'Blake! For the last time you can't do that! You're going to get me out of a job! Oh what was Phoebes thinking...'
‘Well provide a work place that isn't a vampires delight and I might be able to keep a look out!'
‘Just stay here, somebody needs me.'
Blake staying with Patience and Phoebe at the hospital proved uneasy. The amount of control he had was decreasing every hour he was confined there due to the powerful scents of blood in the air (he seriously doesn't know how they do it). Those vampires who decided to try and break into their house are more than lucky to have kept the fifteen minutes of their lives that they spent interrogating them.
He couldn't handle another day sitting by the window in that office of hers, so he took to wandering the corridors instead. His head was throbbing badly; the sun needed to get off its hype and cover up before he passed out. The noise wasn't helping either. He needed something to do. He needed to get out of there.
He managed to find his way to the entrance without pausing mid way to devour into a gunshot wounded human and as he neared the doors he suddenly caught that strange scent again. 'The red-head girl was here' he thought. She was in the middle of the car park shouting. Blake could hear Patience's voice too. What was going on?
‘Gray! You need to go home-‘
‘-I waanntt youu to giive her back to meee-!'
Patience snatched a bottle of Glen Garioch whiskey out of Gray's jacket pocket and sighed.
‘I'm taking you home-‘
'She's English?' Blake thought. 'This was getting interesting.' Gray stumbled, falling straight onto the concrete and without a second thought Blake rushed over.
‘What are you doing out? I told you to stay in my office!'
‘It's alright Patience, I'll take her from here-‘
‘-No you won't! You're going back inside-‘
‘Trust me Patience, I'm not going to hurt her.'
She lifted Gray up onto her feet. She simply stood there, debating silently to herself before sighing once more, and finally handing her to him.
‘One thing Blake. One thing that happens to her and you'll see what happens to you, comprende?'
'This is going to be fun'. As soon as Patience had left Gray started squirming out of Blake's grasp.
‘Lemme go!' She shouted, trying now to bite her way through. He laughed.
‘Don't you remember me?' He said in French. She carried on biting him, and so he lifted her up, carrying her to his car instead.
‘Do I knoww youu?' Slurred Gray, evidently more keen with Blake carrying her 'Yeahh, sexy mysterious frenchh guy...'
Blake smiled, his ego rising.
‘You do. And you're rather drunk, mademoiselle, and need sobering up.'
He placed her in the passenger seat of his Audi, taking care to strap her in tightly, and climbed in.
A sudden wave of thirst washed over him. Here was a vulnerable girl with an incredulous scent sitting beside him. If he just...'no' he thought. 'I can't, I gave Patience my word, and Nick would kill me.'
Where was a place in the city to sober her up? There had to be a coffee shop here somewhere. Blake drove as fast as he could, probably not one of his finest ideas, and had found a Starbucks on the corner of a high street named ‘Rue Croix'. Just as he neared it however, Gray bent over and heaved, throwing up on herself, the seat and his dashboard. 'Great.' He quickly pulled up on the corner, forcing her out onto the busy path. She threw up there too whilst nosy shoppers stood and whispered to one another. Gray, causing more of a fuss, stumbled, almost falling into the road. Blake had to haul her inside and sit her down before she injured herself.
He rushed over to the counter and breathed ‘Un grand café s'il vous plait.' to the brunette waitress behind the counter.
‘Un moment monsieur.'
The place was filled with, as usual, men and women in suits with paperwork, genuine snobs desiring to take an intermission from shopping in expensive department stores, the odd loved up couple attached to the lips in the window seats and the stranger buying coffee after coffee, that has either nothing to do and is delighted to be there or just genuinely lonely.
Gray was swaying from side to side as he got back. Shock was stuck to her face; her eyes were wide open as was her mouth, like a goldfish on magic mushrooms. Blake thought it fascinating just watching her.
‘Your coffee, monsieur.'
