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Ana Howell

"Life teaches us many things, not least that life itself is a gift." [ Adopted | Not my writing ]

0 · 755 views · located in Cirque Regalis

a character in “Cirque Regalis”, originally authored by Cloud, as played by Dumisa

Description

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"Life teaches us many things, not least that life itself is a gift."




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Full Name:
Antoinette Simonne Howell
[née Rocheux]

Nicknames and Aliases:
Ana {Preferred}, The Parisian Princess {Stage Name}
"I prefer Ana over Antoinette, thank you."

Gender:
Female

Age:
Thirty-three
"Ah, but at heart I still feel like a young girl."

Ethnicity/Race:
Caucasian | French

Sexual Orientation:
Heterosexual

Occupation or Act:
Acrobat




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Hair Color:
Dark Brown

Eye Color:
Light Blue

Height:
5'6"

Weight:
126lbs

Tattoos:
None

Piercings:
Ana has her ears pierced

Scars:
Aside from the usual accumulation of childhood scars, the only marks of note are the lines on her wrists from the suicide attempt that she'd rather forget about.

Description:
Soft, full lips more likely to smile than frown, and large, expressive eyes seem to define Ana's face. A few wrinkles have made themselves home in recent years, laugh-lines and worry-lines both, no doubt thanks to the joy and stress of raising a child. As one would expect for an acrobat, her body is slim with toned muscle, although she still possesses curves in all the right places.




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Personality:

{Kind, Thoughtful, Optimistic, Hard-Working, Independent, Curious, Honest}

Life has not always been easy for Ana, yet before you stands an optimistic, kindhearted woman. Ana is realistic to the ways of the world, she knows bad things happen to good people, but she chooses to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. She looks at what life has given her, not what life has taken from her. Caring and thoughtful, Ana will go out of her way to make sure those she cares about are happy. Anyone who knows her well, knows that she's always there in times of need. She'll lend a helping hand to those struggling, or simply a shoulder to cry on. Her sympathy and kindness in part stems from the kindness of those who helped her when she was in need. As open and caring as she is, she does guard herself somewhat. Trust is slow to build and easily broken, but once it is truly established she will remain a loyal and constant friend.

A hard, dedicated worker, Ana will slowly work at a problem until she has figured out a way through it. She wasn't born a good worker, it's been a trait she's acquired through her various life experiences. When she was younger she was more likely to be day-dreaming rather than paying attention to her studies. Time and a child to look after have matured her from the young, naive girl she used to be. While her independence may have come at the cost of a comfortable home in Paris, Ana has thrived in the freedom it has given her. Away from the restraints of her parents she was able to grow into the strong, independent woman she is today. She isn't scared of stepping out of her comfort zone to try something new. Nor does she shy away from defending her choices and ideals. Yes, not every decision has been a good one, but Ana is mature enough to see her mistakes and learn from them.

Anger is not a common emotion for Ana, yet under the right circumstances it does appear. Any judgmental comments regarding her parenting or her daughter are usually met with stony silence and a cold stare. She hates being made to feel inferior, or as if she's done something wrong by raising her daughter herself. Ana also has a no lying policy. While she does not detest everyone the moment they lie to her (she understands that sometimes lying is necessary), those that needlessly do so will quickly find themselves in her bad books. Ana does not forgive easily. A genuine apology and a show of faith is usually a good start, but not a guaranteed way of getting back on her good side.

Hobbies:
Acrobatics \\ Ballet \\ Dancing \\ Reading, most commonly French novels

Habits:
She'll run her hands through her hair when stressed \\ When she's flustered she speaks French \\ If she doesn't know a word in English she'll substitute in the French word

Oddities:
Ana is anemic and has a minor nut allergy. She also speaks with a heavy French accent.

