Oce walked along the path she had heard the parade would be taking place. She had never been one for festivities. She was not 'American' by birth and usually felt out of place with the culture she emulated so well.
However her secretary had threatened her that evening. If she didn't get away from work she was going call Megan and force her out. Oce laughed and taking a basked the woman had packed for dinner left for the parade 'grounds'. Finding an empty and relatively quiet gazebo Oce sat down and began to look through the basket.
Amazingly there was at least enough for 3 or 4 people in there. Pulling out a note she read it to herself.
You never know when you will meet company. Just in case *wink
As much as she loved the secretary, Linda was forever trying to mess in her 'love' life as well. Sighing she pulled out a water bottle and examined the night life around her. She could hear gentle hum of crickets and other insect life around her.
Tonight the celebreation of America's independance would be heralded by fireworks, beer, and bar-be-que's; Xerxes normally avoided the day's events, for he was usually away on business, but since he was here, he may as well take a break. He had spent several days trying to find more information on the man he had seen with Ellis but had, so far, come up with nothing substantial. He needed to ease his mind and body, and he had a feeling the vibrance of the festivities would do just that.
He paused before leaving to set his security system and was satisfied when the LED screen scrolled ARMED in bold red letters. He smirked, his security system was no Brinks, he almost pitied his would be intruders.
He grabbed his keys from the table near the door, dimmed the lights and left the house behind him, confident it would remain secure.
Outside, his car chirpped at him cheerily as he unlocked the doors and, after another button push, its engines purred to life. He opened the door and settled in. He really had no plans for the evening, he realized, and thought to make some. He dialed Oce's number on his cell and set it to hands-free, speaking into the microphone customly fitted into his steering wheel.
After a few rings, he heard the line pick up, "Hello?" her voice came from the other end.
"Hello, my dearest, it is Xerxes, I was wondering, are you busy this evening?"
Wondering who it was she answered. "Hello?" On the other end it was Mr. Asha. Oce smiled. "That depends what you would call busy." She looked around not really seeing anyone. "My secretary shooed me out this evening to watch a parade. Apparently it is suppose to be wonderful. So I am sitting in the park alone with a picnic basket." Oce said not really believing her.
"How about yourself?" She inquired. "If you have a free moment pop down and share this wealth of food. The lady packed enough for an army." She chuckled to herself.
"Quite the company you are with," he joked, "luckiest picnic basket in the world I would imagine." He continued, still grinning, "I had heard similar things about tonight and was actually on my way down, I thought some company was in order and I had hoped to drag you away from your work. Seems like your secretary beat me to it."
He paused, turning his blinker on simultaniously. "I would love to have some food with you, on the condition that you enjoy the fireworks with me afterwards. I hear they really went all out this year. Lots of private investors, if you get my meaning," he chuckled. He had no doubt the clans themselves didn't donate considerable funds towards the event. Though they had their own quirks, when they did something, they did it right, he admitted to himself.
She sighed dramatically at his condition like he was twisting her arm. "Yes ok you have me for the fireworks event as well. I had planned on sneaking back in to the office so it looks like I don't have to now."
Oce had rarely enjoyed fireworks before they never 'wowed' her like most. Xeres mentioned the added investments and pondered just what it would be like.
"I will see you when you get here." She said in to the phone and ended it. Opening up the basket she found a cloth and placed it over the bench in the middle. She set up two glasses and a bottle of spring water. Pulling out the two plates and settings she put the utensils on a clean white lace trimmed napkin. Her Secretary had thought of everything even a candle. Pulling out the 2 small candle holders she placed them up and lit them to add to the gentle glow in the gazebo.
Seeing that done Oce pulled out her pocket mirror from her purse and began to 'primp' herself. Oce was the best at first impressions. She did not like to let people down. Fixing her braided bun a small curl had escaped. Her suit today was a light gray with pale pink pin stripes. It was one of those lower cut suits that did not require a blouse. She liked to wear them on her business dinners; the exact amount of class for an evening engagement but still business like. She had added a strand of pearls and two pearl drop earrings to make it just a bit more of an "outside the office" outfit. The skirt was the perfect length so the men would drool and the women would not scorn her as a slut.
Oce was a balancer. She never quite stuck out in the office but she never faded away unless he wanted too.
He sighed, content, and accelerated his car, ever so slightly. He began to hit traffic and knew that soon it would be bumper to bumper. Instead of braving the chaos, he parked about a half of a mile away in a high school parking lot that had been designated for the event. He armed his car on instinct alone and began jogging his way towards the gardens. His pace was comfortable and he returned the smiles of others. He saw more than a few families and wasn't surprised to see a significant portion of young adults, travelling in groups, often carrying 6 and 12 packs of beer. He tried to avoid the flirtatious glances some cast his way and ignored a cat call. Though it might have excited others in his position, it only irritated him as it was delaying his arrival.
Stooping low, he snatched a small flower growing from a city-maintained greenbelt. He knew it was selfish, but figured in the long run no one would really notice. He admired it's simple and yet elegant beauty. It was a daisy, though a very good specimen. It's petals seemed perfectly shaped and were more white then snow. The center glowed as the Persian midday sun, something he still sorely missed, despite its heat.
