“Um, hi! I’m Ruby, Ruby Rose- but you can just call me Ruby heh… Ahem. Blake Belladonna, right?”
“Right.” Blake affirmed, hiding the faintest twinge of a grin as the younger girl continued to stutter and blush.
Scruffy hair, red hoodie which had obviously been adapted to short sleeves by hand. Thin arms tucked shyly behind her back, and bright grey eyes in a face just as hopeful as it was terrified.
Blake’s first impression solidified. Ruby Rose was the perfect anthropomorphism of an adorable stray.
The authoress had long nursed a soft spot for strays.
“Right!” The girl cheered, oblivious to the curious looks of the other café patrons. “You’re her! I mean, you’re you. The you from the picture on your website- that’s how I recognized-“
“Me?” Blake couldn’t help herself from the tiny tease. Or the equally tiny smile.
Ruby shuffled in place for a moment, eyes downcast, her inner war almost audible to the waiting author.
Then the girl took a deep breath and looked up. Her arms slipped into view, and with them came a much battered and worn copy of a familiar book.
“I’m sorry for breaking in on your lunch like this, Miss Beladonna.” The girl’s voice went from soft and stuttering to softly determined in one startling second.
“But I just wanted to say, well, wanted you to know really, since I’ve already said all this to my sis… Your books are amazing. I read them all the time, and the last few years wouldn’t have been nearly half as fun without them.”
Blake blinked, a bit more thrown by the words than she honestly should have been.
“The way all the characters are together, such great friends fighting against great odds to the end- Even if things get scary or sad in your stories, I love knowing they will always be there for each other! Going on adventures with them is so cool and wonderful and it makes me so happy whenever I hear about your next book-Um…”
For a moment Blake wondered why the girl had gone quiet. And why was she staring at Blake like that-
Then she felt the heat in her face and quickly reached for her cup of coffee.
“Thank you.” She said, once the warmth had receded and the ability for unflinching speech returned.
‘Rather a brave thing for her to do, spilling her heart out to a stranger. Although I suppose, at least from her perspective, we aren’t the strangest of strangers…’
The saying went ‘Curiosity killed the cat’. As a writer and friend to all felines, Blake had never liked that proverb.
So indulged her own curiosity and took a chance.
“Would you like to sit down, Miss Rose-“
“Ruby.” The girl blurted, going scarlet to the tips of her ears at her own interruption.
Blake felt that smile tugging at her lips again and gave in with a nod.
“Would you like to have lunch with me, Ruby?”
“Really?” Ruby breathed, hugging Blake’s book to her chest like a teddy bear. “You don’t mind? I don’t want to take up time if you’re busy!”
“For now I’m only busy with lunch. I don’t mind sharing a bit of that time with a fellow reader…” Blake watched the younger girl bite her lip, still uncertain. The author made a calculated guess.
“… And you should try the cookies they serve here. Chocolate chip is supposed to be their specialty.”
Without another word Ruby pulled up a chair and sat down.
‘Red Puppy’s Weaknesses: Books, people she admires, and also sweets.’
Blake filed this little bit of trivia away as she flagged down a waiter. She didn’t know why, but it felt like the information would be useful later.
Ruby Rose was not the first fan to approach Blake Belladonna. Ruby had, however, been the first one to make the author blush.