My agent’s voice screamed out of my cell phone, “You made the New York Times best seller list. Your book’s #4.”
“What? You’re kidding.”
“I most certainly am not. It will be in this Sunday’s New York Times. Congratulations. You and George need to come to the city so we can celebrate.”
A week later we did and I recall being slightly hung over the following afternoon as I dragged myself onto the train heading back to Albany.
I had already written two books and they were selling well, over 35,000 copies between the two. However, the New York Times coveted list still eluded me – until now.
When I finished this one, my husband told me he would buy me a villa in the South of France if this book made the best seller list.
That was eight months ago. My book remained on the list for nearly six months. It was then my husband made good on his promise. We met with a realtor who deals in international real estate, who connected us to an agent in Aix. We flew to Aix, where the agent showed us several villas. Back home, and after some lengthy discussions, we signed a contract for our future vacation home and getaway retreat in the village of Aix.
Today our cab slowly climbs the hill leading to our new home. I had hoped to buy an old villa and restore it, but we’re in our early 70’s and not quite up to major renovations. I recall part of a discussion with our French agent, Isabel.
“Isabel, we need air-conditioning and I want new appliances. I refuse to have to cook breakfast on the patio.”
Thankfully, she found us an old villa that had been restored. It wasn’t as modern as a new condo in the states, but it was all we needed.
“I hope the bathrooms work,” my husband said. “I don’t remember. Did we flush the toilets?”
“Not sure, but I’m more concerned about the kitchen. I didn’t try out any of the appliances before. And it doesn’t have a dishwasher.”
George chuckled. “Looks like that will be my job.”
Just then our driver rounded a sharp curve. My heart pounded as our new home came into view. It looked like your typical French villa with its grey stone walls, a turret and a cobalt blue front door. Vivid blooms cascaded out the window boxes. It was perfect.
As soon as the cab stopped, I jumped out and ran around to the back to check out our property, with its huge stone patio bordered by olive and lemon trees.
“George,” I shouted. “Come smell our backyard.”
Both the lemon and olive trees were fragrant and the aroma was a delicious, heady combination of smells. And off to the side of the patio sat a small pool, shimmering azure blue in the afternoon sun.
“Remember how I said if you didn’t read all my books, you’d end up being my pool boy if we ever got a villa in France that came with a pool.”
“Well, you never read this last one and now it seems we have the villa in France, and…. we also have a pool.”
I looked over at my spouse and smiled. “Guess what you’ll be doing?”
He smiled back. “You mean besides the dishwashing?”
Our driver overheard our conversation. “Excuse me, but I hear you have need of a man to take care of your pool?”
“We do,” George answered without a pause.
“The guy who took care of the former owners, is still available. He’s very reliable and I’m sure you could call the former owner to check on his credentials. Mrs. D’Orveilles still lives in the village with her daughter. I’ll give you their numbers.” He wrote their names and phone numbers on his business card and handed it to me.
“Thank you. I’ll call them tomorrow.”
George took our key and opened the door. We walked into a large open space, a combined living room and dining area. Deep shuttered windows broke up white stucco walls. I walked into the kitchen, a sunburst of deep buttercup yellow, and looked out the window over the sink. Green rolling hills, dotted with olive trees. A valley below with more trees. Stone fencing ran along the field, defining our property from our neighbors. It was exactly as I had envisioned my villa would be.
I smiled. It was mine.