A steaming porcelain cup bearing the starbucks logo was placed in front of him. The difficult part had now arisen; he had to do now was get her to drink it.
‘Gray, listen, I've got something that will make you feel better, ok?'
She wasn't paying any attention, simply gazing out of the window watching the pigeons in the trees across the road.
She slowly moved her head towards him.
‘Drink this, would you?'
Surprisingly, she took the cup. After rinking two gulps however, she then threw it halfway across the room in disgust that it was not any form of alcohol, where it hit the wall and disintegrated. 'Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all.' The work staff looked on in horror whilst the customers stared either at the wall or the culprit.
‘And what the fuck are you looking at?' Shouted Gray at two women glaring directly at her with disgust.
'We had to leave.' Stated Blake. 'Now.' Pulling out his wallet, slapping ten Euros on the tabletop and grabbing a coffee to go he gripped her arm and led her out whilst in mid-argument with the staff.
As he lay her in the back seat another problem occured. Where did she live? She was in no state to answer a question of the sort. Wait, what was he thinking? He could just scan her mind. Through the blurred images and mindless indulgence he managed to come across it. And with that, Blake sped off down the street as she passed out.
Her house seemed a whole lot bigger than the other two on ‘Rue le Couture' Blake thought as he ran out to open the gates with her keys; it must have at least eight bedrooms. With her in his arms he unlocked the large white front door, leading into a fairly large white hallway; the ceiling arched.
'Gray?' Said a male voice. Blake hesitated.
The man had rushed down a set of winding white marble stairs to the left, and, seeing Blake standing in the hallway with Gray in his arms, Wilfred gasped.
Wilfred, an aging man of 50 something, was the Madison's housekeeper. Meredith had become friends with him in Germany, his homecountry and since then he has traveled with her and her children, taking care of their many houses. Though his deep set wrinkles proved his age, his full head of short dark grey hair didn't, with the occasional strand of white here or there. Formally dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, he'd been in his mistresses office until the opening of the door distracted him.
'Who are you? What have you done to miss Gray?!' He asked.
'I'm a friend of Zephrs. I saw her like that in the street so I took her home.'
Said Blake, thinking on his feet.
Wilfred did not seem to approve of this, but nonetheless he walked over to them to get a closer look at his mistresses daughter.
'Is she alright?'
'I think. She'd just had a little too much to drink.'
There were four doors leading off from there. The first on the right was open; a garage filled with seven cars and two motorbikes in total. The first on the left, where Wilfred was leading him, appeared to be a bright teal spacious kitchen; black marble worktops and stainless steel everywhere else, and prior to that a huge winding white marble staircase leading upstairs. At the rear purple corner sofas were spread out in the space, matching the colour of the walls. Wilfred signaled to lie her on one of those, leaving Blake to write a small note on the coffee cup and, with Wilfred giving his thanks, depart.
Gray, after drowning her sorrows with alcohol, had managed to overcome her loss with a little help from Anna, her finest friend, and the newly acquainted Patience. However, going back to work proved stressful, she had to admit. Although it was getting her back on track and, according to her mother, it's what's good for her. She has no recollection of what happened that day, but she remembers Blake carrying her somewhere; she was positive he was speaking in English, and still has the coffee cup that read ‘Sober up, Blake.' around it. Gray wanted to thank him for his kindness, but she though her chances of seeing him again in this city were minuscule.
The haul of customers in the shop today seemed to go on forever; though when it's the start of the spring collection, there was no particular surprise. and Gray needed to satisfy her cravings. She was sure her staff could handle ten minutes without their manager, so she slid out of the front for a cigarette.
The state of the streets wasn't much better than the shop. All the parking spaces were filled on the roadside and everywhere else people were bustling through the crowds of others in the warm weather, making their way into sale shops and restaurants.
