Old 05-05-2013, 03:52 AM   #1
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The Right One (Closed)

Summer. Paris.

The smell of amazing food was inescapable, the women were gorgeous and from seemingly every country he'd ever heard of and a few he'd not, and yet he was still bored out of his head. People spent life savings to go on vacation here, planned for years to take honeymoons here, hell he was basically on a vacation himself here, and yet... nothing. The City of Light - so called because of it's place as the epicenter during the Age of Enlightenment, and not because of it's illumination - was not turning out to be the break he needed.

Benjamin Avett was 32 years old, and still finding himself. It was a notion his father would, without fail, roll his eyes at, but to Benjamin it seemed a generational epidemic. Intertwined with the Facebook updates of high school friends getting married or having their third child were all the people, like himself, that had yet to truly find their career, or their 'one' that they wanted to build a family with.

Most of his life had been spent in school, taking a wide range of classes that never really pointed in any specific direction. Library Sciences, English Literature, Biology, Astronomy, Physics, even a little Criminal Justice thrown in there somewhere. Between his generally good grades and his father's money and connections, Benjamin had been lucky enough to attend some of the better schools in the world, including a few years at a couple in the Ivy League in America, but all to no avail. Well educated, but without direction.

Even in love, things had not gone as smoothly as they did for most with his financial future. A quick wit, combined with being the only child that stood to inherit a considerable sum of money, helped to ensure that his bed was rarely empty for long, but it was never fully satisfying. Rarely did he stay with anyone for long. The upside to such things was that it made trips like this one significantly easier, and no one was back home worrying that he was cheating on her. Though he'd had real conversations with so people since he'd been here, even if someone was back home worried about such things, they would be doing so for no reason.

Sitting as he was now, at a sidewalk table in front of a small cafe eating breakfast, he had his nose in a book instead of soaking in the sights around him. The last pages of Doris Kerns Goodwin's A Team of Rivals were taken in with his eggs and tea, and after a second cup of the fine Ceylon blend with the exquisite honey, he paid and left.

Not far from the small room he was renting, he'd found a used book store that was owned by a French girl with green eyes that he couldn't quite force himself to stop looking at. Were he entirely honest with himself, he'd admit that part of the reason he'd gone through so many books while here was that it gave him another excuse to visit. Being someone that had always read a lot made it just that much easier to stop in often and browse.

When he entered the little shop this time, he was a bit dismayed to find someone else working behind the counter. It made sense that she'd need a day off now and then, but he was surprised at how it had disappointed him. Still, he was in need of more books, and leaving only to return later and buy them would just look... weird. Perhaps next time he'd have better luck.

It was as he looked through the piles and boxes of books that he overheard a bit of conversation that only deepened his dismayed feeling. The girl, whoever she was, had told the customer that the pretty owner was closing the shop soon, another victim of e-books and cheaper on-line retailers. His book little book shop, gone. The pretty green-eyed one that owned it, gone as well. Maybe it was time to get the hell out of Paris. Try Lisbon, or Madrid instead.

Still, he needed more to read, and after a short time he had three in his hands that seemed interesting. His conversation with the girl behind the counter was light and friendly, and he realized halfway into it that it was a bit flirty as well. She made sure their fingers touched as he handed over the Euros, and he smiled and thanked her when she dropped his change into his palm. Cute as she may be, he was mostly disappointed that it wasn't the pretty green eyes looking at him from behind the counter.

Walking back to his room, the realization hit him that a girl flirting with him had actually managed to somehow bring him down more somehow, and he couldn't help but laugh. "Ah, you ridiculous fool," he said to himself aloud. Head shaking, he made his way up the inner stairs to his room, and set the stack of books on his bedside table. Dropping onto the bed, he lifted the topmost book into his hands, opened it, and began to read.

Spare the rod and spile the child, as the Good Book says. I’m a-laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He’s full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he’s my own dead sister’s boy, poor thing, and I ain’t got the heart to lash him, somehow.



-------------



It was three days later before he reached the last book on the table, George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London. He'd not yet read it, had not even really heard it discussed much, and given that he was from London and in Paris for at least a little longer, it seemed only appropriate that he read it while here. The fact that he felt fairly down and out, here as he was to "clear your mind and figure out what the fuck you're going to do with your life," in the words of his father, it was a book he couldn't pass up.

As he always did with a new book, he skipped the summary in favor of jumping right in, not wanting his impression of the work to be influenced by someone else's idea of it. It was for this reason that he opened the front cover instead of turning it over to read the back, and it was this action that changed the course of many lives forever.

Madeline - They're sending us out to the front tomorrow. So many people are dying, and they think it may go on for another year. I'm so scared, Madeline. I can't tell them but I can tell you. I've never been so scared. For so many reasons, I never told you I loved you. I should have. I should have said it every day. If I don't make it back, my things will be sent to my family, and I hope they will give this to you. I need you to know that I loved you more than I've ever loved anyone. It is your face I see every night when I close my eyes. I hope that can be enough to carry me through and I will see you again. If I do not, I need you to know. It was always you, Madeline. Always. I love you.

Brow furrowing, he sat up on his bed, feet swinging down to the floor so he could sit on the edge, and he read the words again.

And a third time.

And then a fourth.

The signing name had been smeared beyond any recognition, and much of the writing was faded with it, but it was clear that it was a letter written to someone. Judging by the shaky nature of the handwriting, it was done in a hurry, the words being forced out by... fear, apparently.

Now he did take the time to inspect the book a little more closely, eventually finding a publication date that would put it just before the beginning of World War II.

Out to the front...

Scared...

Don't make it back...


"Fuck," he breathed as he read the words yet again. The thing in his hands suddenly felt different, no longer a book that could take him to a world that existed in the author's mind, but an anchor to a real person, a real place, and a real time. It felt somehow precious, and yet he wanted to throw it across the room, to get it out of his grasp as quickly as possible. And then he realized why.

It felt wrong.

Things like this didn't end up in used book shops, they were cherished by widows and lovers and children. They were kept carefully on a shelf, so that Madeline, whoever she may be, could take it down, and open the cover, and read the words left to her by the man who had died without ever telling her he loved her. Or the man who had made it back from war alive, and able to tell these things to her himself. Whatever may have happened to the man that wrote in the book, it was not Benjamin's to hold, or to read, or to know.

The bookseller!

A glance at his watch, and he swore under his breath again. The chances that the shop was still open were slim, the sun was already painting purple hues on the horizon, but he had to try. Feet slipped into shoes, keys lifted off the table, and he was out the door and down the stairs at a pace that was nothing short of dangerous.

The book clutched tightly in his hand, he practically ran to the small shop, his heart sinking as he approached and found most of the lights off. Trying the door, he found it locked, sinking his heart further. Cupping a hand to his face to shield from the reflection, he peered in through the window and saw a solitary light burning in the back. Maybe he would get lucky and she'd be there in the back, doing books or tidying up. He didn't know how he'd sleep tonight if he couldn't at least share this with someone. His heart thudding in his chest - whether from the run here or the adrenaline that seemed to be flowing through him now, he had no idea - he curled his fingers into a fist and began to rap on the window.

