Soon the city lights began to flash before my eyes. The beauty was unmistakable. In fact, pictures stored in my head from movies or magazines did not do much justice.
Stacie drove me past many amazing sights as we made our way south through Paris.
At one point we passed an architecturally stunning building and the voice revisited me again.
I have a plan for you.
Instantly I could picture a hotel room with long rich drapes. I was sprawled out across a massive duvet covered bed that was shadowed by mirrors along each wall.
“What?” She turned to me. “Are you feeling ill?”
“No. You passed my hotel.” The words weren’t exactly mine. I mean, they were but I had no idea of them until they tickled my lips.
Stacie slowed her car as her eyes fixated on me. “Your ... what?”
One of the most unusual sensations I can ever recall washed over me. I felt strong and empowered. It was not that Stacie’s disappointment meant nothing to me, only that I was convinced of my course of action.
“Sorry Stac. I just figured I would get a hotel room. You don’t mind too much do you?”
There was silence from the driver’s seat.
“The way I see it, I can do some sightseeing while you are working. And besides, maybe you can stay in my room with me for a couple nights. That is if Neale won’t mind? Are you mad?”
Finally Stacie broke the silence. “I’m not mad Cathie. I-I am just shocked you didn’t mention it.” She flicked her signal light on. Moving her car over towards the curb, she spoke soft with hesitation. “I just wish you would have told me. Then I could have gotten you a room closer to me.”
There was nothing said after that until we were each out of the car.
“Are you sure you don’t want to stay with us, Cathie. Neale and I have been looking forward to your visit for so long.”
When I turned my head to see her face to face I was overwhelmed by the darkness in her eyes. Their usual bright green glimmer was absent.
“Are you upset with me? I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” I said.
She lowered her eyes from mine. “I’m not upset, just ... well I had hoped to make you supper tonight and visit with you some more. But, I will have to wait till tomorrow, I guess.”
“Well, I don’t have to check into my hotel yet. Let’s go find a place to grab a bite to eat and then you can bring me back here later.” I swung around without waiting for her answer and loaded back into The Thing.
Stacie hesitated on the curb before following my lead.
She started the car up and slowly joined the flow of traffic. We drove in silence around several blocks and then she turned her car along a boulevard with many night clubs and restaurants.
“Stop the car!” I said as my head rubber-necked to watch a brightly lit establishment fly past.
“What now, Cathie?” She blurted out in anger.
“Just stop the car please Stacie. There is something I need to see.” My enthusiasm was not mirrored in her expression. The corners of her eyes tightened with a wrinkle.
I jumped out of the car as soon as she parked and began crossing the busy street. “Come on Stacie. Trust me.”
She had barely left the side of her vehicle by the time I crossed the street. I eyed the line up of men and women waiting for a turn to enter the establishment. My eyes followed the dark brick work of the building up to the neon sign above their heads. It read La Soubrette Bleu in bold sapphire lights.
By now Stacie was reluctantly by my side. “You aren’t serious, are you?”
“About what?” I said as I grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her along behind me.
We walked right past all the waiting people, right up to the thick stump of a man leaning on a bar stool at the doorway. I could hear Stacie’s whispered pleading behind me.
“Bonne soir, Monsieur.” I greeted the man.
He eyed me up and down for a second. “Oui.” He motioned with his head for us to enter through the double wooden doors.
As the door swung heavily towards me, I was accosted by the smell of smoke, the hypnotically flashing lights and the pounding of Jazz music echoing in my chest. It felt invigorating.
Stacie pulled back on my hand but I didn’t allow her to deter me. I knew I was in the right place. Now all I needed was a seat for us while we waited.
“Tell me again why we are here, Cath?” Stacie let the words stumble out of the corner of her mouth while scanning the joint for all the exits.
“Lighten up a little. He should be here soon.” The music was speaking to me and I couldn’t stay still on my seat. My eyes were scanning the room like Stacie’s, but I wasn’t looking for a way out. I was looking for him.
Stacie touched my hand that was pounding out a beat. “Did you just say ‘he’ will be here soon?”
I looked over to her long enough to assess the lines on her face as worry. Since Mitch’s death three years ago she had been trying to get me to go out and experience life. Now she is trying to shut it down.
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