05 - distrust

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Meet Charlotte Norton. 

Meet William.

Meet Dean.

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Leslie's hand was tightly around Esmé's as she followed her close behind, still pulling, wanting to leave before it was too late but Esmé seemed to be in trance. She didn't even seem to hear that Leslie continuously called her name. Something pulled at her.

As soon as she stepped inside, her breath stuck in her throat. Apart from the enigmatic aura swallowing her, it was the beauty in the pubs' arrangement that drew her in. She let her eyes travel around, watching in amazement. The pub was large, a bar stretching along the wall to her left. Numerous tables with guests drinking and cheering as jazz music blasted through some type of loudspeakers.

The smell of alcohol surrounded her, numbing her senses. The more she watched the people, the more she even felt underdressed. The women drowned in all sorts of accessories, scarfs, long pearl necklaces. It was like a scene from the Great Gatsby. A British Gatsby. The men in suits, posh and radiant, all of them having a lover under their arm. A world, Esmé wasn't ready to step in. She felt small and vulnerable around all these extravagant, emitting people. She might feel anxious but she would never show tonight.

Straightening her back, she masked herself with an inner diva, she had to pull off now. The people's gazes traced her every move. They mustn't see her flurry. She studied the crowds, looking for the guide. But he was nowhere to be found. As she had expected. She could have seen wrong. It was absurd to believe that it had been the museum's guide.

"Let's just leave, my Lady." Leslie whispered in her ear, persistently trying to drag her outside but Esmé was solid as a rock. She was here. She wouldn't turn back.

"Lady Esmé Benson." A red-haired woman approached her. "What a pleasure to have you visit our pub." Esmé smiled, although she couldn't hide how surprised she was that the woman knew who she was. Her red hair was short, ending right above her shoulders, her green eyes holding a flirtatious sparkle in them, that'd make every man drop to his knees for her. Her black dress hugged her curvy frame, caressing the floor. She motioned to the bar, gesturing them to have a seat.

"My name is Charlotte Norton, my Lady." The way Charlotte studied her with a deliberate grin, emerged mixed feelings in her. Her heartbeat quickened the more she looked around. Ignoring this unsettling sensation with all her might, she sat down on one of the barstools. Leslie took the seat next to her, her hands fidgeting on her lap. The man who sat on her other side, scooted away, giving Esmé space. She mumbled a little 'thank you'. He nodded only, not giving her a glance with his back facing her.

"What can I offer you?" Charlotte stood on the other side of the counter, resting her arms on the table, beaming. Esmé tilted her head to the side with a questioning look,

"How do you know my name?" She asked with a straight posture, testing the waters first.

"Oh, I know everyone here." She chuckled, running her fingers through her hair before she turned around to pour drinks. "So, of course, I know who you are. There's nothing Char from the White Shore doesn't know. I'd make a good informant," She winked, putting two cups with clear liquor in front them. Leslie tensed up.

Esmé smiled, pushing the drinks back to Charlotte, "We'll just have some water." She gently declined.

"Well, that's not fun," Charlotte pouted, a daring glance in her eyes. "You don't just decline an offer on the house."

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