Challenge: Vanilla 1. Shopping
Word Count: 761
Summary: A strange man visits a warehouse and doesn't quite get what he expected.
Notes: I think the prompt got a little away from me...
Every day was a routine. No matter what happened during the day itself, she took comfort in the fact that the basics, the bare bones, were as regular as the machines she fixed. She prided herself on it, that she could live a life as clockwork.
The clean shoes were a jolt, and an unpleasant one at that. Almost as unpleasant as their owner.
They appeared one day as she had her head and upper body comfortably buried beneath a vast contraption she enjoyed tinkering with during slower times; she saw the shadow of the figure, not the shoes, and ignored it.
From above, there came a cough that contrived to sound more of displeasure than of any kind of irritation of the throat. It was the kind of cough that sounded eminently ignorable.
So she ignored it.
When it came again, it was delivered with enough force that the woman wondered if its owner even had a back of the throat left. It was a cough that informed her it had no intention of vacating the premises without her first telling it - or at least its owner - to go. Reluctantly, with a squeaking of wheels, she slid her trolley out from under the machine and stared at the glossy black shoes. They were glossier than any shoe in her workshop had any right to be.
"My face is up here." The voice was male, deep, and cultured. It grated on her nerves; she'd never realised five simple, single-syllable words could set her teeth so on edge.
In turn, she allowed her gaze to deliberately follow the length of leg upwards, taking in the tailored suit, immaculate shirt and, finally, the face of a man who was gritting his teeth so hard she could see the muscles standing out in his jaw. Clearly he was not one accustomed to insubordination from the lower classes. "What?" She snapped.
The man narrowed blue eyes at her. "Where's Ghost?" He stared pointedly around the workshop, as if to reinforce his words.
It took all her strength not to let her jaw fall open. "What?"
"You don't sound like an idiot," he said softly, "and I'm quite busy, so be a good girl and go and fetch your master. I want to speak with him."
This time, she openly gaped. When he looked around again, then to his pocketwatch, in the most tactless way she'd seen for a long time, she allowed a small smile to creep over her face. "What's the magic word?"
He stared at her as though she'd grown another head and was using it to play the harmonica. "I beg your pardon?"
"What's the magic word?" She repeated in as deliberately irritating a sing-song manner as she could muster, hating herself for it but enjoying the expression of consternation on his face. "Can't go and fetch Ghost if I don't know what for and... well, Ghost really hates rudeness..."
The muscles were at work in his jaw again; she was fascinated by their dance. "Please go and fetch Ghost," he murmured, fixing her with a glare of steel. "I have been shopping all day and his services were recommended to me as the very best."
At that, she raised one blonde eyebrow. "I see." With that, she turned from him. "May I ask what your name is?" She threw over her shoulder, hoping that he couldn't infer the curve of her smile from the line of her jaw.
"Sable," came the terse reply.
"Well, Mr. Sable," she said, glancing over her shoulder, "I am Ghost, and I'll thank you to take yourself from my workshop right now."
In the silence that followed, she could hear the rumblings of carriages from the end of the street. Finally, Sable said in such an unruffled manner that Ghost wanted to lodge a spanner in his head right there and then, "Ms. Ghost, I have a proposition for you."
"I'm not interested. I don't deal with presumptuous men." She turned back, both arms folded over her chest in what she hoped was a clear sign for him to leave.
"I think you'll find that this might, in fact, interest you greatly." At the same time, he withdrew a crude and slightly dog-eared photograph from an inner jacket pocket.
Wordlessly the woman tugged it from his elegant fingers and stared at the image thereon, then sighed.
Her days might have been running like clockwork before, but she suspected that Sable and his glossy shoes meant they wouldn't again, for a very long time.