Passing interest ((open))
October had brought with it a slight dip in temperatures for the Eastern coast. The first hints of fall stirred to life as the wind blew just a bit cooler, sending those walking up and down the Strip moving on their way a little faster. Yet despite that, or perhaps because of it, tonight the little corner cafe's sidewalk tables were nearly at capacity. Laughter and chatting voices floated on the breeze with the smells of fresh coffee and hot chocolate. Shoppers moved up and down the rows of stores taking advantage of a plethora of sales.
Slumped down in her wrought iron chair slightly, a young blond girl absent mindedly toyed with the end of one of her long pigtail style braids as she read the newspaper. Fresh faced, sporting a soft golden tan and deceptively youthful looking she drew admiring glances but no one approached her. The hoodie of her heather grey top was tossed back, and the rhinestones of the crown design glinted occasionally as they caught a passing headlight. Her long, well shaped dancer's legs stretched out under the glass topped table and were propped up in the chair across from her. The torn and tattered denim jeans molded to her tightly and dissapeared into the top of her soft, antique black leather boots. Her ankles were crossed and one foot tapped lightly against the arm of the chair in agitation, or perhaps from a few too many cups of the coffee sitting in front of her.
Looking up from yet another troubling article on the current financial mess, Amberelle folded the newspaper and tossed it down beside a plate of obviously picked at croissants. The Anantya made a face at the headlines and wondered if her money would have been better off staying in the large footlocker she used to keep it in before letting it be invested for her. A long sigh slipped out as her mind started down that road and she slumped down a little more. It wasn't a subject she wanted to deal with. No tonight she just wanted to relax.
Her golden eyes darted around the crowd, her brain free to wander as she indulged in what was always a favorite pass time at home. People watching could fill hours, and let her simply zone out and think. Something she was in need of. Not even the fall fashion sales were interesting her at the moment. Lately nothing much was. It wasn't good, and she acknowledged that.
It was there in the back of her mind as the holiday approached, but so far the vampire had managed to avoid it. It had been almost a year and the nightmares hadn't faded much. Though it had been a seriously bad year in her opinion. One she would be glad to see done. Well, maybe. Who knew what the next one was bringing? Or, what it wasn't. Shaking her head she grabbed up her cup and took a large sip of the lukewarm coffee, hoping something would catch her interest to distract her.
Frowning she sighed as she watched the bus leave without her. It was disappointing, but again she had no set plans. Even with the dinner idea, Nikhila knew she’d been at the lab several hours longer than she’d planed and it was well past suppertime. She’d only managed to get the groceries because most of this city was open well into the wee hours if not twenty-four hours. Still, this was getting to be a habit and it was starting to depress her. She’d seen more of Xeph when she was avoiding him it wasn’t right, they needed to fix that. Which was part of the reason that she’d wanted to speak to he and Lily but she’d missed the bus and there wouldn’t be another one along for twenty minutes at least and so she’d be even later. Time to stop thinking about this, at least for now. She’d try to schedule dinner for tomorrow or the day after everything would keep that long and maybe, she could stay out of the lab for one night.
Adjusting the grocery filled canvas bags, she walked back to a small sidewalk cafÃƒÂ© and dejectedly half collapsed into one of the wrought iron chairs. The staff was alert and she ordered a cafÃƒÂ© au lait and noticed for the first time she still had her lab coat on. That depressed her as nothing else had. She –was- working –far- too much. Nikhila rested her elbows on the table and her head in her hands, this had to change but how to do it without letting any one down?
Sipping her cafÃƒÂ© au lait, the blond’s mind raced, piecing things together. She could almost picture the scene at the store as the woman, tired and rushed for time, tried to explain to her son that no he couldn’t have the toy. Idly Amberelle wondered if it was the scene that he caused with his crying and the stern glares that people were sure to be giving her or the desire to see him as happy as he was now that caused Mom to capitulate to his demands. Shiny new things were never cheap and the pair certainly didn’t look like they could afford such frivolous purchases. Toying with the end of one braid, her head tilted to the side in thought as the pair paused not far from her to stand at the bus stop.
Reaching into one of her jean pockets, she pulled out a tight bundle of cash, folded neatly. It was not much more than a few hundred dollars, but would mean much more to those two than to her, that she knew. Pulling one of the rubber bands from her hair she secured the roll and glanced around to make sure no one was watching before leaning sideways in her chair and sending the money arcing upwards to land neatly in one of the woman’s open shopping bags. It rustled ever so slightly making her start and glance around nervously before dismissing it.
