I’ve no idea where the sailors in the Vendée Globe are today… but I hope they won’t have to sail through a storm like the one that engulfed me! My own private Cape Horn! After several sleepless nights, my certainties began to fade. Why would my father’s former intern go to such mysterious lengths to resume work on a perfume that he knew infinitely better than myself? He only needed to speak to me directly. What’s more, the idea of Maxime pretending to be Langley just didn’t make sense… It was almost laughable. Three days after the video call, I talked with Blain again. The more he spoke, the less tenable my theory seemed to be.
He talked freely about his problems; spoke admiringly about my father… and always his unhesitating, frank way of speaking. I’d come to a point that the only thing I could trust was my instinct, which told me that Maxime was on my side, that Langley really did exist, and that his offer was still on the table.
I was travelling on the crazy roller coaster of my emotions, veering from one extreme to the next, rising to the crest of one wave only to plummet to the depths of the next a few hours later. I imagined myself continuing my father’s work, bringing his dream to fruition… But the “Cons” column was filling up rapidly: 1/ I couldn’t accept an offer from the man who ruined my father; 2/ I didn’t know Maxime well enough to go into business with him; 3/ I had no idea how to run a company and 4/ I couldn’t abandon Claire and our plans to move abroad… Friends come first! Without forgetting, 5/ I have to live my own life and not my father’s. The list went on and on… This time, my decision was made, no more shilly-shallying, no! “The answer is no!” I said, not realizing that I was speaking aloud.
Two passers-by turned to look at me, a mixture of surprise and worry on their faces. Langley could go to hell! To celebrate my decisiveness, I decided to offer Claire a little gift: an espresso coffee machine to make her translucent early-morning coffee a thing of the past. The Fnac department store wasn’t far. I quickly paid with Apple Pay and hurried back to the flat, eager to pick up the threads of my earlier life, with no envelope, no mystery.
Claire was waiting for me in the living room, perched on the edge of an armchair. I immediately noticed that something was up; a certain reticence that I’d never felt in her before.
— Something wrong?
— I’ve got something to tell you, Eva.
Her voice was tense, hesitant.
— I’ve received an offer… I know we’d planned to go away together but… I answered an ad looking for someone speaking French and German. I didn’t tell you but I was called to a series of interviews… and I’ve been given the job! The online Fidor Bank has offered me a job in Frankfurt. I can’t turn it down! I’m so sorry, I’m treating you so badly…
“There’s good news that traps you and bad news that sets you free. Nothing is simple in life,” my father once said to me. It was only then that I understood what he meant. With Claire’s announcement, my hesitation of the past few days disappeared by itself and seemed stupid in retrospect. At last, I could see my way forward clearly! I couldn’t turn down Langley’s proposal! It was unthinkable. You have to seize opportunities when they arise, as Claire had just shown. She was right. I gave my friend a hug, congratulated her, and we went off to a restaurant to celebrate the piece – or rather pieces – of good news: her first job and my decision, which I still kept secret but, this time, it was etched in stone!
Illustrations: Karolis Strautniekas/Agent 002; Yann Le Bec/Illustrissimo
Photos: Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac ©Luc Boegly, Yvan Zedda/BPCE, Banque Populaire, Stéphane de Bourgies, CASDEN Banque Populaire, Caisse d’Epargne, Julien Crosnier/KMSP/DPPI, BPCE, DPPI/BPCE, Le Pot Commun, Neustockimages, Fidor Bank.
Getty Images: Btrenkel, picturegarden, Inimma-IS, Koraysa, Moodboard, Rachel Dewis, Peter Carlsson, Clu, Twohumans, Donal Husni-EyeEm, Nikada, egafoldo, Oscar Wong, Alija Izetbegovic, Uschools, Westend61, Bloom, milazvereva.
Shutterstock: Jacob Lund, EQRoy, Prostock, Diego Cervo, GaudiLab, Monkey Business Images, Travel Stock, Zhu Difeng.
Design and production: Havas Paris
Groupe BPCE, Corporate Communications Department.
Author of the short story: Jean-Pierre Montal.
Editorial consultants and drafting of the “Clues” pages: Information & Conseil.