Claude Frollo snuggled with his daughter on the big
comfy couch. He
produced the silver charm bracelet that Nadine had given to
days earlier. Slipping it onto her wrist, Frollo smiled as
to him in all earnestness, "Papa? Are you mad at me for
giving the bracelet
"Of course not, my dear. I was rather upset at first, but I understand why you did it."
He kissed Nadine sweetly on the cheek and stroked her
hair as he added,
"My child, believe me that I shall never stop loving you.
You are so precious
to me, as is your mother. Do you understand?"
Nadine nodded. "I think so, Papa." She paused a bit then said, "Papa, Trina is going away with her mommy. I won't see her again. Are you mad at me for having Trina as a friend?"
"Of course not, Nadine. Never would I censor your choice of playmates. From what I understand, your friend, Trina, along with her mother, was very helpful to your Tante Cherie, and to Mlle. LaCourbe."
Nadine, snuggling even closer to her father, asked once more, "Papa? Do you still love Mommy?"
"My darling child, what a question to ask! Of course, I love your mother, and I'm willing to spend the rest of my life with her, and with you."
Claude Frollo cuddled his daughter close, not ever
wanting to let go.
It nearly came to a few days ago, and Frollo vowed that
never again would
he allow his "good thing" slip through his fingers. A long
talk with Danisha
last night really helped clear the air on many issues, and
Ouimet was there to cheer on the transtemporal couple in
Actually, Évrard, for some odd reason, forgot all about his lost love and concentrated on Jolley Kingston, Nisha's literary agent. Something with those two clicked almost immediately, and both Nisha and Claude were somewhat alarmed that Évrard, a man of 1495 France, became rather smitten with the brassy, classy lady from the Upper West Side. A fiercely independent 21st Century American woman paired with a learned and refined 15th Century man?
"Well, Claude," as Nisha related during that fancy cocktail party where not only they, but Évrard and Jolley, became the center of attention, "looks as if Évrard is taking a cue from his best friend. The ultimate May-December romance...HA HA HA!"
Yes, the sparkle, laughter, and fire were still there – for Claude Frollo and Danisha. It would remain as such for the years to come. Yet, there were still unanswered questions. Such as the futures of Frollo's contemporaries: Felise, Évrard and Orry, and Jehan. That gathering in Danisha's elegant Plaza suite would soon learn all the answers once they viewed Julian's videotaped will. What legacy would the late enigmatic Frollo spy leave? What secrets about an equally mysterious man would at last be revealed?
"Come on, Nadine and Orry. You two are spending the day with Jolley and Aunt Cherie."
Danisha Wood, resplendent in a stunning black Valentino suit with matching pumps and gold jewelry, motioned to the children that it time to go. And to where? Cherie, not wanting to remain for the reading of Julian's will, chose to take Nadine and Orry to the natural history museum then to lunch. Jolley Kingston, the flashy literary agent, who, oh so recently fell in love with Orry Ouimet's little boy cuteness, offered to tag along.
"What can it hurt?," she reasoned as she scooped up both kids in her arms. "Despite my public image, I adore kids, especially these two charmers."
She looked at Danisha, then at Claude, and said, "Honey,
I'm so glad
you two worked out whatever problem. Now, don't worry about
they're safe with me, and I'll make sure they'll have an
She glanced at Évrard with smoldering eyes so obvious that Nisha and Claude had to stifle laughs. Jolley eyed Évrard rather amorously, cooing, "Mr. Ouimet? When we return, I'd like to treat you to dinner at Lutece, then maybe go to a nice little jazz club...Don't worry, I made reservations in advance..."
With that said, Évrard responded enthusiastically. "My dear mademoiselle, I'd be delighted to accept your kind invitation."
Jolley blushed, flashed a bright smile, dug her Ferragamo-clad foot into the soft pile of the carpet, then looked at Nisha and said, "Oooh, these classy Frenchmen know all the right things to say." Then she flashed Évrard a wickedly sexy smile, saying, "I'll see you around seven."
About a half-hour passed before proceedings got under way. The wait was necessary as several key figures had yet to arrive: Fern Grigsby, Frollo's "New World" spy and Nisha's good friend; Jehan Frollo; Jacki and Tony Terrell, inventors of TimeScape. No one else, not even an attorney (Julian left strict orders not to involve other persons), was allowed into this cozy little gathering. Only those directly involved in transtemporal excursions between the centuries were present, the exception being Évrard Ouimet, whose life was about to take a dramatic turn, thanks to those time-traveling folks from the 21st Century.
"We never got a chance to be with Julian in his final
At least Jehan was there. What an awful thing, to die
So said Danisha as she settled on the couch next to Claude Frollo, who up until now never had an inkling that Julian was so desperately ill.
"If I had known the state of his health," said Claude with a heavy heart, "I would never had pressed him into service..."
