dining entertaining

There is more underneath the glass and steel of Hong Kong

When it comes to Hong Kong as a travel destination, scenes of the hustle and bustle, all kinds of cuisine and hundreds of shopping complexes probably flood your mind in a blink. No we are not going into the obvious beauty of the city. We are here to unravel the mesmerizing gem of the city’s cultural diversity. Let us freshen your vision and mind with some colorful hues!

HKwalls

For those who want to explore the city from an unconventional perspective, check out the HKwalls! For four years in a row, HKwalls has been making efforts to strengthen the link between art and the public space. Last year, HKwalls took place in Sham Shui Po, one of the earliest developed areas in Hong Kong. The mixed land uses and history has given the district a distinct character, making it an ideal area for the annual street arts celebrations. The festival featured 40 art pieces created by artists from 17 countries, 42 workshops, 3 free film screenings and a pop-up print exhibition.

This year HKwalls reignites the partnership with Vans as part of the Hong Kong Arts Month in Wong Chuk Hang. Unlike other events during the month, there are scattered happenings for the public to stumble upon.  Though Wong Chuk Hang may be a little far from the city centre, it is chosen for a reason. While the art and creative community has been blossoming in the industrial district, the mural art pieces and interactive programs would perfectly compliment the growth. Just remember to have your camera ready!

Feeling revitalized now? Let’s dig deeper into the city’s cultural matrix, here is our recommended guide for you.

Old Town Central

Here we go a compact experience in the culturally diverse city!

Old Town Central (OTC) refers to the rectangular shaped neighbourhood in Central bounded by Wyndham Street, Caine Road, Possession Street, Queen’s Road Central and Hollywood Road. A miniature of the big city, it hosts many must-go including heritage sites, landmarks, historic architecture, religious buildings, designer boutiques, local shops, dining and entertainment outlets. It mirrors the transition of Hong Kong from a fishing village to a British colony to a metropolitan city throughout the decades.

Possession Street

The story of modern Hong Kong began at Possession Street in 1841, where the British soldiers landed and the colonial governance commenced.  Fast forward to 176 years later, it is now the Hollywood Road Park, a Chinese-style garden.  Still, you can find a mix of nostalgic and modern shops at Possession Street.

POHO

Climb a few staircases to POHO; fill yourself with the artsy air. Surrounded by Po Hing Fong including Tai Ping Shan Street, Po Hing Street, Tung Street, Sai Street, and Upper Station Street, the up-and-coming neighbourhood is analogous to Hong Kong’s hipster village with plenty cafes, quirky boutiques and art galleries.

YMCA Bridges Street Centre & Ladder Street

You will find YMCA Bridges Street Centre and Ladder Street at the east of OTC. Constructed in 1918, the YMCA Bridges Street Centre is an architectural epitome displaying a crossover between Chinese green glazed tiled roofs and Chicago School style. Ladder Street, a Grade 1 historical building, which is made entirely of stone steps, connects Queen’s Road Central all the way uphill to Hollywood Road and Caine Road.

Man Mo Temple

At the corner of Ladder Street, Man Mo Temple is a masterpiece of long-lost traditional Chinese architectural craftsmanship. It would certainly take your breath away the moment you step in. The temple was built for Gods worshipping and as “Kung Sor” where community issues were discussed and resolved.

PMQ

Go along Hollywood Road and you will arrive at PMQ, the Police Married Quarters. It has been revitalized as a creative hub where over 100 shops, pop-up stores, design studios and restaurants are nested. The mission of PMQ is to nurture local designers, provide a place for organizing exhibits and for visitors to have a taste of creative lifestyle. With this in mind, you cannot miss this place from your to-go list in Hong Kong.

Gough Street and Kau U Fong

Also known as NOHO, there is a great deal of independent boutiques and contemporary art galleries awaiting your discovery; cafes and old-style dai pai dong (cooked food stalls) ready to fill you up. Be sure to spare some time and belly for them!

Pak Tsz Lane Park

Pak Tsz Lane Park, located at a quiet square behind Aberdeen Street, Hollywood Road, Gage Street and Peel Street, is a park featuring a monument in memory of anti-Qing Dynasty activities in the late 19th century by revolutionaries from Furen Wenshe and Xing Zhong Hui. Enlighten yourself with some knowledge on Hong Kong’s role in overthrowing the monarchy in China.

