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The ship on the horizon.

When opportunity and romance sails into town

By Emma WhitePublished 2 years ago 10 min read
The ship on the horizon.
Photo by Nathan Hurst on Unsplash

Paris is undisputedly one of the most beautiful cities globally, the capital of France, and art and fashion, everything I love in one place. I love everything about it; I also love, thrift and second stores. I live for them: the things you find, brand names, beautiful pieces, and statement items. I am like Emily in Paris on a budget. I always try to look amazing but not break the budget, because I also like traveling to Paris once a year, so I need to be clever with my money, but still look good.

There are a million things to do, see and experience in Paris and nevertheless, it does not matter how much time you have here, it will never be enough.

Climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower, strolling down the Champs Elysée's, visiting the Louvre in my most fabulous outfit. Snipping on champagne, drinking coffee, then wandering into shows and exhibitions. Having lunch in some adorable café and then strolling along the banks of the Seine. Exploring the Tuileries garden. The sunsets are to die for. The nightlife, offers restaurants beyond your wildest dreams. It is like stepping into this whirlwind of romanticism, and everything you see in movies is accurate. My most treasured experience of the Paris nightlife was dancing in streets with an attractive stranger, brandishing a black fedora and trench coat, dancing slowly to Latin jazz while a thousand fairy lights twinkle in the night. His name was Marius. But quite simply, the Parisian way of life will forever leave you with enduring memories.

There is always more. I go there with all my beautiful clothing that is cheap but looks impressive and often a brand name. I travel around not only the city but the countryside. My annual holiday typically goes for six weeks, which I divide my stay between the beauty of Paris, the countryside just outside of Paris, and at some stage on the way home travel to a beach, to linger in a boat in, soaking up life.

It is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of my job, where I am the manager for client complaints of a big company. My job is ok, I have worked hard for it, and most of the time, I like it; I love the challenge of helping people and leaving people better than I find them. But recently, all the unhappy people are getting to me. Today was no exception; I could still hear yelling on the phone long after an angry client had hung up. It's like the magic I once had to make people better is all gone.

To make it worse, all I could do was think of Paris.

So, I sat there at my desk looking at the little photo; I took of the Fedora wearing heartthrob, under the lights with the Eiffel Tower glistening in the background, and that's all I have. We had such a great time, but I forgot to get his details. I was able to finish early today because of all my extra hours recently, so as I chewed on my pen. I thought, why not. I will take my hours of accrued toil. Leave early, and on the way home, check out the new second-hand store my friends have been telling me about, pick up some wine, and sit on the balcony, listening to jazz music.

I got up excited; I stuck my head into my boss's office.

"Excuse me, Luke, can I finish up early and use some toil?"

"Ummm, ."

He was squinting, concentrating on his laptop in front of him. Completely distracted.

"Sure, sounds good."

I knew he probably did not even hear me and was just agreeing to whatever, so I would leave.

I decided to take full advantage of that; it was yes regardless if he knew what he was committing to or not. I hurried back to the office, logged off my laptop, got my bag, said a quick goodbye to people, and left before my boss realized what he had said yes to.

It was just after four in the afternoon, and the new little shop was open. I was so excited.

I went in, and the smell of old books, leather, and coffee hit me.

I could feel my smile widening as I walked through the poky and multi-level old converted house; come now, shop. Not only was this wonderful place full of second-hand books, furniture, clothing, and whatever else could fit under its roof, they were also making coffee and selling homemade goodies. I was in instant heaven. I had been waiting to come here since its opening, which had been over two months now. Some of my friends had been several times and would carry on about how good it was. I knew now they were right, but I had been so cranky they had beat me to this sacred space and visited since, but because my work hours, I had not been able to enjoy it yet, and so I would feel jealous of them boasting about their coffee and great purchases.

But now I was finally here. It consisted of two levels, ground and first floor, and it was like being in a dollhouse. I walked over to the coffee counter and went to order a coffee; when the man with his back to me behind the counter turned around, and I nearly fainted. It was no other than my handsome fedora-wearing, jazz dancing Marius.

"Marius, is that really you?"

“Why yes Mademoiselle, Catheena it is.”

I could feel my cheeks flushing; luckily, I had like two layers of foundation on.

"Well then, Marius, what brings you to our fine City, and can I have a cappuccino coffee with two sugars, please."

"Why certainly, Mademoiselle, I am here because this is one of my businesses; I have a few chains of them across the world. I have just opened this one in your beautiful New Orleans, Louisiana. Why do you need sugar? Are you not sweat enough?"

