Von Karma Estate, April 10, 2019, 9:00 am
"Hans!" Franziska called out as she headed down the spiral staircase of the mansion. "Where are you?"
The distinguished silver-haired family butler appeared at the foot of the bannister immediately and bowed to his mistress.
"Ja, gnädige frau?"
"Ich vertraue dir, zum legte eine perfekt banane runter mir die hosen heute abend." She commanded.
"Wie bitte, gnädige frau?"The man's normally decorous air was rattled as he gaped at her.
"Sind sie schwerhörig?" Franziska haughtily raised an eyebrow.
"Was ist der grund, warum willst du es?" Hans exclaimed. "Ich bin so verwirrt!"
"Yes I am certain that forty years of service would reassure me that you and your wife will ensure perfection for the Master's birthday tonight," she replied impatiently. "But I want the details of what's on the menu for final approval now, not later."
"Ich verstehe nicht dein Englisch mehr besser als dein schreckliche Deutsch!" Hans cried, and without warning, scurried off to the west wing, towards the kitchen. Moments later, a stout woman with salt and pepper hair pulled back severely into bun appeared before her.
"Hallo, Helga," Franziska said coolly, placing a hand on her hip. "I do believe it is time to purchase a hearing aid for your husband. He didn't seem to understand my simple query of what was on the meal menu tonight for Miles' birthday. I am uncertain if he is getting daft or deaf at his old age."
"You were asking Hans about this evening's dinner selection, Madam?" Helga asked in a thick Bavarian accent to her mistress, smoothing down the wrinkles of her starched white apron. Her brow furrowed in confusion. "How incredibly odd. He told me that he was uncertain if either you or he were going slightly mad because he was under the impression that you had said 'I trust you to put a perfect banana down my pants tonight'. He was absolutely flummoxed at the request because he asked you why you would want such a thing. Then you asked him if he was deaf, and began talking to him in English, which he doesn't speak at all…"
Franziska felt her face reddening as she realized in horror what she had requested of the poor elderly man who had been loyally servicing the Von Karma family since before she'd been born. Out of all the staff, Helga was the only servant who spoke English, and tried to utilize it as much as possible. This was an immense relief to Franziska, whose mother tongue was apparently rustier than she could have ever realized due to her mostly Anglophone lover, her international travel and time in America. It made her wonder what other commands she had unknowingly muddled with the staff all this time as she was no longer perfect at speaking her native German!
Not that she would ever admit that to the help…
"So then he got frustrated and said that he didn't understand your English any more than your terrible German," Helga confessed, blushing. "And he ran to fetch me in his stead. My sincerely apologies on behalf of my husband, for any grievances. He is getting on in his years, and surely meant no intentional disrespect, Madam."
"Well, seeing as he's been in faithful service for so long and may just be having an off day, I suppose it doesn't matter what Hans thought he heard. Although, of course, I would never make such a foolish, outlandish request," Franziska declared with a dismissive wave of her hand and clearing her throat. "Helga, I demand nothing short of perfection on this momentous occasion. I want only the best for the Master's birthday dinner tonight. What is on the proposed bill of fare?"
Helga began rattling off the menu. "Euro bass with sage brown butter, gnocchi capers and lemon, pork rillettes with shaved fennel and quince preserves, and five spice smoked cauliflower with leeks, pumpkin seeds, wild rice, grapes, cranberry and soy caramel."
"Hmmm, sounds fine but Miles would undoubtedly prefer on there being some sort of additional vegetable there. I blame his time in California for his healthy kick." Franziska was unable to hide the disdain in her voice.
"How would the Master like roasted Kabocha squash agrodolce with baby kale, pepitas, fig saba and Cambozola cheese, dressed with red wine vinaigrette, served with fresh sourdough?"
"I think he's watching his carbs, so yes to the squash, no to the bread. Especially if you're planning on serving dessert."
"Black forest birthday cake, the Master's favorite." Helga beamed. "Would it better suit the palate if I did the squash with sumach scented yogurt and seed granola shisho?"
"No, the Kabocha with everything else sounded fine," Franziska assured her. "No need to make any other changes except forgoing the bread."
"Five o'clock, Madam?"
"In the main dining hall. Once dinner is served, you are all relieved of your duties for the night."
"Danke, Madam." Helga was unable to hide the look of startled pleasure on her face at this benevolent gesture from her employer. "That is most kind of you."
"Bitte sehr, Helga." Franziska nodded and then headed to her study.
We most definitely won't want anyone within ear-shot while I am ensuring that we burn off the sinful calories of that cake, she added silently, smiling to herself.
Manfred Von Karma had never allowed birthdays to be acknowledged in his household, citing it ludicrous and beyond foolish to celebrate being another year older and that much closer to the grave. Consequently, there had never been any parties, cake or balloons for either Miles or Franziska on their special days growing up, and thus birthdays had been seen as just any other day of the year. Growing up, Franziska had acted as if she shared the same contemptuous notion as her Papa, yet had been unable to suppress the pangs of wistfulness at times when she'd heard school mates serenade the birthday person in the middle of class or see families and friends happily celebrating at restaurants.
Now that her Papa was gone, they were free to do as they pleased, and she was glad to seize any opportunity to let the man who brightened up her world know how much he meant to her.
