When Benjamin woke up the next morning the sun was pouring through his open curtains.
"Come on love up ya get! We gotta have breakfast before I open the shop!" Eleanor was pottering around his room taking his things out of his suitcases and putting them away in his cupboard and drawers. Suddenly he came to his senses and realised that he had kicked off his covers in the night.
"Good lord woman!" he exclaimed grabbing the covers from the floor and pulling them to cover his barely covered body, "I've barely got any clothes on!"
Nellie just smirked, "See you downstairs in ten love." She said absent mindedly, as she walked out shutting the door quietly behind her.
Benjamin jumped out of bed slightly shaken and pulled some clothes from his wardrobe. She's mental! He shook his head, smiling. Absolutely mental! Running to the bathroom he splashed some water on his face and looked in the mirror: his eyes had no rings under them, his skin looked clean and fresh, his hair was relatively controlled. He nodded his approval, he hadn't slept so well in weeks, it had obviously had an effect on his looks as well.
Grabbing a waistcoat he made his way downstairs, doing up the buttons on the way down. When he reached the small dining room, Eleanor was sitting in her chair buttering a piece of toast and sipping coffee.
"Black?" Benjamin observed as he took his seat at the table.
"Yes," said Eleanor looking up, "I think it tastes nicer like this." She said taking a gulp of the coffee.
"You're a strange one Nellie!" Benjamin laughed and looked at her quizzically.
"I was thinkin' of goin' to the market today love, feel like comin' along?" Eleanor asked biting into her toast noisily.
"Not today," Benjamin replied buttering his own piece of toast, "Better get the shop cleaned up today, I could use going tomorrow mind." He continued, chewing thoughtfully on his toast.
"I can wait and go then if you want?" Eleanor asked, looking at the her new tenant. God he looks sexy when he's daydreaming! Urgh Nellie stop! You have to keep things professional! What would he do if he knew that you were thinking about what it would be like to rip his waistcoat off with your teeth?!
"No, no it's fine." He said smiling, "I don't want to complicate things for you."
"Alright then love." Nellie said, slightly disappointed, though she didn't let it show.
She got up and walked up the stairs to her room before taking a coat off the hanger on the back of her door and pushed her arms through the sleeves of the luscious fur coat. Downstairs, Benjamin had finished his toast an began to make his way upstairs. He reached the bottom of the stairs as Nellie reached the top,
"I'm off now love, shouldn't be too long." Eleanor started down the stairs as Benjamin started up them. The staircase was tight and as they reached each other, Eleanor flattened herself against the wall to let Benjamin pass, it was still a tight squeeze and as Benjamin went past, Eleanor held her breath. His body brushed against hers as he passed, it was as though the world was in slow motion, Benjamin looked at Eleanor and stopped next to her, their bodies pushed together in the cramped confines of the staircase.
He looked at her lips: slightly parted, so delicate, so beautiful… just like the rest of her. He wanted to kiss her so badly, but he couldn't. It was improper and she would think of him as such a fool. He took a deep breath and continued up the staircase leaving a bewildered Eleanor on the stairs.
What had just happened? She had thought he was going to kiss her, she wished he had. But at the last second he went upstairs, leaving her standing like a fool in shock. She hurried down the staircase, through the hall, out of the shop and onto the street. The chilly November air made her breath hitch in her throat as hurried her way to the market, passing a wide range of people –drunkards, business men, homeless people, prostitutes- all frozen to the bone.
Pulling her coat tighter around her she delve down an alleyway cutting at least five minutes off her journey in the process. Voices rose as Convent Gardens loomed before her and chattering became louder.
A man in a top hat and tails sauntered past her -looking far too overdressed- and squeezed her bum on the way. If she hadn't been worried her hands would freeze instantly if she dared take them out of her jacket pockets, she would have swung round and knocked him one in a fashion so unladylike that her mother would have probably turned in her grave.
However, Eleanor ignored this and wove her way closer to the heart of the market which was considerably warmer due to the vast amounts of people compact into such a small space.
Spotting a stand selling gloves, she pushed her way through the crowd. Looking over the collection she noticed the stall manager looking at her strangely, she looked him up and down and noticed a bulge in his trousers. Internally vomiting she realised that if she played her cards right she might get a pair or two of gloves for free.
A pair of deep red ones (the same colour as her hair) caught her eye and she noticed that next to them were a pair of thick brown ones that would suit Benjamin marvellously. She picked the two up and turned to the seller bracing herself.
"It's hot in 'ere today ain't it love?" she asked, casually opening the front of her coat to reveal a large amount of pale cleavage.
"N-nothing for you dear." He stuttered, his eyes never leaving her chest. "Nothing at all."
Eleanor shuddered mentally but flashed him a gorgeous smile all the same before turning and doing her coat back up; appalled at the things she did for free clothes.
Roughly shoving the brown ones into her pocket, she slipped the red gloves onto her hands and smiled as the silky material warmed her them considerably. She ran a gloved hand through her red shock of hair and ventured deeper into the crowd, going in the direction that she knew was where all utensils were sold.
