Coffee Conversations

Some random bistro cafe


Characters

lc02.jpg ds01.jpg
Celia (npc) Corrie

The bistro is quaint and out of the way, and by out of the way, Celeste means that it's not in the tourist areas or on the touristy paths. It's been more than a decade since she's been in London and not played the tourist, but she was more than happy to let Corrie choose a meeting place that isn't on the tourist thoroughfare. Especially given that her excuse for daytime unavailability is that she's doing the touristy things with her "aunt" and "cousin."

She's dressed casually for an evening out for coffee and chatter, a simple burgundy maxi dress and strappy sandals to match, her hair pulled back in a loosely twisted pony tail and draped over one shoulder. Celeste has already caught the eyes of the pair of businessmen also waiting in the foyer, and she's been playing coy and demure while waiting for Aidan's witch to arrive.

-

"Celia!"

Corrie is actually running toward the foyer, because honestly she's late. She got caught up on a call with Amber, assuring the girl that she would take care of a few things once she flew back into London.

"I am so sorry to have kept you waiting." Her outfit is somewhat dressy-casual, as she's got a meeting with another potential client later — a band that she's been keeping an eye on that's in desperate need of good PR to get them a contract. A white cotton tank top, a terracotta colored skirt that comes just above her knees, and all the appropriate accessories. Once she's come to a stop, she quickly winds her hair up into a messy half-ponytail and smiles.

"You've not been here long, I hope?"

-

Celeste turns at the sound of her 'name' and smiles brightly at Corrie. "Oh, don't worry about it, it's fine. Where I come from, it's perfectly acceptable to be fashionably late." Celeste gives a bit of a shrug, "I like to get an early start when I'm going to new places is all."

The other woman is given a friendly hug, "I hope the delay was a good one, though."

-

Once the hug is returned, Corrie gives her head a slight shake. "Work related. The issue with working freelance is that I've got to take the calls when they come, or upset the clients."

Beat.

"Speaking of work related, I've sussed out all the details for the book signing. Flare will be taking care of all the food. I just need you to sign off on a few things, and then the night will be your own."

-

"Great!" Celeste grins happily and claps her hands together. Not that she thought that Aidan wouldn't acqueisce if was in his ability to do so. "I knew Aidan would be an absolute saint."

"Let's get some seats and you can tell me all about what you have planned."

Beat.

Lowering her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, she winks at Corrie. "Or you can tell me how things went with Aidan the other night."

Another beat.

"You may have fooled Connor, but I have a sixth sense about these things."

-

"I don't recall," Corrie replies, as she turns a faint shade of red.

Eyes close so that she can clear her mind, and she taps the folder with a smile. "So business it is." Beat. "Of course this is my treat since I'm keeping you from your vacation." A few coffees or teas isn't going to set her back too badly.

"I honestly doubt I fooled Connor, I just think he was a bit too distracted."

-

Celeste doesn't buy Corrie's response for a single moment. Aidan is not forgettable, unless he chose to glamour the memory away; she knows her maker well enough to know that he wouldn't have done such a thing in this case. Plus the blush is a dead giveaway. Celeste doesn't press the issue however, simply gives Corrie a knowing smile, "Okay, keep your counsel."

Then her face pulls down in a slight frown, "Maybe I should apologize to you for monopolizing your friend like that. That really isn't like me, and it was a little rude."

-

"Oh, no need to apologize," Corrie offers with a laugh. "It's good he was distracted. He had fun from the sounds of it." There was a call to ensure Connor was fine in the morning, not too hung over, able to go to the recording studio.

Moving toward the counter, she places her order for a Cinnamon Dolce Late, and then motions for Celia to place her order.

"Besides, it's not as though you wandered and left me on my own, and even if you had I'm a grown woman and not about to pout over it."

-

"Oh, he certainly had fun," Celeste purrs, and there's nothing southern demure about the sly grin on her face. "I'm hoping to see him again before I head back." It's said like it's a question, though Celeste knows it's not up for questioning at all. She quite carefully planted that little suggestion, and knows that she very well will see the handsome band member again. And she's playing so perfectly nicely with him just to keep Aidan's witch happy.

Oh, Ian, you are going to owe me for this one.

Celeste places her order and turns back to Corrie, "I guess that leaving you with Aidan wasn't all bad."

-

"I don't recall," Corrie says again, because really she was quite blitzed at the nightclub.

"I'm certain Connor will call if he's got another free evening." Beat. "He actually is a gentleman when he wants to be." A grin, then a shake of her head as she retrieves napkins and a stirrer and waits for the coffees. Grabbing each of them once they're ready, she nods to a back table with two comfortable looking black chairs.