Please, please, c'mon please...
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Old 05-05-2013, 04:52 AM   #2
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It had been a long day. A long few months really.

Tomorrow one part of her life would end and another would begin although she was damned if she really knew what she was going to do next. Eloise Clement had come to Paris five years earlier with dreams of owning her own little bookshop and having her own little adventures around the capital and beyond. She’d gotten her bookshop and if weekend afternoons spent in Montmatre or wandering along the Seine counted as adventures then she’d had them too. But that was as far as it had gone. And while she’d loved her shop and her little life, it hadn’t gone quite as well as she and her bank manager had hoped and now a buyer had made an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Tomorrow would be her last day of trading. She’d have the weekend to clear out and then, within a month, maybe less, it would be another soulless coffee shop to add to the thousands that dotted the streets all over Paris, and the rest of the world. Not a café. That she could almost live with. A coffee shop. Some ghastly American creation with simply enormous cups and no personality. That fact stung almost as much as the loss of her shop did.

But she had money in the bank now, more than she’d had in a long time as the price of the shop had grown since she’d bought it. The area was attracting attention and so she’d made a nice little profit. Enough to fund a trip somewhere, anywhere, and still have enough left over to buy a shop back home. She was barely 31, there was still plenty of time left for adventures. What worried her was that adventures just didn’t happen to people like her. They were confined to those in the books she so lovingly collected and sold. Eloise suddenly realised she was crying again. She wiped at her cheeks and let out a long breath.

“Enough,” She murmured to herself. No more crying. Not today. She’d pack one more lot of books that she wanted to keep for herself and then head home for a large glass of wine. Steeling herself to carry on, she was about to start putting books into a new empty box when a sharp tapping interrupted her and made her jump in surprise. Then it came again. Loud and insistent, someone was banging on the window. Her heart was racing from the shock and now from building uncertainty as she lowered her hands to empty them and padded slowly over to the doorway. Eyes moved across the empty shop to the figure at the window. Tall and hunched over slightly, no doubt so he could see inside, someone was definitely there. She ran her hand along the wall until she found the light switch and flicked it on. A second or two of flickering across the shop was followed by the lights coming on and illuminating the face at the window. Relieved to see it was someone she’d seen before, she was still more than a little confused as she headed over to the door.

He’d been in the shop quite a few times, more times than she could say for sure. Always stopping to browse, rarely leaving without a purchase or three. He spoke enough awkward French during their first encounter for her to quickly work out he wasn’t remotely local and allow her to put her English skills to use during his future visits. He seemed friendly and, she wasn’t going to lie, very pleasant to look at. None of that explained, however, why he was hammering on her window with a very desperate expression on his face. Frowning slightly she unlocked the door and opened it slightly, making sure her foot was wedged tightly behind it. With the way her luck was going, to be robbed was about the only thing left fate could really send her way.

“Can I help you?” She glanced down at the book tightly held in his hand, not remembering selling it to him but fairly sure he had got it from her shop. “You know you can’t bring back books without a receipt and we’ve been closed a while. Maybe you should come back tomorrow.” She smiled, warmly. Hoping he would come back tomorrow, would be more than nice to have such a pleasant customer on her last day. Then she caught his eyes, there was something in them she’d not seen there before.

“Are…are you ok?” Eloise’s foot shifted and the door opened a little more, defences lowering slightly. “Is there something wrong?” She frowned slightly, eyes flitting to the street behind him, growing silent and darker before the nightlife would populate it again and that wasn’t the kind of life she generally wanted wandering into her shop. “Why don’t you come in and tell me what was so important it couldn’t wait until tomorrow, yes?” She stepped back, arm gesturing for him to step inside. Once he was, the door was quickly closed and re locked.

“It’s growing late,” She said by way of explanation as she tested the door out of habit. “Those looking for a quick boost to their wallet know shops have fuller tills at closing time than at opening. I don’t really want to invite that sort in here. Not that there’s much in the till to take, anyway.” She wrapped her arms around her upper body as she leant against a table, half cleared of the books that had been piled up on it. Smiling for the first time since he’d come in. “But enough of that. You seemed to have been brought here by something urgent,” She realised she didn’t have a name for him. She called him ‘The Londoner’ in her head after a brief, very brief conversation about where he’d come from. She could hardly call him that to his face. Not without seeming more than a little odd at any rate. “So, please, how can I help you, Mr…?”
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Old 05-08-2013, 03:35 AM   #3
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His hope was dying with each knock on the glass, fading dimmer and dimmer as he saw no movement within the shop. Of course he'd come back tomorrow, the shop didn't seem closed yet and he could always camp out and wait if it turned out that it was, given that there were still things within that she'd need to retrieve. But the adrenaline still worked through his veins, his heart still thudded in his chest. Sleep would be impossible tonight. With a last rap on the glass, he sighed heavily and lowered his hand, unable to stop imagining himself pacing in his apartment as he drank cup after cup of tea, and tried to figure out what the hell to do.

And then he saw movement within. Her silhouette in the doorway at the back of the shop, and he cupped his hand closer to his face, eyes wide so he could see her in the darkened shop. A flicker of light caught him, pupils wide to let in all the light, causing him to jerk his head back away from the window. Blinking to clear his vision, he looked back and saw her making her way to the door. It was her, too! The lovely green-eyed girl with the French accent. The adrenaline deserted him, replaced suddenly by a wave of nerves that left him feeling jittery as she pulled the door partially open.

Moving from the window to the doorway, he saw her smile and returned it, though it somehow felt awkward and unnatural on his lips. Then she saw the book, thought he wanted to return it, and his smile faltered a bit. Was this crazy? It was an old letter written in an old book. Seeing it in his room, it seemed like he'd found a message in a bottle, something meant for someone else that didn't belong to him. Standing here now, with those green eyes on him, he felt silly for getting so excited about it. But the door was opening fully and she was gesturing him in, clearly concerned about what brought him here so excitedly at this hour, and he was walking in, and with each step he realized that this was happening, that he was going to tell her. He may be up all night drinking cup after cup of tea for an entirely different reason after she laughed him out of her shop.

"I," he began, then hesitated and glanced down at the book in his hands. Fuck it, she's closing up so if she does laugh you out of here, she'll be gone and you'll be in Spain soon. A deep breath drawn in, and he lifted his eyes to meet hers. "I bought this book from here a few days back, and there was something written inside of it," he said, then quickly added, "A note written to someone, from World War Two I think, and I think it may have been sold by mistake."

It was back in him now, the excitement that made him forget those eyes even as they looked at him, that made him sprint down the stairs and run over here in the first place. The width of the main aisle in her shop separated them, and he crossed it to stand next to her and open the book. Lifting it to where she could see it, he read the letter to her quickly, then looked up to where she stood next to him.

"No one would've sold this book on purpose," he said, head shaking slowly, "Not with that written inside it. Not if they knew it was written inside it, anyway. Do you know who sold it here? I'd happily give it back to them, I don't need a refund or anything. I just..." His voice trailed off and he shrugged slightly, as if to say Do I need to say anymore?

