A little bit of good, old, traditional shopping was in order. I've spent hardly any of the Federation Credits I've earned since I joined Starfleet and having seen Lizzy's wardrobe full of beautiful clothes, I've decided I really ought to treat myself to some new attire. I'm not talking ball gowns or evening dresses though, just some really nice casual clothes and maybe something to wear to a posh restaurant, that sort of thing.
The Palisades in San Francisco is a wonderful area for shopping. It's filled with lovely boutiques as well as cafés, restaurants and bars, all set in an eclectic blend of buildings old and new. Ancient red bricks stand alongside glass and concrete, each sympathetic to its neighbour.
I have to be honest, after my life of thrift, I did get a bit carried away and was soon loaded up with bags and bags of goodies. By lunchtime, I was quite exhausted and found myself a nice little restaurant in a square for a spot of lunch. I felt quite indulgent as I sat alone eating an exceptionally good hot chicken salad accompanied by a glass of fine, white wine. Having finished my lunch, I further indulged with a second glass of wine and watched the world go by.
I can honestly say that I've not had such a lovely, relaxing day in ages. The sun shone and people went about their ordinary, everyday lives in a way that made me wonder about my own life that used to be so dull and mundane, but was now filled with adventures and excitement ... as well as dull and mundane paperwork and study!
A mum was sitting at a bench in the little square. It was a lovely square with red brick paths that wound through it and beds filled with bushes and blooms. There was also a pond in the middle with gorgeous white water lilies and enormous golden carp that kissed its glassy surface.
The woman had a double buggy with a baby in one side and a toddler in the other. They were eating sandwiches and throwing little bits of bread for the birds. Sparrows fought over the rich pickings and the toddler giggled, her hands outstretched in joy.
A couple sat on a nearby bench, holding hands, their heads bent as they whispered softly to each other. The man stroked her hand with his thumb as he held it and she wore a engagement ring on her finger. They were obviously very much in love.
My second glass of wine spent and my tummy full, slumber began to seduce me with its call. It had been a lovely day, but I was going to head back to the Academy and probably spoil myself with an afternoon nap. I've never done that before, but the idea was deliciously tempting.
I settled my bill, collected my bags together and made my way through the streets to catch one of the old restored trams that ran between the city centre and the Academy. I reached the stop and sat down to wait. It wouldn't be long before the next one came along, and it would be the perfect end to the perfect day.
The afternoon had worn on quickly, but the sun was still warm in the sky and bathed me in its bright glow. Across the street were more bars and restaurants, but these were more geared up for the evening trade. Bejazzled wasn't far from here, and the Byzantium was literally in front of me ... and that's when I saw it.
On one of their display boards was Lizzy's picture—or, rather, that of Bella Dinares. She had told me that she had a gig there later in the month so that made sense, but there was a banner splashed across the poster. It featured just one word: CANCELLED.
That was odd. If Lizzy had left the Academy to pursue a career as a singer, why would her gig be cancelled? I decided it was time to ask some questions.
The Byzantium wasn't busy inside. There were just a few people there enjoying late afternoon drinks. Soft, pre-recorded music played in the background and the barman was polishing glasses nonchalantly.
"Excuse me," I said.
"Yes, what can I get you?" he smiled.
"Well, nothing at the moment, thank you, but I was just wondering about Bella Dinares—"
"Sorry. She cancelled on us," and his brow furrowed a little.
"Yes, but that surprises me. Do you know why she cancelled?"
His face shrugged.
"No. Sorry. All I know is her agent called and said she couldn't make it."
I scowled in confusion. I didn't think she had an agent and said as much. He stopped polishing the glass and looked up at the ceiling thoughtfully. Puzzlement washed over his face.
"Funnily enough, neither did the boss, but he definitely called and cancelled on us."
"Did he say why?"
"No," he said, putting the glass down and shifting his weight. "And that was really weird 'cause the boss asked when she'd like to rebook for; but her agent said it wasn't a postponement, it was a cancellation. Bella was giving up singing altogether apparently."
Now I know someone is lying!