Failed Shopping Expedition

As the crowds pick up for their evening surge through the Santa Monica strip, dressed in their finest club-going clothes, one lone woman shirks the idea of wearing skin-tight, body-exposing apparel. Her ever-present camera is tucked away in the messenger bag slung across her torso and her hands are clasped behind her back. She all but completely ignores the series of flashes and shouts coming from in front of one of the trendier LA clubs, instead pacing restless in the opposite direction.

Arturo steps out from the Empress and onto the sidewalk, a satisfied grin across his face. His apparel is dark and form fitting, but not tight. Sleek slacks rise up to meet an open suede jacket, and a slightly glossy appearing black longsleeve. As he takes a few steps away from the club, the smirk vanishes from his face. He steps out of the moving path of foot traffic to linger near the side of the building, taking out his cellphone and looking through notes or numbers, not actually speaking into it.

With a glance over her shoulder, Ella reaches a hand into her messenger bag to root around for a bit. Her nose crinkles as she searches blindly in the button-festooned satchel, until finally she stills. From inside she pulls out a small wirebound notepad, flipping quickly through the first pages until she comes to the middle. Her brow furrows as grey eyes skim the hand-written lines, nearly bumping completely into Arturo in her moment of complete distraction.

Arturo raises an eyebrow as he is almost knocked over by the skinny rampaging photographer. He pauses for a moment, and as he sees her face, a smirk crosses his features. "Miss Priest" he nods in greeting to Ella. "I was just thinking of you, what an odd coincidence." He smiles broadly as he meets Ella's gaze, and continues. "How are you doing?"

With the twitch of a thumb, Ella closes her small notepad as her eyes jerk upwards. She blinks a couple of times as she muddles through a mixture of thoughts, a lopsided smile finally coming to her face. "You're a bad liar, you know. But it's fine, not everyone can be President, right? It's a nice sentiment, cool of you to say, but I still don't believe it. How're things going with your insurance company and the cops? What you told me still sounds fishy, though," she rambles with her head tilting to one side. "But if you were just thinking about me, what made you think of something like that?"

Arturo chuckles softly, looking around. "I happen to be the best liar you know, and don't know about it." he pauses, a look of seriousness and calm coming over his features. He puts his cell phone away, and with a furrowed brow speaks "I actually am going to put your pictures up in my new shop, credits included of course." He nods assuringly at Ella, and slides his other hand in his pocket.

A single ebon eyebrow lifts at Arturo's admission as Ella continues to stare up at him. Meanwhile, her hand slips her notepad back into her messenger bag with little fuss. "You are? The ones I took of your shop? Or rather… the ones I took of your ex-shop. Hey, you could always say they're pictures from like Baghdad, too. It's quite nice of you, honestly. Good publicity is always appreciated," she replies, her smile widening though still not completely touching her eyes.

Arturo shifts his weight slightly as he stands there, looking around. "Yeah, those ones. Going to hang them up and have them say "This was here" in different parts of the shop." he pauses for a moment, and sort of shakes his head. "And I guess, it depends on your definition of good, I'm reopening as a tobacco smoke shop, and an absinthe house of sorts I think."

"Tobacco shop…" Ella repeats in a soft voice before letting a small bit of laughter filter through her lips. "Oh, no. No, I think it's perfect. Really! A smoke shop displaying pictures of a burned up old building. Very artistic in its own way." Lifting her hand, she drags her fingers through her loose black hair in order to get it out of her line of sight. "Absinthe, absinthe… isn't that the stuff Poe was hooked on? Well, you know, besides massive amounts of opium. Is that legal in the ole U.S. of A? Wait! I think I heard about one kind.. um.. Lucid! It's the in thing at all the trendy bars on the east coast, from what I hear. Ohhh and Marilyn Manson has his own, too. But it was totally panned by critics, saying it smelled like a sewer. I was like yeah, okay and you expected something Manson made NOT to smell like a sewer?" she snorts derisively as she shakes her head. Suddenly, a fierce grin washes over her face as she adds with more than a little amusement, "Though I did quite like one of his more recent songs.”

Arturo stares off blankly as Ella rambles on, not seeming to flinch or move from his spot. After she has finished, he remarks, "You are adorable, when are you going to let me take you out?" he pauses, "Seemed much better than taking pictures of my trashed shop, even though you got paid for it." He glances around for a moment again, looking at a few taxis passing by. "You don't want to hit a club tonight? I'm not doing a goddamn thing. My boring phone calls should be over, too."