"I'd just like to return it to whoever it belongs to."
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:32 PM   #4
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He began to explain and at first the only reaction she had was to frown in confusion.
“A note?” Her tone was more than bemused as he approached with long strides and showed her the inside cover. His voice reading the words as her eyes moved along them. A sudden prickle made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up on end. She shivered as he reached the end of the letter and the pair of them were left in silence.

She knew they had just read something very special. They were looking at something never meant to be seen by them, if indeed by anyone at all.
"I'd just like to return it to whoever it belongs to."

“May I?” She asked before taking the book carefully, reverently almost, and reading the note to herself once more. Feeling a tingle trickle down her spine. A fingertip trailed lightly over the handwritten lines. Following the loops and curves of the handwriting, drawing in a slow breath as if she almost expected to catch a hint of age old scent that would make the words come to life. She didn’t, all she smelt were old pages and a hint of aftershave, doubtlessly more to do with the man who had rushed to bring it back than the book itself.

“I wonder who you were…” Eloise murmured under her breath before remembering where she was and that she was not on her own. A slightly embarrassed smile was upon her lips as she looked back up into his face. “I think you’re right. This book isn’t meant for you, or I. It’s meant for,” A quick glance down to confirm the name. “Madeline. Whoever she was. And if not for her? Then any children, or grandchildren, she might have.” A brighter smile, more animated now, as eyes found their way to his face once more.

“I think it’s a lovely idea! C’est parfait!” Her hand fell on his forearm and squeezed for a moment before rising into the air and holding up a finger. “Just, wait right here. Let me check something…” She nodded before handing the precious book back to him and almost skipping back into the tiny office at the rear of the shop.

“A lot of my books are donations, which means no paperwork. But if the books were sold then there should be something.” She called back with a slight groan as she hauled a box from against the wall until it was directly under the light. Fingers deftly going through papers, looking for what she hoped to find. “I think that book, and a lot of others from the thirties all came from the same delivery. A lady who lives not far from here who came to have a lot of books she did not need…” She tailed off as her eyes caught a bill in amongst the papers, pulling it free and deciding to deal with in the morning. She shrugged. It didn’t really matter anymore though did it? A sigh escaping her lips, as she dropped the bill down onto the desk and continued her search and her explanation.

“Anyway, she wanted to just give them to the shop, but there were so many I couldn’t just accept them without giving her something.” Clicking her tongue at not finding the paper she knew they would need, she stood and turned off the light after picking up her handbag and jacket and heading back into the shop, fingers digging out keys from within a pocket of her jeans. “So I offered to pay her a, er, nominal – that is the right word, nominal? - sum which she said to donate to charity. Obviously the money never actually went to her, I just wired it to the organisation she chose but I do have her details. I took them in case the charity needed them for their tax records or I did for mine.”
Eloise paused before him, suddenly realising how it must look, keys, jacket and bag in hand, lights being turned off. She laughed, a light sound in the silence of the shop.

“I don’t know if you know but I’m losing my shop. Lost it already, really.” Her bright tone faltered for a moment. “Fate obviously meant for this book to be found and found now. I close tomorrow. If you hadn’t have come tonight then likely you would never have been able to find where it came from. Do you believe in fate? I wasn’t sure I did but perhaps…”A curious incline of her head allowed her to sweep her gaze over his frame. There was an excited pulsing in her stomach which got more powerful whenever she thought of the letter, or whenever she met the intense gaze of the young man standing in front of her. Perhaps one of those adventures she’d always wanted to undertake was actually about to begin. Perhaps not. But she could think of worse companions to start out with, companions with nothing half as interesting and pleasant to listen to as his voice and accent. To start an adventure though, one needed to be brave. Something Eloise never quite managed to be around members of the opposite sex, or never managed well.

Fate. If it was meant to be? What was there to be worried about?
The letter echoed in her mind and Eloise knew she needed to act and act now. Chances like this didn’t come along every day and, while she had no intentions of making the kind of declarations that the letter had contained, making a new friend was never something one should pass up readily. Fingers ran back through her hair, pushing most back from her face but causing fresh strands to fall down in their place to frame her features.

“So.” Eloise began, taking a breath and intending to push on; try not to get overly embarrassed before she was through. “The paper we need? I have already taken home, with the rest of my files. You can either come with me now and help me find it. Or. I can meet you here tomorrow afternoon after I’ve closed and we can decide what to do then. But either way? I will be wanting your name.” A thoroughly playful expression met his gaze as she held out her hand. “I’m Eloise. And I have wine that I was going to drink on my own. To drink alone is sad. To drink with a stranger is better. To drink with a new friend? Best of all.” She waited, her hand outstretched. Hoping he’d put her out of her misery quickly and turn her down before she lost her nerve. She could go home and drown her embarrassment in a glass or three of rosé.

“And, you seem too nice a young man to condemn me to drink alone.” She added, figuring fate – and herself – needed a healthy shove to get things moving in one direction or the other. “I can promise you will be quite safe with me, I will try to-” She frowned slightly, nerves robbing her of her vocabulary for a moment and threatening to turn lightly olive toned cheeks pink. “How do you say? I try to keep my own hands with visitors on their first visit.” She laughed, certain she’d picked the wrong words entirely but it was said now. Nothing could be done. “So, what shall it be?”
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Old 05-28-2013, 12:07 AM   #5
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"I, uh..."

He was caught off guard by the suggestion of a drink, so wrapped up in the reason that had brought him here that he had, for a time, forgotten even the joy he found in seeing the woman who owned the little shop. A blush hit his cheeks as he stammered for a moment, caught between giving his name and accepting her invitation, and hoping against hope that his beard was enough to hide the heat he felt rising in his face.

Eventually, it felt like a grand collection of minutes had scraped painfully past, he found himself again and reached out to take the offered hand, gripping firmly and shaking it once. "Nice to meet you, Eloise, I'm Benjamin. But... call me Ben, please." He chuckled to himself at this, hearing his father's voice in his head as he told him yet again that his name was Benjamin, and that's what he should be called. This from the man who gave him the name Ludwig as if it was something he should show off and be proud of. Benjamin Ludwig! Who had ever heard of-

"Oh, and wine would be great! I was just going to spend the evening in reading, until I came across that and, well... here I am."

He laughed, nervously, and let his eyes leave her to roam about the mostly empty room of the little shop he'd grown so fond of. It made him sad to see, another independent shop joining the ranks of dodo and dinosaur. But, the pause also gave him a moment to collect together the unspooling threads of his thoughts that seemed to be running rapidly in all directions and force them into something coherent.

"Is there anything I can help you carry?"

When his eyes found her this time, his smile was far less nervous than it had been, and he didn't feel quite so jittery. A quiet day as he wound down his time in Paris had turned into a strange mystery and potentially a new friend. Perhaps there was something to getting out and being around actual people instead of staying up in his room reading the whole time he was here.


------


They had planned to meet at 9:30 back at her place, the address of which he'd written down but wouldn't need. The only thing that had been more captured by his memory than the way there was the feel of her lips against his as he was leaving. It was just a single kiss, tasting faintly of the wine they'd had as they searched and talked, but it had left him practically floating as he made his way back to his room. Maybe it was the distance from it - he'd not held the book or read the note for a few hours before he'd gone home for the night - or maybe it was just the initial excitement of the finding wearing off, but he was surprised to find himself more excited about seeing her again than he was about finding the previous owner of the book. At the moment, anyway.

