La Femme de Mon Ami


Colette stepped back from tasting Remy's latest concoction – he was rather proud of it, if he did say so himself – and turned to him, eyes shining, face aglow. "Oh, mon Chef!" she breathed reverently. "C'est—" But then he saw the aftertaste hit, and she broke off in surprise, her blue eyes narrowing, her expression going sly, and not a little amused. Raising an eyebrow, she said, "You added something when I wasn't looking, hein? Admit it."

Pleased, Remy shrugged, feigning innocence. He had, but he didn't feel like admitting it just yet.

"Come on, mon Chef, I need to add it to the recipe!"

Colette was compiling some of his dishes into a book. He didn't think they would taste so great when they were repeated off of a dry recipe, but she was enthusiastic about preserving them for posterity, so he went along. This time, though, he was feeling mischievous. He shrugged again. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Ah, non?"

The next thing he knew, he was flipped over and Colette's long fingers were tickling his chest. He squealed with laughter, surprised he was enjoying it. "Whoa!"

"Tell me." Her hands were gentle, but he was quite effectively trapped. Her nails skritched gently through his fur, under his armpits, down his sides. "Confess!"

"No – hey – hey!" His laughter grew louder. He'd forgotten what it felt like to be tickled – the last time he'd done this kind of roughhousing was as a baby rat with Emile, and Emile had quit roughhousing with him when he'd grown up to be slight of build, fearing to hurt him. He'd forgotten it was so much fun!

She was laughing, too, her eyes shining, sensing he was enjoying it. "Come on! Tell me!"

"Non!" he giggled, his voice coming out as a high-pitched squeak. "Quit that!" he added, more for form's sake than anything else; he was giddy with happiness, the playful touch opening up a wellspring of joy.

"Tell me tell me tell me!" Her fingers gentled, afraid to hurt him. He leaned into the touch, drunk with bliss, smiling like a loon. "You will, n'est-ce pas?"

The tickling slowed, then stopped, but she kept her hand on his chest. Remy took a deep breath, the happiness flooding through him still, sending light and power through his veins. Grabbing one of her slim fingers and rubbing it across his cheek, he got to his feet slowly. Crossing over to the cumin, he held out a hand with a flourish in the direction of the jar.

Her eyes lit up. "You cunning devil, you!"

The pencil skritched on the paper, and before Remy could react, she had bent down and kissed him on the cheek. "Merci, mon Chef!"

Dizzy, Remy watched her retreating form, absently rubbing at the trace of her rouge à levres, still smiling beatifically. His wild, joyous thoughts slowly coalesced into a single, coherent idea.

Man, if your wife wasn't human, Linguini, mon ami, he thought, intensely grateful for the interspecies difference, you would SO have competition.