Faye walked out onto the busy street and started to head to the nearest coffee vendor, the one she visited multiple times a day. Her coffee addiction had started at University. The late nights, the early deadlines, it had taken every last drop of the stuff to keep her going. It was the same now that she was working at the museum. She started early in the morning, doing research, then had meetings and papers to write, budgets to finalise and throughout all of it, she always had a hot coffee in her hand. Her father always joked that it would be the death of her but she was almost certain that it was what kept her alive most days.
Pushing past a group of mothers who were stood chatting, Faye suddenly caught sight of her coffee vendor. The line was long but the coffee was strong and worth the wait. Standing in line she bounced up on the balls of her feet to keep warm as a chill wind picked up. She looked over at the strip of shops and restaurants opposite the museum. She could see, even from a distance, the excitement and movement in one of the cafes. It was the place her co-worker took her little girl occasionally, then talked non-stop about it for days, showing Faye various pictures and gushing about the [I cats]. The coffee shop that had cats. It was the last place she would step foot in, although her love for coffee was strong, she couldn’t stomach sitting around screaming children pulling and throwing cats around whilst she tried in vain to drink in silence. No. That was her idea of a very very bad place.
Soon she was at the front of the line and she handed over her money to the vendor and took the hot steaming cup in return. The walk back to her building seemed longer than ever, she was dying to lock her door and spend all day staring at the beautiful artefact in her desk. And she did just that, the moment she was inside her office, she turned the key and shut the blinds. Nothing would distract her from this.
Sitting at her desk, she put on her dust free gloves, placed the artefact on the clean surface and picked up her coffee. Faye had hoped, after come caffeine, she would have been able to figure out what exactly the object is. It was perfectly smooth and had no corrosion on it, which was certainly unusual for something this old. The globe was set in limestone which was perfectly polished and bright, a small black vein running through the bottom of it was the only real sign of damage. Bringing her coffee to her lips she frowned slightly and started taking a mental inventory of the item. Colour, clarity, shape, projected price if auctioned. The only thing she was unsure of was its purpose. Items this old tended not to be used for decoration, it either had a religious purpose or possibly was used in a ritual of some sort. It was clearly not a weapon.
Faye moved the object to one side and opened up her laptop. She typed a familiar address in the web browser. A forum filled with art dealers, researchers, historians and people like herself.
[b [I ‘Item 1077: Date origin is unknown but estimated over 5,000 years old. Materials are limestone, perfect condition and a crystal which has a high clarity and changes colour in the light. The crystal sphere is set in the limestone but I haven’t looked into how yet. Does anyone have any ideas what it is used for? – FMoon.’] ]
Faye posted the description with a picture of the item and sat back, waiting for the responses to roll in. The first one took just a few minutes. [i ‘Where are you located. I would like to take a look at the item.’]
No stranger to collaboration, Faye typed back the address of her Museum and her phone number and shut her laptop down. She would check back on the forum later. Taking her gloves off, she stood up from her chair and stretched. It was almost passed midday, she still hadn’t eaten and her next meeting was about to start.
[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.