"I'll start with the suggestion I made to Mr. Boyle. That half of the cost of each ticket be donated to the National Literacy Trust."

-

"So's Aidan," Celeste says, "A gentleman, I mean." At least in so far as Celeste knows that in this particular case he wouldn't have taken advantage of Corrie in the inebriated state that she left the club in. Not that he wouldn't do it, but his interest in Corrie is a bit more than a simple shag or feeding. Celeste is still trying to figure out the why of it, and is no closer to an answer than she was days ago.

She follows Corrie to the table and once they're seated, she settles back, purely professional. At the thought of the donation to charity, she smiles. "That's an excellent idea! It's almost too perfect for words… and I'm a writer."

-

"Thank you," Corrie says, settling herself into the chair. Using the stirrer she mixes the whipped topping into her drink, then smiles. "It'll be great publicity for both yourself, and Flare. Especially considering the capacity of the restaurant."

Tapping the folder, she puts it on the table and slides it over to Celia. "Mr. Boyle chose a Thursday for the event, which works well as it won't interfere with his usual weekend clientele but is close enough to it that people won't mind the Mardi Gras masquerade after the signing and dinner."

Beat.

"He… can be… a gentleman at times, yes."

-

"The timing of this really couldn't be better," Celeste says. She takes a sip from the edge of her cup, and turns her attention to the folder. "The new book has only just been released, and the North American tour doesn't start for another month. Let me tell you, my European publishing house and distributor is all over this idea. If this works out as well as I think it will, we may be working together again very soon."

Her several generations removed granddaughter, Diana, is excellent working the North American market, but having a contact 'across the pond,' as they say wouldn't be such a bad thing.

"Oh, I am so looking forward to the masquerade. It's so much fun to dress up. I really try to get to Mardi Gras whenever I can. It'll be such fun to have a mock-up here." She'll have to see if that delicious Connor is available.

"But … you're unsure about him." Celeste doesn't have to say whom she is referring to, she's certain.

-

"I know," Corrie admits somewhat sheepishly. "I pre-ordered it and I've read it twice already." Clearing her throat, she stirs the coffee-drink once more then blows across the top of it before taking a sip. Coffee really is not her favorite thing, but the flavored ones aren't that bad.

"I've already started promotion of the event on Flare's new website, and the social media networks." A conspiratorial grin and she adds, "I've also dropped a line on one of the fan forums. I'm sure the turn out will be absolutely amazing."

There's a pause, and the folder is opened. "You just need to sign there, and there, so that we can get enough copies of the book from the publishing house." The page is lifted and she points to another signature line. "And one there so that I can send copies to your agent and PR personnel back in the United States."

She keeps trying to defer from the topic of Aidan, and Celia keeps coming back to it. Exhaling a sigh, she shrugs. "It's quite a bit more complicated than it would seem is all."

-

Celeste's eyes light up at Corrie's admission. She leans forward in her seat, giddy like a school girl. "Really? You have to tell me what you think." Beat. "No, wait, don't. I'm horrible at that. I always ask and then I really don't want to know." There's a nervous embarrassed laugh as she drinks her coffee. "Can you imagine that? It's like when I'm waiting for the reviews to come out, I get them in hand and I have to make someone else read them." It's the perfect reflection of humanity, uncertain, embarrassed, hints of those things that make humans so … interesting.

Celeste looks at the papers and dutifully signs where instructed. Normally she would read things through, but the witch is so pure and lacking in any beyond the norm duplicity that Celeste can practically taste it. It gives her a glimmer of insight as to why Aidan might be interested in this one. There are waters here to be muddied, and that is something that her maker enjoys doing.

"Maybe, but what in life isn't complicated?" Celeste asks, taking another drink of the coffee. "And we only get one shot at this, right? We have to make it count for something."

-

"I enjoyed the growth of the heroine throughout the story, thought the plot was spectacular." As much as romance novels can have plots. "The seeming realism with the historical fact interspersed was phenomenal. It was almost like stepping right into the time period." Grinning, Corrie takes another sip of the coffee. She nods when the papers are signed, and relaxes back in the chair.

"And that's it. Everything else is my busy work. The only thing you'll have left to do is find a costume. I've got numbers for some of the better fancy-dress shops in the city if you'd like them." There's a list in the back of the folder.

There's a pause as she considers how best to relay the information without telling her what he is. "There are irreconcilable differences of opinion there that go well beyond 'complicated'."

