Miles Edgeworth, International Man of Mystery
Los Angeles – April 16, 5:30 p.m.
Franziska closed her eyes in the back of the taxi, which had picked her up at LAX Airport and was driving her to Miles' penthouse.
Correction. Their new home. A small smile played on her lips despite the slight exhaustion due to the long flight from Europe. She was also absolutely starved. The lunch she'd been forced to endure on the airplane had hardly constituted as 'food', even though she'd flown first class, as usual, so she'd barely pecked at her so-called authentic fare of rouladen and spätzle.
Miles had flown back a few days prior, to get his 'affairs in order' and set up things at the residence in readiness for her arrival. He'd insisted on prepping a welcome home dinner for her, brushing aside her offer to prepare their evening meal upon her arrival.
"Why won't you let me showcase my culinary skills? I've come a long way from my blended salad days, I assure you! I've been practicing very hard these past few days in the kitchen," she'd protested to her fiancé the previous night while speaking to him on the phone. "My mutter was a wonderful cook, liebling, don't you recall Papa always raving about her food? Her chef genetics definitely got passed onto my older sister Katharina; they have just been über delayed in unleashing within me, that's all! But Helga can attest that I make cabbage rolls and schnitzel that rival her own!"
"I just want you to be well-rested from your jet lag, is all, meine dame," Miles reassured her. "Miss Fey's birthday party is tomorrow night, remember. I'll not have my betrothed spending all her energies preparing meals when it could better be used relaxing and prepping herself to look ravishing for the occasion. Besides, you have the rest of our lives to wow me with…the masterful things you can whip up, and the more G-rated things you can do with your hands!"
"As you like it, liebling." Franziska let out a throaty chuckle at the roguish meaning behind the words. Whoever would have thought that Miles Edgeworth, the stern-faced prosecutor, harbored such a delightfully naughty side?
"Just one thing, meine dame." There was a guilty, apologetic note to his voice now. "Despite my working round the clock to prepare the place and get my other matters dealt with posthaste, I'm uncertain I will have them ready in time to pick you up from the airport. Would you mind terribly taking a cab? If for any reason I'm not home, Hendricks will be here to serve you and see to your every need in the meantime."
Franziska raised a skeptical eyebrow at the receiver. He'd been back in Los Angeles since Tuesday, and the ever-prepared, meticulous, obsessive workaholic that was Miles Edgeworth was running behind with his deadlines? Inconceivable! It was as likely to happen as that lily-livered fool, Phoenix Wright suddenly growing a pair and finally telling the woman he loved enough to throw a milestone birthday party for that he was head over heels for her! What was next, the proverbial cow jumping over the moon?
Still, she knew Miles well enough that things must be most amiss indeed if he couldn't even get away long enough to make the 20-minute trip to the airport!
"It's fine, Miles," she assured him. "Assuming everything is running on time with the flights, and traffic is not too hectic, I should be home by about 5:30 or so tomorrow night."
"Thank you for being so accommodating, Franziska. So, perfect, you should arrive just in time for dinner at 6:30, which I will take care of. Till the morrow then, meine dame. I love you."
"Ich liebe dich auch, liebling."
Empire Bellagio, Edgeworth's Penthouse, April 16, 2019
"We're here, ma'am," the taxi driver said, jerking her out of her reverie and pulling in front of the main doors of the luxurious condominium building where Miles resided. She paid the man and thanked him for bringing her suitcase into the lobby. She had only brought one with her, planning on sending for more of her things later. Or flat out just get a new wardrobe from scratch, as few of the clothing items she'd packed that had been suitable for mildly cool spring days in Germany wouldn't make her positively wilt under the same season sun in California!
Stepping off the elevator on the top floor, she fished for her key and had barely gotten it into the lock when the door suddenly swung open, and she was face-to-face with Hendricks, Miles' manservant.
"Welcome and good evening, Madam," chimed the middle-aged, dark haired butler, dressed in customary black attire with a white towel over one arm. A placid, easy-going smile was on his face as he bowed to her in greeting, one arm going behind his back and the other remaining in front of him at the waist. "It is a pleasure to see you again after so long. How was your flight?"
"It was fine, thank you, Hendricks. It's nice to see you, too." Franziska smiled courteously, stepping into the bright, spacious living room. Miles hadn't changed much of the place since her last visit. Her eyes roamed appreciatively around the residence that was to be her new home, taking in the large hearth, the sofas with regal looking upholstery and carved wooden embellishments, and exquisite, gold-framed oil paintings on the walls. She pointed to her bag in taciturn instruction, and the butler obediently took the suitcase and silently disappeared down the hall to the bedroom with it.
Franziska walked around, next headed through the grand entryway to the dining room, as well-lit and large as the one she'd been with, with wall tapestries, a huge, glittery crystal chandelier, and a long cherry wood table that was flanked by heavy chairs. She noted that the table wasn't yet set for supper, which was unusual. Then again, this was a seating for twelve, which would be a bit much for just the two of them. She walked past the dining area into another room, which was a smaller dining nook with a round glass table and service for four, only to find it unadorned of dinner settings as well. Now this was very peculiar. Miles had told her that they would be dining at 6:30, and it was half past five now. At home in Germany, the servants always had the dinner table set at least an hour prior.
