Passage of Time

She paused in the doorway, looking over her shoulder at him. Her eyes swept up to meet his, then lowered, triggering the small smile that raised the corner of her mouth. His heart raced like he had run a marathon in the few steps they had taken down the hall. His palm still felt the cool softness of her skin where her hand had been curved into his seconds before. The world shrank down to the size of a pinhole, giving him only a view of her before him. The scent of her perfume lingering where she had been filled his nostrils, and he struggled to stand upright.

How long had he wanted to be right here, about to slip into the bedroom beyond, to take her into his arms and show her how he felt about her? He suddenly couldn’t recall whether it had been mere moments or a month ago that they had met. It shouldn’t matter, he knew, and he tried to breathe slowly, but found himself unable to manage it. Emerald flashed as her eyes raised again to his. She was emeralds and sapphires and diamonds tonight, and more precious than all of those things.

“Ready?” she asked softly.

Featured shoe: Reign Mina Heels in Navy by Kenadee Cole

Other details:

  • Skin: Bold & Beauty Natasha in Porcelain by Jourdan McMillan
  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous Mesh Eye in Deep Paris Shadow by Arkesh Baral
  • Hands: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands in Casual by Siddean Munro
  • Feet: Slink Avatar Enhancement Feet Deluxe by Siddean Munro
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Dress: Clef de Peau Brandon Dress in Midnight by Marcopol Oh
  • Necklace and Earrings: Donna Flora BLUE by Donna Flora (no longer available)
  • Hair: D!va Hair Nayomi in Citrine (tinted) by Marisa Kira

Scene details:

  • RageWorks Classical White by RageDesign
  • AF Aristocrat Bed RARE by Apple Fall (gacha item)
  • Pixel Mode Victoria’s Bath Hurricane Sconce by Tya Fallingbridge
  • Fancy Decor Parlor Rug by Jake Vordun
  • MESHWORX Jessie Armchair by Loz Hyde
  • Pose: Custom by me

Man of Means

I’ve worked here for 8 years, since I was 15. I get up early Friday through Monday, and I come here to staff the desk for Giancarlo’s Barber Shop, setting appointments and taking money, sweeping up and making change. He’s one of the few remaining shops in the area, mostly because so many businesses didn’t own the building they’re in, but GC does, so he’s been here almost 50 years.

The entire time I’ve worked here, GC’s first Friday appointment every four weeks is Mr. Lewis. He arrives in his sleek German sedan about 30 seconds before I open the front door, and GC comes down from his apartment upstairs, coffee in hand. The coffee goes on the counter, and GC gets to work. I usually study at the desk while there are clients in, but I’m always alert and listening when Mr. Lewis is here.

He has this soft, deep voice that he doesn’t have to raise at all, but you can hear him speaking throughout the room. I read up on him once; turns out he’s the CEO of an international company that he started in his basement when he was 15 and he went to live with an aunt after his parents died. He has a house on an island he created in a lake because he loves the water but didn’t want to be on the coast, and he had some sort of attachment to the site. He’s a few years shy of forty years old now, and despite being seen with Hollywood starlets as arm candy, he’s never been married. I’m not really sure what that says about him.

GC told me once that Mr. Lewis grew up nearby, and that he’d actually given him his first haircut. He apparently drives over an hour each way to keep this appointment, which lasts little more than that every time. That’s a level of loyalty that’s lost these days, according to my grandmother. I don’t know about that; I haven’t been around long enough to really know what loyalty looks like. But I do like to look at Mr. Lewis. I think I’ve had a crush on him since he swept in and the scent of his cologne made me weak in the knees. He introduced himself to me at the door on my first day, and kissed the back of my hand, without making it seem sleazy. Now, he still says “Good morning, Emma,” each time, and my heart does somersaults to hear him say my name.

He’s the most handsome man I think I’ve ever seen up close. I know GC was very attractive in his day — he still is, really — but something about Mr. Lewis sets him apart. It’s not that he’s got any one thing that makes him outrageously sexy, it’s like he has everything together. He’s very smart in what he and GC talk about; his laugh makes me feel like when the sun hits my face on a cold day. His eyes are clear hazel, with little flecks of gold near the center, and it seems like he notices everything around him. He complimented me on my haircut when GC styled me over, but he always has something nice to say to me before he goes. He pays in cash, which he gives to me in an exact amount with a generous tip before he smiles almost shyly and waves goodbye. It’s the highlight of every single month.

