The third country on Granny’s list. Opulent plains, rich mountains and beautiful coasts… France!
St Sims Art Academy is nestled between lush hills and picturesque vineyards. The air smells of newly cut grass and birds are singing in the trees. Granny takes in the beauty of the site and smiles to herself. It wouldn’t surprise me if they have a fantastic cook as well…
She pushes the great door and steps into a luminous hall. A brisk and efficient secretary ushers her in to the Directors office.
‘Monsieur Lambert sera à vous dans un instant.’
‘Merci.’ Granny admires the book covered walls, not at all prepared for the shock of the Director swiftly striding into the office, cordially shaking her hand. He studies her face a brief moment and Granny’s heart almost stops beating. François Lambert! My François! OMG. How come I didn’t make the connection? Stupid, stupid me…
‘Have a seat, Madame Grey.’
‘Mademoiselle,’ Granny mumbles, feeling her cheeks burn as he quickly glances up from his paperwork. He holds her gaze just an instant, but quickly looks down at the folder in his hands, not showing any sign of recognition.
‘Ah. Le voilà…’ He clears his throat, ‘As you already know, l’Académie d’Art de St Sim, or St Sim’s Art Academy, is a private school here in Champs-sur-Souloise. In keeping with our mission statement of creating students who are lifelong learners, our school enlists its parents as partners in the educational process. We strongly believe that with shared decision making at its core all members of this school community work to support my new standards for instruction in all curriculum areas, specializing in Art of course. As a result, St Sims Art Academy students are provided with a variety of instructional modes that enable them to achieve both scholastic excellence and strong personal values. This combination enables the students to meet the demands of life in a highly technological, global community.’
He takes a deep breath and finally looks her in the eyes.
‘And it might seem inappropriate, but… Would you like to have dinner with me, Tara? Tonight?’ Granny just stares at him. Tara! And I thought he didn’t recognize me! Or didn’t want to recognize me! Oh my!
‘Or maybe you’d prefer lunch at the Bistro? Just to catch up on old times?’
He looks anxiously at her, and she realizes she hasn’t yet answered.
‘Oh. That would be lovely. Dinner I mean. I’m flying out tomorrow morning, you see…’
They sit down again, on the couch this time, and time flies by as their discussion quickly flows from school matters to politics and food… They carefully avoid talking about their personal lives though, threading carefully around more personal matters, slowly getting to know each other again.
After having talking for at least an hour over a cup of coffee in his office, François Lambert takes Granny on a tour of the Château, proudly showing her the different accommodations.
‘… here, after you, dear. Just look at the light!’
‘… the left wing is being restored, so we can’t go there…’
‘… and this is the girls dorms…’
‘… as you can see, we’ve kept the basics…’
Finally he escorts Granny to the door and kisses her on the cheek – not the two kisses usual goodbye, but just one. More intimate.
‘I’ll pick you up at 8.’
Granny just nods, butterflies in her stomach.
It’s with a twinge of sorrow Granny leaves Champs-sur-Souloise and François Lambert early the next day…
Back in Moonlight Hollow.
My, my, my… another one looking like she’s just been raised from the dead… No way will I let Taïga grow up here – fresh air and gourmet food will work wonders for my grandchild!
Taïga is happy to have Granny back. After an early dinner they settle in the living room, as usual. But tonight there’s tension in the air. Granny doesn’t know how to break the news about boarding school to Taïga, and Taïga is afraid Granny will find out about the party. Only Missy is oblivious to the atmosphere as she’s deep into ‘Wuthering Heights’… Neither Granny nor Taïga could imagine that Missy is afraid someone might find out she’s been fiddling with Taïga’s iPad…
Then both of them talk at once, ‘Something happened when…’
‘I’ve found a school!’
They talk about Granny’s choice of school for a long time that evening. Taïga can’t help but feeling a little twinge of excitement after all – she’ll go to France! And another twinge of apprehension – all by herself…
‘… but the rules are strict. NO MAGIC whatsoever! Nobody can know our secret. I hope you understand, Taïga?’
Taïga just acquiesces, already feeling the burden of their secret…
‘Now what did you try to tell me?’
‘Eh… nothing important. It slipped my mind.’ Taïga feels bad, not telling Granny about the party… but she will tell her, eventually… ‘Did you take any pictures, Granny?’
‘Er, yes. But you have to help me getting them into a computer! And there was only enough place for the pictures from Shang Simla…’
They huddle together around the camera, and Granny comments all the pictures…
Part I – End of Chapter 28