by Simon Oakes
Book One: More Than This
In 1944 The German Third Army destroyed twelve cottages in the Provençal village of Gordes as a reprisal against the Freedom Fighters of the French Resistance that had killed a German soldier. Many of the cottages are still in ruins. Arthur Cornish, an Australian businessman, is fascinated with their history when he meets the enigmatic Fabienne Parochet, Baroness de Quercy, whose mother was born in one of the cottages. Their relationship develops and she soon discovers there is more to him than she realizes.
Book Two: Heritage
Arthur travels to England with Fabienne looking for his ancestors in Cornwall but can find no trace. They return to France only to discover that danger awaits them from two different sources. It is facing these dangers together that Arthur discovers his true heritage and his emotional wall is breached.
Book Three: Ties That Bind
Jean-Paul asks Arthur and Fabienne to carry out a task for him in Tuscany. It seemed a simple holiday at the start but soon developed into something more sinister as the pair find themselves inadvertently up against Mastino, an Italian vicious and cruel, criminal gang. Following these adventures Fabienne asks herself if this is the life she really wants and will the ties that bind her to Arthur be broken.
Cahors, France, February 2012
She led him round the back of the chateau to a group of outbuildings and into a stable block. She unlocked the door and they went inside. As there was no natural light she turned on a fluorescent and bolted the door. On the floor was a beam supported about three hundred millimetres off the concrete floor. There were two mattresses placed on their edge about a metre behind the beam. She took off her shoes and put on a pair of working shoes. The type that is worn on a building site with steel reinforced toe caps. Her fighting shoes she called them. She went to a cardboard box and took out six glass tumblers about 150mm tall and placed them on the beam. She stood back and walked past the end of the row of tumblers. She turned round. Looked at her companion and then advanced until she was only one and a half metres away from the first one. She stepped onto the ball of her left foot and spun anti clockwise on one leg bringing her right foot up in an arc and then down towards the first glass. It shattered on impact but immediately she had stepped to the right and was on her left foot again spinning and the second glass shattered. This continued down the line until all glasses were shattered.
She then placed a second line of glasses and did the same thing, this time using her other foot. For the third time the glasses were lined up but this time she approached them from an angle, spun on her left foot anti clockwise and caught the glass with her right foot, changed feet and spun clockwise on her right foot and shattered the next glass with her left foot and she continued using alternate feet spinning first clockwise and then anti clockwise until all the glasses were smashed. She became a blur in his eyes; such was the speed of her turns
She turned to her companion again and said.
“This is harder, much harder.”
With that she lined up another row of glasses and went through the same routine using alternate feet but even though she knocked all of the glasses over and against the mattress wall, none broke. She was able to control the velocity of the strike down to such a level as to not cause the glass to break.
The man with her looked serious but said nothing. She then moved to the centre of the stable block where there was an effigy of a man hanging. Filled with a soft material of some sort and suspended from a beam above. An elegant scarecrow dressed in pale trousers and a pale shirt. She took a grapefruit from out of a box and pushed it down the front of the dummy’s trousers until a bulge could be seen where she had placed it: in the genital area. She stepped back and without a word suddenly spun on her left foot turning anti clockwise and aimed a vicious kick at the lump she had created with the grapefruit. There was a squelch and a damp stain appeared on the front of the scarecrow’s trousers and started to spread. She spun the other way and hit the groin of the effigy again.
“I can do that with either foot and it is just as effective with ordinary shoes as with these.” She said in a matter of fact way. ”I really do not need to do it a second time; the first is enough for total incapacitation, possibly death.”
He had never seen anything that was so captivating and majestic reminding him of a cross between a whirling dervish and a ballet dancer and yet so brutal, all at the same time.
“Have you studied ballet?” He asked
“Yes classical. As a young girl I loved it and even though Fate dictated that I would not become a professional dancer I have never given it up and still go to classes whenever I can. It is invigorating, good exercise and it makes me feel happy. I also dance flamenco. Flamenco is a mixture of many cultures and even though the movements are different, I find the postures similar. Whereas classical ballet is smooth there is something vital about flamenco which I find exhilarating.”
“Do you go alone?”
“Sometimes but sometimes I go with my friend Juliette. You met her once, Gregoire’s wife. I have named this my Dance of Retribution.”
“Has anyone else seen it?”
“No, I practice in private, that’s why I keep the door locked.”