AUTHOR'S NOTE: The following is a bridge between my "Claude & Me" fan fiction series and the new "Beyond the Palais..."
It tidies up a lot of loose ends from "On the Edge of Time", among other things. Well, almost all loose ends are tidied up, but a whole NEW set of problems arise... 


Secrets, Lies...and Stolen Time

Chapter One
"Costly Mistakes"

The Time & Place: February 12, 2005. In a rundown motel room in an undisclosed location...

He sat down at the table, poured himself another shot of bourbon, then lit yet another cigarette. He grimaced with disgust that he had yet to kick this disgusting habit, but what the heck. It's just another of my bad habits...Just like my love for time travel. That's a blast, to go to different periods in history, meet the famous and infamous... Like that time in Hanoi, 1970. Or carrying Old Glory at Bull Run...Only, I wished I was there, at Ford's Theater in 1865, or in that School Book Depository back in '63...
Nah, like Miss Fern said, "Don't tamper with history."

Julian McNaney was a devastatingly handsome man in his middle thirties whose dark movie star looks unfortunately attracted the attention of a 1930's Chicago socialite, Sunny Rathbord. He never meant to fall in love with this woman nor did he bank on Sunny figuring in his last mission: the capture of a medieval French serial killer. Yes, Julian was a time traveler whose untiring, never to fail espionage techniques finally nailed Marcel Rougelot and uncovered an elaborate plot to murder Danisha Wood, Frollo's postmodern lady.

...But now, this latest caper has yielded nothing but heartache and bad feelings. I can bet good money once Claude Frollo receives this letter, the man won't be too happy with me...
Julian McNaney pulled out one of those stick pens and a legal pad then wrote these words:

Dear Claude,
By the time you receive this I'll be long gone. I don't know where but I think I've done enough damage for all concerned. I didn't intend for Plan B to go into effect but wires got crossed and all, but let me say right now that I'm sorry about what happened. I hope that someday you'll find it in your heart to forgive me, although I wouldn't blame you if you hated me for the rest of your life. Please hear me out: Plan B was solely my idea and it didn't involve getting people hurt. But it was not all my idea to involve other people in the scheme -- namely you-know-who. How was I to know he'd get in on this scheme? I know you've lost no love for the guy but his help was invaluable in exposing that conspiracy ring....
Right now though I'd bust the guy for suggesting...
Let me backtrack to that Christmas Day dinner. Johnny and Vixen dropped by to deliver presents, and Danisha received a box of candy....

...and that's what happened -- mixed up communications...The transtemporal thing was on the blink again. Only Fern got my message; Johnny and Vixen didn't get theirs. So now... I thought we'd be able to tidy things up, but here come the complications....

...OK so now you know the whole story from my end. Again I apologize for any and all anguish you've gone through. I'm thankful to have known you, and working for you has been an honor and a privilege. Give my love to your daughter, and best wishes for your retirement. Oh yes, tell her I'm sorry for everything.
Julian McNaney

Julian sealed the envelope then made a couple of phone calls. One call was to Fern; he told her he had a message for Frollo.
"Fern, could you swing by this way and take this letter to Claude Frollo? No, Fern...I'm leaving...I don't know where...Come on, Fern, I screwed up...If I had known that all this was going to happen...Oh no...Oh God, now a lot of things get complicated and it's all...Of course, Fern, I know I shouldn't blame myself...But...Maybe you're right..."
The second call? We're not sure, but Julian made last minute travel arrangements. His destination, and what happened to him afterwards, still remained a mystery even after Claude Frollo was ready to forgive the man.
When the former Minister of Justice finally read that letter, he understood completely. But the damage had been done, and, for now, there was no turning back. Things had changed far too much for Frollo and he knew that "resuming a normal life" was far from his grasp. Of course, almost immediately following Danisha's death, Frollo began to have this series of odd feelings. One episode in particular never ceased to dog him, only growing stronger and stronger with each passing day. It was nearly a week to the day following Nisha's death, and Claude Frollo made a special time trip to 2005, just to be with his daughter Nadine. Then there was that conversation with Nisha's mother. What Gerry Wood said to Claude planted those seeds in his mind and that feeling would stay deep within him for several days, culminating with the most traumatic of events.
All this coincided with the installation of the new Minister of Justice, Phillipe Ouimet, a man who had connections with Isabelle LaCroix, Danisha's African-French ancestor -- and was related to one of Claude Frollo's best friends.
So many paths crossed during the weeks following Nisha's passing, then the real complications began...

What began as a botched "Plan B" soon escalated into a month of pain, grief, confusion, secrets, and stolen memories.


Now let us backtrack to January 10, 2005 as two people meet with Julian McNaney...
Johnny Elmore, the same man who Claude Frollo hired as part of the 1937 Chicago operation, stood at the window and intently studied the many icicles suspended from clogged gutters. The recent Arctic blast that gripped the city for so many weeks had finally eased a bit, ushering in a temporary respite to the winter-weary. He tore himself away from the window while an attractive woman poured more hot coffee. It had been another torturous week for many of their 21st and 15th Century friends. Ever since that fateful New Year's Eve, Johnny had been beside himself with guilt over that botched 'Plan B".
"Why didn't we wait for Julian to give us the sign? Heck, neither of us knew that everything was in the clear..."

