Inheriting Trouble: Author Nancy Milby takes us to France with Entry #9

Courtesy Jim Rappaport

A French cafe’ under siege! Is nothing sacred?

Literati

Nancy Milby is the author of the series A Foreign Affair, six novels (and counting) of impossible romance, possible fortunes, dynasties, and…wine!  French wine, to be more precise. Her heroines are strong women, her heroes are stronger men and their coupling makes for irrestible reading.

“Write what you know” is the truism, and Nancy certainly complies.  She makes frequent forays to Europe to scout out the most promising vineyards, which in pre-pandemic days filled the shelves of her wine emporium in Southern Califiornia, and, like the women in her stories, she discovered early on that the glass ceiling was made of…well…glass!

I am pleased to have edited her first six novels.  Each successive novel seems to require less effort.  I wonder why? Here is her entry, her start to novel #7:

Inheriting Trouble

by Nancy L. Milby

 

There was no warning. One minute, the shaded square held the everyday sounds of a bustling café, pedestrian chatter, and the musical splashing of a water fountain.

The next moment brought utter chaos.

It began with the loud crunch of metal-on-metal, followed by a cacophony of blaring horns, screeching tires, shouted curses and terrified screams.

Julia Breton’s attention jerked from her order pad to see people scattering in all directions, away from an enormous dump truck barreling down the street—backwards. A catawampus Citroën with a crushed nose was the first of what would be more than a few vehicular casualties if the trajectory of the truck was any indication.

Two more cars were knocked aside before the truck’s back tires leapt the curb and kept coming. In the seconds it took for her brain to connect with what her eyes were seeing, Julia registered that the truck was going to smash into the fountain that separated her café patio from the street. And if it hit the fountain …

Courir!” she yelled, waving her arms like a rodeo clown. Most of her patrons were already scrambling out of their seats, but when the elderly—and deaf—gentleman, sitting closest to the fountain’s edge, was slow to react, she looped an arm beneath his elbow and yanked him out of the way, nearly tripping over his cane in the process. Amidst cries and shouts, overturned furniture and dishes smashing to the cobblestones, the patio emptied.

Too bad the bronze water maiden at the center of the square’s stone fountain hadn’t the option to get out of the way.

Chairs were still rolling as the truck’s right rear wheel guard struck the fountain’s edge with a crunch. The protruding corner of the trailer hit the statue, its force too much for even the heavy bronze figure. The maiden teetered, then toppled onto one of the tables just vacated.  Unencumbered by the directional pipes of the maiden, a jet d’eau shot up into the overhead branches and rained down on the chaotic scene like an isolated summer squall.

The truck’s enormous back wheels reared up over the rim of the fountain, but its momentum was arrested when the undercarriage met stone with a drawn-out screech akin to giant fingernails scraping across God’s chalkboard, halting the vehicle on a lurch. Then it settled, stuck in place. Unfortunately, it’s position over the broken waterspout redirected the water outward. A second round of shrieks echoed through the square as onlookers dodged away from the unfettered spray of water pelting them from beneath the truck’s bumper.

The shouts of the onlookers, now safe from being flattened or drenched, turned from panic to outrage, were nearly drowned out by the revving of the truck’s engine. No, not the engine; it was the trailer hydraulics.

Putain, qu’est-ce que c’est?

Shaken by the near miss, Julia tore her eyes from the continuing horror of the tilting trailer to see who had just given voice to her own thoughts. It was Nicolas Desmarais, captain of the local gendarmes and a sort-of friend.

Tall and fit, with a square jaw, flashing brown eyes fringed with stupidly long lashes and dimples when he smiled, Nic was considered the local hottie for good reason. Julia respected him, and tried her best to think of him only as the competent law enforcement officer he was, rather than as a sexy, single male.

But now his unruffled, unhurried poise made something in her snap. “Don’t just stand there!” Her voice—an octave higher than usual—betrayed the shock and panic that swamped her. “Do something!”

Nic gave her a superior, very male grin that scraped across her raw nerves. “I don’t think he’s going anywhere.”

