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Poisonous Fruit

 
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Mortal Promise
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:29 pm    Post subject: Poisonous Fruit Reply with quote

July 18th, 2018.

William was late to their appointment. He was always late, managing to make the other person wait on him regardless of their arrival, something he liked to savor from afar whenever he arrived.

Especially if he was paying for it.

He slunk into the fancy restaurant with his hands in the pockets of his pinstripe trousers and his coat slung under his arm, a concession to the warm night air he truly did not feel. Black patent shoes clicked their way across the marble entry and stopped short of the hostess, whom he pretended not to notice when she smiled and opened her mouth to greet him. Instead he turned his wrist up to glance down at his watch, raised his eyebrows at the position of the hands, and feigned surprise at the hostess' presence. He let her talk for a few moments too long, his gaze already drifting across the interior, then waved a hand and dismissed her mid-sentence as he turned to stroll across the restaurant, to the booth where he anticipated his date would be waiting.

His suit, his fine dark hair, everything was slightly disheveled in the way he preferred. He had a fairly thin frame for the type of man he saw himself as, someone big and important enough to be waited for and waited on, but it was his height that made him imposing. He had a way of leaning like he had to look so far down to see the people around him, the way he did now when he looked in on Tahlia in her corner booth, though there was a bright, toothy smile and an offered cigarette case to go with his constant condescension.

The amount of money someone like William paid to have someone like Tahlia cooling her red-soled heels in a booth for a quarter of an hour bought him not only the time, but the warm smile that greeted him when he did arrive. She was used to his preferences, the little idiosyncrasies that might explain why it was he paid for the privilege. Blonde hair was loosely bound at the nape of her neck, leaving a few artful tendrils to frame her face, just a touch of cosmetics to highlight the natural beauty of her delicate features. The rest of her, or at least what could be seen, was wrapped in a mist green silk top and black pencil skirt, her jewelry simple, although clearly expensive.

One hand rose to accept the case, selecting one before lighting it, and handing the entire thing back to him, her free hand tracing idly along the rim of her wine glass. White, because it was summer, a rather light and crisp pinot from the higher end of the offerings. One of the wait staff arrived as he did, tray in hand, and a glass just starting to bead with condensation awaited William. Tahlia knew her clients. It was her business to. Nearly better than they knew themselves. "I was pleasantly surprised to hear from you..."

William chuckled softly as he slid into his seat, sinking into the spot directly across from her. "Why would you be? You are quite a remarkable woman, Tahlia. It should come as no surprise that I would want your company." The vampire set his fingers on the edge of the glass when it was set down, that and a slight increase in the smile he gave to Tahlia the closest he came to directly acknowledging the waiter -- besides the dismissive flicking of his fingers.

His fingertips curled around the wineglass, with a very faint sound as he scratched a little line around it, and his eyes narrowed slyly on the woman across from him. Studying her. Studying her expression. Looking for a sign of where she was, so he could decide where he wanted her to go instead. "I have been thinking about you a lot lately." His smile grew. "About January," he added.

One hand snapped up to the curve where shoulder and neck joined, and the corners of her lips pulled down a fraction. She hadn't expected him to bite her... hadn't even considered the possibility, to warn against it. Only a moment, and then the hand returned to the glass, lifting it for a sip before she answered. "Have you. And yet... this is the first time you've called me since then." There was no argument to his appraisal -- she didn't command the fees she did for her looks alone.

That smooth smile returned, her eyes sparkling in the subtle lighting of the bar Enough to see each other clearly, but keep the air of intimacy. And prevent anyone else from catching too much of what went on. "Six months, William... I was beginning to think you'd fallen ill. Or that I'd lost my... appeal..."

"Quite the opposite, darling, but you did warn me. I knew I would not get another taste..." William allowed himself to show the briefest flash of pearly fangs as he dipped his head to his glass, made a show of drinking it while all he did was enjoy its full bouquet. "That is, unless you have had a change of heart. What is it that they say about absence again?" He pretended to catch moisture on his lips, dabbed it away on his napkin.

"Me? No..." He did get a brief, bubbling laugh, though. Tahlia could hardly blame him for trying. "Deathly pale just isn't a good look for me. Besides... I don't much like the idea of being a juicebox." She knew, now, what he was, if she hadn't before. RhyDin had a great many surprises. "I did miss you. I have some very fond memories of the hours we spent in each other's company. I might be persuaded to spend more... provided you promise not to bite."

William's gaze fell to the middle distance of the table between them as he uttered a single, mirthless chuckle and shook his head once. "I have missed our time together, but a man's appetite is a very hard thing to suppress. But, Tahlia... my darling..." He reached out and laid a hand on top of hers, his eyes now gleaming with excitement in that dangerous way he sometimes had, like he might snap someone's neck or swerve into traffic at the drop of a hat. "I do believe we can work something out."

Ah. He raised his chin. He had let himself become weak now, showing too much of what he wanted. Now was the time for turnabout, or the attempt. "I was just having drinks with Samuel the other night... Mr. Adder," he added, and watched her closely.

She rather liked that gleam, but then, she certainly had a taste for dangerous men. Those peridot eyes flicked to his hand on hers, and a wry smile touched her lips. Whatever wry response she might have considered, however, was cut off at the mention of a name. Of course she knew who he was, the man had nearly been Governor, and she'd made some lovely contacts at the Gala he'd thrown. Men like that tended to hold Tahlia's attention, at least for a while. In fact..."I don't think I've seen or heard much of him since the party. Of course, you did rather command my attention for a time there." She took another sip of her wine, smirking around the rim of her glass. "And how is Mr. Adder, these days?"

William raised his eyebrows mildly, affecting a shrug as if he had just brought up the weather. "I would surmise that he is... looking forward to the next step. Looking for a change of pace, perhaps. And do you know, the more we talked, the more I thought, He and Tahlia would get on so very well." Now he smiled as wide as she had ever seen it, when he was truly pleased with himself.

One slim brow rose, and she swallowed a chuckle of her own. It might be that she suspected he had an ulterior motive, but then... didn't everyone? "Some new venture? I keep meaning to get to that club of his, but you know how it is... besides, I heard he's rarely there." She much preferred personal introductions, after all. Her expression changed to one of pleased surprise, and she set the cigarette in the tray and lay her hand atop him. "Oh William... darling... how very sweet of you. Do you really think so?"

"Hm." William smiled, stroking her hand with his thumb as he watched her, still intent on her expression, her every reaction. "Meeting new people is... just as important as reconnecting with old friends, in my experience. And I find myself curious about him, the same way I am curious about you. Ah," he laughed suddenly, calculated like most of his moves, and shook his head, "Tahlia, you have such a way with people, such a gift, my darling."

"And here I was thinking you wanted to spend more time together ...since you enjoy my... gifts... so much." Her bottom lip plumped out, as pleased as she might be with the possibility of adding Samuel Adder to her list of clientele... being seen on the arm of such a man could open a great many doors -- it wouldn't do to lose William's favor in the process. In her business, you never knew when a benefactor might tire, and look elsewhere. "But I suppose... if you think it would help you satisfy your curiosity..."

"Oh, Tahlia, darling, don't pout. I will be there," William assured her, and lightly brushed a finger across her bottom lip. "I promise. I do so like to... observe."

She caught the tip of his finger between her teeth, a held it for the space of a breath before letting it go. She knew very well how much he liked to... observe. "And does Mr. Adder know about your little gift to him? And what, my dear, do you wish in return?" Nothing was free. No-one knew that better than her.

William withdrew his finger slowly, touching the part she had bitten, and gave her a slow, feline blink. "There is someone else I wish to observe... to see if she is worth a taste. And I know you can help me darling. Like I said, you have such a way with people." He was watching her all the closer now, seeking signs of interest or even jealousy in her features...

Her eyes narrowed a hair, and she straightened, swallowing a mouthful of wine, watching him just as carefully. "I see. You've found another morsel to sample. And you want me to...what? Entertain Mr. Adder while you sneak a taste? William...you said I was special". They were both playing their parts, right down to the petulant moux of her lips. "Very well. Who is she?"

"You are very special, Tahlia, believe me." William laughed softly at her petulant look, shook his head, and withdrew a roll of bills from the pocket of his jacket folded up nearby. "There is a bar down by the lake, a humble place called the Golden Perch. They like to do... activity nights," and here he could not suppress his disdain, waving a hand in a way that said, or however mortals occupy their time. "I'd like you to organize something. Perhaps a murder mystery -- I do so love the sight of you covered in blood," he added with a rumble of a laugh. "And... yes. There is a woman, formerly in the employ of Mr. Adder himself. I'd like you to hire her for the event.

"Her name is Mallory St. Martin."

((Scene written with Tahlia's player, with thanks! Cross-posted from Chrysalis.))


Last edited by Mortal Promise on Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

July 22nd, 2018.

There was a black door in Seaside, tucked into the mouth of an alley at the end of a stretch of run-down row houses close to the Market district, older homes that had gone badly out of style when the rest of the neighborhood decided they wanted spellboxes with electricity and climate control. Next to the door was another door, but where the first was freshly painted and sported a polished lambda dangling over it as a knocker, the second was old, green, rusty, and locked with a padlock. The grumpy old landlord for the row houses grumbled as he struggled with the lock, hauling the door open with an awful groan and rooting a toolbox out of it. He kicked it shut, cursed when he stubbed his toe, did his best to awkwardly push the padlock shut with his elbow, and hauled his tools around the corner --

-- paying the strangely ornate door not even a single glance, as if it wasn't there at all.

Directions had been vague, if not hard to come by. Tahlia stepped down the recently abandoned alley, dressed a little better than she had been the night before. Black leather pants might be too hot for the weather, but they looked amazing, as did the silk blouse in a rich aubergine. Blonde hair was coiled into a knot at the back of her neck, except for a sweep of bangs that framed her eyes. She looked at the door, then at a scrap of paper in her hand, and nodded. This was it. There was only a second's hesitation before she lifted the knocker, and let it fall.

There was no hesitation at all from the door itself, which swung open the instant the knocker landed, the sound echoing through a vast-sounding space -- though what opened into seemed much more cramped at first. Heavily laden tables, open trunks and chests, and shelves formed maze-like barriers within ten feet of the entrance, though there were strange rays of light visible just beyond them, highlighting the dust that hung in the air. It seemed there was an atrium on the other end of the shop, revealing part of a balcony packed with bookshelves.

Every available surface was packed with trinkets and vials, parchment and inkwells and quills, wands, staffs, and hundreds upon hundreds of distinct magical components. There was a man with long grey dreadlocks, muttering to himself in Latin as he made his way past Tahlia, holding up a recently purchased vial holding a mummified piglet. The door slammed of its own accord, then reopened when the man touched it, offering a brief glimpse of a busy street in Old Temple that he stepped out into before it shut again.

Stepping through, she sidestepped the muttering porcine bearer, watching him for a moment with a shake of her head. William was going to owe her if this went much stranger. A lot. Weekend at one of the all-inclusive spas on the coast owe her. Without him. Here and there, she paused... seeing something vaguely familiar from her brothers experiments, and allowed herself a small smile. But this was business.

Making her way through the labyrinth, she kept her eye out for the counter, or the witch herself. She was careful not to touch anything, and not to leave any piece of herself behind. One might almost think she knew more about magic than she let on.

Mallory St. Martin stood behind a pentagonal counter. She had been busy making notes in a ledger, updating inventory, but appeared to have heard or otherwise been notified of Tahlia's approach as she waited for her there, leaning forward with her hands and smiling at the blonde's approach. Her plain, fitted black tee did a decent job of hiding the stains from her alchemical work with Safiya today, but there were other splotches of red and lavender, dark green and sunny yellow on her arms, a chaotic and discolored contrast to her many tattoos.

"Hey there. Welcome to the Lyceum... You were at the Perch the other night, right?" And everywhere else. Tahlia was one of those faces that the witch kept seeing around, at the duels and a handful of other places.

She got around, that was for sure. "Hi. Thank you. I... yes, right. Congratulations, by the way." It would be absurd to pretend she hadn't overheard. "On your engagement. And the store. This is... very impressive." She wasn't quite her usual bubbly, hostess with the mostest self. Not for this. This was Tahlia just a little toned down, not least of which because she was very aware that she was possibly standing in the middle of why William found her target so... interesting. Another woman in her place might feel a twinge for doing the vampire's bidding. But, really, she'd had worse.