Franziska was quite excited about Miles' birthday. It would be their second one as a couple and she wanted to make sure her lover's celebration would be a memorable one.
She wanted to mark this year as the one where they made the next step in their relationship.
Franziska had always been a pragmatic, ambitious and driven female. She had never been either a typically dreamy or starry-eyed fanciful girl when it came to love and romance. She had not ever succumbed to foolish daydreams of a huge white wedding or her Prince Charming, or even written her name with the last name of any crushes all through school. Since becoming a prosecutor at the early age of 13, her desirous passions had always been for her work and the law.
But that was then. This was now. Suddenly all that had changed.
Earlier that year, Detective Gumshoe and Maggey Byrde had gotten married. While Franziska had been pleased for the scruffy detective and his partner, she also hadn't been able to escape the pangs of longing inside her as she'd watched the pretty bride glide down the aisle in her white dress. She'd been unable to stop envisioning how she herself would look in similar attire, with her own tall, dark and handsome waiting for her at the other end of that walkway. She couldn't help but be touched by the beautiful event, which had melted much of the ice that normally guarded her heart.
She had, however, managed to maintain her dignity and refrained from sobbing into her bouquet, unlike her fellow bridesmaid, that emotional wreck, Maya Fey, next to her! She had looked across to the groomsmen side, at the girl's aisle escort, assuming she'd see a glint of embarrassment in Phoenix's eyes on Maya's behalf, but had been amazed to see he was discreetly dabbing at his own!
As best man, Miles had remained as composed and serene as ever, his austere expression making it impossible to read his thoughts.
A few months ago, Franziska and Miles had gotten wind that Gumshoe and the former policewoman were now expecting their first child in the next few months. They had immediately shipped over a huge newborn goody basket along with their best wishes, and she had been amazed at how much fun the experience of shopping for the Gumshoe bundle of joy items had been, considering she'd never had, nor desired, to even have a puppy or a houseplant to tend to! At night, she was often awakened by the ticking of her proverbial biological clock, and she would look over at Miles sleeping peacefully beside her, completely oblivious to her inner turmoil and frustrations. When she finally did fall back into slumber, it was with visions of strollers and bridal gowns dancing in her head.
Now, with her 21st birthday around the corner, she'd begun idly doodling Franziska Edgeworth on papers in her study, which she always stashed away in her study drawers so Miles wouldn't see them and get scared off.
As ridiculous as it sounded and as unfathomable as it was to believe, she, Franziska Von Karma, had full blown wedding and baby fever!
So what was she going to do about it? She knew Miles loved her. But why the delay? What on earth was keeping him from popping the question? She was hardly a stranger to him. A near lifetime of knowing him meant she was an expert at knowing, and accepting, all his quirks and idiosyncrasies, like his not-so-secret Steel Samurai obsession and his deathly fear of earthquakes and elevators. They had been together for more than a year now. So what was the fool waiting for?
She had certainly dropped enough hints. After the Gumshoe wedding, she'd mentioned that he would look just as grand in a groom's tuxedo as the detective had, someday, and had only received a non-committal 'danke, meine dame'in response. Whenever they'd gone for walk in a park, and seen children playing with their dogs, she'd commented on how wonderful it would be to see one of them running afoot someday, and had only gotten a small half-smile as a reaction.
Franziska was starting to feel as if she was taking leave of her senses.
The other day, while shopping for Mile's present, she'd been hypnotically drawn to the jewelry shop, and had found herself trying on diamond engagement rings, admiring the way they twinkled under the store lights on her elegant fingers. After about half an hour of browsing, one ring in particular had caught her eye.
It was a two-carat heart shaped diamond placed in the center of the ring band with small stones encrusted around the main one. There were accent stone clusters on the platinum ring band as well as medium sized stones on the arm. The sparkle and shine of the central diamond was unmistakable, but it didn't come close to the sparkle in Franziska's eyes as she looked at it. It was perfect. Absolutely made for her. It called to her, beckoned to her. Without thinking, she placed a hold on the item, uncaring of the fact that she had to place a sizable deposit for it.
Now, sitting in her home office, Franziska looked down at her mindless scrawling of Franziska Von Karma-Edgeworth and Franziska Hildeberta Edgeworth and realized she'd also been jotting down Gregory Franz Edgeworth and Mila Manfreida Edgeworth before she stopped herself and threw down her pen in disgust.
Now I've been resorted to writing down potential baby names, she thought gloomily. What on earth has happened to me? How can one man have so much control over my heart, my desires, and my mind?
In an attempt to escape her thoughts, she reached for the phone and dialed Miles' number. He'd been away on business travels for the past few weeks and while she normally didn't like to disturb him at work, she wanted to confirm that he would be back in time for dinner that night.
Franziska stared at the receiver in disbelief. Rather than hearing her beloved's deep baritone on the other end of line, a chirpy-voiced female had answered the phone instead!
"I'm looking for Miles Edgeworth?" She said hesitantly, wondering if she had misdialed.
"Who's this?" The voice asked.
"Who the hell is this?" Franziska snapped, while all the while her mind was screaming, and why are you answering my lover's cell?!