The book fell and the last face she expected to see slowly turned to her. She held back an audible gasp, her eyes widening in surprise,” Gaston? I—-When…How?”
She wasn’t sure how to speak in this moment as it sunk in that the he was standing right in front of her. How did she not know that someone who was such a big part of her past actually resided in Grimmsvale? Not only was he here, but he seemed… different. Almost more meek?
She blinked and straightened her shoulders,” I never expected to see you here. How are you?”
She had heard his compliment, but chose not to acknowledge it in this moment, given his track record, it would likely lead down a conversational path she had no interest in following. More pressing, was letting his being here sink in and finding out just how he came to be in the same town she found herself in.
"Play it cool" he kept on repeating to himself. To Gaston, her face had a slight sense of wonderment to it but, that was overshadowed by the look of displeasure that she was working so hard to disguise. There was a thousand ways to answer her question however, he could not find the words to properly express himself. "Good" he replied in a soft but hesitant voice. "Look Belle, I don’t know what you remember about me but, I’m really trying to change" he stated.
Hopefully, she hadn’t heard about the dastardly reputation he acquired here in the town. It was true that his intentions pointed towards change but, only to change his current level of power in the town. He wanted to learn to read and write, to gain the trust of the people, to maybe even run for office. His intention was to re-invent the idea of Gaston. He liked being known as a brute however, no one can trust a brute. It was Belle that would assist him during this adventure. She could teach him the art of understanding subtlety, which was definitely needed if he wanted to accomplish his “Change”. He had to keep a calm head. “It was really nice seeing you Belle. I would hate to keep you from your work. I should head out” he said, hoping she would stop him.
Basil rolled his eyes slightly as he listened, not at all impressed as he saw the man. Hmm, figures….he’s hung over……he sounds as he looks and he probably thinks he’s doing me a favor by offering to get me alcohol……idiot, he makes having a conversation with the old rat more enjoyable. He looks at the man, looking as interested as Gaston was sorry. “Whether you care or not, my name is not buddy Mr. Gaston, my name is Basil……..and I’ll try to keep that in mind when I feel like getting wasted with the rest of the patrons.”
"Basil? Like the stuff I use when I cook? I’ll remember that." Gaston mumbled. It was almost time to open up the Lounge and recover from his massive hangover. It was almost a science for Gaston now. The post-party routine consisted for 6 dozen eggs, some sort of meat and black coffee, maybe with a shot of liquor. "Look Basil, if beer isn’t your thing, I’m on my way to the Lounge, would you like some breakfast? Consider it an authentic sorry, Bro." he said as he gestured for the unamused man to follow him.
Belle stood stunned for a moment as the person seemed to have not even noticed their near collision and turned, mumbling to himself, and started to walk away. She furled her brows watching them retreat with their book up in front of them.
"Excuse me," she said as she started after them," Hello? Sir?" She moved to catch up, lightly putting her hand to his shoulder," I’m sorry, I just wanted to be sure you didn’t need help with something?"
His go-to pick up lines did not manage to make her fall for him last time, so Gaston made an attempt to be a tad bit more subtle. Subtlety was not a friend of Gaston however, he knew that it was necessary to strike up a meaningful conversation with Belle. Her hand softly touched his broad shoulders and his knees almost buckled. Plummeting to the floor, the book fell from his hand and made a surprisingly soft landing. The only damage was a slightly bent spine. He slowly turned to her with a bright red face and muttered “Wow, I thought this collection of books was beautiful, it is no comparison to you mademoiselle.”
Basil had gotten up early, no different then back home and decided to head out early and went to a cafe that was somewhere between his apartment and the station. He sat outside the cafe at one of the small tables. Enjoying the morning and taking mental notes as he watched people go by. He was in his own thoughts when he felt someone bump into his chair, almost spilling his drink. Not sounding all too pleased about it.
"Please! do watch where you are going……I’d appreciate not wearing my coffee this morning"
"Oh sorry about that Pal" Gaston sarcastically sounded off "Besides. tea would look so much better on you." The man look very agitated and although he would never admit it, Gaston was at fault. He was much too careless while drinking the night prior and the hangover slightly impaired his walking skills. "Look buddy, My name is Gaston and I own the Hunter’s Lounge, and I would like to say I am sorry for almost destroying your fabulous pants" he said as he gave a sort of jazz hands movement when he said fabulous. "Come on by and I’ll get you a real drink, on the house." he blurted out
The shop was quiet, which meant that Belle could focus on the books on the shelves rather than the people browsing them. One of the best things about coming to this new town was the fact that she had another bookshop to browse that was filled with new titles the store back home lacked. She hummed lightly to herself as she walked along the aisle and running her fingers along the bindings. She turned around at the end of the bookcase and stopped short of someone who stood on the other side.
