Emmanuel's Restaurant


isis2_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif remi_icon.gif with caspian_icon.gif and devi_icon.gif

Scene Title Emmanuel's Pop-Up Restaurant
Synopsis A scavenger hunt leads to delightful dinner.
Date May 25, 2019

The story was hidden in the middle of the New York times. Page six, below the fold. Easily overlooked, Titled “Leftick Restaurant to Appear in New York - Limited Engagement for the world-famous chef in the Big Apple.”, the article told of Emmanuel Leftick and his promise to open a pop-up restaurant somewhere in New York. Known for having dinners in the most obscure and out-of-the-way places that he could, stories of having margherita pizza at the Colosseum in Rome or dinner at an abandoned National Park beneath the stars filled the online comments on the article. This event, he said, would be one that would put those others to shame, and the article ended with ‘just look for the clues and follow the breadcrumbs. I’ll see you at dinner.’ before he went off to continue orchestrating the logistics of such a feat.

The next morning, just before sunrise, a phantom blur zipped through the safe zone. Pausing for a second or two at various locations before flying off, it left, pinned to telephone poles or pasted to walls on every other block, little engraved invitation cards with numbered brass keys attached to them.

Apparently this is the first clue.

The keys and the notecards immediately are noticed around the city, with most people pulling them off their postings, trying to determine where the dinner is, what the keys might fit, and any clues that might sit on the invitation. At first glance, it’s simple. Just a green and blue embossed invitation that has no clues to exactly where the restaurant is, and the exclusivity of needing an invitation to get in meant that finding these would quickly grow more difficult as the day went on.
(OOC Okay, folks. This is your cue. How did you get your invitation and, to borrow a D&D term, what did you roll for perception on a D20, and what knowledges do you have? ;P Be creative! There’s lots of ways to do it. :) )

What’s not to love about a mystery scavenger hunt with ah-maze-ing food at the end! Everything about this gnawed at Isis’s insatiable curiosity. Mysteries, puzzles, food = Yes, absolutely, more please! One problem, dining alone is, at best, awkward. At least, that’s what she’s told Isaac as an excuse to make her invitation a smidge more casual after she’d scoured nooks and crannies of Park Slope to find a key and invitation pasted to the side of an overgrown, rusted postal box.

Perhaps the diminutive little redhead didn’t think this through, because what it is apt to reveal is a compulsive curiosity bordering on, well…. obsessive…

“So, Fitzwilly, is an oooooldddd movie,” Isis, or Jo as she goes by in Isaac’s company, explains as they walk, picking up speed in words if not in their stroll. “Released in ‘67. So, I did a little research. Turns out Dick Van Dyke was the lead actor.” She flips her loose, wavy red locks back over her shoulder and tips her head to give Isaac a playful side eye. “Did you know there’s a 67 Dick Van Dyke Street in Red Hook?” Little fingers hold up the set of unique, square-cut keys with a chipper jingle as she pops a pale brow.

"Never heard of the movie," is Isaac's reply. "But I can respect Dick van Dyke; I've seen some of his stuff, just… nothing that old. Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Some old reruns of his TV show. His, uh, first TV show. I think I watched some of Diagnosis: Murder when I was a kid," he admits, giving Jo an expression of wry amusement. "I knew there was a Dick van Dyke Street, but I wouldn't have thought to look there; pretty impressive how deep you've gone with this," he says, his grin becoming a little more honest.

Being from an entirely different world, the name of the chef isn’t really all that known to Soleil Davignon. However, what she does know is good food, and the buzz going through people’s minds about this whole thing has intrigued her. Technically, she cheated to get her invitation — someone else spotted one, and she happened to be closer and got to it first.

She never said she was nice.

Keys and invitation in hand, the woman quietly meanders along while boggling over what is presence, dressed in a pair of form-fitting jean shorts and a black tank top that sports a sad-looking T-Rex with some text about hugs. She’s at least casually dressed today.

Fitzwilly is an old Dick van Dyke movie, and the location in Red Hook is a fairly safe area, so visiting there won't be too dangerous as far as things go. The location is only a few blocks away from the market, in fact, and is still named Dick van Dyke street, even after all this time. Who says New Yorkers aren't a little nostalgic?

When Isis and Faulkner arrive on the street in front of the Red Hook Waterfront building, nothing really appears out of place. A small set of stalls have been set up with a few people selling their wares from blankets in the side of the street, brightly colored yellow flags fluttering in the breeze off the bay. A busker plays an old guitar, singing an old Fred Astaire song in time with the music - fairly well, in fact, and a cart has been set up selling fried pastries, cooked to a golden brown, covered in a sprinkling or sugar for not that much money. A bargain, in fact!

Remi’s deviousness has found an invitation and a set of keys previously claimed by an overweight man - it's a glandular problem, he swears! - who took a break to have a bite to eat. When he noticed the invitation was gone, it was far too late to go chasing after whoever took it, even if he knew who to look for. In her meandering, Remi took some time to examine the blue and green invitation. Holding it up to the light revealed a watermark shaped like a domino that might hold a clue, smelling it would detect a scent of baking bread, and feeling it would reveal that the embossing wasn't entirely even all around the card. Some letters were more pronounced than others, but this is probably a manufacturer’s defect.

Or was it?

The letters with the pronounced embossing were ‘fglalyeolw’

"Impressive? You think?" Jo rubs her cheek gently as she looks aside to meet Isaac's gaze. Her left cheek is rounded by a tilted, charmed smile. "Honestly, I've only ever seen Mary Poppins. I just like puzzles and conspiracies and…-" She makes a little hand-over-hand wheelie gesture, "-stuff."

The gesture turns into an open-handed sweep to the stalls and goods around them. "But, I'm afraid I… uh… Didn't plan much further than this." The short, red-haired woman gives Isaac a cheeks smile. She digs into her pocket and pulls up the invitation, giving it a little wave towards her companion. "Thoughts?"

Isaac grins back to her. "Now that we're here… we stroll about a bit. Enjoy ourselves… and while we're doing that, look for anything unusual or out of place. After all, the whole point of this restaurant is to be found, yes? In the meantime…" he begins, pausing as he glances to the busker and the cart. His smile widens a bit as he swerves towards the cart, glancing back towards Jo with another grin. "Maybe you can tell me a bit about this 'Fitzwilly' movie while we get an appetizer?" he says. "Maybe there's another clue to be found in that."

