Secrets, Lies...

Chapter 5

"The Lady from Motown" 

The Time & Place:
Late January 1495. "Maison des Chénes",  Evrard Ouimet's private home not far from Paris. Dorothy Ducharme learns to adjust -- And how!

When Dorothy Ducharme depressed the red button on that curious little device Johnny so carelessly laid down, she had no inkling of the complications to come. Poor Dottie! She was bewildered enough upon blasting herself from the comfort of her apartment in 1962 Detroit to medieval Paris suburbia. Fifteenth Century France! Dottie thought it all a dream but it soon began to sink in. She remembered standing in her kitchen then, without warning, found herself wandering the French countryside -- Everything seemed so remote, so deserted.
"What happened? Where am I?," she thought over and over. She was cold; the short dress and thin nylon stockings provided little protection from the snowy, breezy night. Dorothy passed out just short of Maison des Chénes (House of the oaks), home of Evrard Ouimet. It was Clarice Flambert, Evrard's maternal cousin and her attendants who found a half-frozen and unconscious Dottie Ducharme.
What did they think of my clothes, or of me in general, Dottie thought as she stood before the mirror and brushed her hair into place. Several days elapsed and Dottie had so many questions and concerns. She thought of Johnny and how she'd personally like to pummel him black and blue, "For putting that thing where I could see it...I bet he did that on purpose! Oh my God! That was some sort of time machine, and now I can't go home! Oooh! If I ever see that Johnny Elmore...!"

Yes, there was the matter of that device, which Clarice found clutched in Dottie's hand. Thank goodness the thing never opened; Clarice thought it was so beautiful and asked Dottie about it. "Oh, that's an old portable mirror...the catch is broken, that's why it won't open," was all Dorothy could muster. Of course with the device on lockdown, it was a blessing that the thing never opened -- it still wouldn't open -- or else Dottie would have to offer some heavy duty explaining.

It was plain that Dottie could never return home, and this was quite the adjustment for a 1962 American woman -- no electricity; no phones, running water, or indoor plumbing; no TV or records.
...And no audition for Motown...There goes my chance at the big time! But I think I can make a go of it for the duration. As Miss Winnie said, "You have go with the flow."

And Dorothy followed that advice during her accidental transtemporal visit. Over the subsequent days, she became friendly with her hosts -- Clarice and her husband Anseau Flambert, and Orry, Evrard's seven year old son. Yet she had yet to meet the master of the manor himself, although Orry kept his father informed of their most unusual houseguest.
She glanced in the mirror once more and admired how the deep blue empire-waisted velvet gown flattered her figure. A simple topaze necklace glistened against her honeyed skin. Her abundant slightly wavy dark brown mane had been pulled back into a 1940s-style (her idea) and protected by a black snood. She and Clarice shared similar height and build so; Dottie was very grateful for Clarice's generosity. "Evrard has already hired a dressmaker for you. When we arrive in Paris, he wants everyone to look absolutely impressive," she told Dot earlier. Who was this mysterious Monsieur Evrard Ouimet?

Dorothy's puzzlement became even more acute when she realized that Clarice was part Black. "My father was full-blooded Mande," she admitted to Dottie. What a treat for Dottie!

These people, including Evrard, are colored! And they're not slaves! They have money, live well and graciously, and they have respectability and...I almost forgot how Miss Winnie told us all about that...

As she neared the landing, Dorothy felt her heart pound fast. What if Evrard no longer wants her in his house? What if he's like those light skinned colored who don't want their darker skinned sisters around? Dottie's worries vanished as she prepared to join her hosts for dinner. Her timely arrival to 1495 Paris would soon impact so many lives -- Evrard, Orry, Isabelle, Phillipe...

...and a man named Claude Frollo.

 "Oh Father, here she comes! See, I told you she was beautiful."
Orry Ouimet drew his father's attention to the figure at the far end of the grand drawing room. Without saying a thing, Evrard Ouimet acknowledged her presence and approached her. His movements were graceful, yet sensual, almost predatory, all the same time. Dorothy could tell with one glance that he was thoroughly smitten; she was likewise.
Honestly, thought Dottie, never had she beheld such a beautiful man! He was not quite six feet tall, slender of body, a wealth of thick glossy dark hair, and of smooth creamy  complexion. As he drew closer, Dot stared into large eyes of the dreamiest brownish gray.  His features were quite strong: dark brows, an aquiline nose, a mouth that often twitched into a broad, playfully wicked grin. And his lips -- not too thin yet sensuously inviting. She couldn't tear herself away from his penetrating gaze; it was that mesmerizing. When he spoke, his voice sent shockwaves through her very being -- a soothing baritone, rich, lush, cultured, as silky and delicious as chocolate pudding.
And his clothes! Dorothy had always liked the fashions of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance; years ago, she'd worn out Miss Winnie's old costume books just looking at the pictures. Evrard Ouimet, resplendid in a close-fitting midnight blue velvet doublet, matching silk tights and shirt, shoes, and fine gemstone rings. A sable-trimmed velvet cloak lay on a nearby chair along with the round chaperon with its wide oversized padded brim and long silken veil.

