Here is my Whoops! Blogfest scene. Enjoy the embarrassment of others!
Stella wandered into the Divinities’ Infinities, feeling like a slug at a convention for butterflies. At least I have pretty wings, she thought, looking around. And I don’t have to wear a charm.
There was an air of elegance around the restaurant that managed to not be snooty. The decoration style was a mismatch of cultures. There were faerie interwoven knots, thick jinni rugs, heavy dwarvish wooden tables, and elvish pottery. Stella could pick out still more cultures, but it all managed to blend well in a sweeping constellation of culture.
The maître d’, a thin pencil of a man, looked at her and smiled. "Yes, Madam, how may I assist you?" he asked her in basic Angelic.
Stella blinked. “Uh, Vice? It’s pronounced ‘vee-tsuh’. But spelled v-i-c-e? I’m Stella Awakeningheaven, he’s supposed to met me here."
"Ah yes. Follow me."
Stella followed him through the large restaurant. She caught a whiff of delicious food and her stomach rumbled. Stella’s breakfast was hours ago; angel ate more frequently than humans so she was long overdue for a meal.
The restaurant was one huge room divided into other sections: the middle of the floor had free standing long wooden tables, ahead there was a winding staircase, presumably leading upstairs, and a long bar swept around the wall opposite of where they were heading.
The wall closest to them was a section styled after jinni culture. Alcoves were draped off with long sweeping curtains of rich reds, purples, and greens, adorned with beads and tiny bells that tinkled as they walked past; a large bronze brazier hung from the ceiling, and Stella caught a cloying whiff of frankincense and sandalwood.
“Here you are, Madam.” The maître d’ gestured towards one of the alcoves, as though he had guided her a long distance and was proud she was still safe. “Your table.” There was something that looked like an ottoman amid a sea of crushed velvet and silk cushions. It sat low to the ground, made of dark polished cherry wood. The cushions were scattered around the ottoman, and a large bunch of them piled up against the wall.
Stella looked around. The other tables had their drapes drawn, so she couldn’t see if the customers were sitting on the cushions or the little ottoman. Where am I supposed to sit? On the cushions? But they are so pretty. Do I sit on the ottoman thing? It’s sitting on a cushion itself, so maybe they are going to bring more cherry wood stools?
She turned to ask the maître d', but he was already closing one side of their drapes, and she lost her nerve. Okay Stella, it’s not hard. What do we know about Djinn culture? Absolutely nothing. Diddly. Okay, you can’t just stand here. People from the other side are starting to give you funny looks. The maître d' deserted her, returning to his post.
Since shoes and silk weren’t a good match, Stella decided the ottoman was the safest bet. She perched carefully on the edge, praying she had guessed correctly.
I wish Mr. Vice would just get here already, so I can hear the bad news, and leave.
Stella fidgeted. From where she sat, she could see halfway across the room. The restaurant was full, even for a lunch crowd.
Stella caught her breath. A hunky man lounged against the bar as though he owned the place. He had a beautiful woman on each arm, like living bookends. His chiseled features were softened by his laughter. His quicksilver silver hair hung past his shoulders like a curtain, and he moved with sensuality.
Stella could feel his charisma from all the way over here, and her little alcove started to heat up. The hunk wore tightly fitting blue jeans, and a black stretchy shirt. Being in the medical profession always made Stella notice someone’s muscular structure, and he had a lean, toned one, like a panther.
Stella shook her head and tore herself away from the sight of him. She could still hear his laughter though, and it didn’t help her nerves. She sat back, trying to hide behind the half-closed curtain. Thank goodness for privacy. I was staring like an idiot. Where is Mr. Vice? He said twelve, right? Stella tried to remember. She hadn’t really been awake during most of this morning’s conversation. Yes, he said twelve.
A terrible thought occurred to her. What if he meant tonight? Because I am a night angel? Oh my goodness, I am the biggest idiot—no, no wait a minute. His name was on the reservation list. He should be here then. Unless he has some sort of standing reservation. Stella inhaled and exhaled. Okay. It’s okay. You’re okay. Wait a little while longer. This is L.A. Traffic is pure hell, invented by the devil himself. Maybe he’s running late. You can do this—Stella’s thoughts broke off.
The gorgeous man was walking over to her side of the room. So pretty. She drooled. Ta’roa really broke the potter’s wheel when she made him. I wonder what it would be like to touch his shoulders...The thought made her grin but feel little guilty. It really isn’t proper I am having these thoughts about a strange man. She tried to chide herself, but the rest of her wasn’t listening.
He walked closer still, right in Stella’s direction. He seemed to be wrapped up in the conversation with the two models on his arms. Stella squirmed, trying to sit further back behind her half of the curtain. I don’t want to see his eyes slide off me like I am not even there.
The sound of his voice came closer, heavy with a Russian accent. "—am so hungry I could eat a moose," he said and opened her half of the curtain.
Stella jumped and looked around. She almost felt like he caught her in the shower.
One of the women, a brunette with long legs and a short black dress, cocked her head. "Someone you didn’t tell us about?"
"Hullo?" he said.
"Hello?" Stella felt as confused as they looked. "Can I help you?" Her voice cracked, and she looked away. Her face turned beet red, and her stomach was requesting permission to crawl out of her mouth.
