This is an AU Rumbelle story based on the movie "Notting Hill", one of my favorites. It won't be a DIRECT re-telling of the film, but there will be plenty of nuances from the movie that fans will appreciate. And if you haven't seen the movie, that's okay, you'll still be able to follow the story just fine. Also features some other OUAT characters, some of whom will be related to others in ways that they are NOT on the TV show.
I do not own Once Upon a Time or its characters, nor do I own the basic plot of Notting Hill (which has been retold in MANY other books and films in various ways before and after that movie came out).
Nick Gold sat in his shop that morning working behind his spinning wheel, as he always did. His store had been open for almost five years now – business was slow at first, but it was now doing fairly well. It seemed to be a popular store for the tourists in SoHo in New York City. The Spinner's Lair: Rugs, Tapestries, and Collectibles was what the sign in the window read. He made all of the rugs and tapestries himself; a skill his father taught him as a boy – a relaxing hobby that ended up becoming his primary means of income, much to his surprise. Adding the collectibles and antiques to the shop was his son Bae's idea, and he did quite a bit of buying, selling and trading in that market as well. He was, however, best known in the area for his looming, weaving and spinning handiwork. He won several crafting awards which he proudly displayed behind the counter. Two years ago, Bae opened an online store for the shop and he was getting orders from around the world, including many custom designs. Tourists enjoyed coming into the shop to watch him work. So it was no surprise to him when the lovely young girl entered that morning. She had dark hair and was wearing a sundress, sunglasses and a summer hat.
"Good morning." Nick said politely, standing up behind the counter.
"Hello." the young lady replied, nodding at him as she browsed the store.
"Looking for anything in particular?" he asked.
"Not really. Just looking." she replied, admiring the wall of tapestries. "Do you make these?" she asked.
"Yes. Make them all by hand." he replied.
"Must take quite a bit of time."
"Well, I enjoy it. Always good to enjoy what you do, isn't it?" he asked.
"I suppose." she replied. Nick picked up his cane and moved from behind the counter to the girl's side.
"That one – that's my favorite." he said, using his cane to point at the most intricate design on display.
"It's beautiful." she said.
"Took me almost nine months to finish it." he told her. "Australia, right?"
"I'm sorry, what?" she asked.
"Your accent. You're an Aussie, am I right?"
"Yes. Grew up outside of Melbourne." she replied.
"Are you here on holiday then?" Nick asked.
"Actually, I'm kind of here for work – but I have some time to sightsee and thought I'd do some shopping today." she told him. This man has no idea who I am, she realized. That doesn't happen often. Interesting.
"Well, if you need any suggestions just let me know. Lots of nice shops around here." Nick said. "You in town long then?" Why was he asking that? What was he planning to do, ask her out? For God's sake, she's Bae's age. But she is very pretty. Beautiful, actually. Even with the sunglasses on.
"Another week." the girl said. "You know, I think I'd like that one – the nine-month tapestry."
"Are you sure? I mean it's – it's four hundred dollars." Nick said.
"I know. Will you ship it?"
"No, to Los Angeles. I live there." she told him. "I'll pay you extra for shipping."
"Yes – not a problem." Nick replied, moving back behind the counter. "We take MasterCard, Visa -"
"Actually, I – I have cash." she said, and she opened up her purse and took out five one-hundred dollar bills. "That should cover the shipping."
"You carry that much cash around with you in New York City? I really wouldn't recommend that, especially a pretty young girl all alone."
"I'm an Aussie, as you figured out. I can handle myself fine. Besides I do kickboxing and I'm a second degree black belt in Karate. If someone wants my purse they'll have to fight me for it." she said. "My father never liked buying things on credit – it just stayed with me. Do you have a piece of paper?" Nick got a receipt tablet out and handed her one of the pages, and she began to write on it. "Just send it to this address. I think it'll look lovely in my dining room."
"So you're an expat too? I'm not from around here either, as you probably figured out." Nick flashed a quick smile at her as he rang up the sale. Good lord, Nicholas, stop flirting with the girl, she's obviously not interested, and she's just made a point to let you know that she can kick your ass ten times over if you try anything, he thought.
"Yes. Glasgow, right?" she said.
"You been there?"
"Only once. Lovely city." she replied, glancing at his business card on the counter. "You do custom orders?"
"All the time. The length of time it takes to complete them depends on the design." Nick told her.
"Well – I might be able to get some business for you then." she said as she picked up one of his cards and put it in her purse.
"I'll get this out right away then." he told her.
"Thank you. Nice talking to you." she said, and she smiled at him before she exited the store just as a young man entered – he was in his early thirties with dark hair, and they passed one another in the doorway. The man was carrying a tray of drinks, and he did a double take as he passed the girl. Nick fixated his eyes on the girl as she walked out the door.
"Holy crap, that looked like – no, couldn't be." the young man said as he set down the drinks on the counter. "Like what you see, Gold?"
"What?" Gold asked, snapping out of his trance. "Oh – yes. Nice girl. Bought my floral print."
"Paid cash. You need to ship this. Get it ready for pick-up, and there are five online orders to process that are waiting." Nick told him, handing him the paper that the girl wrote on. He picked up one of the drinks and took a sip, then slammed it down on the counter. "Dammit, Jefferson, can't you even get a bloody iced tea order right? I told you unsweetened!" he shouted.
