Ah, the Burgundy region of France. Here, the burgundy grapes never stop growing...just as the burgundy wine never stops flowing...not even for T. Graham Brown.
This is a winery. It accommodates for many...and a few, at the same time.
Atop a dais, violins play in perfect harmony. The musicians here just love to study the classics...
At a table far from that, a couple sits. They're seeing one another for the first time. He's a businessman from Valais. She's a rising diva...whether anyone can tell or not.
Meet Nathalie Belleau. As her surname suggests, her family lived in Belleau Wood before WWI. As the Wood's name suggests, the Belleaus were more than just its owner. Alas, they could've done more where that was...before a bunch of NAU marines and Saxon machine guns came, and gassed, shattered, blackened, and trench-riddled everything to a hideous wasteland.
From what Nathalie's heard, the Wood's recuperated much. Alas, the Wood will never resume its pre-WWI being...
Suavely, a waiter pours their burgundy wine. With luck, it won't get mixed with anyone's spilled blood tonight. Nathalie's pretty sure it will. In fact, she might actually know for a fact that it will...
Around her neck, Nathalie wears six jeweled titanium pendants. Each one represents one of the six original titanesses in Greek myth.
For many moments, they sit in silence. Eldore Friquest sits patiently, politely waiting for her to drink most of her wine. She doesn't.
"Why," he asks, "don't I start?"
"I'm all ears." She flaps her long straight blonde hair.
"I work for a company that...harvests energy from the sun. It's a bit dangerous for some of us, but...it's a necessary sacrifice, for those of us who don't want humanity to die when the sun does."
"That's interesting. Valais is inland. How...?"
"We do most of the craft-launching in Murcia," he tells her. "We also have...other facilities, elsewhere...that do the same thing. We're...opening a new one in Singapore before the end of the year."
"Lots of islands around Singapore. I imagine most of the returning craft expect a bumpy landing?"
"Yeah, well, we'd LAUNCH from Singapore. They'd splash down in the open ocean far from that, obviously. We've got a facility in Samoa, too."
"You people just don't sleep," she sips her wine, "do you?"
He shrugs. "SOMEONE has to not to." He sips his own wine; he takes in a LOT more of his than she did hers. But then, he waited too long for her to drink first. "The sun doesn't take lunch breaks. Why should we?"
"The sun also doesn't clock out at the end of the day. Or take weekends. Or holidays. Or three-day passes. Or sick leave. Or maternity leave. Or family emergencies. Or sabbaticals. Or hajj leave. Or funeral leave. Or..."
"I get it. I'm just saying that at our company, we like to compare ourselves to what we work with."
"THAT makes more sense." She scoffs. "One time my family invested in a shitload of bellows, just for the hell of it. We didn't even have that much metal to forge." She slows. "But then, it might be BECAUSE of all that smithing, that we inadvertently invited the..." She blinks, and studies him. "It doesn't matter. The past is the past, right?"
He studies her. "Nathalie?" He hesitates...but rests his hand on hers. "I'm here for you. You know you can talk to me about this shit, right?"
Nathalie gently pulls her hand out from under his.
"We'll finish the date," she offers. "This wine is SO worth it. But for the sake of my sanity...I don't think we should do this again."
He smiles sadly. "Crying shame. You would've been quite the flasher-dasher to take home to my folks."
"I'm sure I would've been. But I dread I still miss mine."
"Oh! Did you lose your family?! Sorry, I... I didn't know that."
"It's okay. I didn't tell you. Plus, it happened long ago."
He scoffs. "How long could it have possibly been?! You're so young, and...gorgeous."
She half-smiles, and nearly blushes. "We'll finish the date," she repeats. "This'll be our last time."
He sighs, and digs out his wallet. "This is too hard for me. Forget it. The sun needs me back on the clock...as does the atomic clock. Our company just made a new deal with it last week."
Nathalie heaves a sigh. And so, the hunt for Mr. Right continues... At least now she knows not to look for it in the rising sun...or even in the setting one, for that matter. Eldore just said so himself, after all: men like him can't afford to take a break.
Often times, Nathalie feels like she can't, either. She just...can't talk about this with a lot of men. And it sucks. But her sexuality won't stop throbbing; therefore, she won't stop hunting for men.