It was for this reason that he found himself at her door ten minutes early. He'd been awake since sometime around eight, and wasted as much time at the little cafe as he could, finishing up another book and eating a pastry as slowly as seemed humanly possible before ordering the two coffees to go. One cup was now balanced carefully atop the other as he knocked on the door, and then he pulled in a deep breath to calm nerves that had suddenly, surprisingly, made their presence known.
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Old 06-18-2013, 06:51 PM   #6
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Eloise decided it had to have been fate's design that the events of the last twenty four hours had been as they had. Some higher power had to have had a hand in bringing that book to light, and to making sure it's discoverer was Benjamin. She smiled to herself as she corrected herself in her mind, Ben. He'd insisted. Green eyes glanced at the clock, quarter past nine. He'd be there soon.

Brushing her freshly washed and dried hair she replayed the previous evening in her mind. The paper they had needed, with the address they had wanted had been rapidly located thanks to her well kept filing system. Meaning that they had soon been able to settle on the couch in her living room and talk a little. She'd heard a little of his life back in London, of his stay in Europe so far. She'd told a little of her background, of vague plans for the future after the closure of her shop.

But it was the scent of his aftershave, the feel his hand on hers when he'd taken his glass, and the taste of his lips as they'd kissed goodnight that were the most vivid of her memories. It was an innocent kiss, sweet and slightly lingering and, truth be told, she'd almost gone to kiss him again straight after but she'd somehow held back. Waving him off, almost shyly, and wishing him a good night.

Hair brushed and summer dress straightened, Eloise was debating applying a smudge of eyeliner when a knock at the door sent a rush through her veins. All thoughts of make up flew from her head as she pushed her feet into her shoes and almost skipped to the door. A pause for a final smoothing of her pale blue dress and to gather her long hair back and toss it down her back.

She fought against a nervous giggle as she drew in a breath and pulled open the door. There he was. Part of her, that hateful little part that made her think dreams were nice things but things that never came true - not for her, doubted if she'd see him again. That he'd been a very pleasant interlude, something to soften the blow of losing her shop but that by now he'd be long gone. Lost among the Parisian throng. But there he was.
Smiling at her. And with coffee.

"Bonjour, Ben," Eloise smiled back warmly as she leant across the threshold to give the traditional la bises, or 'air' kisses, to each of his cheeks before pausing and adding another, far more real one, to his lips. "I hope you slept well?"

She'd decided for her last day of opening that she'd open at eleven and close at three. A short day to finish. Short and, hopefully, sweet. And not too drawn out for her to have to deal with. Now it seemed another happy twist of fate that she'd have time to begin this adventure with Ben before heading to the shop for one last day of sharing stories of the past with new readers.

"You have the book?" She grinned, eyes shining as he produced it for her to see. "Then let us go!" Bag was slung over her shoulder and soon they were heading down the street from her home, sipping coffee and enjoying the freshness of a summer morning in Paris. That pleasant part of the day before the heat set in and combined with the closeness of the city to almost become unbearable as the day went on.

The woman they were looking for, Cerise McCall, lived in an appartment not overly far from where Eloise lived. It meant taking the metro for a few stops but that also meant the chance to take Ben's hand under the guise of leading him down the right tunnel in the labyrinthine system, it meant the chance to stand beside him in the swaying carriage and exchange playful smiles when the motion sent their bodies that little bit closer together.

That excitement was back in her stomach as they left the train and headed up towards the surface. A glance at the address she'd carefully copied onto a sheet of paper and then onwards. Tongue moistened her lips as they soon stood outside an impressive building.
"Ready?" Eloise asked, although it was partly aimed at herself. Was she ready? Depending on Cerise's reaction this would be either the beginning of something potentially wonderful or the sudden, sad, end of a daydream.

Another deep breath and after locating the right buzzer on the entry system, Eloise pressed the button and they waited. A crackle of static was heard and then the door buzzed with an almost painful loudness.
"Old buildings, old systems," She explained with an over dramatic rubbing of her ear. The door opened and the pair headed inside. The lift with it's elaborate ironwork grill looked tempting but given the state of the dilapidated intercom, Eloise thought it best not to risk it.

Up the stairs they went until they came to the door they had searched for. A nervous glance was exchanged and a quick squeeze of Ben's hand given, then she knocked.
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:12 AM   #7
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Frazzled. That's how Cerise McCall would describe her life at the moment. The cat wanted to be fed, her apartment was a mess after her boyfriend's, strike that, ex-boyfriend's hasty and horrid exit from her life. Fuck frazzled it was in shambles.

She was running around in a tee-shirt and panties and trying to find the fucking cat food, while the tea kettle screamed at her and her phone rang. She tried to remember why she had come to France.

"Go find yourself, honey."

Her mother's words. Supportive as always, as Cerise had left several schools, several jobs, and Charles in California (for not having emotions), Thomas in Colorado (for being married to his job), Annie somewhere in Vancouver (for being clingy), and Joie in New York (for being wrapped up in her husband). Cerise left all of them at some point. All of them had accused her of running away, and maybe she had. But at 30, she was feeling aimless. Her mother suggested France and shortly thereafter Cerise had fled the states for the Parisian frontier. She had met Marcus on the plane and it had been lust at first sight. They had professed their love for each other, at least enough for Marcus to end up in her bed as a permanent house guest.

And then to ruin her life when she found him in her bed with her neighbor. Would have been one thing if the neighbor had been a pretty 20 something with great boobs. Instead it was a 40 something with a hairy chest and a penchant for burping. Cerise was repulsed and had kicked them both out. Marcus returned to ransack her apartment while she was at work, ostensibly to get his things, but she'd noticed that several boxes of her books were missing too. She wasn't happy.

She hated Marcus.
She hated France.
She hated this little french kitty that wouldn't shut up. And the tea kettle, and this old apartment which had been so charming, but was crumbling around her, and she wanted to go back to the states and the cookie cutter life of one man, 2.5 kids, and an assload of debt.

Then the doorbell rang.
She silenced her phone, set down food for her cat, pulled the kettle off, and stomped to the door, wrenching it open without quite remembering that she wasn't wearing pants.

"What?!" She started saying to the two people who were standing there, who were clearly not prepared for her, in her underwear, with messy red hair to be barking at them.

Her phone rang again.

"Oh, just come in, excuse the mess. My er.. roommate just moved out. Hang on." She left the door open for them to step in, while she grabbed the phone and yelled at it.

"Yes, I'm alive Mom! Marcus is gone. I'm fine. People are here, I have to go. No! I won't sleep with them. I don't know why they are here. Bye!"

She smiled at the pretty brunette and the smirking bearded man, and grabbed her pants from the table, murmuring apologies all the while they stepped into her apartment and looked around. It was then that Cerise noticed her book in the woman's hands. She knew it was the one she had put aside as something special.