Hollywood Road

One of the oldest built in 1844, Hollywood Road has evolved into a renowned art hub, accommodating numerous contemporary art galleries, antique shops and boutiques. Get your art and shopping fix here and you won’t be disappointed.

Tai Kwun

At the junction of Old Baileys Street and Hollywood Road stands a gorgeous colonial-style establishment – Tai Kwun, or “big station” in Chinese. That was how the Chinese used to colloquially refer to the former law enforcement complex. Initially where the Central Police Station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison were, it is now under transformation into the next talk-of-the-town hub of heritage, arts and leisure. Stay tuned!

Pottinger Street

Named after Hong Kong’s first governor, Pottinger Street is made of uneven slabs of cobblestone, and thus given the name “Stone Slab Street”. If you need ideas for your costumes and props to Halloween celebrations or themed parties, look no further, you can find everything here.

Lyndhurst Terrace

Lyndhurst Terrace is another featured spot of the Dr Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail. The old Xing Yan Lou Western Restaurant was one of the secretive bases where Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his comrades meet as well as a refuge for overseas revolutionaries during the First Guangzhou Uprising in 1895. You may be hit by some shiok buttery aroma and it probably comes from Tai Cheong Bakery, renowned for “the best egg tarts in the world” hailed by the last British governor Chris Patten.

This content was produced in partnership with Hong Kong Tourism Board.

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The Disney That Almost Was: Port Disney/DisneySea 


From Port Disney’s preliminary master plan, which was released to the media in July of 1990:


Oceania, the architectural focal point of the park, would rise above the center of DisneySea in a series of futuristic bubbles, luring guests to a fascinating evolutionary journey through the world’s seas. Guests would walk through a state-of-the-art, two story aquarium.


The curious (could then exit Oceania and) … journey into the 21st century, visiting a Future Research Center where scientists from the world’s leading institutions would come together to conduct oceanographic stidies, in much the same fashion as researchers now gather at the “Living Seas” and “Land” pavilions at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World. Adults and children alike would learn about the ocean and its diverse marine life in a hands-on exploratorium.


At Mysterious Island, guests would discover the lost City of Atlantis on a modern version of a Disneyland “E” Ticket. Children could follow clues to buried treasure on Pirate Island, while the more intrepid might dare to board Nemo’s Lava Cruiser and careen suspended through dangerous caverns.


Aqua-labyrinth, a challenging maze with walls made only of water, would serve as the entrance to Heroes’ Harbor, where the myths and the legends of teh sea come to life. Here guests would find rides themed to the adventures of Sinbad, Ulysses and other storied adventurers from the past.


On the edge of the Bay facing downtown, a boardwalk would recreate the nostalgia of the Long Beach oceanfront in its heyday. Nearby at Fleets of Fantasy, a harborful of fabled and fanciful ships, including outsized Chinese junks and Egyptian galleys, would disguise exciting rides and dining and entertainment.


Shoppers and diners will be intrigued by DisneySea’s themed environments – a Grecian village, an Asian marketplace, a Caribbean lagoon. Here guests might be seen surfing, snorkling, or wading through tropical reefs teeming with fish.


Some will experience the ultimate underwater adventure – being lowered in a steel cage into a tank full of sharks. At the rim of the American continent and the Pacific Ocean, DisneySea will be a place of magic and wonder offering a unique entertainment experience.

sin eater, part 4 (between heaven and hell)

Part Four of my ongoing birthday fic for @kliomuse, who has become a dear friend through our shared love of both Once and historical fiction in general (and certain sexy devils!). She’s been such a great source of support for my writing and she wanted a 1920s New Orleans flashback in the world of Between Heaven and Hell, so that’s what she got!

Summary: A desperate young woman seeks a deal with the devil, but in the city of sinners and saints called New Orleans anything can happen, and while a demons answers, an angel listens and the souls of two young lovers hang in the balance between heaven and hell. 