Featured Shoes: Deadwool Monk Shoes by Masa Plympton (at Monsieur Chic) and ILLI Manuel Monk Shoes by Equitum

On Mr. Lewis:

  • Head: Catwa Jackson by Catwa Clip
  • Skin: Clef de Peau Phil in Tone 2 by Marcopol Oh
  • Eyes: Mayfly Liquid Light Eyes in Desert Twilight Shadow by Arkesh Baral
  • Hair: Action Inkubator Hair Theo by MarilynMonroe Munro
  • Suit: Deadwool Peak Suit (Wool) in black by Masa Plympton (at Monsieur Chic)
  • Socks: Deadwool Dandy Socks by Masa Plympton
  • Shoes: Deadwool Monk Shoes by Masa Plympton (at Monsieur Chic)
  • Hands: Slink AvEnhance Hands in Casual by Siddean Munro
  • Sitting pose custom by me

On Giancarlo:

  • Head & Skin/Appliers: Samurai Kyle Mesh Head Aged in Default Tone by Primrosestar
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous Eyes in Mountain Lake by Arkesh Baral
  • Hair: Exile Traveler in Naturals by Kavar Cleanslate
  • Body: Adam Body by Ginger Chevalier
  • Sweater: Deadwool Ernst Sweater in Chamois by Masa Plympton
  • Jeans: Deadwool Worn out jeans in tumbled wash by Masa Plympton
  • Socks: ILLI Applier Socks for Omega by Equitum
  • Barber pose custom by me

Other details:

  • Apple Fall Buffalo Taxidermy by warehousefifteendesigns (gacha item)
  • David Heather -Shaving Shelf RARE by Gianni Broda (gacha item)
  • David Heather Whiskey Soap Dispenser by Gianni Broda (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // shave stuff by Superjaix (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // mirror by Jammeh (gacha item)
  • David Heather Toiletry Skincare by Gianni Broda (gacha item)
  • LISP – Mesh – Newspaper and Coffee – Blue by Pandora Popstar
  • oyasumi / cash register / grey by Kenzo Gateaux (gacha item)
  • David Heather Electric Razor by Gianni Broda (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // clipper heads by Superjaix (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // dye bowl by Superjaix (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // gentlemen sign by Jammeh (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // barber’s tools by Jammeh (gacha item)
  • Apple Fall Comb Jar by warehousefifteendesigns (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // barbershop posters by Jammeh (gacha item)
  • (fd) Cat – 11 Sitting by Toast Bard (gacha item)
  • Apple Fall Crumpled Newspaper by warehousefifteendesigns
  • Lusch Motors Excelsior Umbrella by Owen Lusch
  • David Heather Shoe Shine Kit by Gianni Broda (gacha item)
  • dust bunny . coat rack by Lxlnoel  (gacha item)
  • David Heather Cameo Bag/Decor/Black by Gianni Broda (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // barbershop station by Superjaix (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // reception desk by Jammeh (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // waiting chairs by Superjaix (gacha item)
  • xin + toro // barbershop chair (black) + rare by Superjaix (gacha item)
  • Apple Fall Barber Supply Cabinet RARE by warehousefifteendesigns (gacha item)
  • Apple Fall Barrel Chair by warehousefifteendesigns (gacha item)
  • Apple Fall Barbers’ Sink by warehousefifteendesigns (gacha item)
  • Apple Fall Country Hall by warehousefifteendesigns

Directions

Madigan’s heart raced. There was no avoiding, no place to go. She moved to one side of the corridor, turning her back to the wall and standing still as Madame Aleski approached from the other direction. The Madame was moving quickly through the passage, her long, sure strides unwavering. Mr. Takaneo strode nearly soundless in her wake, nodding his acknowledgement of her statements, the only sound that of his wooden sandals on the metal grates of the floor.

“Governor Landon will be seated with the Klawsons,” the Madame said, barely turning her head, “and the Farrington delegation will…” her voice trailed off and she looked directly at Madigan, who felt that her lungs might burst suddenly from having held her breath for too long. “Cadet Williams,” she said, nodding slightly as she swept past. Her train of thought uninterrupted, she continued speaking to Mr. Takaneo, her personal drone hovering over her right shoulder, keeping pace and whirring softly.

“Madame,” Madigan managed, staying still a moment longer before she rushed down the hallway, anxious to breathe again, looking back for a last glimpse.

