A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

 #20344  by Malanda Balcescu
Location: Malanda's Home • Date: Thursday, 31 October, 2002

Aside from the fire that raged in the backyard, everything was as it should have been and as it had been.

This was the new normal: Pavel's now-permanent absence, Sorin trying too hard to make up the difference and try to comfort his friend in the ways he knew how. They still had two weeks until the trial, and Malanda found herself wondering if he would survive it. Maybe she needed to go there, sit in on it, just make sure. But then what? Where did they go from there?

"They are at that restaurant at the seaside," Malanda explained to Michelle as the two of them browsed the wine rack in the kitchen. She had enough to drink already, but she wanted more.

She always wanted more. Maybe it was the blades at work.

"Since there are no classes tomorrow I suggested they take a long weekend to relax. I am kind of wishing I had done the same. Another red, do you think?"
 #20345  by Michelle La Fratta
"I could go for another red," Michelle said.

It had been such a long time since they'd gotten together and even moreso to get together for a bonfire. "But that's an amazing restaurant. We should go again some time." Michelle found a particularly attractive label on a bottle of red wine. She pulled it out and presented it to her friend. "What about this one?"
 #20346  by Malanda Balcescu
The label caught her attention for a moment and Malanda paused, as if trying to make a decision. Any thoughts she had about it went unspoken, however, as the young woman waved a dismissive hand and moved to look for some other hors d'ouvres she could offer her guests.

"That one is fine. We can see if it stands up to its price... perhaps some more fruit to go with it, and some cheeses..."

She was mostly talking aloud to herself, anything to avoid engaging in a conversation about anything too personal.

Michelle was her friend, but there were some topics of discussion that were probably best left alone.

Like the fact that Michelle's married boyfriend was sitting by the fire, for one.

"I agree, though. Perhaps in a few weeks, during the fall holiday. There is a new boutique that has opened there as well."
 #20347  by Gavril Balcescu
"There is always a new boutique," Gavril observed, though he was unaware of the rest of the conversation as he entered the kitchen through the back door that led out to the yard. He had not realized at the time that Michelle had come in too but quickly shifted his entrance to accommodate her, making his way to the liquor cabinet nearest to Malanda.

"Hei, you still doing okay?" he asked, his voice barely above a whisper. "If you need me to ask anyone to leave..."
 #20348  by Malanda Balcescu
"I am fine," she muttered back as she sliced the cheeses, hoping Michelle was still busy with the wine. She lifted her eyes to the man next to her after a moment, though, and then turned to her friend.

"Was there anything you wanted Gavril to take back outside? We should probably bring ourselves a back-up bottle."
 #20349  by Michelle La Fratta
"Here," she said, handing three bottles to the man. "Make yourself useful, I suppose." Michelle smiled up at him.

She then addressed Malanda again. "I'll grab the glasses." Michelle wondered how long she could last here. It was a social event where she could see be in Luca's presence without his wife, but the only thing she could probably do was talk to him while they were among a group.

She should have stayed home and drank the night away on her own. It wouldn't have been the first time Heloise found her asleep on the floor, surrounded by empty wine bottles.
 #20363  by Gavril Balcescu
"That's what I'm here for," Gavril chuckled as he took the bottles, though he wished Malanda would not push him aside the way she did around other people. When it was just the two of them talking she was so much more honest.

"I'll see you both outside, and I'll try not to empty these before you're out there."

Not that he was probably going to have any wine, but it was a sizable group. There was no telling.
 #20364  by Malanda Balcescu
"I have half a mind to stay in here to save Iokaste the trouble of glaring at me."

Malanda sighed, plating the cheeses and moving on to slice up a sausage. It felt good to work the knife through the meat, almost cathartic. Maybe she would go hunting... she could take Michelle that night, if the other girl wanted to.

"We should bring an extra cider for Sorin, probably, if you would like to look in the icebox."
 #20365  by Michelle La Fratta
Michelle gave Malanda a strange look as she walked towards the icebox. "Are they having issues?" she asked as she searched through it. She found two other bottles and took them out. She stood as she closed the ice box with her foot.

"She usually seems so agreeable."
 #20366  by Malanda Balcescu
"She is, she is very nice," Malanda agreed with a sigh, though she turned to lean back against the counter and fold her arms.

"It is just that Gavril has been... he and I are good friends, as you know. And with Pavel gone and since the arrest especially he has been..."

Malanda's nose crinkled a bit as her cheeks tinted pink with something like embarrassment.

"I am not so sure she likes us spending tome together, given our... history."
 #20367  by Michelle La Fratta
"Ahh," Michelle said as Malanda explained the situation. "Then, yes, I can understand both your and her positions about tonight." If Stefania knew how much time she and Luca were spending together, Michelle was sure she'd get the same look.

"How've you been doing?" she asked. "With Pavel getting arrested? Will you be going to the States for...however they do things over there?"
 #20368  by Malanda Balcescu
"No," Malanda answered flatly, turning her back to her friend so she could finish with the sausage.

"We decided it was best if I stayed as far away as possible lest we undo the work we had done. It is unfortunate but Pavel will thank us for it later if he ever speaks to us again. Though I did manage to secure some funds to serve as an anonymous benefactor toward his representation... our wealth does not go as far there as it does here, however, so we must hope that it was at least adequate. Did you want any fruit?"
 #20467  by Michelle La Fratta
Michelle's mouth twisted with unease. While they'd been friends for awhile now, Michelle still didn't understand some of Malanda's actions. Like, abandoning her husband in an American jail. Michelle spent a lot of time getting into her friend's head to see her justification for it. She couldn't, for the most part. She understood why this was all happening, but Michelle couldn't understand why Malanda was going through with it. She loved Pavel enough to keep the child she eventually lost; why wouldn't she cross the Atlantic to get him?

Also, were they even sure Pavel was involved at all? He was the least scummy person of them all; surely he wouldn't be involved in smuggling.

"Sure, whatever you have."