We All Ran into the Sunlight

We All Ran into the Sunlight by Natalie Young Read Free Book Online

Book: We All Ran into the Sunlight by Natalie Young Read Free Book Online
Authors: Natalie Young
his hands on his apron. Beads of orange grease had appeared at the corners of his mouth.
    ‘Is she waiting for the rain?’ he said as a joke, though his face was without humour. ‘It won’t rain, you know. Not once the summer comes.’
    ‘She’s not waiting for rain.’
    ‘Well for St Christopher then.’
    ‘St Christopher,’ said the greengrocer, and he collected up the coin from the counter then and slid it into his till.
    Stephen turned to the window where the streamers were fluttering. He took the bag of oranges and made a knot of its neck in his fingers.
    ‘She wants to know what happened there. Maybe if I can find out what happened there then the place will loosen its hold on her.’
    ‘Well yes, Monsieur, but you are wasting your time trying to make friends with the villagers if all you want from them is the past. No one will tell you anything because they are French and proud and what happened is too sick to speak about.’
    ‘Was the woman Sylvie Pépin in the fire? Was it she who was burnt?’
    ‘And her brother died. He was found hanging in the bathroom.’ The man shook his head. There was something green, a smudge of something; it looked like a pea above his ear. ‘One of the villagers came down from Canas and came into the shop and said what had happened.’
    ‘What did happen?’
    ‘The Borja boy – freak boy – he killed the kid from the village, Frederic. Made it look like suicide. That’s what people say. Then he set the fire.’
    ‘Who knows? All it takes is one match. The doctor from here was called. He was a good friend of Madame Borja and he helped her remove the body. She was totally crazy. Everyone knew that. But Monsieur Borja was a good customer of ours. I believe he stayed on for some years after everyone else left. I think he tried to keep the place going. His wife returned to Paris on her own. She never came back. Some years later Monsieur Borja was found dead in the vineyard.’
    Stephen nodded.
    ‘The chateau simply went to ruin. He had cleared everything out by then. Sold it off, piece by piece.’
    ‘Yes, we went in to have a look around on Saturday. There was nothing in there. Nothing at all.’
    The greengrocer shrugged his shoulders once more and wiped the sweat from his forehead with his apron. ‘Most people down here, in these villages, they keep to themselves. Outsiders are not always taken in kindly. That was one of the Borjas’ problems, of course, when they first came here. This is not like a metropolis; it is a peaceful part of the world. But that summer of the chateau fire there was something very strange in the air. It was so hot that summer. Things got out of hand.’
    ‘Do you get many like it?’
    ‘ My God, no, ’ said the greengrocer and he shook his head and frowned. He disappeared through the beaded curtain into the darkness at the back of his shop.

    Stephen drove back to the village in a mood and told Kate he was taking her out for dinner. They found a restaurant on the edge of town that was downmarket but warm enough inside. There were plastic flowers in baskets on the walls. Kate was wearing a black silk shirt that pulled tight across her breasts. Stephen ordered vodka cocktails to start. It was quiet as a tomb.
    But they felt better after a glass of wine and Stephen said his moules were the best he had ever had. Kate leant over and dipped her bread into the garlic wine in his bowl. She sucked the pulp up, and couldn’t seem to stop.
    ‘I checked out that word on the internet, Kate. That word we saw engraved in the chateau?’
    ‘In the wall?’
    ‘It’s Arabic. “Baseema”. It’s a name. It means “smiling”.’
    ‘Yes. Weird, isn’t it?’
    ‘Gorgeous,’ she said and her eyes, when she looked at him, were bright and defiant. This was how she often looked at the moment and it made him feel afraid. She had messed up her hair so that it looked unkempt. Her lips

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