2 - Bienvenue

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Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Paris, France

Merci,” Izzy Clark giggled when a tall, lithe young man with dark back slicked hair handed her her suitcase at baggage claim. Sebastian rolled his eyes and Lana checked her map for the umpteenth time since they landed.

“I think we need to take the RER to Gare du Nord,” she said as Sebastian set down her suitcase in front of her.

“Yes, Lana, you’ve said that three times already,” Sebastian sighed. “I think even Ditzy got it through her head by now…”

“Got what?” Izzy walked up to them, her shoulder-length curly blonde hair bouncing as she swayed on her far-too-high-heels-for-travelling.

“Maybe not,” Sebastian added under his breath.

“What? What’s going on?” Izzy asked.

“Our tour guide is mapping our route,” Sebastian said, mocking Lana.

“So I like to be prepared,” she huffed. “Sue me.”

 “I don’t want your money, Davies,” Sebastian said leisurely.

“Yeah? So what do you want?” Lana asked, hands on hips.

“Some peace and quiet for once,” he said, jerking his head in Izzy’s direction. “But, since that’s unlikely, I’ll take a strong espresso and a shot of absinth whenever you get the chance.”

“No-one drinks absinth anymore,” Izzy rolled her eyes. “That was like… in Moulin Rouge times. Like, way back.”

“For your information, Ditzy, the Moulin Rouge still stands, and I’m pretty sure they serve absinth somewhere in the area,” Sebastian drawled.

“Why did he have to come along?” Izzy turned to Lana, purposely turning her back on Sebastian, and hiking her thumb in his direction.

“Because he can afford his own ticket,” Sebastian whispered into Izzy’s ear, making her scowl. It was a low blow, Sebastian was very well aware of the fact, and he’d never say it so that Lana would hear.

When he first got to Mason Falls, his dad had taken the seat as CEO of Mason Books, and Lana’s dad was a senior editor at the publishing house. The two men had been friends since college, but for some reason, they’d had a falling out. His dad, being the prince of a guy he was, demoted Lana’s dad on some bogus grounds, thereby giving him a severe pay cut. When Lana’s parents died in a car accident, there wasn’t much left in their savings account, and she’d been the one to suffer most for it.

Lana didn’t know about any of it, and he wasn’t supposed to, either. It was only because he’d overheard a phone conversation his dad had had that he’d found out. He’d vowed that day that any money that came from his father would go to Lana in one form or another. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded, of course. Lana was stubborn and refused to accept what she perceived as charity. She had a harder time turning down an offer of pizza and beer, or a night out now and then. He’d been surprised how easily she accepted the Europe trip, but of course she had insisted on paying for accommodations.

He hated to think Lana would ever feel inferior to him because of money, but Izzy Clark was a different story. She didn’t take things as seriously as Lana. She’d shrug most of it off and make the best of every situation. Of course he’d never admit it to anyone, and it still didn’t mean that he liked her, but he admired that about her.

“Lighten up, Ditzy,” Sebastian drawled, “we’re in Paris – the city of lights. Maybe, if we get going anytime soon, we’ll actually get to this hostel thing before nightfall. Lala, you’re getting the tickets, I assume? I hate to admit it, but your French is better than mine.”

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