Beryl snuck into the kitchen one evening with Qismah’s brew. She rummaged around for several minutes unsure of where things were located. At first she avoided the cast iron pots and pans, but eventually searched the center island where they were hanging. She finally spiked what she needed underneath the cabinet. The feline stood and turned to walk away quickly, but the left side of her face banged into a hanging iron skillets.
Cursing as her fur burned she swiftly made her way to the nearest sink and washed her face. Someone entered the kitchen at the noise, but helped when they saw her nursing her eye. Back in her room she noted the swelling that thankfully did not look burnt. She would try to cover it up with some cosmetics and brushing her fur. Sadly this wasn’t like Nicholas’s assault last week which left no trace nor had any of the strikes since then, but Wright’s reaction when she mentioned it casually had been…severe.
His anger over a single punch and the demeaning words were surprising to her. But that shock would only grow stronger the next evening when she had to visit the Gangplank for her rounds with Crystal. Not wanting to appear objectionable she agreed quickly though she hoped everyone there would hold their peace. She arrived in the middle of a conversation, and figured that she would just blend into the background while Crystal made her rounds.
Cyan Rayna was sitting on the sofa’s alone while at the bar several men lined the seats including Hyde, Wright, and many others. As she walked into the building Cyan shouted a friendly, oblivious greeting. “Hello Beryl!”
From the familiar, tone of voice he was ignorant of what Myrtil had asked of the urchins or Strifeclaw. She and Tepic often kept those who didn’t need to know out of the loop. If that had been it, she might have been able to explain it away to Crystal later. Cyan was a cheetah moreau after all, but then Hyde turned towards her.
He stiffened at the sight of her and shouted, “Beryl!”
The emotion and distress caught her by surprise, so much so she looked about for another Beryl in confusion. She had never seen Hyde worried before as he put his drink down and rushed over to her. He placed his hand on her shoulder looking her up and down “Oh, thank god… Where were you?!”
Beryl blinked in response, feeling rather embarrassed and confused by the display she could not understand. Had she missed an appointment they were supposed to have? She would never adequately explain this to Crystal, who would report the encounter. The cat herself did not even understand where it was coming from in the first place, but Wright sat at the bar with an unapologetic stare.
After the long awkward pause Hyde finally released her shoulder and apologized for his outburst. He breathed to her, “Sorry, I heard you got roughed up by…Him.”
“What gave you that impression?” she replied with a dismissive wave of her hand. “No, I’m fine Mr. Hyde.” She fully intended to deny such allegations in public knowing what would happen if she did not. Nicholas would still have questions or a reprisal waiting for this outburst. She’d heard warnings he did not like girls to bring in ‘clingy’ or ‘overprotective’ clients. The feline never thought she had to worry about that from Hyde.
The dark haired man stared at her unconvinced and shrugged, “Whatever. Can I get you a drink or something?”
“Yes, that would be lovely darling,” She giggled and he led her to the bar, while Crystal moved towards the tables far away. She was still watching Beryl and Hyde from afar as she picked her mark.
“Pick your poison,” Hyde offered as he helped the feline to her bar stool.
“Ravilian Red,” Beryl said automatically. She wanted everyone to get used to the order, but she had always hated the taste of alcohol. However, she had learned the fastest way to make friends or set up a mark was to share in their vices.
“…And some extra ice in a separate glass if this place has any.” Hyde requested while the crowd got back to their mirth.
While Bert produced a bottle of wine, which she doubted was true Ravilian in origin, Mr. Hyde picked up his drink and finished it. Beryl took a moment to sip her wine, before Hyde offered her a cool washcloth. “Here kitty. Hold this till we get the ice.”
Beryl had just put her drink down when the cool compress touched her face. She let out an indignant yelp, “What do you think you’re doing, Mr. Hyde?”
“Just trying to help.” It was his turn to appear confused by her reaction. “Ice will keep the swelling down.”
“Swelling?” She had already forgotten the pot from yesterday morning, and what it would look like to Hyde. That he knew from Wright was enough but what he must think seeing it? “I see. My thanks, I suppose.”
“You haven’t looked in a mirror lately, have you?” Hyde asked as he studied her, Wright also making little sign he was doing so.
“It…isn’t what you might be thinking,” She argued, but knew that he would never believe she had done this to herself. Wright cocked a disbelieving eyebrow at her protest and shared a meaningful glance with Mr. Hyde.
“I work in a hospital, lady. I know what eye injuries look like.” He countered, accepting no argument she could have made. He lowered his voice to a whisper, “Are you free tonight? We need to talk. Soon.”
Beryl considered this, but realized she had to distance herself from Hyde. After Crystal and their minders relayed his display earlier, and trying to take care of her, and then seeing her that evening would give Nicholas the wrong impressions. “Perhaps another night, Mr. Hyde.” She shook her head and stood, letting the rag fall, “Good evening, gentlemen. I fear I’m just not-”
Hyde grabbed her sleeve and the feline stiffened as Crystal moved slightly on the other side of the bar seeing their distress. If she called out there were men nearby who would come in to protect them both.
The dark haired man leaned in close and whispered, “Beryl. We will meet sometime this week. If he won’t let you out, I’ll break in myself.”
Beryl felt the intensity from Hyde through his grip, and the steel in his voice carried the warning of blood spilled. Wright had said other dark threats about killing Nicholas himself. They did not appear concerned if the man was innocent or not of murder anymore. She did not face him as she whispered curtly, angrily, “Not tonight, Mr. Hyde.”
He released her shoulder, and the feline left without her drink swiftly. Out of the corner of her eye she noted Cyan watching her intently. He would question the urchins soon undoubtedly. She hoped her friends dropped the subject and remembered the other woman still here as she left.
Her escort, one of Nicholas’ regulars followed her home that night, and this time she walked beside him acting shaken from Hyde’s sudden words. She grabbed his arm as if looking for protection and he asked what happened.
“Not now…” She told him, still unsure how she could play this, but was thinking fast. Their open affection towards her was more dangerous than anything. Their every action would come back against her and might cause him to look more closely at her past. If he did that she might be silenced permanently or worse…he could send her away no closer to an answer.