This fic is only posted on Tumblr while it’s a WIP, catch up with the previous chapters below - oh, and this part is definitely rated M ; )

Part One
Part Two
Part Three  

Part Four 
New Orleans, 1923

Just off of Canal St and outside the French Quarter proper stood the stately facade of the  Hotel Grunewald, fourteen stories of white stone, elegant styling, and modern amenities to suit travellers from both the Old World of aristocrats and family fortunes that stretched backwards into the mists of time, and the New World of silver screen stars and money that was made, not inherited. The rival of anything to be found in New York, Paris or London, it offered fine dining, live entertainment, white-gloved European service, and six hundred guest rooms that started at the princely sum of six dollars a night for a single bed and a shared bath and only went up from there.

He’d called it a room, but what he’d actually booked with the concierge was a corner suite, east and south-facing windows, cozy sitting room, full-sized bedroom, private bath. It cost considerably more than six dollars but the price was immaterial, money came and went, he could lose a king’s ransom in a single evening at the gaming tables and still walk away with a smile, knowing that he would win it back twofold the next night.

However, there were some things that both gold and greenbacks couldn’t buy.

“Are there any roses left at all in this town or is every garden plucked completely clean?’

Keep reading

End the Evening with a Bang

Want to make sure you end the evening on a high note? Book a dining package that offers you a special meal as well as a reserved area for one of the nighttime spectaculars. You can receive special FastPasses that give you a specified standing area for World of Color or the Paint the Night parade by pre-booking online or calling Guest Services at (714) 781-4565.

CSBB Snippet

Here’s a snippet from a CSBB work in progress for you to enjoy!

“Why are you apologising Swan? If truth be told, I do find this perplexing machine and its abilities quite intriguing, even if it is baffling,” Killian shook his head, touched that Emma was using a subject he knew much about to help him understand how to use the computer and internet. “I haven’t seen a ship of that kind in my vast sailing history,” he queried, pointing to an image of a cruise ship. Hesitant and unsure whether it was alright to touch the screen, which was why he made sure the tip of his finger didn’t touch it. Using the computer was an idea Killian concocted on his own accord but the technology was still quite alien to him. However, he was quite grateful that Emma was willing help him and demonstrated a high level of patience while doing so. Emma honestly didn’t mind, Killian wasn’t from that world, he was inevitably bound to find certain aspects of adjusting to life there somewhat of a challenge.

“Hmm? Killian you can touch the screen, it’s not going to shock you or anything like that,” Emma hastened to assure but looked curiously towards what image he had pointed at. “Oh that’s a cruise ship,” she explained while clicking on the image to enlarge it. “It can carry several passengers and people often enjoy holidaying on a cruise ship on the ocean waves. There are cabins for them to stay in as well kitchens, dining rooms and entertainment. Maybe one day we could go on one? That is if you fancy it?” she offered.

Killian tilted his head to the side, his left eyebrow quirking like it usually did when the pirate thought something over. “That’s quite a tempting offer Swan but I think I’d much rather travel on a vessel I can captain, one I trust dearly after our many ventures together over the centuries,” he decided, that look of wonder in his eyes as he reminisced, with nothing but fondness, back on a few of his most memorable voyages the pirate experienced with his beloved lady.

“Should I leave you alone with your thoughts about your love?” Emma didn’t fail to tease Killian, laughing at her own joke. She loved how attached her pirate was to the Jolly Roger. Emma usually enjoyed jokingly express her non-existent jealousy whenever Killian would return to the house in time for their breakfast after he spent time with his old girl, tending to the Jolly Roger. During those morning, Emma would wake to find Killian no longer laying by her side but she didn’t exactly mind. In fact, it would make her smile, imagining her pirate working on giving the Jolly Roger some tender loving care. Once or twice, Emma went over to the docks in the mornings and before he noticed her presence, she would hear Killian talking sweetly to the ship while the captain worked on it.

Like this snippet? Reblog with your thoughts in the tags to let the author know what you think!

I’m a strong silent-type, with rugged good looks, condo & a Jacuzzi on my boat. I’d like to spend tonight with a somewhat thick, attractive lady. I love both salt and fresh water chicks, 2 scoops of chum and plenty of bait. I can host, wine, dine and throughly entertain. Hit me up with a pic if you’re serious. 

Now it may just be my bad for not looking, but I have not seen a lot of roleplays based in Paris. So this guide will hopefully give you a little insight to some of the things which Pris has to offer, and you never know, when you are trying to think of a location for your roleplay, Paris will be your first choice, and I hope it is because Paris is a beautiful city. 

Disclaimer: Having never been to Paris myself, all of my information will come from the internet.

