miss the look on his face and she quickly fills Louise in on what she saw.
Louis has dragged Henri away from the other boys.
‘What’s so important?’
Louis looks uneasy. ‘I just wanted to know if you’re… well, if you like Taïga?’
Henri laughes. ‘Of course I do! She’s… she’s a great friend!’
‘So it’s OK if I ask her then? Thanks, buddy! I thought you were in love with her or something!’ Louis gives him a friendly tap on the shoulder. ‘C’mon, let’s find the others, the girls have been raking the lawn the whole morning and there are some fantastic piles of leaves.’ He winks to Henri and sets off.
Ask her what? Henri shrugs and runs after his friend. Neither boy saw Clotilde hiding behind the wall; she heard everything…
Clotilde hurries outside to try to find Louise. She falls into step with Taïga and sweetly she asks if she could help her find her BFF. Taïga frowns. What’s up now? Clotilde never talks to me…
‘She’s just over there.’ Taïga points towards the “shed”.
‘Can you show me, please?’ Clotilde tries a friendly smile. Now I know she’s up to something… Taïga is curious, but the boys are coming, running and screaming!
Soon they’re all playing in the giant heaps! Louis throws a whole bunch of leaves over Taïga, making her scream with delight.
He can’t take his eyes of her. It’s now or never…
Tentatively his hand brushes against hers. Taïga stiffens, but she doesn’t withdraw her hand. She can feel her heart beat faster when their gloved fingers clumsily entwine.
Henri glances towards Taïga and does a double take. Oh no!
Everyone seems to be staring at them, but for once Taïga doesn’t mind… In fact, she can only think of Louis’s hand holding hers!
Later in the afternoon, they burn the leaves. Louis is holding on to Taïga, pulling her close. She kind of likes it, seeing the envy in the other girls’ eyes.
Louise and Clotilde are fulminating. ‘I can’t believe the guts. She’s incredible – just look at her! She’s soo clingy… Louis won’t take it for long; he’s probably just trying out the plebs… It will bore him after a while.’
Louise sniffles. ‘I know… But it should have been me…’
The boys have found a little grey squirrel, which terrified crouches at their feet.
Taïga kneels and calls on it softly. The little squirrel hesitates…
… and jumps onto Taïga’s hand.
‘Wow… how did you do that?’
‘I don’t know… critters seem to like me. Here, take it.’
Louis holds the little animal and strokes its soft fur. But it wriggles so much Louis has to let it go.
‘Allons les enfants, au travail! Il y a encore des feuilles à ramasser!’
‘Tout de suite Monsieur Lefebvre!’ They all grab rakes and continue the tedious work…
Taïga is brushing her teeth that evening, when Louise and her followers come into the bathroom and start to taunt her.
They’re soon pushing her around; ‘We’ll teach you a lesson!’
‘It’ll be the last time you steal anybody’s boyfriend!’
Taïga tries to stay calm, she mustn’t let her anger overwhelm her or she might really hurt someone. ‘But I haven’t…’
‘Shut up!’ Clotilde is just about to punch her when Agnès and Jeanne appear.
‘What are you doing!?!’
Clotilde lets go of Taïga’s hair and the three girls turn towards the unwelcome interruption.
‘Get out!’ Louise points her finger towards the door.
‘Not without Taïga.’
‘Come with us, Taïga.’ The girls take her hand and promptly lead her away.
‘It’s not over, gypsy!’ Louise hisses the words but Taïga can hear them perfectly.
She turns on her heels. ‘I. am. NOT. a. gypsy.’
The girls tug on her hands and she follows them out of the bathroom. ‘Louise is a bitch!’
‘Don’t worry about her, she’s a bully.’
Louise screeches: ‘I am not! Stay here!.. I command you to stay!’
But as Taïga and her friends don’t stop, Louise and Clotilde with Charlotte in tow follow them into the bedroom.
‘Que se passe-t-il? What’s going on?’ Eveline puts down the book she was reading and jumps down from bed.
‘That stupid Grey girl has stolen Louise’s boyfriend.’ Clotilde hisses while she continues staring at Taïga. ‘It’s about time she learns to stay in her place.’
‘In her place!’ Jeanne mimicks. She is looking straight at Louise. ‘And I completely understand Louis, if I was a boy I’d fall in love with Taïga myself!’
Louise gasps, steps forward and spits at Jeanne!
Taïga is appalled. ‘Jeanne! Don’t hurt her!’ But it’s too late, Jeanne hits Louise in the stomach – hard. Tristan stops in his tracks. Wow. A cat fight! I’ll get Louis, he won’t let anybody hurt his new girlfriend!
But when the boys arrive, the battle has transformed into a pillow fight. Louis, Tristan and Henri rapidly grab a pillow and rush into the heart of the fight!
Taïga is soon cornered by Louis and Tristan.
‘Take this! Prends ça!’
‘Pas touche, Tristan! Hands off.’
‘You’re not allowed to pillow fight! C’est interdit!’ Louis stops for a second.
‘Arrête, Philippe! Stop being such a bore!’
‘Yeah…’ Taïga gasps for breath. ‘C’mon! Join us!’
But Philippe turns on his heels and leaves.
The arrival of Mademoiselle Florence and Monsieur Lefebvre put an abrupt ending to the pillow fight.
Philippe is such a jerk!
Part I – End of Chapter 45