Authors: Amy Reece
“Rémy!” A young woman rose from one of the couches and ran to Rémy, launching herself into his arms. “
Tu es enfin rentré
He laughed and kissed her on both cheeks. “
Oui, me voilà…ca fait plaisir de te voir, ma petite
He turned to me. “Ally, I would like you to meet my cousin, Geneviève. This is Ally Moran.” When he said my name, all the conversation in the room stopped and everyone turned to stare at me. He put his hand on the small of my back and guided me to one of the couches where an elderly couple sat. “Ally, I would like to introduce you to my grandparents, Mary Katherine and Phillipe Giles. Grand-mère, Grand-père, this is Alethiea Moran.”
They both rose, and the woman leaned forward to kiss both my cheeks, grasping me solidly by the upper arms. I could feel the psychic energy flow between us. “Please, call me Kate. Ally, it is wonderful to meet you. It is good that my grandson has brought you here.” She turned to greet Rémy, folding him into a tearful embrace and murmuring to him in French. Her accent was an interesting mix of French and Irish lilt.
“Ally, it is good to meet you.” Rémy’s grandfather kissed both of my cheeks. “Come, while my wife assures herself of our grandson’s health and well-being, I will introduce you to the rest of the Conseil.” The others had risen and now stood in a semi-circle. “This is Francoise,” Phillipe gestured to a tall, stern-looking woman with improbably black hair. “She has the dubious pleasure of leading this rambunctious group.”
“Oh, Phillipe! You are such a tease. Welcome, Ally. We are pleased that you have come. This is Hélène, Corinne, and Arnaud.” She gestured to two other women, both middle-aged, and a 30-something man. “And this,” she led me to a man who stood somewhat apart from the rest of the group, “is Luc.” He was tall; I had to crank my neck back to see his face, which was lean with pronounced cheekbones. His eyes were a cool gray, perusing me from head to foot; I had the horrible feeling he found me lacking somehow.
“Mademoiselle Moran,” he said as he lifted my hand. “Wonderful to meet you.” I knew he thought it was anything but wonderful as waves of ugly thoughts inundated my mind. Although I picked up nothing specific, I felt greed, ambition, and a desperate need for power. His eyes squinted as he stared into mine too long and too deep. I withdrew my hand from his and barely resisted wiping it on my jeans. I couldn’t wait to ask Rémy about him. Who was he and why was I getting such negative feelings from him?
announced lunch and Geneviève put her arm through mine, pulling me away from Luc. “Come, Ally. I am claiming you for lunch. I haven’t had anyone my own age to talk to in too long.” I was grateful to be away from Luc’s intense stare.
“Don’t believe her, Ally,” Rémy said, appearing at my other side. “She just posted a girl’s night out on her Facebook page.”
“We were at a club, so there was no chance to talk. Why are you cyber-stalking me, anyway? Is your social life so pathetic that you have to live vicariously through mine?” Geneviève flashed him an arch look.
“He’s probably just jealous because he’s spent the past six months babysitting teenagers in Albuquerque,” I offered with a laugh. “Go easy on him. American teens are brutal.”
. I loved my American friends and will miss them now that I am back in France,” he replied gallantly.
“Especially Veronica, huh?” I said, hoping Geneviève would zero in and want details. She didn’t disappoint me.
“Veronica? My cousin found a girlfriend in America? Tell me everything,” she demanded as we took our seats. Rémy rolled his eyes and took his place at the opposite side of the table.
