AUTHOR'S NOTE: The Benny Iaria character is loosely inspired by that annoying Bob guy from the TV show "Becker" :-)

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Chapter 14

The Time & Place:
Danisha Wood's 15th Century Parisian home. As Claude Frollo is back at the Palais unburdening himself to Évrard Ouimet, let's look in on Danisha's youngest sister Cherie, who is about to pass along good news...

Those first catchy bars of "St. Louis Blues " emanating from Cherie's TimeScape served as welcome relief. Cherie herself passed a fitful, nearly sleepless night worrying about Claude Frollo and the Ouimets. There was no word from Jehan after he and Julian departed for La Belle d'Avignon, and that was after Julian had gathered crime scene evidence. Ooh, thought Cherie, if only I was there with Felise when Imbert grabbed that boy...And I had Grandpa's old still shoots...

Felise LaCourbe was still asleep upstairs; it was Cherie's suggestion that Felise stay here at Nisha's pied a terre, for her own safety. So, during the next three nights since Orry's disappearance, Felise and Cherie became much better acquainted. Cherie, in guarded fashion, told Felise much about life in her "New World", but not the parts that she was really from the future – the 21st Century to be exact. Felise in turn, and out of need to unburden herself, finally revealed everything. Imagine Cherie's shock when Felise related an idyllic childhood in Marseilles, an "awakening" when she was just sixteen, and a series of affairs that culminated with the most unspeakable deeds.

A rape..a suicide...a baby...a desperate deed...

Cherie didn't want to believe Felise but it was the truth, and Jehan was there to confirm most. Yes, there was the clandestine affair with Rixende Soulé that continued long ago after Rixende was married to Évrard Ouimet. There was father André's marriage "gift" – the unwanted services of Imbert l'Etrange who in reality acted as M. Soulé's spy. It was Imbert's treachery which ultimately, in Felise's mind, caused Rixende's suicide, and forced both women to commit the worst deception... "And that's why Évrard must never know, that Rixende took her own life because of me...And that she and I..."

"That's why I can't come forward as the eyewitness. Imbert has threatened to tell Évrard the truth, and that would force me to reveal.."

No wonder Cherie couldn't sleep all night! This news...Is Claude Frollo or Philippe Ouimet aware of this? Oh man, I'm sure glad Danisha got her memory back when she did, or else she'd marry into all this mess...

That's when the TimeScape went off. First a message from Danisha informing all she and Nadine will arrive in 1495 Paris later this afternoon. The second message was from Claude Frollo informing Cherie that Orry was found alive and safe. He also told Cherie that, "The eyewitness needs to come forth now. Imbert l'Etrange and Fabrisse duMarécage, the true villains, are in process of arrest. She needs to identify these two in a court of law posthaste. The sooner this is done, the sooner Orry may come home to his father."

Cherie didn't know what to think. So, Felise is able to give her eyewitness testimony without fear of reprisal. However, what if Imbert does play that trump card? Évrard would be devastated!

"Felise!," Cherie called as she dashed up the stairs, "Good news! They've found Orry!"

But they have yet to corner Imbert, who at this moment, finally reached Maison des Chénes, Évrard's home out in Paris suburbia.


Now let us drop in on Imbert l'Etrange. The man thinks he's about to "tidy up" a nagging complication, but....Oh boy!
He finally made it – a long, tedious, tiring journey by foot, but it was all worth the sore feet and aching muscles. Imbert l'Etrange, the man responsible for the kidnapping of Orry Ouimet, reached the house via the back road. Once there, he carefully inspected the grounds and exterior of the house itself. Whew! Thank goodness no one is here, or else Imbert would have to come up with plausible explanations as to his presence. In his haste, Imbert didn't notice the hoof prints and wheel marks left by last night's visitors – Heck, he was unaware that there were people here last night. He did see and read the note tacked upon the rear entrance:
I couldn't free the child as scheduled. Several suspicious characters kept watching me last night so I quickly left the house. 
I never made it inside. Only had time to write this note and post it. Orry is still up in the tower room. 
Do what you must. By the way, I have the money so return to Paris when your business is finished. 
I've paid off the Marquecoin brothers; your debt is now satisfied.

O what good fortune indeed, thought Imbert. Not only is his debt paid but now he can "take care" of Orry. Thank you, Fabrisse! You've been more help to me than you could possibly imagine! Now, to finish this! Kill the boy, bury the body in the deep woods, and no one would be the wiser. Fabrisse and I leave Paris for good...She never paid Hervé and Jacques as she claimed...She's not that stupid.

Up the many flights of stairs to the tower room he went, dagger in hand. Deep down he hated resorting to such extremes, but it had to be done in order to save face. He entertained the notion that he may be haunted by what he was about to do, but no. No time to become all guilt-ridden. Besides, Imbert, a man who committed worst atrocities more than ten years ago, merely pushed those guilty pangs aside. He did briefly remininsce on an episode in particular, an incident that had its far-reaching consequences. However, Imbert had no inkling that the decade-old violent act would come back to haunt him. All Imbert knew was that Évrard Ouimet would be devastated if he ever learned that his beloved Rixende killed herself over an illicit love. Not just any lover, but another woman named Francesca, now living under the alias Felise.