Keep reading

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my neighborhoods and the families I play in them.

magnolia promenade: shopping dining entertainment district (retail shops , hipster restaurant, theatre and lounge Oasis Springs: desert, mission style homes, Mexican Restaurant, Bowling Alley, Movie theatre, History Museum /library , Resort Hotel, science facility New Crest: modern homes, university, upscale restaurant and 50s diner, gym, spa and salon, apartments, nightclub Forgotten Hollow: creepy old mansions, cemeteries and a public square San Mayshuno: (mostly the same as yours) city apartments townhomes and penthouses. Refurbished warehouse, nightclub, restaurants, gym and spa, art gallery, city park with a bed and breakfast and wedding venue Windenburg: tudor style homes, pubs and taverns, bookseller, bakery, public pool, ancient ruins, resort island with new Caribbean style beach houses. Willow Creek: storybook. Colorful victorian and fantasy style homes. Witches cabin, hobbit hill, fairy house, Lighthouse restaurant, fairytale castle, neverland waterpark, library, lots of colorful shops and outdoor markets

A larger-than-life statue of Philip Kunia “Gabby” Pahinui was unveiled at Waikiki Beach Walk. Affectionately known as “Pops,” Gabby was one of the greatest 20th century masters of Hawaiian vocal, slack key and steel guitar music.  

Titled “Kanikapila,” a Hawaiian phrase that loosely translates to “make music,” the sculpture depicts Gabby during a happy moment in his Waimanalo backyard, standing and playing guitar, as photographed by his son, Cyril Pahinui.

“Gabby Pahinui was instrumental in inspiring generations of musicians to perpetuate Hawaiian music,” said Ernest Rady, the chairman, chief executive officer and president of American Assets Trust, Inc., (NYSE: AAT) the company that owns Waikiki Beach Walk. “Waikiki Beach Walk is honored to serve as the home for this remarkable statue that celebrates Gabby and his legacy as a Hawaiian music icon.”

“This is a tremendous honor for Outrigger and we’re humbled to play a small part on this iconic occasion; Gabby Pahinui is the father of slack key and slack key is true Hawaiian music,” said Sean Dee, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of Outrigger Enterprises Group - the developer of Waikiki Beach Walk.

Gabby was a self-taught musician who became one of the great masters of Hawaii’s unique slack-key guitar sound. A legendary artist who inspired generations of musicians, he is perhaps best known for “Hi'ilawe,” the first-ever recording of Hawaiian slack key guitar. Gabby often hosted weekend jam-sessions or kanikapila, in his backyard that drew musicians from throughout the islands. Today, Gabby’s son’s, Bla, Cyril and Martin, follow in their father’s footsteps, making music and carrying the tradition of kanikapila forward.

The idea to celebrate Gabby and his influence on Hawaiian music through “Kanikapila” was initiated by Outrigger Enterprises Group. With its strong commitment to preserving and perpetuating Hawaiian music and culture, Outrigger holds an unparalleled connection to Hawaii’s music industry. Outrigger’s expanded music program, E Mele Ana, gives guests a front-row seat to authentic Hawaiian music - Blue Note Hawaii, which serves as the state’s premier venue for world-renowned artists, from local talent to international sensations, for limited engagements; live music nightly Kani Ka Pila Grille at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort; and Outrigger Resorts Signature Experiences - a host of complimentary activities and amenities that connect guests to the host culture.

Sculptor Kim Duffett began concepting and designing the 7-foot-tall bronze statue at his studio in Honolulu nearly a year ago. In addition to “Kanikapila,” his recent efforts include the three twice-life size hula kahiko dancers fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village entitled, “Kaha ka ‘Io me na Makani,” for which he received the Kahili Award for Visual Arts at the 2003 Keep it Hawaii Awards.

“Gabby’s music is synonymous with Hawaii,” said sculptor Kim Duffett. “This statue captures Gabby in his element - playing music in his backyard surrounded by family and friends - and evokes his talent, humility and kindness that endeared him to generations.”

The bronze statue of Gabby is located in the heart of Waikiki Beach Walk on the Plaza of the open-air shopping, dining and entertainment district. The statue was unveiled to Gabby’s family and friends during a private ceremony of close to 300 people, which also included local musicians who were influenced by his music.