"Where did you get that?" she asked the brunette, "and why are you here?"
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Old 07-01-2013, 08:23 AM   #8
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It all felt like a strange dream, walking through Paris with a cup of cooling coffee in his hand and this woman so near his shoulder. He wanted to reach out and take her hand as they walked, that's what you did in dreams right?, but he'd also known her in any meaningful way for not yet 24 hours, and perhaps they weren't at that 'hand-holding' stage yet. Perhaps they weren't at any stage yet. No, hand holding couldn't happen yet. And besides, he had a book in one hand and a cup in the other. But dinner tonight could happen...

Yes!

He would ask her to dinner.

Later.

He would ask her to dinner later, when his heart didn't beat quite so hard at thought of it. When his mouth didn't seem to dry up at the mere idea of it.

A drink would've helped with that, of course, and he carried with him that very thing. But he also carried with him the taste, ever so faint, of the unexpected and delightful kiss in her doorway, in nearly the very same spot as the night before. His favorite cobblestones in all of Paris, they were. Maybe his lucky cobblestones. Maybe there he would ask her to dinner. Maybe she would kiss him again when she accepted.

They were at the metro station quicker than seemed possible, already the minutes were draining away with an alarming speed, and he tucked the book up under his arm as they neared it so he would have one free to retrieve a few euros for their fares. And then her hand was in his, leading him along, and he smiled like a fool every step of the way.

The ride was shorter than he would've liked, though her nearness meant her scent was not far from him at any given time, and he dropped the untouched cup of coffee into a bin on the corner of Cerise's street. A grin met Eloise's question, and he gave a quick nod.

"Ready. Let's do it."

The buzzer was sudden and loud, causing him to start a bit, and he was immensely glad he'd dropped off the full cup of coffee lest he be wearing it now. With a laugh, he opened the door and followed her inside. Glances were exchanged at the elevator, a shared laugh trailing right behind it, and they turned in near unison and made their way to the stairs instead.

A bit out of breath, perhaps, but otherwise none the worse for wear when they reached the proper floor, and Ben found his hand occupied by hers again. He returned the squeeze, a nod given as their eyes met, and then she was knocking and...

Chaos.

A whirlwind of red hair trailing a cacophony of sound in it's wake opened the door, and Ben almost took a half-step back in the face of it all. Then her phone was ringing and she was stalking off to grab it and telling them to come in as she did, and in the chaos of it all he realized his eyes had dropped at finding her unexpectedly without pants on. And he couldn't help but to laugh.

The book wasn't hers. He knew that as surely as he knew he was standing there... though, to be honest, it was all feeling a bit like a dream again. Sure, the book was owned by her previously, but it wasn't hers.

Which, he then realized, meant that they had another person to find. And suddenly his heart was beating hard again.

Uncertainly, the pair entered one after the other, just in time to hear the woman tell whoever was on the phone (did she say mom?!) that she wouldn't be sleeping with them, which he had not realized there was a risk of happening. The book was pushed into Eloise's hands then, he had thought it best she speak to the woman since she'd already dealt with her. He saw, though, the look of recognition in the woman's eyes when she caught sight of the book, and his pulse didn't show a hint of slowing. She knew it was something special too. He saw it in her eyes, in the way she seemed to all but forget about the pants in her hands that she still wasn't wearing. In the questions that came spilling out of her.

"It was sold to her shop, in a box of a lot of other books," he said quickly, stepping closer without really realizing he was doing so. "I bought it, and sat down to read it last night and..." he paused, realizing he was getting excited again just talking about it. Remembering. He felt like a crazed minister trying to recruit people to his cause, to find the original owner of the book. Like he needed them to join him. And he realized then that this woman that he'd been ready to write off, to hand over a few euros and flee from the building with Eloise in search of the previous owner, he realized that she knew it was special too. That despite the chaos surrounding her right then, she knew there was something in that book that was more than just words written in hurried script. And he wanted her to help them.

"Who does it belong to? The writing, inside. Your grandfather?"

The question had to be asked, the trail very well could end here, but Ben was surprised to find that he hoped, prayed nearly, that she would say no. He needed the adventure. More than he'd even realized, perhaps. He needed the adventure.
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Old 07-03-2013, 03:16 AM   #9
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"It was sold to her shop, in a box of a lot of other books," "I bought it, and sat down to read it last night and..."

Cerise stopped and listened to his words, watching as his face grew more alive the more he talked, the more he looked at the girl next to him and the book in her hands, the way his eyes sought hers out and seemed so hopeful.

Cerise could hold this man. Could kiss away his worries. She had no idea where this thought came from.

"Who does it belong to? The writing, inside. Your grandfather?"

Cerise shook her head and remembered the pants in her hands, she pulled them on quickly, and moved closer to them both.

"It was here. In this building. It's pre-war and they found it, someone left it in my apartment when I moved in, and I fell in love with the romance of it," She paused, "my landlady said that it was untraceable. That is, until I visited the archives and found out which soldiers were stationed where, and there was one unit stationed in this building. When I was at the arch-..." Cerise stopped and grinned stupidly.

"Wait. Just wait." She dashed off to her room and came back with a piece of paper. An image that she had copied on the terrible copier, but the image was clear enough if you knew what you were looking for. She handed the sheet of paper to the both of them, and they circled around it.

"I came across this. And..." She smiled as they both saw what she had seen. "There he is, it has to be him. He's carrying our book."

Our book.
Like all three of them had a piece of it.
She didn't know who these two were, but they were as excited as she was. She saw it in both of their eyes. It was excitement that she had searched for in Marcus's eyes, but had never seen. Her heart beat faster.

"His name is Joe. He didn't live very long after this picture was taken, from what I could glean from the records. I did find out that one of his fellow soldiers lives near here and might be able to tell us something about Madeline.." She finally breathed and looked up at both of them, "Shall we go?"

Their grins matched hers and Cerise couldn't stop herself before she leapt into both their arms, and kissed her and then him without thinking about it. She stopped and pulled back.

"Sorry. Um.. who are you two again? I'm Cerise. Seems we're acquainted, now."

She held out her hand and resisted the urge to quote Casablanca and how this would be the start of a beautiful friendship.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:13 AM   #10
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Eloise was staring. She didn't really realise it until she heard Ben speaking and noticed that those new, warm, curious, eyes were looking back at her from across the room. Or rather at the book clutched tightly in her hands. Then she blushed and forced herself to stop, instead turning to eyes to Ben. Smiling softly at the passion in his voice as he explained the situation. But even then her eyes kept stealing back to the woman they'd just met. It wasn't that she'd been half dressed, or at least it hadn't been that for long. There was something else. Something captivating about her. In her voice, in her face, the way she moved. As if this woman was filled with energy, too much energy, and that it sparked and flashed around her. Keeping the eye fixed on her. Making you want to smile, to share in it with her.

As the American dashed from the room Eloise tried to compose herself. When she came back, paper in hand, she felt more at ease and less phased by the thought of getting close to her. Which they did, clustering around the copied photo. Grained and faded, the original image rather dogeared too if the border of the image was anything to go by but it was clear if you looked hard enough. Which they did.
Faces, young and full of life, staring back. Uniformed and proud to be so. Faces that might not even had lived to see the end of the day when the photo was taken. A sobering thought, one that almost lessened the thrill of the discovery. Almost.