Her eyes devoured every inch of this man; he returned the favor with equal hunger. At last he said to her, "Mlle. Ducharme, it is a pleasure to meet you. My son has spoken of little else..."
Dorothy wanted to melt on the spot; she had a tough time wondering if her host wanted either to dine with her or ravish her on the spot. Of course not, silly! Not with his son and cousin in the same room. Then again...

"M. Ouimet, I'm deeply grateful to your generous hospitality..." 
The French came easier than she expected, and the slight Midwestern drawl and twang of her soothing alto seemed to set Evrard on fire. His eyes blazed and nostrils flared as she continued to address him. "Oh M. Ouimet, your cousin and son have been a delight. Your little boy is quite the gentleman. Why, just this morning he took me on a tour of your lovely home...Maison des Chénes...that's for all the oak trees out front..."
Dottie stopped herself and apologized for rattling on so. "I'm sorry, sir. It's just that it's been such a shock...I still don't remember how I ended up on your property..."
From here on, Dorothy Ducharme had to be extremely careful not to reveal the truth behind her accidental visit. She told Evrard she was from, "Detroit, sir. That's in Michigan...which is in Amer..."
Another faux pas! America had only been discovered a little more than two years hence, and just the Caribbean at that. The continent had yet to be named. "Er...The New World, M. Ouimet," Dottie quickly said upon correcting herself.
Evrard Ouimet offered Dottie a wide sensual grin as a servant announced dinner. "Mlle. Ducharme...I've heard many a tale about your New World; in fact, a very good friend of mine nearly married a New World lady..."
He gallantly took her arm, stood dangerously close to her, and said in deep, erotically charged whisper, "After dinner, I want to speak to you -- in private. I cannot get over this sudden, persistant attraction..."
She raised her warm brown eyes to him and replied in a lusciously breathless, smoky voice, "M. Ouimet, I have a feeling the attraction is mutual...Oh, and you may call me Dorothy, or Dottie..."

Hmm...maybe I won't beat up Johnny after all...If I do see him, then maybe I'll give him a big kiss... Thanks, Johnny! I think you did that on purpose -- You know, this time travel stuff isn't so bad...

Meanwhile, in a Parisian tavern...

"Tell me again, Quasi, this Johnny Elmore was an old friend; he and Nisha knew each other ever since they were kids." 
Quasimodo and Phoebus shared a tankard of ale while the bell ringer kept a sharp lookout for Johnny Elmore. The former Frollo spy had blasted himself to 15th Century Paris and had been spotted by one of Judge Ouimet's men. Phoebus de Chateaupers, the ex-soldier, who still acted as caretaker of Chateau d'Arcy, took it upon himself to check out Johnny's angle. It was no secret that gallant Phoebus admired both Johnny and Danisha as special friends, so Frollo's latest suspicions -- that Johnny might be involved with Nisha's death -- left the former Captain with many unanswered questions. "I don't get it, Quasi. A man who knew Danisha from way back -- from what you've told me, they seemed really close..."
The bell ringer interrupted, "But Phoebus, all Danisha told me was that she and Johnny sort of drifted apart after she and her family moved. She and Johnny went to different schools and all..."
Quasimodo sighed then explained to Phoebus how Nisha and Johnny had grown up together. "They lived a block away from each other. Then, when Nisha turned twelve, her family moved to a new neighborhood -- big fine house, she said. Of course that meant a new school, new friends...She and Johnny lost touch with each other during high school. She wouldn't see him again until she started teaching..."
The bell ringer went on to recount how Johnny, who made his living working odd jobs -- and managing his own detective agency -- had run into Danisha years later. He and Nisha worked in the same building: he was a building substitute teacher and she had just secured her first regular classroom assignment.
"Then again," said Quasi, "Johnny thought their friendship would blossom into something else..."
Now Phoebus understood; Johnny Elmore had been nursing an obsessive love for Danisha Wood ever since third grade. "Even after she introduced him to Frollo and Fern, and that was accidental," Phoebus observed as the bell ringer surveyed the room.  He then suggested to Quasimodo, "Why don't we take a little trip to that monastery; you can tell me more about Johnny. I still don't get it though. If he truly loved Nisha, then why would he harm her?" 
"Come on, Phoebus," Quasi said as the pair made their way for the door, "Frollo is certain that Johnny may've had a role in all this -- Think about it: He knew Frollo and Nisha were about to be married. An obsessed love -- Hey, you remember what Nisha used to call such things -- Fatal attraction."

Phoebus let it all sink in; he knew Frollo's hunches were seldom off target. It made the former Captain sick to think that a man who professed total loyalty could turn on everyone so suddenly. " Johnny either had her killed or did it himself, just to keep Frollo from marrying her...This is sick! To kill that sweet kid's mother..."
Quaismodo rejoined, "Which is why Frollo wants us to keep an eye out for Johnny. If Judge Ouimet's men catch up with him we may never know why Johnny did it. Of course if Johnny ends up at the Court of Miracles first..."

Quasi and Phoebus mounted the wagon, then Phoebus, reins in hand, replied somewhat apprehensively, "Clopin and his boys will have a field day with Johnny...Frollo thinks both were involved, so I wouldn't put it above Clopin to stamp out a loose end..."

Claude Frollo savors the memories...Johnny and Clopin...Jehan Frollo makes a discovery...


Copyright©1999 by FrolloFreak®

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