"But," countered Jehan, "Julian's assistance was necessary for all concerned. Without him, Orry would've never been found alive and well. Those kidnappers, Imbert and Fabrisse, would have escaped punishment."
Fern, her ample body settling in the chair near beside the couch, said in agreement, "That's right. And don't forget Philippe's murderers. Hervé and Jacques Marcequion would have gotten off scot-free as well."
Frollo nodded in acknowledgment, and pondered the repercussions if indeed Julian hadn't been pressed into service, or if the man had died before Orry's kidnapping. Then again, Frollo surmised, Julian appeared in mediocre health those few days ago. The man did indeed nurse a heavy cough, obviously brought on by endless cigarette smoking. Frollo had no idea the man was in such bad shape, at least from what he finally gathered from Jehan.
Tentatively, Danisha and Frollo gave Jacki the nod to place the video into the player. Everyone sat back and watched as the image of an incredibly handsome man came into view. At first glance Julian appeared fit and fine, but one could tell that he suffered great pain. With bated breath, Frollo and friends watched and listened, each wondering what legacy the recently Mr. McNaney would bequeath.
Julian took ragged shallow breaths, then a draught of powerful painkillers. He continued, "Okay, I think I should start with the usual, 'I, Julian McNaney, being of sound mind'...."
After the brief but necessary preamble, Julian then addressed his friends one by one, imparting a bit of wisdom, and finally revealing the true nature of his health.
"My friends, it is true. I have inoperable lung cancer, brought on by these things." He held up the ever-present cigarette, took a few puffs, then said, "I eschewed the usual treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. Always hated the side effects and all. Danisha, do yourself a favor and kick this habit once and for all. Fern, you get Iggy to quit too. Cancer's no fun..."
"Claude, what you didn't know while we were chasing Marcel Rougelot all over time portals was that I was diagnosed with cancer a few months prior. Like a fool I denied it, thought the disease's effects would not get in the way of investigation..."
"When we wrapped the 'Dottie Ducharme is really Danisha' case, I finally underwent surgery to remove the damaged lung. This is why I had to disappear so suddenly. All those months I spent recuperating, never wanting to return to active service until Jehan convinced me to take up the Ouimet kidnapping case. My friend, I have been going on one lung all this time; the cancer had spread to other parts of my body. My doc gave me three months at best..."
Claude Frollo bolted upright in his seat. "My God! I had no idea the man's health was in such desperate straits," he whispered to Nisha, who in turn fumbled her cigarette lighter. She looked at Claude then thought of their daughter. Yes, get rid of this disgusting habit for good. Claude keeps needling me about the dangers of smoking, and I try to quit but it's so difficult...If I want to be around for Nadine, I've got to quit. Julian is dead, killed by tobacco, and he was only a few years younger than me...
"All right," Julian's videotaped image continued, "let's get this show on the road."
"My estate – that includes stocks, bonds, real estate, CDs, mutual funds, and other property – is to be divided up as follows..."
"The bulk of my estate is to go to charitable organizations, that is September 11, 2001 Relief efforts, scholarships for children of WTC attack victims, and aid to families of police, fire, and rescue workers. I love this town, and it's my way of showing appreciation and support. We're still smarting a bit from what happened nearly four years ago..."
"The rest of my estate is to be put into trust. That's where Claude comes in. Claude Frollo, I am setting up a scholarship fund in your name. It's for kids seeking degrees in either law, law enforcement, or criminal justice. Call it a big Thank You for your friendship and support."
Now Claude was rather taken aback with this unexpected
legacy. Did Julian
actually mean this? The "JCF Educational Fund" has a nice
ring to it, doesn't
it? Claude Frollo smiled with gratitude at such a lofty
"Fern and Danisha," Julian continued, "I'm putting you in charge of this. Make sure it goes to kids who really need it..."
That said, Julian turned his comments to the entire company. Now it was the time to unburden himself, and reveal his true story. He revealed that the self-made millionaire and making the 1930's his temporary home angle was true. But he stopped himself before launching into the real reasons why he became a time traveler, and why that search led him to Claude Frollo.
"You see, Claude, I, like Jacki, wanted to research my family tree. See, there was always this legend surrounding one of my ancestors – a woman named Caitriana, who supposedly settled in Ireland via France around 1505. She married a man named Cormac and together they produced several children. Their later descendants would eventually migrate to the American colonies, settling in what is now South Carolina; their children would eventually move to Kentucky and Ohio. The latter was my birthplace...."
"To make a long story short, Caitriana's true heritage was covered up because none of my family would dare admit that we were descended from the Romany – the Gypsies as they are more commonly known..."
Julian paused a bit, knowing that what he'd just said would send shockwaves through Claude Frollo. And it did just that. Frollo reeled some from this news. Is it true? Julian is a...Gypsy??!!
"I thought you'd react like that," continued Julian. "I had a feeling you would have nothing to do with me if the truth ever came out. I had to keep quiet, even knowing how you feel about the Gypsy 'problem' in your time frame. Believe me, Claude, I never meant to deceive you; I have nothing but respect and admiration for you. But...getting back to Caitriana..."