"Oops," she said," Sorry about that, I didn’t realize you were there."
He had only heard rumors that Belle worked at this small shop. “A book store?” Gaston questioned as he stood out in front of the shop trying to muster up the courage to finally enter. He was attempting to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing dame, in all of her glory. He took a deep breath and tried to think of a reason he would enter a such a strange place as this. It was also the first time in a long time that butterflies were running rampant in his stomach. He clutched the handle and slipped in. He was looking at the ground as he walked in. If someone he knew was there, then he could say that he accidentally walked into this strange smelling graveyard of trees. However, there was no one to greet him as he ventured in. He looked around for the beautiful woman known as Belle but, only found disappointment. There were just rows and rows of bound books. Gaston began to walk around the tree burial site, in search of someone to answer his question. “Did she really work here?” he thought to himself. It wasn’t like him to be nervous around females but, Belle was different, Belle was remarkably special. She was not only the most beautiful thing his eyes had ever beheld, she was the first to say no to Gaston and no one says no to Gaston. He admired that about her, she wasn’t willing to yield to him. She was going to make him work for her attention.
It was then he heard humming. Not knowing what to do, he grabbed the nearest book to him and began to pretend to read. “Thank Goodness this book has pictures” he rambled off. The book was covering his entire face, as though it would provided enough cover to hide him from the quickly approaching tune. It was then he heard her voice. It was like the first time he heard a gunshot, it was magical.
"Sorry about that, I didn’t realize you were there." she said and all he could say was "Yeah, it is a good one but, the second one is better."
To say he was embarrassed was truly the understatement of the century. He pressed the book to his face and rapidly made his way in the opposite direction of her.
Would it be impolite to laugh? Hans sat at one of the many wooden tables scattered across the bar and watched the spectacle with green eyes widened and a finger trailing across his lips to conceal a smirk. Was there no end to the ridicule these poor women would be forced to endure? It was obvious that the proprietor of the Lounge only forced them to do this ridiculous little routine to stroke his own precious ego. Once Gaston finally burst through the door, right on cue, and belted out the last line of the song, Hans nearly lost it. He clasped his hand over his mouth to keep from chuckling aloud, but still his shoulders shook with the suppressed laughter.
He barely managed to sober up when Gaston approached him, choking down his remaining chuckles and taking a deep breath to regain his composure. He sat taller in his seat and lifted his eyes to meet the man. “No one puts on a show like Gaston.” He replied in a singsong voice, a smile spreading across his lips. He halfheartedly mimicked some of the moves he remembered the waitresses doing as he said this, another fit of chuckles threatening to spew from his lips, but somehow he kept them at bay. “A refill would be nice.” He added when prompted, “But I can wait until one of the waitresses is available.” He motioned to the women who were hurriedly trying to catch their breath. “You should be basking in the afterglow of your incredible performance.”
"Was this chap being sarcastic?" he thought to himself. He looked around for another waitress to help the devilishly handsome young man but, could not find one. Gaston’s intention was to pair the patron with the most beautiful waitress he had however, she was assisting a couple near the entrance of the Lounge. He thought that if she could flirt with the lone customer, maybe he would be a tad bit more willing to purchase some of the alcohol, which could lead to a bigger tip. "It seems like you are stuck with me buddy. Don’t worry I’ll bask later because first things first and you are first in my book." Gaston admitted.
Poking at her steak with her fork for the past few minutes, Am had her head propped up on her chin as she stared at the slab of meat on her plate. This town took some getting used to, but she had to at least try to explore it. Especially places she never thought she’d be caught dead in. Currently finding herself in Meat and Taxidermy Central, however, she was starting to question her willingness to go out. That is, until she suddenly heard singing. Wait…singing? Frowning, the young woman looked out of her booth and watched the servers chirping out some tune like she was in the middle of a Broadway musical.
But Am gave a startled jump when a swinging set of doors suddenly burst open and there stood a giant man, belting out his line like a champ. Am placed a hand over her lips as she held her head up by her chin, almost in awe of the madness that had erupted around her. And then a smile crept onto her lips, a smile of utter disbelief. The people in this town were actually insane. She looked up when the large man was suddenly at her table; sweeping her bangs out of her eyes, she gave a soft laugh. “I think…I’ve been transported to another dimension. One where people randomly burst into song.” She pointed up at him. “Gotta admit, though…it’s pretty catchy. And,” she gave a breathless chuckle herself, “I think a beer would do me some good right about now.” Am didn’t even like beer…but right now she was still so stunned by the display she just witnessed that she needed something to remind her that this was actually happening.
