"Is everything all right, Joanna?" said Mister Saint-Christopher, taking a step into the room.
Out of the trace she came, quickly, and turned away from the mirror, knocking the brush onto the floor, "All is well, just plaiting my hair," she said, standing up and tying the braid off with a twist.
Mister Saint-Christopher raised an eye-brow, "Since when has it taken twenty minutes to plait your hair?" He questioned.
"Such questions," Joanna said, walking past Mister Saint-Christopher, "We have a meeting to-night, off we go."
Mister Saint-Christopher put his hand on his head, feeling the temperature in the room cooler than usual.His eyes drew to the brush and, quite un-like him, he walked over and reached down to re-place it on the vanity, but immedietly he dropped it.Searing into his hand was the heat of the wood and metals around the rim of the item.He grasped his hand in his other and looked at it, but there were no burns and no more pain to be had.He bent down to pick it up again, and doing so set it on the vanity, now cool as a brush may be.Shaking his head, he followed Joanna, deciding it must have been some wild imagination of his.
They walked out into the mildly polluted air of south Huntingdon and the large western man let a grin creep onto his face, which Joanna immedietly noted, "And what are you grinning about?" She asked, puling around her a warm wrap made of wool.
Mister Saint-Christopher nodded and put his hat on, adjusting his own woolen jacket, "Just wait and see."
Her eyes studied him for the briefest of moments, then she smiled as if not to a friend or mentor, but to a family member.The calmest of sensations passed through her and she nodded.Although her fondness for surprises was lacking greatly, she accepted this one.As they walked down the walkway, hardly a carriage passed them, but over-head their observor moved with the grace of a ghost, across the roof-tops, until they reached the modest enterance of the Rising Panther.A nod at the door allowed them in easily to the large building and likewise through the honey coloured hallway.Their coats and hat were checked, and Joanna made her way to the booth which was their usual seating.
Wearing his own fine attire, their silent observer gave a known nod to the doormen as well and entered un-molsted to follow them.Having fore-knowledge of their common places of dinner, he took a seat behind them, his back to the seat of Joannas.
"I shall return momentarily," said Mister Saint-Christopher, placing a hand on Joanna, then heading to a back room.
The mixture of technology and history blended in perfect unison as through-out the mixture of a club and a restaurant were oak and cherry-wood, rose-woods and metals, and screens across the bar area with pertinent ordering information.Mister Saint-Christopher returned momentarily, and along side him was a short man of Italian heritage, dressed smartly in a pin striped suit.Joanna stood promtly at the sight of the gentleman and curtsied mildly as they came to a stop near her.
He smoked a large cigar and smiled in a cripped and twisted manner, "Miss Tolson," said he in a thick accent.
"It is an honour to meet you, Sir Tuero," Joanna replied, composed in her admiration for the man before her.
"An honour to meet you as well.On this, your birthday, I wish you a safe one an' many more," the old man said, tilting his head in a small nod.
Joanna smiled and her eyes sparkled, "Thank you," she said, simply.
Mister Saint-Christopher has told me about you, an' I've heard a lot of your projects meet with success.You have nothing t'worry about here, or in city, you have my blessing," he said, taking a puff from his ill-smelling cigar.
"That is a singular honour to have said to myself and Mister Saint-Christopher, and I thank you for it," Joanna replied, in the utmost respectable and lady-like manner.
Tuero nodded his head a few times, satisfied and then nodded once to Mister Saint-Christopher before turning his back and walking into a back room.Joanna sit down at the table and put her hand on her chin as Mister Saint-Christopher sat opposite to her.
"Good heavens, I cannot believe you did that," Joanna said to Mister Saint-Christopher, placing her hands on the table.
He smiled genuinly, for he knew the blessing from Tuero was not given like penny candies, "You are beyond your years, Joanna, and having a connection with Sir Tuero is one many older than you or I strive for in this under-world we live in."
"How can I thank you for such as this?" said she, tapping her fingers on the table as a giddy child would.
Mister Saint-Christopher then reached into the pocket of his perfectly pressed dinner jacket and took from it a red velvet box, no bigger than his palm.Behind Joanna, the silent observer paused mid-drink at the un-expected event his cloaked camera recorded.Joannas heart caugt in her throat as she cast her gaze on the box; it was completely un-expected to her as well.
"I can think of a way you can do me an honour, Joanna," said he, turning the small box to her and opening it.
With-in the small box lay a delicate silver band with a small floral engraving upon it, "Niel..." she said, in a nervous voice alien to her.
"I know, I know," interjected Mister Saint-Christopher, "but do think it over.As sudden as this comes to you, the feeling has grown with-in me for many a year.I did well to hide it even from you for fear you might stray from your own studies and deliberations."
On the heels of his words, the waitress came to the table, "Miss, there is a call for you in room two," said she, smiling slightly and walking off again.
Puzzled, Joanna stood and slipped out from the booth, "Did you tell anyone we were comming here, Niel?" she asked.
Mister Saint-Christopher shook his head, "I told no one save Sir Tuero."
Joanna nodded slightly and made her way through the tables and to a small conferance room near the back.Seating herself on the cushioned chair, she shut the door and pressed the view screen to which the image of Cesily immediatly appeared.