I filled her in on how I had tried for weeks to ferret out the information about who Rémy was crushing on, while a bevy of waiters began placing bowls of soup before each diner. I looked down into my bowl and was dismayed to see some sort of seafood bisque. I glanced across the table at Rémy, but he was too busy digging into his soup to notice my issue. He had apparently not called ahead to notify his family that I was a vegetarian. A room full of psychics and not one of them could figure out that I didn’t eat meat? Seriously? Oh, well. It’s not like I’ve never faced this dilemma before. It’s just that I could usually count on raiding my own refrigerator later in the evening. On the bright side, I probably wouldn’t be gaining a bunch of weight while I was here. I didn’t want to make Rémy’s family feel bad about not knowing I was a vegetarian, so I picked up my spoon and stirred my soup, hoping to disguise the fact that I wasn’t actually eating it. Once Geneviève had exhausted the topic of Veronica, she began quizzing me about my own love life, which gave me an excuse to talk rather than eat. When the main course arrived, I picked around the chicken and ate the potatoes and vegetables. I practically wolfed down my fruit tart, relieved that the French love their desserts.
“Ally,” Kate addressed me from the head of the table. “Would you care to walk with me in the garden after lunch?” Although I had no intention of refusing her, I got the message it was more of a command than a request.
“Of course. I’d be happy to,” I said as she rose and motioned for me to follow her into the garden, a wonderland of flowers and greenery with a winding path covered in bits of stone.
“This garden is my pride and joy.” She leaned her head back, enjoying the sun on her face. “Well, one of them. Rémy is the other. You got to know him over the past few months, no?”
I quickly glanced at her, noting the too-innocent look on her face. I rolled my eyes and said, “Yes. We became good
while he was in the U.S.” I made sure to emphasize the ‘friends’ part. “He helped me through a rough time this last semester.”
“Why don’t you tell me about it while we walk off that delicious lunch that you ate so little of? I will make sure the kitchen knows of your dietary preferences before dinner.” She winked at me with the last statement.
“Thanks. I appreciate it.” While we strolled through the gorgeous gardens, I told her about how Rémy had helped me deal with my breakup with Jack. I wondered if she was bored hearing about my teen drama, yet I felt it was important to mention that I currently had a boyfriend and that Rémy and I would never be anything more than friends. I knew she and the rest of the Conseil had chosen to interpret the prophecy in a way that meant Rémy and I should be together.
“So, you are in love with this Jack?” I nodded. “There is no chance for you and my grandson to…” She left the question dangling.
“No. None at all. Sorry.” I replied firmly.
“Oh, don’t apologize, my dear. I am the last person on earth to tell someone whom they should love or what they should do with their life. I left my family to be with the man I love, you know?” I nodded, but said nothing. “I don’t understand what the prophecy referred to any more than you, Ally. I saw a vision of you and where to find you, and then I had the prophecy. You and my grandson are connected, important in some way, but we don’t know how. You may be the next Oracle, or you may not. That is why Rémy brought you here, so we can find out. Now, I know you can’t stay too long on this visit, but I hope we can begin to build a relationship. I do realize we will have to share you with the Irish Council, but I must impress on you the importance of spending time here with us. I understand you just graduated from high school. How would you feel about attending the university here in Rouen? I could arrange it easily.”
I was sure she could. I began to realize this group could arrange a great many things. “Thanks, but no, Kate. I don’t mind splitting summer vacation and possibly Christmas breaks between here and Galway, but my life is in Albuquerque. I don’t want to leave my grandmother. And I need to be there when my new little brother or sister arrives. Plus, I absolutely insist on being home by the time Jack gets back from basic training.”
“Ah, he has joined the military? That is very noble. What branch did he join?”
Before I could answer, Rémy appeared around the corner. “Here you are. I have brought you a peace offering so you don’t hold it against me that I forgot to tell Grand-mère that you are a vegetarian.” He handed me something wrapped in a cloth napkin. I opened it to find a sandwich made with a delicious-looking piece of baguette. I lifted the top piece and saw lettuce, tomato, and something creamy. I raised my eyebrows questioningly at him.
“It’s cheese. Proper French cheese—none of that disgusting orange ‘cheese product’ you Americans are so fond of. Now eat. You must be starving. We can’t have you fainting in the garden from weakness.”
I took a bite and wasn’t surprised to find it delicious. I’m a huge cheese fan and the French certainly have a way with it. “Thanks, Rémy,” I said with my mouth full.
