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July 14th 6:20 PM
The elevator to the penthouse floor dinged, signaling the car's arrival. The doors slid open with a low rumble and Bianca pushed her young daughter's stroller over the gap into the hallway.
"I could be doing that you know," remarked Maggie.
"I know, but why push your luck? You just got the bandages off, why take the chance of over working your hand already?"
"Fine," Maggie said with a disgruntled tone as she rummaged in her purse for her keys. Finally locating them, she unlocked the door and held it open for Bianca to push the stroller in. "Can I at least make dinner or is that going to be too dangerous?" her tone obviously mocking.
Bianca squatted down next to the stroller to release Miranda from the safety harness. "Depends are we finally out of Guilia's pre-made meals, or are you cooking something on your own?"
Maggie scowled. "Ha ha, very funny. There's still some of Guilia's cooking left."
"Oh, then by all means, please fix dinner." Bianca tried to put on the best 'I'm too cute and sweet too hate' face she could muster.
It worked, much to Maggie's dismay, like always.
July 14th 7:49 PM
Maggie set the dishes in the sink, and then leaned forward, supporting herself with her hands. Her cheeks inflated with air and her eyes went large. "I think its official."
"What's that?" Bianca inquired.
"If I ever see another ravioli, I might just explode."
Bianca laughed. "Well, you can't complain about a woman who buys us groceries and fixes us meals for weeks on end."
"True, but, seriously, just how much pasta can one human being consume? Couldn't she change it up with the occasional, I don't know, burrito? Or maybe a pizza?"
"Spicy nachos from BJ's?" Bianca asked, taking up a space next to her friend at the sink.
Maggie's eyes closed, her voice almost orgasmic in tone. "Oh god yes."
"Whoa, hold on there honey, didn't mean to get you all over-excited," Bianca said with a nervous laugh.
"How funny is it," Maggie's eyes opened again, and she turned to look at Bianca, "that we live in what most people consider the leading city in the world for great cuisine, and I can't get a stupid plate of nachos form a greasy bar and grill out of my head?"
"Not silly at all!" Bianca admonished while rinsing her plate off in the sink. "It's not like I don't sometimes think about them too you know."
"Really? I knew you liked them, but I didn't think you were that into them."
"Well I think more so since we came here actually. They represent home, comfort, another time I guess."
There was silence for a second and then Bianca felt a hand squeeze her shoulder. "You know sometimes a plate of nachos is just a plate of nachos right?"
Bianca burst out laughing. "Yes, but " she had to pause and catch her breath, "you know what I mean. Sure they're not the best nachos ever "
"SHUT UP! They are so!"
Bianca rolled her eyes. "But they are more than just 'nachos' when you're far from home, they are home do you get what I'm saying?"
"Yes and I still say they are just nachos, delicious with a chocolate milkshake chaser, but still just nachos."
"Oh fine, just shoot down my grandiose theories why don't you?"
Maggie stood on her tip toes and gave Bianca's cheek a kiss. "And that's why you love me," she said in a sing-songy voice. "I'm going to go jump in the shower see you in the den in a bit?"
"As always I'll be finding deep meaning in chocolate shakes by then."
Maggie laughed as she walked towards her bedroom door. Almost immediately after the door closed, Bianca could hear Roadhouse Blues by The Doors playing, followed by Maggie's usual off-key sing-along.
Bianca finished washing off the plates, obviously deep in thought, until finally a smile crept across her face. She shut off the water, shook off her hands, and fished her mobile phone from her pants pocket. She hit a button, and put the phone to her ear. "Aurélia? It's Bianca, I'm so sorry to bother you at home again, but I need to get on an idea right away no, it's of a personal nature do you mind helping? Oh you're the best! Here's what I need "
July 14th 8:36 PM
"So you can do it? Oh that's great, I can't wait! Thank you so much for agreeing to this Robert." In the distance, a door closed, signaling that Maggie had left her bedroom. "Oh! Okay, I need to go, thank you again Robert and I'll see you on Saturday!" She quickly hit the off button on her phone and slipped it back in her pocket.
