How he hated to do it, to reveal to Evrard Ouimet those gnawing suspicions, but it had to be done. Claude Frollo never forgot the look on his protégé's face as Claude told him that Dorothy Ducharme was wanted as an accessory to murder. "But wasn't it obvious?, Claude muttered to himself, "Evrard said Mlle Ducharme was from 'a New World city called Detroit'. And didn't Jacqueline say that Elmore made several time trips to 1962 Detroit just before and after Danisha died?"
Claude Frollo grimaced as he passed a sleepless night. True, he was
back in familiar territory, albeit as a guest of Judge Ouimet. Claude knew
that he could do so much; so he simply let Phillipe carry on the investigation
without further interference. Besides, reasoned Claude, the current Minister
of Justice must never know the truth behind Frollo's special "New World"
friends. "I shudder to think his reaction to Jacqueline's invention."
The presence of a few of Frollo's postmodern friends and family eased the burden somewhat, especially Nadine's, who slept soundly in her father's bed. But Frollo worried about everything -- from Elmore's imminent return to Paris, to Joe Wood's arrival to Julian's rescue.
Then there were the Ouimet brothers and the repercussions from the investigation. Frollo still stung from Evrard's embittered words: "You dare accuse my betrothed of murder?! Claude Frollo, of all people, a man I trust and respect, to flatly accuse my future bride of something so dastardly is beyond all reason!" Immediately thereafter, Evrard stormed into the Palais and demanded that Phillipe look for Dottie. "She's missing and it's all your and Claude's fault! Flaunting these false accusations about! No wonder the woman's been in such a state ever since we arrived in Paris!"
A tear trickled down Claude's cheek as he tried to fathom how and why Jehan was involved. Just as Claude was ready to forgive his brother, he learned that Dottie Ducharme had made a friend in Jehan Frollo. "Either Jehan is being used or, " thought Claude Frollo out loud, "he's collaborating with the enemy. Whatever it is. I intend to get to the bottom of it."
He finally sat before the massive hearth, unable to sleep. Even consuming nearly half a decanter of wine did little to settle him -- Claude felt more tipsy than drowsy. Just as that day at his chateau, Claude Frollo stared into the flames, hoping to conjure her image. The wine began to play tricks on his mind; within seconds, Claude could hear her, feel her.
"Now look what you've done, Claude Frollo! If you had listened to Jehan
in the first place then Evrard wouldn't be mad at you. Why do you always
jump to such conclusions?"
"My love, I only thought..."
"No, Claude, you wanted quick answers. Honey, Phillipe has a reason for being so tight-lipped. Once your futuristic friends explain everything..."
"My dear Nisha, you do not understand. It is clear that Dorothy Ducharme and John Elmore are co-conspirators. Why, Evrard could not come up with a solid explanation as to how he and Mlle Ducharme met. And she claims to be from Detroit -- Elmore made several trips to 1962 Detroit. Isn't that proof enough?"
"Claude, listen to me. Dottie Ducharme is completely innocent, and she's hiding a terrible secret. That's why she's been freaking out ever since she came to Paris. Evrard couldn't figure it out but Jehan has, which is why she's sought out Jehan's protection. She feels a connection to him -- and to you. Honey, please...When the time comes, I want you to be prepared for the worst..."
"...The worst of what?"
A very groggy Claude Frollo felt himself being roused from a brief deep
slumber. When he awoke, he was relieved to find Daniel "Iggy" McMullen
standing over him. But where was Danisha? Oh...just another dream, but
it seemed so real...My love warned me of 'the worst'... He managed to force
himself wide awake, taking care not to disturb a still sleeping Nadine.
"Uh...Daniel," he started, "Is Julian with you?"
The middle-aged flower child shook his head then motioned the former judge outside. "I don't want to talk in front of the kid, and what we've found out is so amazing...."
Once the two men found themselves alone in a quiet darkened corridor,
Iggy briefly laid out his report. "We almost didn't make it back, sir.