She put her hands on her hips and glared at him before turning her attention back to the truck—and barked out a laugh.

“No?” Nodding at the opening door of the truck’s cab, she asked, “What do you call that?”

Nic followed her pointy little chin to see the driver swing down from his high seat with the agility of a monkey. Hitting the pavement mid-stride, he raced away from the gathering crowd.

Merde,” Nic spluttered, spinning around like he forgot where he’d left his patrol car. Not that a car would do any good chasing a fugitive on foot.

“Take my bike!” Julia gestured to the red bicycle propped up against the wall near the café entrance, a dayglow-yellow child seat fastened above the back wheel.

With a pained look, Desmarais seized it, spun it around and ran forward, pushing for a few strides before he jumped on to pedal for all he was worth, shouting into his radio at the same time.

As Julia watched the cop disappear around a corner, she realized she was shaking. Whether it was fear-fueled adrenaline wearing off, or rage, she wasn’t certain; most likely both. She—and everyone else on the patio—had narrowly escaped what appeared to be a deliberate attack.

And while the danger had passed, the drama wasn’t finished. As water continued to spray unabated out onto the street, the hydraulic lifts slowly but surely brought the trailer to the correct height, at which point the rear gate opened and a load of gravel came tumbling from the truck, filling what was left of the destroyed fountain before spilling over onto the sidewalk.

It doused the spraying water, but even the moisture in the air couldn’t prevent a thick cloud of dust rising from the pile as the last of the load spilled out. This final insult might as well have been the curtain coming down on a show. Most onlookers turned their backs at that point and, coughing at the dust, walked away.

Not Julia. Surveying the mess around her, she knew she’d been lucky. They’d all been lucky. That bastard had been coming at them fast. If not for the fountain, people would be dead.

But why? What could the mec possibly have been thinking?

Exactly the question those who remained on the fringes of the square began to ask.

***

There was no warning. One minute, the shaded square held the everyday sounds of a bustling café, pedestrian chatter, and the musical splashing of a water fountain.

The next moment brought utter chaos.

It began with the loud crunch of metal-on-metal, followed by a cacophony of blaring horns, screeching tires, shouted curses and terrified screams.

Julia Breton’s attention jerked from her order pad to see people scattering in all directions, away from an enormous dump truck barreling down the street—backwards. A catawampus Citroën with a crushed nose was the first of what would be more than a few vehicular casualties if the trajectory of the truck was any indication.

Two more cars were knocked aside before the truck’s back tires leapt the curb and kept coming. In the seconds it took for her brain to connect with what her eyes were seeing, Julia registered that the truck was going to smash into the fountain that separated her café patio from the street. And if it hit the fountain …

Courir!” She yelled, waving her arms like a rodeo clown. Most of her patrons were already scrambling out of their seats, but when the elderly—and deaf—gentleman, sitting closest to the fountain’s edge, was slow to react, she looped an arm beneath his elbow and yanked him out of the way, nearly tripping over his cane in the process. Amidst cries and shouts, overturned furniture and dishes smashing to the cobblestones, the patio emptied.

Too bad the bronze water maiden at the center of the square’s stone fountain hadn’t the option to get out of the way.

Chairs were still rolling as the truck’s right rear wheel guard struck the fountain’s edge with a crunch. The protruding corner of the trailer hit the statue, its force too much for even the heavy bronze figure. The maiden teetered, then toppled onto one of the tables just vacated.  Unencumbered by the directional pipes of the maiden, a jet d’eau shot up into the overhead branches and rained down on the chaotic scene like an isolated summer squall.

The truck’s enormous back wheels reared up over the rim of the fountain, but its momentum was arrested when the undercarriage met stone with a drawn-out screech akin to giant fingernails scraping across God’s chalkboard, halting the vehicle on a lurch. Then it settled, stuck in place. Unfortunately, it’s position over the broken waterspout redirected the water outward. A second round of shrieks echoed through the square as onlookers dodged away from the unfettered spray of water pelting them from beneath the truck’s bumper.