"Sorry. My bad – you want me to go back?" Jefferson asked.
"No, don't bother – I'll do it myself. Watch the shop." Nick left the shop and headed down the street. Stupid git. Thirty years old and still trying to 'find himself'. He'd best try to unearth a way to Wonderland if he was going to find himself, because it sure as bloody hell wasn't going to happen here in this world at the rate he was going. But, he was Bae's friend, and he promised his son he'd give him a chance. Nice young man, just – not quite all there most of the time.
Nick made his way several blocks to the tea shop to get his tea – the correct kind this time. He was on his way back to the store when someone dashed out of one of the shops without looking. Nick did not see her coming, and he collided with her, spilling his tea all over both of them.
"Shit!" the girl shouted.
"I – I'm so sorry ma'am, I just – you." Nick said. It was the girl that was in the shop earlier. "I – I really am sorry, I didn't see you."
"Dammit." the girl said, looking down at her dress, holding several shopping bags in her hands.
"I – my apartment is just around the corner if you'd like to go get cleaned up." he suggested.
"How far around the corner?" she asked in an angry tone.
"Right there – the pink door." he said, and she gave him an odd look. "Haven't gotten around to having it painted."
"Alright – let's go." the girl said, and she followed him to the apartment. Nick opened the door and held it open for her as she went inside.
"Bathroom is down the hall, second door on the right." he said. She set one two of the bags down on the floor and took one with her into the bathroom. Nick looked around the apartment. Dammit, the place is a fucking mess. Bae better have picked up after himself in the bathroom before he left. He waited nervously, looking down at his own shirt which had tea spilt all over it. After several minutes, the girl came out of the bathroom wearing a different outfit.
"Do you have scissors?" she asked. The dress still had tags on it, she must have just purchased it.
"Yes, just a moment." he said. Nick went into the kitchen and searched frantically through drawers until he found a pair, then went back out into the hallway.
"Can you cut the tag? It's in the back." the girl said.
"Yes." he said, quickly realizing that he had to reach down the back of her dress to do so. Bloody hell, she was lovely. "I'm – I'm really sorry about this, I usually don't go around spilling tea on pretty girls to get them into my apartment."
"It's alright." she said. "I should have watched where I was going. Good thing I bought this dress."
"Yes. It's very nice." Geezus, just drool over her, why don't you? "I – I'm Nick, by the way. Nick Gold."
"I know. I took one of your cards, remember?" she asked.
"Yes. Of course I do." he said. "Do you, uh – do you have a name?" Nick, you sound like a fucking idiot, get a grip.
"Yes." she replied.
"I mean, of course you have a name, but – well, what is it?" he asked. Yeah, that's better. Can't believe she hasn't run out the door yet.
He really doesn't know who I am, she thought. She figured maybe he was just playing it cool in the store and pretending not to know, but he honestly had no clue. Well, he was a bit older than her, and he probably wasn't the target demo for her body of work. He is kind of cute, in a unique way, she thought. Nice, too. Wonder why he uses the cane.
"Um – Martha." she replied.
"Something wrong? It was my grandmother's name."
"No, it's a fine name, I just – expected something more exotic like Jasmine or Tiana or Ariel or something along those lines."
"Well, it's Martha. Sorry to disappoint you." she replied. "I need to go. Nice meeting you Nick. It was, uh – surreal."
"Yeah. Definitely that." he replied. She picked up her bag and left. Nick leaned against the door for a minute. Well, that went well. You're a real smooth talker with the ladies, Nick. No wonder you haven't had a date in four years. No wonder Milah left you for that Irish prick. Not that you even had a chance with a pretty young thing like that. But you could have at least tried instead of making a flipping jackass out of yourself.
Nick turned around and was just about to go change his clothes when the doorbell rang. He opened it – it was her.
"I forgot my other bags." she said.
"Oh yeah. Right." Nick replied. He picked up the bags from the floor and handed them to her.
"Thank you." she said. She turned to leave, then quickly and impulsively turned around. She walked up to Nick and planted a kiss on his lips. He was so taken by surprise that he didn't even have time to react. As she was kissing him, Nick's son, Bae, entered the apartment.
"Dad, what are you – doing here?" he asked, as the girl pulled away from his father.
"Bye." she said, smiling at him as she left. Bae's eyes widened as he watched the entire scenario unfold.
"What the hell? Dad – do you know who that girl was?"
"What?" Nick said, staring out the door.
"Hello! Earth to dad! That girl – do you know who she was?"
"Um – yeah. Her name is Martha. She came into my shop. I spilled tea on her and – she kissed me." he said, still staring out the door.
"Dad – that was Belle French." Bae said.
"Who?" Nick asked, snapping out of his daze.
"Belle French. The movie star." Bae went into the kitchen, grabbed the newspaper, and opened up to the entertainment section. There was a full page ad for a movie that had just opened. Forever and a Day – a new romantic drama starring Belle French. And there she was – her picture taking up the entire page. Bae handed the paper to his dad. Nick took a close look at it. His eyes widened.
"Fuck me!" he shouted. "Holy shit!"
"You just got kissed by one of the biggest box office names in the world, Dad." Bae said. "You want to explain how that happened?"
"I have no fucking clue." Nick said. And he wasn't sure if he ever would.