After elbowing a man in the back and standing on many feet on her way, she finally reached her favourite stand. The old woman who ran it smiled at her kindly,
"'ello love. What is it you need to today?"
"I need some more crockery actually Marge." She replied, "Got a new tenant stayin' upstairs."
Marge looked at her suggestively, "A tenant? Is 'e easy on the eye?" she said winking.
Eleanor snorted at the old woman's forwardness, "Ya could say that love. No about that crockery..."
"Ah yes." Marge said, still smiling knowingly, "How about this t' tickle your fancy."
Eleanor looked at the set she was holding up: four plates, four tea cups and saucers, four forks, four knives and four spoons. All with a pattern of daisies on them and as daisies were her favourite flower.. who was she to say know?
"I'll take the lot." She said grinning, Marge knew her so well, "How much'll it be?"
"Well normally it'd be seven pounds but you can 'ave it for five dearie." Marge replied sweetly.
The two women exchanged objects and Eleanor crossed the market to the flower section.
Browsing through, she didn't notice the man come up behind her until he placed his hand on her shoulder and whispered in her ear:
"And where, may I ask, is your pretty little friend today?"
Nellie spun round, coming face to face with Judge Turpin. His slime-ball of a Beadle standing behind him.
"She's off staying with relatives." She replied curtly, wincing as he withdrew his hand.
"May I enquire when she will return?" He asked, with a menacing look in his eyes.
"No. You may not." Eleanor said, turning on her heel and walking in the opposite direction, she just wanted to be as far away as possible from the Judge.
Separating from the crowds caused cold air to surround her, freezing her to the bone as she made her way down another ally to a small flower shop. It was more expensive, but she couldn't bear to be around the Judge's company.
Locating the door in the mildly busy street, Eleanor pushed it open and heard a bell tinkle above her head. She grabbed a handful of daisies, a handful of gilly flowers and a handful of roses.
"Roses?" Delilah (the young girl who helped out) asked her, looking at her quizzically.
"I'm visitin' father's grave tomorrow love." Nellie said sadly, pulling out the necessary money and placing it on the counter, "they were 'is favourite."
"Ahh I see." Delilah replied and said no more.
"Thanks dear." Eleanor called over her shoulder as she exited the shop and made her way hastily back to Fleet Street.
Going into the shop she closed the door behind her, unloaded her goods onto the counter and took off her coat and gloves. She could hear Benjamin in her parlour, he had obviously found her piano, she thought as a melody she vaguely recognised floated through the walls. It was nice to come back to a home with someone in it, she'd been so lonely since her Albert had passed away.
She took the daisies and gillies and started arranging hem in a vase with her back to the door. She heard it open and close.
"Sorry love we're not open on Saturdays." She said, not turning round.
"Tell me when she gets back." The Judges voice caught her off guard as she turned slowly to regard the man. He was very close to her now and before she could tell him to piss off and leave her alone, a hand was on her throat, pushing gently but painfully until she was gasping for breath.
"J-January" she got out but the Judge pushed harder still.
"And where abouts is she?" He pressed on.
"Nellie? What seems to be the pro-" Benjamin walked in and stopped suddenly when he realised what was going on. "I suggest you leave sir." He said forcefully to the Judge, and there was a glint in his eyes so fierce that the Judge actually looked… scared?
"I was just leaving." The Judge replied and with a swish of his cloak he was gone.
Eleanor collapsed on the floor, chocking for breath as Benjamin's strong arms surrounded her.
"It's okay Nellie, he's gone." He soothed, in between her sobs.
And for the first time Nellie felt safe.
"I'm sorry I broke down love." She started to stand up, but her head started spinning from the lack of oxygen and she fell into the barbers arms.
"Don't apologise. Men like that shouldn't be allowed to walk the earth." He said, looking stonily through the windows of the shop, as if daring the Judge to walk back in.
"I got you a pair of gloves." She said, remembering them. "They're in my coat pocket." She added and smiled weakly.
Positioning her so that her back was leaning against the counter, Benjamin stood up and walked over to the coat stand. Reaching into the right pocket he found the gloves.
"You didn't have to," he said walking back over and sitting next to her, slipping on the gloves.
"It's nothin' dear, they didn't cost nothin' neither. Just thought you might like 'em."
Benjamin looked at her strangely, "You didn't steal them did you?" he said aghast.
"Course not!" she exclaimed indignantly, "He gave me two pairs for free!"
"If you say so…"
"I do say so you silly bugger!" she laughed, hitting him playfully on the shoulder. His reaction was to fall back feigning injury, however, he grasped her hand at the last moment, pulling her over with him.
She landed on top of his chest, and they both burst out laughing.
Tell her she's beautiful Benjamin, just do it!
"I-I hope you don't think me too forward but may I say that you truly are the most beautiful creature I have ever had the pleasure to meet." Benjamin said all this rather quickly and went bright red.
Nellie blushed too, she had never considered herself beautiful. She didn't really know how to react, so she did the only thing she considered possible…
A/N: Thought I'd give you a lovely cliff hanger ;) I love reviews they make my day and I love everyone who reads this you are all amazing and sexy :*