"I couldn't help but overhear. I don't usually. But it sounded interesting, so I thought I'd stop by..."

The witch laughed at the congratulations and dipped her head. "Thanks," she said. "It didn't happen that long ago, and it's kinda hard to talk about anything else... The shop, too," she added. Both events had transpired only a few weeks apart, she realized. "Are you a magician? a psychic? interested in divination? or our more... esoteric knowledge," as she gestured to the atrium, looking up at the two balconies above, lined with grimoires, bestiaries, obscure mythologies, celestial hierarchies, and other books that most other places simply wouldn't carry, or couldn't find to carry if they wanted to.

Her green gaze settled back on Tahlia, and though she smiled, she was sizing the other woman up. All a part of salesmanship.

"None of the above. My brother dabbles in... alchemy. Back home." Alchemy was the safest thing to call what Louis did. "I thought I might see if there was anything he couldn't get, ask him for a list. That kind of thing."

Her other comment drew a wry laugh. "Weddings will do that. All that planning for a single day. When what matters is what happens after." There was a wave of a ringless hand, Tahlia didn't look old enough to be speaking from first hand experience, but appearances were deceiving, here. "I'm more the social type. Parties... although... there is something you could help me with. Maybe."

"Alright. We have a wide range of alchemical supplies, but we keep a catalogue of everything here. Might be easier to compare to your brother's list," Mallory suggested, and straightened up from her lean on the counter. She'd given Tahlia a flicker of a smile for her comments on matrimony, but this was a shop and the woman seemed to be here to talk business, so she carried on. "What is it you need? If it's... party favors, I have a couple places that I can recommend. But I've done magical effects for a few events, and Safiya knows a few things about enchanted fireworks..."

"I will do that. Thank you." Tahlia beamed back, and tried to swallow the snicker at the thought of party favors. "No, it's not that kind of party. I've been hired to host a murder mystery party. And I'd really love it to be as realistic as possible. So... blood. Maybe some way to make it look like I've been horribly murdered..."

"Easy enough," she said. "Just don't wear anything you don't mind throwing out. How realistic are we talking? We could do red food dye, but get the right smell by burning copper salts..." She ducked down for a moment, rifling through a few vials beneath the counter.

Tahlia's lips twisted, and she let out a sigh. William would be getting billed for that too. "I'm sure I can find something. The client was... is... rather particular. As realistic as possible. 'Covered in blood' was the request. I don't think that red food dye will be sufficient..."

Mallory straightened from the counter, setting the copper salts (with a paper tag, with instructions for ritual burning) aside for now. "A client wants you to put on a murder mystery with very realistic blood? ***, this town never stops being weird," she laughed. "There's a couple other recipes... but, if you're not squeamish, we do have another option."

"I'm not squeamish. Not after a season in the rings." Tahlia laughed, and shook her head. "He did specify very realistic. And cost is not an issue."

"Alright. Because I'm guessing you'll want a full blood test before a stranger's blood ends up all over you," the witch narrowed her eyes slightly, her grin curling with it. "By... spilling a little," she explained, "I can conjure more of it outside of my body. Helpful when I'm using blood to draw a ritual circle... things of that nature. But I think suitable for your purposes, too," she added. "It'll mostly disappear in," she considered, "a couple of hours, but it still stains."

Tahlia blinked, her eyes widening for just a moment before the mask clicked back into place. "I don't think that will be necessary. The blood test. Unless you're contagious?" There was a subtle smirk, since she didn't think that was the intent. "So ruined clothes, but less cleanup... and I doubt he could complain about it not being realistic enough."

Mallory laughed. "No, I'm sure, but I wanted you to be sure of the same... and it's a good practice that I want my name to be associated with. I'll get tested, give you the results, and we'll put together a murder mystery. I'll have to be there to do the spell, but I can do it discreetly, and I've hosted a few events. Did your client say where he wanted it to happen?"

"The Perch. Wednesday night." The petite blonde didn't smile, although she wanted to. Mallory had offered exactly what she wanted from her. "Would you? That would be wonderful. I appreciate the offer. Better safe, right?"

"The Perch? I've hosted a few things there. I can reach out to them," she said. There was a flash of crimson over her left palm, a faint whiff of blood, and then there was a small journal on the counter where she was making a few notes. "This Wednesday? That's pretty soon... but doable." The witch paused, then, her pen stopping on the page. She looked up at Tahlia for a quiet moment, a few beats. "I don't think I ever got your name. I like to have someone's name first if I'm going to bleed all over them."

"Tahlia. You're right. It's... I keep forgetting we've never met. Similar circles." She smiled, and offered a hand, barely blinking at the blood. "I think that will be fine. And you'll be there, in case of any issues. I have to send out the invitations... flyers..."

"I'll be there for the casting, too," Mallory said. "Did you need me to draft a script? or is that taken care of?" she asked, now settling back into a lean as they dug into contract negotiations, as every service Tahlia accepted would end up on the invoice. "And if you're taking care of promotions, that frees me to deal with the Perch, set up..."

Everything had a price, after all.

((Written with Tahlia's player, with thanks! Cross-posted from another thread.))
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Mortal Promise
Young Wyrm
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

July 25th, 2018 - after the Murder Mystery.

William hadn't cared about Tahlia's gaudy southern accent as she settled into the character of the wealthy widow Betty Lou Hellion, or that Mallory St. Martin had apparently never met a real butler at any point in her life, or that the lights flickered every time the drunken technomage fixing the spellbox hiccupped. He curled into a shadow by the mermaid fountain across the way from the Golden Perch, hidden from the view of the few passersby at this late hour, and stretched out with his senses and could only smile at everything he observed. Because when the lights went out, and he beheld the witch curling her left ring finger? The way the nail sharpened like a talon? The sound of tearing flesh, and the wellspring of blood, and the cascade she conjured to spill over Tahlia's neck?

It was like a cork had just been popped, revealing to him the wonderful aroma, the ruby red color, and the promise of the sweetest taste to pass his lips as wine gurgled out of the throat of the bottle, soon to slide down his own.

He could be a patient predator at the best of times, but the longer he waited, the more his head filled with flashes of encounters, both real and imagined. He remembered the first time he'd heard the beating of Tahlia's heart like a tight drum, louder than the music pounding through club and far headier than the pounding of the bass; and her startled gasp when he finally tasted that blood, uniquely sweet for all its promise of power, though it lacked that certain deadly thrill he swore he could taste in mortal flesh...

But Mallory was mortal. When she yielded her neck to him and let that sweet power flow forth, he would have her life in his hands, his to control, his to end. His canines scraped together as they lengthened, and his fingers tensed over the brick wall around the fountain until he held nothing but crumbling red dust.

By the time his quarry passed through the front door, he was watching and waiting by the window, and could only smile when she stepped out into the street with a magical light cupped in her left hand, her eyes tracking her surroundings warily... mortal eyes that could not pierce the shadows he deftly cloaked himself in, despite the trepidation she clearly felt. He could hear it in the quickening of her heartbeat, and followed it like a siren song as her steps took her down a wide road to the heart of Dragon's Gate.

"What a smart girl you are," he rumbled, pleased with the chase as she wound her way south across the city. She clearly felt less afraid now by the way her heartbeat slowed, but that did not stop her from taking the widest, busiest streets she could through Dragon's Gate, Old Temple, and Dockside. When the crowd grew thick, William stepped out of the shadows to blend into the passersby, quickening his pace to catch her up, but she always curved around them, never stepping into the shadows nor slowing her pace. She moved with the same conscious care as the rest of RhyDin's natives, falling back on tested strategies to make it home safely whenever something in the air raised their hackles...

It was why this filthy, crowded, chaotic city, of the hundreds William had passed through in his three centuries, would always be his favorite hunting ground. The natives were smart, and wary, because the vampire was never the only hungry monster lurking in the shadows. Sometimes, they even got away -- but not this one. Not her.

He waited until she had to press into a crowd, a sea of humanity (and other things besides) packed into a street of bright signage, cramped apartments, gambling parlors and noodle stands that jutted out into the way, choking the flow of traffic. Then he joined the current, gracefully parting bodies to either side with a gentle press of his hand and the careful angle of his shoulder. He could see the back of her head closer, and closer now, and followed the line of the serpent's tongue across her throat as she compulsively tucked her hair behind her ears. Someone he bumped into began cursing him out, but he ignored them, unwilling to lose focus, because now she was turning back with a curious frown, and he could see her eyes.

Enough for a connection.

He narrowed his gaze and exerted his will, reaching across the doorway into her mind, begging her to invite him in. He smiled widely as she stumbled, as if dazed, eyelids fluttering as his trance worked its magic. You are so, so sweet, Mallory St. Martin... such rich, delectable power... come, let me in... and I will show you just how ravenous you make me...

The witch snapped her eyes open and lifted her head abruptly, searching the crowd warily for who or what made her lose her focus. It was all William could do not to roar in anger, shrinking back instead, avoiding Mallory's searching gaze as he moved further ahead in the crowd, deeper into Kabukicho. People were packed in here shoulder to shoulder, and there were many dark alleys he could duck into along the way, reach out his hand and --

He blinked in surprise when his quarry curled her left hand into a shaky fist... and vanished.

* * * * *

By the time he caught her scent again and followed the trail to its end, she was inside an old stone house on the west end of Kabuki Street. He knew it was her because he could see her through her windows, standing by a kitchen table next to a shorter girl with long dark hair. He watched as they held hands and spoke excitedly, and Mallory held up a manila envelope carefully packed with bills. They tipped their heads together, smiling, laughing quietly as they set the money aside on the table.

His money.

He let out a snarl and scurried off of the roof across the way, taking the rooftops back to the safety of his lair, to tend to his wounded ego and plot his next move.

((Cross-posted from the Chrysalis thread.))
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

July 26th, 2018.

Her shifts went like errant clockwork, charmingly regular, with the occasional change of tempo, or chimes that didn't quite happen when they were supposed to. Most of the faces were regulars, and she had their orders waiting by the time they took their seats. Just enough new faces to keep things interesting -- and Jerry, being his usual self. In a way, she liked it -- a thin thread of routine through the chaos that was the rest of her life. But then, she loved that.

The event the night before had gone well. If Tahlia spared a thought for the witch, or her fate, it didn't show. Perhaps her concerns had been washed away in the long, hot shower she'd stepped into as soon as she'd gotten home. Eddie was very thorough in making sure there wasn't a speck of blood left on her before they'd ended up in bed. She'd woken rested, and pleasantly sore in all the right places, and slipped her unofficial 'uniform' -- black daisy dukes, and a crop top with "The Line" in gold script across her chest, just beneath the scooped neckline. A pair of knee-high heels, and her hair swept up in a ponytail -- she looked as polished and delectable walking out as she had walking in. Waving to Rath and Jerry, she stepped out, quickly crossing the distance to the half-hidden alleyway where the Panamera sat waiting. It had been a good day, and she was already thinking ahead to the rest of her night, and whether it was going to require clothing. One hand closed on the handle of the sleek black door, the subtle thunk of the lock disengaging blending into her tug, as the Porsche purred to life.

No sooner was the door open than a pale hand pushed it shut. William stood directly behind her, close enough that she could scarcely turn without touching him, and looked down at her with a cold smile that was utterly still. His suit and his appearance were artfully disheveled, but that was expected; the only surprise was his presence.

"William. This is... a surprise." Smooth as silk she shifted from wisecracking bartender to gilt-edged professional. That smile kept her from considering his appearance a pleasant one. Back against the car, she tilted her head just enough to meet his eyes. "Did you enjoy your evening? I thought I saw you as I left, but I was in a bit of a rush to clean up."

"Seeing you still covered in blood until the end of the night was the only pleasant surprise," he replied, and let his smile grow fractionally as he set his hands on the roof of her car, caging her with his arms. There was that dangerous gleam in his eyes, again. "I thought you were good with people."

