Love and Other Murders

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Chapter 11

Drinking a strong black coffee on an empty stomach, as excellent it may be, is not a good idea. She nurses the cup in her hands enjoying the sixties’ atmosphere at the café “Fuglen” the every item of which originates in the mid-century Scandinavian design. Vincent, seated rigidly in a vintage armchair at a safe distance takes discretely a pillbox out of his pocket and swallows a pill with a sip of coffee.

“What is it? May I have one too?” She asks more to provoke him than to have a try.

“Nothing you’d need!” He barks.

“You are a real headache, Nathalie!”

“Am I? You didn’t act as if you disapproved of me when we first met. Or am I mistaken?”

“Then was then and now is now!” He rebuffs her curtly.

Their squabble is interrupted by the ringing of Vincent’s cell phone.

“Yes? No problem.” He passes the phone on Nathalie, his voice jittery with suppressed irritation.

“I’m alright, or nearly. When can I return to Paris, Alex?”

“I see. But don’t let it be too long! Shall I pass you back on Vincent?”

“OK, bye!”

“You lost a good opportunity to complain to our lord and master about my bad manners, Nathalie. How generous of you, sweetie! As it seems we’ll be together a little longer than expected let’s try to make it if not enjoyable at least bearable for both of us. Would you like another coffee? No? Then tell me what you’d like to do and I will comply with your wish.”

“As I am new to Oslo how would I know? Make me an offer, Vincent!”

“It depends. We can have lunch or make a brief escape to the tiny islands in the vicinity of the city; your choice.”

“As unromantic it may seem I’d prefer to fill up first my stomach and then my eyes. Have you a little idea where to eat?”

“I’ve a great idea, baby! Let’s go!”

The food hall, situated in an ancient brick factory by the river is tempting her with its finger licking smells.

“Have I made a good choice, Nathalie?”

“Oh yes, Vincent! I adore it! You know what? Let’s be friends!” She offers him her hand greasy with the juices of grilled sausages and smeared with coleslaw and potato salad.

“That’s an excellent proposal! It will make our stay in Oslo simpler and more pleasant.”

Instead of shaking it he puts her hand to his lips and she can’t but start singing: “Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s fall in love!”

“For Heaven’s sake NO!” He cries out in mock despair.

“Alex would kill me, cut out my heart, cook it and serve it to you on a silver platter.” He chuckles.

“You beast, now you’ve completely spoilt my appetite!” She pushes off the empty plate.

“Poor Nathalie, so sorry you find so repulsive the story of the tragic love of the troubadour Guillem de Cabestaing and the beautiful Agnes who threw herself to her death from the height of the castle tower after her husband made her eat her lover’s heart.”

“You are a man full of surprises, Vincent. I was expecting from you all but to be fluent in French literature of the thirteenth century.”

“You see, little girl, I’m not such a moron as you expected and be sure there are other good surprises on the horizon of our nascent friendship. I can serve you immediately another one: an awesome fjord escape.

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