Likes/Loves:
Ballet \\ Acrobatics
Yvonne, or Pip as she calls her
Paris \\ Speaking French
Jazz Music \\ Dancing
Candy Floss \\ Travel
Dislikes/Hates:
Falling During a Trick \\ Sexism
Nuts \\ Being Judged
Her Parents \\ Needless Violence
Death \\ Being Lied Too
Wrinkles \\ Seeing Evee upset




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Place Of Origin:
Paris, France

Birth Date:
1st November, 1915

Family:
Yvonne Howell | Daughter | 16

History:
Antoinette Simonne Rocheux was born to Marie-Jeanne and Pierre Rocheux at a private hospital in Paris, France. With the Great War only a stones throw from her home, Ana's childhood was hardly the most conventional, yet at such a young age she couldn't know any better. Her father was a political hopeful, his ambition continuously pushing him forward. Her mother was from a wealthy family and had social aspirations to match that of her husband. Ana's earliest memories are being dressed in frilly, heavy clothing and paraded around in front of her parents' friends or told to sit quietly. She was too young to remember the celebration parades when the war ended, but she knows her nurse took her out to the streets to watch the celebrations.

Life post-war for the Rocheux family was good. The city expanded, Marie-Jeanne and Pierre rose in status and wealth, and the blossoming of culture and art was everything a growing, curious girl could ask for. In fact her love of what her parents considered 'radical' music and ideas, was the beginning of the end for any chance of a healthy relationship between them. Her parents were strict and her governess spent the majority of the day attempting to teach the day-dreaming child her lessons. She disliked her various governesses. She acted out when she thought she could get away with it, and usually ended up with a slap on the hand for it. Her dancing classes were the only thing she really enjoyed as a young girl and it was often ballet that was used as a bribe to get her to do anything. Looking back she realises she had little to complain about. Her parents were strict, but no more than others of their class. Yet, the past is the past and there is nothing to be done about it.

When Ana was sixteen she met a young man a few years her elder at a musical event. To use a cliche, it was love at first sight. The young man, George Howell, was an English artist who had been drawn to the Parisian cultural scene. Ana was caught in the midst of first love, which blinded her to the realities of her world. He was young and held nothing to his name but a paint brush and easel. No matter how good-natured and intelligent he was, his low station was enough to forever see him disliked in her parents' eyes. Yet, Ana was in love. Nothing her parents could say would sway her and, without them knowing she married her sweetheart.

However, they were not meant to be. Only a week after her 17th birthday and less than a year after their marriage Ana received the shock of her life. While walking back to his apartment George had been mugged and murdered. In a fit of depression she slit her wrists, planning on ending her life. Needles to say her attempted suicide failed, leaving her with the scars she still bares today. However, she has always thanked fate for preserving her life. Only a week after her attempt she found out that she was pregnant. Her parents, who had found out about George, gave her one option only, to give up her child. Ana refused point blank. That was the last memory she has of her parents. Before they could force her into anything Ana left home, bought a ticket to America and never looked back.

America was meant to be a fresh start for the young woman. Yet, the country was in the grips of the Great Depression and work was not easy to come by, especially for a pregnant French girl whose grasp on English was haphazard at best. She eventually found work as a dance instructor, her employer was a kind woman who took pity on the desperate French girl. It was only when Ana's pregnancy hindered her work performance that she was let go. Yvonne's birth was like a light in a dark tunnel, it inspired Ana to keep going. Eventually she stumbled across Cirque Regalis where, with a little training, she was able to put her ballet dancing to good use as an acrobat. She has found something of a home in the circus and is thankful to management for taking in the single mother at a time when jobs were hard to come by. In recent years she has started to teach Evee acrobatics, a skill the young girl has a natural talent for.

Happiest Memory:
Without a doubt her happiest memory was the day her daughter Yvonne was born. The little cherub may have been born amid a sea of controversy, but the first time she held her little daughter is a memory that Ana will never lose.

Saddest Memory:
The scars on her wrists are a testament to how violent her feelings were when she found out that her husband had been killed. George's death hit her hard and it took years for her to be able to remember him without feeling a hint of sadness.