New Attractions at Universal Hollywood Studios Include Kung Fu Panda, Hello Kitty

Kung Fu Panda and Hello Kitty are moving into Universal Hollywood Studios.

When it opens next year, a new DreamWorks Theatre venue will offer visitors new attractions like a multi-sensory adventure inspired by the kung fu-fighting master panda, Po.

The world’s favorite whiskered, feline character Hello Kitty also makes her debut in 2018, along with her friends My Melody, Keroppi and Chocolate.

Hello Kitty herself will roam the park befriending guests, and the park will sell assorted Sanrio merchandise, including accessories, apparel and confectionery.

Beginning this summer, visitors will also be able to meet newly introduced characters to the park, including Po and Tigress, “Madagascar” characters Alex the Lion and The Penguins; Poppy and Branch from “Trolls” and Puss ‘n Boots from “Shrek.”

And over at CityWalk Hollywood, a three-block entertainment, dining and shopping promenade, a newly renovated Universal Cinema will screen films in deluxe recliner seats, with cocktail bar, and state-of-the-art screens, projections and sound.

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NATURAL BEAUTY:  Want to hold onto summer for as long as you can? To give your home just a hint of the upcoming season, pair pretty whites and creams with the more subtle tones of autumn like woodsy textures and finishes. 

Pinecone and Wood Flower Wreath / Cologne Mirror / Grace Three-Tier Tray / Yardley Dinnerware / Caley Small Sideboard / Terra Cotta Pumpkins

Conversation with the friend I'm moving out with shortly
  • Friend: I am already ready to move into that house holy crap so cheap [three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, separate dining/living areas, outdoor entertaining area in a decent suburb, $610 a week]
  • Me: I KNOW. BREAK YOUR LEASE AND LET'S MOVE IN! I bet they don't take dogs, though
  • Friend: We can just tell them Handschuhe is just for decoration.
  • Me: You mean like Rowdy in Scrubs?
  • Friend: YES EXACTLY!!!
Fifty Pounds, or the MMFD Cabaret Fic

Inspired by Moulin Rouge, a fantastic drag show I recently attended, that one Christina Aguilera Burlesque movie, and 200 pounds of beauty, I present the MMFD Cabaret fic. 

Let’s pretend that it takes place in mid-2000s, mostly so I can get away with having cool technology and, well, internet. Also the song choices are completely irreverent of time. This is mostly because I’m lazy and don’t feel like looking listening to a bunch of 90s music.

**

“C'mon now, Finnley, don’t look so put out, you grumpy sod.” Chop nudged Finn in the side, nearly knocking him out of his chair and into the path of two scantily clad waitresses, who tittered flirtatiously before wagging their feathered behinds at him. Finn cleared his throat and turned away, taking a long sip from his wine glass.

“’M not put out,” Finn grumbled, “Just tryin’ to figure out why I’ve spent twenty quid on a table at this…” He looked around and made eye contact with a woman with her eyebrows drawn in in spirals, “…establishment when I could’ve gone to the pub for free.”

“The birds, Finn, the birds,” Chop proclaimed. “Aren’t they lovely?”

“Plenty of nice-looking women at the pub,” Finn said, even while his eyes lingered on a particularly busty waitress’ ample bosom. Embarrassed, his eyes cut away, and he looked down sourly into his drink. 

The Grand Theatre had gained notoriety in Lincolnshire as the first cabaret club to open in the sleepy county, and despite the protests from the more stuffy denizens about how it was degrading the moral standing of Stamford, attracted large crowds of well-looking gentlemen and ladies every night. The performers were said to be the greatest beauties in Europe, talented, lithe creatures who could sing and dance a man’s coin right out of his pocket. All of the singing was done live, and apparently the stunts were real, too. Chop had been badgering Finn about the club for the last two weeks, trying to convince him that the performance was the kind of once in a lifetime experience he could give up a day’s wage for. He’d finally given in, and thus far, he was not convinced it’d been worth it.

“They don’t sing for you in the pubs though, do they now?” Chop said with a wink and a grin so wide it nearly split his face in two.

“Chop,” Finn said darkly. “I hear girls sing all the time. It’s my job to hear ‘em sing.”

Chop pouted at him. “Come now, you know that don’t count-” the lights dimmed, and Chop’s grin returned in all of its shining glory. “The show’s startin’!”