He'll have to run a bit this evening to work off the sugar, but he was planning to do that anyway.

So far, the only thing Remi’s been able to fully figure out on her own is the letters. Yellow flag? That’s the only thing she can think of, at least. The smell and the watermark might have something to do with it, but she can’t figure it out for the life of her.

Then, she notices Isis and Isaac. Oh hey, they have a card too! Casually, she makes her way over to the pair, holding up her own card. “Hey, either of you figure any of this out? I’ve got a few things but I can’t make much sense of them,” she calls out as she nears the pair. This isn’t a competition, they all have the same goal here.

The yellow flags flutter in the wind off the river, bringing the trio the smell of frying pastries on the breeze - a scent remarkably like the scent off the card. “Fresh frybread!” The man behind the counter calls. “Fresh and hot!”

A man further down the street pauses at that call and hurries to the stall. There are some murmured words between the pair before a package is passed to the man, who gleefully heads off to the north, leaving his card behind on the stall. The man at the stall takes the card and drops it into a basket behind him - a basket with several other cards in it.

Jo lingers behind a moment as Isaac swerves away towards the cart of goodies. There's thoughtfulness clearly writ in the way she watches him. A smile that properly reaches and sparkles her hazel eyes takes to her porcelain features and pale, unpainted lips. “It’s actually a pretty cute movie. Dyke’s a butler running cons so that his quirky boss won’t realize she’s actually gone bankrupt.” She steps in at Isaac’ side, considering Remi at her opposite. “Oh. Hi.” Her gaze flits over the other woman, voice pleasantly surprised and welcoming enough.

“If you’re here, you’ve figured out about as much as we have. But, I think he’s got the right idea…” There’s a gesture of their invitation in Isaac’s direction before Isis Jo turns to note the clandestine exchange of a package in place of fried goods from the man ahead of them.

“Ooo! I feel like I’m on a secret mission.” You know… the kind less dangerous than she’s used to. She bounces on her toes and prepares to hand over their invitation.

"Huh. That sounds like it'd be something he could sell pretty well," Isaac says. Not a clue, though… or at least not one that Isaac can fit into place easily. Ah well. "Sounds like it'd be fun to watch sometime." He makes an idle note to look for any theatres in town; it's been awhile since he caught a movie.

As the newcomer falls in, Isaac arches an eyebrow; the fact that she's got a card is promising, though. It means that someone else is moving in the same direction that they are; while it's not a guarantee that they aren't on the wrong track, it's still promising.

Jo doesn't seem to mind the company, at least, so Isaac offers a casual smile and a small wave… and as he takes in the newcomer's appearance, he feels a spike of detached amusement. Red and Red-Two, Redux. How… amusing. He could do without a sequel to the Biollante attack, though; this place isn't nearly as dark as the Botanical Gardens had been.

Ah well. As he looks back to the frybread stand, though, he spots the exchange… his lips curl up into a confident smile. "Looks like we've found where we're going," he says, giving Jo a quiet grin — her sleuthing was dead on the money, it seems — then starts moving towards the frybread stall.

“Mine smells like bread and has a domino watermark thing, and some letters are embossed that I think spell out ‘yellow flag’.” She pauses, glancing in the direction of the cart they’ve spotted; her brows raise a bit and a small smile slips over her features. “Which I think points to that.” She nods quietly, turning to make her way to the cart.

“So do you mind if I team up with you two? I feel like there’s going to be more,” the redhead explains as she makes her way to the cart to hand her own card over. “And I am pretty awful at solving these puzzles. Don’t really know my way around town, in any case,” She smiles to the other two.

The man behind the stall straightens as Isaac, Jo, and Remi approach, straightening his apron with a practiced movement. He’s dressed fairly well for the weather - comfortable, clean clothes - not at all like something someone who makes a living on the street selling fried confections would normally be found in. And the smell? Lord, the smell could wake the dead with how good it is. In fact, the trio are at the start of a small line that’s begun to form. The illicit combination of oil, batter, and confectioners sugar and cinnamon all cooked together brings back memories of childhood filled with french toast or cinnamon toast eaten for breakfast, or of funnel cakes served at the fair on cool fall nights, and brings all the boys to the yard better than a milkshake.

“Good Afternoon.” The man’s mouth curls in a small smile while he rummages below the edge of the counter, not looking at the group as he works. “Are you here for a taste of my wares? Or is there something else you seek?” Two envelopes - one for each invitation - peek above the edge of the counter, the man’s brilliant blue eyes flashing merrily before they vanish again with a slight of hand movement that’s almost too quick to be seen.

“Well, my good man…” Jo wears the foolish, lopsided smile of someone who has always wanted to say that, intoned low and playfully with a bright sparkle in her hazel eyes. “You see,” She continues, more cordial in her regular alto. “We have these.” A flick of the wrist presents the invitation card upright between her middle and forefinger. Not a magic trick, just a fun bit of flair and silliness.

“But, perhaps we can also split one of those delicious treats?” She raises a brow aside to Silas. “I don’t want to spoil my appetite,” the shorter redhead explains to her companion. “But, it’d be a sin to walk by without a taste, don’t you think?”

Isaac smirks. "I've got no objection, but Jo's the one calling the shots here; I'm just along for the ride," he says as an aside to the other woman; at Jo's offer to split a snack, his smirk curves up into a grin.

"It does smell pretty good; I'd definitely be game for an appetizer," he says to Jo, looking amused. A faint gurgling noise from his stomach seconds that opinion, and for a moment, Isaac's expression shifts into a faintly embarrassed look.

He covers it by glancing to the vendor. "How much would a frybread set me back?"

The vendor’s brow lifts at the brazen display of the invitations, the corner of his mouth quirking up in a small smile. “Oh, it's the answer to my riddle.” That explains the growing line - people coming to try their luck. “Whether or not you continue depends on the answer to my question. It's a simple one, if you think about it.”

He starts preparing an order of the fried bread for the pair, sauteeing it in browned butter with a silicone spatula, that lovely scent filling the air again. “What has a head, a tail, is brown, and has no legs?”

The telepath offers the vendor a gracious smile, pocketing her invitation and in turn pulling a single penny, worn and tarnished by time, from her purse. This is placed on the nearest empty surface of the cart as the redhead smiles knowingly at the Vendor.

“I’ll take one of those, as well.” The woman glances to the other pair, smiling and stepping to one side so they, too, can play (and pay).’

