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Sue smiled. “OK, I’m officially off duty as a travel guide. Here we are, 32 Quai du Port. La Chope D’Or.”
They stopped outside a low railing. Tables were arranged on a patio in the open air, but only two were occupied by patrons well bundled up in heavy overcoats. One couple were accompanied by a large shaggy dog that sat on one of the wicker chairs. The sign above the restaurant’s picture window, white letters on a bright blue background, read “Brasserie LA CHOPE D’OR Crêperie.”
Sue led the way inside. The place was packed and the sounds of conversation and laughter rose and fell, punctuated by the “boing” of a spring closing a door that, judging by the coming and going of waiters with loaded trays, led to the kitchen. Barry breathed in the aromas of garlic, onions, thyme, fresh fish and Turkish tobacco. He was definitely in France.
A waiter greeted Sue like a long-lost friend, showed them to a table for two in the window, pulled out a chair so Sue could be seated, and with a flourish spread a spotless white napkin on her lap. “Les menus.” He set two down. “Et quelque-chose à boire?”
“Barry?” Sue asked.
I’d love a Guinness, he thought, but said, “When in Rome. What are you having?”
Sue ordered the house white and the waiter left.
Barry turned to stare out over the harbour and south to where Notre Dame de la Garde, lit by floodlights from below, stood on its hill surveying the scene. He turned back to Sue. “It’s lovely,” he said, “and you are lovely. Very lovely, darling.”
She inclined her head and smiled. “Thank you, Barry.”
He looked into her eyes and took her hand and for the second time that day, the people all around them faded.
The waiter reappeared, coughed discretely. The ritual of opening a bottle of wine was observed to the letter with Sue duly inspecting the label, sniffing the cork, sipping a sample, and declaring herself satisfied.
Barry presumed that the rapid-fire conversation between the man and Sue was to establish that they needed more time to study the menu. He left.
“You know I’m not very good at languages, but I think I detect quite a nasal quality to the waiter’s speech?”
“Pierre’s a local,” Sue said, “The French spoken here is much harsher than that in Paris.”
“I thought there was something different. Our French teacher at school, Mister Marks, used to say, ‘Laverty, vous parlez français comme une vache espagnole.’ You speak French like a Spanish cow.”
Sue laughed and squeezed his hand and said in a low voice, “But you make love like an Italian called Casanova.
Barry glowed. He raised his glass, sipped the cool crisp wine and said, “I love you, Sue Nolan.”
She said, “And I love you, Barry.” She lifted her menu, “And I think, prosaic as it sounds, we really should think about ordering.”
Barry smiled. “Let’s,” he said.
Sue said, “I’m going to have some pâté to start with then the mussels.”
Barry said, “Bouillabaisse for me. The local fishermen invented it here.”
“No starter?” Sue said.
He shook his head.
She leant across the table and whispered, “I’m taking you sightseeing tomorrow, but with what I have in mind for later this evening I really would suggest half a dozen raw oysters.”
Barry started back in his chair. “What?”
“You heard me,” she said and her smile broadened, her right eyebrow lifted, and she half turned her head never letting her gaze leave his eyes.
And Barry Laverty feeling himself aroused, laughed and shook his head. “Shameless hussy,” he said, “but you have a point. Let’s make it a dozen.”

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