Maggie came skipping in to the room and plopped down on the couch next to Bianca, her hair still damp, a brush in her right hand. Miranda, as always it seemed, was in her playhouse, chatting up a storm with her dolls in the library. "Whatcha doin'?" she said in the approximation of a child's voice.
Bianca gave her a puzzled look. "Wondering how my daughter grew suddenly and started looking like Maggie."
"Magic!" She threw her arms up in the air, again impersonating a child.
"Ok fess up who gave you sugar?"
Maggie laughed, her voice returning to normal. "No one, I just feel good after a shower and thinking about BJ's nachos...yum." she licked her lips.
"Well, glad your shower made you feel better. Hey " she clicked mute on the television, "what do you have planned for Saturday night?"
"I don't know, we hadn't talked about it yet did you have something in mind?"
Bianca looked at her sternly. "You know, you can make plans without me right? Go out with friends, go sight seeing "
Maggie rolled her eyes skyward while she started brushing through the hair on the right side of her head. "Yes, mom. Now come on what's up?"
"Well you've asked me out on dates twice now, but I haven't asked you out yet."
"Yeah, what's up with making me do all the work?"
Bianca chose to ignore the latest jab. "Well, would you like to go out to dinner Saturday night?"
"I figured I had a good chance at you saying yes, so I already called Guilia "
"Oh no well, I know what's for dinner for the next two weeks," she said, holding her stomach.
"Oh shush 8 o'clock? I'll pick you up!"
"Why Ms. Montgomery, I do believe you have a date! Do I at least get a hint to where we're going so I know what to wear?"
"Well we'll be outside, so dressier casual would be good."
"I think I can pull that together now," she said with a big grin.
There was a loud explosion from across the apartment.
"What the hell was that?" Maggie asked.
"Oh! Come in, it's starting!" Bianca leapt off the couch, grabbing Maggie by the hand. As they dashed through the library, Bianca stopped to scoop up Miranda and ran though the rest of the apartment to the outside patio. As they burst through the French doors, fireworks were going off all around the Eiffel Tower.
"What's this all about?" Maggie asked, staring up.
"It's Bastille Day! Don't you pay any attention? Flags up all over the city? All over the news?"
"Remember you were impressed when I slipped "good night" in to a conversation in French? You think I understand the news?"
Bianca laughed and rolled her eyes. "Fine, just enjoy the show."
Maggie looked at her and smiled, and took Bianca's left hand into her right. The girls stood there, looking up, Miranda propped on Bianca's right hip, laughing and clapping her hands, the two other women of the house holding hands enjoying a national holiday of France.
July 16th 7:45 PM
Bianca laughed and thanked Guilia, in French, for her reaction. Bianca had greeted them at the front door in a Diane von Furstenberg black, capsleeved wrap dress, with ivory highlights. The deep V-neck certainly didn't hurt things, neither did the black strappy 3" stiletto heels she was wearing. Her hair hung loose and long, ending in big bouncy curls.
Patrick couldn't see over the bags of groceries he was carrying, as was usual with their visits. "I would compliment you if I could see you!"
"Patrick! When are you two going to learn babysitting doesn't automatically equal 'we need food' I do run a company with a net worth of some small nations you know."
"Could you please inform my wife of this?"
"Somehow I don't think it would do much good," Bianca mumbled, looking over her shoulder at Guilia, who had already scooped Miranda out of her playhouse. "Here, let me take that," she said, grabbing one of the bags and following Patrick through the dining room to set it down on the kitchen counter.
Once this was accomplished, he finally got a good look at his boss. "Oh my trying to impress tonight are we?"
Bianca giggled. "Of course. Do you know if everything arrived?"
"Yes, it's all been delivered, and everything has been set up as instructed."
