Riches to Rags

Chapter 14

We leave the hospital, and I feel the cold hit me straight away, but Korra’s already wrapped me in what feels like a thousand blankets, so it’s not too bad.

“I doubt we’ll be able to get a cab, the snow’s still too thick,” Korra ways, “Are you okay to walk? It’s about ten minutes.”

I smile, “Sure, or you can always carry me.”

Korra chuckles at the words, and sets off ahead of me. She adopts a fast pace, one that I can follow relatively easily. Hell, I used to run marathons. This is nothing, even with my big toe hitting frost on every step.

“Quick detour,” Korra suddenly says as we round the next corner.

The next thing I know, I’m stood behind Korra in a small store, there’s a smell of new leather, boots adorn all shelves, and a bushy-faced old man is peering at us both over a thick pair of spectacles.

“Korra!” he chuckles, gesturing us both to come in. I follow, allowing the door to close behind me.

As Korra exchanges pleasantries with the old man – I’m guessing they know each other – I find myself distracted, looking at a pair of beautiful, black boots. They look warm too, lined with faux fur. I run my thumb over the interior… it’s soft. I bet that’d feel amazing against my feet.

“You like those?” Korra disturbs my thoughts, resting her chin on my shoulder. For once, I don’t back away from the contact. Maybe I’m too tired to, or maybe… maybe I kind of like it.

“Uh… yeah. They’re nice,” I say, trying to force back the heat threatening to rise to my cheeks.

“What size are you? I’m guessing about a seven?”

“Hah, spot on. Wait… you can’t…” I’m about to object, but Korra’s already bartering with the man. Next thing I know I’m led to a seat, and he’s bringing out a box.

“Korra… I can’t accept anything else from you…” I mumble, though I’m trying them on, and trying not to squirm with delight as my toes squish into the unbelievably comfortable lining within the boots.

They’re a perfect fit.

“The alternative is frostbite in your toe, and I really don’t feel like another trip to the hospital,” Korra says, with her arms held to her hips. She’s trying to look stern, but she can’t pull it off.

“Fine… But I owe you,” I say.

“I know. I hope you can afford my interest rates!” Korra says, chuckling again, as she pulls out her wallet and heads to the cash register.

It’s the second time I find myself wondering if she’s actually flirting with me. Romance is the furthest thing from my mind… I just want to find my feet, find myself. But I have to admit, Korra’s constant devotion, tireless efforts to break down my walls… they’ve left me wondering.

And then I remember how terrible I must look, and laugh at the absurd notion that anyone would feel attraction towards me. I think there’s at least five hundred knots in my hair, and about three layers of grime on my face. But soon… apparently… I’ll be able to have a shower. That thought sends a shiver through my spine.

“Okay, all done. Shall we?” Korra says, smiling, holding out a hand.

The rest of the walk is done in relative silence, though Korra asks how the boots feel on at least three separate occasions. I reassure her that they feel wonderful… and they really do. I can’t even feel the cold against my feet.

I find myself watching Korra’s hips sway as she walks, and though she’s wearing thick jeans, it isn’t hard to see that she’s well-toned. I smile sadly, feeling suddenly nostalgic about all those times I fretted about working out in the gym, and checking my own posterior in the mirror. I wonder how it looks now… it’s been a long time since I’ve cared. Hell, I probably have a jelly-ass by now.

I pout to myself at the thought.

“Okay, here we are,” Korra says.

She walks up a single-storey set of stairs, kicking the snow off each step as she climbs. Again, I feel nervous… I’m about to enter a stranger’s home, and anything could happen. But as Korra turns the key and looks at me with warm, reassuring eyes, my concern melts away.

I hop up the steps, two at a time, enjoying my new boots. Then I’m led inside… and I’m surprised by what I see. It’s small, cosy, and quaint. There’s a log fire at one side of the room, a TV and games console, a small table, and one three-seater sofa. There’s a few paintings, one of which I’m sure I recognise… it’s a beautiful home, for sure. I’m surprised that a no-doubt rich movie star would settle for it, though.

“Expecting a mansion? Sorry to disappoint.” Korra seems to read my mind, yet again. I wonder how she does it.

“Not disappointed… pleasantly surprised,” I say, smiling.

“There’s better things I can spend my money on than a house that’s too big for me,” Korra says, shrugging her coat off, and chucking it on the sofa.

“It’s lovely,” I say. And it is. It somehow feels even more homely than my old room did…

“Anyway, this is the bathroom. And it’s all yours. Use whatever you want. There’s fresh towels… take your time. Enjoy.”

Korra gestures her arm into the room beyond, and I hold back a squeal of delight. The bathroom is huge, about the same size as the living room. There’s a massive walk-in shower, a spa bath, a shelf full of hair styling equipment and products, and a heated towel rack adorned with thick, fluffy towels.

“Thanks…” I murmur, knowing full well I’m blushing a little. I feel like a little girl with a pocket full of coins that’s just entered a candy store.

“I’ll get you a change of clothes ready, give me a shout when you’re done,” Korra says, grinning at me as I close the door behind me and gaze at the palace beyond.

Now this… this will be fun.

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