Face Claim: Marion Cotillard

Font Colour: #4556a8

So begins...

Ana Howell's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ana Howell Character Portrait: Evee Howell
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#, as written by Cloud


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The young girl sat dejectedly outside the main tent, her view of the final act restricted to the half open tent flap in front of her. Evee could have taken a seat at the back of the audience seats, but she didn't think her disappointed pout would fit in with the amazed expressions of the crowd. Many might have wondered what a girl of sixteen had to be upset about, especially when she lived with the circus. But life wasn't all candyfloss and Ferris wheels when you lived in Cirque Regalis, especially when you had a protective mother. Evee had been dreaming of performing with the other acrobats ever since she learned to do her first cartwheel, but her mother was determined the keep her securely on the ground until she deemed her ready for the big leagues.

However, her disappointed pout didn't last long. As the excited cheer exploded from the tent, Evee felt her frown evaporate away to be replaced by an excited smile. She bounced to her feet as the acts began to exit the tent, standing on her tiptoes to peer over the sudden crowd. She spotted her mother chatting with another acrobat.
"Pardon, excusez-moi" The girl chirped as she dodged and dived through the brightly dressed acts. She was light on her feet and rather adept at making her way through thick crowds, even so she almost tripped over someone's trailing costume. She would have face planted had it not been for a steadying hand grabbing her shoulder.
"Watch yourself kid." Jack Connolly said as he let her go. 'Kid' was Jack's pet-name for Evee. Evee gave him a cheeky grin, before pushing her way back into the crowd, shouting a cheerful, "Thanks Jack!" back over her shoulder.

By the time she reached her mother, Ana Howell was saying goodbye to the other acrobat, a young Russian man who insisted on ruffling Evee's hair whenever she was around. Now was no exception and Evee had to quickly duck to avoid having her hair messed up. She poked her tongue out at him as he walked away with a chuckle. Then Evee turned to her mother, who was waiting patiently for her daughter to behave.
"You were fabulous, Mama. I can't wait until I'm up there too." Evee said by way of greeting. Ana smiled at her daughter before wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
"Thank you, Pip." Ana murmured into her daughter's hair as she planted a kiss on her head, "What's that saying... 'A watched pot never bubbles'? You'll get there in time."
Evee giggled at her mother and wrapped an arm around her waist, "It's 'boils', Mama. 'A watched pot never boils'."
"Ah, silly English sayings." Ana Howell said, waving her free hand as if to dismiss the saying completely. "Come on, let's go get you fed."



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The mother-daughter duo wondered off towards their train car. It was smaller than some of the others, but the pair did have it to themselves. The privacy had been particularly important to Ana as Evee grew. Ana was also glad that none of the acts had to deal with Evee's constant energy. Ana loved her daughter to the ends of the earth and back, yet even she sometimes grew tired of Evee's sometimes non-stop questions.

Evee and Ana entered their small home. Bright costumes fought for space with books. Evee's collection of keepsakes lined one a ledge, although her keepsakes usually took the form of a glittering rock, or some other item Evee hadn't been able to let go of. Once the door was closed behind them Ana began to undress, stripping the tight acrobats' costume off and replacing it with a pair of comfortable slacks and a blouse. Ana wiped her makeup off as Evee, sitting cross-legged in the middle of her bed, began to chat with her mother.

"Jack let me have a ride on Rocky today. I rode bare back and he said he'd take me out for a day ride next time. And he's going to show me how to..." Evee stopped abruptly, and Ana turned to find her daughter trying to cover a guilty expression on her face.
"What is it?" Ana pressed, already disapproving. She liked Jack Connolly. Ana thought he had a steadying effect on Evee. She could only hope that any bad habits belonging to the older man weren't rubbing off on her impressionable daughter.
"It's just a card trick Mama." Evee assured her, an innocent smile on her face.
Ana frowned. Experience told her not to trust that 'innocent' expression on her daughter's face. "Maybe I should have a word with Jack." She said, tying her hair in a bun as she watched Evee's face closely.