"Excellent! Oh this is so going to blow her mind!" Bianca said giddily.
"I would be stunned if it didn't. I'm going head back down to the car, I'll meet you there." He gave Bianca a reassuring pat on the shoulder as he walked by her.
Bianca quickly grabbed her clutch purse from the butcher block and set off to say good-bye to Guilia and Miranda.
July 16th 8:00 PM
Maggie checked her hair in the mirror one last time. She had pulled it back in a pony tail, but had left wisps at her temples, to hang in front of her ears.
She took a step back, checking her outfit to make sure it was in the more tasteful vein she was trying for. A knee length, aqua colored, pleated skirt looked good with her khaki waist-coat that had a cinch tie. She'd gone with open-toed heels and an oversized pink bag. "I never realized how tough it is to dress yourself when you actually do have to worry about what people will say," she muttered.
"Okay...I hope this outfit works, since I have NO clue where we're going yet." Just as she finished her sentence, there was a knock at her outer door. She smiled at Bianca 'picking her up' just as she done the reverse on their first date.
She opened the door and had her breath momentarily taken away by just how gorgeous Bianca looked. Classic. Simple. Fun. Sexy. All were adjectives that ran through her head. "You look amazing." She looked down at herself quickly. "I thought you said casual though "
Bianca rolled her eyes. "I did, and what you have on you look gorgeous." She had a huge grin on her face as she stepped forward and bent down slightly to give Maggie the lightest of kisses. She pulled back and kept her eyes closed for a moment, letting the sensation of Maggie's lips remain on hers for a moment. "You ready to go?" she finally asked.
"Yep all ready," she said as she stepped into the hall, closing the door behind her. "When do I get to find out where we're going for dinner?"
"Soon enough you just have to come with me." Bianca held out her left hand to Maggie in an obvious offer for her friend to take it.
She looked down at it, and paused only momentarily. They last time they had held hands in public, they had ended up as tabloid fodder. After a quick thought, she concluded she didn't care any more, and she was game. Taking her friend's hand, she followed her to the elevator, uncertain of their final destination for the evening.
After a quick ride down in the elevator, where they had stood close together, not speaking, just staring into each other's eyes, enjoying the solitude the short ride in the elevator afforded them, they reached the ground floor and went outside to the waiting car. Maggie knew it was a special night when she spotted Patrick was wearing his chauffeur's cap, something he hadn't done in ages. "Oh man," she mumbled "I really need to learn my 'casual' and her 'casual' are two totally different things."
July 16th 8:30 PM
After a short drive to the general vicinity of the Cambias building, Patrick pulled the limo in to a narrow side street, and up to a small café with an outside dining area. He parked the car, and got out to open the door for his passengers.
"Oh this place is cute," Maggie commented, obviously fishing for more information on what was happening.
"Yes, it is," Bianca commented, not giving away any further information. "Thank you Patrick, can you take the limo somewhere else while we dine?"
"Of course. There's a parking garage two blocks away, that's where I'll be."
"Sounds good, I'll give you a call when we're done."
Patrick nodded, closed the door, and drove away, leaving the two young ladies standing outside the café. An older gentleman approached them and addressed them in French. Bianca confirmed who they were, and he led them to a small table in the back corner of the outside dining patio.
After they had been seated the little man walked away, leaving them no menus. "Hey," Maggie said to Bianca, "do we get menus or do we telepathically guess what we want?"
"Oh, don't worry, they bring the menus here a little bit after you sit down. It's no big deal."
"Okay," Maggie said as she sat back in her chair. She looked around the café and something leaped out at her. She looked down at their table and then at the table next to them, and the one beyond that. "What the heck our table is different than all the other tables same with the the silverware the table cloth "
"Really? That's so peculiar." Bianca was hiding her face with her hand now, obviously trying to hide a laugh.
Just then a man in a white shirt, with a thin black tie, and black trousers walked up to their table, his hands behind his back. "Good evening ladies, I'm Robert, I'll be your waiter this evening."