"Thank you!" he sang out in a opera like voice. He truly wasn’t a fan of the arts but singing at the top of his lungs gave him another outlet to capture the praise of the crowds. He lived for the spotlight. Gaston was determined to become the most loved person in the town. It was a daunting task but, one he thought was achievable. The brute whistled for his waitress to come over and fetch the drinks that were requested. He shifted his gaze from the waitress, to the angelic creature who agreed to have a drink in his Lounge. He scanned her, still frantically trying to obtain a stable breathing pattern. Under any other circumstances this meeting would be almost scary. He; being a hulking, muscular, hairy beast of a man who was breathing hard and she; being a delicate, dazzling, superb specimen who was sitting alone. "How is the food?" he blurted out to fill the silence until the waitress returned.
He glanced at the mirror from the corner of his eye, stopping to admire his clean cut face. He winked at himself and blew a kiss. Music from the bar was ringing into the backroom where he was waiting. Strangely enough the Hunter’s Lounge had an unusually low amount of people in attendance. “What a shame” he thought “The entire town should be here.” It was on this night that he had decided to unveil a little show that his employees had been forced to learn.
No one’s slick as Gaston
No one’s quick as Gaston
No one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston’s
For there’s no man in town half as manly
Perfect, a pure paragon!
It was then a grin crept onto his face. The extensively rehearsed show was running perfect. Standing behind the saloon doors that he insisted be put in last month, he waited for his time to burst out. It wasn’t a great hiding place because of how huge the burly man was but it was dark enough to conceal his face. Although his feet were still very visible.
No one’s got a swell cleft in his chin like Gaston!
It was then he swung open the doors and let out a roar “As a specimen, yes, I’m intimidating!”
As the song ended, he was slightly out of breath. He looked at the stunned crowd and yelled out “Nailed it!” His hand was now clenched into a fist. As he continued to shake his fist, he pointed a picture of himself and let out a smile. Gaston caught the eyes of a customer and he made his way over. “What did you think? Can I get you something? A beer maybe?” he questioned while still trying to catch his breath.
Anna pushed herself to sit up and she stared at him. “Well, that’s not very smart.” She was starting to feel ill and even worse than before. “And I doubt your leg is broken. It’s probs just bruised or something, just a little bump don’t be such a baby.”
She rubbed her eyes and hesitantly rolled his pant bottom up to inspect his injury. She pressed down in a few places, “does this hurt? This? How about this?” She tried no to look. “It is pretty bruised and very gross.”
Shock, pure shock. Gaston’s mouth was closed tight. As she poked around on his damaged limb the thought of her touching him nearly caused him to vomit. She was quick too, as though she had done this before. She was careful and precise, he hadn’t even noticed that she pulled his pant leg up. The icy cold touch of her boney fingers made him realize what he needed to do. Firstly, he had to somehow get to his feet and secondly, she had to leave. She had initiated all contact that night and he was done with it. He staggered to his feet. “Anna, you can’t just touch people like that.” he said. “Didn’t they teach you that in that place you came from? I seriously suggest you leave or I’ll tell them you’ve been up to no good. I will call you a taxi or something but you need to leave immediately” he admitted.
Her eyes tried to focus on him as he told her to sit on the floor and right away she somewhat did except she lay down the fetal position, nearly in tears. “I think I’m dying,” she breathed. “But thank you.”
It seemed like a very long time before she heard the small crash. Startled, she perked right up and stood, looking around not truly looking well, not at the floor. “Gaston?” she breathed, walking throughout the room until her foot caught on his ankle, which made her tumble to the ground as well. “Oww, what did you did that for? Why are you on the ground? I thought you were getting me pillows,” she whined.
He dragged his hand across his face. “See, I was on my way to get you pillows until I thought ‘Hey why not just trip and nearly break my neck’ you know, for kicks and giggles” he scoffed. The pain was throbbing throughout his leg. “Please go back you to your side of the floor, I need to reevaluate my life and try and figure out how I ended up drunk on my own floor, with an employee, with a broken leg.” he pleaded. It was a very compromising position. How could he let himself get into this mess. Gaston made sure no woman would ever get the best of him but the fiery little mammal was making the great hunter look like an idiot.