She was startled to see the owner of Felicitations here.
“Well, and don’t you look like the cat’s meow?” His voice was rich, his laughter genuine.
Her cheeks were flushed from her encounter with Gabriel. No, they hadn’t been introduced. She did not know his name was Gabriel. She smiled at Anthony, but he read her quickly. Scooping her hand into the crook of his elbow, he guided her to the corner of the bar.
He patted her hand gently, ordered two glasses of Bordeaux, and sat her in the furthest corner.
“Sweetie, you look like you’ve seen a ghost, and believe you me, I know what I’m talking about when it comes to that woo hoo shit.”
She smiled tremulously as he handed her the wineglass.
“That’s some powerful vin-tage,” he said, tipping the lip of his glass to ring gently against hers. “Drink carefully, and tell me everything. Did you see him?”
“Oh, honey, don’t play coy with me. We both know a hung, ooops, i mean hunk of a man when we see one, don’t we? And if there was a chance I could divert him away from you, to me? Ha…Honey, I’d do it in a heartbeat! Not that I’m an alleycat, but that is one fine looking fellow.”
He rose up to tiptoes, and gestured wildly to someone behind her.
“Darling, here is the sweet little thing that I sold the vintage “House of Worth” gown to…. Sweet thing? This is my Francois…”
Dressed in a lime-green suit jacket, wearing a hat with a long white feather, Francois somehow just missed being a parody of a gay man. Perhaps it was the confidence he exuded as he strutted up to her, or perhaps it was his size. He was very tall, barrel chested, and made her feel positively tiny! He swept her into a bone-crunching hug.
“Ah, ma petit, so good to finally meet you!”
He released her, holding her at arms length, sweeping her with his intense gaze, before spinning her around and running a hand down the back of the gown and over her rump.
“Lovely. Perfection. Yes, I can see why Anthony had to sell this to you.”
He beamed an enormous smile towards his mate. There was a moment of non-verbal communication between them.
“Very well done, my darling boy.”
Anthony inclined his head, with a regal nod. They were quite a pair.
“She knows, Francois.”
“Really? So soon…?”
“aaaynd….He scared her.”
She interjected, wanting to lay that little fallacy by the wayside.
“He did not scare me.”
They ignored her, talking right over her head like she was invisible. How aggravating!
“How unfortunate. He’s waited a long time to find you, you know.”
Francois looked down at her with a worried expression.
“Frankly, it was getting difficult placating him. Ghosts can be so annoyingly persistent when they want something. And we just couldn’t find the something he wanted. Which of course was a someone. You.”
Francois took her hand, held it close to his heart. His large expressive eyes showed his concern. They’d never met but she felt instantly comfortable with him. There was something very soothing about this man. His other hand rose to cup her cheek, smoothing his thumb against her skin.
The tear leaked out unexpectedly.
“I wasn’t scared. I’m not scared.” She sniffled, even as Anthony proffered his kerchief to her. He dabbed at the tear as it pooled at the corner of her mouth.
“Ah, cherie,” His eyes welled up in sympathy. “I know exactly how you feel, truly. The first time I saw him, he scared the shit out of me.”
“No lie there…I’m the one who did the laundry that week,” quipped Francois.
She couldn’t help it; she laughed.
“Wait. Let’s get this straight…I. Was. Not. NOR AM I….Scared.”
They looked at her as she spoke firmly to them.
“Angry. I’m …..so fucking angry at him. And …I don’t even know why.”
Anthony clasped his hands together.
Cara and Francois spoke simultaneously.
“That won’t be necessary. You can just speak directly to the one involved.”
The three turned rapidly, to face a scowling Gabriel.