“Oh! It’s a-…” Isis’s hazel eyes swivel over to where Remi has set a penny on the vendor’s cart. “Yeah, that.” She tips her head and considers the other woman with a new scrutiny from the corner of her eye. Whatever she finds under this prying observation gets filed away without remark, though. Instead, ‘Jo’ turns back to Isaac. “If you wanna get the app, dinner’s on me. I dragged you out on this chase after all.” She smirk is only slightly sheepish, though.

"Well, I can hardly say no to an offer like that, can I?" he says, giving Jo a warm and slightly amused smile; his gaze lingers on her for a moment before he pulls his attention away, turning to face the vendor. He reaches into a pocket and draws out a handful of change, sifting for a moment before laying a well-worn penny on the counter. "Penny for a clue and a frybread?" he asks dryly.

The man behind the counter gets to work as the two pennies are taken and deposited somewhere behind the counter with a clink and two envelopes - one for each party - are placed on the counter to be taken. They’re not obvious, of course. These are just simple white envelopes, but when taken, they’re much heavier paper than you might find in an office supply store or in the markets, with that same odd embossing around the edges. “Of course, of course.” he says, glancing up, his eyes twinkling. “You’ve followed the breadcrumbs to the first goal, now I’ll give you a clue for the second. Aside from the envelopes, of course.”

Tissue paper crinkles as he deposits three slices of frybread in folding dishes - one for each - and places them on the counter. With a twist of his wrist, the fried items are dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon from a plastic shaker. “Now, I don’t know exactly where you’re supposed to go. My employer was very specific that I not know, as to keep people from reading my mind and getting the destination.” Remi gets a very specific and knowing glance that’s held for a second before the man starts another batch of fried delights for the impatient woman behind the trio. “Oh, the clue? A little deduction may be in order, of course.” He pauses for a second. “I’ve heard Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley is good. Next in line, please.”

Apparently that’s all these people are getting out of him.

“A reasonable safety measure,” Remi replies, scooping up the fry bread and inhaling the scent before stepping away and ending up over at a nearby bench. The sweet treat is placed off to the side, as Remi goes about opening up the envelope to see what’s contained within.

In the process, she offers her own smile to Isis and Isaac. “You two make a cute couple,” she points out, before absorbing herself in the contents of the envelope.

Isis goes about taking the envelope and passing it off to Isaac. This is supposed to be fun for all! And, well… if she doesn’t hold the envelope, she can’t get totally compulsive. She’s reaching for the fresh frybread when “Thank-Wha’?” She nearly drops the deep fried treat, saving it just in time as she turns an incredulous, and deeply blushing look, on Remi. Eyes wide, head tilted, brows drawn in and up - everything about this expressions reads: What the fuck, man?

She clears her throat and indulges a brief glance Isaac’s way before busily trying to pull apart the yummy, sugar bread bits. Through the gossamer sanguine curtain of her hair, her expression flits through a variety of reactions - most of which include some healthy dose of embarrassment - until there’s just one reaction too many. She laughs, a chipper bark of a sound, and pops her head back up with a flippant gesture.

A piece of frybread pops out of her fingers at the gesture and pegs someone over her shoulder, but she pretends not to notice, instead focusing on Isaac. There’s something very fuck-it-all and simply… real there now, and it doesn’t take a mind reader to pick up on the change. “A couple? Well, I probably should’ve asked if you had someone that fit the bill before I started awkwardly flirting at you.” She gives Remi a side-eye. “Good looking out.” She throws in a friendly smirk for effect. She steps out of the way of the vendor while holding out a freshly pried bit of bread in Isaac’s general direction, a hint of playful taunting about the gesture. Come and get it.

As Jo passes Isaac the envelope, he gives her a grin, letting his gaze linger on her face for a moment before turning his attention to the envelope —

— and then Red Two lobs that 'cute couple' comment. His immediate reaction is to let out a sharp, quiet little laugh, both honestly delighted and a little embarrassed… then he glances over to Jo, eyebrows raised in amusement as he watches her reaction. He watches with a faint amusement — albeit one that is rather more affectionate than is his norm — as she goes through about seven shades of flustered in about half as many seconds… and then…

Then she apparently casts it off and decides to just go for it. He's reminded, again, of how she'd leapt into action in the Botanical Gardens, threatened to burn the damn place down, and his smile grows. "No one at the moment… though there is this redhead that I like," he says. His grin grows wider at the upraised piece of frybread, and he steps towards her. "I'm hoping to have a nice lunch with her today…" he says; the steadiness of his gaze on her and the warmth in his smile leave little doubt as to who he's talking about.

The man behind the counter smiles and goes about his work, leaving the envelopes to be opened.

There is an undeniably pleased look on Remi’s face at the two’s reactions to her remark. Well-placed remark successful. The woman smiles to the two. “Oh, you weren’t together yet?” She laughs softly. “Could’ve fooled me.” Isis is given a small wink.

With a small chuckle at the pair, she turns her eyes to the envelope, gently pulling it open to discover the contents within, popping a piece of the frybread into her mouth as she does so.

There is indeed an apparent trend: focus under pressure. A focus that is now centered on Isaac.

At the man’s words there’s quick spark in Isis’s hazel eyes before a purse-lipped smirk of mixed amusement and satisfaction tickles at her features. As he approaches, her arm bends slightly at the elbow, requesting a whole extra step nearer of him. She looks up at him, smile inviting, and holds the pinch of bread up between their faces. “A nice lunch - well, she better get her ass in gear then.” Only then does she relinquish the little treat to him and pry off a piece of her own, popping it between nude lips still molded on an all too pleased smile.

She turns her body, moving into stand beside him with her shoulder against his arm. Pushing to tiptoe, she cranes with exaggerated nosiness towards the envelope in his hands. “What we got?”

Isaac's grin broadens as he takes that extra step; he very deliberately reaches up and takes the piece of frybread in his fingers, popping it into his mouth, grinning all the while.

He does spare a brief sardonic glance to Red Two at her comment. Now you're just gloating, he thinks… but he's in too high-spirited of a mood for it to actually be a grumble. He's not sure if she actually is a mindreader… but it doesn't really matter.

Jo's right. They'd both better get their asses in gear. Her shoulder against his arm seems a perfect invitation to slip his arm around her shoulders… ah, but alas, opening an envelope requires two hands. Well. He could cheat, but… no. Not now. "Let's find out," he says; his hands move briskly, neatly opening the envelope and reaching inside to see what lurks within.