The shouts of the onlookers, now safe from being flattened or drenched, turned from panic to outrage, were nearly drowned out by the revving of the truck’s engine. No, not the engine; it was the trailer hydraulics.

Putain, qu’est-ce que c’est?

Shaken by the near miss, Julia tore her eyes from the continuing horror of the tilting trailer to see who had just given voice to her own thoughts. It was Nicolas Desmarais, captain of the local gendarmes and a sort-of friend.

Tall and fit, with a square jaw, flashing brown eyes fringed with stupidly long lashes and dimples when he smiled, Nic was considered the local hottie for good reason. Julia respected him, and tried her best to think of him only as the competent law enforcement officer he was, rather than as a sexy, single male.

But now his unruffled, unhurried poise made something in her snap. “Don’t just stand there!” Her voice—an octave higher than usual—betrayed the shock and panic that swamped her. “Do something!”

Nic gave her a superior, very male grin that scraped across her raw nerves. “I don’t think he’s going anywhere.”

She put her hands on her hips and glared at him before turning her attention back to the truck—and barked out a laugh.

“No?” Nodding at the opening door of the truck’s cab, she asked, “What do you call that?”

Nic followed her pointy little chin to see the driver swing down from his high seat with the agility of a monkey. Hitting the pavement mid-stride, he raced away from the gathering crowd.

Merde,” Nic spluttered, spinning around like he forgot where he’d left his patrol car. Not that a car would do any good chasing a fugitive on foot.

“Take my bike!” Julia gestured to the red bicycle propped up against the wall near the café entrance, a dayglow-yellow child seat fastened above the back wheel.

With a pained look, Desmarais seized it, spun it around and ran forward, pushing for a few strides before he jumped on to pedal for all he was worth, shouting into his radio at the same time.

As Julia watched the cop disappear around a corner, she realized she was shaking. Whether it was fear-fueled adrenaline wearing off, or rage, she wasn’t certain; most likely both. She—and everyone else on the patio—had narrowly escaped what appeared to be a deliberate attack.

And while the danger had passed, the drama wasn’t finished. As water continued to spray unabated out onto the street, the hydraulic lifts slowly but surely brought the trailer to the correct height, at which point the rear gate opened and a load of gravel came tumbling from the truck, filling what was left of the destroyed fountain before spilling over onto the sidewalk.

It doused the spraying water, but even the moisture in the air couldn’t prevent a thick cloud of dust rising from the pile as the last of the load spilled out. This final insult might as well have been the curtain coming down on a show. Most onlookers turned their backs at that point and, coughing at the dust, walked away.

Not Julia. Surveying the mess around her, she knew she’d been lucky. They’d all been lucky. That bastard had been coming at them fast. If not for the fountain, people would be dead.

But why? What could the mec possibly have been thinking?

Exactly the question those who remained on the fringes of the square began to ask.

***

Ah! France! Where wine and passion flow and flourish—but not without intrigue, and certainly not without consequences.
Welcome to the premier installment of A Foreign Affair, the novels of Nancy Milby. Pour yourself a glass of wine, toss a log on the fire, and lower your defenses. You are about to be seduced.
Falling for France, the first escapade in this generational saga, finds Annie Shaw— attractive, bright, with a loving husband and a family on the way— losing everything. She buries herself in her work, determined to keep her broken heart under lock and key, as she skillfully climbs the corporate ladder. She accepts that joy and romance are the tattered pages of her personal history book until a serendipitous flight to France … and a chance encounter with a French aristocrat too handsome to be trusted.
Join Annie in her foray into the wine country of France as she must decide if opening her heart once again means losing her soul.
She could use some good advice.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=falling+for+france&i=stripbooks-intl-ship&ref=nb_sb_noss

One comment

  1. Miryam Howard-Meier says:

    Brilliant descriptions lead the reader down an exciting path! Very vivid. Enjoyed this submission very much…
    (appears to be copied twice within the post, fyi)

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