This was a clue. This was real. Really happening. And to her.
The red headed woman told of what she had found and Eloise felt herself almost tingling with excitement. Asking if they should go. Before any words could be shared there was a flurry of motion.

A tight embrace and a kiss. Brown eyes sparkling as she waited for an introduction.
Cerise.
A pretty name for a pretty lady. The idea made Eloise giggle softly and painted her cheeks once more with pink.
"It's a pleasure, Cerise. I'm Eloise, and this is Ben." She replied quietly, suddenly feeling her accent was ten times more obvious now she was surrounded by English speakers. She tried not to let that fact faze her. "And it would appear so.

"That sounds like a superbe place to start, but," A soft curse. Her shop. Emerald toned eyes glanced to an ornate clock on the mantelpiece. She would have to go to open up and he would need to allow time to get the metro back. Teeth chewed her lip for a second or two. She didn't want to miss out on the adventure though.

Perhaps this was all just another sign. In her heart, she'd already said goodbye to her shop. To that part of her life. Maybe it would be better if she were not there when that final death knell rang out and the door closed for the last time. Better to remember it as it was, never overly busy but busy enough. With more books than any one person could read in a life time. She hated to think of how it was now. Boxes, that she'd tried to hide, along with empty shelves and tabletops. She'd had a busy period, when it was announced she would close. Soon after the bargain hunters came. Thinking prices would be slashed and garish posters declaring 'everything must go' would be on display. That wasn't the case and so the level of shoppers had fallen. Save for her regulars. Those like Ben.

A shy smile was cast over towards him. She didn't want to leave him, that was the truth, as much as anything. So, Eloise decided, she would go, open up in respect to those that might want to come, give it an hour, and then close and come back.
"Would you mind if we waited a little while?" Eloise looked back to Cerise. That prickly excited feeling dropping into her stomach and colouring her cheeks as their eyes met. "I have, my shop, yes?" Words started to fail her the more she looked into those eyes. She dropped her gaze to the redhead's mouth. That made it worse. So much worse. A deep breath was taken to try and focus. "I must go and open, but I will not be long. Last day today.

"Perhaps you two could have a coffee, or anything, while I'm gone? I shouldn't be more than an hour. And then if you have the address, Cerise? We can all go find this soldier."
She waited, hesitated, not wanting to go. Her morning with Ben so far had been lovely and now there was Cerise. Cerise who made her want to talk but then forget the end of her sentence before she'd even really begun.
The other two smiled and agreed and soon, after kissing his cheeks and hers, she was heading back down the metro.

She was sure they'd get along fine. After all, they had heritage and a language in common.
Doubt stabbed her happiness, well if not it pricked it pretty badly. What if they got on too well? If that was such a thing. She and Ben were new friends but she wanted to see if that could be something more. She believed he did too. What if the striking, carefree American affected him like she did her. What if they continued on the adventure without her?

Eloise forced herself to stop. To ignore that voice. She'd come this far, hadn't she? And he'd come with her. She had no claim to him, nor him over her. He could do as he wished. She just hoped he wouldn't forget about her so quickly.

Frowning as the train pulled alongside the platform she shook her head. The doubt could go take a running jump into the Seine. This was her adventure as much as his, and now Cerise's too. They would wait. She was sure of it.
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Old 09-29-2013, 05:46 AM   #11
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Since the moment the door of the flat was pulled open in an explosion of activity, everything had seemed like chaos barely held together. The American without pants and her incessantly meowing cat seemed to be a bundle of energy, though judging by the state of her apartment it was not often used to keep things tidy.

Then they were talking about the book, and even though she seemed excited upon seeing it, the look in her eyes was one of a person who had found something they'd lost, and it sent a surge of protective instinct through him. He supposed the book technically belonged to him now, but it had clearly belonged to her before, and judging at the way she'd yelled at whoever was on the phone when they arrived, any argument that might break out over it would be unpleasant at best. Besides, he didn't want to keep it either. It belonged to someone that was none of them in this room now, of that he was nearly certain upon hearing her accent, and he wanted to return to the rightful owner. He just hoped she did, as well.

Mercifully, before she approached them she put on her pants, and only then did Ben realize that he'd been working to keep his eyes from dropping to her bare legs. This American girl might be a bit crazy, but she was still nice to look at... just as the pretty French girl by his side was, and he suspected she may not look kindly upon him gawking at another woman in front of her when they were only just getting to know each other. Absently, he licked his lips as he remembered the softness of hers.

Cerise was telling them of what she'd found when she looked into the book when she stopped suddenly and ran from the room, and Ben couldn't help but to look to Eloise and laugh. Twenty four hours ago he was a man alone in Paris, alone in life as well perhaps, and now he'd found a book with a mystery scrawled inside it's cover, met and kissed a pretty French girl, and found himself in the apartment of an American girl without pants on. Somehow, he had managed to squeeze more adventure in the last day than he had in the entirety of the rest of his time in France. It was enough to make his head spin.

She returned after a moment with a piece of paper, and they formed a circle around it, with Ben suddenly feeling like a boy standing over a folded road map and pretending it would lead he and his friends to treasure beyond imagination. Cerise's excitement became infectious, melting away the protective feeling he'd had when it came to her and the book, and he couldn't help but to grin as he saw an old, grainy, rather tiny black and white image of the book they held, this time clasped by someone lost to war, and perhaps forgotten by time. Glancing up, first at Eloise, then at Cerise, his heart thudded in his chest, and his grin only grew as more information was delivered via American accent.

Nodding, once, he looked to Eloise to see if she was on board with a trip to find the soldier as well when Cerise lept into the arms, causing Ben to stumble a step and laugh as she kissed each of them in turn. He wondered, for the first time, if opening the book had taken him to a world where things like this happened with such an astounding frequency as they had lately. But at least it was a direction. It was a thing to do, and even if it wasn't permanent, couldn't be permanent, it was better than sitting in his room alone, and eating alone, and sipping cups of tea alone. That his company on this would be a pretty French girl and a pretty American girl only made it better.

As Eloise introduced him, he nodded his head as if to confirm that he was, in fact, Ben, and then his heart ceased it's thudding, and instead sank as Eloise remembered, and in doing so reminded him, of her shop. It was sad, of course, that it was closing, but somehow now more sad that she had to go. Finding the man without her was never even a consideration that crossed his mind, but instead he found himself disappointed that they'd have to wait.

He nodded, happily, at her suggestion, and returned the kiss on his cheek when she leaned into him.

"Definitely. I couldn't live with myself if I went without you!"

He watched as she kissed Cerise's cheek as well, then walked with her to the door, seeing her out. Once gone, he turned back to the redhead and smiled, nodding his head towards the door the third member of their newly formed group had disappeared through.

"So is there somewhere we can go to get some coffee, or...?"

His voice trailed off and he left the decision with her. She knew the area far better than he did, and perhaps getting a coffee would be more hassle than it was worth. Perhaps she had something else she'd rather do. He was, despite the book joining them together, still very much a stranger to her, and so he'd let her decide what she was comfortable with, even if it meant he got coffee on his own while Eloise was away.
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Old 10-14-2013, 05:50 PM   #12
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Cerise watched them walk to the door arm in arm, and their body language told her that they were definitely lusting after each other, she smiled to herself. Was it so bad for a girl to want both of them?