A voice rang from through the room, it’s owner invisible for the time.

“Welcome to the Grand Theatre, ladies and gents! Prepare your eyes-”

The spotlight swung off stage for a fraction of a second to somewhere near the ceiling, where they briefly caught sight of a heavily made-up woman flashing her gold-lined eyes open from amongst the curtains. 

“And your ears-”

It swung again to a barrister on the side of the room, where three of the waitresses with large, brightly colored feathers in their hair and behinds clustered together and sang out a high, lingering note together, then to another girl in the center of the room who added to the sound with a seductive little shake. 

“…For the most captivating show on Earth! With your charming host, The Great Archibald!”

The spotlight swung at last to the stage, where an attractive blond man in a top hat, waistcoat, monocle, and leather high waisted corset now stood. He was quite shirtless under the coat, and his straight pants were at least a size too tight. The women of the audience, and some of the men, positively lost their minds, throwing the provided carnations up onto the stage. 'The Great Archibald’ snatched one of the flowers out of the air, then bent on one knee on the stage and took the hand of the nearest woman, kissed her knuckles, and tucked the carnation behind her ear with a roguish wink. The woman gave a high, keening moan that could almost be heard over the raucous applause and hoots from the crowd, and the Great Archibald clambered back to his feet.

“Good to see such a positively lovely crowd this evening,” The Great Archibald proclaimed, though with the light in his face it was highly unlikely he could see anyone at all. “I’m sure we’ll have a,” he smiled beatifically, “truly beautiful time together tonight.”

There were several wolf whistles directed at the stage. Finn wondered whether the entire night would be wrought with sexual innuendo, or more than. He’d heard of burlesque shows in cinema; he wondered whether this was what the Grand Theatre was, a hyped-up burlesque show. That cost twenty fucking quid a seat.

With time and some wine, though, Finn started to enjoy himself. The acts that he’d first thought were too over the top soon became artful, and he found himself shouting along with the crowd as a fiery redhead in a multicolored, silk dress slid into a split while singing a Lana Del Ray song in a pixie-like voice. The stage was transformed entirely with every act, and Finn marveled at how they managed to turn moonlit cityscapes into African Savannas out of cleverly draped fabrics, colored lights and carefully cast shadows.  There’d been some pretty memorable outfits, his favorite currently belonging to a blonde who’d come in dressed like a peacock, with billowy royal blue sleeves and a tail that fanned out when she pulled a string at her waist. Their voices hadn’t been half bad either, with good range, though most of the songs chosen wouldn’t have been particularly challenging for anyone who could carry a tune. Chop had been right- it was an experience.

The last act was announced, and Chop sat up straighter in his seat, jostling Finn’s shoulder.

“This one, she’s supposed to be a sight. Loveliest of them all, and could sing a mockingbird out of its profession! Reckon even you might be impressed.”

“We’ll see,” Finn said. He’d been told some iteration of 'this voice will blow your socks off’ enough times to know that it usually meant his socks would stay decidedly on. He’d given his life to music; he could make an opinion for himself.

“Please put your hands together and give your most enthusiastic welcome to the Belle of Lincolnshire, nay, the Beauty of All England…the lovely Aphrodite!”

The woman who came on stage truly was a sight to behold, with bright, slightly wide set eyes and a figure that managed to be both willowy and curvaceous. Her backdrop was markedly simpler than her predecessors, a night sky full of glittering lights, and her dress seemed to be made from stars. She positively glowed from head to toe, and the audience seemed awed into silence, transfixed on the sight of the woman before them. She licked her lips almost shyly, then flashed a small smile before bringing both hands to rest on her bosom. It was clear she was being marketed differently from the other performers, who had all been gaudy, over the top, and constantly in motion. Aphrodite almost seemed shy.

Then she opened her mouth, and the sound that came forth sent a jolt through Finn’s body. 

it’s been seven hours and fifteen days

Since you took your love away

He’d never heard anything like it. Her voice was sultry and steady, unwavering and strong even when soft. And when she reached the chorus and her voice rose to a belt, he could feel her words beating against his chest, forcing him to pay attention, demanding that he hear them.

