From the front seat, Marie-Anne laughed. She seemed to have understood the question. She said, “Nous aimons l’amour.” They all laughed and Theresa wished she understood. Marie-Anne said, “I raconte une histoire—a story” and Jin leaned forward to translate as she spoke. “There was once a queen, Alianor of Aquitaine. She and her daughter, Marie de Champagne were patrons of the troubadours—you know of them? They sang songs of love, they created legend poems about Arthur, the King of the Table Round. Alianor and Marie believed in love and so people came to them with their stories of love. What is love? They wanted to know. So these women set up a Court of Love, where people could come and tell their stories about love and the judges—the women—would decide each case, whether it was a case of true love or not.”
Theresa said, “They litigated love? That sounds very American” and they all laughed. Jin said, “No, they did not sue for love. They ruled over questions about true love.” Marie-Anne continued, through Jinn. “In one case a man came before the Courts and said his wife had been unfaithful to him with her lover and he was wronged and Alianor and Marie and the other judges said there was no such thing as married love and so the husband had not been wronged!”
Theresa said, “Well, finally something we agree on. I don’t believe in married love either.” Jin translated to Marie-Anne for her. The older woman laughed out loud and put her hand on her husband’s thigh suggestively. Theresa was a little shocked. She said, “What, you believe in it?” Marie-Anne needed no translation. She nodded yes and Claude leaned over and kissed her thoroughly, at 65 mph, in the dark. When he finished, the older woman turned back to Theresa and said, “Oui, je crois. Ca arrive. Comes. Soi patient, yes?” Jin said, “She says you must have patience.” “Easy for her to say,” Theresa muttered, “She’s not the one whose biological clock is about to explode.” Jin arched an eyebrow and leaned toward her. “I offer my services,” he said.
Theresa was annoyed. She said, “I don’t believe in it anymore and I’m not sure I could live with anyone long enough to fall in love again anyway.” Claude was watching her in the rearview mirror. He said, “You do not have to be in ze house together. In France, les roi—zee kings—built chateaux for the lovers where they could, how you say, make ze visit.” He pulled quickly onto an exit ramp that appeared out of nowhere. “I will show you.”
The exit led them down to a dark, two-lane road.
To be continued …