Amby grinned to herself, lifting her cup to down the last of her coffee. Golden eyes moved away and were drawn to another woman sitting not far away from her now. Several grocery bags sat around her, and sniffing the air the young vampire thought she smelled green onions, some mingling sweet scents of fruit and the coppery tang of blood as well. Nothing out of the ordinary but it was the frustrated, worn out expression on her face that peaked her cat like curiosity.
Lips pursed ever so slightly as she studied the dark haired woman. She was very pretty, dressed smartly under the lab coat with a light purple turtleneck that flattered her but spoke perhaps of someone reserved. Shoes that were slightly feminine with their subtle heel but overall practical black utilitarian style. The Anantya’s mind began to whirl. There was not a lot of food in the bags, certainly not much more than a meal or two worth and only then for maybe a couple. Looking for jewelry she nodded slightly in approval of the black pearls, another sign of classic taste and style. Her hair up in a neat French twist with no obvious adornment again said someone reserved, neat, simple. Practical and not seeking attention. The bulge in the bag she carried in lieu of a purse said laptop, and that with her attired said she'd been working quite late, or worked an odd shift. A doctor perhaps?
Craning her neck slightly she tried to see if there was a badge or a nametag from any of the nearby hospitals or clinics but the crisp white coat was without markings. Interested more, Amby leaned back and tried to sort out just where this woman might be headed as she signaled the waitress for another refill.
((Details courtesy of Nikhila and all observations and opinions other than of her mood are strictly Amby’s vivid imagination)
She had meant to simply take the coat off and fold it over her laptop bag. However, in an extremely rare fit of temper she threw the innocent garment into one of other chairs at her table and glowered at it. They must be approaching the full moon, that would add to her feelings of restlessness. As she sat back down Nikhila sighed, yes she needed a break. That was very apparent if she’d even lost track of the lunar cycle, even slightly. A break and a good run, at least the run; that would be the new plan. Dinner tomorrow night discuss a little bit of business and then a long run. Hopefully it wouldn’t be a solitary run.
Reaching over to collect her lab coat and fold it properly she finally felt she was being watched, not terribly intently but enough that she was aware of it. Of course after that little fit she probably deserved to be watched. She smiled softly, apologetically at the young blond woman.
“It’s been a bit of a night.”
A ghost of a smile lifted the blonde's lips as order won and the labcoat was folded neatly. Yes she seemed like a neat and tidy, classicly elegant type so that was fitting. The game was getting interesting, this one was harder to read than most. A fresh cup of coffee was set beside her and the Anantya gave her waitress a slight nod and murmured thanks.
Suddenly the woman spoke, softly but obviously right at her. "OH CRAP!" screeched through her mind as her golden eyes widened then hastily turned away and a flush stained her cheeks. Staring and studying was one thing, but being caught? Amberelle wanted to groan and crawl under the table but instead forced herself to look back with a faintly sheepish, appologetic half smile.
Sorry to hear that.. A slight pause and she added. I don't mind listening if you'd like to vent. Sometimes it helps.
((Again.. observations are her over active imagination..)
CafÃƒÂ© au lait was a treat for Nikhila. It was something her mother had been fond of and would fix for her only daughter on occasion. It was one of Nikhila’s finer memories of her deceased mother.
The offer of a sympathetic ear was tempting. She didn’t have many friend in Nachton, oh she had the Pack and any number of them would be willing to listen. That’s how family worked. However, it was always a bit stickier when one’s problem, even indirectly, involved the alpha. Still she didn’t know the young woman and wouldn’t have been comfortable just dropping things on a stranger.
“I appreciate the offer, but so far most of the problems are of my own making. Other than missing the bus that is. I think that I can safely blame on the long lines at the store.”
It was slight humor but Nikhila offered it al the same, with a slight but somewhat mischievous smile.
The wind shifted slightly, or perhaps it was a break in the traffic letting some of the exhaust fumes settle, but Nikhila caught the scent of a cat. Out of habit, she glanced about to find the animal. Not seeing a stray anywhere she concluded that it was her companion at the other table that gave off the scent. She probably had one at her home.