He’d seen talent. The flow of hopefuls who came through the recording studio where he worked as a producer was almost endless, and he’d seen the entire gambit, from delusional boys in badly named bands to future starlets with voices smooth as silk. But he’d never heard anything like this. His fist was curling against the chair. How was this woman performing in a seedy little cabaret club when she could have been gracing the cover of every magazine in the country? How could the world have completely missed her, when hundreds of denizens flocked to The Grand Theatre every week? Introducing her to his bosses might get him on their good graces. Maybe they’d let him get a single out, at least, prove himself marketable. His heart began to race; he’d found his meal ticket, this beautiful girl with a voice of a warrior angel, who’d slain him in his seat after only a few bloody notes.

Before the song was over, he knew he had to meet her. He turned to look at Chop, jostling his shoulder. 

“Wha’?” Chop whispered harshly, tearing his eyes reluctantly from the stage. “Give it a second, mate.”

“We’ve got to meet her,” Finn said. “Aphrodite. We’ve got to meet her.”

Nothing compares

“Finn. Fuckin’ put a sock in it.”

Nothing compares to you

Nothing compares

Nothing compares to you 

The applause was thunderous, and Aphrodite gave a small, graceful curtsy, as if she’d performed a stiff waltz across stage instead of blown everyone’s minds away by singing a Sinead O'Connor song better than fucking Sinead O'Connor. Finn didn’t bother paying attention to Archibald’s closing remarks, instead leaned down into his chair with his head in his hands and wondered just how much money he’d have to part with to bribe someone into letting him meet her.

He waited until most of the patrons had started to clear out of the dining and entertainment section and into the adjoining dance floor before calling over a waitress. Chop looked at him in disbelief, but also with a bit of smugness- he’d been right of course, Finn had enjoyed himself in the end, maybe too much. 

“'Scuse me,” Finn said, “But would it be at all possible to… meet Aphrodite?”

The waitress smiled with bright white teeth that contrasted sharply with her dark skin, which in turn contrasted with her thick, gold lipstick. 

“I get asked that question every weekend,” she said, a touch of condescension in her tone. “Sorry, but Aphrodite doesn’t do all that.”

Finn furrowed his brow when he realized what she was insinuating. “No, um, that’s not what I meant, I just thought…” Then he paused, set his mouth in a line. “Fifty pounds. Just to meet her once. And other people can be there, whatever.”

Chop sucked in his breath behind him. The waitress raised her bedazzled eyebrows. She looked him over once, and then seemed to reconsider.

“I’ll…go ask. Be back in a minute; you stay put.”

Before her turquoise feathers were out of sight, Chop leaned over and put his arm over Finn’s shoulders.

“Love at first sight,” he sneered, one eye closed in an extended facsimile of a wink. “Told ya.”

“Nah, s'not like that at all-” Finn was protesting, but the waitress was already sauntering back, a bemused expression on her face.

“Sir,” she said, stopping some ways away from him in the center of the room. “I’m gonna need you to come over here.”

Throwing a look at Chop, Finn shrugged and walked up to her. The waitress positioned him carefully, placing her hands on his face to straighten his head. She stepped back a step, then peered out toward the stage as though waiting for something.

About thirty seconds later, a green stage light flashed three times, and suddenly Finn understood - he was being appraised.

“All right, I’ll take you to the back to meet her. Show me your cash first, though.”

Finn dug his hands into his pockets, pulling out his wallet and producing the 50 pound note. He’d withdrawn it in case of an emergency- namely, in case he drank too much and couldn’t get himself home- but this seemed to count. 

The waitress seemed to find this satisfying, and set off toward the stage. Finn followed, throwing Chop a thumbs-up before he disappeared behind the curtain.

**

“So what’s your name?” The waitress asked as they walked down a set of stairs that Finn assumed led to the performers’ dressing rooms. 

“Erm…Finn,” he responded. “Yours?”

“Samira,” she said simply. She’d unclipped the large neon feather from her hair the moment they’d stepped backstage and had been steadily removing her bobby pins, and with her hair loose and fluffy, she looked more real and less like a Grand Theatre apparition.

Samira looked at him from the corner of her eye, one perfectly penciled eye raised. "So, Finn. Love at first sight, then? Witnessed the 'lovely Aphrodite’ on our old stage and knew you’d seen your soulmate?“

It hadn’t even been ten minutes, and he’d heard that same nonsensical phrase twice. Love at first sight. What a load of bollocks. "It’s honestly nothing like that,” he insisted.