Maybe Miles is less stringent about these things at his own place? She wondered, headed back to the living room with a puzzled frown on her face. It wasn't as if she were incapable of setting the table herself, it was just that Miles had made such a big deal out of preparing dinner for her that evening, and it appeared nothing had been done yet. Procrastination was simply not in her lover's vocabulary. If Miles had thought perchance he wouldn't be home in time for supper preparations, he'd have made Hendricks ready everything at noon as he was so particular about details like this! Speaking of Miles, where on earth was he?
"Hendricks," she called, slightly startled when he suddenly materialized by her side as if out of nowhere. "Do you know where Miles is? Or what time he'll be back?"
"The Master has instructed me to draw your bath upon arrival and then I shall escort you to the place of your dinner venue," Hendricks proclaimed. "He also told me to tell you to dress for the occasion."
Franziska looked at him in surprise. They were going out for dinner then? And the butler was to escort her? Why couldn't Miles just pick her up himself? Or just send a car for her to take her to said secret locale? She mentally shrugged. If Miles wanted to play the part of the mystery man, who was she to object?
Well, it was a good thing she'd packed a few dresses in her bag then, she thought to herself as she plodded along the plush cream colored carpet path which led to the master bathroom. She quickly disrobed, sinking gratefully into the rose-scented water that filled the huge marble bathtub. The heavenly soak did wonders for her tired muscles, and Franziska was feeling much better by the time she was bathed and fully dressed. Being a woman of promptness, she met Hendricks back in the living room by 6:15, all the while wondering where on earth they could be going where it would take only 15 minutes to get to if she was expected to arrive in time. Everyone knew that anywhere in LA took at least 20 minutes! Hopefully Miles would understand if she were fashionably late?
"You look lovely, Madam." The butler graciously inclined his head towards her, a polite smile of admiration on his mustached lips.
Franziska had done the best she could with her appearance with the limited time she'd been given, but having been so hastily focused on being ready on time, she'd been too distracted to notice that she'd never looked more beautiful in her entire life.
Her makeup was minimal, with just a hint of blusher on her high cheekbones, smoky eyeliner around her wide gray eyes, which made them look even larger than usual, and a hint of pearly pink gloss on her lips. She was dressed in a Dolce & Gabanna sleeveless pink classic tailored sheath, with a penciled skirt, elevated in lush floral lace and framed by scalloped fringe at the square neckline and just above the knee hem. Giorgio Armani crystal cutout, noir suede pumps were her selected footwear, with gilded crystals setting the elegant suede ankle-strap pumps alight, framing their cutout back and mesh-trimmed front. A scalloped crystal headband, along with small diamond stud earrings and a delicate freshwater pearl necklace with a teardrop diamond pendant completed the look.
"Thank you, Hendricks." She smiled somewhat shyly at the compliment as she took the proffered arm he extended her. "And yes, I'm ready." She was slightly bewildered however, upon stepping into the elevator, when the butler pushed the R elevator button above the penthouse, rather than the L one for the main lobby. "Hendricks, you pushed the button for up, not down," she informed him. "I think you made a mistake?"
"Not at all, Madam," Hendricks replied with a mystical smile as the elevator doors opened. "I humbly bring you to the rooftop, your dining destination for the evening." He stepped backwards into the lift, bowing one final time as the doors closed, leaving her standing there alone, unable to believe her eyes and completely stupefied at what she saw.
Empire Bellagio, Rooftop Deck, April 16, 2019
As Franziska looked about at her unfamiliar surroundings, her eyes widened in delighted surprise at the scene that unfolded before her. The building rooftop, where she had never been, was unlike anything she'd ever seen in all of her existence. Tiki torches, track lighting and votive candles casted a romantic glow throughout the space, with amber-colored lights adding a dreamy glow.
In the center, a massive Ficus tree held court, with glimmering icicle lights dangling throughout to add a magical touch, and was surrounded by oversized, empty clam shells and lit-up candelabras, of all things. Magnificent purple Jacaranda trees, on full display, along with a forest of well-manicured, slender trees, all pointed to in the sky, while orchid-trimmed palm trees lined the perimeter of the space. Twinkling fairy lights were wrapped around the trunks of all the terrace trees, accompanied by statement-making bouquets of roses and snap dragons, in peach and blush, which sat atop the tall tree branches and draped with crystal.
Franziska honestly felt as if she were in a fairytale come to life and she was in the middle of an enchanted forest.
In a corner, atop a raised Dias, sat a canopy-draped with white chiffon, and topped with white hydrangeas along with a spray roses. On the platform was a string quartet, playing lively, tuneful baroque music in the background.