See, Julian's contact was supposed to show up, but he got swept up over
at South Fork when the dam broke. Claude, this is why Julian took that
trip to 1889 Johnstown -- this dude was Johnny Elmore's accomplice. Uh...we
heard what happened -- You thinking Dottie Ducharme is an accessory. But
when Quasi and I got Julian back to 2005...Oh man, you're not going to
believe this, but..."
Claude Frollo, in his intoxicated state, reeled a bit, and Iggy felt it best to let the man sleep off the booze. "Your Honor, Julian sent a note via Fern. She's coming in the morning, and so is Professor Wood. We need to gather at, say, your Parisian home -- just you and your postmodern friends."
Claude nodded and replied, "Yes, yes...If it will finally shed some light on this Dorothy person, and whether or not she is an accessory to murder. As for Elmore, he has yet to show his face. I presume he is either in hiding or, perhaps, has left the city, and this time period, altogether. At any rate, I don't want..."
His fingers flinched slightly as he forced himself sober. He said to Iggy, "Perhaps I'm being too apprehensive but I get this feeling that Elmore may still pose a threat...I can't leave Nadine here in the Palais all morning." He paused to emit a quiet chuckle, then, "Phillipe is far more impatient with little ones than I ever was." Claude then added, "She could spend the morning with Orry and the Flamberts. Then there is Evrard...Yes, perhaps I should offer an apology, after all, this Mlle Ducharme may be an innocent party after all..."
Upon hearing the mention "Ducharme" again, Iggy McMullen said, "Sir, may I suggest a separate meeting with the Ouimets? I mean, they needn't be told of the time travel and all..."
Frollo acknowledged this then said, "Jehan is involved in this as well. My guess is that both he and this Ducharme woman are hiding out in Nisha's home. Let them be for now, as Phillipe has the house under close watch. If my hunch is correct, Jehan is protecting Mlle Ducharme from Elmore, should the villain decide to return."
Quasimodo's eyes widened in sudden realization and said, "Phoebus, I think she is in safe hands -- for now. Elmore's bound to show up, and Frollo needs to be told...Oh, Phoebus, you don't know the whole story, and I think Frollo will need familiar faces around when we tell him the whole awful truth."
Jehan felt it best to hide Dottie in the cellar; at least to his thinking she'd be safer. With the house under constant guard there was no way Elmore would return, but Jehan wanted to take no chances. All Jehan needed was to gather those items, plus Elmore's notes and Nisha's original manuscripts. His brother, Claude Frollo, had now made the worst possible blunder -- He suspected "Dorothy Ducharme" as accessory to murder. This was so unbelievable! Claude has yet to learn Dottie's true identity, and with what happened at the cemetery this morning...
Jehan Frollo made up his mind -- Dottie will simply have to let Danisha out, and he knew exactly how to accomplish just that.
Using what he gleaned from Elmore's notes, Jehan continued to stroke
her hair. He bent lower as to whisper in her ear, "I have to coax Danisha
out, Dottie. You must let Nisha out. I know how Elmore did it -- he planted
those suggestions in your mind while you were 'knocked out' due to that
'formula' he procured from Clopin. Now, dear, you must listen to me very
Jehan proceeded to tell of key events in the life of Nisha Wood. He mentioned nearly every high and low point, including meeting the man of her dreams and the birth of her child. Then Jehan mentioned a certain impromptu time trip. "Think, Nisha, think back to last summer. Nadine had just passed her fifth birthday, and she was to spend the night with a friend -- her first...umm... 'sleepover'. You were expecting Claude, yet he was detained on some insignificant business. And I came in his stead...You planned a nice dinner then an evening on the town, but he never showed up..."
She began to stir as Jehan, encouraged by her reactions, continued,
"Nisha, it was just the two of us, and we had a wonderful time...You surprised
me when we 'flew' to that place...It such an adventure. I'd never been
in a 'jumbo jet'. But the place, I can't recall..."
