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.

Nikhila 15 years ago
She was late, well not really, it wasn’t as if she had definite plans. She’d had half an idea to cook dinner for herself and Xeph and discuss some changes she wanted to make to the Academy. As she’d gone through the grocery store, she realized she’d need to discuss them with Lily too, for the financing issues, and going back for the extra ingredients caused her to miss her bus.

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 café and dejectedly half collapsed into one of the wrought iron chairs. The staff was alert and she ordered a café 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?
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
The game began before she realized it. Old habits die hard and it was how she’d filled her days and nights for years when she lived in New Orleans, people watching the crowds for hours. Her gaze had wandered up the street to rest on a young woman hurrying along, one hand overflowing with shopping bags and the other wrapped firmly around the wrist of a young boy beside her who was being drug along quickly. Golden eyes swept up and down the harried looking female, astutely picking out details. The worn coat that was a few seasons out of style, the threadbare look of her crispy pressed but slightly faded blouse, scuffed and well worn shoes polished to a shine to cover the leather’s age. A slight smile turned up one corner of her pretty mouth as Amberelle had to admire the neat and tidy appearance the woman had struggled so hard to project. Eyes turning down to the boy wrapped in a warm looking but worn jacket with his tear stained, flushed cheeks matching his still tear reddened eyes. Eyes that were glittering with happiness and glued to the colorful plastic toy airplane clutched in his free hand. The tag was still attached and fluttering in the air behind it like some colorful little banner as it dipped and weaved.

Sipping her café 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)
Nikhila 15 years ago
Logically there was no point in sulking or brooding or anything else along those lines. She stood to remove her lab coat. Wretched thing, Nikhila had never thought she’d hate it but she was coming quite close. She was either wearing it while in the lab with students or she was wearing it while trying to derail things at the lab, she was wearing a lab coat more often than pajamas. Moreover, if she wasn’t working in one of the labs she was in an office. That’s all she could think as she stared at the gleaming white coat.

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.”
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
Supressing the urge to chuckle as the pretty woman tossed her obviously offending labcoat against a chair and glared, Amby bit her lip. Yes, definately working too late and possibly doing it too often was the conclusion she came to. Starting to pick at the croissant again she tore off a small bite and chewed it slowly, thinking hard. There was no wedding ring so maybe it was a case of realizing she was working too often and missing out on social outings? Hmmm, no that didn't feel right and besides there was enough food for two. The smells weren't varied enough so either she liked eating the same thing a lot or there was someone else in the picture. What else could have her so annoyed? Maybe a fight with her boyfriend? A co-worker?

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..)
Nikhila 15 years ago
Nikhila politely over looked the apparently guilty conscious of the other woman. Apparently the blond was slightly embarrassed to have been caught watching and she was happy to give the other woman time to recover herself. As she did so, her drink arrived. After thanking the server, she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.

Café 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…)
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
The blonde nodded, giving the other woman a smile. It hadn't quelled her curiosity but she certainly would not pry. Fiddling with her coffee cup for a moment, Amberelle let her gaze drop to the other woman's cup and she grinned slightly. The color told her it had to be the same as the drink she herself had.

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.
Nikhila 15 years ago
Nikhila just smiled. She had never been particularly adept at making friends. Xeph, the Pack and professional colleges seemed to be enough. But right now, she was confronted with something she couldn’t turn to any of those people with. Those few, -very- few, within the Pack she could turn to for a personal matter really couldn’t be made privy to this. She could never do anything which might even possibly remotely make one question Xeph; doubly so because they weren’t on entirely stable ground. And of course, there was the possibility that some one could sense weakness and try and take what was rightfully hers; and she did consider Xeph hers. Yet, she wanted to talk to some one.

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 café au lait. The young woman must favor it as well. Perhaps that would be enough of a bridge to feel things out further.

“Café 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.
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
Looking back when she heard a response, Amberelle's face brightened with her smile. Stranger or not, it was nice to have someone to talk to. She'd spent a lot of time alone lately and it was wearing on her. And sometimes she just wanted someone normal to talk to, away from all the politics of the Clan. The blonde leaned forward some, hands cupping her warm mug as she regarded the woman with open curiosity again.

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.
Nikhila 15 years ago
Nikhila smiled brightly and broadly when her small overture was accepted; at least it wasn’t being rejected and that was enough for now.

“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 café au lait.”
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
Listening, Amby mentally ahhhh'd when Nikhila explained where she was from. Maybe that was why the woman's pretty voice had tugged at her. It was similar to an accent she was very familiar with. Maybe not quite as Old World but there were tones...

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 Carré, but this is really good. And with a nice bustling streetside... it reminds me of sitting around Café 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.
Nikhila 15 years ago
“Yes, the eastern coast.”

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 cafés. 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.”
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
Thinking about the scents she was getting from the grocery bags that helped them make more sense. It still threw her what fruit had to do with spicy dishes but her curiosity was appeased a little.

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.
Nikhila 15 years ago
“Its like any other cooking some things are hard and some easy and of course the practice helps. Although I wasn’t feeling terribly ambitious when I started planning this menu, it should be on the easy side.”

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.
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
Inside Amby grinned as her last lingering question was answered. Fruit for dessert! Clever. It fit the classic niche she had pegged Nikhila in. Sipping her coffee, and motioning for another as their waitress passed nearby, she listened.

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 15 years ago
Great minds think alike, Nikhila figured. Or was it that all women everywhere no matter there station knew that the cliché held true and the way to a man's heart was through his stomach? Perhaps it was simpler than that, and it was food was more of an equalizer a common bond they all shared, that was always true.

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.
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
Inside the blonde just smirked at being on the mark. What was it about a home cooked meal that men always responded to? Maybe there was something to the whole idea of "cooked with love". It usually showed right through. Or maybe it was a nurturing thing. Who didn't like having someone want to take care of them sometimes?

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.
Nikhila 15 years ago
Typically, she was very reserve, very private and certainly, she never would have asked a complete stranger that question. However, the sheer audacity it took for the blond woman to ask that question made her laugh; although she hid some of it behind her hand. If Amberelle hadn’t flushed, she would have simply ignored the question or changed the subject.

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 café 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.”
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
Amberelle nodded, listening as she stirred a bit of honey into her drink. Gently setting the spoon aside and wrapping her hands around the mug, she looked up and gave the other woman a warm smile. Nikhila seemed like a smart woman and the kind who knew what she wanted. It should be easy, just requiring more finesse to balance their multiple relationships. "But then again when is love ever easy?" she thought ruefully.

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.
Nikhila 15 years ago
Wise beyond her years, extremely perceptive and sensitive, Nikhila thought. Very few young women would have articulated the situation in such a manner. And then there was the matter of Amberelle’s expression. Was it possible that even in her few years Amberelle cold have encountered a challenging romance?

“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.
Amberelle DeEspionne 15 years ago
The laugh came out spontaneously, possibly a tad bit louder and harsher than it should have been. Her opinion of the other woman rose some. Smart and perceptive, that statement spoke volumes. Not to mention talk about summing things in her own life up. That covered a wide gamut of issues surrounding her as well. Amberelle simply shook her head and gave Nikhila a lopsided smile.

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.