He smiled at her, and her stomach flopped back into place. His eyes were a soft gray color that grew darker around the edges. He had tiny black horns on the top of his head. "I was about to ask you same thing. You are sitting at our table."
"On our table, actually." The other woman, a blonde with pointy features, said. She smirked at Stella. "Didn’t they teach you proper manners, little angel?"
Stella’s face turned several shades darker. "I didn’t know. The cushions were so pretty I didn’t want to get my shoes on them." Stella thought she might throw up. If I have to, I will aim for the blonde.
The hunk frowned at the blonde and looked at Stella again. "I am sorry, the maître d' must have mis-seated you. But you’re welcome to join if you wish?"
Now he feels sorry for you, because you’re such a screw up you sat on the table. So he’s offering to let you to sit with them. Why did I ever, ever come to L.A.? I don’t belong here.
Stella nodded. "He must have, sorry." She mumbled and stood up quickly.
"Wonderful! Serendipity strikes." He grinned at her, and she melted. "Have lunch with us. We could all sit on the tables.“
He’s making fun of me, she thought.
Stella couldn’t say anything without maybe breaking into tears. She walked away without looking at them, back up to the maître d' stand.
"I uh, I think you have me at the wrong table, sir," she said, trying to remember to breathe.
The maître d' frowned, as though he was deeply troubled to discover he had not escorted her so safely after all. Stella suppressed a grin at his dire facial expression. Cleary this man took his job very seriously. "I am quite sure it’s the correct table, Madam. Mr. Vice is a regular customer, and he always sits there."
Maybe she wasn’t wrong; maybe it was them. But the thought of going back to face them, and the evitable embarrassment that would surely ensue, didn’t seem worth it. "Oh. Uh, well, another party came and said it was their table."
The maître d' frowned again. "Let me straighten this out, Madam. I apologize profusely."
"No, it’s okay, I—"
He ushered her back to the same table. The curtain was still half open and they were lounging on the cushions. The hunk looked up at them and smiled. "Change your mind? Have lunch with us, angel moy."
The maître d' smiled. The lady fair was safe once more. "Ah, here you are. And I see the rest of your party has arrived."
He must be crazy. Or maybe it’s me who’s going crazy. She wanted to tear her hair out. "But, I, I’ve never…"
"Though she is welcome to join us, I sadly have never met this gorgeous woman until now," the hunk finished for her. His voice sent waves of tiny shivers down her spine.
The maître d' looked at Stella. "Madam, are you sure you have the correct last name?"
The blonde tittered, winning a frown from the hunk.
"Yes, I am sure," Stella said. "Vice is a hard last name to forget. It’s not like Smith or Green."
The hunk grinned like this was a huge joke to him. Great, they all think I am an idiot.Stella was past humiliated and coasting into angry. "I didn’t get it wrong, and you said this was Mr. Vice’s table." There, Stella, blame it on the maître d'. "Vice. It’s spelled v-i-c-e, but it’s pronounced ‘vee-tsuh'." Stella crossed her arms over her chest.
Now they all looked at her with identical expressions of mirth. Like there was a secret they all shared. She felt like she had broccoli in her teeth. "What are you all staring at? I am not the one who messed up." Stella jabbed her finger at the maître d'. "You said this was his table. I doubt there’s thousands of incubi in the city with the last name of Vice, even if it is L.A."
"Nyet, only two," the hunk said.
Stella’s train of thought derailed. “W—huh?“ She looked at the hunk. The tiny horns. The thick, Russian accent. His dead sexiness.
He waggled his fingers at her and sat up. "Is a pleasure to meet you. My name is Illiya Vice. I am Con’s younger brother."
Stella rubbed her temples. "Oh, you have got to be kidding."
"Nyet." Illiya grinned mischievously. "Can you not see the family resemblance?" He pointed at his horns.
"I should have known," Stella said. With my luck, and ability to embarrass myself, I should have at least guessed. Stella looked at the maître d'. "I suppose in the future I shall have to specify. Constantine Vice’s table, then. If he hasn’t already left thinking I showed him up."
The maître d' almost apologetically gestured towards the table where Illiya and his harem were sitting. "This is his table as well."
I really might be sick this time. Stella thought and nodded. "I see. Good day then."
"No, wait, he must be stuck in traffic or something," Illiya said. "When did you talk to him?"
"This morning. Really, it’s okay. I will reschedule the business meeting."
Illiya’s eyes lit up. "Then you must be Stella!"
"How do you know my name?"
"He is so excited. Nyet, please wait."
The maître d' abandoned her, and Stella was left to stand awkwardly again. Illiya took her wrist and tugged. Bolts of electricity shot up her wrist and made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. "Come sit. Sit down. I will call Con and see where he is."
"No, I don’t want to interrupt your meal. It’s been inconveniencing enough. I will—"
Illiya grinned and tugged harder. "Is not inconveniencing. Con will be here soon. He is probably caught in traffic somewhere, sit."
He tugged, as Stella pulled back, and she lost her balance. And fell forward. On top of him.
Before the shame and embarrassment could register, her insides went liquid and shimmery. It felt good, too good to have his arms around her. She found herself an inch away from his face, staring into his liquid silver eyes. He smelled like something musky and warm. His lips were thick and looked very soft. Illiya chuckled. Stella slid away.
"My apologies," Illiya said, but he didn’t look the least bit sorry.
What on earth have I gotten myself into? Stella thought.