It’s been a crazy month, where do I start? With the unexpected departure of Mr. Mureaux his land became available. Not wishing to see it torn down I jumped immediately at the chance to purchase a few of his lots, including Loner Lane and the Sweetwater Estates. I’ve been working diligently on a new pneumatic postage system as well to be installed in a plot next to those. And of course my lab in Portside Books is still available as my refuge from it all. I have to say I’m really coming to love the Port and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the view.
And then there was a rather nasty fight between Boris (I’m not sure if I’ve ever caught his last name, or if he has one, or is that his last name?) and me outside the Bucket of Blood. I’m still not sure what got into me that night. One moment Miss Netizen and I were about to leave that strange little pub and the next I was standing at the bar motioning for him to take his best shot. It would be nice to blame it on the venue but I think my encounter with Bianca’s nastier half had drug up some old memories that had me looking for pain. And Boris was all too happy to oblige. It’s been a week, I think, and I’m still feeling it. Underby chose a good bouncer, there’s no question about that. (Note to self: Go for the nose. And then keep going for it.)
And speaking of Bianca, there’s, well, Bianca. At least what I believe to be the real Bianca. The night after our rather intense encounter (read: almost killing each other) should have led to a healing process. Ah, but then her father, Armand Foehammer, arrived and fueled by rumors of his daughter’s condition he immediately set to work ‘fixing’ her. From what I’ve gathered he’s got her on some experimental drug regiment that’s temporarily suppressing half (or more) of her consciousness while he looks for a permanent solution. She’s been running around sappily busying herself with work and rather oblivious to the world at large. I have to say I found myself envying her nearly euphoric state. If only it hadn’t been an illusion.
So I kept up my oath of watching her, staying close and looking for signs that she may slip or the drugs may wear off. I couldn’t figure out how Mr. Foehammer was doing it but his dosages kept her on that pleasant track for just over a week. I would take walks with her, help her in her shop, go dancing; any number of things and still she would be more or less in that delirious state.
However, after about a week I began to catch glimpses that whatever drugs he was getting her to take wasn’t quite working as intended. She was becoming forgetful of some of the largest events of her life and in the city. Also, I began to see shades of the woman that had emerged from our discussion. The sappy, chatty veil would drop and almost unknowingly I’d catch a hint of the real Bianca in her eyes. At first she would slip away as quickly as she came, but a few days after she would be free for moments at a time. The more time I spent with her the more I saw the person inside. And while she seemed a bit mired down in the drugs, intelligent conversations began to surface and we talked endlessly about anything and everything. Perhaps the man was overconfident to not check in on her more often, but her father’s control was slipping.
And so was mine. I found I wasn’t making excuses to see Bianca anymore. I wasn’t simply watching her to figure out the mystery or to help someone in trouble. I genuinely wanted to be around her. When the drugs were doing their job she was an upbeat and caring person to be around. But when they seemed to be breaking down I still saw that in her but more. One night after a walk she kissed me on the cheek before giggling and disappearing into her shop. I felt warm and I couldn’t have stopped grinning if I wanted to. It was more than a minute of staring at her door that I realized that last time I felt like this was… well, it was too long ago.
And then tonight, I was showing her around the new plots and as we wrapped up the evening we stopped by my bookshop to show her a new book on goggles that had just come in when a Mr. Effingham appeared. He was a nice enough fellow, if a bit strange looking, and engaged us in a pleasant when Bianca suddenly looked at me sharply, noticing the black eye. She became rather agitated, real emotion began to bubble to the surface.
My attention was torn between Bianca’s behavior and Mr. Effingham’s attempts at conversation. He kindly excused himself and left the both of us with an open invitation to his place in a section of the city that was once called the ‘sheepmeadow’. We said our goodbyes and I quickly pulled her up the stairs to my lab, ensuring us a bit of privacy.
Her concern had been particularly striking and I told her so. She looked at me with a wide smile and said, “W-w-why wouldn’t I be concerned! You’re a good man Mr. Melnik, and a friend of mine and my family. You’ve been there for me when I needed someone the most even in my insanity.”
She was back! She was all there! Whatever hold the drugs had on her had given way! My heart soared as she stood up on her tip-toes and kissed my cheek gently. I don’t know what came over me at that moment but I cupped her cheek and leaned in close, kissing her softly.
Her eyes snapped open as our lips met and then they closed as she melted into me. I wrapped my arm around her back and held her close as both our cheeks grew red. After what seemed like forever I pulled back from her slowly and whispered. I couldn’t stop myself, it came from almost nowhere, and yet everywhere.
(An agitated shout from a voice he didn’t know stopped his pen and he bolted down from his lab to the shop)