The crowd for the frybread starts to move, the man behind the counter not offering any clues, only smiles and distribution of tasty treats. Each envelope, when opened, reveals a simple page printed with an assortment of letters and numbers on both sides, the paper folded in thirds in order to fit in the envelope properly. Strangely, several dozen spots on each page have individual letters cut out. It’s impossible to tell what the letters might have been that were removed - there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it - but having two pages might reveal something similar or different between the two.

Like the fact that each page doesn’t have the same spots cut out.

The telepath raises a brow at the paper, peering over it front and back. “Man, someone went out of their way…” she smirks, turning to peer at the couple and holding up the letter. “I think the powers that be might want us to work together,” she remarks, popping another piece of fry bread into her mouth.

It’s a good thing there’s a snack at this point, she might waste away to nothing trying to solve this. “I confess that I don’t have the best head for solving puzzles most of the time,” she remarks sheepishly — usually there’s too much else going on in there.

Little waves of red are jostled by the way Isis turns to regard Remi anew. So, she’s still here. That’s a thing. But, then the other woman waves the letter and gives some friendly self-deprecating remark, so… “Should’ve known it was going to be one of those social things,” she teases, all easy and Jo-like. She beckons Remi closer to her little two-person huddle. “No head for puzzles? You must really love food to sign on for this rat race, then. Let’s see what we’ve got…”

Isaac frowns as he unfolds the sheet of paper that had been in the envelope; the meaning of this clue (if there is one) is not immediately apparent. It isn't even possible to guess what letters had been removed — the 'words' on this page seem to be nonsense, or perhaps encoded.

Red Two's revelation of the page in her envelope is… interesting, though. It's obvious, even at a glance, that the two papers are not the same. Isaac looks, briefly, in the direction that the previous customer had headed from the stall; perhaps he'd been in a hurry to find someone else to compare notes with? Or perhaps the clues had been different. Curious… though admittedly also irrelevant. The previous customer had his clue, and they have theirs.

"Mind if I take a look at yours, Miss…?" he asks, quirking an eyebrow at Red Two; he holds his page up, showing that the two are different. "Seems our pages are different. Could be the holes in one spell out something on the other." There's still the matter of the Carl Luger's bit the vendor had given them… but maybe whatever is hidden in the pages will shed some light on that.

Isaac's thought is try to lay one page over the other, see if the letters visible through the holes spell anything out; failing that, comparing the two and seeing if there's anything immediately apparent as far as similarities or differences.

The message over the four pages is as follows:

Page 1. Congratulations! You’ve made the next step
Page 2. Continue your journey to a famous steakhouse
Page 3.. Bring your keys they will be needed
Page 4. 178 Broadway Brooklyn New York

“You have no idea,” Remi replies to her fellow redhead’s remark about loving food. When you’re still only six months fresh out of a world where fish and what few vegetables can grow in a hostile climate where there are no more ice caps, you tend to fetishize food just a little bit.

She almost gives her real name, but catches herself in time — instead, she gives the moniker that SESA has encouraged her to use. “Amelie,” she replies, smiling to the two as she hands over her pages.

As Isaac lays the pages over each other and the message appears, a satisfied smile appears on the woman’s face, patting her pocket where the keys are safely stored. “Guess we have our address,” she murmurs, turning her gaze toward nearby street signs to try and orient herself.

“Thank you, Amelie.” Jo watches curiously as Isaac manipulates the pages this way and that till they line up just so. She squints at the address. “Oh, well… We best get moving.” She looks around for a nearby bus stop.

Isaac nods as Red Two hands the paper over and introduces herself. "Obliged, Amelie," he says… and then he's got the page in his hand and his focus narrows to the problem in front of him. Time to earn my lunch.

A quick inspection reveals that his earlier observation is correct — the two sheets are definitely distinct from one another, though the text on the two is equally indecipherable. When he lays Amelie's page over their own, though, that's when the meaning of the clue becomes apparent. His lips curl into a smile. It takes only a couple of minutes more to decode the full message, making sure to give Jo and Amelie enough room to peer at what he's doing.

"We should indeed," he says, handing Amelie's sheet back to her and nodding to Jo with a satisfied smile… although there's still the matter of the vendor's spoken clue. Maybe the bit about Carl Luger's was a tidbit that will help point the way to the stop after this one? Or… hm. He'd said something about context

Well. They'll find out soon enough, surely. "It'd be the actual worst if we went through all this and found out that the place was full to capacity," he says, glancing around to try and figure the shortest easiest way towards their destination.

There is a bus stop nearby with a route that heads around the island, through Brooklyn, with a stop on Broadway near the river, about a block or two from the address that was written. It’s as if someone planned this to work this way.

The trip to Brooklyn is quiet, with a few people heading home from work, and almost no-one there with the pages from the envelope. Sure, a few people had made it to that point already, but none were on the bus at this time, so there were no other people to communicate with about what they might find when they get there.

The neighborhood the group is dropped off in is quiet - still recovering from the war, as is the majority of the city - but is in fairly good repair, with the hum of private generators keeping the electricity on when the inevitable blackouts occur. It used to be a small residential neighborhood with businesses on the bottom floor of the high rises, and they’ve started to be rehabilitated for the current residents to enjoy clean, safe places to stay. A little island of normalcy in the middle of the Safe Zone.

And as they walk down Broadway towards the address, the old brick buildings start to become more ornate, until finally, they reach 178 Broadway.

A low three-story brick building sits on the corner, the facade recently repaired and painted, the glass doors closed to Peter Luger’s Steakhouse, a famed restaurant that had only closed from its usual seven days per week due to the lack of beef availability. Beneath a gaslight and a wooden podium stood a uniformed woman (with an armed guard behind) waiting for something.

That something was apparently in the lockers across from her. A 6 by 6 bank of what looked like safe deposit boxes was mounted in the wall where she could see exactly who was heading for it and whether or not they had a key. “Ladies, Gentlemen.” Her voice was honeyed with a bit of a Scottish tinge to it. “Welcome. Please make your choice of boxes. One, and only one choice, please. Your key will only fit a single box and, if it opens, your goal is within.”

“I am able to offer a clue if it would help.” She adds.

Armed guards… Isis’s brows creep slowly up behind a few errant, crimson waves. She steps just that much closer to Isaac’s side as her hazel gaze seems, at least at first, to probe nervously about the armed figures. “What did I get us into?” she whispers aside to her companion, equal parts playful and nervous. Only the mention of the secured lock boxes and the prospect of the unknown within are enough to break her nervous attention from the guards.