Ella winces as the word 'club' falls from Arturo's lip, already shaking her head vehemently. "Ah, no, the club scene doesn't much agree with me, what with the bad music, overpriced drinks, machine gun fire, and lots of people enclosed in a small space." Another scrutinous gaze is given to the man near her, her expression becoming a bit more guarded than it was just a few seconds before. "What sort of dastardly plan did you have in mind while taking me out? Are you going to be like Colonel Mustard and use a wrench in the study?"

Arturo glances at Ella curiously, his eyebrow raised almost comically as she speaks. "No, more Professor Plum with the pipe in the library." He laughs out loud, and then says "Besides, my dastardly plans are best kept to me, you can just take it as an opportunity to have a paid night out while possibly getting paid." He gestures to Ella's camera with his hand, and then slides it back in his pocket. Suddenly, a grim look overcomes his features. "Wait, what the fuck? Machine gun fire?" he stares forward in shock, as if he had just seen a ghost. "You were THERE?!"" he exclaims, pointing his finger at Ella.

This time both eyebrows shoot upwards as Ella stares wide-eyed at Arturo, doing her best to keep the most innocent expression on her rather pale face. "There? Which there? I go lots of places, obviously, since those little rising and falling stars love to go lots of places. If I don't go lots of places, how will I ever get any pictures of them being silly?" she responds while fluttering her eyelids, pushing a grin onto her face.

Arturo shakes his head quickly, and looks amused as Ella grins. "Club Hades, a few nights ago. I was there when it got shot up…what, was there another nightclub shooting I didn't hear about?" He looks concerned for a moment, thinking onto himself and tapping his cheek with a finger for a moment. "Anyway, -I- was there, but as soon as I saw guns I grabbed my coat and slid into the bathroom." he states gravely, nodding in Ella's direction again with brow furrowed.

"You know, come to think of it, I didn't even hear about that one on the news or in the papers," she muses aloud, her head canting to one side. "Kinda strange, if you ask me. Things like this tend to make a big splash across the front page. But, no, all I saw were things about the Oscars." She pauses a moment, ostensibly to catch her breath, before proceeding again, "Yeah, I was there. Was going to meet up with someone I know when all hell broke loose. I booked it for the little girl's room until everyone was told it was safe to come out."

Arturo laughs out loud, and gives his knee a good slap. "Who knew, we did the same damn thing." he glances around, and then back to Ella. "You know, that is curious though. I don't usually check the papers much, bunch of bullshit usually." A thoughtful look crosses his face, and he scratches his head slightly. "I wonder why that is…" he trails off for a moment, "Well, maybe not a club then." he glances to Ella with a gleam of curiosity in his eyes. "Where to then?" he grins wryly in Ella's direction

Ella rolls her shoulders in a vague shrug as she slowly shakes her head. "I dunno. I haven't been out of my place for a few days now and I thought maybe I should get back into work-mode, but that really didn't agree with me. No destination in mind, was just going where my feet felt like they should go for now. Maybe later I'll try to figure out why none of the news agencies around here seem to have heard of that shoot-out and then maybe check the local hospitals." She lets a small smile touch her lips as she adds, "That last has nothing to do with the whole club thing. Just a personal thing."

Arturo shrugs noncommittally, and glances to Ella for several long moments. "I mean, you can say no, I don't want to go anywhere with you, screw you, et cetera" he grins at Ella, and continues "But why?" with this, he crosses his arms and looks to you, his head tilted slightly. "Plus, if you're headed to the hospital, that's not really what I had in mind." He looks to Ella curiously again, awaiting a response.

Ella waves her hand in front of her as if pushing away the subject at hand, "No, no, I wasn't going to -go- there. I don't have to be there physically. I was just gonna call, but yeah enough about that." She clears her throat and purses her lips together for a moment of thought. "Where would you want to go? And why would it be with me? This place has more than the national average of plastic bodies molded for the eyes of the opposite, or same, gender. Everywhere you look are people just so close to society's idea of perfection. I admit I'm not one of those, and am kinda proud of that fact. But you're male. In Los Angeles. And you're asking a paparazzo for a date. I can't help but be leery of that. You're well-dressed, too! See, it just doesn't equate in my mind," she tries to explain haphazardly, though honestly.

Arturo nods slowly, and seems to focus on her words as she speaks. "Yes, well, as I said before." He doesn't care to elaborate obviously, and continues. "Are you saying you want to go shopping for nice clothes? I'm up for that." He nods proudly at his new idea.

