“Luc,” Tamlyn smiled at her host father from across the table. “Show me what you’ve painted today.” She knew that Sébastien didn’t show much interest in his father’s hobby but she happened to love Luc’s work. Along with Laila, the two girls could spend hours staring at and praising his paintings.
“Nothing today, Tamlyn,” Luc smiled back at her. She loved how he said her name. It rhymed with tambourine the way Luc and Pierre said it.
“Why not?” She frowned and pouted her lip, knowing it would make Luc laugh.
“Sébastien needs help in the store,” he said with a small giggle.
“But of course he does,” Tamlyn said with a laugh. “This is France and people can never buy too much cheese.”
“You know us so well,” Sébastien chimed in with a roll of his eyes.
“Well at least I’m trying,” Tamlyn said over her shoulder. She had been sitting at the kitchen table with Luc enjoying a quiet meal and hadn’t even heard Sébastien enter the room. He was good at that, sneaking up on her. He would always catch her doing the most ridiculous things, dancing around the kitchen while cooking, counting backwards in French while she waited for her turn in the bathroom. He would always glare at her and walk away, never saying a word. She didn’t mean to do these things to annoy him. But she couldn’t help it, they were completely involuntary.
“Why aren’t you out with the other girls?” Luc asked, bringing her attention away from Sébastien.
Laila and Piper had gone to Versailles for the day and had invited Tamlyn to go with them. But she had refused. She smiled at Luc, trying to make light of her situation. “I had too much fun in Nice and spent all my money for the month. I’ll have to stay in for the a couple weeks.”
“Won’t you get bored?” Sébastien asked in English.
“No, I won’t get bored,” Tamlyn answered in French, wanting Luc to know exactly what his son had said. “I’ll get ahead on my studies and I always have Luc and Pierre to keep me company.”
“I’m not very good company, Tamlyn,” Luc teased her.
“Sure you are. And if you are too busy then I’m sure one of your neighbors can keep me entertained.”
“I’m sure they could,” Sébastien said with contempt. “You’ve dated half the building now, haven’t you?”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Tamlyn asked in English, turning around in her chair so she could glare at him.
“Nothing,” Sébastien said with a shrug of his shoulders and a shake of his head.
Luc grinned at the two kids in front of him. Sébastien wasn’t really a child anymore but that is how he would always think of him. He could tell that his son was frustrated and annoyed with their new exchange student and he also knew the reasons why. Tamlyn and her laissez-faire attitude stood for everything that Sébastien seemed opposed to. She was loud and crass, never thinking before she spoke though she never meant to offend. She was completely carefree and always trying to encourage those around her to join cheery world.
But Luc knew that it would take a miracle for Sébastien to ever see the world through Tamlyn’s eyes. He was a cynic, careful and calculating to a fault and rarely let anyone inside his head or heart. Since he had returned from University, Sébastien had kept very much to himself, rarely going out with friends, never confiding in Luc or Pierre. He had a goal to reach, some exorbitant amount of money which he felt was the necessary sum it would take for him to see the world. Luc would have been happy to help him pay for his travels, but Sébastien refused his charity, claiming he wanted to do it on his own.
A sly smile stretched across Luc’s face as he watched his favorite tenant argue with his only son. “Tamlyn, why don’t you help out in the store today?”
Tamlyn turned around and smiled at him. “Really?”
“Dad, no!” Sébastien walked toward the table but stopped short once he saw how close he was getting to the American.
“Why not?” Luc asked Tamlyn. “You need something to occupy your time and Sébastien needs someone to run the cash register.”
“I did work at Gap one summer,” Tamlyn jumped into one of her stories which always made Luc laugh. “Well, it was really Baby Gap, but I had to sell all these adorable little clothes to fat pregnant women and grandmas shopping for all their grandbabies. I ran the cash register and took inventory and I even got to help with the window displays. Cheese can’t be much different from baby clothes, right?”
“I’m sure you’ll do just fine,” Luc said with a smile and Tamlyn beamed at him.
“Dad, I don’t need any help,” Sébastien protested.
“Yes you do,” his father disagreed. “It’s Saturday and you were in the weeds this morning, it will happen again after lunch.”
“I’ll be fine. Please, don’t let her do this.”
But Tamlyn didn’t seem to take offense or even be listening to Sébastien’s argument. “What do I get to wear? Do you have an apron for me? Do I get to sample anything?”
“Sébastien will show you everything you need to know,” Luc promised and stood up to walk to his studio.
“No, I won’t.”
“You will if you want to continue working here. There are plenty of people looking for jobs who I could pay a lot less than I pay you.”
“This is such bullshit!” Sébastien cried but his father only smiled at him and turned to leave.
Tamlyn could only smile as Luc left the room. She turned to face Sébastien and her grin only grew as she saw the look of distain on his face. She normally didn’t like causing people such aggravation but with her host brother, it had become some sort of game. Just when she thought they were starting to get along, he would say something to let her know just how much he hated her. Normally it wasn’t unprovoked, as Tamlyn enjoyed testing her limits with everyone, but Sébastien’s insults cut a little deeper than most. And this she couldn’t figure out.
Tamlyn was used to people not liking or not understanding her. Her view of the world was slightly skewed, she knew this, and her eccentric behavior was only one of her many defenses. She knew her stories and her long, exaggerated explanations were shocking at first but people’s reaction to her always helped to weed out those who weren’t worth her time or energy. Someone like Sébastien should have been written off from day one but there was something about him that held Tamlyn’s attention. Perhaps it was his smoky grey eyes and the way they darkened when she did something to irritate him. She had rarely seen any kindness behind his eyes, certainly none was ever directed at her, and she often wondered what it would be like to stare into them when they weren’t so cold.
But looks of affection from Sébastien were only a daydream, one which she had no hope of ever becoming a reality. At least he showed some emotion around her, even if it was the unpleasant kind. If he had been indifferent, she would have actually been offended.
“So, boss…” she started but was quickly interrupted.
“Don’t call me that.”
“What am I supposed to call you then?”
“By my name,” he said through clenched teeth.
Tamlyn laughed at him and stood up from the table. “Fine, Sébastien. Can you please take me down to the store as soon as possible? I’m not a fast learner so you’ll have to be patient with me.”
Sébastien knew that she was only teasing him. This girl loved to get a rise out of him and he hated the fact that she was able to accomplish this. “I’ll teach you everything you need to know and then I only want you talking to customers, understand? Just stay out of my way.”
“What if I have a question?” Tamlyn put her hands on her hips and challenged him.
“Save it for my father,” he said and walked quickly out of the kitchen. He could hear Tamlyn behind him and cringed as her footsteps followed him down the stairs and out into the courtyard. But to his surprise, she didn’t say a word on the way to the shop. She followed behind him at a close distance but kept her mouth shut. If she could only keep silent for the rest of the day, Sébastien thought, things wouldn’t be too bad.
A/N: Sorry this chapter is so short. I'm leaving for vacation next Friday so I'll post at least one more chapter before I leave. Much Love, Pink
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