72. Through A Glass, Dimly.


Ava hated old folks’ homes. This one was nicer than most, to be sure, but it still had that horrible smell. Like drying milk and old honey.

Cece led them into a room with a startling view of the the Eiffel Tower. A wide-eyed elderly woman lay tucked in bed, and a nurse introduced herself as Marie. “You know Madam?” she asked, looking rather thrilled. She glanced back at her patient, who stared at her new visitors with huge, curious eyes, and muttered something in French.

Ava was not amused. She glared at Cece; she would have screamed if they'd been anywhere else. “You think this is funny?” she snarled with muffled fury. “Where--the hell--is--Allie!?”

"I don’t know if her name is Allie, mademoiselle," Cece replied with complete calm, "but this is Madam Coulise.” She patted the old woman’s hand affectionately.

"Do you know her?” Marie asked with a trace of suspicion in her voice.

"Of course not!” snapped Ava. “Cece, you told me--” 

"I told you I knew a Coulise! I do! We don’t know her first name, but she calls herself Madam Coulise. This is she.” The old woman's eyes were glued to Ava like some kind of star-struck kindergartener. “She seems to like you,” Cece added with a sly grin.