Ella grins as she tugs on the sleeve of her simple, white v-neck t-shirt. "What? You mean this isn't fashionable enough?" To show she's entirely kidding, she lets out a small giggle and shakes her head. "I like shopping usually, but I kinda have to keep my spending in check. I just recently splurged on an outfit to traipse around in at that Hades hellhole," she mutters with a scowl. It's then that she halts in her current train of thought and peers up at Arturo. "You know, you don't seem like the kind to frequent that sort of place. Your face isn't full of piercings and I can't help but notice your serious lack of fishnet and leather."

Arturo nods slowly in Ella's direction, and shudders at her last comment. "Yeah, definitely not for me. Dear god, I'm not a monster, girl." he shakes his head in dismay. "So let's go, and I'll worry about keeping the spending in check. You worry about whether you can make me sweat or not on a shopping trip, and it will be a good time." he pauses, raising a hand with a finger up "I have one stipulation, however." After a long pause, he raises an eyebrow and states flatly "No fishnets or leather."

Doing her best impression of an evil overlord's maniacal cackle, Ella nods her agreement to the single term. "Let's go someplace with some jewelry. I could use a little bit of relaxing window-shopping with things that glitter and gleam," she states with an almost serene smile this time, taking a few steps to stand right beside Arturo and peer up and down Santa Monica. "So, lead the way!"

Arturo hails a taxi, and opens the door for Ella to step into the cab. He leans in to the driver while holding the door, and states "Nearest jewelry store, my friend." he glances up to Ella. "Not a pawn shop." He nods affirmatively as the cabbie replies, and waits for Ella to get in the car. As she does, they are whisked away to the nearest jewelry store, aptly named, "Player Business"

Arturo steps from the car, opening the door to the cab and leaving it for Ella as he pays the driver. He moves to the sidewalk and to the door of the store, opening the glass door and gesturing with his off hand for Ella to pass by. "After you, miss Priest." he says charmingly, and follows her inside as she passes.

Ella scoots out of the vehicle, poking her head out first to peek up at the store itself. Immediately, her greyish eyes widen and her large mouth twists into an "Ooooooooo…" She easily pulls herself completely out, lugging her messenger bag along as well. She strolls into the store with her chin held high as if she owned the place, her eyes unable to settle for too long on just one case of jewelry. "Why thank you, Mr. Crenson. It's an honor," she responds in a mockery of a haughty British accent.

Arturo laughs as he strolls through the place, making a careful effort to look as if he actually owns the place as well, picking up several objects marked "Please ask for assistance" in clear red labels. Oddly enough, no one seems to mind. "Maybe I'll pick up something shiny while I'm here…" he states in a blank tone, almost to himself, but quite audible. He rounds the corner of the counter, and looks through the glass at some watches, and then through the glass to Ella. "And after this, we can get some new threads." he tugs on his shirt for added effect of the topic at hand.

Unable to completely ignore the hairy eye that security has been giving her, Ella does indeed make quite a valiant attempt to pretend they're not there at all. Her red Converse shoes are a few shades lighter than the crimson carpet they tread upon as she marches around the display case. Her eyes, for now, are solely for those shining points of light so safely tucked away behind the glass. "Everyone needs some shiny things," she murmurs in a distant voice while smiling down at a series of platinum and diamond rings. "Threads.. yeah.. that sounds good, too."

Arturo glances down at the rings that Ella seems to be hovering malevolently over. "I was thinking Armani, but you'd probably want to go somewhere else." He shrugs up one shoulder, and his gaze trails down to the case before him. He then looks up to an attendant who seems to follow them around from behind the counters. "Could you?" he asks, gesturing to a thin watch in the case. The attendant nods, producing a small watch from the case, and holds it over the back of her fingers as she hands it to Arturo to try on. He throws the watch on, and dangles his arm casually, then reaches his hand up to touch his chin, looking in a mirror. "Pretty good, pretty good." A few more poses, and he looks over towards Ella. "No?" he asks, holding up his hand in the GQ chin holding pose again.

Ella tears her gaze away from the precious metals in the case below her hovering face with a visible effort of will, drawing in a deep breath as she does so. A light giggle falls from her lips as she stares intently at the watch and the man it adorns. "It looks pretty nice, but could use a few more diamonds or maybe an emerald or two? Something more to catch the eye and remind you to look at the time and not forget when you are," she replies with a lopsided smile.

Arturo chuckles, and looks back to the woman. "I'll take it." he states, smiling at first at the attendant, and turning to grin at Ella. "Rolex I think have enough diamonds to make you see the time well." he pauses, glancing down at the watch as it is being prepared. "I can't do too tacky." he states flatly. "You know, you can actually pick something out, miss Priest." He nods assuringly in Ella's direction, and moves around the case to her side to see what she is near. "Anything yet?"