“Wait, so we’ve come all this way and we still might not get in?” She brings up a hand to look accusingly upon the little key in her pale palm. “Well, that just won’t do.” A tilt of her head allows her to turn a side-eyed glance and mischievous smirk upon Isaac before she turns a determined look on the uniformed woman. “We’ll take you up on that clue, if you don’t mind, miss.”

Armed guards? Now this is getting interesting. Isaac's lips creep up into a devil-may-care smirk. His eyes flicker to Jo as she edges closer; he meets her side-eyed glance and smirk with one of his own, then he glances back to the lady at the podium, nodding. "Let's hear it."

The armed guard is definitely an interesting addition; Remi eyes the pair of them, pointedly listening in on the uniformed woman and her guard. Her keys are pulled out, the telepath eyeing the keys and the safe deposit boxes.

“Yes please to the clue,” she replies of the offer, brows rising slightly as she watches the woman.

The armed guards are a simple precaution. A woman, standing alone in the middle of a darkened street illuminated by bright lights trained directly on her might attract the wrong kind of attention. Having a burly man with a semi-automatic weapon at the ready plus some number of additional protections that can’t be seen is simply being pragmatic in the post-war New York City.

It might have been acceptable in a pre-war New York City, too, but that’s besides the point.

The woman behind the podium looks at each person, lifting up on her toes slightly to look behind them to see if anyone else is coming and then lowers, leaning forward conspiratorially. “You already hold the key to your salvation in your hands - the key and the invitation.” She whispers, grinning. Any psychic Simply putting them together will give you an idea of solving the riddle and getting you to your goal…” She smiles, going quiet for a second and you all think you can smell something on the breeze nothing like anything you’ve smelled in a very long, long time.

“The chef is waiting, so the clue is this. Study your invitation closely, then choose a box. If you choose correctly, your key will fit and you’ll find another key that will allow you access to dinner. If not, the key will break and your quest will end. And, while you could choose randomly…” She reaches beneath the podium to withdraw a small basket, several bent keys already inside. “It doesn’t work out very well and Floyd here…” She glances over her shoulder. “Floyd doesn’t like people trying a second time. That’s just not fair to the others, after all.”

Floyd takes a step forward into the half-light from where he was stationed next to the old post office boxes mounted into the wall, slapping them with one hand to indicate this is where you go next.

Isis pulls her head back slightly to give Floyd a wide-eyed look as his hand thuds against the bank of lock boxes. Blink blink. Her face turns towards Isaac before she can effectively pull her eyes off the large guardsman. “Well then…” She clears her throat and holds up the key. “Let’s see what we got.” With a little gesture she encourages Isaac to hold up their invitation. “Maybe try… holding it up to the light?” she suggests while she examines the key - doing everything from counting the nubby teeth on it for some mathematical clue to lining the key up over different words of phrase on the invitation.

Examination of the invitations to the light reveal a domino watermark imbedded in the paper at a right angle to the edges - a different domino for each invitation, as well. Remi’s page has a domino with one pip and two pips, while Isis and Isaac’s page has a domino with four pips and two pips. Or is is two pips and four pips? The trick, it seems, is to determine which box corresponds with the domino printed on the page using the information already given in the invitation. The watermark is faint - so any detail besides what domino is printed in the watermark is impossible to see.

The keys, aside from being made of delicate, tarnished brass with a number etched on the side, seem to be only that - just keys for the lockboxes mounted on the wall in front of the group. The number engraved on the key, notably, does not correspond to any of the numbers labelled on the boxes. Examination of the lockboxes reveal that several have already been successfully opened while others have had their keys broken off inside the locks - evidence of failure on the part of the person who chose that particular box.

“If I may.” The woman behind the podium says. “Perhaps the discarded invitations left in the small wastebasket next to the podium would be a good place to start?”

"I see…" Isaac muses aloud, weighing things. at Jo's prompt, he nods, raising the invitation up to the light to examine it clearly. He frowns, raising it still higher. "Looks like you're spot on," he says. "There's a watermark; a domino," he says aloud. "Two pips on one side, four on the other." He glances over to Jo, to see if she's having any luck with the key… but then the woman at the podium speaks up, drawing a frown.

Trash diving is not Isaac's idea of a good time, even if it is a relatively clean trashcan. On the other hand… it'd be a dreadful shame to come this far and then fail. Oh, sure, he could always grab lunch with Jo elsewhere, but it's the principle of the thing. Bleh. Well. The trashed invitations aren't going anywhere. If he has to go trashdiving, so be it, but there's no need to rush headlong into it.

The telepath, meanwhile, is scouring her invitation and the keys, following Isis’s lead on examining everything. “Mine has one and two,” she murmurs distractedly, turning her eyes down toward the waste basket.

After a brief glance to the other two, she offers a small shrug — so long as there’s no rotten food contained within, looking at other peoples’ invites can’t hurt. She crouches down, doing as suggested, pulling out the tickets and scouring them as well.

Rummaging through the small wastebasket - specifically there for that purpose with nothing in it besides invitations and envelopes from the invitations - Remi finds four more invitations that, when studied under the light, reveal a different domino watermark on each. The fifth, sadly, has been ripped in half, the watermark mostly missing, but half of the domino’s pips can be made out. Floyd and the Hostess wait patiently for people to figure things out. They’re not going to force a decision.

Isis watches Isaac eye the little paper bin apprehensively, a silent smile daming back a chuckle. Her gaze slips back towards Remi as the other woman starts prying up several sheets of paper. “Two dots. Four dots…” She mutters aside to Isaac even as she watches Remi. She tiptoes over and unobtrusively works alongside Remi to gauge the images watermarked on the discarded invitations. She even unburies a little pen from one pocket and makes some notes in the margins of one invitation regarding what figures the have found. Crouched beside Remi, she squints deliberately at the lock boxes.

“I got i-… Wait.…” She scowls at something on the wall before letting the express sooth away with the soft sound of a thoughtful hum. “First number is horizontal, second is vertical. Three outta four accurate. Seventy-five percent. So… maybe someone done fucked up?” She wrinkles her nose at the back of walls and looks to Issac. The key pop up into the air in his direction. “Fourth one in, second one down. What do you think?” There’s that mischievous glimmer again and at the moment it's all for Isaac. She doesn’t bother to rise, but rests her forearms on her bent knees and watches him with vibrant eyes and that tilted sweet smile.