Rather than risk being pressed into revealing that the trick was actually a sleight of hand useful when cheating in cards, Evee decided it was best to evacuate. Hopping off the bed she gave her mother a peck on the cheek before going for the door,
"It's just a little trick, Mama." Evee assured Ana as she paused in the doorway, "I'll be back before late." She added with a smile before jumping outside. Evee had nowhere in particular she wanted to be, but she was certain some adventure would appear.

Ana let Evee go with a sigh. She trusted her daughter, but that didn't mean that she didn't worry. Sitting down on her bed Ana stretched out her limbs, getting the kinks out before resting back on her elbows. Picking up the book tucked under her pillow, Ana flicked through the chapters until she'd reached the book-marked page. Pushing herself down the bed until her back was resting against the train wall, Ana let herself sink into the words.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ana Howell Character Portrait: Evee Howell
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#, as written by Cloud


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"No, no! Vous n'écoutez pas, Pip." Ana Howell sighed in frustration as she watched her daughter swinging above her on the trapeze. "I said keep it simple to start."
"Désolé mama, but it's so boring just swinging. I can do more." Evee replied with a pout. Ana felt her own lips purse together. Her hands folded over her chest and even from the heights of the acrobats top stand Evee could tell that arguing with her mother would not get her anywhere.
"Again, this time as I told you." Ana said a moment later, when she was sure her daughter would listen.

Her eyes followed Evee's actions as the young girl jumped into the air, her hands wrapped around the swinging bar. Halfway across Evee swung herself up in one smooth movement until she was resting on the top bar, hands either side and still gripping tightly. At the height of her swing she pushed herself forward on the bar. Legs straight and toes pointed she let herself fall forward and over the bar, swinging around and eventually lifting herself into her previous position. As the bar swung back to her beginning platform Evee again pushed herself over the bar and as she swung back a pair of strong arms belonging to Danil Boykov caught her around the waist, pulling her back onto the platform.

Danil patted Evee on the back as the girl got her footing, congratulating her on her performance and muttering in a voice he thought wouldn't carry down to Evee's mother, "I liked the flip better too."
"I heard that!" Ana called to him, hiding a smile as the young Russian winked back down at her.
If she were honest Ana would have to admit that the simple exercises she had her daughter doing were too easy for the girl. But Ana was determined to drill her daughter in them until she was completely confident in Evee's abilities. She had finally agreed to let Evee take part in a real performance, mainly because all the acts were being forced to rejig their performances. Evee was small and had no fear of heights. She was an ideal size to be thrown through the air between the other members, and was eager to prove herself too. Still, before she let her daughter practice the harder exercises she was going to make her perfect in the simple ones.

"Good, now do it again." Ana said. Up above Evee's shoulders slumped. Ana knew the repetition was eating at her daughter and so, taking pity on the young girl added, "If you do this one well I'll let you do a flying trapeze with Danil as the catcher." At this suggestion Evee's face lit up, a grin spreading across her face. With much more enthusiasm she took the trapeze bar in her hand and leaped into the exercise. Ana smiled at her daughter's delight and, feeling restless herself, raised her hands above her head and stretched up, raising onto her toes to further the stretch.

Evee completed the simple swing with ease and then, still not quite able to believe that her mother was letting her do something actually exciting, glanced back down to Ana for confirmation.
"Try a forward over" Ana shouted up, selecting a fun trick would hopefully appease her young daughter. "If that's alright with you Danil?" Ana asked up to the other man. Evee glanced quickly at Danil, her eyes large and pleading as the man appeared to mull over the question. Eventually he relented and agreed, receiving an enthusiastic hug from Evee for his troubles.