He paused again for effect then admitted, "When TimeScape became a reality, I took those first few time trips just to make sure everything worked smoothly. I did some digging, working backward from 1765 Carolina to 1505 Ireland. My search stopped in a tiny sea swept village just off the Atlantic coast...There I met Caitriana, who in reality is your kid's buddy, and the other eyewitness in Orry Ouimet's kidnapping. But the kid grew up, and her mother was long dead. Katerina was her real name, and in 1505 she fled from Nantes when Francis I formally expelled all Gypsies from France. She, like most of her people, had no choice: Either leave or face execution."
Well, when Frollo heard this, he was still quite
dumbfounded, and perplexed.
Here is Julian, just days from death, finally revealing his
that he is part Gypsy. Yet Frollo persecuted the Romany for
more than thirty
years, and Julian, knowing Frollo's peculiar history,
agreed to work as
a spy in Frollo's employ. The man professes loyalty and
at the same time, acknowledges his Gypsy heritage.
Frollo let it all sink in, and now he realized what Danisha had been saying to him for so many years, about "people like us" suffering from centuries of indifference and hatred. He took Nisha's hand into his, saying, "I now understand..."
Naturally, Julian did not reveal that Katerina was truly Esmeralda's daughter; that news would be too much for Claude Frollo. So, for now, only Jehan and Danisha knew the truth and swore not to reveal that bit of information to Claude, knowing Frollo's animosity toward the Gypsy dancer.
OK, so let's keep Claude in the dark, pondered Nisha, even though we promised never to keep secrets from each other. Besides, everything worked out for the best, so let us be happy – Claude, Nadine, and me – and look to the future.
The only other person in that room who didn't have an inkling as to why he was even present suddenly asked, "Why was I included in this?"
Évrard Ouimet, ever so dashing in his mix of 15th and 21st Century chic, asked that question again. No sooner did he speak that Julian concluded his video will with a personal message for Évrard.
"M. Ouimet, consider yourself fortunate to have such a good friend as Claude Frollo. And if it wasn't for us – us from the distant future – your son would be dead. As for your future, let me reveal just this: Within the next few months you will join this neat little circle of transtemporalists. I've had Jacki make up individual devices for you and Orry. Don't worry. Your boy will grow up into a fine man, and will make his mark upon this world. As for you, there are bright things ahead, although I'm not to liberty to say. But I want you to do this: Go back to your time and look up Felise LaCourbe; extend the hand of friendship. She was...Well, she can be there for Orry since he has no mother, and Felise will be good to him..."
Évrard Ouimet let Julian's words sink in. So, he thought, Orry would've met a violent end if it wasn't for Claude Frollo and the "New World" connection. It finally dawned on him that the miracle of time travel and cross-century friendships laid the foundation of something truly remarkable. Perhaps there is something in this marvelous 21st Century America that holds so many bright opportunities. Évrard hoped that much.
Who knew the repercussions of one man's schemes? Who
knew the incredible
outcomes? For those gathered this day marked new
beginnings. For Claude
Frollo and Danisha it was the bittersweet memories of a
unique love that
endured the span of five centuries. The bond between them
a near breakup thanks to one man's lies and treachery.
Now, with Orry's kidnapping ordeal just a distant memory, Frollo and his lady could look forward to an exciting future whatever it may hold. True, Claude had learned a thing or two from his lady, and he vowed that nothing – not even the fact that they are so different – ever come between them again.
For Évrard, this day also marked a new beginning. Of course, he would return to his time, continue to prosper as a leading merchant. However, now, he gained a totally new perspective via the miracle of time travel. Évrard forgave his brother, the late Minister Philippe Ouimet, for all sibling tensions that prevented true closeness. He wished Philippe had lived long enough to discover the truth behind Frollo's "New World" connections. But Évrard put all that in the past for nothing could bring his brother back. He looked forward to more of these fantastical transtemporal excursions with gusto and insatiable curiosity. He could learn new skills and methods that would aid him in business. He could also rest assured that Orry and Nadine's friendship would surely blossom into so much more in the coming years.
But what about Felise LaCourbe, the talented poetess who risked her reputation and life to help finally nail Orry's kidnappers? What was in store for her would not be revealed until after Nisha's sister, Cherie, would make a startling revelation – and a lucrative offer. That bit of information would cross the desk of Leigh Gaudet-Norris, Danisha's psychotherapist, who truly turned out to be Felise's distant descendent. When Leigh discovered the truth about her long lost ancestor...Oh boy!
Oh yes, that "special surprise" Claude Frollo was ready
to spring on
Danisha. That wouldn't come for several days, when Frollo
Nisha take a little excursion uptown...
To Chapter 25
Copyright©2001 by FrolloFreak® AKA The FanFiction Diva