"Yes, when I finish the boy, return to Paris and kill Felise...Can't have anymore loose ends...Then Fabrisse and I can run away together...No! Kill her as well 'cause she may have second thoughts and report all to Frollo and Judge Ouimet....No, Philippe Ouimet is near death, 'cause I saw what happened...He walked into the old mill, into a trap..."

Imbert l'Etrange continued babbling to himself as he finally reached the uppermost story of that old tower. The door was still locked and bolted; the key still suspended from a nail beside the door. Within seconds, Imbert unlocked and opened the door. What little light filtered through that lone narrow window provided all Imbert needed to do the deed. Ah, the child still sleeps...
Tiptoeing to the cot, Imbert raised his dagger; he breathing became ragged. The sweat gathered on his brow; his gray eyes glazed over. With deliberate speed and movements, Imbert repeatedly plunged the dagger into the child's motionless body. He couldn't understand why the boy didn't stir, scream, fight. Only after the third or fourth stab did Imbert notice the dagger unstained. Where's the blood and gore? He touched the child, turned it over, only to gasp in horror.

"It's a dummy! A mere mannequin made to look like Orry. Fabrisse tricked me!"

Suddenly he heard the door close from behind; a jovial, if annoying voice soon filled the room. Imbert wheeled around only to behold a short wiry man of olive complexion, greased back black hair, and beady dark eyes. A Roman nose indicated this man was of Mediterranean origin, but, to Imbert, the man's clothes and accent were totally foreign. What manner of doublet is this? Made of black leather and an odd closure that resembles metal teeth.

The voice was harsh, rough, amusing, slick, all the same. Imbert thought he was listening to a fast-talking con man; he couldn't have been closer to the truth. The man finally addressed Imbert l'Etrange with, "Hiya, pal! Hope you don't mind me dropping in like this, but Claude Frollo sent me out here. Y'see, my old man used to work for Julian, which means he worked for Frollo. Now I'm taking over Pop's job, and that means – you guessed it!"

His cackly laughter pierced the servant's ears like sharp pins. He continued as he noticed Imbert poising the dagger and immediately disarmed the man with a telling blow to the gut. Imbert reeled to the floor, dropping the dagger. The man at once picked it up, then pointed it right at Imbert's head. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Benny Iaria. There's more coming, namely a G-man named Trigèré – Hey, what do you guys call the lawmen here, anyway? Ack, never mind!"

Imbert finally gathered the courage to speak; not even bothering to rise, he asked, "But where is the boy?" 
"He's safe, and where YOU can't get to him. Oh yeah," Benny, replied with a sinister smirk, "Your floozy friend Fabrisse ratted on you last night. Yeah, Jehan Frollo slipped her a Mickey and she spilled the beans about you and those Marquecoin boys...Now she's locked up and telling even more..."

Now Imbert was profoundly worried. He feared that there was an outside chance that Felise could reveal those dreadful secrets, and he feared that Évrard would never recover from such revelations. Soon, the faint sound of hoof beats could be heard nearing Maison des Chénes. Benny Iaria deftly bound Imbert's hands and feet; he tightly gagged the man. He then slipped something through a crack in the window. That was the signal, he told Imbert, to let Trigèré's men know everything was under control.
Now, all Imbert could do was bide his time; he still had one more trump card to play and that was to silence Felise. Perhaps the woman will not testify after all, lest she break Évrard Ouimet's heart – and Orry's.

Yes, silently give Felise the "knowing look" during the trial. Surely she, after all the heartache she triggered long ago, wouldn't say anything that would incriminate me...


Meanwhile, at La Belle d'Avignon, someone else is interested in Mlle LaCourbe...
Hugues Jouet hoisted the huge barrels of wine from the delivery wagon. Ah! The last of the rosé, with no more until spring...T'was the best vintage yet...Oh well, enjoy it while it lasts...

As usual, Hugues delegated to the hired help the final task of rolling the wine barrels into the storage area; he barked a series of orders to three brawny young men. As Hugues concluded his business with his supplier, a weary traveler attempted to enter the tavern. Hugues noticed this and said, "I'm sorry, monsieur, but we don't open for another hour – not until Papá returns from Notre Dame."

The traveler, a handsome unassuming man with light brown hair and blue eyes, simply replied with a smile, "That's no problem...Actually..."

He paused to retrieve a hand-drawn likeness from his doublet pouch.; he showed it to Hugues. Jouet's eyes widened as he recognized the drawing's subject at once. "Mlle LaCourbe! Oh yes, she's been here many a time...Quite a talented lady from what I understand."

Georges Morté smiled thinly, saying, "And where would I find Mlle LaCourbe? She and I were acquainted so many years ago. I'm only passing through and would like to get in touch with her."
Hugues Jouet, ever the friendly helpful sort, gave the man specific directions to Felise's residence, adding, "Her home is directly across that of Claude Frollo's lady, and..."

He paused long enough to assign additional duties to his help, then he continued. "Mlle LaCourbe and Mlle Wood's sister go to the cathedral every afternoon. You may catch them in la Place de Notre-Dame..."

To this Morté smiled even broader, only saying, "Most kind monsieur, I can't thank you enough. And now, where may I inquire about lodgings near la Place de Notre-Dame?"


To Chapter 15 Copyright©2001 by FrolloFreak® AKA "The FanFiction Diva"

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