Jo and Amelie have no compunctions about getting their hands dirty, it seems; good for them! It means he doesn't have to, which is also good for him. He thinks for a moment longer, eyeing the boxes… but then, as Jo ventures her idea, Isaac turns his attention to her.

A slow smile spreads across his face to match hers. "Coordinates. Of course," he says, grinning broadly back at her. It makes perfect sense; there's an x and a y, and the orientation of the text makes sure that you don't get the two reversed, and the domino motif makes a good way to ensure that there's still a bit of a puzzle in it.

He sees her toss the key his way, sees it gleam brightly in the sunlight as it arcs towards him; he extends his hand, then swings it around in a mildly theatrical-looking swipe, snagging it cleanly out of the air. It's a bit over the top, maybe, but he's feeling a certain exuberance at the moment, a sense of excitement only partially attributable to the sense of accomplishment he feels at their imminent triumph.

"I think," he says slowly, savoring the moment, "that I'm about ready for that lunch," he says, eyes all but gleaming as he turns towards the row of boxes. He hesitates for a moment, then steps forward to try his luck.

It’s a good thing Remi found these guys — she might not have even gotten this far if not for piggybacking with them. And really tasty food sounds too good to pass up. Once the other two hash it out, Remi stands, watching as Isaac makes his attempt — if they get it right, she knows where to go — same if they get it wrong.

Remi never was all that good at playing fair.

She smiles over to the pair — for their sakes, she really hopes this works out and they get to enjoy dinner too.

Floyd stands aside as Isaac approaches the box, remaining impassive as the key is slid into the corresponding box’s keyhole. Fourth down, second one in, as Isis suggested. With a wiggle, the key turns and the antique mechanism’s well-oiled tumblers turn. It seems Isis was correct with coordinates and with the orientation. The box opens with a small flourish and a squeak of the hinges, followed by a small cloud of cool air. Apparently these boxes are air conditioned, or the space behind it is.

If Isaac or Isis were bold enough to peer into and through the box, they would see a cook in chef’s whites standing there, glancing back with a grin and a wave before a snack in a paper tray is slid into the opening along with a small, white invitation. Two shrimp - perfectly fried, crusted with light bread crumbs and dotted with a savory sauce - sit in the paper tray, one each for the two people who opened the box. “Eat them now.” The cook behind the mailbox says. “They’re best warm, and you should be able to finish them by the time you get to your destination. An appetizer.” With that, a small card covering is lowered from behind and the light from behind is blocked out, making appear as if nothing is there again but a blank wall.

“There was someone who chose incorrectly.” The woman behind the podium said offhandedly. “She managed to find us without following the clues, and that forced an incorrect choice for the person who came after. Bad luck. If we could have bent the rules in that case, we would have, but Chef Leftick was quite insistent that whoever came to dinner would have to earn it properly, since there was some luck involved as well.” She glances to her watch and then gestures to the card. “Your destination is on that card, please present it at the door for admission. Congratulations.”

And she points across the street to the Weylin.

Originally labeled as the Williamsburg Savings Bank, the Weylin, before the war, was a place for Brooklynites to have weddings, bar mitzvahs, reunions, and the like, but had fallen into disuse after the war. The cast iron dome, the thing that it was famous for, had survived the war relatively intact, and the 1800’s construction of heavy stone masonry had weathered the war surprisingly well. For a pop-up restaurant, it’s the ideal location. Fairly well-preserved, secure, and a place that not many people knew about.

Isis remains crouched like a tightly wound and twitchy little feline. Hazel eyes following Isaac’s paces over to the lock boxes with growing restlessness settling into the rest of her. She chews on her lower lip, but freezes as the key slips into the lock. There’s a wince and then… “Ah! We did it!” As the cat-like posture would suggest, she pounces up out of the bent pose and bounds over to Isaac, little hands bracing his shoulders from behind and giving a squeeze while she lets out an excited woop.

On tiptoe she’s still not quite able to look over his shoulder so she peeks around the side of him instead, taking in the strange ongoings through the little unlocked window of sorts. “Oh, that smells amazing… “ Cheek again his arm she eyes the little sampler of shrimp excitedly, but prys her gaze away to look back upon their shadow-foodie expectantly.

Remi, confident in Isis’s powers of deduction, strides over to the boxes to try the formula for herself, though not before looking longingly at the shrimp sampler. Shrimp were prominent in her home world, but these seem to be exquisitely prepared.

She’s rather glad she didn’t bring a plus one — she would have invited Silas along, but he was busy at work, and really…this just means more food for her.

Her stomach growls a bit in anticipation.

Isaac's smile broadens, grows positively triumphant as the lock turns, and as the door swings open. He peers in the door…

…and blinks to see someone grinning back from the other side. Unexpected! Also, appetizer! Also, happy Jo! He can't help but laugh aloud as she whoops and latches onto his shoulders, peering around him to try to get a better view into the box.

Isaac carefully withdraws the tray of shrimp and the invitation, then glances over to Jo; he'd grin more, but he doesn't think his grin can physically get any wider, so instead he just presents the shrimp. "Appetizer for two," he says with a grin. "Now how about we go get that lunch?"

“Enjoy your meal.” The man behind the boxes calls, voice muffled, as he starts Remi’s appetizer going. It’s shrimp - it’s huge and cooks fast - and in the time it takes for Remi to get over and open her box he’s already got it battered and in the oil to start cooking through. Peanut oil, it smells like. And when the box is opened, another taste of shrimp is slid into the waiting receptacle after being dotted with the sauces, Remi getting a smile of her own before it’s closed off from the world too. This leaves Remi, Silas, Isaac, and Isis in the street outside a closed restaurant, looking toward the now lighted doors of the Weylin.

Emerging from the shadows on either side of the lit door are guards dressed in the same uniform as Floyd, with military-style uniforms and insignias of a chef knife and carving fork crossed over each other, surrounded by laurel. Apparently the proprietor of this establishment is extremely into the setting being just perfect, even going as far as getting the guards matching insignia.