"I am good with people. I got you your little witch, didn't I? It took me ages to clean up after, and that was a rather flattering Dior I ruined in the effort." Larger men than William made a habit of looming over her, albeit for much more pleasant reasons. "And she had no idea it was anything other than a party to bring people out. I did my job."

"And when were you planning to tell me that Mallory St. Martin is a joyless tribade, or that she can skip across the Veil the moment she startles?" He struck her car with his open hand, leaving a perfectly round dent as he leaned in to bare his teeth at her, hissing through his fangs, "She refused me, all because of her... nature," he decided, and snapped his teeth near her jaw. "And you know how I loathe being refused."

Tahlia looked up at the dent in her Porsche, jade eyes hardening as they returned to the vampire. The threatened bite didn't even get a flinch, let alone the apology he was likely expecting. "I'll add that to your bill. Along with the dress. And my having to detail my car." She kept her eyes on his, utterly calm, at least on the outside. "Your research. Your target. Don't blame me for what you didn't know. You hired me to host a party, and bring her in. I did what you paid me for. No more. No less. Your failure to close the deal is hardly my problem, darling."

Smack. He slapped her across the mouth with enough force to split her lip and snap her chin away from him. "Believe me, Tahlia -- it will be." He brushed past her, disappearing into the deepening darkness of the alley, though every silent step was followed by Tahlia's vengeful stare.

((Written with Tahlia's player, with thanks! Cross-posted from the Chrysalis thread.))
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((Content Warning: Attempted Sexual Assault))

July 29th, 2018 - very early morning.

Tahlia stepped out of the Hold, the door closing behind her and shutting out the blare of battle against concrete. Outside, the vague sound of waves slapping the docks blended with the normal noises of Dockside, and the click of her heels against the wood and stone. It was too warm for much, but she knew better than to wear a skirt on Hold nights. Leather daisy dukes, and knee high stiletto heels, with a crop top - this one black, with The Line in elegant script across her chest, beneath a low scooped neck. A black pearl was nestled in her navel, catching the hint of light. She hadn't parked far, and most of the denizens were smart enough not to trouble the petite blonde bookie.

Just another night in Dockside. Just another contract. At least with this one, he should be able to have a little fun; a little pleasure with his business. The thug turned vampire was still, at his core, a thug. Still taking on seedy jobs that required brute strength or intimidation -- while he wasn't as terrifying or brutal as a demon might be in the same job, his bulky form cut an imposing figure. He knew what his target looked like from a photograph he'd been shown, but it was different seeing the pretty blonde in person.

He gave her a wolf whistle as he pushed off the wall he'd been leaning against to wait for her, and ambled toward her. "Hey there, precious." Sunglasses at night were rather cliche but they hid his bloody red eyes.

Tahlia barely turned her head, glancing back briefly before rolling her eyes. "Too precious for you. Keep walking, buddy. Boss doesn't like people messing with his things..." She assumed he was looking for an easy mark, and had his eyes on the oversized tote she carried on her shoulder. The night's take, and the books. She'd left her hair down tonight, and it spilled like silk over her shoulders. The sunglasses didn't even make her pause -- too many things out here went bump in the night.

Pearly white teeth seemed all the brighter in the darkness when he beamed at her response, "Nah, babe, I think you're just right... Slow down and lemme take a real close look..." He continued to move toward her, giving a teeth sucking sound as he admired her from behind, "Maybe whoever Boss-man is wouldn't mind... 'Sides. I thought you were more a free agent sort."

"Not tonight." Unwise, perhaps, but maybe he hadn't seen the writing across her chest -- the blonde drew up short, and let him get a good look. "Anyone ever tell you messing with the bookie is a bad idea? We tend to get cranky. And Kal's got his reputation for a reason--" Okay, yes, the Boss himself wasn't in town, but the name still carried weight. She shifted, just a little, her free hand not going for her keys but the throwing daggers she'd started wearing on the small of her back after William's little tantrum.

"Bookie? Is that what they're callin' 'em now? Huh -- I always just called 'em hookers. High class one but hey, spade's a spade." He moved close, "Whatcha say, darlin'? How about you and I go make you some more money, yeah?" It seemed like the man wasn't going to stop his advance as his strides brought him closer to her.

Tahlia barked a laugh, and turned on her heel, flipping off her 'admirer' with a toss of her head. "You couldn't afford me. Assuming I'd even answer to 'hooker.' Check down a bit...there's usually a few nickel and dimers on the corner..."

He snorted and moved with the enhanced speed all vampires tended to have to cut her off and gave a wide sharp toothed grin. "I insist. See... I was told you're good on your back and that you taste real sweet... so... you and me, we're gonna go somewhere a little more private where we can have some fun before I tear your ****in' throat out. Hey?"

"Now... why would I let you take me somewhere so you can kill me?" She took a step back, aware she was being herded toward an alley. Her car was so close... but she wasn't that fast. Not fast enough. One hand closed on the closest hilt, but she didn't throw it yet.

"Cause, you get to have some fun before you die. And isn't that what we all really want? Just to have some fun before we shuffle off?" He gave a wide toothy smile as he continued backing her up, "It's too bad really... you look so damn good. Just pissed off the wrong folks, I guess." The big man shrugged.

He was too sure of himself. Tahlia let the blade fly, aiming for the joint of shoulder and throat. Not bothering to see if she was on target, she darted forward, ducking under one bulky arm to gain the street. There was a reason she worked out in heels. Fought in heels.

He certainly hadn't expected a blade to come sailing at him so it lodged itself firmly in the corded muscle of his neck. He grunted and ripped the dagger free, letting it clatter to the street before he bolted after her. His vampiric speed rapidly allowing him to catch back up as if she hadn't moved away from him. That big bulky arm of his went to loop around her middle to keep her from getting any further away.

"****." She couldn't pry herself free, but she could smell copper, which meant she had something to work with. Assuming he didn't think to choke her. The catch had forced the air from her lungs, and she couldn't get an arm back to pull another blade. She wouldn't give up without a fight, kicking and scratching ineffectively as she caught her breath.

He squeezed her around the middle and lifted her clean off her feet easily like she was a sack of potatoes to haul her off into the darkened alleyway. Her struggling just made him smirk. "Frisky kitten. I like it," he purred. When he got her to the alley, he spun her around and slammed her back hard into the brick of the wall, his hand pressing against the center of her chest to keep her where he wanted her.

"Jesus -- fu -- oof." The back of her head cracked against the bricks hard enough to have her seeing stars, and set the world spinning. She wouldn't beg -- in her experience it rarely did any good, and just gave them another victory. She suspected he wanted her to beg, to plead, to offer anything in exchange for letting her live. Tahlia stared down at the hand in the center of her chest, pressed hard against the rapid swell of her breathing. "Bleed for me..." It was barely a whisper, but it didn't need to be loud -- she just needed him weak enough to give her a chance.

Sadly, the bid for him to bleed for her came a touch too late as his rapid healing had closed the wound she'd inflicted already. He laughed, "See, now that's what I was gunna say." He gave a snarl and his other hand went to grip at that pretty blonde head of hair, pulling her head to the side, and exposing more of her delicate neck to him.

Tahlia's eyes went wide, and she let out a muffled curse. Not that she was worried about the thug, not really... she'd survive whatever he could do to her, she just wasn't used to being forced. Not anymore. He was stronger than she was, and her head wrenched to the side, pulse hammering beneath pale skin,her stomach roiling as he pulled at her. Back arching, she fought to get a hand behind her, scrabbling at the brick. Never rely on one knife, and the second one was silver.

He didn't seem to care about what she was scrambling to get at, but he certainly did enjoy what her back arching did to her cleavage. "Real nice view," her assailant purred before he leaned down and gave her skin a long lick.

She kept squirming, and tried not to gag at the slimy drag of his tongue against her flesh. "Enjoy it... it's... ugh... all you're going to get." She couldn't quite reach -- his press to keep her against the wall meant she was having to fight for every inch.

He chuckled, seeming to like her squirming, pressing his body tight against hers. He nipped at her ear, then bit into her neck. His teeth slid in so sharply that she didn't feel a thing, other than a pressure.

His mouth engulfed her throat, and she was once again fighting for air -- too busy trying to breathe to do more than push weakly at his chest with her free hand. She had to get her dagger. It was her only chance.

The thug grinned, sucking at the wound to draw blood into his mouth. After a few deep draughts, he groaned and produced a vial to spit some of her blood into... he had a task to complete, after all. That done, he could enjoy himself. Tucking the vial away, his hand squirmed between her thighs and he went to bite down again.

The break was enough, took just enough of his weight off of her to let her fingers gain the hilt, and plunge it into the side of his neck as he bent back over her, her voice rasping as she fought to keep her eyes open. "Bleed you bastard..."

Gasping, his hand slapped over the wound as he staggered back away from her. He snarled and lashed out with a meaty fist.

It didn't matter... the blade kept him from healing, and his blood would come faster than he was used to. But not enough to kill. Not when she hardly had enough time to throw up an arm, deflecting the punch that should have broken delicate features to mush, to a glancing blow that simply had her sliding down along the brick to the grimy detritus of the alley.

He growled and stumbled, surprised by the burning pain from the blade and the wound not healing. "You *****." He wanted more of her blood... she had tasted every bit as good as William had said.

There was a flash of silver in her hands, and the slightest edge of it to the pale green eyes that glared up at him from the ground. "Try it. I dare you." She was going to be sick. If he didn't move, it was going to be all over him. "Bleed." A little stronger, a little faster.

He staggered back, looking a touch at her with a touch of panic. He hadn't been told about any sort of magic she had. His wound should have healed but he was still bleeding. He needed to get away from her. Lashing out with a kick while she was down, the hired muscle turned tail and fled. There was no way such a tiny thing could survive what he’d done to her, and he’d gotten what he came for, or at least, what he had been sent for.

A sharp yelp was his reward, the foot connecting with her ribs. The world was starting to go a bit fuzzy around the edges. There was no way she could drive home. She wasn't sure she could stand, but she'd have to. She needed help. And Eddie was working, too far away to get to her fast enough.

This close to the Hold, only one name came to mind.

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But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Tahlia Faras
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tahlia braced against the wall, fingers fumbling blindly for her phone as she tried to push herself to her feet, pausing only once to be sick. Taking a deep breath, she managed to find the number she wanted, and pressed send.

Conner looked down at the number and chuckled. Tossing his cigarette outside the backdoor, he answered it. "Oi, just got out. Still trying to get me at the view, eh?"

She breathed a thank you to whatever deity got stuck watching over her. "Nuhuh...not tonight. Some guy thought I looked easy...didn't make it to the car." There was a stretch of silence, just the hint of her breathing across the microphone. "I think he's gone..."

The tone of her voice had him tensing instantly. He straightened, steps taking him quickly down the alley. "Where are you, lass?"

"Alley...half a block, maybe?" She coughed, and cursed. "Why do I never get jumped by tiny guys? Ow..." She took a careful step, then another, clutching the tote bag. After all that...she wasn't going to lose it.

"Who was it?" Or what was it? He ran to the mouth of the alley he was in, turned the corner and jogged to the next one, looking both ways. Nothing. He turned and started in the opposite direction.

"Some thug..." She leaned against the brick, aiming for the moonlight she could see against the shadows. "Threw me against the wall, tried..." Her eyes narrowed as she reached the end of the alley and wobbled without something to hold her up. "I'm going to need to get new blades..."

As she reached the end of the alley, so did he. He was there coming around the corner. He lowered the phone and reached out to grab her, one arm around her waist to hold her up, tucking his own phone into his pocket. "I got you."

She was still dressed, although her shirt was wet with blood, and so was the length of her hair on the right side. Sinking against his chest, she hissed as her ribs protested, tensing for a moment until he spoke, and she slowly tilted her head back to look up at him. "I think...I might need to ask for that safe place now..."

He could smell the blood. Grimaced as he felt how much there seemed to be. "Aye." He tipped his head back to try to get a look at her condition.

It wasn't all hers. She would swear none of it was, but the lie was visible, barely trickling from two puncture marks at her throat, half hidden by the sodden strands. There was what promised to be a lovely bruise along her cheek and fading into her temple. Farther down, and harder to see with her clinging tightly, was a subtle bruise across her ribs, and what could have been the imprint of a shoe, or a boot, the point blossoming across her ribs on the left side. "I hit my head. It hurts...and I just...fuzzy."