In the next bay, Madi leaned against the cold metal wall, closing her eyes and mentally painting everything onto a canvas in her brain. She had never seen Madame Aleski at close range before, and the thought that she had just had an encounter with the woman was enough to make her knees nearly buckle. The Madame was head of the entire Galactic Intelligence Community, responsible for the activities of tens of thousands of personnel, the security of countless diplomats and private citizens.

There were rumors she had an eidetic memory, able to recall everything she saw, heard, or read. Other rumors said that her memory was artificially enhanced, stored, backed up and cataloged by some system of software. Her pale skin was the result of never leaving the underground network of tunnels and transport, they said. Her white hair was the result of the close calls she had avoided, and that in her youth her hair black as a raven’s wing. They also said that she was over 90 years old, but as Madi had looked at her face, she couldn’t recall seeing a crow’s foot or even a wrinkle. The Madame’s legendary Caribbean blue eyes had been clear, bright and alert. Even her voice, authoritative and direct without being stern, was softer than imagined, as though she need not raise it to garner attention or get results. Her uniform was singular among the GIC; she wore a wool jacket (where had they even found a sheep?) with a tall belt around her waist, her unwrinkled skirt and heels Madi couldn’t imagine could be run in. Perhaps she had no reason to ever run. The gold brooch which marked her rank, with its black and white stones — “through the darkness and into light” like the agency motto — had been pinned to her lapel.

Mr. Takaneo was just as much an enigma. No one knew where he had come from. His pointed elven ears should have placed him among the Starburst city’s dwellers, but no one had been able to link him to that city. The rumors about him were just as outlandish. First, that he was the Madame’s consort, which, having seen him just now, made Madi think the Madame had impeccable taste in men. No one had ever heard him speak. He wore his own uniform of a bygone era, one bare, pale shoulder visible always. Madi remembered seeing the scar that arced across his left shoulder blade, said to be the claw mark of a Wildern he had fought and killed with a single blade.

Whatever their story was, the Madame and Mr. Takaneo were legends, and as Madi finally pushed herself off the wall, she realized that the Madame had called her by name. She wondered if it were possible she knew the names of all 812 cadets in the academy. Her thoughts reeling, Madi headed back to her room, sure that her best friend Thompson was going to love hearing this story.

Featured shoes: Reign Sybill Heels by KenadeeCole

Madame Aleski’s details:

  • Head: Catwa Annie by Catwa Clip
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Tropical Sea by Arkesh Baral
  • Skin: Bold & Beauty Scarlet in Porcelain by Jourdan McMillan
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Hair: Elikatira Karee in Essentials by Elikatira Tiramisu
  • Jacket: Erratic Mischa – Wrap Coat in Black by Erratic Rain
  • Skirt: Celoe Nikka Skirt in Pitch by ShaySibrian (no longer available)
  • Brooch: Alchemi Immortalis :Ami amet deli pencet” French Brooch (no longer available)
  • Hands and Feet: Slink Avatar Enhancement Hands in Casual; High Feet by Siddean Munro
  • Manicure: Hello Dave in Nude Mattes by Maia Gasparini
  • Drone: Neurolab Bee pet by Ono Zinner

Mr. Takaneo’s details:

  • Head: The Mesh Project Head – Classic by TheShops
  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in Pale Onyx by Arkesh Baral
  • Body: The Mesh Project Deluxe Body by TheShops
  • Skin: Clef de Peau Adam in Tone 0 by Marcopol Oh
  • Katahada: Tomoto Katahada Ohgiku in Black by Tomo Wachter (limited edition)
  • Shoes: CerberusXing Himo Geta 2 in Red by Kamayari
  • Hair: Tableau Vivant Knot by M4r1lyn Magic
  • Ears: Mandala Steking Ears by Kikunosuke Eel
  • Necklace: Mandala Gyatei Necklace by Kikunosuke Eel

Madigan Williams’ details:

  • Eyes: Mayfly Luminous in London Fog by Arkesh Baral
  • Skin: YS&YS Mia 01 in Nude by Monicuzza Babenco
  • Body: Maitreya Lara by Onyx LeShelle
  • Hair: Elua Gemma in Blonde by Miu Edman
  • Dress: ISON Wednesday Dress in Gray by Harry Hyx
  • Boots: Carazon Boot in Black by Harry Hyx

Scene Details:

  • Set: Xen CY Hallway by Xenius Revere