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Find Chapter 1 here
Find Chapter 2 here
Julia stands in the alley behind the back of the club, fuming. The letter from Carmen, once pristine, perfect paper, is now a crumpled-up wad buried tightly in her fist. She’d had her; Carmen was RIGHT THERE. She could’ve taken out her swordcane and stabbed Carmen if she’d been less drunk. Goddamn absinthe. Stupid Paris. City of love, my ass, Julia thinks as she sways in place from her combination of rage and alcohol. She closes her eyes, and forces herself to count to ten while taking deep, even breaths.
Feeling a little more steady, she heads back through the nighttime streets of Paris, which are just full of couples strolling arm-in-arm, late-night dinner conversations erupt from restaurants and carry over the heads of everyone who passes by, and the whole city is vibrating with light and life. This does nothing but continue to infuriate Julia, who is marching as fast as she can, back to the train station to hop the next train out of this hellhole that does nothing but mock her pain.
Arriving at the train station, she finds that the trains have stopped for the night, and she’ll have to wait for the 7 am train to Le Havre, where hopefully she can find a ship heading south, towards where she suspects Carmen is headed, always just ahead of Julia, who is always willing to follow along. Carmen had always talked about settling down somewhere warm and tropical, but she likely just turned an island into some kind of evil lair. Which, honestly, still sounded pretty cool, Julia thought, as she nodded off in her seat at the station.
She awoke, startled, several hours later, to what sounded like a train whistle going off in her ear. It was, in fact, a train whistle, her train, ready to depart, although it was just the alcohol leaving her brain feeling like a dried-out sponge that made it sound like the whistling was happening inside of her head at an impossibly loud volume.
“Merde!” she screamed as she stood up, grabbed her things, and ran to where the train was starting to slowly move away from the station. Bolting through the doors (and knocking several people over with nary an apology), she sprinted alongside the train, until a mustachioed porter reached out his hand to her from a door platform and helped scoop her up into the train, knocking them both down inside the train in the process.
“I am terribly sorry, sir, but thank you so much for your assistance!” Julia said as she stood up, collecting herself and her things, grateful that her swordcane had remained sheathed and she hadn’t accidentally stabbed someone (not an uncommon occurrence in her life). She barely looked back at him as she walked to find her seat, not noticing that his mustache had fallen off in their scuffle, nor that his sparkly blue eyes were very familiar.
Sitting down, she caught her breath and started to collect her thoughts. Okay, Carmen will be headed south. Probably to some amazing island with a hidden volcano lair. She tapped her swordcane distractedly on the floor and stared out the window. Miles and miles to go. Time to just sit and think of a plan: where to go, what to do.
The hangover and the gentle motion of the train must have lulled her into sleep again, because she awoke with a start many miles later. The train was stopped at a station; she could see the Seine shimmering in the distance. What a beautiful morning this was turning out to be.
The train whistle blew, and she could tell they were about to leave the station. Something strange caught Julia’s eye. It was the porter who had pulled her into the train earlier. Except… the porter was looking straight through the window at her. He pulled off his mustache, and took off his hat, shaking out a long mane of luscious hair. It was Carmen. She winked as the train pulled away and Julia pressed her hands and face against the window, screaming.
Again! She was RIGHT THERE! Literally in her hands! How did Julia not notice that the porter was Carmen!? God, she needed to stop drinking. It clouded her judgment and made it difficult for her to think correctly for days. And now what? She was stuck on a train, speeding away from her. She kept her face suck to the window, looking backward. Finally, she turned her head and looked forward. The train was about to cross the Seine on a long bridge.
Without thinking, she grabbed her things and walked to the nearest door. As soon as the train was on the bridge, she said a little prayer, tightened her grip, and jumped into the Seine. She bobbed in the water for a moment, getting her bearings, then swam across to shore. Panting, struggling upward on the ground, she came to rest on the muddy banks. Her soaking wet corset was clinging to her ribs; she felt like she could hardly breathe.
“Julia? Is that you?” She heard a voice in the distance, and for a second, she swore it was Carmen there to taunt her. Sitting up, shielding her eyes, she saw someone she hadn't seen in years. “R-Rose? Is that you?” Sure enough, it was her old friend, “Compass” Rose, a semi-famous lady pirate she had met a few years ago doing reconnaissance for a certain famous prince. (We won't even get into those details right now.)
“Rose? What are you doing here?”
“Julia! It IS you! What the hell? I'm a pirate; I sail around the world having adventures, that's my actual job description. The fuck brings you here?”
Julia sighed, wiping mud off her face. “Carmen, of course.”
Rose nodded in recognition. “I should've guessed. Well, let me help you up here. Need a lift somewhere?”
Julia smiled, taking her hand and steadying to her feet. “As a matter of fact, yes. Is the Booty Snatcher nearby?”
Rose laughed. “I'm never far from my Booty Snatcher. Come on. Let's go board the ship.”
Julia sighed. “You know, I was really torn between hopping on the train or getting on a ship to follow Carmen. It was like a ton of people were yelling in my brain. Looks like I'm doing both today!” And they walked together to where the ship sat in the distance, waiting to take them both on the next adventure.
Scent Notes: Spiced vanilla and amber meld with warm honeycomb. A midnight bloom of black jasmine dances with a whisper of dark palo santo