15 July, 188x
Emmanuelle stood looking at the closed door for a bit, the anger and frustration welling up a bit through her travel-weary nerves, when a voice sounded from next door.
“Do you require assistance miss?” The voice was smooth and dark, with a baritone pitch that seemed to be tempered with bourbon and time. She turned her eyes to the door of the barber shop next door and took a look at the man who now stood there with the inquiring look on his face. He was tall, and despite the neatly tailored suit he wore had the body carriage of someone who expected the next word would involve a weapon. He looked at her with his hard grey eyes as he prepared to speak again, so she decided to play the sultry card. Emmanuelle raised a hand to her face and used a single finger to slip the tinted spectacles down on her nose, her eyes falling then rising slowly to meet his, a coy little smile breaking across her lips. He looked her in the eyes and she saw what she had hoped for, even if it was just the barest little twinkle. He smiled again, and leaned a bit towards the doorway.
“Bonjour monsieur. Do you know if that is correct?” Emmanuelle pointed to the sign, and tried to look as if the closed door and the absent clerk were breaking her heart. The grey-eyed man looked at her for a second, and then broke into a thin smile.
“I’m sure he’ll be back soon miss. In the meantime, can I offer you a seat? Perhaps get you something to drink?” he said, leaning his body slightly towards the door and making a sweeping gesture with his hand towards the entrance to the barber shop. She inclined her head for a moment and did a wee curtsy before walking inside. The man walked her into the waiting area and showed her to a seat on the sofa before taking a seat in an expansive wingback chair that faced the door. Emmanuelle sat, brushing her skirt flat while angling herself against the corner of the sofa so as to both observe her new acquaintance and watch the doorway. She smiled and leaned her head demurely while looking at the grey-eyed man while he looked back at her perch on the sofa. He leaned forward and assumed a posture of feigned interest in her, all the while giving what would pass to most folks as a man looking over a young lady’s figure. Emmanuelle had grown up with a house full of men whose profession depended on reading the intent of others by a mere look. She knew by the look in his eye that he was not just checking her out, he was sizing her up. Another thin smile crossed her lips as she made sure to shift her position in all the directions that would indicate that she was wholly unencumbered by anything dangerous or deadly secreted on her person. This was, of course, wholly a lie, but the second advantage of being raised in a houseful of gamblers and lawmen meant young Emma knew how to manage tells to her advantage.
The grey-eyed man leaned back in the chair and crossed his hands on his lap.
“So, I assume you’re new to the city by your luggage. Are you here on business or for pleasure, Miss…?”
“Business of a familial nature, Mister…?” she said, eyes flashing mischievously.
Before he could respond, a neatly dressed young man in a shopkeeper’s apron stepped into the room. “I’m back sir, do you want me to inventory the canned goods n…oh, hello Miss. Err, sorry to interrupt…Sir?…” The young man seemed flustered by the look the grey-eyed man gave him, and Emmanuelle leaned her head on her hand, elbow propped on the sofa’s plump arm. The grey-eyed man got the message that the look she shot him meant to convey, one between a happy surprise and finding a dead mouse in the cupboard. He absently adjusted his cravat, and clearing his throat, rose to his feet. He bowed formally and took her hand in his, while cutting the younger man a very swift look that caused him to back nearly into the street.
“Pardon me for not properly introducing myself before, my name is Wexhome. I own the building.”
Emmanuelle smiled as she proffed her hand to his kiss, the deeper part of her accent returning to her voice.
“Mais oui chere, you are just who I came to see…”
Family Business V – Intermezzo the first
15 July, 188x