Now auditioning: Juliette d’Arc Dubois, Jeanne’s sister. I think she nailed her audition with Foss. I wonder how Jeanne will react when she discovers her staid, grumpy sister is flirty and open with him.
Two hours after my meeting, during which I reached out to every mutual acquaintance that Dark and I shared, I was walking along Oxford Street, headed by to the hotel. I’d come up empty, except for a cryptic response from Dark’s sister, Juliette. We’d not met, but I’d seen her face pop up more than one on Dark’s video calling software. It was a brief exchange, via text messaging. I’d not known how to reach her otherwise, so I sent her a Facebook friend request. To my surprise, she accepted within minutes, and seconds later, sent me a message that read, “Bon jour, Foss. I have wondered when you would contact me.” I was relieved to know she spoke English, as her Facebook feed seemed to be entirely in French. On impulse, I clicked the telephone icon and seconds later, she picked up. I knew immediately I’d found the right sister.
“I didn’t know you could call on Facebook,” she said. Thirty seconds earlier, neither had I.
“I’m looking for Jeanne, Juliette. It’s urgent that I speak to her. Have you heard from her?”
There was a pause, followed by, “Call me Jette. Sadly, non, I have not. Jeanne is allergic to the telephone. Is she in trouble again?”
Given I didn’t know the answer to that myself, I answered no, and responded with a request that she have her sister contact me if she heard from her. I was relieved to note that Jeanne wasn’t specifically avoiding answering only my calls, since Jette was in the same boat. That relief turned quickly to more worry, however, once I realized the possible implications.
I was composing a thank you in my head and preparing to sign off when Jette asked, “When are the two of you coming to visit? I have so much to tell you!”
With what I’d learned about their family, I had a great deal to ask. “As soon as Jeanne and I wrap up this case, I’ll make sure we make a stop in France.”
“Good. After English breakfasts and haggis, my sister will need some real food. Perhaps you can come soon, oui?”
“Oui. She was determined to try it once she reached Scotland. I think it’s disgusting. Of course, I eat snails, so who am I to talk?” She punctuated her sentence by messaging me a smile; not an emoticon smiley face, but an actual self-portrait photograph of herself smiling. It was Jeanne’s face, but fuller and with blond hair and bright blue eyes.
“Did Dark … did Jeanne say she was going to Scotland?”
“It’s okay. You can call her ‘Dark’ with me. I think it’s sweet that you have pet names for each other. She called from the hotel to say she was going on a short trip to Scotland. I assumed you knew since you were in bed with her at the time.”
I refrained from mentioning that my newest pet name for her sister had become Pain the Arse. “No, I didn’t know. I was unconscious.”
“Oui, I thought it very romantic, her calling me so soon after your—liaison, is the word? It must have been very vigorous, the way you were sleeping.”
“Romantic, yes.” If you consider nude calling your big sister while lying next to a semi-comatose man with a mild brain injury romantic, then oui, we were quite the passion storm. I was wondering more than ever what sort of game Jeanne was playing. Why would she lead her sister to believe we were lovers?
“I so look forward to meeting the man who can handle my Jeanne,” Jette added.
“Yes, me too. Maybe you can introduce me to him so I can get a few pointers.”
She laughed, a boisterous, floral sound that ripped all the sour notes from my gut. Jeanne had to be okay, I reasoned, because angels were laughing in my ear. “Take care, chéri,” she said, “I’ll be hugging you in person soon.”