"Alright, lass." His low tone soothing. "Can you walk?" He took an experimental step forward to test her condition.

She nodded, and immediately regretted the motion. "Yeah...can't drive though. The back of her head should have been wet, and wasn't. But she could put one foot in front of the other.

"Alright." He wasn't convinced but he started her walking, slow and steady, supporting as much of her weight as he could with an arm around her. "Close by, lass." He reassured, his eyes darting as they walked.

"If you're offering to carry me..." Well, her sense of humor at least seemed to be struggling to the surface. "I'm not going to say no."

"You're having trouble breathing, aye?" He could tell by the way she spoke, the shallow sound of her breath. "Might have cracked a rib. Iffin I carry you that far, could make the hurting worse, love."

"I...yeah." She hated to admit how much it hurt, but she couldn't do that and fight down the panic at how little air she could manage to draw in at the same time. "Ok ok...just...you can drive, right? I mean...you know how?"

He chuckled. "I won't take offense to that." He'd seen her car before, recognized it even as they approached in the dark. "Keys."

She reached for the keys, and hissed in pain, handing them over and feeling for her phone. She hadn't lost it, thankfully.

The keyless entry beeped on approach. He pulled open the passenger door, reached to tip the seat back for less pressure on her ribs. Then turned to help her inside. "Ready?" Might not be pleasant.

"No. But..." She shrugged, and her face scrunched up tight. That was a mistake. Lips pressed firmly together, she got into the car, tucked the tote behind her legs, and fished out her phone. She needed to let Eddie know she wasn't coming home, and let Jerry know the drop would be...late.

He carefully locked her in the car. Then he looked around. He didn't want to leave her, but he only had one shot at this. It took a few moments to run down the alley again. Back to the spot where he'd found her, and then in the direction he came. Slowing his steps he looked around, looking for anything left behind, any sign of who was responsible for what happened. He looked up too, for lighted windows, nearby doorways, any lead at all.

In the litter was a dagger, bloodied and discarded, with another a few feet away, glinting silver but wet with blood. She'd put up a fight, clearly. Back in the car, she struggled to send the necessary texts, her eyes drifting shut randomly before she'd start awake, and try not to panic when she couldn't catch her breath.

From thin air he pulled a canvas rag. He used it to pick up and then wrap the daggers together. There was no time to do much else. He jogged back around the corner to the car. Another click, and he slid inside the driver's seat. He pushed the seat back. "How're you doing over there lass?" The car purred to life and he looked over at her as he put it in gear.

She'd set her head down, making the most of shallow breaths. "I'm...ok...I mean..." There was a soft cough, followed by a whine. "Ok, no, I'm not...but I heal...quick."

He guided the car off the curb and started in the direction of his place, her sporty car eating pavement. Then offered his hand to her. "Give me your hand.†There was a slow blink, and she slipped her hand into his, too hurt to ask why.

His jaw tightened. It was subtle and slow. There were no flashing fancy lights to show what had happened. No sound that accompanied the moment. But as soon as their hands were joined together, her pain was slightly drawn away. Not entirely gone, but eased. Bearable. His voice low and gravelly, "Better?"

"Conner..you don't..." Another cough, but this time she didn't feel like crying. The pain-induced nausea was ebbing. "...thank you...yeah..." She blinked up at him, a subtle ring of silver around those peridot eyes of hers. "I promise I didn't get mugged to make you take me home..." The corner of her lip twitched, trying to smile.

"Och, lass." He glanced aside at her. "The offer was there no matter the need." She needn't have had an excuse to begin with. He gently released her hand so he could shift gears, pulling behind a brick building and slowing to a stop.

She wasn't used to offers for nothing and didn't really know how to respond. Tahlia left her hand where he'd let it go, and let out a breath, then drew in another, shallow, but slower. "We here?"

"Aye." He took a shallow breath himself, then shifted out of the front seat. Moving around to the passenger side, he pulled open her door, then bent down to help her out. This time, however, it was obvious he planned to carry her, one arm moving to slip beneath her knees. "Come towards me, lass."

Reaching down, she grabbed the bag, and put it next to her - easier to reach once she'd curled against his chest, shifting her weight to make it easier for him to pick her up, one arm sliding easily over his shoulders. It hurt, but she could manage it. And she was a tiny thing. "Your shirt..."

"Bill you for the dry cleaning." He grinned, then pulled her fully into his arms, making sure she had the bag with her since it was obviously important. He kicked the door shut, then moved around towards the building. There was not much to see from here, the back of the building. The darkness was so thick, it didn't even seem natural. As they headed for a dark doorway, she might feel the first of many wards they would pass through on their way inside. The door opened on its own before he reached it, bathing them in bright fluorescent light, letting them into a nondescript vestibule. An elevator was waiting for them. He angled them through, hit the button for the fifth and top floor. The doors closed, and up they went.

The darkness was soothing, and so was the feeling of warmth, the way he was careful not to jostle her more than he had to. The bag was...well it was everything from that night. With so many duels, there had been a fair amount of trade, and some upsets. Not to mention the book itself. Letting her head rest on his shoulder, she drifted, only to gasp and bury her face into the crook of his neck, hiding from the bright lights, and clinging tightly as the movement tugged at the wounds at her throat.
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Tahlia Faras
Adult Wyrm
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Easy, lass. Keep them pretty eyes open for me, aye?" The elevator came to a stop and opened directly on his apartment. It was a modest-sized space, mostly open with different areas flowing into the next. Windows sported partial views of the city and the docks on two of the four sides. It was decorated like a gentleman's study. A lived-in leather couch, an armchair with footstool, a simple desk with a warm elbow lamp, all set on a red-hued Persian rug, facing the windows and overflowing bookcases. A kitchen with open shelving, a counter space for eating, dishes stacked in the sink. His bed against the brick wall facing the view, partially made, slate grey bedding spilling onto the floor. The lights were on, but they were in direct contrast to the harsh light of the vestibule. Soft, low, and warm. The entire place giving the feeling of lived-in comfort. He carried her towards the couch. "Get you fixed right up, aye?"

Adrenaline was wearing off, and she was fighting to stay awake, to stay conscious in the face of her body screaming that it didn't want to handle all of this right now. She felt off, horribly off, in ways even the slight concussion couldn't explain. Like something was missing. For the moment, his decor went unnoticed, although the lowered light meant she was peeking out from her self-chosen hiding spot. The side of her face was swelling, obviously bruised, and her breath hitched. She was small enough that the way he held her didn't compress her to the point of suffocating, but ever since the night of the squid...the thought of being unable to breath scared her worse than anything. "I didn't...think you could...heal people...too..."

"I can't." Gently setting her down on the couch, pulling an extra pillow into place beneath her back. "But not every ill needs a magical solution." He leaned to turn on a light. She was sensitive to it, but he needed it to see where she'd been hurt. He knelt beside the couch. "Let me look, lass." Carefully starting to roll up her bloodied shirt to see her abdomen.

Her eyes snapped closed against the light, but she didn't protest. She'd trusted him this far, it made no sense to fight him now.

There wasn't much to roll, the shirt ending just at the edge of her rib cage, but the gesture exposed the blooming bruise from her attacker's parting kick to her ribs, the bones beneath curving more than they should. Beneath that was a band of discoloration, more surface injuries than anything, even if the ever present black pearl in her navel seemed to vibrate as she tried not to flinch at his touch.

"You've got to stay awake for me." His expression didn't change as he gently felt those bones for severe injury. "You got hit in the head? You've got to stay awake for me." He shifted, gently turning her head so he could look at the puncture wounds on her neck.

"Against the brick. He threw me against the wall. Has to be why I'm so foggy..." It was easier to talk, now, although there were breaks between the words, places she needed to pause to get enough air to continue. Nothing broken, although fractures weren't out of the question. Biting back a yelp, she bit down on her lip, and let him turn her head, still unaware of what she'd faced in the alley. "If that bastard left me with a hickey...ugh. He licked me." Just a hint of green beneath those thick lashes said she wasn't out. Not yet anyway.

"No, lass." His eyes shifted to hers, his brow pulled into a deep furrow. "No, he bit you." One hand reached for hers, a gentle hold of reassurance.


"He wha...?" Her eyes opened at that, the hand not laced with his, and holding tight, waved vaguely. "It felt like he was trying to strangle me with his teeth. Jaw closed around my throat -- I couldn't breathe. Even if he broke the skin... I don't bleed." But there it was, two lines of crimson trailing from needle-thin punctures in her throat. The only blood of her own in the mess that covered her.

"He was trying to rip your throat out. Twas a vampire, lass." He gently stroked a hand across her brow. "You're bleeding some." There was muted concern in his eyes as he looked down at her. "Trying to decide whether to call a healer."

"Noo... Conner, I don't. My blood likes me too much. It's mine. His was mine too, when I asked it. It's why he left me alone, finally." But there was that sense of something missing, wasn't there. A loss she vaguely remembered from years too far gone to name. Maybe that was why she spilled her secrets so calmly. "It's gotta ... be..." Stuttering to a stop, she finally thought. The man very likely knew a vampire bite when he saw one. "William."

He didn't entirely understand what she meant, his brow furrowing in confusion. But the last bit he followed. "You know who this was?" He shifted up off the floor, suddenly needing to move. "Who is William?" He pushed a hand through his hair, then stalked towards the bathroom door. It wasn't far, still in earshot.

"It wasn't him. I know him." Something about the way she said it implied she meant that in the most physically intimate terms. "Client. Former client." If he hadn't been before, he certainly was now. "But he...he tried. A few months ago. Said he couldn't resist." I heard you taste real sweet. ****. "I slapped him, told him he was out of line. He must have hired someone..." Her hand clutched at air, eyes clenching tightly as her mind recalled a sound. A very particular sound. "... he didn't swallow it all..."

His jaw tightened. He looked at his own reflection in the bathroom mirror a moment. Then he stepped back. He headed towards the kitchen. There was the sound of him in and out of the fridge. Water running. Another moment to pause. And then he was returning to her side. "Cold." That was all the warning she got before he set a clean towel over her ribs as a buffer between her skin and the frozen cold pack he set there.

Eyes snapped wide, and she let out a sound somewhere between a yelp and a squeal, toned muscles tensing sharply as the pack settled into place. It was either that, or sit up and scramble, and her body was very clear about that being unwise. "... I hadn't seen him since. But he called. Wanted me to run an event. Hire a witch - Mallory, something. It didn't go well." Her eyes drifted closed for a moment. "He dented the Porsche yesterday. Blamed me. This - this is payback."

The story sounded barely coherent. "How fast do you heal?" He wasn't trying to be nosy, but he really needed to know whether to call a healer or not. In his hand he had a couple aspirin and a glass of water.

Her mind was racing, the words tumbling out in shallow bursts. Someone had her blood. "A little faster than normal. But I - I've never had a vampire bite before." She was going to owe him explanations when this was over, she knew. Tahlia looked at the pills, and shook her head, then swallowed thickly. "They won't work. With all the damage - I'm not sure I could keep them down." She was beginning to suspect the blow to the head wasn't what was making her nauseous. "Do they have something...in their bite? Saliva, maybe?"


"Some do." He frowned and set the aspirin and water glass on the side table. He gently lifted her chin again and looked at the two puncture marks. Brow furrowed. "Could have a reaction to it. Like a big bad mosquito."

"My body thinks its poison. It's..." She grimaced, wanting to sit up and knowing her ribs didn't want her to. "It's why I got sick, in the alley, I think. Anything strong enough to make me bleed. I...I should warn Mallory." The tremors were starting, tears leaking out from beneath her lashes. "Conner...why would a vampire spit out blood. Like, into something?"

His jaw tightened. "To save it for something." He shifted to sit beside her on the edge of the couch. Looking down at her, he reached a hand to stroke her hair back again. "Blood is power. Blood of a powerful person, all the more so." He took a breath, then exhaled slowly. "Tahlia. You need to tell me what you are. Iffin I can't fix what's happening, I'll be needing to call for help."