Ten minutes later, having completed the trick Evee climbed down from the top platform followed by Danil. With a wide grin and a happy skip in her step she flew across the tent floor until she could wrap her arms around her mother.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you." She trilled, obviously pleased.
"Ah, Pip, you did well." Ana replied, patting her daughter on the head.
Danil came up more sedately, a wicked look in his eye as he said jokingly, "Perhaps next time you can do it without the net."
Ana's eyes narrowed into a warning glare over her daughter's head, conveying to the young Russian that such a suggestion was not appreciated.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Clayton Sullivan Character Portrait: Ana Howell Character Portrait: Evee Howell Character Portrait: Dmitri Petrov Character Portrait: Evelyn Character Portrait: Belle Character Portrait: Sugar
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#, as written by Vix
{In partial collaboration with Scarlet Loup}

{Outfits}


While quite a few of the performers were grumbling through the entire week about the upcoming changes, Belle had absolutely no problem with switching up her routine. She had promised Robert and Dmitri to deliver performances that would have the audience begging for more even more than they already were. Over the course of the next seven days, The Desert Rose had devoted every ounce of her time when she wasn't sleeping to training and practicing. Sebastian and Svetlana were getting better and Evee was off to a good start. Zenobia and Rozella were also fairing well and their darling creatures were working well with Belle's cues. She enjoyed working with Orion and had even gotten him to prance around while she bent herself into strange positions and balanced upon his back all the while. He truly was a magnificent creature. His mate didn't care too much for her but that was alright. She hadn't had much time to herself but that was alright as well – The better her performance went the more money she was paid.

Rides on the train were never boring. Sugar regaled her with stories of her trouble making days in Lynchburg – But then she'd ask for one of them to escort her to the car where the twins were so she could ask for another balloon animal. When the twins said they'd make her a whole zoo, they certainly seemed to mean it. Svetlana and Belle both thought that it was simply adorable the way she was so infatuated with the two boys. Of course, Sebastian wasn't quite sure what to say on the matter so he'd often chuckle and nod nervously when Sugar got to chatting about them. Svetlana had been pining something awful, Belle had noticed had been going on for at least a month when they hit the road. She knew that Svetlana would sometimes make trips to Dmitri's car and stay for an hour, sometimes three or four, but she never showed signs of knowing anything. The poor girl seemed to be going through withdrawals though it didn't show much to those who weren't so observant. She didn't talk and always looked timid and frightened either way. Besides being away from Dmitri, she hadn't yet had to chance to play her game of blackmail and charades with Robert. She actually hadn't seen him since he made the announcement of changing up the performances. Everyone seemed to swarm him with questions and protests and ideas after - The poor girl couldn't make it through the crowd of folk.

Sebastian, however, was having far more luck in bedding others than his sister – As was Belle. The two were often absent from the train car through the ride as they found their way towards their usual partners. Belle, taking her turn with the Silver Sisters, Sebastian having his fun with a particularly talented Sword Swallower named Marissa. Svetlana had the pleasure of being Sugar's human doll while the small, dark skinned girl practiced putting makeup on her and doing her hair. They were all ever so pleased to get off of the train and get some fresh air though. Sugar was the first to burst forth, barreling out as though she'd been launched from the cannon as she shot off to search for the twins, calling out their names. “Kieran! Connuh!” She felt extra pretty since Belle and Lana had straightened her hair, bearing the fading burn marks on her ears from the bumps and shakes encountered while riding. She had no shoes on, mud squishing under her small feet, her little red dress and ribbons fluttering behind her.

Belle slunk out of the train car next, wearing (as usual) next to nothing. Pittsburgh was so dirty and ugly. The connoisseur of all things beautiful let her nose wrinkle before heaving a sigh and stepping onto the ground, letting her toes curl into the bit of grass that was there. She let her gaze flicker, watching everyone else as they filed out, stretching and basking in the sun. She stretched out as well, arms extending to the sun. That stretch became a bend as her feet came together and her head slowly went behind her back until her hands were against the ground. Oh. That felt great. Smiling and well stretched, she took off at an easy pace, giving her fingers a little waggle as a wave to those in passing. A few winks were thrown her way and returned with a brow lift that implied a “maybe later”. She had no time for any dillying or dallying at the moment. She had set out to find Evee though she could see that the young girl's mother was watching her like a hawk. As much as she'd love to have the teen as part of her act, how was she supposed to do that when she knew for a fact that Ana would outright say no? It was absolutely tragic. She sighed wistfully and headed away from the acrobats to find someone else to bother.