"...Atlantic City, " came the almost inaudible response as consciousness gradually returned. Urging her onwards, Jehan then said, "Dear Nisha, that was an incredible evening. I still can't get over you, shooting dice..."
"Yeah, you never knew I could be a high roller. We won a lot of money..."
Her eyes opened as she clung to Jehan Frollo; then she did the unthinkable.
With her hands reaching up to touch his face, Dottie Ducharme said in her
deep, smoky voice, "Oh, Jehan, no wonder I seem so drawn to you...We're
almost alike. You understand me...Oh, Jehan, now I know why you called
on me so many times ever since I came to Paris..."
And with that, she drew her face upwards to meet his, then without warning, kissed Jehan Frollo fully and passionately. He felt his breath taken away, his mind totally in a fog. Whatever brought this on? All I did was try to bring back memories -- happy memories. Claude, oh, my dear Claude. Of all things, I never wanted this to happen!
When she released him, Dottie told Jehan, "Honey, take me away from
all this. I know you have one of those time machine things just like Johnny,
that's why you had all that 'New World' stuff. How else can you explain
it? Take me back to Detroit; we can make a life for us there, just the
two of us...Oh, how I hate to dump Evrard like this, but it's you I want,
All Jehan Frollo could do for now was to conceal his utter panic and bewilderment. Never before had he so much as pecked Nisha on the cheek. He regarded her as a close friend, that's all. Then there was the fact that Claude was extremely possessive when it came to his women -- Once he had a man tortured and beaten for trying to make time with Nisha. Jehan shuddered as he pondered the fate awaiting him if Claude ever learned of this.
But did he feel anything when she kissed him like that? To be sure, Jehan did feel a deep stirring but he successfully fought it off. Jehan could have kicked himself for rushing the 'deprogramming', for Dottie was still Dottie.
No, I can't deal with this now; wait and see if she regains her memory. Perhaps, as Nisha, she'll forget about all this -- but will I?
As the two men moved furtively within the shadows, the subject of Jehan Frollo and Dorothy Ducharme came up again. "That, Mander," rejoined the Gypsy King, "is what puzzles me. Perhaps Jehan has developed feelings for this woman, something I'm sure will never set well with Evrard. Then again, the Frollo men have always had this knack for getting the women they wanted, regardless..."
Just then, as the two men rounded the corner, Mander tugged at Clopin's
sleeve. "Sir, look to your right. Isn't that Elmore, at least it appears
to be him. Can't tell in this dim torch light."
Ducking behind a nearby wagon as two soldiers passed, Clopin and Mander watched as the man evaded the guards. "I'll be damned, if that isn't Elmore!," hissed Clopin. "And I know where he's headed...Come on!"
Dottie reassured him she'd stay out of harm's way; besides she said, "I still need to sort things out..."
Jehan hadn't been gone too long before it finally went off. That
beautiful sterling silver device which triggered Dot's disasterous journey
to the past beeped madly. Lucky for her that she carried that thing
nearly all the time. Dottie, frantically trying to unlock the device, soon
gasped in wonderment when the lid magically popped open. As before, she
marveled at the delicate circuitry, the many buttons, and the black screen.
She watched in amazement as these words scrolled across:
It's me, Cherie. I'm using Momma's device -- Nisha, your Timescape is no longer on lockdown; I convinced Tony to do that. We know everything! You don't know how many times we've shouted our thanks that you are very much alive. John Elmore is still there so please be careful. Jehan was here and said you're OK, but is it true that you think you're Dottie? And who's this Evrard Ouimet? You are supposed to marry Claude! Damn, Johnny really did a number on you.
I love you. Everyone loves you and is waiting for you to come home. Daddy has already left for the 15th. He's to meet with Claude -- I hope he'll be all right once he learns what really happened to you. But right now I want to hug you so badly, and all I can do is cry. I miss you and want you to come home.
TO CHAPTER 18 (I)!
Copyright©1999 by FrolloFreak®