Someone had it in for her today, Mia Collins decided as she ran around her small apartment.
She'd been out way too late the night before, woken up two hours later then she should have, and - she screamed - her stupid room-mate had used up all the hot water. Shivering madly as she towelled herself dry, she grabbed the first set of clean clothes that her hands had touched and thrown them on before her foot slipped on the floor rug and sent her sprawling on her face. She glared at the rug, knowing she was in for a heck of a bruise, and hauled herself to her feet, scrambling for her shoes. She'd have to skip breakfast this morning, there was no time….
Her eyes widened in horror as she caught sight of her reflection. She'd put on a lot of makeup the night before. She had thought she'd gotten it all off, but the person staring back at her had thick, dark smears around her eyes that made her look like a scary raccoon.
"Oh, shit," she muttered under her breath, lightly banging her forehead against the wall. Shockingly, it didn't actually make her feel much better. Racing out the door, she hurried down the steps, going so fast that she didn't even notice the patch of ice that had formed when the temperature dropped overnight. Her feet went out from under her, actually clearing her head, and she went down the last few steps on her back. Groaning with pain, she came to land on the footpath, her body aching. Her bag had opened, and the roll she had made for her lunch lay half in a filthy puddle.
There's still a half left. Five second rule…
Before she could do anything about it, a passing dog snatched up the dry half, leaving Mia with the half still floating in the water.
"Oh come on!" she shouted in disbelief. Cursing fluently, she packed her books back into her bag with her laptop and ipod and headed toward the Metro, digging into her pocket for her pass. It took a moment to pull it free, but as she yanked it out on her way toward the subway steps, a sudden gust of wind snatched it out of her hand. Crying out, Mia chased it down the path, and had almost caught up with it when the wind died abruptly, sending it straight down a sewer grate.
Mia stared slack-jawed for a moment before throwing her hands skyward. "Oh, for fuck's sake!"
There was no answer from the sky, except for a downpour of freezing rain. Mia groaned, then groaned again as she felt her phone going off in her pocket.
Where are you? J
Mia smiled half-heartedly, replying quickly to her friend before turning to trudge back home, the rain getting heavier and heavier. She could barely see in front of herself, and she kept bloody tripping over nothing. She shivered, pulling her thin cardigan around her even more. She couldn't wait to get home and just get something hot to drink. Hopefully, the water would be back to normal temperature by now and she could have a shower too. She looked both ways before beginning to cross. It was really quiet, Mia realised. Much too quiet for Paris at this time of day. A high-pitched noise to her right startled her, and she turned to see a large horse rearing before her, the hoofs flailing dangerously before coming down with a decisive wham. Mia's world was filled with pain before she did something she'd never done in her life: she fainted.
Opéra Garnier, Paris.
"Somebody help!" a young man panted as he stumbled into auditorium of the Opéra Garnier. He sank to his knees as the cleaning staff surrounded him, as he struggled to keep an unconscious girl in his arms. "I don't think she's breathing!"
Things moved very quickly then. Several strong-looking men with a stretcher all but snatched the girl from his arms and hurried her away. The girl's condition had worsened on the short journey from the street, her breaths coming at a shallow pace and her skin was cold and clammy. An oldish man who appeared to be in his late fifties came in a good while later, reaching to shake the young man's hand.
"I'm Gerard Carriere, the manager of the Opéra Garnier," Gerard said as the young man took his hand and shook it. "And you are?"
"Lucas Belhumeur," he replied.
"Are you the girl's companion? Employer? Fiancée?" Gerard asked.
Lucas shook his head.
"I didn't see her in the road. She just appeared out of nowhere in front of the carriage." He dabbed at his forehead with a handkerchief. "Is she going to be all right?"
"I'm sure she will be, but I can't say for certain until the doctor is finished with her. Do you know who she is?"
"No, I don't. I've never seen her before."
Gerard nodded his head in thought. "I see. Wait here."
Lucas sat down on the steps and waited for Gerard to come back. His hands wrung nervously in his lap as his mind whirled. 'Oh God, please let it be all right,' he silently prayed. 'I didn't mean to do it.'
Gerard came back in the room moments later, smiling at Lucas warmly, then sat down beside him.
"She'll live," he said, watching as Lucas seemed to beam hope. "She's lost a lot of blood, and she's unconscious, but she's a healthy girl. She doesn't have any broken bones or the like, and the doctor managed to stop the bleeding."
"Thank goodness," Lucas muttered. "What are you going to do with her?"
"She's to stay here until she's recovered," Gerard replied, folding his arms thoughtfully, "I'll see what I can do about locating her family."
"I see," Lucas answered, guilty relief sweeping over him when he realised the girl wasn't going to die and that he wouldn't have her blood on his hands. Not that he wouldn't deserve it, but still. "Thank you."
"It's not a problem," Gerard waved away his gratitude, "One more mouth to feed won't make much of a difference."
"Understood," Lucas replied, bowing, "Thank you again."
He slipped out of the auditorium, the door shutting with a small creak.
"Are you sure about this?" a bodiless voice asked, as it echoed in the large, empty space, "Do we really have room for another gossipy female who knows nothing of opera?"
"Yes, I'm sure," he answered wearily, "She's hurt, and it would be nothing short of murder to turn her out now."
"What if you can't find her family?" the voice asked again. The manager shrugged.
"There's always work to be done, and never enough people to do it. We can always use another set of hands around here."
"Are you sure?"
An empty sigh bounced off the walls.
"I knew you would say that. If you insist, the girl can stay."
"Where are you going?" the voice asked as Gerard walked towards the door that led backstage.
He turned and replied simply, "I'm going to check on the newest member of our family."