Author's Notes: Just taking a bit of a break from Never Spellbound, but I didn't want to leave you with nothing from me in the interim, so, allow me to proudly present the first chapter of Déjà Vous (which, loosely translated, means, "You again." The pun on déjà vu is intentional, in case anyone was thinking of e-mailing me about my rather slipshod French translation. ;))
Thank you to PZB, who read over Chapter One for me, and who originally suggested the Mediterranean when I mentioned that I was searching for a honeymoon spot for our favourite fictional couple. I speak French rather better than I speak Italian, and considerably better than I speak Greek (which is to say, not at all) so I suppose the selection of country was rather arbitrary. The selection of destination, however, was not; if you ever get a chance to visit Nice, or any of the surrounding towns, by all means, take it. And don't do as I did, and lose your camera. ;)
When last seen, none of these characters were mine. That doesn't, however, prevent me from taking them from a non-profitable spin once in a while. Suing me would be counter-productive at best: the university has all my money, and Student Loans currently possesses the deed to my soul.
1. Je Suis Chaude
Many women, it is true, would be thrilled beyond belief to find themselves honeymooning on the Côte d'Azur, especially in the early green and golden days of summer. Any girl became a ravishing bathing beauty on the French Riviera: the warm sun imparted a twinkle to every eye, and fostered a healthy glow in even the most pallid of complexions, while the fresh sea air tousled and tumbled locks, and made faces appealingly ruddy.
The seaside town of Nice, a stone's throw away from stately Monaco, was in full, riotous bloom when the O'Connells arrived. The sparkling, sapphirine blue of the Mediterranean, viewed from the antique elegance of the Promenade des Anglais, rivalled in beauty even the shimmering golden dawns of the Nubian desert. And now, strolling the Boulevard Jean-Medecin after a romantic dinner by candlelight, was the perfect opportunity for reflection, contemplation, or simply the enjoyment of another's company.
Evelyn Carnahan O'Connell wanted to go home.
"Honey, it wasn't that bad." Richard O'Connell stifled a smile as he hooked an arm around his wife's slender shoulders. They walked along the street with no particular goal, other than to get as far away as possible from the scene of Evelyn's recent humiliation. To that end, she was walking somewhat faster than Rick, and he employed the arm as a gentle--but effective--means of slowing her down. He'd just eaten, and wasn't particularly in the mood for a jog. "I don't think anyone even heard," he added, careful to keep his tone solicitous. Privately, he found the whole thing damn funny, but he could see that it wasn't in his best interests to admit it.
Evelyn, for her part, felt as though it might just be possible to spontaneously combust and literally die of embarrassment. "The waiter heard it. No wonder he was grinning at me all evening. And the women at the table next to ours--they heard me, plain as day, I'm quite certain of it. Nosy parkers, listening in on other people's private conversations... Oh, Rick." She stopped short, turned, and buried her flushed face in the soft folds of his shirt. "This whole day has been a disaster," she moaned.
Rick, wrapping both arms around his blushing bride, was forced to concede that he'd brought the entire mess on himself.
Departing from London, they'd arrived in Paris to find their train already gone; after trying, without success, to find a hotel, they'd spent the night on a bench in the Gare de Lyon. Rick didn't particularly mind this; he'd spent worse nights in far more dangerous places, without such winsome company. He'd done everything he could to make Evelyn comfortable, and, when she'd finally drifted off to sleep with her head pillowed on his leg, he'd sat perfectly still, gazing down at her, hardly able to believe his good luck. He still wasn't quite certain exactly how he'd managed to con a girl like her into marrying him, but he must have done something right.
The following day's train ride had been long and arduous; since it was a day trip, there were no sleeper compartments available. After a fitful night on a hard bench, her hair mussed, her pretty new sundress creased, Evelyn had not been in a particularly sociable mood. Not that she hadn't expected to be exhausted on her honeymoon--after all, just look who she was married to!--but going to sleep hungry in a cold train station was certainly not her idea of how events were supposed to unfold. Rick didn't even seem to be bothered about any of it, which just made Evelyn's mood all the more cloudy. What was the fun of being miserable on their honeymoon if it wasn't an activity they could share in? As they'd boarded the train, the only thing Evelyn had wanted, more than a hot bath and a soft bed, was a good book to hide behind for the duration of the journey. She hadn't brought a single one along, of course, reasoning that she wouldn't have much time for reading on the trip.