It took barely a heartbeat for her to shift, a soft purr slipping from her throat at the gesture. "I don't know. I've never known. My mother had some gifts... spellwork. Herbs. Sometimes, when she thought we were asleep, she'd do things. She only ever told us not to let anyone know what we could do. Not ever. So I made sure I only ever Called blood when I could hide it. Remembered to make myself bleed. Kept my little illusions subtle. But she wasn't like us either. There was something else. Maybe it had to do with our father, but I don't know who he was. And they're both dead now." Her fingers twitched slightly, and the blood at her throat grew thicker, almost viscous.

Fingers curled in her blonde hair before gently combing back again. "Alright, lass." He looked towards the windows, brow furrowed. He looked back at her, gently taking her hand once more. "I'm going to call someone, alright?"

She was too hurt and exhausted to protest. "Ok. Can you hand me my phone? I should warn Mallory. And see if Eddie...called, or texted. Something." Sniffing, she brushed at the threatening tears. She wanted her Selkie. He couldn't fix her, but he took care of her.

"Aye." He took a breath. "I'll get you something to change into." She couldn't stay in these clothes. "You up for a shower?" He hadn't let go of her hand just yet, hadn't moved to get her phone.

"I think so." She certainly wanted one, the scent of the vampire still in her nose. Sitting up a little, she held her arms up with a brittle shadow of her usual coquettish smile. "Carry me?"

He snorted in amusement. Releasing her hand, he shifted back, then slipped an arm under her knees and one under her back. He didn't seem to struggle at all with her weight. His bathroom was modestly sized. He set her gently down to sit on the closed toilet. There was no tub, but the shower was relatively spacious with a marble bench inside. He leaned to turn on the water, setting the heat at a mild warmth. "Don't move." He stepped out and came back a moment later with a soft fluffy towel and a large, soft clean shirt. He balanced these on the counter, then moved back to her. "Give me your hand."

It was a defense mechanism, a way to deflect from the tremors, the tears that threatened to roll down her cheeks. "Are you joining me? All this might be worth it then..." She didn't mean any of it, although she wasn't sure she'd say no if he took her up on it. She was frightened, more than she admitted to, and hurt, and craving the same distractions she always sought to chase those things away. But she did as he said, holding out a hand that only shook a little.

He took her hand in both of his and fixed her with his dark eyes. His look was intent, concerned. Like before, over the span of a few heart beats, her pain drew down, softening and gentling. His breath shallowed, his voice rough. "Take a shower, lass. You'll be alright." He started to release her hand.

"You're taking it, aren't you." It wasn't a question, not really. Pale green eyes tripped over his face. "Conner...Why? I'm just..." How rare, for her to refer to herself as 'just' anything. "I dunno, a friend, maybe. Coworker." She pulled her hand back, and unzipped her boots.

Before she could pull her hand away, he leaned forward and dropped a kiss to the top of her head. "Shush." Then he moved back and to the door. "Call iffin you need." He left the door ajar, then headed for the phone to call Val. At the counter, he exhaled the breath he'd been holding.
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Tahlia Faras
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
Posts: 151
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Can Be Found: Here and there, depends on her mood
5111.70 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It took a while for Cristoval to pick up the phone. Seven rings, starting the eighth. There's a telephone room down the hall, he'd said. If I'm there, then I'll hear it. The healer was tired, friendly enough, but quick and to the point. Injuries. Did they know what attacked her. Where are you? He wasn't far, he assured Conner; he'd be right there.

Conner had to time it right or Val would never find them. The building where he lived was hidden in shadow, pressed between Dockside warehouses and boxy factory buildings. A person could stand immediately before it and not see it. Conner met Val downstairs with a firm handshake and a relieved exhale.

In the elevator, he reiterated the concerns he had shared on the phone: that Tahlia might have a concussion, that she might have multiple broken ribs, and most concerning, that she might be having an adverse reaction to a vampire bite. “Seen enough at the fights to know when help’s needed.â€

Cristoval had run over from his apartment, though the effort hadn’t winded him much. It was the middle of the night, but his eyes were bright and alert, and he listened to Conner, nodding gravely at the mention of the bite. “I might not be able to mend her ribs on my own. The rest...†He trailed off, fingering the pendant of the Flickering Flame that he wore out in the open tonight. There was another, though, tucked out of sight, attached to a beaded chain. There was a khaki-colored bag over his shoulder, worn at the seams and carefully turned inside out.

As the elevator doors slid open, he shifted the old bag off of his shoulder, shifting the glass vials and tin cases within, and gave the caller a warm, reassuring smile. “I can certainly take care of the rest. I believe I’ve seen worse.â€

Conner was looking a bit rough around the edges himself, holding himself more tightly than usual. But he gestured to welcome Val through the open elevator doors into the apartment.

Showered, and draped in what she strongly suspected was one of his t-shirts, Tahlia had tucked herself back on the worn-in couch, tousled blonde waves spilling over her shoulders. She wasn’t intentionally trying to hide the bite, which was clean, if still red and inflamed. It had stopped bleeding - the shower had given her the opportunity to clean the last of the vampiric taint from her blood, and she was feeling less queasy. Still woozy though, which is why her head rested on the arm of the couch, and her legs were half curled beneath her. The bruising on her ribs were covered, but there was still the eggplant and navy framing one jade eye, even if she did hold her head in such a way as to try to hide the worst of it. Her phone was in one hand, and she tapped away at it with the other, scrolling occasionally from one message to the next. It kept her from thinking, for a few minutes.

Val had, in fact, seen worse, though the extent of her injuries was surprising to behold all at once. “Tahlia,†he said, and turned a similar smile on her. His fingers tightened around the strap of his bag as he drew close enough to see the angry wound on her neck. He set his bag down on the edge of the Persian rug and pulled his hair back into a ponytail as he asked her, “How are you feeling?â€

Conner faded back as Val got to work. Arms crossed over his chest, he leaned back against the desk and watched silently, eyes focused as much, if not more, on the healer rather than the patient.

The little blonde blinked, and tensed before realizing she didn’t really want to move. “Valito. Hey. I kinda figured he’d call you…†It took her a moment to consider the question, and how much she wanted to answer. “Fuzzy. It doesn’t hurt as much as it did--†A brief glance in Conner’s direction - she appreciated what he’d done, but now she owed him, and that wasn’t a favorite. “Tired. Kind of like something is missing. Just empty and achy.â€

“That would be your blood,†Valito replied, with a touch of humor in his voice. “But your body,†he added as he removed a pair of gloves from his bag, snapping them on, “knows how to make more. Can you look at me?†he asked her, staring into her eyes with a faint frown of concentration. “And is it alright if I touch you?†he asked, that a little quieter, distracted as he glanced over the bruising around one eye.

His bag lay open. Currently there were several vials of ointments, rubbing alcohol, and anesthetic, as well as tin cases for bandages and various implements, obstructing the view of the interior.

Tahlia gave a little nod. It hurt, but it didn’t make the world spin as much as it had. “Yeah, it’s ok.†She tilted her head to let him get a better look at the bruising. It had been a glancing blow, enough to cause some glorious coloring, but she’d deflected enough to keep the damage to a minimum. The pale green gaze didn’t waver, and she didn’t show any serious signs of concussion. But she sat quietly, and followed his instructions, letting him examine the injuries he could see to his satisfaction.

He touched his gloved fingertips to a few tender spots, murmuring an apology as he did, this too distracted by his focus on his work. He asked to see her ribs, then poked a bit there when she lifted up the side of her shirt.

It was a good thing she wasn't shy, unashamedly pulling the shirt up to expose the equally colorful bruising on her ribcage. But she didn't linger, didn't flaunt, perhaps the clearest indication that she fully understood how lucky she was it hadn't been worse.

As she straightened up, he leaned forward and clasped his hands together, affecting a grave expression. “Tahlia... I’m afraid you’ve contracted latric ursanthropy. At the next full moon of Arabrab, you’ll turn into a were-panda.â€

He looked over his shoulder at Conner solemnly. “We should start stockpiling bamboo as soon as possible.â€

He snorted, his eyes showing appreciation of the joke while his mouth retained its tight draw. A quick reach brought a glass into his hand, shortly filled with whiskey. He leaned against the counter and drank, eyes looking past the pair at the couch to the city lights just beyond the window.

“I what? A were-panda?†she stared at Valito in consternation for a moment, occasionally mouthing ‘were-panda’ under her breath. “It couldn't have been a seal, no...of course not.†Flushing gently, she tucked her hair behind her ear and winced as she hit the bruising. “Shoots and leaves for the rest of my life. I wonder if Eddie will mind I'm a vegetarian…†There was a subtle wink to let them know she was in on it. “So, I'll live then?â€

Val laughed warmly and nodded, "You'll live. But first I'm going to want to draw out the corruption from your bite, then call upon a little extra help," lifting the pendant of his goddess with his thumb, "to lessen the extent of your injuries. And even then, you should take a few days of physical and mental rest -- limit how much time you spend on reading, correspondence, or crossword puzzles," he added with a little more of a smile. "As for your ribs... no sports, no activity or exercise that makes you feel any pain there, and no heavy lifting. You should still get up and stretch, move around... but we can go over recommended treatments once I'm done."

He directed her attention back to his hand, letting the pendant rest against his palm. "This is divine magic, a... gift from the Flickering Flame. A goddess of light." His gaze ticked over to Conner, lingering for a beat as he leaned against the counter... then back to Tahlia. "She's going to help you heal... as long as that's alright with you," he added. "Have you had any adverse reactions to this kind of magic, that you know of?" with an earnest look.

“N-not that I know of, no…†She wasn’t used to such things, obviously, from the way her eyes darted between the two men. “I’m not real thrilled about the idea of being inactive too long…†And Eddie wouldn’t be either, that much she could count on. “There isn’t any corruption left. I’m pretty sure. But go ahead and do what...well I guess what you can.†Tahlia tried to temper her response with a hesitant smile. It wasn’t that she didn’t think he was skilled, she’d seen what he could do at the Hold. Her head was still reeling from the fight, and the fact that someone out there had her blood, and she didn’t know why. Forgetting for a moment that it was unwise, she took a deep breath, her lips thinning immediately with a muffled whine of pain.

“You shouldn’t take deep breaths like that. Try bracing a pillow against your chest if you need to cough,†he advised her. “And restful inactivity isn’t thrilling, I understand... but it’s the fastest road to recovery.†He tipped his head and gave her the biggest, most reassuring smile he could find. “Trust me.â€

Then he bowed his head, closed his eyes, and clasped his hand around the emblem of the Flickering Flame. A warm, soothing light leaked out from between his fingers, like he’d cupped his hand around a flashlight, and he spent several minutes moving it over different points in her body. The bite on her neck, which grew smaller and less swollen. The bruising around her eye, and the effects of the concussion. The ache in her ribs lessened, too, though not by removing the pain itself as Conner had, but mitigating it at its source.

When he was done, he blew out a slow breath, as if he’d been holding it all along. It had required a great deal of focus on his part, yet he seemed more relaxed now if anything, as if emerging from a meditative state.

With Val apparently finished with his work, Conner pushed into motion again to get a glass of cold water for the healer. He set it on the end of the counter, a silent offer.

The touch of the light felt warm against her skin, and she let her eyes close, the short, shallow breaths smoothing out and slowing. She couldn’t take a deep breath, not yet, but they were a little fuller, and she could feel the ribs start to knit together. She had hardly noticed the dull throb in her skull until it abated, but she certainly wasn’t complaining.

“Better?†Val asked with a gentle smile. He was already shifting out of his seat for the offered water. His steps were slow like the way he blinked, like a sleepy cat lounging in the sun, and he set his back carefully against the edge of the counter as he collected his glass.

He grunted, wiggled to make his back more comfortable, and pulled a small preserves jar from his jacket pocket. It contained about a dozen dark green pills of blended herbs, coated with a light amber syrup to counter the bitterness. He glanced down the counter at Conner, nodded encouragingly, and held out two fingers.

Two pills to help the pain — something that wouldn’t react with alcohol or other substances, useful to have on hand at festivals like Burning RhyDin.