Ella doesn't have to feign surprise as she whips her head back up and around to stare at Arturo with wide eyes. "Me?" she manages to eke out before clearing her throat and trying again. "Me? Oh, no. No, no, no. If I want it," she pauses to give the case an almost mournful look, "or need it," she refocuses her sights on the dapper fellow beside her, "I'll get it on my own. Jewelry is a big thing. Maybe I'm just old fashioned like that?"

Arturo nods slowly, "Yeah well, you say window shopping, I say shopping I guess." his gaze returns to the case. "There are things in there without diamonds in them, if you're wanting to be old fashioned." He adjusts his shirt at the collar, and clears his throat. "I don't know what you mean, anyway…it's nothing big if you ask me." he seems to speak with a very unconcerned tone, and shrugs up a shoulder slightly. "Always good for a girl to plan ahead on her jewelry purchases I suppose."

Ella crosses her arms in front of her tightly as she takes a couple of steps back from the jewelry, shaking her head slowly. "Maybe we should just go someplace with clothes and shoes and.. and less of the shiny. It makes it hard to think in here with all of this around," she motions to the pretty baubles as she speaks. "Armani's never been my speed, but it wouldn't hurt to look and if that's where you want to go then hey it's your dollar."

Arturo raises an eyebrow, and holds up one finger. "Not tonight it's not." he states flatly. "Anywhere you want, I just figure I'd tell you where I got these clothes that you unwittingly complimented me on, and maybe start there." He shrugs again, and takes the box the attendant slides towards him, handing her a credit card in exchange. She is back in a moment with something for him to sign, which he does. Arturo finally turns to face Ella again, gesturing to her he states "So, whatever -is- your speed, we can go there."

Lowering her gaze, the diminutive woman lifts one shoulder in a half-hearted shrug. "Armani is fine, if you don't mind them giving me odd looks when I walk in like they do here," she states matter-of-factly, though she doesn't seem to even try to lower her voice when speaking so frankly. "It doesn't bother me, but I dunno if you want the stigma from one of your favorite places to shop."

Arturo laughs heartily, and makes a gesture for the door. "That store would sell to me if I walked in wearing boxer shorts. Rumor has it, they like my money, and not me or who I walk in with. We'll be just fine." He pauses and as he gestures for the door still, he adds, "Ahem, shall we, or are you not done window shopping, miss Priest?"

Pulling a pair of red sunglasses from the pocket of her olive green cargo pants, Ella goes about perching the heart-shaped frames onto her nose. Once the glare is lessened from the many glittery things in the store, she smiles brightly and nods her head. "Yes! Onward! To conquer the dreaded Armani!" she states loudly, lifting one arm triumphantly into the air as she marches towards the door.

Arturo opens the door, and says in a lofty joking tone "Poor Giorgio." The door closes behind them, and they pass to the sidewalk. Arturo promptly shouts, "Taxi!" and opens the door to the cab again, leaning towards the window. "The Armani store in Beverly Hills" he states to the cab driver. He exchanges with the driver, and waits for Ella to enter the cab.

Arturo steps from the cab, and goes through the elaborate process of opening the two doors the pair must pass to enter the store, letting Ella go first.

As Ella enters the rather swanky establishment, she lowers the heart-shaped sunglasses down her nose a bit and lets out a low whistle. "Wow! This place shines nearly as brightly as Zales, and that's no small feat," she states with a bit of wonder in her voice. She suddenly turns around to face Arturo, tipping her head back to stare up into his face. "How often do you come here? Was your last shop that lucrative?" she asks, her voice lowering just a bit.

Arturo glances around the store as well, seeming to stop on a hat display for a few moments. He turns to face Ella, and says with a smirk of slight disappointment, "Everything I do I try to make -that- lucrative." His voice turns from flat to more excited, "Looks like there is some new stuff in on both sides of the store" He makes a sweeping gesture with his arm, indicating the men an women areas of the store. "I come here when I want a new outfit from Giorgio Armani, you know? I do own sweatpants, tour shirts, I just don't wear them out" A wide grin comes to his face, and he looks pleased with his comment. "Anyway, look around, and PICK something, and then we can go on to the next spot."

Ella lifts one angular eyebrow as she peers over the top of her sunglasses, her lips curled into a half-smile. "Same verse, same as the first. If I want clothes, or need clothes, I'll get them for myself. Not so much old-fashioned as practical to a degree. I'm not gonna get myself used to living to a higher standard of living than I can easily afford for myself," she suddenly holds up a hand to forestall any sudden arguments, "-But- it's in the genes of every woman everywhere to window shop like a trained professional."

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