Down, girl. She took a breath when Ben turned back to her, losing herself for a small moment in his deep green eyes, catching herself before she made a total fool of herself. A glance around her apartment reminded her that this piece of information might already be known.

"So is there somewhere we can go to get some coffee, or...?"

Don't look at his eyes, don't look at his eyes, don't look at his smile. For god's sake girl, don't look at his smile.

Too late! Look away!


Cerise giggled up at him, "Definitely, or."

She grabbed her jacket, stuffed it in her messenger bag and then grabbed his hand, dragging him out the door behind her, she went to lock the door and then remembered the tea kettle.

"Damn!" Bursting back into her apartment, scaring her cat and turning off the stove, before returning almost sheepishly to Ben's side. Yeah, he probably thought she was insane. Oh well.

She led the way down the stairs, unable to stop herself from a barrage of words pouring out of her, otherwise she'd have to look at him and that might make her speechless and he had a thing for Eloise, right?

"So what brings you to Paris? I was sent by my parents... find yourself, Cerise, they kept telling me. Of course they fell in love in Paris in the 60's so they always wanted to send me here. So here I am! How'd you meet Eloise? She's totally cute. And a book shop owner! Total score! AmIrite?"

Since when did she become a dudebro?

She continued with verbal nonsense till they were out on the street, and she took his hand to lead the way. For some reason this silenced her, and she led with an almost quiet air. Why she felt so strongly in his presence baffled her, but she did, and she wanted both of them to like her. Even if it meant she couldn't have either of them.

"I found something in my travels, and it seemed perfect."

They walked along exchanging pleasantries, but still holding hands. It was a 20 minute walk to her destination.

"Oh, Notre Dame?" He asked her, halting and looking at the crowds with a frown.

"Not really." They turned and she led them both off the path of all the tourists, the different languages falling flat against both the walls and the trilling of the french around them.

A small church yard welcomed them, and Cerise hurried inside without preamble or explanation. Ben stayed near, whether curious or just humoring her, she couldn't tell. It was mid-morning and the perfect time to view what she had brought him to see.

She turned a corner and lost herself immediately in the view, the sun shining perfectly through the stained glass window, the mosaic of colors on the floor and walls breathtaking. cerise glanced at Ben and smiled when she saw that he too was lost in the dance of dust motes over the colored tiles. She moved over to one of the steps and he followed quietly.

Cerise sat down in her favorite spot and felt what she was looking for with her fingers. There was no way to see it in the muted colored lights but you could feel it, she reached for Ben's hand and led his fingers to the carvings into the ancient stone steps.

His eyes widened as his fingers slid over it again and again, and he realized what had been etched very carefully into the stone.

"Joe"

She smiled up at Ben, tiny little tears in the corners of her eyes. She hadn't been able to prove that it was their Joe but, the timing and age of it seemed right. Sharing it with him was right too.
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Old 12-01-2013, 03:58 AM   #13
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The American girl felt like a whirlwind in contrast to the relative quiet of Eloise, though this was not in itself a bad thing. His time in France had been punctuated with few whirlwinds of the sort she seemed to make, all disorganized and excited energy, and it was a nice change of pace. Still, it felt undeniably weird to be standing outside of her apartment as she rushed back in, sending the cat and who-knows-what-else fleeing so she could turn off the kettle, like he'd been handed off from one woman to the other. Whatever was building between he and Eloise felt very tenuous, fragile and new, and a good afternoon with the American seemed enough to dash it out of existence rather easily. But then, it was a good afternoon with a girl who was obviously attractive, and apparently single thanks Marcus, whoever that was, and then they were off again, down the stairs and back out into the streets of Paris.

Almost right away she was chattering, firing questions at him and then continuing on before he ever had a real chance to answer, and instead of trying to interject he simply watched her, and grinned. He was quieter than most he knew, but it seemed to have worked to turn him into something of a good listener, and it was a trade off he was happy for. Her accent was something of a thrill to listen to, her energy enticing while never quite reaching exhausting... or, at least, not yet. But the day with her, the surprise day with the surprise girl brought together by the surprise note, was only just beginning.

Her hand slid easily into his, warm and smooth against his palm and under his fingertips, and he smiled at this and found himself being led happily along. He'd not answered her question, still had not even really attempted to, but this seemed to be okay with both of them, as if they had decided on their own that it was something they'd get to, eventually. Why he thought he would be spending any length of time with this girl beyond today was a thing he could not quite put his finger on, but yet it was there, almost a certainty in his mind. And he found himself hoping Eloise would be with them.

Or that Cerise would be joining them?

Cerise. Eloise. He smiled to himself at the similar sound of the names, letting them mentally roll around on his tongue as they walked together, hand in hand, looking every bit as much a couple making their way through Paris as he and Eloise had earlier that very morning. Was it even an hour ago? Whenever it would be that he eventually left Paris, this seemed a thing that would have him laughing for quite some time. Trying to explain it to someone else seemed a complete impossibility.

They were at Notre Dame before he realized, his attention not remotely straying towards where she was taking him as they walked, and he frowned a bit, looking at her skeptically.

"Oh, Notre Dame?"

Walking behind her as she led him away from the tourists, he grinned again, realizing he should've known that she wouldn't be taking him to someplace so touristy. That seemed much too predictable for this girl, much to common, and he suspected little about her was. Instead, he found himself in a quiet church yard, and shortly after inside a quiet church, though the incoherent mix of languages and footfalls drifted in quietly through open windows and doors.

The air was cooler here in the church, even through his dark jeans he felt the difference in temperature, but it was not the reason why the hair on his arms stood up from goose bumps. At some point their hands had separated, and so he stood a little behind her, neither of them touching or, for the moment, paying attention to the other, both had their heads tipped back and lips slightly parted, eyes dancing quickly in an attempt to take it all in.

Her movement grabbed his attention, and with a final glance up at the rainbow of colors, Ben followed her. He felt like he needed to step quietly so he did not somehow ruin the quiet in here, though the church seemed empty save for the pair of them and a half dozen rows of burning candles, each one no doubt left by someone wishing for guidance, or blessing, or leaving a prayer of thanks. He was not a religious man, but the thought occurred to him that a flame set to a wick in the hopes that they might get some guidance in finding the rightful owner of the book wouldn't exactly hurt anything, either.

She skirted around these candles, though, and lowered herself onto one of the stone steps. Still unsure what her intent was, as beautiful as the stained glass had been, he made no attempt to deny his curiosity and followed her down. She reached between them, as if searching for something, and he looked up from her hand with a furrowed brow, silent questions etched into his expression. Her hand took his, smooth and warm still, and she guided his fingers down to where hers had been.

His fingers found a groove in the stone, then two more right after it. It was a couple of passes before he realized they were letters, and another for him to realize what they spelled. In surprise, his eyes widened and his head snapped up to look at her, lips parted. Her smile, and the wet look her eyes took on as she watched him, answered the questions he'd not even had to ask. A thousand more questions flooded his mind, threatened to come spilling over his tongue, but he fought them back, and instead only said the first non-question that came to him, grinning brightly the entire time.