As you all approach, they check to see that, yes, there are at least two envelopes for the three people approaching and reach over with white-gloved hands to pull the clean glass doors open on well-oiled hinges, ushering you into a very well appointed restaurant lobby that appears like it was untouched by the war. Wooden panels, burnished to a mahogany luster, line the marble floors that are intricately inlaid with tableaus of the City before the war. A fountain burbles in the middle of it all, with seats surrounding it for waiting. Little plates of food are scattered about, inviting those lucky enough to find this place a treat before finding their table, and most importantly of all, cool air - air conditioning! - is pumped in, the temperature a comfortable 76. When the doors close behind, a heavy rolling door rattles down, blocking the light and the sound from outside, leaving the three that found this place in silence.

In reality, this building was closed for the past few weeks with workers busily going in and out - structural repairs, people were told. It’s only going to be after the dinner that people will find out what really happened behind those antique stone walls.

“Welcome to Fitzwilly’s Restaurant.” A voice from a hidden source announces. “Congratulations for finding your way here. Dinner will be served shortly.” There’s a click and a young man, probably not more than fourteen or fifteen, emerges from a room to the side, leaving the door open. Dressed in a comfortable-looking jacket and suit, with the rosy complexion of someone freshly scrubbed with hair clean and face washed, he stands straight and walks over to the three visitors in a well-practiced motion. ”Table for three?” He asks curiously, looking to an older gentleman dressed in a very expensive-looking suit, who shakes his head slightly - something mistaken for approval. The man in the room does motioning for the host to keep his arm straight in the proper manner. The boy grins and nods, looking to the three guests. “Right this way, please.” He gestures to the hall beyond, and the feast that awaits.

“Holy hell.” Isis mutters into her napkin, dabbing away any remnants of the fried crustacean treat from her lips. She reaches out a free hand to catch Isaac’s elbow as she turns her face up-up-up to take in the opulent atmosphere about them. From a seed of awe, a smile grows and blossoms across her delicate features. The smile is turned upon the teenager that greets them…

And then it’s gone. There’s a faltering of her step, a pause where she lingers to stare at his back as he leads the party of three towards their designated table. A deep breath squares her shoulders and, piece by delicate piece, reassembles her smile just so. And she’s off, gently anchored to Isaac’s side with fingertips barely resting at his elbow, following in the maitre d's wake.

There is a small, very satisfied grin on Isaac's face, first as he takes in the opulence of the scene, and then as he takes in Jo's reaction. He's watching her out of the corner of his eye as that radiant smile blooms on her face —

— and then dies and is replaced by a facsimile of itself the moment their waiter says party of three.

There is a slight narrowing of Isaac's eyes, and then his gaze shifts to the teenager leading them. He clears his throat. "Two tables, if you please," he says diplomatically. "Party of two," he says, indicating himself and Jo with the arm she's not holding onto. He glances over to Amelie briefly, inclining his head and offering her a smile. "Amelie, it's been a pleasure, but I trust you won't mind us taking our leave here," he says, inclining his head politely… then turning his gaze back to Jo. "I trust that's alright with you?" he asks, giving her a hint of a smile.

The telepath’s face brightens as they enter, a smile forming across her face. This is more like it — this is the kind of thing she’s missed. Fancy meals in swanky environments where she can feel at least a little bit like she did when life was good and she was a famous movie star. In another world, these two lovers would probably be starstruck and practically begging to accompany her to her meal.

Well. She didn’t miss that part of fame.

Perfectly made up eyelashes flutter at the mention of party of three and the woman raises one hand, shaking a head. “Oh no, I’m not with them,” she insists. “I just piggybacked along with them, as that one,” she gestures toward Isis, “has much better powers of deduction than me.” She chuckles. “I’ll take my own table, thank you.” She offers a small, discreet wink toward Isaac. “Enjoy your romantic dinner, you two.”

The head waiter, who has been watching the goings on from the atrium, steps in at this point. “Vincent.” He turns to the young man. “Please show our guest to table fifteen.” When a blank look is offered in return by Vincent, a simple point towards a table near the wall, already set up for a single diner, is given. Vincent, suitably informed, nods. “Right this way, Ma’am.” he says to Remi, leading her to the table, even going as far as to pull out her seat and lay the linen napkin across her lap. He has been practicing!

“My apologies for young Vincent.” the head waiter says, his British accent marking him as a resident of the southern part of England. “He is still learning the proper way to perform his duties. One of the many projects we have undertaken during our stay here in the city. Please.” He gestures towards another table, this one in a secluded corner, partially hidden by a column from the rest of the restaurant - a romantic table for two, by definition. And the head waiter does his job flawlessly, allowing Isis to sit first, helping her slide her chair in, draping the napkin across her lap before turning to assist Isaac if he needs it.

Once everyone is seated, the head waiter begins. “Welcome to Fitzwilly’s.” His nose wrinkles slightly - it’s not a very dignified sounding name for a restaurant in his opinion, but the chef apparently had his reasons. “As you may have surmised, this is a one-night dining experience for those skilled enough, or lucky enough in one case, to follow the clues left around the city to lead you here for a meal that will not be forgotten. Our menu, understandably, is set, but we will strive to accommodate any allergies or religious exemptions that you may have. We do feel that our French view of cuisine will be welcomed in the United States and welcome you again to the restaurant.” He produces two cards, placing them on the china plates in front of each of you, listing out the fourteen(!) courses

Remi, at her table, is getting Young Vincent’s opening as well - not as polished as the head waiter’s, of course, but adding a little more embellishment. “Chef Leftick is really helping out. All the food that he’s brought in, besides the stuff he’s using today, is going to the hungry families around town, and he’s using this opening as a way to help some of us, too. To top it off, my mom has a job in the kitchen now, and my older brother is washing dishes. We get three meals a day and he’s even paying us!” The way he says that shows how big of a deal this chef’s arrival really was.

“Vincent.” The head waiter calls, giving another shake of his head. “First course.” He then looks down Isis and Isaac and continues.

At Remi’s table, Vincent is suitably chastised. “Sorry, miss. Sorry.” He bows awkwardly. “I’ll be right back with your first course and a water to start. The wine list is in the folder to your left, with your choice of red or white wine during the meal, as well as champagne for an apertif.” (pronounced ap-ertiff in Vincent’s Brooklyn accent)

A little gap parts peach-pale lips - Isis couldn’t hide her shock if she wanted. Golden-fleck, hazel eyes stare up at the side of Isaac’s face, brows slowly drifting from an angle of surprise to a gentler peak of admiration and gratitude that seems to warm her porcelain visage from within. She even brings a hand to rest on her sternum as the tag-along woman chimes in with praise and easings of any guilt. Win-win.