Conner eyed the jar, then shifted so he could reach it. He took a testing sniff inside before removing two pills and swallowing them in quick succession followed by a drink of whiskey. He returned the jar to the counter with a nod to Val. "Thanks." He straightened and started to cross back towards Tahlia while he directed his question to Val. "What do I owe you?"

The healer rumbled thoughtfully as he screwed the cap back onto the jar, trailing Conner to the couch and kneeling by his bag. “If you could look in on my roommates while I’m out in the desert, it’d be a great burden off my mind,†he decided. He packed slowly, studying Tahlia as he did. Her gaze, her demeanor.

Her chest rose and fell, mostly even, although there was the occasional hitch as her muscles caught automatic responses they weren’t ready for. Blood loss, pain, and the fading adrenaline from the fight in the alley had left her wrung out, and the easing of those had her barely trying to keep her eyes open. She knew she was safe enough to rest at least a little, enough to let her get home. A slow blink, and she managed to focus on the healer for a moment. “Thank you…†Her gaze shifted to Conner, before thick lashes fell back over her eyes, and she let herself sink into sleep.

Conner looked back at Val, brow furrowed, as he grabbed a soft throw blanket from the end of the couch. Attention returned to Tahlia while he gently settled the blanket over her legs, quietly commanding, "Sleep." He watched her eyes close and her breath even, before moving away.

Stepping away from the couch, he waited beside the elevator doors for Val to finish packing. When the man neared, he kept his voice low as he asked, "Your roommates?"

Val cracked a grin at Conner. “The plants in my care, and the cats that come and go as they please. Efroot in the watering can and the odd can of tuna keep them at peace... but it’s a fragile truce. You seem like a capable diplomat,†he added with a chuckle, shifting his bag as he followed him into the elevator.

Conner stared at him. "Can't I just… buy you a beer or something, mate?" He chuckled as the doors closed.

_________________

But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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Tahlia Faras
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
Posts: 151
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Can Be Found: Here and there, depends on her mood
5111.70 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Panamera slid into its spot, the engine silent for a moment before the door opened, and a tiny blonde slipped out, leaning against the body of the car for a moment before heading to the elevator. Loose waves fell over one eye, hiding bruises already starting to yellow, running along her cheekbone and up to her temple. An oversized shirt was knotted at her waist, over leather shorts, and knee high boots that looked worse for wear, as did the tote she held carefully on one shoulder. She looked better than she had the night before, but there was no denying she'd been in a fight.

Tahlia leaned against the wall of the lift, and tried not to breathe too deeply. Her ribs were still sore, but the sharp stab was gone, and the livid bruise was the same mottled chartreuse that marked her face. The soft chime had her straightening, slow steps taking her through the doors and toward the penthouse she'd called home for most of the last year. One hand reached for the door, the other rose to pull a length of hair over the puncture marks still disturbingly visible against the line of her throat. She just had to make it a few more feet, and then she could finally feel safe.

Heels clicking against the floor, she closed the door behind her, and looked around the apartment, bottom lip caught between her teeth. "Puddin?"

There were a lot of states which Tahlia had found him in, though none were as funny as the time she came home to a full sized seal playing in the bathtub. No chance of that this time, his jacket hung from a doorknob looking exceedingly ordinary. There was no return call from him, though if she wanted to find him she only needed to listen for the occasional tone from his phone. That or follow the scent of freshly brewed coffee. Eddie was just there, in the kitchen leaning hard against the open refrigerator door, the jeans he wore showing all his best attributes. His back was to the door, and much like his feet it was bare of any kind of covering. His head was down and unless she looked at the right angle would appear to be gazing into the depths of the cold storage appliance. A slight adjustment would tell a different tale, hand holding his phone and eyes looking at the screen. It was slid into the back pocket when he realized that he was no longer alone, which only made it more noticeable when the thing chirruped from there.

"Sit. I'll get you something." What was going to be the question, he hadn't decided for himself yet. "Maybe breakfast, since you missed it earlier." Eddie squatted down and reached inside, the words deciding for him. When he appeared again it was with a handful of eggs, the milk and a bowl full of cut greens. Obviously someone had been busy, which could only mean one thing though maybe she hadn't figured this side of him out yet. "You talk, I'll cook."

Tahlia slid onto one of the stools, arms folded on the island, and her head falling forward to watch him move from beneath the curtain of her hair. The shower had taken care of the blood, and some of the aches from her muscles, but not the urge to be curled up against his chest until she forgot the rest of the world existed. Some voice of reason reminded her that she hadn't eaten since sometime the day before, and that her body was going to need all the fuel it could get to heal. So she leaned on her forearms, and didn't pounce him while he was feeding her.

"I left the Hold, headed to the car...and this guy came out of the shadows. I figured he was just looking to make a grab for the bag. Or me. Turns out it was me." Pale green eyes flicked up, focusing on the play of muscles before sliding to the slice of pie inked into his arm. "He didn't - I got a hand on my knives. But he kept coming. He shoved me into the wall, took a shot at my face. I - I thought he just...it felt like he was trying to choke me with his teeth. I didn't know." For some reason, it was important to her that he know she hadn't had all the information at first. Slowly, she pulled the hair back from her neck, drawing it over the opposite shoulder. "Vampire. He - I didn't know. Not til after. Just figured he was your usual low-life, shoved a silver dagger in his shoulder, and made him bleed." Her fingers traced a slow curve on the counter. "He kicked me before he took off."

The beating of the eggs in the bowl became more vigorous as Tahlia talked, nothing to be alarmed about, they were obviously being very stubborn eggs. "What did he look like?" He looked up from his work for a moment and took in the bite on her neck and almost gently, if you count the way it thwacked as gentle, added butter to the pan heating on the stove. "You didn't have to stay there, I'd have come to get you." Eddie wasn't grinding his teeth, his jaw always looked that way. He took to tilting the pan, working to melt the lump in its center before pouring in the eggs he'd given such tender treatment to a moment before.

It was likely too late now, any viable scents would be overwhelmed by every other repugnant creature in the area. Last night, that would have been a different story. "Would have given you a ride to get your car too." He was working the edges of the omelette inward, letting the uncooked portions find the heat of the pan, funny how closely it resembled stabbing something repeatedly. All chefs looked like that though, right?

"You were working. I didn't...I just figured the guy was looking to take what no-one was offering. I got sick. In the alley. Conner was half a block away. I didn't know if the guys was coming back." She could read the movements for what they were - she had honestly expected things to be airborne - Eddie seemed surprisingly calm. That might worry her a little more than she let on "It was dark - you know how it gets down there. Can't keep streetlights, and the moon..." Shrugging, she shifted on the stool, only wincing a little. "I was thinking about the shower the night before, and getting home... big guy, but not as big as you. I didn't pay him much attention until he grabbed me. And then he was too close to get a good look."

The smell of cooking eggs resulted in a tiny grumble, and Tahlia's cheeks pinked as she set a hand over the black pearl that never left her abdomen. So many things they didn't say, but it was all still there, just...hovering. "Valito came and checked me out, and then I kinda passed out for a bit. I know...Puddin, I know you would have. I wish I had. All I wanted..." Eyes squeezed shut, and she scrubbed a palm against her cheek with a hiss of breath. "... all I wanted was to call you. But you were working. And I... concussion, fractured ribs, and the bite... he got - he got some of my blood. In something." Finally home, and as safe as she ever was, Tahlia finally started to shake.

"Because I never come when you call, if I'm working?" Eddie dropped the cheese into the pan and used the turner to fold the omelette over before sliding it onto a plate and turning off the burner. He put the Western concoction in front of her and laid a fork on the counter next to it. A glint of silver caught the light, unnoticeable until he'd turned around fully. A disk hung from a leather thong in a disparate clash that was mirrored in the well turned food and its preparation. "Because I never worry about anything or anyone. Because I'm unavailable and don't like being bothered."

Eddie didn't yell, there was no need for that, not coupled with the hurt in his tone. "I know you're probably exhausted, and in pain. Finish eating and I'll p..." Another chirp came from his back pocket accompanied by a pair of dull vibrations. He ripped the phone out of his pocket and threw it against the wall without ever checking the message that it contained. "...I'll put you to bed." He wasn't grinding his teeth. His jaw always looked that way.

"Because I didn't want you to see me like that. Again. Because I'm terrified one day you will just get so damn tired of how fragile I seem to be, here. And you'll swim away and I will never see you again, and I can't..." Lips pressed to a thin, pale line, Tahlia hunched over, a forkful of omelette barely making it back to the plate, and tried not to think about bones grinding together. When she could speak, it was barely a whisper. "I know you worry. I know you - I know I'm important to you. Eddie...I'm scared of getting used to this. Of you being here to rescue me. What happens if someday... you're not." She was in dangerous waters, and worst of all, she'd hurt him. And there was a little voice she didn't recognize, reminding her of all the times he had come for her when she needed him. The truth was, it scared her how much he was the only one she wanted. "Eddie... I'm sorry." She could eat later. Right now, she needed to curl up against his chest, needed contact and his warmth, but the shattering phone drew her up short.

"Only if you come with me." Pale jade eyes dropped to the wreckage, and she took another step closer, sneaking glances at the set of his jaw and half expecting to hear a crack of a broken tooth. "Who keeps calling you, anyway...Poptart need something?"

"I wouldn't put Reg in that situation." Eddie looked at the remnants of his phone, it was just a minor swath of destruction, far less than he wanted to create...or would have if he were angry...which he certainly wasn't! He pressed his fingers hard against his forehead tracing the seam in his skull hidden beneath the skin. "That was Salducci reporting in to tell me that you made it home." He'd reached out to Big Tony, now he owed the man...well Carmine owed him but it amounted to the same thing. Eddie's fingers combed roughly through his hair stopping to squeeze the back of his neck hard enough to have finger joints popping.

"I could be there. All the time, but I won't. You're not under my thumb, and I'm not going to try to control you...not like that anyway." Eddie turned away from Tahlia and stalked the length of the kitchen only to be blocked by a wall and forced to turn around a take the same path back. The wall was lucky that time and didn't receive a little vented frustration, but in his attempt to calm those urges he just ended up pacing. "Besides, I'm pretty sure you don't want me around all the time." He shoved his hands into his pockets, reigning in their ability to do things all on their own. Problem solved. "Not that it's any easier for me either." He moved towards a chair the decision to sit springing into his head and jumping away just as quickly. Instead he kept moving, needing something to do with the pent up energy inside him.

"You.." For most people, finding out your whatever-the-hell-Eddie-was had called in favors to have you followed would be cause for serious re-evaluation. Tahlia just softened, her eyes shining with much happier tears than she'd shed since the night before. Calling in a favor like that...she knew what that took, for him. She also knew she couldn't take the debt on. "I don't know about that..having you here, I mean. It's a reason to come home. Not..be out all the time." There was so much more she could say, except that she couldn't. Not without violating the promise they'd made way back when.

"Puddin...please...I'm...I'm so scared." It took nearly everything she had to admit that. Even to him. "We don't have vampires. I'm not...when I thought he wanted the money, or ... me... I could handle that. But he's got a bit of me and I can feel it missing, and I don't know why. And I...what isn't easy for you?" It was an interesting time for her brain to latch onto that, and demand explanation, but she was still too overwhelmed from the night before to question it. Maybe it was the whack to her head. All she could do was watch him pace and try to make him understand.

Being here wasn't exactly what he was talking about. "We are what we are, babe, and when I'm around it puts that in jeopardy." Not that he hadn't enjoyed those times he'd shown up, if only to remind her clients that money doesn't buy everything. "Want me there or not I..." don't want to "...shouldn't be there." Eddie hadn't exactly addressed her question either, though he couldn't say why.

The world called them Vampire in some form or another, but Eddie saw it a little differently. "Gods damned parasites, think they're entitled to whatever they want...weak though really. They're less than the drug addicts that will do anything for their next fix." He was grinding his teeth again, and wishing he had some kind of Vamp only bio weapon. "You'll have to get it back, Pumpkin. I'm the only one that gets to have pieces of you." He'd said similar things before while running cons or too start her mind working. Maybe she heard it the same despite the difference in tone.