-

"Thank you," Celeste practically beams at the words of praise. "Research and a very active imagination are my friends. It helps that I grew up in New Orleans before moving to Miami, then it's simply a matter to try to step back into the past." It's nothing that isn't in Celia Collins' official biography. One thing Aidan taught her was that the best lies to weave are those based in the truth. "I take time here and there to visit other southern locales too. I don't think that people realize how much research goes into writing."

Nodding in reference to the book signing party, Celeste settles back comfortably in her chair as well. "Thank you for doing all of this. I know it helps me, but it helps Flare too, like you said, and I'm glad to help out a friend."

She inwardly applauds the marvelous job the other woman is doing at not revealing what Aidan is. Celeste knows that Aidan is particular about such things, and either the witch is glamoured into silence, or smart enough to realize that giving up Aidan's secret is a dangerous thing. Of course, playing at human means that Celeste has to pretend to be held to the same standards or give too much of the game away. Still, that doesn't mean that Celeste's hands are completely tied.

Nodding, she stirs her coffee a bit, trying to get the still heated pockets to mix with the cooling bits. "No one is saying that you have to fall in love with the lughead," Celeste laughs good-naturedly, catching Corrie's gaze. "There's nothing wrong with just relaxing and having a good time every now and then." And there it is, that subtle, subtle glamour laced into the words. The faint underscoring of conviction that it's all Corrie's idea. "I mean, that's what I did." She tops with an innocent shrug.

-

"Most people don't." Beat. "But living in such an historic location as London, it's honestly quite awful when you pick up an historical fiction written by an American who's not got a clue." Ones that still sell regardless, because people really love Regency Romance novels. "I appreciate the level of detail, although I've no clue whether it's totally accurate as I've never been to New Orleans or done much research, I've always had the feeling that you take great care in your work." Thus, highly researched, and absolutely accurate.

"Oh, tosh. There's no need to thank me. At the moment, it's a great promotion for Flare, which just happens to be my client." Beat. "It worked out well for me." Why pass up an opportunity?

"In love with? Not bloody likely, mate." Corrie snorts, shaking her head. "No, of course there's nothing wrong with just relaxing and having a good time." Blink. "It's still complicated." Glancing down, she nearly knocks the coffee over as she goes to lift it up once again. "Oh, yes, right. Well…" Cough.

-

"Which is why I stay away from places that I'm unfamiliar with. I want my readers to find my story to be believable…" There's a pause and a laugh. "Ok, as believable as a romance novel can be." Because really, part of it does depend on being a romantic at heart. "I don't want them getting thrown out the story the minute something is off. I respect my audience and I want them to have an experience."

Beat.

"Oooh," Celeste wrinkles her nose, "Did that sound as corny as I think it did?"

At the sign of the woman's fluster, the female vampire decides to shift away from the topic of a certain blue-eyed Irish vampire, at least in a manner of speaking. "Aidan thinks I should try writing a supernatural romance novel." She pulls a pretty pout and takes another drink. "I'm not sure if he's teasing me or not."

-

"Very much so," Corrie says with a laugh. "It sounded every bit the soundbite for the romance author." Winking across at Celia, she slowly finishes off her coffee and then blinks.

"A… supernatural romance novel? Those are fairly big sellers these days. Especially in the teen market." Beat. "Just don't go writing another Twilight. It may be making quite a bit at the box office, but the story is complete and utter tripe." Beat. "Not that I've read the stories. I've got a client that's interested in Robert Pattinson and she just goes on, and on, and on about the movies."

-

"That's why I don't trust myself to speak in public uncoached," Celeste says with a self-deprecating laugh. She gives her head a shake, and tosses her ponytail over her shoulder. "I start to sound trite." She can laugh at herself though and that's a good thing. Or so humans seem to think.

Her coffee is finished, and Celeste pushes the cup gently to the side. "That's just it. Everyone is writing that sort of thing lately, or at least it's what getting attention." She gives a grimace at the Twilight reference, "Oh Twilight is just … well, it's not polite to say, but it's appeal is certainly directed at a particular age group." It's absolute rubbish is what is, and though Celeste is glad that there is something else to confuse vampire lore, she hates that the literary world is being poisoned with such crap.

"I suppose that I would at least know where to start my research if I wanted to do that."

Tossed out completely innocently, of course.

-

"If the next words out of your mouth are Forks, Washington…" Corrie wrinkles her nose and then stands. She collects the mugs, and carries them over to the counter. She's gone a moment longer than necessary, and returns with two large pecan and maple Danish pastries and two bottles of water. Setting the tray on the table, she grins.

"It's not as though I've any need to be watching my figure, and you'll walk it off tomorrow on your excursions." Beat. "Have you taken the Bath and Stonehenge tour yet?"