He looked up over the coffee machine with these chocolate eyes that perfectly complimented his brooding tall, dark and handsome appearance, sporting an after-five stubble on his face.

"Congratulations. Well, I am not sure that I am sweat enough, and my day could have been better, so I am consuming all the sugar today to make me feel better. Although I am feeling rather better since walking here as well."

I meet his eyes and quickly looked away.

"I see, and why are you feeling better now?" he said as he started making someone else's coffee.

I looked at him and responded, slowly looking him over. "The clothes in the shop, of course."

He smirked. "Sure it's the clothes, or is the coffee?"

I smiled and looked at the five coffees waiting in front of my order and answered.

"Well, I don't know. I have not actually tasted the coffee yet. Can you come to find me when my coffee is ready? I really require a new coat; better find one before you close. I will be over there." Pointing to some second-hand expensive long leather coats.

“Sure thing, Mademoiselle, Catheena,”

He winked at me, and I walked away.

I picked up a marron suede leather trench coat with gold buttons and fur collar. It was completed with a matching belt with a large gold belt buckle. I touched the fur; it was so soft, like patting a tiny kitten. It was not quite real fur, but it looked the part. I reached for the label, and the size was not printed on the label.

Suddenly I heard.

"It is your size Mademoiselle, Catheena, and I could knock $40.00 off it for you. Plus, here is your coffee also free."

I looked up to see Marius standing on the other side of the coat rack and he handed me my coffee.

"Thanks for coffee; it smells amazing. How do you know it is my size?"

"Mademoiselle, I sized you up the moment I meet you. The coat will be your size."

I could feel that hot flushing thing again.

"Are Marius, I see, perhaps I should try it on, would you mind holding my coffee? I just want to be sure, only if you have no more coffee to make, I don't want to hold up other customers."

He looked around.

"My pleasure Mademoiselle, there are no more coffee orders right now, plus what if I don't mind you holding me up? What happens then?"

I could really feel my face getting hotter now, and I handed him the coffee.

Marius sat the coffee on a small table near us, and as I went to take the coat off the rack, Marius grabbed it, and put it on me, played with my hair, which he then lifted out of the collar.

"There you go, Mademoiselle looks like it was made for you, and I had to play with your beautiful hair. I could not have that getting stuck in the collar. You are wearing a lovely perfume, by the way."

I turned around and picked up my coffee.

"I will take it, Monsieur, and does your discount still apply."

Marius turned to walk in front of me, now facing me, and he moved in close and whispered in my ear.

"How about a better offer? The coat is free, but only if you wear it out tonight and dine with me."

I smiled, touched his chest with one finger, "Sounds wonderful, Marius, thank you, and what an invitation. I guess I could say yes to both." I ran my finger down his arm to his hand.

"Well then, my Mademoiselle, wait for me, and I will close the shop."

I walked outside and sat on a cute park bench outside his shop. I still had my coat on and was looking over it only to find a mysterious message hand-stitched onto a separate piece of fabric sewn into the lining of it. I read it.

“Oh ! si tu pouvais lire dans mon coeur, tu verrais la place où je t’ai mise!”

I felt that hot feeling again, and Marius was looking over my shoulder.

"It is a quote by Gustave Flaubert it means Mademoiselle."

I put my head back to rest on his arm, smiled at him, and slowly cut him off.

"It means Marius, "If you could read my heart, you would see the place I have given you there."

Marius smiled, “Very good my Mademoiselle.”

"I stood up and walked around the bench, " Marius, where are we going to dinner."

Marius pointed to the harbor. "See that ship on the horizon."

I squinted and looked over to where he was pointing. I could see this huge old done-up Sailing ship coming in.

"That ship is beautiful, but why are we dining on a ship?"

"Because Mademoiselle, Catheena, I own it, I converted it to a luxury living houseboat."

I looked up at him and raised one eyebrow.

"A houseboat is a touch modest, is it not? That is a ship; it is like a floating castle."

He smiled at me and reached over and played with my hair.

"Well, Then Mademoiselle, your castle awaits."

"Marius, what is it that you do?"

"Mademoiselle, I am an antique trader and art dealer. These little shops I have here and there, are just my hobby. I love collecting fine things, like old ships and ancient treasures."

I smiled. "Could you be any more perfect? I feel like I have dreamed about you since even before I meet you; you could be my happily ever after."

He placed his hand on my lower back as we walked toward the ship.

"Well, Mademoiselle, maybe you are my happily ever after."

Written by Emma White


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