Clay.

Now there was a decent target.

The man was always so happy and Belle found his talent quite interesting, to say the least. She looked about for him, wondering whether or not he had exited the train yet. ... Oh, there he was. She spotted Clay sitting on a barrel nearby, sliding safety pins into his forearms. With a sway in her walk, Belle didn't take too long to reach his side, standing as close as she usually stood to people, just close enough that the slightest movement might cause them to brush against one another. “I've had a question I've been meaning to ask. You wouldn't mind if I bothered you a moment, hm?” She gave him her best smile, a gleam of mischief in her dark brown eyes as she pushed her blonde locks over her shoulders. Clay studied his arm as he wove a safety pin in and out of the soft skin of his underarm. Argos, curled at his feet, was the first to notice Belle's arrival. Still, he did not look up until she came to a stop and hovered beside him. With a quick movement, Clayton's head turned upward and the pin he currently held ripped through the skin.

"Hey," he greeted, nodding his head toward her. He met her smile with one of his own. It was a familiar smile, one that always appeared in the company of others. He turned on the bench, holding his thumb over the wound. "I don't mind. Whaddya need?" Belle took a moment to appear deep in thought, as though searching her mind for the question she meant to ask. “You do not feel pain. At first I thought it might be certain points of your body that you use to avoid it. Like the acupuncture they do in India. But I watch you and there is no precision...Technique. You simply jam things into your body without a care and without flinching. If you do not feel pain, do you feel other things?” Whether she meant physically or emotionally, she didn't let on. She simply smiled, bending down so that she was at his feet with Argos, petting the large dog's back and looking to Clay for an answer.

Clayton's brow knit, and he leaned forward slightly to wind his fingers in Argos's thick coat. Everyone knew what he did for his act, yet it was different when he tried to explain it. It was as if he were disclosing something personal. Then again, it didn't matter. He wasn't the kind of person to keep secrets. "Well, I can't feel heat..." he started. He knew what she meant, though. He was naive, but he wasn't stupid. He looked up and met her gaze which was almost level with his as he leaned further down. "I can feel things, of course...and I can feel...pleasure." She remained calm as she spoke, but Clayton' face turned a soft, pinkish color as he spoke. The flirting thing really had never been his strong suit. There was a strong possibility that Belle was taking quite a bit of pleasure out of this conversation, feeling rather satisfied as Clay's face began to flush with pink. It was so cute to see a tattooed man blush. She retained her nonchalant position and tone, tilting her head some. “I hadn't meant that, per se.” She gave a light giggle and shook her head, looking down before looking back at him, placing a hand on his thigh.

“But... Thank you. For letting me know that. I'll have to keep it in mind.” There was a playful tone in her voice now as she toyed with him though it was obvious she held no malicious intent.

Well, shit." Don't assume. It makes an ass out of you and me. That saying came back to him just as quickly as the blush spread and darkened. She wasn't angry at him at all, of course, yet he could not ignore the embarrassment. His jaw moved soundlessly as if he meant to speak but couldn't formulate words. The tattoos on his chin danced up and down slowly, pointlessly. "S-sorry," he said finally and opened his mouth to speak again. He cut himself off as she rested a hand on his upper thigh. Oh yes, he could certainly feel that. "Right...you're welcome."