((OOC… cat scent courtesy of Amby…)
They have probably the second best cafe au lait in Nachton here. Pausing a moment, she added with a slight shrug, At least, that I have found. It reminds me of what I used to get back home. Her eyes flicked over the outdoor patio area and she mentally compared it to nights spent sitting at Cafe DuMonde staring out over Jackson square. It wasn't the same but it was a nice substitute.
Sipping the coffee she leaned back again and let gaze shift away again. If the other woman felt chatty that was great but she wouldn't stare.
The young blond seemed friendly enough. Respectful, obviously she didn’t push for information after her little out burst. Perhaps a stranger would be a good way to gauge the situation. But how?
Again, as the light stopped traffic, Nikhila was able to tune into her sense of smell and caught a whiff of cafÃƒÂ© au lait. The young woman must favor it as well. Perhaps that would be enough of a bridge to feel things out further.
“CafÃƒÂ© au lait for you as well? It isn’t bad here, almost as good as I had back home.”
Given her accent home was obviously not France or an otherwise French speaking country. But Pondicherry did have a lot of French influence.
She offered the similarity as an olive branch, as an invitation to chat further. Nikhila hoped it would be accepted.
Just where is home for you? The woman's accent was somehow familiar and yet not. It tugged at her but the Anantya could not place it. Certainly not Creole like her own, or even any of the numerous other native Louisiana accents that much was obvious. I'm from New Orleans.. thankfully a pre-Katrina transplant. Scooting her chair a little closer, she leanded over and extended her hand, golden eyes smiling as she introduced herself. I'm Amberelle De'Espionne.
“For now home is here, but I grew up in Pondicherry and Dharamsala.”
It would be nearly impossible to list all the other places she had been and considered at least partially home.
She easily accepted the offered hand, dark eyes meeting golden ones. The young woman’s eyes were an unusual color, quite striking. Nikhila frowned slightly in silent sympathy for the tragedy of that storm.
“A wonderful city, I’m a shamed to say I have not been back since Katrina. It is a pleasure to meet you Amberelle. I’m Nikhila Gounder. Perhaps though, given your home, you are more qualified to offer an opinion on the cafÃƒÂ© au lait.”
Pondicherry sounds familiar.. That is on the coast right? South of Calcutta I think? Pausing briefly, she explained. I have a.. friend, he was born there. She chuckled. Though it was a good while ago now, when he was much younger. But I got curious about the area and read up on it some. She wouldn't open that door right now though. She wouldn't.
The blonde smiled at the other woman and shrugged a shoulder. Well, I haven't been back since the storm myself, but I have family there who I hear from sometimes. I'm almost afraid to go back and see the changes to those places I loved as a child. Among other reasons, she thought wryly.
Tilting her cup and glancing down at it, she thought about the differences between the coffee here and there. Did drinking it every day for a decade or two make her qualified? Qualified.. I guess... my tastes are of course decidedly biased towards what you could find back in the Vieux CarrÃƒÂ©, but this is really good. And with a nice bustling streetside... it reminds me of sitting around CafÃƒÂ© Du Monde and watching Jackson Square. So it gets marks for that.
Looking back at Nikhila she gave in to her feline curiosity. So can I ask.. Amberelle's gaze slid to the grocery bags at her feet. What's for dinner? She giggled slightly.
That was better than any number of people did when she said she was from Pondicherry. Some people thought Pondicherry was a country. While Amberelle’s geography was accurate, it wasn’t necessarily the best scale.
“But it is considerably south of Calcutta.”
Nikhila wondered if the young woman’s friend lived in the area. Perhaps it was the way she didn’t pursue the topic that made Nikhila think that wasn’t the case and so she didn’t press either. Nor did she press on the topic of change and merely nodded. She’d had the experience of going back to a place she knew well and being unnerved by the changes. It wasn’t always pleasant and some time tarnished the memory.
“I’ve always liked sidewalk cafÃƒÂ©s. Too many people are in far too much of a hurry to enjoy them properly. A Starbucks with patio doesn’t seem quite the same.”
The question about dinner puzzled Nikhila and she frowned slightly for half a second before remembering the bags at her feet. Realizing that Amberelle must have been engaging in some serious people watching the laughed slightly and softly.
“Nothing tonight. Missing the bus has rather put a crimp in those plans but I was planning some Thai dishes. I was in the mood for something spicy. It should all keep until tomorrow though.”