Adventure complete and far more successful than anticipated, Isis… uh, Jo rather, settles in beside Isaac with a smile. Okay, so clearly there’s still some things to address, but for now she seems to be content with the unburied treasures of the day - He’s interested!

Apertif,” Remi corrects with perfect French inflection, smiling up at Vincent.” She pauses, looking over the menu as she settles in. “I will take the chef’s wine recommendation for the meal,” she replies, making it easy on Vincent — he clearly has never done anything like this before, so she’s happy to give him an easy time of things.

A brief glance is cast toward the two, a small knowing smile offered up (not that they’ll notice), before the woman returns to the matter at hand — enjoying the hell out of some fancy food.

That look on Jo's face. As far as Isaac's concerned, that look makes it all worth it. More than worth it, really; honestly he'd count a look like that as a win even if they were eating at Bob's Haggis Barn or something; getting a fourteen course meal prepared by a world-renowned chef on top of it is just… perfect. A perfect moment.

That's not a word Isaac uses lightly, either. He chuckles, and grins back to Jo, looking honestly happy; there is that wine list to get to, of course, and he'll get to it in a moment… but that's a little later on.

The restaurant is quiet, all things considered, with the muffled sound of the kitchen in the background weaving around the piano music playing quietly in the corner. This juxtaposition of sounds forms a strange sort of synchronicity that allows diners, just for a moment, to forget where they are in the world. The war and barely restrained chaos that exists outside the walls of the restaurant melt away and, for a time, diners are able to remember what the world was like before. Add in the ability to enjoy the talents of a professionally-trained chef with an astronomical budget, and you get a night to remember.

The food, when it starts arriving on meticulously cleaned plates, is exquisitely prepared. This isn’t something a single chef worked ten minutes on - this is fine dining that had multiple people’s hands coming together for one particular moment to be presented to the guests. To start, a small bowl with a cup inside is placed in front of each diner, a rich broth of long-cooked chicken poured carefully over deep fried wafers and peppery leaves. Something to get the appetite going before the next course of young, fresh split peas in a broth that looks too bright green to be natural, but is. Topped with a carefully styled curl of mousse.

The first taste of wine is offered around the third course. With her Festival of Lobster delivered, Remi is brought a glass of dry, crisp white wine in a chilled long-stem glass that, after tasting, causes the lobster’s flavor to positively explode through her mouth. Isaac is given the wine list to study. While short, the list includes things that haven’t been found in New York since before the war, including some varieties of white and red from France and, yes, even California, of all places. These wines were carefully curated and brought back from the Continent where they were shipped before embargoes and war cut production down to almost nothing, with several bottles placed on sale to those with the means, all proceeds from the sales going to local food pantries and homeless shelters.

The meal, as it’s slowly brought out, is enough to fill a person up, but not enough to weigh them down. A meal purely for the pleasure of eating, instead of the necessity of survival.

A meal that takes approximately three hours.

Throughout the meal, conversation is offered by all the passerby, if it was wished by the diners. Bussers, servers, the head waiter, even the sommelier, have small stories to share about the path in life that led them to New York and Chef Leftick. How the kitchen equipment, when the restaurant is closed, will be donated and installed, lock, stock, and barrel, to the New York City food bank, along with all the accumulated canned and dried goods. All the stocks won’t be enough to feed the city, of course, but it certainly will enough to keep bellies full for a few weeks while giving people a safe place to cook. Tales are shared of the help that’s been offered. The training. The offers to come to the Continent with the chef to apprentice, or a hand up in starting a restaurant or food truck to provide a way to feed others while providing for themselves.

While the meal progresses, rare foods make appearances, prepared in simple, yet tasty ways. Fish, wrapped in parchment paper and baked with a lemon glaze that’s both sweet and sour at the same time. Roasted duck with crispy skin. Cheeses from Europe. Sauteed mushrooms - and not just the white button ones people might have had once or twice, but shitake, wood ear, morel, portobello, and even truffles, are presented artistically, with a sprinkling of parsley and a swirl of a thick, rich cream sauce. Even avocados, artichokes, and asparagus are presented. “We call that the A course.” Vincent playfully comments to Remi as he places her plate down, wiping the edge with the napkin he carries with him, positioning it just so on the table.

And dessert.

Dessert, when it arrives, is something to behold. The menu said simply ‘pure chocolate’ which was ambiguous at best, but the plate that’s put down in front of each person turns out to be a simple cylinder resting on a feathery bed of cocoa dust on top of a round of what appears to be chocolate cheesecake. The logo of the restaurant is etched into the surface on top, or perhaps it’s melted, as a final ‘this is where you’re eating’ emphasis. Either way, the first touch of a fork causes the outside of the cylinder to fracture, the melted chocolate inside cascading out, soaking into the chocolate cheesecake to be savored slowly with little dishes of orange and lemon sorbet provided after to cleanse the palate. Fresh strawberries - in season, luckily, are provided, dusted with powdered sugar, or chocolate, or simply left bare to be taken and savored, are left near the table, and for the kid in everyone, cookies - mostly British and French ones in individual packages - are provided to nibble on and be secreted away in pockets to be taken home while the last of the plates are cleared away.

Not bad for a free meal.

As the couples and solo foodies within the restaurant bask in the opulence and heavenly cuisine, the Head Waiter moves away to greet a newly arrived pair. The gentleman looks prepared for the evening in casual business. In truth, it suits Caspian. He cleans up nice. The warm, earthy shade of his green button up brings out a charmingly vivacious gleam in his brown eyes. On his arm is a restless creature, too busy shifting her weight from one hip to the other and picking at the clingy material of a greedily clingy dress to notice the waiter’s approach.

Devi’s hair is artfully twisted, curled, and speared through with a sliver of metal, a hairpin with a flashy bronze gear at the top. The loose hairstyle frees up a few lazy waves of darkness to brush along the thread-thin straps of her dress and ink-kissed shoulders. The dress is like night, captured in fabric - black with a sheen that winks like misty blanketed stars. Even still, the suggestively short length of the dress makes her knee-high, buckle-laden boots all the more obvious. Finally, she seems to have pinched and pulled the garment into some position of temporary comfort, and looks up with an unabashed smile.

Devi tightens the set of her slender arm in the crook of Caspian’s escorting elbow and turns a warm look up and flirtatious wink his way before following the waiter to a table to enjoy an intimate, undisturbed, three hour slice of Eden.

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