The smile appeared again, for it had wavered at the thought of that blunder. Clay tried to look at her hand as nonchalantly as possible, and he looked down at the dog quickly before meeting her gaze again. What the hell was he supposed to say now, damn it? “For a man so handsome, I assumed that you might be a bit more...smooth,” she teased, giving him a wink and giving his thigh a squeeze. “You act as though you aren't so used to female attention -” She leaned closer so that she was quite directly in his face, the tip of her nose against his. “- or affection.” His breath caught instinctively as she squeezed his leg, and Clay hardly had time to react before she was closer than before, his nose touching hers as he wavered slightly with an exhale. "Well - ah -," he murmured, fighting to make his voice quieter because she was so close. "Driving a skewer through your cheek doesn't really turn people on." He tried to give a soft laugh but stopped as he remembered how close they were. He might have reciprocated the touch, but he still wasn't sure if this was merely Belle being Belle or...something more.

“On the contrary -” The Arabian's features softened as there was a sort of feeling of pity for the man. Clay was indeed handsome and quite friendly. It was a shame that he didn't receive more attention from women. Belle thought that he was quite charming, basing from the relatively few conversations they'd had. Again, not the smoothest pebble in the river, but he was a good man. She would have to remedy his ailment. “I find you quite attractive.” Her hand moved to his cheek, his skin just as warm as it was red. “I think those other women don't know what they're missing out on. Don't you agree, Clayton?” He pushed his cheek into her hand without thinking, savoring the feeling of her palm. "I...guess," he said softly, thoughtfully, as if he hadn't thought so before. Hell, he really hadn't even thought of it before. "I find you attractive, too. You're real gorgeous." Clayton bit his lip softly as his gray eyes met her brown ones again. From closer up, it was probably quite easy to see the numerous puncture wounds on his cheeks, but now he certainly didn't care about them, for she had told him she didn't care. Hesitantly, he reached upward and rested a hand just barely on her cheek. Rather, it hovered just above her cheek as if he were afraid to touch her.

He was so shy and that was something that Belle had yet to encounter in a man. All the men who dared to approach her were very bold and confident in themselves and their ability to woo a woman. Clay seemed so hesitant, almost as though he were frightened he may say something to anger her or make her run away. Such a sweet southern man. Being around him might make one fear that he'd give you a cavity with his personality alone. She let her eyes wander over his features, taking them in. There were a lifetime's worth of scars from various things he put under his flesh but it didn't mar the beauty of him. It only added intrigue and gave an air of danger. Belle thought it was quite a turn on - the scars, not his habit of poking himself with sharp things - and knowing how sweet he was and his poor luck with women only made her feel a bit more pity. But perhaps pity wasn't the right word. Empathy. Ah, there was the word. Her head turned a little more to the side, resting firmly against his rough hand as her own hand moved to brush some hair blown into his face by the wind. “You are quite kind, Clayton. Maybe you should come spend time with me more often.” She leaned in closer than she already was, pressing a soft kiss against his lips before pulling away. “I'm good company to keep. Or so I've been told.”

He looked up at her, dumbfounded, as she pulled away. The blush still colored his cheeks, but the smile had fallen into a look of pure child-like confusion. "T-thank you," he replied, still whispering as if she were close. Clayton cleared his throat to raise his volume as he continued. "I - ah - might have to take you up on that offer." He pushed a hand through the messy, dark hair on his head. "Nice talking to you, Belle." Clayton nodded at her again and forced the smile back across his lips. It wasn't that he was upset, he was merely too overwhelmed. The smile came quite naturally afterwards.

Belle stroked his cheek gently with her thumb before rising up and moving away. An interesting man, indeed.

Svetlana was sore from head to toe but at the same time she had never felt so great in her life. Belle had talked her and the other two into doing yoga with her, assuring them that it was great practice for easing into contortion. And it was true – She found her flexibility and ability to hold poses for extended amounts of time greatly increasing, something she was sure would please Dmitri. She watched Belle stretching for a moment, again wondering (as she had many times) if Belle did such things to show off or she just simply did everything she did because it pleased herself. She wished she was more like Belle. Well, there weren't many women that she'd met so far that she didn't wish she was more like. Ana was so smart and caring, even though Evee often said her mother was overbearing. She could relate – Sebastian was the same way. Frances was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it and she knew how to bend people to her will. Evelyn was so pretty and exotic. They were about the same age but Lana never could find much time to approach her and when she did she never really knew what to do but stand there and feel awkward. That tended to happen when you tried to get a shy girl and a mute girl to communicate with one another.