Amby's head tilted slightly as she spoke, a thoughtful expression on her face. I love to cook but I have to say I don't think I've ever made anything Thai. Is it hard to do? Pausing she smiled slightly. You know you can make dinner whenever you get home, uncooperative bus or not. Trust me when I say it's not a good idea to be skipping meals.. The Anantya nodded with a serious look on her face. She had missed her fair share of meals for one reason or another. "Not that I look like it," she mused. There were bonuses to being eternally as you were when you were turned.
She laughed softly.
“I only bought fruit for desert rather than planning on making something.”
That was nice of her to say. Nikhila appreciated the encouragement. Amberelle was quite right though. How much to share and how much to keep on a polite conversation level though? Nikhila just wasn’t sure. Decided that she had hopped to speak to someone tonight she opted to push on a bit, to see if the young woman was interested.
“No skipping meals, I’m afraid my temper suffers when I get hungry.” Especially this close to the full moon Nikhila though as she grinned. “I’ll manage with leftovers tonight. The groceries were supposed to be for...”
For what a guest? Not quite right. Her boss? Also not quite right. Lover? Closer to the mark.
“Well to be frank they were a bribe.”
If you cook it, they will come. Generally, Xeph could be persuaded to make time for food.
Her head tilted slightly and her amber eyes focused in as she rolled around the odd pause and statement. A bribe? Hmm. Blonde brows slowly knitting, she voiced the question that came to mind.
A bribe for what? Who did you cook for really. Friends, family? No need to use a meal for that. Her face lit up as she gave the Indian woman a feminine conspiratorial grin. A man? He better be worth a good home cooked meal...
Nikhila returned the slight mischievous grin, although her own smile was more shy.
"Yes, he's quite worth it. Although it's been some time since I've had the pleasure of being able to cook for him."Â?
She could only hope that Xeph would see the meal and her plans to reduce her schedule as a desire to move forward and strengthen their relationship.
Hmm.. Well Nikhila, if he's worth it and you enjoy it.. then why did you let it go so long in between? I mean, the blond flushed slightly at being so presumptive. Maybe he had been away and she had no choice? That was something she could relate to after all. I just think that life is short, so you should seize those opportunities. "Unless you're immortal and have all the time in the world." she added to herself. But no, even then you should if you could.
Amby gave the waitress a grateful and brilliant smile when she walked up then and set down a fresh cup of cafe au lait for her and cleared away the Anantya's plates.
However, that little flash of self-consciousness from her companion was enough to let her glimpse that the question probably wasn’t completely brash. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking but Nikhila thought there was some respect and genuine curiosity there.
“Some where along the line or relationship became very complex and we didn’t see each other for quite a while. Now were working on moving forward again and it seems even harder.”
She sipped at her cafÃƒÂ© au lait and waited as the server left. Smiling slightly embarrassed as she prepared to confess the last bit.
“And now to make things even more fun he’s more or less my boss and I’ve taken on some outside responsibility and suddenly even though I think we both want more of a relationship we seem to have less time.”
You know, to me it's not the amount of time but the value and quality of it that matters. The thing I have found is if you both want it then you can make it work. Differences of schedule, or whatever problems you face, aside.
Speaking from my own, admittedly very limited, experience.. When you love someone you know it and the effort is justified in the end. You just have to make them your priority. A wistful, sad smile touched her eyes and lifted the corners of her mouth slightly. Glancing down to her cup she raised it and took a small sip.
After a moment the vampire looked up all smiles again and added in a teasing tone, Plus if he is your boss now can't he make sure you have some free time with him? There are some perks to positions of authority if he's not above using them.
“My thoughts exactly. The trick is to actually have time together. So I plan to ply him with food and discuss… … my work load.”
She smiled impishly. The conversation would actually probably be more serious than not but Nikhila had hope that the results would be more than rewarding. That the relationship could grow and develop and that would be fun so she looked forward to it even the work it would involve.
The idea of Xeph manipulating the class schedule to make sure they had time together made her laugh. The night she’d finally gone to him to tell him how she felt they’d come very close to needing to arrange for substitutes the next day.
“Who would have thought of honor and duty as a fault?”
Nikhila teased without really answering the question.
You know, I don't think I could have put it any better... certainly not two traits you'd ever imagine would be a problem eh? But sometimes... She shrugged. Sometimes I guess it just depends on priorities. And, if you can accept not always being first in them.
The vampire leaned back in her chair some, toying with her coffee cup.