Maggie's eyebrows knitted together. "Pardon me, Robert you said? Why do you speak perfect English?"
"What else would I speak?"
"Um maybe French?"
Robert smirked. "Not sure why I would speak French considering where I work."
Maggie was getting more confused by the minute, and Bianca was enjoying every minute of it.
"Anyway," continued Robert, "here are your menus, and I'll be back in a moment with your waters." He presented two menus from behind his back and handed one to each lady, before turning and walking away.
Maggie watched him walk away. "That was just beyond weird I don't know what's going on here, but " Maggie turned to finally look at her menu. Her jaw dropped, and she looked up at Bianca. "How?"
Bianca threw her hands up above her head, in a child like fashion, "Magic!"
Maggie laughed and looked at the front of her menu again, and the gold circled logo that said "BJ's" emblazoned across its cover.
July 16th 9:15 PM
"Ok, let me see if I have this right " Maggie popped another nacho in her mouth, her eyes nearly rolling back in her head, "wouldn't it have been cheaper for us to fly to Pine Valley for the night?"
"Yes by quite a bit."
"So to save us the trouble of being yelled at by everyone for sneaking in and out of town, you brought over a cook, a waiter, table, chairs, silverware, glassware, table cloth, menus, ingredients wait did they bring ingredients for EVERYTHING on the menu?"
Bianca laughed. "No, I felt fairly safe in guessing what it was you would be ordering from the menu."
"Well yeah," popping another nacho in to her mouth.
"But really two orders?"
"What? I was hungry and how often am I going to get a chance to have these for awhile?"
Bianca took a sip of her chocolate shake and smiled in a self-satisfied fashion. "More than you would think, at least for a little while."
Maggie eyed her. "What else did you do?"
"I had them bring enough ingredients so we could make some ourselves at home a couple times. While you and I go to our next destination, Patrick will be seeing to it all being delivered to the apartment for us."
"You know, you may look good in that dress, but there is nothing sexier than a woman who flies me in my own private supply of nachos," she said, devouring yet another cheese covered tortilla chip. "So, did you also rent out the restaurant, or are all these empty tables normal?"
Bianca blushed and shifted in her chair, unused to Maggie so freely mentioning an attraction. "Well the normal chef was appalled at what we were proposing, but the owner was more accommodating seeing as he writes a check to Cambias each month for rent, so, yes, he got a free month's rent for allowing us these few hours."
"Bianca I this is really too much you know that right?"
"Maggie, look," she adjusted herself in her seat, "over all, I live fairly frugally. I don't go out to clubs, I don't do drugs, I don't even own a private car, let alone a nice one I take care of those people I love, and that happens to include you. I could do this for you, I did it, believe me, the amount of money Cambias makes, this is a pittance."
"To Cambias it is, to me it's not even feasible. How could I ever do something like this for you?"
"You don't have to, Maggie," she reached across the table, grabbing Maggie's left hand in her right, "We aren't in a competition of whom can out do the other. I am just as happy sitting at home with you on the couch in the den as I would be if we went out to the fanciest restaurant in the city."
"You say that, but I can't help think about it sometimes "
"Oh shush " she sat back in her chair and smiled, obviously not wishing to continue this line of thought, "finish your meal so we can get on with our evening."
July 16th 10:06 PM
"So Patrick, how much of this did you know about?"
Patrick looked up in the rear view mirror and smiled at Maggie, then returned his attention to the narrow streets he was navigating.
"Figures," she mumbled. Bianca was on her mobile, checking on Miranda, Maggie turned to stare out the window at the passing lights. Even though she had been in the city for going on five months, it was still hard to digest sometimes she, of all people, lived in Paris. It just didn't seem real still on some levels. "Green Bay Pine Valley Paris one of these things is not like the others?" she thought.
"Penny for your thoughts," came Bianca's voice.