“Ally was just telling me that her young man has joined the military. I think that is very noble.” Kate put her arm through Rémy’s and pulled him along with us deeper into the garden.
“Oh, yes. Jack is all that is noble and good,” Rémy said, dripping sarcasm. “He is so good that we mere mortals must bask in his virtuosity. Oww.” He rubbed the arm I punched.
“Now, children. You mustn’t fight. Don’t make me send you to your rooms,” Kate teased. “We must make good use of Ally’s limited time here to try and figure out what you two have to do with the prophecy. It would be so much easier and make more sense if you were destined to fall in love with each other,” she sighed.
I swallowed another bite of sandwich. “I really don’t think prophecies should go around telling people who to fall in love with. That’s not right. I didn’t choose to fall in love with Jack; my heart chose him and I had to go along with it.” They both stopped in the path and stared at me. “What?” I asked.
“That was very beautiful, Ally. And very profound. I can see I would be wise not to underestimate you, my dear. Now,” she said as she led us briskly down the path, “why have you two been brought together, if not to unite the clans through a marriage alliance?”
The mere thought of marriage to Rémy made me cringe. I mean, he was gorgeous, but we would kill each other in about an hour. “You don’t think we can bring the clans together any other way than marriage? That’s really limiting, you know? Not to mention medieval.”
Rémy snickered and Kate gave him a dirty look. “Ally is correct. And far, far in the future, when I begin to look for a wife, I will require someone a good bit more biddable than Ally,” he said.
“Yes,” I sneered. “You’ll need someone who adores you nearly as much as you adore yourself.”
“Remind me why I went to the trouble of bringing you a sandwich?”
“Children,” Kate warned.
“Sorry,” we both murmured.
“Now, we must use what little time we have for Ally’s visit to try and figure out what in the world is going on with you two. We will have to run various tests…”
Her voice faded away in my mind as Rémy sent me his thoughts.
Please be patient with her, Ally. She has been very concerned ever since she received the prophecy. I worry for her. Please, just go along with all this?
Of course, Rémy. She’s wonderful. I would never want to upset her. I do realize we need to figure this out. But I don’t have to marry you to do that.
Kate stopped and stared between the two of us. “Amazing. Simply amazing. I have never seen such communication possible between two Seers. This is quite remarkable.”
“Grand-mère, could you hear us?” Rémy asked.
“No, nothing specific. I’m not that powerful. I could only feel the energy flowing between you. You are both much more powerful than I realized. This will take much thought. You must excuse me. I need to be alone. Rémy, you will see that Ally finds her way back to the house?” At Rémy’s bemused nod, she scurried away down the path.
He sighed and led me to sit on a nearby bench in the shade. “Well, that was apparently a mistake. I’m sorry,
chérie. I didn’t think.” He dropped his head into his hands and sighed again.
“Yeah, I didn’t especially like the gleam in her eyes, either. She’s not going to let the couple thing go, is she?”
He shook his head. “No, probably not.”
the course of the next week, Kate managed to throw Rémy and me together more often than not, ostensibly so she could observe the connection we had, but I knew it was merely an excuse to force us to spend time together. Rémy and I were both frustrated with her casual treatment of our personal wishes in the matter, but he feared upsetting his grandmother so he went along with it, on the surface at least. The rest of the Conseil skirted around us for the most part, letting Kate have her way. The bright spot in the whole situation was the surprising friendship developing between Geneviève and myself; we hit it off and enjoyed spending my limited free time together. The evenings frequently found the two of us, joined by Rémy and Arnaud, enjoying the nightlife Rouen had to offer.
On Thursday evening of my second week in France, we sat in a club waiting for the guys to return with drinks. “So, what’s between you and Arnaud? I’m sensing some romance there.” I leaned toward her to be heard over the music.
“I wish! I have been in love with him forever, but he thinks he’s too old for me,” she said with a sigh.
“How old is he?” I had figured 30-something when we were first introduced.