The woman, Vixen, had berated herself as well. Never in a million years could she have predicted the fallout from that ill-timed scheme. What had started as a simple ruse soon spiraled out of control. She, who was one of Claude's many lovers, and Danisha's friend, never wanted any part of this plan, but Julian and Johnny talked her into it. How could I have been so short-sighted! Poor Claude, to endure all this agony...She was my friend too...

"Guys, we have to think of something, and fast. This thing's gone on long enough."  So said Julian McNaney after a long silence. The enigmatic Mr. McNaney, a man blessed with a mop of dark curly hair, deep brown eyes, a finely chiseled movie star face, and suave manners, lit another cigarette. His expression was rather glum as he addressed his companions. "Johnny, Vixen, it was all a matter of bad timing. Once we set things right then I have to figure out how to explain everything to Claude Frollo. He won't be too thrilled when he learns..."
"But Julian," interrupted Johnny, "it happened, OK? His Honor may not be too thrilled once...Hey, did you tell him everything -- and I mean everything -- about Clopin being in on this? I mean, the guy happened to overhear this plan then suggested we use..."

"Enough!," cried Vixen. "We all thought it was a good idea but everything got ruined! Now I've lost one of my best friends and Nadine's lost her mother. Oh my God! Poor Claude! Have you guys ever wondered what's going through his mind? He's lost one his best friends as well and it's all our fault!" Vixen, overcome with emotion, flopped in a chair and said nothing more.
It was Johnny who finally suggested, "Julian, let me take that time trip. I left the thing behind last time I checked. Last thing we need is someone asking a bunch of questions."
Julian, upon taking a long drag, pondered all the consequences of a plan gone awry. He then told his companions, "Guys, I've got a little legwork to do. Johnny, take that time trip and maybe we can set things straight this time. That was a good idea, to stash our cargo in 1962 Detroit." He turned to Vixen and said, "Honey, why don't you look up Fern for me. Tell her everything, but tell no one else, understand? She knew about Plan B and told me to nix it, but...Fern is the one who could break this news..."
He stopped himself, stamped out his cigarette, then flatly said, "I'm praying that everything will be all right."


Much later that evening, somewhere in 1962 Detroit...
"Dot, you have to come home. I can't explain it all right now, but you have so many people waiting for you."
"But, Johnny, this is my big break. And what do you mean by 'home'? What is there for me? Johnny, I truly can't come with you...Forget it!"

Johnny Elmore paced the room and tried talking reason with this woman, but it was of no use. Somewhere in the back of his mind Johnny knew that this would happen. Dot was adamant: She had an audition with Berry Gordy tomorrow and no way was she going to miss it. "Johnny, I know I've been here a week and just started my job at Motown, but they heard me. They overheard me singing to myself, so naturally..."
Dorothy decided to stop arguing with this man and bide her time. He's got to go home sometime, she thought as she examined her brightly buffed nails. Johnny watched this woman and thought he was talking to a stranger. She was beautiful with her smooth, clear, hot caramel complexion, deep brown eyes, and a wealth of dark brown hair fashioned in that ubiquitous bouffant. Her clothes were very stylish for the early 1960s -- the whole "Donna Reed/Laura Petrie" look -- complete with a simple full-skirted dress, low heeled pumps, and a strand of pearls.
Johnny absentmindedly laid something on the table then headed for the kitchen. "Dot, you got any Coke?" 
"Yeah, in the Frigidaire," she coolly replied while she switched on the TV. Then she called after him, "And if you think you'll sweet talk me into going back with you, the answer is still 'NO'!"  The Frollo spy simply shook his head then made up his mind to take this woman home by force if necessary.

Once Johnny disappeared into the kitchen, Dot shifted her eyes from the television to the table. What was that thing Johnny set down? She reached over and picked up the curious little item. What is this? It's so pretty, must be a compact or cigarette case... ...Ooh, sterling silver and amethysts. What's this engraved on the top? French stuff I can't remember...
"Hey, Johnny! Where did you get this?"  She flipped it open then gasped at the array of buttons, the black screen, and delicate circuitry. "Get what, Dot?", called back Johnny who busily prepared for himself a snack. She said nothing else as she continued to study this wondrous item. What is this thing? And what are these buttons? Looks like something out of those Superman comic books...
Dot, now thoroughly curious, started for the kitchen, calling out to Johnny, "This thing, Johnny. What does it do?"  Her finger lightly rested on the red button as she entered the kitchen. Johnny Elmore, spreading peanut butter on a piece of day old bread, looked up and nearly fainted when he saw Dot with -- gulp! --  THAT!
He dropped the knife on the counter and immediately walked toward her. "Oh man! Dorothy, give me that thing! You weren't supposed to see..."

Dot stepped back, widened her eyes, then said in a voice of triumph, "Ooh, Johnny! Got yourself one of those secret spy toys! Now, tell me what it does or...Hey, I got an idea. I give this back to you only if you go away and let me go to that audition tomorrow."
"OK, then I guess I'll keep this baby for a while..."

Johnny panicked. What to do now? She's got the thing, and doesn't know the implications if she...Dot, don't!

"What does this red one do, Johnny?," she asked as her finger slowly depressed that button.

"Dorothy, stop! Don't push that...DOTTIE!"

But he was too late. In an instant, Dot disappeared in a sea of bright white light...


What happened to Dot?
...Claude Frollo and Nadine at school...Strange vibes from across the debris of time...Suspicions raised...


Copyright©1999 by FrolloFreak®

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