[center [pic https://s18.postimg.org/o22mio7gp/2017-12-11-10-25-52-478-334x602.jpg]]He took a swig of something dark and robust, rich and awful tasting but surely welcomed as per his tireless work. A tablet sat before him, propped up by its cover and charged well as he scrolled through his emails quietly and without even a glance up at the waittress as she hovered, waiting. She wasn't frustrated by this, however, instead patient and not making a move to take up his attention or to tear him away from his reading. He had been a regular at The Cat's Tale for a number of years, and donated, give or take, six times a year. The organization served as a middleman, providing high quality food and atmosphere with acceptable prices that also funded a number of shelters in the area.
There was an event every Thursday, you see, where adoptable shelter cats were brought in to freely spend time with patrons. Treats were available behind the counter for a small fee, and toys were brought out in droves. He was, in fact, one of their favorite people to see, as while he came at least every other day, he [i never missed a Thursday lunch].
Dark eyes finally wandered skyward, taking note of the portly, however angel-faced young girl at his side as she gave him a soft smile and waved her pen at him. He set his tablet pen down and drummed his fingers on the table, his ring finger and pinkie dressed in a special black glove that eliminated pressure on his tablet screen. He checked his watch; 10 minutes until the kitties would be unleashed upon the parlor. A sizable number of women, young and old, and some children were snacking away, also excited, it would seem, to greet the shelter cats. There were only two other men, noticeably older than himself.
He didn't mind. Deonne Kingrose was not typically a man of masculine norms, not when it came to his personal tastes. Was he fit? Quite. Was he effeminate? Not at all. Was he macho, however? [i Heavens no]. His voice finally parted his lips, a deep, rolling purr as he met her gaze and raised his brows.
[b "I'll have two ev'r'yting' bagels, please. An' t'ree bags of treats."]
She said little as she scrawled his order out unceremoniously, a smidge hurried, clearly trying not to stare at him. Sweet girl. Young, but sweet.
His attention returned once more to his tablet, opening an email not more than a few hours old. It was addressed to [i Dé Rosa], the alias under which his art was titled. A commission, as usual. Seven more entries had been automatically slipped into his spam folder, all different publishers he had blocked in the past, of course. He was not after the attention, he didn't want to see his face or his real name or his lifestory in the tabloids. Instead, he simply wanted to see his art cherished, he enjoyed making it. If it could support his lifestyle simultaneously... Well.
He took another long draught of his espresso, about as dark and intimidating as people often perceived him to be at first. They grew accustomed to him in time, however, his personality and portrayal lined up far too well to maintain any threatening air in the least. He deleted the seven new inquiries and went back to his newest commission, its headline reading 'D'Angelou De La Fuénte'.
Ah, another artisan, a photographer.
A painting, it would seem, of his wife. A gift for her baby shower... A portrait. A file was enclosed, and after selecting it, it was revealed to have been a stunning photo of a long-bodied blonde with striking features, heavy with child and flushed in the cheeks. He could see the painting already, magnificent and breathtaking and content with life, much like her photo. The request was for a rather large piece, one that might span a 12-by-14 foot nursery and would need to be on his doorstep in the next two weeks. D'Angelou had enclosed half his chosen price -the customer always chose their own fees, Deonne simply agreed or denied accordingly- which was a solid five-thousand dollars. A small smirk pulled at Deonne's lips and disappeared as quickly as it had come, tapping the 'reply' option with his pen. In lovely penmanship, he simply wrote, 'Approved.'
His bagels, warm and fragrant, were placed before him. Soon to follow were three thick bags of meaty, healthy cat treats and a printed packet of information on each cat, and not long after that... [i Came the cats].
He watched with an undivided eye as they poured out from the back room to the sounds of treats being rattled and shaken, all manner of women and children giggling and rising to meet them. Deonne, however, stayed where he was, munching away, dropping a number of treats on the floor and waiting patiently as he did so. A magnificent white tom with a brown ear and a stubbed tail graced the foreign-born man with his attentions and affections, first sniffing at his shoes and nudging his ankle with a pink nose, then moving in on the proffered treats. Deonne began to draw, then, tearing off his half-glove and pulling a pencil and a notebook out of the messengerbag in the chair beside him.
Such a handsome cat.
He leafed through the packet before him until he found the feline in question, very interested indeed. Jonquil was his name, an unworthy specimen born of pedigree cats but presumably flawed in the eyes of the breeder that handed him off as a kitten. He had been adopted thrice in his six years of life, but was apparently not great with children or dogs, and had been hauled all the way from Belgium only to find that even here, he was not much better off. Reading through it broke his heart, and he waved over his waittress. [b "I want his papers, please."]
She seemed stunned, the sea of bright-eyed, milk-scented kittens behind her having been the main focus of the other patrons. [i "Jon-jon"?] she confirmed with a dip of her chin, not quite convinced.
Deonne only pointed down at the muscular tomcat in confirmation, seemingly approved as Jonquil jumped up onto the table and collapsed on his side, watching the cars pass by outside. Deonne returned to his sketchpad, similarly soundless as he shaded Jonquil's ear and outlined the structure of his fine shoulders.
The waittress disappeared to find Jonquil's paperwork. Deonne stayed right where he was, as he did every Thursday, drawing, silent, eating bagels, and surrounded by cats.
Faye tapped her fingers on her desk and looked up at the clock. The dealer was late, again. It seemed all artefact dealers were late these days and Faye was dying to grab some lunch before her next meeting. Looking over at her diploma on the wall she thought back to how excited she had been upon graduating. An excitement that had died down over the past two years.
[i "Moon hurry up and get over here" Laya, her best friend called over as her father stood posed with a camera, the kind that needed two hands to hold and had a flash that would blind you for a few seconds. The whole class stood together, arms thrown over each other, laughing, waiting for Faye Moon to fix her gown and get in the picture. It was the typical graduation picture that all parents had on their wall, but it marked the end of an era. There would be no more late nights, drinking wine out of plastic cups and quizzing each other on historical agriculture for their tests. No more staying up till dawn in the library pouring over books or pulling her hair out due to finals exams. Looking over at her father, she smiled for the photograph. Today was the end of an era, but it was also a new beginning, as tomorrow she would start working at the local museum as the in-house artefact researcher. ]
A soft knock at the door broke Faye out of her daydream. Standing up she smoothed her black dress down and smiled at the man entering.
[b "Hi, you must be the dealer from HistoCo. My name is Faye Moon, I'm the resident researcher." ] She shook the mans' hand and motioned for him to sit in the chair opposite hers. The man placed his briefcase on the desk and carefully opened it.
Faye looked over and her eyes widened. It was stunning. The gemstone in the centre of the item was in perfect condition, her heart skipped a beat with excitement. She put her work gloves on and carefully picked the item up. It looked like a small crystal globe set in limestone, the carvings were like nothing she had seen before. They were almost enchanting to look at. After assessing that it was real, and worth a lot, she said goodbye to the dealer and sat down at her desk, looking at the beautiful item.
[b "What are you?" ] She whispered to herself. The gemstone glittered back, as if answering her. [b "Are you my big break? Maybe they'll give me a promotion because of you?"] Locking the briefcase in her desk, she grabbed her coat and left her office. It was going to be a long day, and she needed coffee.