The kitchen was full of the warm, savory scent of spicy barbequed ribs.
Claude uncorked a bottle of blush wine, while favorably commenting on my
home and decor. It was a modest house, nothing like those splendid
mansions on Meridian, but it was comfortable and in a nice neighborhood.
It didn't have stately columns or an expansive, well-manicured lawn, but
it sported a wide front porch with a swing and a fairly spacious
backyard full of late fall flowers.
I produced the bowl of potato salad I had made for a Saturday afternoon-with-the-girls pitch-in. I guess I'll have to skip our little hen party, I thought, grinning; I'll really have my hands full this weekend. With a flourish, I set the plastic bowl on the table where Claude was sitting.
He looked at the bowl's lid and loftily said, "Ah, the noble contributions of Earl Tupper. What a fine example of mid-20th century suburban Americana." Then he examined the bowl's shape, spinning it between the tips of his fingers and, after wrinkling his nose, said, "I'm sorry, my dear, but that really is a hideous shade of pink."
"Now Claude", I pretended to bristle at his attack on my Tupperware, "I happen to like my bowl. Besides, you don't hear me complain about YOUR dishes back at the Palace!"
"Touche, my love", he said laughingly, "but I was just making a comment on...Oh Nisha, that looks so delicious!" Claude began focusing on the food as I placed the platter of ribs before him. I learned a long time ago that if all else fails, give Claude Frollo good food and plenty of it.
Honestly, I thought, how can one man have such a hearty appetite and remain so slim and trim? Must be chasing all those criminals all day, or just keeping up with all his ladies.
"What is so funny?", Claude playfully asked me, for he quickly noticed me trying to suppress a giggle.
"Oh, just something that happened at work today." I tried to play it off but I don't think he bought it. He just sat there and helped himself to barbeque, salad, and bread.
We enjoyed a pleasant late-evening supper. The wine helped smooth over any awkwardness in the conversation; he didn't discuss his work or, thank goodness, the day's difficulties. Instead he asked me about my family, my work, and my plans for the weekend.
"Mmm, leading question... Are you planning on spending the weekend with me, Claude?" I smiled.
"Maybe, maybe not...It depends", he replied with a grin to match my own. "I thought we could take a drive to... Where was that place we visited last fall? Brown County?"
"But the colors haven't peaked yet, baby", I said, watching him neatly lick sauce from his long, slender fingers.
Claude looked at me and said, "I am aware of that. But it's such a lovely place. All those hills and forests. I can't think of a more pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon." With that, he rose from the table, walked over to the sink, and washed his hands. "It doesn't matter where or how, Danisha, just as long as I'm able to spend time with you, my dear".
"Well then", I responded, while clearing the remains of our supper, "how about just knocking about town tomorrow? We can go to Lilly Orchard, wander through Broad Ripple, whatever you fancy."
"Sounds delightful," he murmured softly. He kissed me and led me back into the living room. We cuddled in front of the fireplace and then one thing just led to another.(For obvious reasons, dear readers, FrolloFreak would rather not go into details)
It was nearly dawn. I awoke and watched Claude Frollo as he slept. How
peaceful, how utterly adorable he looks, I thought, as I gently stroked
his soft gray hair and traced his handsome features. My mind raced back
to that summer. Images of me, Claude, and Quasimodo flashed before me. And
then there was Fern. Oh, Fern! My old friend and colleague who,
along with others, was instrumental in bringing Claude and me together. What I
thought was just another wildly imaginative fantasy brought on by too
much heat and humidity became all so real.
My flashback was interrupted by Claude's stirrings. "Oh...Nisha, darling", he began as he stretched his long, lean body.
"Mmmm?" I responded as I rolled back closer to him.
"Good morning, my love", he softly said, kissing my lips. "How long have you been awake? It's not quite dawn."
"Not long, Claude. Just long enough to remember..."
Claude finished my sentence, "When we met? How we fell in love?"
"What are you thinking?" he said, smiling but slightly uneasy, all the same.
"Oh, just about how things work out... We didn't hit it off right away. In fact, I made you mad several times, such as that time I smashed your window..."
Claude exploded with laughter and relief, "Oh that! Please don't remind me! You were very apologetic, but, you displayed a - what's your word? "Sassy"? - you showed a sassy side which at the time I did not find so amusing."
"But you soon found out you really cared for me, sweet Claude, sassiness and all", I said, as I kissed his cheek.
Claude Frollo just smiled and closed his eyes again. "Let me sleep a little longer, darling. I normally do not get this luxury..."
His voice trailed off as he snuggled next to me and drifted back to sleep. I cradled him as he slept and my mind wandered back to images of a 1990s American woman and a very complex 1480s Parisian man.
Go to Chapter 7!
Copyright©Sept 1997 by FrolloFreak