She knew what he meant, and stood by her answer. For the first time in all her years of trading the most intimate access for money and trinkets, Tahlia was starting to think beyond her next client. Sure, she'd tried before, but that had been because of someone else's struggles. Eddie hadn't ever, wouldn't ever, ask her to give up her work. Maybe that was why she'd been focusing on it so much. "I know. I know. I just..." Pausing, she leaned against the counter, and ran a hand through her hair, only wincing a little as she took too deep a breath. She wasn't ready, yet, to finish that sentence.

"I don't know where to start. Well, maybe I do. I think I know who hired him..." If she sounded distracted, maybe it was because her brain had gone exactly where he wanted it to. Pushing away from the counter, she stalked him like a kitten just learning to hunt, snuggling up to his chest as soon as she was close enough. "I should eat my eggs...but the stools hurt." Tilting her head back,she bat her lashes at him, unaware of the way her hair fell to frame the bite.

"Sounds like you just need the right cushion." He had one in mind that he thought would do the trick, pulling back a chair Eddie picked her up and sat down. "So, you get it back...then we're outta town at least until you heal up. I know a place that will work." He scooped up some of the eggs onto the fork and brought it up to feed her, but the moment she opened her mouth he was kissing her.
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Tahlia Faras
Adult Wyrm
Adult Wyrm


Joined: 01 Mar 2017
Posts: 151
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Here and there, depends on her mood
5111.70 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

September 15, 2018

Reggie had been here before, more than once truth to be told. It wasn't always business of course. Sometimes it was just because. Today was supposed to be business, and that meant lugging the backpack loaded with gear. That might sound okay from the point of view of the uninitiated. For him it meant a long walk across town with upwards of thirty pounds of equipment stuffed into a pack designed for half that. He wouldn't mind, except that it was the company that mattered... and the fact that he was sweating like a grunter in the noonday sun. This was a posh place, and honestly he hated to come here reeking of sweat. He was here though, and the air conditioned lobby had helped to at least dry his skin. The hair was another story, though at least he could push it back from his eyes and be relatively confident that it would stay there for a while. Maybe he shouldn't have worn the leather jacket? Reggie shook his head, chastising himself. Eddie always wore one, Reggie could endure for a little while, right? The nice part about being who he was...people tended not to notice him so making it to the elevator was not a problem. It was simpler than hacking the controls to get the car to move upwards into penthouse land, not that this was difficult either, really. Still maybe his ringing of the doorbell would come as a shock to the person that dwelt beyond? Reggie was full of wishful thinking lately.

Tahlia opened the door, dressed in a pair of yoga pants, and an oversized t-shirt knotted at her waist. Blonde hair was drawn up in a ponytail, and if she was wearing makeup, it wasn't immediately obvious. The fact that Reg had been getting...well, more like Eddie...hadn't escaped her. She hadn't mentioned it to the original, to be honest, she'd been too overjoyed at getting word to think of it. Smiling, she waved him inside, and turned to saunter in to the kitchen. "Go ahead and get yourself set up - I'll grab drinks. You sneak in, or break fingers?"

"My fingers are all intact." He makes a show of holding them up so Tahlia can see them. "Do you have a lot of problems with fingers breaking? It's probably the card reader, or maybe the tension on the floor buttons. I might be able to fix that for you." Self consciously he slid his hands into his pockets and stepped further inside. "I was hoping to see..." Reggie stopped talking, the other obviously wasn't here and he didn't know what to make of that. He shuffled his way over to the couch and unbound his shoulders from the heavy pack. "So...your call seemed urgent."

"Not yours...someone else's. It's...been a slight concern, lately. Hopefully just a one time thing..." She looked out at the ocean, and shook her head. "He's still away. Business. You...you know how he is. He'll be back. Right? You said he always comes back...or Saul did." She might be holding on to that assurance more than she let on. "Huh? Oh, yeah. I've...got myself in a little over my head, Pop Tart...I could really use your help..."
Reggie peered at Tahlia, eyebrows lowering. "Business? How long has it been?" He started to unpack his things, mostly a slew of *borrowed* laptops and a few other things that would plug and play as he required. "Gimme a minute to recharge and we can get down to work. His familiarity with the place would have become obvious once Reggie made his way through the sitting room, and the door leading to the kitchen. "HEY! Who ate all my pop tarts?!" He'd have sworn there was still an entire box up there the last time he'd been by. Sure it had been a while, but seriously Tahlia didn't eat Pop Tarts... like ever.

"She ate the Pop Tarts? Seriously?" A laugh burst from her lips, gone a moment later. "A little over a month. It feels...longer." She'd seen him more recently, of course, but they'd kept word of her attack under wraps. "Yeah...go ahead...you know your way around. Let me see if there's still that box hidden...." Tahlia ducked down, bending to check a bottom cabinet. There was some rummaging and then...."Ha! Found 'em. Strawberry..." Backing out from the cabinet, she held out the box like a prize.

Jackpot.
"Hey, I take care of you...don't I?" She waved him off, grabbing a plate, and sticking the barely-food items into the toaster.

Reggie took the box like she was handing out hundred dollar bills, that poor lid never had a chance. "A month?" It'd been longer for him, but that wasn't unusual really. "That surprises me. He's usually so..." Whatever else Reggie had to say was muffled by the mouthful of pop tart that he'd taken. He didn't linger in the kitchen, too many memories and he wasn't altogether sure what surfaces were actually not...used. He was back in the living room, opening laptops and and holding the fake danish between his teeth. "So, what exactly did you need from me?" He'd obviously been paid in advance.

"So...what?" She was honestly curious. Reggie seemed to know the secretive Selkie better than anyone - Tahlia was nearly certain better than she did, some days. "I need you to backdoor into the Golden Bough. You've heard about the kids that have been going missing...?" She was certain he had, but it was an good an introduction as any. And she genuinely wasn't sure how he'd react to how she was getting the information...

"Wait, who ate them?" It had just registered that Tahlia had said, she.

"The same person who broke the desk clerk's fingers. She'll...be back." She hoped so, anyway.

"Uhm... So Eddie." Reggie planted his elbow and pinched the bridge of his nose, he had a big mouth. "The Gambling place?" A complex strand of cables came out of the backpack, the ends meticulously plugged in from one computer to the next, though he failed to explain any of the 'why' of it. "Sure i've heard of the abducshuns. Everyone on my block has." And a few others probably, but honestly nobody wanted Reggie...not like that anyway. "You looking to do a little illegal betting? I got this great worm that'll give you the down card for any online dealer."

"He's always that. Even...when he isn't here." The black pearl was just visible under the knot of her shirt, and there was a subtle brush of fingers across it. "Yeah, the gambling place. And no...I'm not looking to bet. I...have an open line of credit." It was one way to put it. "Yeah...the thing is...I need their network decoded. For information." Setting down a glass of soda, she took her bourbon, and flopped onto the

"What kind of information?" He pressed the power buttons on the other laptops filling the air with the sound of overworking fans. The odd thing was that all of the information ticked up on the central screen, the others remained dark. "I mean, it matters because... Boom!..." the screen on the left flared to life with the Golden Bough's website. "...because it'll help me know the 'where' to look." The screen on the right came alive then, scrolling code faster than the eye could pick out symbols. Reggie shifted his hands to that keyboard and typed in a string of letters numbers and symbols. The screen flashed the word Denied over and over again. "Gonna be a little bit while the locksmith works." He sat back, finally looking away from the screens to Tahlia, he chewed his lip even though his hand still held the remnants of a pop tart. "He'll be back, he always comes back." Whether that was to reassure her or him was harder to figure out. "She'll have to break more than my fingers if she wants my staples...whoever she is."

"Everything? I don't...really know. They got someone they shouldn't have. And I know she's...well, she's there. Somewhere." Tahlia ran her hand through her ponytail, and sighed. "But I can't just go looking for her. I need to be able to get the information to someone else. I can't do anything with it. Not and stay useful." Not to mention safe. Her hand slid to her throat, and she took a large swallow of bourbon. "It can't trace back, and I know you know how to do that." There was a moment of silence, and she just...nodded. "I know. I just...wish he was already. And I wouldn't say that to her. She might."

"Everything?" He shoved the last of the pop tart into his mouth and focused on the screen that was still denying him access. "Admin level access..." He nodded to himself twice before stopping the scroll and adding in a few more lines of code. "I wouldn't worry about the backtrack. That device right there is an IP shuffler. It grabs your address, and randomizes the numbers that get displayed. Right now the site thinks were on an entirely different continent. You're not the only one that misses him, but think of it this way. If he was here, there wouldn't be any stealthy stuff happening. Pretty much kick in the door and blaze away." If there was anything Reggie knew it was that while Eddie could do subtle, he liked to wake up the neighborhood. "You don't have to worry about me. Nobody wants to have much to do with me one way or another." There were those who knew what he could do of course, but Reggie doubted that any of them would give him a second look if he didn't have these particular skills. He reached for the soda and took a sip. "Not that I blame em."

"He didn't kick in doors in Westport..." She knew Reggie was right, though. Eddie wouldn't be thrilled about her putting herself in the kind of danger she was, especially after the vampire attack. She wasn't going to mention that...it was over, and she was...relatively safe. Except from Adder himself. "Reg...you know that isn't true. I know you've been busy. And I'm sure Eddie wouldn't mind if you took the Runner out...I can hardly drive it, and you know the engine doesn't like to sit too long..." She was trying to coax him...lure him out. She was worried about him. "And you can always come hang out here. There's the hot tub."

"Tch..." Reggie did his best to keep his face expressionless, though he did like to drive the big purple car. His effort was rewarded when the central screen popped to life again. "You know I don't mean you and Eddie. I just mean there ain't no real benefit in bothering with me.I don't mind really, kinda chose it for myself." He did nod though at Tahlia's reference to Westport. "He can be a calculating cuss. I think he prefers action though. "I'm in, but somehow I doubt that we'll find what you're looking for through the normal CCtv cameras." Reggie still pulled up the video feeds, they were showing on that left hand screen. On the center he scrolled through the files, clicking on the one for room service. "We might find her easier by looking at what rooms are ordering...and how often. Correlate that with rooms that have had the same occupancy for...how long has this person been missing?"

"I'm not sure...the message I got wasn't exactly...coherent. Can you just...I don't know, shrink the files? Wait...can you get into Adder's files?" It was a dangerous suggestion, but if anyone would have all the answers, he would. "There's a computer in his office, but it's probably encrypted heavily." She knew how much he loved the car. "You know you're worth more than some random street kid. And I know he does...not exactly much for words. But that's ok." They were bouncing between topics...mostly because Tahlia was trying to stay on topic and not just...talk about Eddie. "Can you just...grab all the files? And maybe compress them on something like...a sim card?" She was thinking of information exchange, and keeping herself, and Reggie, protected. At least Eddie was safely away.

Reggie stared at Tahlia like she had two heads, and both of them were scowling at him. It wasn't her fault he supposed, sometimes it was like they were speaking entirely different languages. "I can get in, though I'll have to get through his firewall and any encryptions he might have. When Blowfish came out I put my pin prick code together. When Twofish happened I came up with double hook. Now I try to stay ahead of the curve." Reggie laced his fingers, extended his palms outwards until the knuckles in his hands popped before raising them over his head, stretching until his shoulders and spine popped. Only then did he release them, arcing them down to the side and bringing them back together as prayer hands in front of him as he exhaled. "This is where my kung fu is best." He grinned broadly at Tahlia, called up an input box and simply typed. Initiate Program/S'Mores.exe.

Tahlia just - blinked. Several times in succession, slow controlled bats of those wide green eyes. She hadn't the foggiest idea what he was talking about, but assumed from the sudden zen master moment that he had a plan. Grinning back, she leaned over and kissed his temple. "That's my Reg. This is why I only ever call you, Pop Tart. You never let me down." Eddie didn't either, but calling him right now wouldn't do either of them any good. "Don't worry about interpreting it...wait...do you..."

The little blonde took a breath, and tried to translate what she had in her head. "Can we like, zip the info on one, and put a... magnifying glass on another? I don't need to see the information, I just have to get it to someone. If they're separate...it's like the zip drives. From the Gala." She still had those, stashed in places only she knew about. "That way they're only useful if you have both pieces." They might speak different languages, but so far, the kid had never not been able to translate her, or Eddie for that matter. She was pretty sure it was at least a little because he never wanted to tell either of them no.