Maggie turned with a smile. "Munchkin okay?"
"Sound asleep in "
"Her playhouse," Maggie finished.
"Yes. I think she believes she has actually moved in there."
The limo slowed to a stop, an assortment of different colors and shades of light pouring through the windows, shadows dancing across their faces. Maggie looked around and recognized it as the Champs Elyssées. "What are we doing here?" she inquired.
"I just thought it would make for a nice walk after our meal and there are some lovely outdoor cafes along here that have amazing cocktails," she said with an impish grin.
Patrick opened the door for them, and the girls stepped out. Maggie moved away from the car to give Bianca some room to get out, and while she did so, she stretched her arms above her, hoping the double serving of nachos in her stomach might shift. She looked back and saw Patrick and Bianca conversing intently about something. Bianca patted him in the arm, he closed the door, and got back in the front of the car and drove away. "Where's he off to?" Maggie asked.
"He has to make sure everything gets to the apartment okay, he'll be back for us in awhile. Come on, let's go for a walk, some of the shops are still open, and we can at least window shop before we settle on some place for a drink." As she had earlier, Bianca offered her hand to Maggie with a smile.
Maggie pondered it again for a moment, and finally opted to take it as they began their late night stroll down one of the most famous streets in the world.
They walked slowly, taking their time, looking in many boutique windows, not looking for anything in particular, just enjoying the night and what it had to offer. Maggie was somewhat tense of holding Bianca's hand as they walked, but it didn't take long for her to notice that people either didn't care, or if they did, they would just give an appreciative nod and a smile. It was nice.
There was one shop Maggie 'had' to run into, Bianca opted to wait outside for her. Considering the night's temperature, she was a bit surprised to see her walk out with a scarf around her neck. After only a light chuckle, they continued their leisurely summer night.
July 16th 11:45 PM
The girls were well into their second cocktails when they saw Patrick pull the limo up on a nearby side street to wait for them. They waved to him, and he back to them.
"Does he do all this for us out of friendship or do you just pay him that much?" Maggie asked, leaning back in her chair.
"What? Drive us around any day of the week at any hour of the day?"
"Yeah, he never seems to argue, no matter what time it is."
"It's a mixture, I think." Bianca said looking over again at the limo. "I know Alexander used to keep him out to all sorts of insane hours. He's told me a couple times he actually gets more sleep working for me than he ever did under him, and I'm sure it doesn't hurt that I pay him a crazy amount of money," she said with a giggle, the alcohol having an obvious effect on her.
"You, my friend, are tipsy," Maggie said with a nod of her head.
"Excuse me? This from the girl who is wearing the scarf she JUST bought, and it's nearly 80 degrees?"
Maggie lifted one end of the purplish scarf that hung around her neck, and made a dismissive wave with it. "It was on sale and, what can I say, I love scarves!"
Bianca rolled her eyes and finished off her second martini. "Well that's me I think. We should be getting home if you're ready."
Maggie leaned forward, and lifted her cosmopolitan, finishing it off one gulp. "Sure thing."
July 17th 12:00 AM
"Thanks again, Guilia, we really do appreciate it," Bianca told her in French before giving her la bise. After a few more farewells, Bianca closed the door, and headed directly to the kitchen, where she had left Maggie.
She was still where Bianca had last seen her; to the right of the door, sitting at their newly purchased table, her upper torso laying on it, hugging it. "Still enjoying it, huh?"
"It smells of nachos."
Bianca rolled her eyes and took the other seat. "I truly doubt that."
Maggie lifted herself slightly and propped her head on one hand. "So, would you care to explain to me why exactly we ended up owning the table and chairs from BJ's?"
Bianca laughed. "Well, to be honest, it wasn't the original plan, but after they fought with them to get them on the Cambias jet the first time, they kind of begged me to buy them, so I did."
"Makes sense to me! Well we needed a table in here anyway, that butcher block was starting to kill my back, always sitting on those stools."