-

Celeste laughs, "No nothing that ridiculous!" She waits for Corrie's return and thanks her graciously for the pastry. "It's a vacation, so it doesn't matter. I never count calories on vacation. Ruins all the fun."

"To be completely honest with you, Corrie, I've actually thought about it. Writing that sort of novel. It could be fun."

Beat.

"It'd have a modern day woman, a romance novelist, swept up in a torrid affair with a charming vampire."

She leaves it at that, taking a bite from the danish, chewing and swallowing before answering the question. "Why no, no we haven't. I'll have to see what Aunt Lucy and Erica have planned. See if we can't slip it in somewhere."

-

Corrie actually chokes on a bite of the pastry. Coughing and sputtering, she manages to spit the piece out into a napkin before she stops breathing. Then she slowly opens the bottle of water and drinks almost half of it before saying anything at all.

"I'm fine," she says finally. "Pecan went down the wrong way is all."

Dabbing the napkin at her mouth, she glances up. "You really should go if you get the chance. Bath is quite the historical place, and there's really no point in flying over here without seeing Stonehenge." Beat. "If you're interested in the ancient sites that is. If you'd prefer something a little more city-ish, there's always the Tower."

-

Now I'm beginning to understand what you see in this one, Aidan. She's cute. Charmingly so, really, and Celeste just wishes that she could stay around long enough to see how it all plays out. Even if she's not biting any of the casts Celeste has thrown out, Corrie's reactions have given the vampire a good read on the woman.

"Are you sure you're okay?" Celeste asks once the fit seems to have passed.

"I think I'd much prefer the historical sites. I like that feeling of experiencing history. Centuries of what came before." Of course, as a historical romance novelist, she would.

"So, now I'm going to be completely anti-southern and do something that my Momma and my Grandmomma would absolutely die if they knew about. I'm going to be rude and pry: the other night you said you were interested in someone else. Who is he? Is he as hot as a certain v - very sexy Irishman that we know?" Almost a slip of the tongue, but not quite.

-

"Yes, of course I'm fine. That'll teach me to take smaller bites." Breaking a small piece of the pastry off to show how small of a bite she should be eating, she chews it thoughtfully. "So you'd be trying for an older market then, not teens? They'd sell, but probably not as well as a teen novel would I'd think."

That's the only comment she offers on the potential of a paranormal-romance novel.

"You can't get too close to Stonehenge, but even just being near it is…" She considers the word. "… powerful." There's a lot of energy in that area anyhow, even a lot of regular people have been known to remark on it.

"Rhys Owens. He works for the entertainment company that signed my boys." Beat. "Dumnonia, Connor's band," she explains. "I've been trying to get them a deal like that since college, and I'm glad to actually see it to fruition." Though it did leave her without a solid client. "In his own way he is. A tad older, perhaps, than Mr. Boyle."

-

The advice is taken with an accepting nod, though Celeste is far more interested in the subject of the sorcerer. Of course, she can't reveal that she knows the man is a sorcerer or that Aidan already had suspicions about Corrie's interest, but there's so much she can play with.

"Were you dating?" Not currently of course, because Corrie is clearly not the sort to sleep with two men at the same time.

-

"No." Beat. "No, of course not." Corrie shakes her head, prying off another small bit of the pastry.

"Quite likely a one-sided situation anyhow. Still, he's the protective sort, and quite fun when not hindered by the family business." Rather, watched like a hawk by his brother.

"I've not spoken to him since a failed contract signing." Beat. "At least not really. Beyond which, I've been busy with my new clients, and setting up the book signing." Beat. "Which I'm quite happy to do. Honestly, I don't know if I've mentioned yet, but I'm quite the fan."

-

Celeste mimics the witch, peeling off a small bite of the pastry and chewing thoughtfully. She bites the inside of her cheek, and pretends to ponder her next words. Really, it is a delicate balance. She doesn't want to alienate the much younger woman, and she is trying to help Aidan out in whatever his goal may be with the witch.

Using the napkin to dab her lips, Celeste takes a breath and releases it. "I know that I don't know you, really, Corrie and you don't know me, but it does seem counterproductive to wait around for a man who isn't pursuing you."

Beat.

"You're a smart, successful, attractive professional woman, and you shouldn't sit on the sidelines waiting for someone who obviously can't see past the tip of the nose on his face. I know it's none of my business, but I hate to see it when a brilliant woman benches herself. It's his loss, after all."

-

Corrie just blinks.

Sipping from the bottle of water again, she frowns just a little. Not for long though, just while she considers what to say.