"We have to show Eloise!" His eyes widened again as his voice echoed back to him, louder than he expected in the soft din of the church, and he laughed quietly before continuing on in a lower voice, "I think I can get us to her shop from here. If we hurry, we can catch her before she leaves to return to your flat."
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Old 01-18-2014, 03:35 PM   #14
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"We have to show Eloise! I think I can get us to her shop from here. If we hurry, we can catch her before she leaves to return to your flat."

Oh. Right. Eloise. For a moment, Cerise had forgotten her. Not totally, just that this moment had seemed right between the two of them. Or maybe that was how she viewed it, and he was thinking of the other girl. Sigh. Cerise get outta of your head.

Her phone was out a second later, she snapped a few shots of the carving and then smiled up at Ben, standing up with him as they grinned like idiots at each other, and then there was no stopping Cerise. She stepped closer, closed the distance between them and pressed her lips to his. It was a quick kiss, but one that hinted at deeper possible connection, that melted and quickened all of Cerise's fears. She freaked internally, and stepped back.

Ben just grinned, took her hand and pulled her out of the church. Maybe he was thinking that she was crazy. Well, she was. Maybe he was amused by her, but would always choose the French girl, Americans are messy, look at Cerise. Certifiable.

This journey was quieter. Noiser in Cerise's head as she tried to piece together what the kiss meant to him. To her. To the burgeoning relationship between Ben and Eloise. To the universe and whether or not she deserved to be smote on the spot for thinking thoughts of desire about this pair who had shown up on her doorstep.

But she wanted them!
Them.
That was news. Mostly, she wanted the guy, but this time the girl too.

WHAT DID IT MEAN?!

Smile at Ben and pretend you aren't losing your damn mind.

They arrived in short order, with Ben in the lead, in time to catch Eloise just as she seemed to be getting ready to lock up. Both Ben and Eloise seemed to light up at seeing each other and Cerise tried not to be intrusive as she watched, wanting desperately to be apart of them. Still, she remained quiet as Ben explained where she'd taken him. He paused to take a breath and Cerise exploded.

"I have a picture and then I kissed him! I kissed him. Yeah. Him. Lips. Ahem." Cerise tried not to turn as red as her hair, to breathe, to remember how to breathe, but she couldn't, and there was nothing else to do for it, but rush forward and kiss Eloise, and hope there wasn't more damage to be had. Of course, ten seconds later she couldn't remember why this had seemed like a good idea.

Her lips lightly brushed against the other woman's and Cerise breathed in the heady scent of this incredibly sweet woman and tried not to get lost in it. She stepped back and sighed softly.

"So. I've kissed you both. And then there is Joe. And I should probably go. Yeah."
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Old 02-06-2014, 08:10 AM   #15
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The day was just as quiet as Eloise knew it would be. A few familiar faces stopping by to wish her all the best for her future. The woman who ran the tiny little pâtisserie around the corner brought her freshly baked éclairs. Three filled with coffee cream, the remaining three with chocolate. She smiled as the first thought that came into her head once the baker had kissed her cheeks, hugged her almost painfully tightly and gone, was that they could have two each; her, Ben and Cerise. It felt right to assume they would be the people she should share them with, and like another odd quirk of fate that the pastry chef had send that particular amount.

She sold a grand total of three books too in that first hour of opening. That was all. Another sign perhaps? She tried to tell herself that was what it was. Every time her mind wondered what the other two were doing, just how much fun they’d be having without her. Green eyes lingered on the clock, watching the achingly slow progress of the hands as the shop remained empty. As the time went by without so much as a browsing visitor she knew she was making the right decision by closing. It hurt and she knew there would be tears when she thought about it, really thought about it, but she knew there was an adventure waiting for her just about to begin. An adventure she couldn’t take part in were it not for her shop’s closing.

Her friend, and sole part time employee, Mattieu arrived and with a kiss and a hug she stepped out of the shop for the last time. She was about to turn and head for the metro when a familiar voice called out her name. She span around and felt her face break into a happy smile at seeing Ben. And at seeing Cerise behind him.

They’d come for her. She almost wanted to cry. The emotion at closing the door on one part of her life, the excitement at what lay ahead, that warmth she felt whenever her eyes met his and that new, unfamiliar, thrill when she looked at Cerise all threatening to overwhelm her. She tried to focus on Ben’s words, which turned into losing herself in thoughts of his mouth instead, snippets about stained glass and signatures managing to filter into her brain before Cerise’s voice brought her back to reality with a bump.

She’d kissed him? Cerise and…and Ben?
Her smile faltered, she knew it did. It had to have. But then something happened that sent all her doubts of being overlooked into orbit. Lips against her own, soft and warm and enticing and…not his. Her eyes closed at the contact and so it was only when the kiss ended and she opened them that she realised who it was who had kissed her. Cheeks pink she smiled bashfully at Cerise, subconsciously pressing her lips together shyly.
“Well then, seems we’ve all kissed each other and so that makes everything alright.”

And oddly. It did.

Cerise spoke of leaving and Eloise shook her head, stepping closer to loop one arm through hers.
“Not a chance.” Eloise smiled. “We cannot go to the address you have without you being with us, can we Ben?” She turned to him, chin rising so she could meet his eyes and feeling a little more heat rush into her face as she did. Her other arm passed through his arm, carefully carrying her gift from the baker in her hand. “First, we go to my apartment. I have coffee and now, éclairs. Second, we can check the address you have, the location, and then I will – if it is alright with you both – try to call the occupant to arrange a visit?” The three were already walking along the pavement before she’d finished speaking.

Her apartment was smaller than Cerise’s, tidier but smaller. And she was worried the worldly woman might judge her for it. But she didn’t, as Eloise knew she wouldn’t, and soon the three were sampling the delights from the patisserie while sipping coffee and using Eloise’s computer to look up the address Cerise had found.
“It’s not far from here,” Eloise revealed triumphantly, giggling as she turned and saw both of her guests had been decorated by their éclairs, blobs of the crème pâtissière were dotted on each of their faces. His beard, just below his mouth and the tip of her nose. Before she really realised what she was doing, she leant over to wipe it from the short hairs on his face and then her nose. Licking her finger in between.
“I shall have to get you both in the bath!” She laughed before blushing more at the realisation that the idea wasn’t totally horrific.

“Anyway,” She continued, hoping she did so quick enough to stop the other two thinking her crazy. “There’s a phone number for the concierge in that building, I will call and see if the owner of the apartment is home and if we can visit.”
A few minutes later the call was made and, while speaking French was something she had done her whole life, she felt a little embarrassed to do so in front of Ben and Cerise. Partly because she knew they were listening. Partly because she hated not to include them in this part of the search for the book’s rightful owner.

Pink cheeked she turned back and smiled.
“The concierge put me through to the soldier, his name is Martin and he’d love to meet us.” Her accent made her pronounce it the French way but she was certain from the faint twang she’d picked up in his voice that he would doubtlessly say it the same way Ben and Cerise would.

Giggling she offered another coffee before they went.
She knew she didn’t want to make it.
She knew they wouldn’t want to drink it.

The adventure was calling them again.
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