"Me too, so I think we came out pretty good in this deal."
The girls fell in to an awkward silence, but one where you stare at the other party instead of looking around, trying to find something to say. There was a longing to their looks, an unexpressed desire and want, but neither being able to put their finger on it.
"So " Maggie finally spoke, "Miranda's all tucked in?"
"Yeah, Guilia finally pried her out of the playhouse and got her upstairs. She's sound asleep."
Maggie fully sat up now, put her palms flat on the table, and stared down at the grain in the wood of the table. "You know, I don't know about you, but " she crinkled her nose, squinted her eyes and looked more directly at Bianca "I don't think I'm ready to go to bed yet."
"Me either, but, what do you want to do?"
"How about, we get a bottle of wine, head to the den, and...listen to some music? You know, a total girl talk night like we used to do."
Bianca's grin stretched from one ear to the other. "That, sounds like a lovely idea. You go put on some music, and I'll meet you there in a couple minutes with the wine."
Just as Bianca had said, it was only a couple of minutes before she joined Maggie in the den. The lights were off, just the glow of the city playing against the wall, and the soft luminescence of the stereo, which was turned down so low as to be barely audible.
Maggie was on the couch, turned sideways, her legs drawn up with her, her shoes discarded haphazardly on the floor where she had kicked them off. Her right arm was stretched along the top of the couch, her hand lightly bouncing up and down on its finger tips as she stared at it, and sang along softly to the song. She didn't even notice Bianca until she sat down in a mirrored position to her at the other end of the couch, but not so far as to be out of reach. Bianca offered her a glass of the red wine, which she gladly accepted and took an immediate gulp from.
Bianca stared into her wine, and as she lifted it to take a sip she asked, "Maggie is there something bothering you?"
Maggie sat silent, staring into her wine for a moment. As Bianca had done, she lifted her glass as she spoke, and as it hit her lips, she mumbled "Third date."
"Third da oh you have to be kidding me!" Bianca lifted her left hand to her forehead and rubbed it in frustration. "Maggie, you have to be kidding me you actually subscribe to the thought that the third date is 'the big one'?"
"Well yeah, I thought most people did."
Bianca lowered her left hand, covering Maggie's right with it. "We aren't most people Maggie. We do this at our own pace, with no need to rush things."
"I know, but at the same time it has to happen at some point you know?"
"Not until a time where you feel it's right, it doesn't."
"What what if I said I feel now is right?"
"I would say I think someone has had too much too drink and may also be a little high on spicy nachos," she said with a soft giggle to her voice, but she could tell from the look on Maggie's face, that wasn't well received.
Maggie turned, took another gulp of wine, and leaned over to the coffee table, setting her wine glass down. As she turned back to face Bianca, she also moved closer to her on the couch. "I'm not kidding Bianca everything you have done for me, everything you do for me " she cupped Bianca's right cheek with her hand, causing Bianca to pull back slightly, "I want to do this for you." She leaned forward and passionately kissed Bianca.
As much as Bianca had been slightly unsettled just a moment ago, she had a hard time resisting Maggie's lips her tongue the very essence of her, when she was obviously this intense. Just as much as the alcohol had been intoxicating, so was Maggie being this passionate.
Maggie continued to press forward, forcing Bianca to lean backwards, her kissing becoming more and more intense. She reached down and undid the cinch on her top, allowing the sides to fall open. It was when she reached for the side tie on Bianca's wrap dress that it all started to go horribly wrong.
Bianca felt the tug at her dress felt the pressure of a body on her pushing her pinning her to a couch her eyes snapped open, the room was dark, just like it had been before before she couldn't catch her breath "not again god, not again" she moved her hands onto the bare stomach of the body pressing her down ever further down, she mustered what strength she could to shove her eyes stinging with salty tears, her mouth free of her oppressors, she gritted her teeth, her voice a primal, almost a guttural scream "NO!"
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