Since Evelyn had had a difficult time trying to hold up her end of the conversation, her damnably ebullient husband had made up for the deficiency by teasing her rather mercilessly about her conversational French--or lack thereof. She'd had little use for it in Egypt, apart from the occasional letter to someone in the Department of Antiquities, and had grown rather rusty in the interim. Now, every time she tried to order a sandwich or to inquire about the lavatory, there he was, smirking at her best attempts to speak the silly language.
The ribbing had increased when they'd arrived at the hotel, only to find that their room had been given away because Evelyn had not been clear in her instructions when she telephoned from the train station. The hotel's manager, faced with the wrath of Hurricane Evelyn, graciously took the blame for the misunderstanding. Another room was available, and would be made ready for them as soon as possible. They left their luggage with the concierge, and went out to try and find something to eat in the meantime.
Evelyn, being Evelyn, would not admit defeat. When they stopped into the small, crowded restaurant for a late supper, she had seized her opportunity and conducted a conversation with their waiter in absolutely flawless French. In fact, as far as she could discern, she'd only made a single mistake the entire evening. Unfortunately, that mistake had been to say "Je suis chaude," rather than "J'ai chaud," when indicating to the waiter how overcome she was by the unseasonably warm weather. Both could literally be translated as 'I am hot', but the semantic meanings were very different indeed. Needless to say, the waiter had been a bit shocked by this candid admission from the innocent-seeming young Englishwoman.
When Rick had leaned across the table and explained Evelyn's faux pas, using more tact than most people would have given him credit for, she'd looked as if she were going to burst into tears. Evelyn was not one of those women who cried at the drop of a hat--a fact for which Rick had cause to be exceedingly grateful--but she hated, more than anything, to be thought ignorant. That it had been such an elementary mistake was almost more embarrassing than what had actually been said. He'd barely had time to slap the money down on the table before she dashed out of the restaurant--very nearly toppling the dessert cart en route to the door.
"It really wasn't a big deal, Evie." He pressed a kiss into her windblown hair, and laughed after all, in spite of his best efforts. Far above them, the stars winked down at him, as if sharing the joke.
Evelyn took a step back from him, scowling, cheeks ablaze with colour. "It's not funny."
"Come on. Not even a little bit?" He smiled down at his wife, who was even more adorable when she was in a snit about something.
It was a funny word, wife--one that took some getting used to, especially for a man who'd never expected to have one of his own. Rick O'Connell had never been comfortable with both feet firmly planted on solid ground; he was a man who needed action and excitement in order to really feel alive. He'd always found it impossible to reconcile the placidity of married life with the kind of raging instability that kept him centred, and so he'd decided that he was simply not husband material.
And then, one sunny morning in Cairo Prison, Evelyn Carnahan had tripped lightly into his life.
He hadn't realized it at the time, but he and Evelyn were perfectly matched. He thrived on chaos, and she was chaos personified. He relished trouble; she was trouble, a walking contradiction in modest skirts and far-from-sensible shoes. Quite simply, Rick loved the adventure of Evelyn, and every minor upheaval she brought into their lives made her that much more precious to him. Her mercurial moods steadied him, and her single-minded determination brought purpose into his life. Loving her was the only thing Rick had ever willingly surrendered to--and he didn't regret a moment of it so far.
As for Evelyn, she didn't quite understand how she could have come to fall in love with someone so different from herself. Logic suggested that two people with such vastly different outlooks on life should be at odds every moment they spent together. Then again, Evelyn was rather inclined to disregard logic whenever its findings didn't suit her needs. And while she knew, rationally, that she and Rick O'Connell should be completely and utterly wrong for one another, that didn't stop her heart from hammering every time he smiled at her.