He slowed his pace as he approached the entrance to the garden OcÃƒÂ©ane had described as a landmark. He ducked through the natural arch created by a healthy plant and admired the small white flowers that dotted the hedge. He couldn't remember their name, but had always enjoyed their beauty.
The maginificance of the place was soon overtaken by the woman he saw ahead. It was like something from a movie, he mused, and approached slowly, almost reverently. the gazebo was white and veiled in vines; OcÃƒÂ©ane sat alone in front of a naturally elegant, if not improvised, dinnertable before her. She had obviously put a tablecloth down and even had candles.
"Wow," he couldn't help but say as he dipped his head beneath the foliage.
Feeling a bit clumsy he grinned and handed her the flower he had plucked. "Here, I got you this.." he said softly.
"Water?" She asked poring herself some and when he nodded filled his.
"I must say this evening gets better by the minute." She held her glass up. "Here is to it getting even better."
Similar to its provider. He admired the woman, looking quite smart in her business attire. The veritcal pin-stripe lines accented her elegant curves and the grey of the fabric made her eyes stand out like gems.
"Indeed," he said as a response to her toast, "And may this night not mark the conclusion to the contentment."
He hoped she understood he didn't intend on running away. He made that mistake once, he wouldn't repeat it.
The soothing sounds of the summer night were interrupted by loud cracks or high shrills from some far off celebration or party, but the sounds had been muffled by the foliage that seemed to enshroud the two, leaving them in their own private fairy tale.
"Beautiful night tonight, couldn't have asked for better."
He sighed happily and looked around, as if to validate his point.
"Have you been to one of these before?"
She felt like she was betraying her mentor. The woman who had raised her in to the vampire she was today. She moved to unpack some food as he continued to speak.
"It is a beautiful night tonight." She smiled at him rather softly. Oce was having mixed feelings suddenly about being here.
"I actually can honestly say I avoid North American Holidays. Always makes me long for my country." She sighed thinking of where she was born.
Oce pulled out two containers. One held crusty fresh rolls that amazingly were slightly warm and little packages of butter. Handing him a few she put the rolls on their 'table'. Fiddling around she pulled out two main courses. A plate of pasta that smelled like tomato basil and chicken filet steaks seasoned with lemon and garlic.
They both smelled delightful as she pulled the wrappers off. "I am going to have to give that woman a raise." Oce said laughing, "She takes far too good care of me." Offering the plates to her guest first she cleared her throat.
She did have something on her mind. Why had he called her again tonight? Oce figured the first meeting was business, the second she had scolded herself for kissing him even if it was brief after talking to Megan she had felt guilty. Her skeptical side told her he was trying to get to the clan or Megan but was it the true reason? A lawyer never jumped to conclusion and she started to think her question came out loud.
"Why tonight? Why think of me?" Oce had not realized it came out but it was in the open. She cursed her father for making her figure out problems that way. It seemed to get her in to trouble more often then naught.
His mind worked around an appropriate answer and finally, after a long pause, he spoke, "Honestly, because other then seeking out my sisters' 'father' I have thought of little other THAN you. It wasn't tonight that I thought of you to call, it has been every night."
He paused then, looking into her eyes, "I know it must be awkward for you, and I won't force you into anything you don't want to be involved with. I am sure, however, that when Megan comes to terms with me being here, the only thing she will be wary of between us is me hurting you. And, I can assure you that is the last intention I have."
He smiled, warm and friendly, "Most men settle down during their late 30's, it has taken me well after 2000 years to get there."
"Well then what took you so long?" She mused at him smiling trying to break the tension. He had mentioned wanting to speak with her every night up until tonight. "It is true I do not know where I stand with Megan and our relationship. It is very confusing." She admitted not sure she could hide it if she wanted too. He was definitely something... different. Most males or anyone for that matter left such an impression on her.
She let her eyes glide over his dark hair and complexion. They lingered upon his eyes and then down to his nose, and lips as they formed the word 'intentions'. Everyone always had 'good' intentions. She thought to herself. Oce tried not to act surprised by his last comment... Settling down? That had never crossed her mind. He had always seemed such a 'ladies' man.
"Some how that does surprise me." She raised her eyebrows at him and held up the bowl of pasta for him. "Do you intend to eat sir or let it get cold?" She smiled at him sassily. The next question to cross her mind she did manage to save for herself... 'Why me?' and 'Why him?'. Those were things she would have to puzzle on about. He was a man of the 'world' with greater experiences in his life then in her meager 90 years had given her. She had successfully shut herself up in the most famous law institutions in the world for most of those years.
She had a sharp legal mind but men did not usually find that appearing. Oce found they were usually threatened by a beautiful woman who could actually think. That last thought caused her to smile again.
"For now it may be prudent to keep our... friendship," She paused using the word loosely not exactly sure where they stood as of yet, "quiet."
This woman was different to him then others he had flirted with. It scared him; she had a power over him few could claim they had - she made him speak plainly and honestly.
He took the bowl of pasta from her and nodded when she suggested keeping things quiet.
"If I am good at anything, it is remaining silent when prudence demands it," he smiled.