"Please. You know Mr. Boyle as well as I do. He latches on to a conquest until he gets what he wants, then he moves on to the next thing." Fingers fidget with the pastry, pulling off small pieces as she considers.

"I'm not necessarily benching myself. I'm merely being pragmatic." Beat. "Let's be honest, Celia, I'm not exactly getting any younger, and I'd rather not die alone. I need to find someone suitable for that, rather than always giving in to temptations."

-

"I do know Aidan, and I would never suggest that anyone make him a long term interest," Celeste laughs lightly, despite the sobriety of Corrie's words. She gestures off to the side with her hand, "You're certainly right there. Aidan is very fun for a romp, but definitely nothing of substance."

She pauses and picks at the pastry, though she doesn't eat it. "Though I was hardly trying to push you toward Aidan that time. I was just trying to suggest that you look away from this Owens character. I mean, you might be so focused on waiting for him to poke his head up out of the sand, that you might miss a perfectly great guy who does have the potential you're loooking for."

Celia leans forward, forgetting the pastry for the moment and folds her arms on the table. She appears thoughtful and reflective as she meets the woman's gaze, but there's a current beneath the words. "But, in the interim, there is nothing wrong with giving into temptation from time-to-time. It's a stress reliever and it's a fun way to pass the time." Untied and released, the tone and pacing, indeed the introspective and friendly cadence of her words never changing, "And while you may not be getting any younger, you're a far cry from an old spinster."

Waving her bare ring finger at Corrie, she adds, "Look at me, no ring. No line of desperate bachelors battling to duke it out and win my affections. And that's fine, because I know that it will come eventually. Until then, I'll enjoy being a free agent, until I bump into Mr. Right."

"You should too. We're modern women, right?"

-

"Tch. I'd hardly ever consider him a long term interest." Granted, Corrie'd hardly consider him an interest at all. A one time folly, perhaps. A slight bit of fun. It's out of her system now though… right?

"Tosh. I'm hardly married to the idea of the man. I'm simply interested. I'm certain I'll find… other interests. At the moment though…" Shrugging, she starts to glance away only to catch Celia's eye. Sighing, she nods. "You're right of course, it is." After all, it's no worse than doing so with anyone else — except everyone else actually has a soul.

"That would depend on the era. Were I from the middle ages, chances are I'd have at least twelve grandchildren by now," Corrie says with a laugh, the spell having been broken.

"I do believe I was channeling Mum there for a second with the whole settling down thing. It's not really bothered me before." In fact, she rather likes being single.

-

"If my Momma had her way, I'd have been married at eighteen. She had the perfect boy picked right out, the son of a good friend. I'd grown up with him so of course, we were supposed to fall madly in love and get married and have babies." Instead Celeste became the mistress of the black sheep son of a landowner and got a child by him. Oh, but those were different times and nothing Celeste can share with Corrie.

"I do hope you mean that. That you'll find other interests because there are two businessmen who've been watching us all night." Celeste gives Corrie a wink. "No harm in introducting ourselves and having another coffee or tea?"

It's the perfect act, look at me, I'm your friend. Trust me.

Come into my parlour …

-

"That sounds exactly like Mum," Corrie says with a laugh. "Though she did wait to start harping on it until I was twenty-four, and then it was so-and-so's grandson, or so-and-so's cousin." Farmers, accountants, factory workers. Not that Corrie has ever been adverse to any of them, but she loves the city and would really like to stay in it rather than move back to Devon and become a baby factory.

"They've likely been watching you," she says lightly. Though she does give a peer around to see if she can spot them.

"Though there's no harm in having a spot of tea."

-

Celeste shakes her head slightly and gives a giggle as Corrie twists around. "Why me? Give yourself some kudos, Corrie."

Beat.

"Maybe one's the good friend and I'm the plain Jane that has to be distracted."

-

"Have you looked at yourself in the bleeding mirror lately?" Corrie raises her brow as she looks back at Celeste. "I highly doubt that you're the one that needs to be distracted."

She nods her head toward the pair.

"That them, then? The ones that've been watching you all evening?"

-

"Have you?" Celeste returns with a cheeky grin. "I have a make up compact in my purse if you'd like to give yourself a once over right now."

She follows Corrie's gaze and nods, flashing both gentlemen a broad smile.

"Yes, the ones who've been watching us all evening."

-

"No, I know what I look like, Celia." Corrie wrinkles up her nose and then gives her head a small shake. "I've no need for your compact, honestly."

She doesn't argue the point again, because it seems pretty moot to do so.

She does slide her chair back and wander over to the table, giving her hips a small sway.

"Gentlemen," she says with a smile. "My friend and I were wondering if you'd care to join us for a cuppa…"

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