She adjusted the green silk dress that Belle insisted that she wear. They had bought it before leaving New York City and her dear friend insisted that the tailor make sure it hugged what little form that Lana did have. She had a jacket that went with it because she didn't like the idea of the top of her breasts being flashed to every passing Tom, Dick, and Harry. Belle told her that she was being silly and far too self-conscious when she noticed while Lana had been trying it on she was trying to shield her clevage from exposure. There was a moment when Lana wanted to ask Belle if she knew what it meant to be faithful to someone that you loved. But she never did ask. Because Belle didn't speak Ukrainian and Lana didn't speak. Much.

Sebastian walked on by her, sporting his new outfit as well. No doubt he was off to see what Sugar was up to. Lana smiled to herself as her elder brother took long strides, following the sound his daughter's voice. It was cute, to see him unsure of how to deal with Sugar's infatuations. He knew that he wouldn't find her smooching up to any of the boys she gushed about any time soon - she was eight - But he still wasn't quite sure how to quite deal with it. He didn't want to encourage it. She was so young and didn't fully understand such things. But he couldn't tell her that it would never be. It would crush her. He was very much like a lost puppy. Lana shook her head and went on her way, clutching, as always, her violin to her chest. She wanted to find Dmitri. She knew she'd need to communicate with Robert eventually. As far as she could tell, the other man hadn't said anything to anyone about what he saw. Which was a good thing.

Playing softly, she offered a smile to those passing by, pausing every now and then to play a request before both parties moved along with their previous objective. Moonlight Sonata. There was a beautiful piece of music that she could simply never tire of hearing. Chin well placed, her right hand moved fluidly with the bow, the fingers of her left caressing the strings as she brought forth the haunting, yet beautiful and soothing melody. She did so absent of mind, zoning out as she heard other melodies in her head. She could almost see the music notes floating out in front of her. She had yet to take pen to paper for such melodies, unsure of how the audience would react to the new music. Sure, new styles were coming out every other day. But she didn't want to face criticism or rejection.

There was a light sigh that left her as she zoned in and out of her mind, doing her best not to bump into those bustling about to set up and practice and talk with the managers. She hadn't even noticed that Belle, who had left Clayton to silently pursue the mute from afar, was watching her with a curious smile. She did notice Dmitri though. It wasn't just Dmitri she had noticed, but Dmitri offering a blushing and smiling Evelyn a cigar. Her music hit a wrong chord as her arm jerked in light surprise and a bit of frustration. It seemed almost immediately that her stomach clenched into a knot and her breath caught in her throat. Was he flirting with her? Why wouldn't he? She was young and pretty and exotic. She was certainly more gorgeous than the plain violinist. A small pout formed on her lips as the foreign emotion of jealousy confused her. She certainly wouldn't wish harm to Evelyn but she didn't understand what was going on.

It wasn't as though she could march over and ask. Nor would she dare to ask Dmitri later in private. Dmitri told her many times before that he loved her and she had told him that she loved him. There couldn't be anything going on. Besides. Evelyn didn't even like Dmitri. Right? Lana had never seen the two interact amicably before so she wouldn't know. Then again, she and Dmitri didn't act quite like lovers in public either. Her head was starting to hurt as much as her heart the more she thought about it. She eventually concluded that she was being foolish and delusional. She chided herself mentally for doubting Dmitri. How dare she question him after all he had done for her? Still pouting, mostly upset with herself at this point, she made herself scarce and attempted to disappear into the crowd, careful not to drag her feet and dirty her green shoes.