Through the crowds however, she noticed her brother's good friend Zephr coming out of a little antique shop across the road. It appeared as though he was waiting for someone because he was constantly checking his watch. Seeking to know what he was up to, Gray carefully made her way over to him, but as she was, the sight of a black haired boy in large glasses, jeans and an open modern trench coat made her stop. It couldn't be, could it? Zephr seemed to know him well; they were talking as if they were good friends. A look of surprise flashed across her face. 'I can't miss my chance now' she thought, ' not after what happened. Here goes nothing.'
‘Hey! Blake!' She shouted.
They both whirled round. Blake seemed positively shocked.
‘Hello Gray.' Said Zephr as she stood there and took a drag of her cigarette. ‘You're looking good, I'm guessing that's a new outfit. Had a good day so far?'
‘It's been busy.' She replied, straightening her new black baby doll dress.
Zephr glanced at the two of them and, taking their replying looks as a hint, he then said with a smirk ‘I'll leave you two to it.'
They stood there for a while, smiling at each other as shoppers, annoyed that two people had stopped the rhythmn of movement, sidled around them. Blake was simply shocked that she was there, and Gray, so happy that she'd found him, did not know what to say to him. She began to think, and she was so desperate now to know what had happened that she couldn't wait any longer.
‘We need somewhere to talk.' She said. 'Follow me.'
Making their way back through the cars she threw her cigarette in the street and led him inside the shop to the front desk.
'How long have you known Zeph, then?' She asked.
'He's an old friend of mine, we go way back.'
'I see. Well I'm guessing you're the one who helped me get home after I was too drunk to do it myself? I read your note on the coffee cup.'
‘You were rather drunk when I saw you and you threw up in my car. I even tried to sober you up but you caused chaos in Starbucks so I had to take you home where you passed out, hence the coffee cup. I'm glad to see you're sober now though-‘
‘-Gosh! I'm so sorry-!'
‘-It's fine, honestly. I wouldn't blame you, considering how drunk you were.'
She felt so embarrassed by this. She did not want to make such a terrible first impression.
‘Thank you so much for everything, I don't know what would have happened if you weren't there.'
Blake winked at her.
‘Is, is there anything I can do to make it up to you?'
He stood there, stoking his hair and thinking. He needed all the information he could muster out of her.
‘Not really...unless you're willing to let me take you out to lunch.'
Gray raised her eyebrows in disbelief.
‘That wouldn't be me making it up to you, that would be you treating me.'
‘I know, but I don't care about that. Let's just say that that's how you'll repay me.'
‘My lunch breaks not for another twenty minutes-‘
‘-Oh Gray just let him take you out, would you?' Said a dreamy french voice. Anna, who had overheard their conversation, leaned over the counter. ‘You need a good break anyway, just go. We'll be fine.'
Gray sighed and, accepting the situation, gave up.
‘Have it your way then.' She said. He grinned.
‘So' Said Blake, as they were strolling along a quieter, less crowded area of the city. ‘how'd you get to become the owner of a shop as big as MLM in Paris?'
She paused, frowning at his words.
‘Did I say something wrong?' He asked.
'No...' She said, the frown still stuck to her face. 'I just assumed you knew who I was considering everybody else does...'
'What was she talking about?' He thought. Blake was more intrigued now to know who she was. They started strolling again until she spoke.
'Well, I'm sure you know who the designer of MLM is, don't you?'
'MLM...' He remembered Zephr telling him that Knox's mother is the designer, and also that she is the youngest thirty-seven year old he's ever seen (he had to agree). The truth was that Meredith was the only woman that he can't have; he was practically in love with her. 'Wait...Knox's mother?' That means-
'You're Meredith Madison's daughter?'
Blake halted. She nodded; her rouge-coated lips in a radiant smile.
As he stared at her, he could see the resemblance. Her face had hints of Meredith's, like her lips and forehead, and her hair was as long as her mother's too, but the white blonde compared to the crimson was a definite contrast.
'Surprised?' She said, still smiling.
