It was the first time her beloved had invited her to his home. The fact that it was a home she had bought for him made it all the sweeter. This had actually happened sooner that she had planned for. She had hoped the first time she would visit would be as a lover, not as a friend. They had yet to even hold hands. Up till now she had only sneakily hugged him as if she were a particularly enthusiastic greeter. Hopefully, her stiffness the first few times hadn’t given away her inexperience with hugs.
She was currently setting the table, while her dear finished the last touch ups on their dinner. He had cooked for them. This would be the first time she would eat her beloved’s cooking.
Ah truly, things were going better than she hoped. She hadn’t scared him away yet. In fact, after the first few weeks when he would at times stare at her as if daring her to do something, he had grown used to her attention, and the fact that she would not, in fact, do anything. She had been very conflicted at the time. His suspicion had been very cute, so cute, she just wanted to run her hands through his hair and assure him that everything would be alright. She had also been very angry. Her beloved seemed to fear intimacy, and seemed to expect every gift, every act of care to bite him. She suspected that was due to his childhood. His father was —luckily for him — dead, so she had no place to direct her anger. She could only show him, slowly, carefully, that she was different. That she would love him as he deserved to be loved and more. So while her beloved’s attempts to tempt her lately had been a test on her patience and control, she had to continue with her plan, until the day when there was no suspicion in his eyes and no apprehension in the lines of his body.
Her beloved really knew how to shake her resolve. He had a lovely white apron on and it spelled in bright red font: “Don’t kiss the cook. You might fall in love.” She couldn’t stop herself from looking up at his lips every single time she read it.
The doorbell rang.
“I’ll go and get it,” she told him as she went for the door. She really wanted to see who dared interrupt her time with her beloved.
A middle-aged man appeared behind the door. He was just about to speak when he saw who was on the doorway, took a few steps back and glaringly checked the house number.
“You have the right place, West,” she pointed, although she really wished for the opposite.
“Ah, sorry. I thought Tristan... um, who are you?”
He must have really been shocked to see her if he spoke so stupidly.
“Tristan’s friend.” For now, she added in her mind.
“Oh, good. That’s good.” he continued and then made to enter, but she didn’t move from her place on the door.
“I’m here to meet Tristan,” he hinted.
“I can see that.”
His patience wasn’t much, it seems. “Can you move aside?”
“No?” he seemed shocked at her nerve. “Tristan—”
“—can see you tomorrow.” She finished his sentence for him and closed the door on his face. She locked it for good measure.
When Brigitte returned to the kitchen, the table had been rearranged and set for three, while she had set it for two.
“Was someone at the door?” her beloved asked.
“No one important.” It wasn’t a lie, although he was obviously expecting West. After all, West was not important, or at least he better not be for his own sake.
“Strange. Mr. West is never late,” The doorbell rang again.
This time, she would do more than shut the door on his face. Her murderous intentions must have been noticed by her beloved, for he suddenly ran for the door yelling. “I’ll check it!”
Calm Brigitte, calm. Don’t kill your beloved’s friends. That’s bad. Killing his friends is bad. He’ll cry.
His plan to have Brigitte caught up in a lie was a bust. West had no idea who she was. But his self-appointed side-task of testing her patience seemed to be going splendidly. Brigitte seemed to be cutting the steak as if she wished she was cutting something — someone — else. Her staring at West left no illusions as to who that someone was.
“And how did you meet again?” The man in question appeared to be slightly disapproving of his friend.
“At the gallery exhibit for “The Good Queen”,” he answered in Brigitte’s place.
“So you are Tristan’s colleague then?” West’s tone, obviously directed at her alone, seemed to be expecting her to be anything but.
“No,” she didn’t elaborate.
“A critic?” Same negative answer. “Curator?” “Sponsor?”
“A fan,” she answered.
“A... fan.” West put as much derision as he could in that one word. “How old are you again?”
Oh, if eyes could kill.
And that was when West became suicidal. “You look older.”
Tristan caught her hand before Brigitte could grab the knife and hurried to placate her.
“Please, Mr. West, you and Brigitte are my closest friends. Could you get along with each-other?”
It worked pretty well, except now Brigitte seemed divided between utter joy at being his closest—well anything really, and outraged that West had also made the cut.
“Oh, Tristan,” Mr. West seemed touched at his words. They did actually count as his closest friends here. After all, these two were the only people he saw at least semi-regularly. “But you really should get out more my boy, so you can make more friends.” And as if he hadn’t made it obvious enough, he stared at her. “Your own age.”
Tristan tightened his hold around her in a soothing motion. Seeing her placated, he decided to be nice for once.
“Come on now. Be nice. Brigitte has re-bought almost all of my paintings. She is very dedicated.”
Both of them stared at him surprised, and he pinked under the attention. What was so special about what he said? It was true that she was dedicated to his work, even if as an extension of her interest in his person.
He coughed. “Anyway, one of you is my agent, the other a buyer, so act nice for that alone?”
West seemed to be having an epiphany as he remembered exactly who his most prolific buyer was. As an agent, he had always dealt with a middle man, but he knew in whose hands Tristan’s paintings ended up in every time they were sold.
He resisted the urge to blush as he realized who he had just sniped against. When he had first learned the name of “The Good Queen”’s buyer, he had been shocked. A Pruitt really? What on Earth was she doing at a small gallery like that? Shouldn’t she be squandering her wealth on Rembrandt’s and Van Gogh’s ?
Looking at how Tristan still hadn’t let go of her hand — he was still a bit stupefied he had fought a Pruitt, — and how satisfied she seemed at the gesture, he started to wonder whether Tristan had sold himself for fame. He had never thought it possible, but... they were freaking holding hands in front of his eyes.
Tristan couldn’t understand why West was looking at him so weirdly. He had thought the man would have choked at having snarked at someone so prestigious. Why was he staring like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing?
Ignoring it, he grabbed the glass of water with his left hand, since his right was still holding... holding... Brigitte’s hand. He removed his hand as if it was burned and blushed up a storm, ashamed that West had seen him so discomfited. By the self-satisfied gleam in her eye, along with a bit of loss, he understood that Brigitte had not forgotten as he had. She had just... decided to keep them holding hands in front of witnesses?!
He tried to hide behind the glass of water. She was really a pervert. Had no shame whatsoever. Who knows what West was thinking about them?