Gabrielle found Alba in the rose garden, but she wasn’t at the centre, where Trudy said she would be. After a long search around the huge gardens, she found she had moved to a quieter corner at the far side, next to the woods, and was painting not roses, but a very early red and white camellia. It grew behind a small old brick wall, a little way up a slope, and in its position obviously got the very best of the sun each day. Alba turned, sensing someone was there before Gabrielle reached her.
‘Hello Gabrielle. I’m glad you came. I’m surprised you found me though.’
‘Trudy told me you’d be here. I wanted to talk to you. I hope you understand.’
‘You don’t want to be maid of honour?’
‘No, I do. Really I’d love to. Thanks for asking me.’
‘Good. So what did you want to talk about? Sit here with me.’
So Gabrielle told her. She told her about her life. She told her about Dominick. She didn’t say his name. It wasn’t relevant. But Gabrielle told her about him and what had happened. Then she told her about how she had felt about Hermann and how she had hated her. But Alba didn’t hate Gabrielle back and wanted to be friends. That’s when Gabrielle understood that not the whole world was trying to ruin her life because of her over-romanticness.
‘I-I had no idea your life was so tragic. And I’m glad you told me about what I did to your dignity. I didn’t realize and I’m sorry. Just when Hermann and I met, that was it. We were in love. I suppose it was the same for you but Hermann didn’t know how you felt. He just thought he was being kind and friendly.’
‘It’s okay. Now I know you didn’t mean to hurt or spite me. I have seen the way he looks at you. I appreciate this chat. I’ll speak to you soon.’
Gabrielle left Alba to her painting, and trudged back to the car. But she was filed with new hope and lack of hatred.