'I am. So why do you own the shop then if you're the designers daughter?'
'Well... I decided to take a gap year before Uni, so I asked my mother to give me a job; I wanted to work for my money. I'm pretty good at running the place, plus it gives me a chance to sell my art.'
'Is that so...'
It was, in fact, even her brother Knox earned his living, by becoming his mother's accountant. He is very good with numbers and, although Meredith is also, she was 'much too busy' to sort that out herself. They turned back onto the high street. Blake pointed out a restaurant for her to eat in, secretly hoping to get away from the sun for a while, but Gray didn't want to sit, especially as the weather was beautiful. In fact, she fancied something greasy as they walked. Blake frowned when she told him.
'What made you feel so adventurous?' He asked.
'About eating what most women would call poison?'
'That's because I'd stopped caring about what I eat a long time ago...'
Blake would not have even considered that from a girl with a top fashion designer earning millions a year; quite the opposite. Gray picked out a fast food restaurant instead, and tried to get herself a beef burger and fries. Blake insisted on paying, and managed to pay for her meal eventually while she was distracted by arguing with him.
'You didn't have to do that...' She said, walking to a bench in the grass at the end of the high street and sitting cross-legged.
'I did' He said, joining her 'You agreed to let me buy your lunch so I did.'
She sighed. 'I suppose so...'
Blake watched her as she gluttinously devoured her burger. It was peculiar to see a girl as designer dressed as her doing that; it was like she was rebelling against her stereotype. Blake loved it. The sun had come out of its hiding for a moment, gleaming down on them and making his eyes burn. However he noticed that it highlighted a specific element to her wardrobe. A choker, purple velvet, was enclosed around her neck, but it was the large metallic piece that interested him. It was silver and looked like the sun, only without the circle; just its long thin rays all flicking out at curved ends from the center, the odd short one here or there and an even thinner line of electric blue bordered them.
'Where did you get that choker?' Asked Blake as she'd finished eating her burger.
'Its a family heirloom.' She said, stroking it. 'My dad gave it to me as soon as I was born.'
For some reason it looked strangely familiar to him.
Gray was now eating her fries slowly as if in thought. Blake decided not to ask any further. Suddenly however, she asked him something.
'So, what do you do for a living then?'
'Shit.' He thought. 'Come on Blake, improvise...'
'I, er, work at the hospital.'
She stopped eating for a minute.
'Really? As what?'
'Think think think...'
'Doctor's assistant for Dr Flanzego.'
Her face lit up.
'Oh right! Well, she and I have met, I just never knew you worked there. Which in that case, I'll hope to see you more often.'
'Likewise.' He said, grinning. Gray did the same, eying him curiously.
'Your incredibly beautiful you know.' He said, throwing cation to the wind and still grinning at her. She blushed.
'And I bet you've got some french bloke pining after you...?'
'Not quite.' She said, re-applying her Dior lipstick with her eyes still glued to him.
'What does that mean exactly?' He asked.
'I'm still surprised that you don't already know this, but I was dating Zak leyoné; he's the young tattoo artist who has a very successful shop in North London. We had an open relationship, but I'm pretty sure that's over now.'
'Since he moved to London to be close to me and I move constantly due to my mother its been complicated. We just decided it was best.'
Gray, after finishing re-applying her lipstick, had got up, threw the rest of her fries in the bin and beckoned Blake to follow her down the street again whilst lighting up another cigarette.
'I don't want to intrude on your personal life' He blurted out, lighting himself a cigarette and unable to restrain himself from asking, 'but I assume that getting drunk that early in the day isn't your normal behaviour. What happened to make you do that?'
'I...I...' She sighed, fiddling with her hair. 'Boy troubles, the kind that come with a lot of drama...'
She bit her lip and took a deep drag, changing the subject of conversation to his lifestyle.
'Blake! For the last time you can't do that! You're going to get me out of a job! Oh what was Phoebes thinking...'