There was a round table for two, set with ivory linens, and two chiavari chairs, dressed in ivory covering, with champagne sashes. The table was set with exquisitely carved gold flatware, gold-rimmed glasses, and gold-rimmed chargers, designed with a rosette pattern, which added texture and dimension to the all-gold tablescape. Continuing the romantic look, tiny pin lighting illuminated the centerpiece – a gold antique vase filled with an arrangement of white peonies, white roses, peach roses, white hydrangea, peach garden roses and lilies of the valley. An abundance of votive candles emitted a soft warm glow for ambient charm.
It was completely breathtaking.
At this resplendent setting sat Miles, as handsome as always in a black suit and tie in place of cravat, who rose immediately upon seeing her, smiling broadly upon seeing her awed expression.
"Welcome home, meine dame," he said majestically, with a grand bow. He took her tiny hand in his own, placing a kiss upon it before straightening up.
"Miles," she breathed, still astounded by her surroundings. "What is all this?"
"Among many things, Franziska, your dinner that I promised you on your first night back." He pulled out her chair and once she was seated, went back to his chair across from hers. "I hope you're hungry after that long flight?"
"Famished," she admitted, smiling her thanks at the white gloved, black tuxedoed waiter who had appeared by her side and had filled her crystal goblet with wine. "But…why did you go through all this trouble just for dinner?"
"Because you're worth it," he replied simply, taking his own glass and clanking it against hers. "Cheers, meine dame."
"Cheers," she echoed, although the confusion was still evident on her face.
"Surely, you can understand now why I wasn't able to meet you at the airport," Miles said apologetically, peering anxiously at her face. "This is a slight for which I most sincerely hope I've since been pardoned?"
"Don't be ridiculous! As if I could ever be anything but filled with wonder and joy at all…this. I feel like a heroine of a beautiful, romantic storybook come to life! My goodness, liebling, it must have taken you ages!"
"It did," Miles confessed, with a rueful laugh. "Especially since you're well aware of my aversion to elevators. So while I am the mastermind behind all this, I did have an array of helpful, shall we say, elves who actually tended to the details to bring my vision to life. It required a multitude of trips to and from the rooftop, often from the lobby…via the stairs! I think I may have gotten thighs of steel as a result from today's workout alone!"
"You…took the stairs…to the roof…from the lobby…repeatedly?" Franziska was flummoxed beyond words, and overwhelmed at how much trouble he'd gone through. The building was 30 stories tall!
"I'm used to it for the most part," he shrugged. "After all, I take the stairs every day to and from the penthouse, right?"
"Then why must you insist on living in the penthouse, liebling?"
"Because." He smirked. "It's the best."
"And why settle for less?" She teased, taking the last bite of the superlative amuse bouche they'd just been presented with, which was Mandarin oranges & salmon mousse with a raspberry puree.
"I never have, and I never will. It would certainly explain my choice in life partners, as well as residence, wouldn't it?"
"You are so unimaginative!" Franziska giggled, although secretly pleased at the sincerity behind the clichéd words. She placed down her cutlery so the server could clear her plate. He was almost instantly replaced with another attendant, in identical attire, carrying a two silver-domed platters. "Sir, your appetizer, bincho grilled black Alaskan cod, hijiki rice salad, avocado, kimchee endive with gochujang aioli," the waiter announced grandly, lifting the domes with a bravado. "And for the lady, Fanny Bay & Shigoku Oysters with Little Neck Clams, with mignonette cocktail sauce."
Franziska waited until the waiter had left before leaning across the table, a mischievous grin on her face. "Was there a reason you ordered a known aphrodisiac for me tonight, liebling? Were you trying to ensure something?"
"You wound me with your baseless conjecture, madam." Miles returned her grin with a roguish one of his own. "Even if I were attempting to woo you out of that divine dress you look so devastating in, my seduction techniques would never be so blatant. Besides, after all this time, I'd assume they're evidently unnecessary."
"Unnecessary, you say?" Franziska dug into her starter with gusto, she was so ravenous. She affected her most haughty countenance, even though her eyes were sparkling with suppressed mirth. "So you are that presumptuous that I am a sure thing, are you? Or is it more of your rakish mindset leading you to believe you can have your gratuitous way with me just because you got me dinner?"
"Of course not." He deadpanned. "But in spite of being a refined gentleman, I am allowed to be prone to wishful thinking, surely?"
"Well, far it for me to shatter thy dreams kind sir!"
They both cracked up then, causing the poor waiter who had come to collect their plates to nearly drop them in surprise at the sight of the puritanical prosecutor, who had nearly run them ragged earlier that evening with his unrelenting demands for excellency, now relaxed, smiling and pleasant in the company of his lovely dining companion. The server was supremely grateful for this welcome change in demeanor. He sincerely hoped that all would go according to plan, lest the man's newly delightful disposition unexpectedly lapse!
If there's a God, the young man silently prayed. Please don't let me be on the receiving end of that unleashed wrath should things go awry...