[Allow me to set the scene: Emilia and her mother are visiting a family friend, Xenia, who owns a coffee shop down the street called Brewed Awakenings. Emilia suspects that Xenia's care is the only reason she survived infancy. She also suspects that Xenia spikes the coffee with Vicodin and hides cocaine in the coffee bags back in the kitchen. She's probably right on both accounts.]
Xenia beckoned us in, a bright white grin splitting her face into happy angles.
"Madelaine! Madelaine Elle, you come sit down right now and tell me why you haven't stepped through these doors in four weeks!" If she could have stomped her foot, she probably would have - but of course, she didn't want to damage the four and three-quarter inches stiletto heels enclosing her feet in bright, cherry red leather.
Also, it had been four weeks and three days.
Fact: Any average, or even above average, coffee shop slash café business (that isn't Starbucks) can't possibly make the owner enough money to buy a new pair of seven hundred dollar shoes whenever one catches her fancy. Then again, I suppose cocaine is easy enough to hide in giant coffee bean bags. Does coffee impair dogs' sense of smell? That would explain so much.
Another fact: My mother's name wasn't actually Madelaine Elle. It was Madelaine L., which is how it was presented on all her novels. Madelaine L. Grey, novelist extraordinaire. My mother, though selfish in the extreme at times, never really liked to talk about herself (though she frequently talked to herself), and so I had never been told what the "L" stood for. I supposed I must have asked at some point, but no answer. And I had no grandparents, who might have called my mother - their daughter - by her full name at times. I'm sure my mother was fine with that, though. She enjoyed her air of mystery too much, I supposed, to give away even one petty secret.
Oh my god, had she killed her parents so they wouldn't tell anyone her middle name? Was that why my life was significantly lacking any grand parental figures? The saddest part was, I felt only mildly surpr—
Shut up, Emilia. Now you've used up your one conspiracy theory for the day. Good job.
Back to Xenia's shop. No, go on. Go. Tell the story.
My mother bent down to hug her friend, who, despite the impressive heel height, was still considerably shorter than my mum. When Xenia's possibly mock but probably not glare of irritation didn't fade, my mother spoke.
"I'm sorry, Xenia, but I've been busy." Xenia raised a perfect dark eyebrow, arms crossed. "Okay, well, I've been writing. Which is the same thing as being busy, except more important. And involving less movement. Sometimes. It's also the reason I need coffee right now. Got any of that Columbian blend?"
Columbian blend? That had to be code for something.