"I can do a lot of things, frag out the data between sim cards so that you'd need both to have anything. I could arrange for a sign, countersign application to verify that the cards in question are not fakes or copies. I could arrange for a black box system, one that will keep the cards active and download anytime this Adder guy saves anything. I can't make it all visible on a card though, because storage capacity is exceeded by the amount of information." He wasn't sure what she needed, and unfortunately no amount of kisses would change the laws of physics. "Leaving this program in place isn't an option so, if you want something viewable, you'll have to pick what it is." He wanted another pop tart, but taking one before business was complete was a little like asking for both halves of a payment upfront.

"No..something they've got to put on a computer is best." Tahlia closed her eyes, trying to think this through. This was when she missed Eddie the most. He was more familiar with all of this then she was, even if it wasn't by much. Her plays had always depended on a fairly basic formula, that didn't require the level of technology Reggie and Eddie seemed to take for granted. "Can we do the countersign thing...so they need to upload both to get the information? Does that...does that make sense?" There was a subtle snap from the kitchen, the toaster finishing its work. The truth was she was just glad for the company. Toaster pastry was a small price to pay, and there'd likely be some cash in it as well.

Reggie unzipped the front pocket of his backpack and a black box about the size of his palm. Next came a USB cable and a pair of micro cards. He plugged the cable into his computer then into the box before pushing the cards into place. A pair of LED's on the face of the box lit up as he locked the cards into place. "You'll need this too, in order to get the data back together." He dragged and dropped the contents of Adder's hard drive into the window that popped up, the fans of all three computers started working overtime. "I didn't use identical cards, because you'd need to mark them so you know which goes into slot A and which into B. You'll have to remember the difference. The way this works is A gets the sign, B gets the counter. It's randomized but they'll only recognize each other. I could make a copy of either but they'd fail that initial handshake even though all the other data is the same."

He looked up as the toaster sounded, eyes going to the kitchen. "Sounds like they're playing my song in there." He'd have beamed at the comment once, he was much too cool for that kind of thing now. Cool and absolutely serious! Someone had to be, right?

It looked better on him than it had, once upon a time. But she knew in there somewhere was the kid who had eaten licorice pipes in her bathroom, and flushed when she and Eddie got lost in each other. He just seemed to feel like he had to fill those shoes while the big man was away. "Sounds like it...I think I might have extra icing from the box of apple cinnamon...if you want it." Rising from the couch, she rumpled his hair, and sauntered off to the kitchen. She understood - why else was she wearing one of Eddie's shirts? She'd saved the last voicemail he'd left her too, just to hear his voice. Dropping the Pop Tarts onto a plate, she grabbed the extra icing, just in case.

Once the download was complete Reggie disconnected the cable from the computer. "You sure extra icing isn't just for kids?" He hadn't felt much like a kid lately, he wouldn't admit it to anyone either, but he hadn't felt much like a person. That didn't stop him from covering his tracks with the thing that made S'Mores best, melty gooey marshmallow. "Today, everyone's a winner." In his estimation there were two ways to cover his infiltration into the casino's servers. Perhaps it would have been smarter to leave no traces, but the rest of him wanted it to be seen as something else. He wouldn't see it happen, but he knew that as soon as he'd disengaged the coin machines would start paying out at twice their normal rate. They'd know they'd been hacked, but it would look like that was the intention all along.

(written with Reggie's player, with much thanks)
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Tahlia Faras
Adult Wyrm
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Joined: 01 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2018 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It had taken a little effort to ensure that the limo's arrival at the Seaside high rise went unreported. A little coin to convince the security guard to let them up silently. But quiet was about to go out the door. Large oak doors barely muffled the frantic rise and fall of nearly a dozen voices within, and Tahlia took a breath, waiting for the opportune moment.

"But we have to sign a contract! With Adder gone, who knows what will happen to the last one? We all signed in blood! Did anyone think to consult a demonologist? A lawyer?" There were papers everywhere, and ten very panicked men, all with hair shading from grey to white, dressed like copies of each other. There was an empty space at the end of the table, very clearly the late, unlamented Samuel Adder's seat. In his absence, one Alfred R. Pennywhistle was trying to assert his authority. "Gentlemen! We must have a plan! Who knows who might try to take over?"

As if rehearsed, the doors swung open, revealing a petite blonde in a fire engine red dress, perfectly coifed and put together. Dressed to impress, as was the short, balding man behind and to her right, wearing a grey houndstooth with a bright pink trim and matching shirt. The men might be forgiven if their eyes were drawn to her left, however. Eddie might be the biggest thing any of them had ever seen.

It's amazing how much support can be conveyed with a wink, and Tahlia had received two of them one each from both men. Eddie said little, at least he'd dressed up...although the tie didn't exactly go with the leather jacket he wore, he was rocking it. He wasn't here to talk, not unless there was no other choice in the matter, and then the things he would say would be neither businesslike nor politically correct. They would be much more...forceful is a good word, let's go with that. Fortunately the need to talk was taken from him almost immediately.

"Oh good, you're all here. I've got to tell you boys that I've been looking forward to this for at least the last several months." Saul took a deep nasally breath that was certainly meant to be heard by everyone. "Smell that gentlemen? That's opportunity, and it's just walked through the door. I've taken the liberty to prepare a few notes... call them... points of interest." A few notes, in Saul's world, ended up looking more like him opening his briefcase and handing thick folders to everyone seated at the table.

"Who the hell are you?" The voice came from the head of the table, its tone filled with importance and disdain. "And what are you doing here?"

"Saul Mortimer, and I'm bringing you the future! Now, put your bifocals on, open the packet and let's get started. You'll see that you've all received copies of this original document which hands over... upon the death of Samuel Adder... all rights to The Golden Bough, the trailing documents accede the same rights to a couple other interests. So, here we are... I give you The Future!" Saul moved closer to Tahlia and presented her quite flamboyantly. "Tahlia Faras. I know, it's a shocker isn't it?"

The object of his presentation stepped forward and gave Saul a kiss on the cheek. "This is why I love you, Saul." Turning her attention to the slack jawed board, Tahlia smiled sweetly, those pale green eyes landing on each of them for a moment, as if she already knew them. "Gentlemen, if I can use the term loosely, you'll find that Samuel saw fit to leave everything, and I do mean everything, to me. I'll be implementing a number of changes, not to mention making arrangements to repair the recent damage to the Bough, and possible rebranding of Club Zenith. Contracts will be reviewed, and renegotiated. Well...some of them will."

She hadn't moved, save for that single step. "You have two choices. Do what I tell you, or leave. It's my way or nothing, and please don't make the mistake of assuming that you can fool me, or control me. Samuel Adder thought the same. And look where we all are now."

One of the mid-ranking members, a reedy man with salt and pepper hair, and the unfortunate luck to be named Aloysius Honeywell had been staring with consternation at the trio. "By the two moons! She's...she's Adder's latest...doxie!" He said it like most people said much worse things. "You don't really think we'll let you take a seat at the table when you should be flat on your back on top of it!"

"Woah... Easy there big fella, there are ladies present!" Saul started talking, which was probably a good thing because it was what stopped Eddie as he moved. "Look, I understand you're pain. Miss Faras understands it too. Change is hard, sometimes harder than it's worth. So with that in mind we've put together severance packages tailored to each of you individually... minus a few of your less than above board expenditures. Alan Landry? You'll be happy to know that last night's 250 dollar rent a redhead on the company credit card isn't included... I already had the packages put together and didn't have time to redo just yours."

Pages ruffled in all their hands loud enough that it could have been a bindery. "Why is the balance on mine a negative number?" The question came from Mr. Honeywell, his tone gone from aggravation to perplexed.

"Why don't we ask your bank down in the Kaymans?" Saul was quick to interject. "This might be a good time to note for you that IT has frozen your access to company accounts, and our security boys are on standby to have you removed from the building. Miss Faras fully expects those funds to be returned... or she'll expect something of equal value. Do you have life insurance?" Saul paused for three whole seconds. "Nah... I'm kidding, we know you have life insurance. We know the benefactor, and we know how to make the burden of compensation fall on your surviving heirs."

The balding man in the audacious suit began to move back and forth across the boardroom, pulling the eyes and attention that was being cast angrily at Tahlia to himself. "You've all managed to make a lot of money for Mr. Adder. Did you have to go and sell your souls to do it? Miss Faras doesn't want your soul... she doesn't want your blood, and if we're all friendly there's no reason to believe that she will seek either. Miss Faras expects your loyalty, one hundred percent to her. There's a new hierarchy for you... it goes like this. Miss Faras... Work... God.. and if you have time, family. I know, I know... Saul, this is going to take some getting used to. You're right, but think about this. Why would Miss Faras ask you for a seat at the table she owns?" He nearly said something about if she wants to be flat on her back on top of it, they'll just have to figure out how to work around her. But he thought that might be too much.

There was only one man in the room she was likely to assume that position for, and he was a large enough presence that there was no working around the pair of them. But none of that needed to be said. One might assume that the men at that table had gotten where they were by being smart. But they had, more often than not, eschewed smart, for conniving. Which didn't come with as many perks. It could, however, explain why dear Aloysius didn't let the matter go. He did, after all seem to have little left to lose. Rising from the table, his hands in fists, he stormed around the table, fingers uncurling just enough to jab a finger in Tahlia's direction. "Why should we listen to some trumped up tart? If she had a brain in her head, she'd...well, she'd hardly do that." He was on shaky ground, since every one of the men in the room had at least one mistress of their own, if not more...admitting they might be competent at business didn't bear thinking about. "No-one will believe any of...of this]! And we'll sue!"
"Oh, they will. The papers are just the tip. Although I've seen proof some of you haven't more than that. Such naughty, naughty boys you've all been. Thinking money and privilege would protect you. I might be a tart, but just think about all the things you've let slip to yours. And she's more than willing to talk...they all are...now that they don't have to do those things you like so much." Tahlia didn't have to say them. He knew. They all knew their own sins.

Rage contorted those thin features, and Aloysius Honeywell crossed the short distance with a few strides of pinstripe clad legs. That pointing hand shot out, and grabbed Tahlia by the throat. It might turn out to be the stupidest thing he ever did.

There wasn't time for Aloysius to close his fingers before there was a much bigger hand on the man's throat. Eddie's expression changed for an instant to unbridled rage before he managed to pull back on the everythings well in any world that has Eddie Blake smile. It might have been because Aloysius' feet had left the floor, or it could have been the way Eddie carried him to the nearest window and used his head to send splintering cracks along its surface. "Babe... I think this is our window for letting this guy go!" The window was groaning its protests as Eddie pressed harder against it. He leaned in and started whispering to Aloysius quietly, the man's eyes grew wide. "Every inch... you got that?"

If either Tahlia or Saul were at all surprised, it didn't show, although the blonde took a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment as her fingers twitched at her side. A few too many bad memories, there. "I think you're right, baby. It's a shame, but I really can't risk having someone I can't trust around, can I?" There was a pause, those wide peridot eyes meeting burnt sienna across the room, the tip of her tongue just visible against crimson lips for an instant before she gave the tiniest nod. "I think it's time to let Mr. Honeywell go, don't you think, Eddie?"

Eddie grinned wider at Tahlia's nod and shoved a little harder. It was enough to cause the window to break fully. "Maybe the company will do him one last favor and drop him off somewhere special?" He looked at Aloysius, and shook his head. "Relax... it's a joke, it's all a ****en joke. I'm just gonna show you the front door." He opened his hand and there was a long scream that ended abruptly. Eddie put his head out the window and looked down. "Missed it by that much." He turned on the rest of the board members. "Clearly the man was suicidal, anyone else feeling... uhm... depressed?"

There was a resounding silence in the wake of that scream. After a suitable period, Tahlia calmly cleared her throat, one hand gesturing to the still prepared Saul. "I'm glad to see you're all...on board, as it were." Walking around the table, she took Adder's seat at the head, and nodded. "Let's get started, shall we?"

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But now and then, a woman walks up, full blossom, a woman just bursting out of her dress - a sex creature, a curse, the end of it all.
― Charles Bukowski, Post Office
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