26/06/2015 by paulinebsc
Heads turned as the 1910 vintage Darracq car majestically swept down the hill into the quayside area. Sophia tried to keep up an elegant appearance as she negotiated the steep step in her long gown while the chauffeur held the door for her. Gratefully she held onto his offered hand. For the ball she had worn a dress which fitted tightly and revealed a lot more cleavage than she was used to showing. She tried not to giggle at the chauffeur’s efforts to keep his eyes looking straight ahead as the lights reflecting from her tiara scattered a prism of coloured dots across his face.
Regally she boarded the yacht which was waiting for her and swept gracefully onto its deck. It was not like the pictures in her English tutorial under ‘Y for yacht’ which showed a small boat with two little sails. This was more like a small liner, and had cost Papa plenty. It had been one of the last things he had bought before his death, and she loved it.
As soon as the boat left harbour she went below decks and changed into the jeans and jumper that were more to her taste. She carefully locked away the priceless tiara and stowed the dress carefully.
‘Hi Sophie, how was the ball? Find any good-looking guys?’
Sophia accepted the glass of red wine proffered by the steward.
‘Thanks Miguel. I haven’t had a decent drink all night. These posh dos never cater for anyone who doesn’t like champagne.’
Miguel was a treasure. He knew exactly what she needed and when she needed it. He was also the classical Mediterranean ‘Tall, dark and handsome’ with a twinkle in his eye and he was one of the few people on the staff who treated her as a human being. After the hard day she had suffered, she allowed herself the treat of a good look at his gorgeous bum as he climbed the ladder to the galley.
While being the Duchess had many good points, there were downsides too. She loved elegant dresses, fine jewellery, the yacht and the castle. But the social events were dire. She had beauty and she had money therefore she was a great marriage prospect. Her mother ordered her, bribed her or guilt-tripped her into going to every event, hoping she would settle for somebody to marry of the right age and class.
‘Do you want anything to eat, madam?’ Miguel interrupted her thoughts.
Sophia jumped, she hadn’t heard him coming.
‘I can wake up chef and get you caviar or pâté de foie gras if you like. Or maybe you’d prefer my speciality?’ He wriggled his eyebrows at her, making her giggle.
‘Your beans on toast would be lovely. Join me and we’ll eat on deck.’
They were probably the only two awake on the boat apart from the sailing crew. Miguel and Sophia stretched out next to the tiny swimming pool.
‘Look,’ Miguel pointed into the sky. ‘A shooting star. What’re you going to wish for?’
‘It doesn’t come true if you tell.’
Sophia closed her eyes and wished. She wanted a man, not for marriage, just for fun. She was twenty two and still a virgin. It was completely ridiculous in the twenty first century. She wanted to enjoy herself before she settled down to produce an heir.
‘You didn’t answer my question earlier. Any good looking men at the ball?’
‘Scores of them. Not one with a sense of humour or a gram of sense. Do you think I’ll ever find Mr. Right?’
‘He’s out there somewhere. Perhaps you’re looking in the wrong places.’
‘I don’t know where else to look. Mama never lets me go anywhere to meet ordinary people.’
They sat in silence for a minute, finishing the beans. Sophia looked at Miguel thoughtfully. He had brains, she liked him and he was certainly good looking. She batted her eyelashes at him. Wishing on the star had encouraged her to do something pro-active for once.
‘You’re ordinary.’ She slinked towards him suggestively.
Miguel backed away quickly, shock on his face.
‘Don’t you want to?’ Sophia pouted. She was hurt by his actions.
‘Oh yes, Duchess, I’d love to, but it wouldn’t be right.’
‘What? Because technically you’re my servant?’
‘No, Sophia, that makes no difference. I like you. The problem isn’t with you.’
‘Well what is it with?’
Miguel looked down, guiltily.
‘It’s with me. I’ve been screwing Josie for the last year’
Sophie looked at him, shock on her face. Then she bent over, hiding her face from him and shaking.
‘Sophia? Are you alright? What’s the matter?’
Sophia managed to let the laughter escape.
‘My younger sister? Little Miss Goody Good?’
‘I’m Sorry.’ Miguel couldn’t think of anything else to say.
‘You’re never pushy. I assume it was her idea?’
Miguel sat back down again and nodded. They sat in uncomfortable silence for five minutes before Miguel spoke:
‘Do you mind if I make a suggestion?’
‘Do you know my cousin Francesco? He works in the kitchen garden.’
‘I’ve seen him around. What about him?’
‘He’s not thick, he’s single and he’s got a great sense of humour. You’d like him if you got to know him.’
He dropped his voice to a whisper, even though there was nobody close to them ‘and he’s hung like a horse if you know what I mean.’
He collected the plates, winked at her and went back to the gallery. Sophie sat for a few more minutes considering.
She had noticed Francesco. Gardening had given him a deep tan and great muscles. Perhaps wishing on a star had done her some good.
The Four words were: Duchess, Vintage Car, Star, harbour.