Are you ready for this? We have arrived at episode 9 of The Black Medallion. As always, if you are new to the story or just want to refresh your memory of what is going on, follow the links below, laid out in story order.
Jillian spoke with a waiter before they went to the table. Tisdan held her chair before sitting himself. Moments after they sat down a small crew rushed into place setting up screen walls around the table closing them in to an intimate space. The only opening, aside from overhead, was a doorway to allow serving staff access.
The light in their intimate space became softer, the glow of several candles. The screens had created a shroud cutting them off from the light of the chandeliers. Tisdan hadn’t noticed it at first but their table had shrunk as well. Instead of service for six the table had become smaller, more intimate. There were now only settings for two. There was still space enough to move around if need be but it felt as if the restaurant had become a space devoted solely to them.
A waiter filled their white wine glasses, first Jillian’s and then Tisdan’s. He placed the wine bottle in an ice bucket beside the table then exited the room without a word.
Jillian traced her finger across the rim of her glass, her eyes on Tisdan. “Is something wrong?”
“What just happened?”
“I mentioned that we would like some privacy.”
The interplay of the light in the golden liquid caught Tisdan’s eye as he raised the glass. He took a sip savoring the oak that mingled with the soft fruits. As he set the glass to the table a new flavor caught him in the wine’s finish. For a moment the world around him stopped as his breath caught in his lungs.
“La Troit de Cirous,” she said. “It is one of the best whites on their list. I have a few bottles reserved for me and special guests. Do you like it?”
“I have never tasted anything quite like it,” he said.
The waiter returned with small plates of food. Small pink bodies in a creamy white sauce. Jillian called them prawns and mentioned that they came from the sea. He had never been to the sea, the street foods he knew masked their origin in mixtures and questionable sauces. The dinner progressed much the same, dishes were cleared away and something new was set before him. A new wine or beer set out for each course, something that went with each dish to compliment and enhance the meal.
Dinner came to a close, its final course a chocolate torte with champagne. He looked down on it, pressing his fork against it at different angles. “What is the best way to go about this?” he asked.
“Small bites, letting each one melt against your tongue,” she said. “Chocolate is something to be savored.” She cut into hers with her fork, brought it to her mouth, and then sipped her champagne. Her eyes closed as the chocolate and champagne joined between her lips.
“I never knew food could be such and adventure,” he said.
“There are many adventures you do not yet know about.” The words came out of nowhere, but Tisdan knew the voice, had heard it before. It broke through their solitude, disrupting the illusion of privacy. He stepped into the light, as their table grew to accommodate him. The man from the train, dressed much the same as the time Tisdan met him, placed silk gloves beside the table setting in front of him.
“Daddy,” she said. “I wondered if you might come to dinner tonight.”
“Daddy?” Tisdan asked. “What’s going on here?”
“I would think it obvious,” he said. “My daughter is having dinner with you.”
Tisdan stood up knocking his chair down in his haste. The monsignor’s hand caught his wrist as he stepped away from the table.
“Sit, enjoy your dessert,” he said. “The torte here is the best you will find in the world.”
Tisdan righted his chair and then sat. But he did not bring himself into the light of the table. “This was a set up,” he said to Jillian. “I should have known.”
“What is he talking about?” she asked.
The monsignor held a glass of dark ruby liquid to his nose, inhaled its aroma. He savored the flavors before he answered. “Business, my dear. Your young friend has an item my employer is interested in.”
“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” Tisdan said.
“Daddy is a collector,” she said. “They find lost items and bring them back to where they belong.” She paused for breath, holding Tisdan’s eyes with her own, “What have you done?”
The monsignor said, “No one has done anything. Your young friend here, stumbled across something recently that I am trying to bring back to its proper owner.”
His smug smile made Tisdan’s skin crawl. He didn’t want to cause a scene and upset Jillian. The concern he saw in her eyes calmed him. “This has become just a bit too much for me,” he said. “I am grateful for the hospitality Miss Jillian, but I think it’s time I to go.” He dodged the monsignor’s hand as he reached to hold Tisdan back again. Tisdan was through the doorway and into the main dining room without looking back.
The dining room had cleared out, though the chandeliers were still lit, their light had dimmed. A few staff remained in the room to clear the tables and clean. None of them paid attention to him as he made his way to the door.
He chanced a last look back into the dining room. No one followed him. Jillian and her father were no where to be seen. He went through the door and back into the night air.
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