He was smiling now, and before long her steely resolve began to buckle. Even at his most exasperating, she found it impossible to stay angry with Rick for very long at a time--and just now he was being surprisingly reasonable. "I suppose it could have been worse," she admitted.
Rick nodded. It could definitely have been worse. He could have told her about the other mistake she'd made--when she'd meant to say she was full, and instead cheerfully announced to the entire room that she was expecting.
"After all," she continued, peeking coyly at him through her lashes, "I know the all words I'm going to need to get by on this trip. Je t'aime, mon propre mari..." Her sudden smile burst forth, radiant as an Egyptian sunrise. "I still can't quite believe it," she confessed.
"I know. Me neither." He was distinctly aware that he was grinning like an idiot--not to mention the fact that they were still practically nose to nose in the middle of a busy sidewalk--but he didn't care.
"I might be dreaming," she continued, quite matter-of-factly. "Perhaps you'd better pinch me."
Rick's eyebrows climbed. Making his face perfectly deadpan, he inquired, "Where?"
Evelyn stood on tiptoe to whisper in his ear: "Darling, we're married now. You're perfectly within your rights to pinch me anywhere you like." When his mouth dropped open in mild surprise, she quickly kissed it, then turned and began to walk demurely up the street before he had a chance to act on her suggestion. She glanced once over her shoulder to make certain he was watching, then strolled on, exceedingly pleased with herself.
Not to be outdone, Rick caught up with her in a couple of swift strides and, without preamble, swept her up into his arms. Evelyn, who had never been much for public displays of affection, soon decided that certain exceptions ought to be made when one was on one's honeymoon. She allowed herself to be kissed soundly, and thoroughly, completely heedless to the comments and catcalls of passers-by, including a pair of middle-aged Britons who made a number of disparaging remarks about the French lack of morals.
"So there," Rick observed, as if he'd just had the last word in a discussion. Which he had, in a sense, since Evelyn lacked for breath to respond. The matter having been thusly settled, he offered his arm and they continued to walk, back the way they'd come, in the direction of their hotel. It was a beautiful night; even Rick, who rarely bothered to notice such things, had to admit that. Not a cloud in the sky, the sultry evening tempered by an occasional playful ocean breeze... perfect.
Evelyn stuck close to him, clinging tightly to his arm with both hands. She didn't seem herself, he noted. For one thing, she wasn't talking. And she was walking quicker than ever now. He hoped that restaurant thing wasn't still bothering her.
"You okay?" he inquired.
She gazed up at him with a misty, distant expression, but didn't reply. Well, it wasn't surprising that she was a little out of it, he reasoned. They'd done a lot of travelling over the past couple of days, and she hadn't been able to get much sleep. He resolved to let her set the tone for the rest of the night when they returned to the hotel. In all likelihood, she'd just want to get undressed--without his assistance--take a bath, and go straight to sleep. Well, one more night waiting for her wouldn't kill him, he mused. Hopefully.
"I bet you're tired," he conjectured, putting his arm around her.
Holding her close, he felt a shiver ripple through her slight frame--of course! The night air. She was probably cold. She always felt those things so much more acutely than he did. He wasn't going to ask where she'd left her wrap, since there wasn't much likelihood of getting it back now anyway. He stopped in his tracks, shrugged out of his jacket, and tucked her into it. "Better?"
"Thank you, I..." she frowned, apparently at a loss for words.
Maybe she was nervous about spending the night with him. She hadn't shown any trepidation about it so far, but that didn't mean anything; this was the girl who'd joked about coming back to haunt him, even as she sacrificed herself to save her friends. Just because she didn't show fear didn't mean it wasn't there. He'd just have to be patient with her, he told himself. No pressure. Take things slow.
"Rick," she murmured, a bright spot of colour blooming on each cheek.
"Honey, what's wrong?"
"Rick... je suis chaude," she murmured.
He grinned, shaking his head. Here we go again, he thought. "You mean, j'ai chaud," he corrected gently.
Evelyn's gaze never wavered. "No," she said. "I don't."