The waitress shrugged. “Wouldn’t judge you for it. She’s a beautiful woman, you wouldn’t be the first guy who wanted to get to know 'er after curtain call. She usually don’t let anyone come back though.” Her eyes flicked back to him again. “Good for you that you’re fit. If ya don’t mind me sayin’.”

She didn’t seem to be hitting on him, so Finn took the compliment graciously. 

“Don’t get me wrong, Aphrodite is a good-looking woman, but I promise ya that’s not why I want to meet her.”

“Why else, then?” Samira asked. They were getting close, Finn could tell- they’d passed a number of curtains that he assumed were makeshift dressing rooms.

“I’m in the music business. And she…she’s got this incredible voice, so–”

Before Finn could continue any further, Samira whipped around to face him. Her eyebrows rose comically, and then she burst out into loud, unbridled laughter. It had been the last reaction Finn had expected, and he blinked back at her, too alarmed to be properly offended.

“Was there a joke?” He said, when she finally seemed to be catching her breath. 

Samira wiped the corner of her eye, her shoulders still shaking.

“You’ve got no idea.” She jerked her thumb at the next curtain, labeled, quaintly, “Gemmel.” Then, she knocked, hard, on the narrow strip of wall separating one curtain from the next. “Chloe! Your…fan is here!”

Finn winced; Samira may as well have announced to the entire entourage cast that he was some creep. Sure enough, a few other curtains parted, and a handful of other performers surfaced from behind them, barely recognizable with half of their makeup washed away, their clothes half in disarray. He noted, bizarrely, that the peacock girl was amongst them, lounging against the wall in just her bra and panties, only recognizable for her plum lipstick and blond hair. A few feet away, he caught sight of a girl who looked rather out of place among all of the glitter and glamour- she was tall and sturdy, dressed in jeans and a band tee one wouldn’t go clubbing in. They made eye contact briefly, and she pursed her lips before glancing away sharply and disappearing down the hall.

Then, without preamble, Aphrodite…or Chloe, it seemed, stepped out of her dressing room.

She was a little taller than Finn had imagined, and though far less otherworldly in her purple bodycon dress, no less beautiful. She snuck a disapproving smile at Samira, and then scowled at their audience.

“You lot have nothing better to do with yourselves than nose about other people’s business, then? Piss off!”

Her impassioned words had exactly no effect on her costars, except to make a few of them chuckle. Finn cut his eyes away from her, not so much embarrassed to be in her company as he was to be so much under the spotlight.

“Not all of us have got fans like you,” the peacock girl said, rolling her shoulders. She looked directly at Finn and tilted her hips toward him salaciously. “'Specially not ones who look like him.”

“Piss off, Stacey,” Chloe spat at the peacock girl. Then she turned to Finn, her smile suddenly beatific. “Now, what’s your name?”

Finn introduced himself awkwardly, heat rising to his ears. “I…erm…I was blown away by your performance,” he explained. “And I wanted to ask you…if you’d ever thought about a music career, beyond the Grand Theatre?”

He sounded like a gigantic prat, and he knew it, but did they really all have to laugh at him?

Chloe’s smile wavered for a split second, and when it resurfaced, it didn’t meet her eyes.

“A music career? I…erm… I don’t know too much about that. Much more of a performer, myself.”

That made no sense; on stage, she’d done the least amount of performing.  She’d quite literally stood there and let her voice and dress do the work for her. Finn furrowed his brow. 

“Really?” He said, “but I heard you up there. Your voice…you sounded amazin’! And I’m not just some arsehole comin’ here to…to salivate over you or anythin’- I work at a record company.” He reached into his back pocket and produced his card, showcasing the Zero for Starters label.

Chloe turned white, barely glancing down at the card.There were snickers from the other women in the dressing room. Stacey in particular barked out a very self-satisfied “ha!”

“All right,” Finn said, exasperated. “I’m obviously missin’ somethin’. Any of you lot wanna fill me in?”

The hall went eerily silent, and even Samira, who’d been watching the whole spectacle with an entertained grin on her face, looked away bashfully. 

It was Stacey who broke the silence, her lip curled spitefully.

“What if,” she sneered, “Miss Aphrodite here can’t sing a tune to save her life?”