He found himself talking quickly, excitedly, "As for taking so long, well, like I said, I habe had a development come up regarding my past," he thought back to his brief encounter in Club Eternity. "It seems the man who turned my sister is here in Nachton. I have found little information regarding the man," he admitted, "but I have a few untapped resources still. I have only found his name: Sorin."
His lips curled at the name and it appeard as though he more spit the work then said it. His disdain for the man was hardly veiled, though Xerxes normally kept a cool head about these things. Damn this woman, he chuckled mentally.
A thunderous boom almost startled him as the main fireworks show began and he pointed at the fading colors in the sky.
"Looks like it has started," he grinned and winked at the woman. He would let her decide what had started. It seems to him many things had been set in motion, a potential meaningful relationship with this woman, the conclusion to his life's work until now and a new beginning, so to speak, with the vampire culture.
She listened as bits and pieces of his past fell in to place. Also the reasons he was here and what he had found out. She originally was going to offer her assistance but something told her this was something he had to do on his own. If he needed her he would hopefully ask.
The name he said through gritted teeth sounded familiar but she couldn't place it at that moment. He chuckled just as a bright wave of colour loudly blasted over head. The shower of colour she admitted was beautiful and very fluid. It was like they danced with a symphony up there each colourful blast a note in the symphony.
Keeping her eyes on the sky she realized there was still she did not know about him and he her. "So.. Xerxes where are you staying here in our fair city?"
"No, really I have a condo in town, it is fairly near to here and I am pretty proud of it. It isn't huge, but it suits my needs, clean and comfortable. And yourself? Where is it that you hide from the sun?"
He sipped his water again and enjoyed some of the prepared food. It was surprisingly good, considering her secretary just 'whipped it up.' He suspected the lady wanted Oce to get out more, but he kept himself quiet.
The explosions overhead were building up a bit, but he knew they were far from over.
The war came flooding back the sounds of the fireworks were just like bombs going off and it shook her. Oce could see the streets of France blow up and soldiers swarming it all over again.
Closing her eyes she fought them and looked up the colour reminded her of where she was. Clearing her throat she returned to the present and took a drink of water. She had lost her appetite.
[Maybe this wasn't the best idea.] Oce sent Xerxes unable to talk. Her throat felt very dry.
His own face changed then, almost as sudden as his companion's own change. His face grew creased with concern and his heart ached to make her feel better. He didn't know exactly what troubled her, though the tone in her sending told him wonders.
He had spent a small amount of time with this woman, considering everything, but already knew her most vulnerable times were accompanied by these speechless thoughts. He could sense her pain and he knew it was time to leave.
"You are right," he said aloud, a tight grin on his face. He was trying, for her sake, to remain pleasant, though internally he was concerned deeply. "Let me help you pack this stuff up, and I can walk you to your car, at the very least." He began gathering his own plates and started clearing up their picnic area.
"I don't mean this." She indicated the picnic and him. "Our meeting is the only reason I would have stayed." She smiled at him. "I meant them." she pointed up as the last of the firework smoke hung over their heads.
"In spite of their beauty they bring back such awful memories." She sighed. "I think the situation will be much more pleasant now it is over." She smiled at him she wanted him to eat and enjoy their company now.
Oce grinned at him and drank another sip of her water. "I actually do not own a car. I prefer to walk and in dire need taxi."
"I understand," he said. And he did. He more then any human alive and even many of the immortals had seen his share of war and violence. His own childhood was marked with it; in the streets of his hometown, Miletus, held little mercy and little discretion. And since then he had lived through every major war in written history. He had fought in many, though he tended to stay out of the main battles, participating instead in covert operations or other such actions.
He didn't say anything else nor did he need to; little could be said in such situations. He hoped his eyes showed his sympathy, though he knew just understanding would help.
"I, too, enjoy walking, though my car is too much of a sanctuary for me. It is one of the few places I can go without being disturbed," he explained.
"However," Pause. "Tonight is a night for walking, why don't we finish this wonderfully prepared food and take a stroll through the gardens, most of the crowds should be dispersed within the hour."
He smiled at her and withdrew his hand cautiously. He didn't want her to feel alone, but also knew she might need her space.
"I could see how you would enjoy it. A car can take you many places faster." She nodded knowing he was not one to stay still from the way he had spoken before. She had no use for one though. She lived in the city and if she was required else where Taxi's and or Planes worked.
She smiled at his suggestion. "I bet the gardens will be beautiful soon as the noise and the crowd is gone." She nodded at him. "Just enough time to finish eating." She commented as he moved his hand away from hers. Oce had thought to not let go then mentally told herself she was being silly.
"I am sure my appetite will return once I being." She chuckled biting in to her pasta. It was delicious. "I was right." Oce ate half her plate before she spoke again.
"I am rather spoiled." She remarked at him. "Great company and wonderful meal what more could a girl ask for?"
Clearing her throat she looked at Xerxes. "Let's go for a walk. I am sure we can find a place to go." She smiled and looked up at the stars. "We could go for a coffee back at my apartment perhaps." She said standing up and putting the stuff away before he had a chance.
Once everything was cleared she stood. "Shall we?"