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A Dangerous Con: Meeting Trixie

  Beryl walked confidently towards the Gangplank head high in their new attire.  The municipal employees did not seem to notice her passage as they boarded the tram or otherwise made their way home.  There was no sign they cared about her presence let alone recognized her which is exactly what the feline wanted.  

    Beryl considered the problem from several angles and two days was more than enough time to plot the meeting with Trixie. They would act with confidence and move forward whatever happened.  Still they had allies who would attempt to run interference.  Everything came into place after they remembered ‘What would Lynn do?’

    Beryl entered the familiar setting and was greeted with an almost empty room.  Underby and his brood had kept away most of the regulars with their sour presence.  The staff seemed absent leaving Bert the lone bartender.  He was serving Wisp, a mute moreau who communicated by drawing pictures.  He was to run interference along with Hyde who was missing.  The two should be able to make quite a disturbance if necessary.

   The only other patron was Mariah Lanfier, whose presence made Beryl tense momentarily.  They willed themselves to walk past the treacherous woman without acknowledgment. Bookworm had said that she would be here or send a friend, but the feline would have prefered someone less willing to backstab her allies.  

   “Sorry Miss, didn’t notice you come in,”  Bert called out with a bartenders friendly tone.   At the moment he could only see her back otherwise he might have recognized her already.  Then again perhaps not.  He had always been a good-natured fellow with a long memory for faces, but Beryl had interacted with him rarely.  “What can I get you?”

   “Nothing just yet,” Beryl replied as she stood near the bakery. She turned and he finally recognized her heterochromia eyes. That was the only feature she could not disguise. “I’m waiting on a friend.”  

   She raised a single finger to her mouth and breathed a quiet shushing noise.  Bert nodded slowly, seeming to understand that some subterfuge was about to take place.  The cat was surprised with how quickly they understood one another.  Perhaps his years around Emerson, or experiences long before this, had made him quick on the uptake.  They knew nothing about the man now they considered him.

    It was good he understood what was needed with only a few gestures.  A fancily dressed woman in a flamboyant hat entered the room leaving no time for explanations.  The punctual lady smiled at Bert who turned his attention towards the newcomer welcoming her.

  “Thank you, sir.”  She smiled flirtatiously at him.  “Is there a Miss Strifeclaw here?”  Bert gestured to Beryl, who purred as the woman moved to join her.  She gave Beryl a glowing smile,“Hello.  I’m Trixie Petterbottom.  Mr. Nick said you wanted to talk about something.”

  “Beryl, Beryl Strifeclaw, and this should not take long Ms. Petterbottom,” they replied with a tone that mirrored Trixie’s own enthusiasm.  

  “Beryl, that’s a lovely name!  And that is a beautiful dress as well!”  She looked the feline up and down appreciating the craftsmanship.  Despite the platitudes their energetic approach was disconcerting to the cat and she found it difficult to return the smile.

   They soon moved to the table behind Mariah to speak more comfortably.  Bert blessedly ignored them until they ordered wine, and Mariah never stirred from her own drink.  The problem came when Hyde arrived ready to interfere if he was needed.  Wisp, unaware that Hyde was in on the scheme, rushed to the man doing his utmost to distract him.

   Beryl hid their annoyment as her plan backfired on her own allies.  It was too late to correct the mistake now.  She kept her attention on Trixie and tried to ignore the growing ruckus from the other side of the bar.  Trixie herself seemed oblivious to their existence.  “Mr. Nick said to meet with you, but I can’t quite imagine what this is about.”

  “Before I enter any agreement, I wanted to speak with someone who can tell me about the people I’ll be working with.  A few questions upfront to avoid….a little cat fighting.” She grinned at the phrase for just a moment before she continued.  “Mr. Nicholas mentioned that he had several ladies under his care.  One would hope that my appearance would not unsettle the other girls?”

   “I should think not!  You’re quite fetching, as they say!” Trixie responded full of reassurment, steamrolling any doubt in her path. “I believe none of the dear souls would have a problem.  They took me right under their wing!”

  “We all needed help learning the craft from time to time.  The Sinclair’s took me in and showed me the way when I was lost.” Beryl took a short sip of wine, keeping their gaze on Ms. Petterbottom. Dr. Maddox had taken them in, but not for that purpose.  The familiar leaned forward grinning at Trixie, while studying her responses, “If they would accept me and not mind my appearance then my decision is becoming even more clear.”

  “They are all wonderful girls, and Mr. Nick too!  Such a fine gentleman.”  

   Trixie’s enthusiasm appeared less sincere with each passing moment.  Beryl had hoped to meet with a woman who might be willing to warn her away from Nicholas. Give them someone else on the inside so it did not have to be the cat herself.  The familiar tested her discreetly, “He seems like a darling fellow, but with a hint of darkness buried beneath the surface.  Would you say he’s strong?  Someone who takes care of his girls?”

   Trixie drank from her own glass more greedily, and ended by nodding vigorously, “Most assuredly.  He sees that all the girls have fine clothes and the best hairdressers and all they need for the work, for which he pays well.”

  Beryl studied her measured response over the table and tried to sound relieved, “I expected no less, but I had heard the rumors and wanted to make sure.”

 “Rumors?”  Trixie asked coyly as she leaned in as if anticipating the latest gossip.  “Do tell!”

 “Well,”   Beryl paused and continued more reluctantly. “I asked a few friends and they tried to claim he beats his girls.”   

  Trixie let out a laugh as she slapped the table, “Pshah!  I’ve never heard such a thing!  Mr. Nick treats all the girls like family!”  Her sudden movement had shifted something loose. A small purse with an embellished N was hanging out of her dresses clevage.  Beryl politely informed her she was about to lose something and Trixie thanked her. “‘Scuse me a moment.”  The woman winked as she shifted her dress and placed the purse back into her cleavage.  “Now where were we?”

 “I think I have learned everything I need to Ms. Petterbottom.”  Beryl replied with enthusiasm that did not match her thoughts.  This woman was willing to lie about Nicholas’s wrath, endangering other women seeking the truth before they became trapped.  Even if she feared his reprisal Beryl could not trust her.  The cat would have to do it herself.  “You have been most reassuring and I’ve made my decision.  Tell him I would love to speak to him once again about the proposal, this time to accept.”

   Trixie looked ecstatic at her announcement, but also incredibly relieved, “I shall be certain to give him the message!  No doubt he will write to you at the Essex within the next evening!”

   Beryl wondered if she would look so pleased to know the familiar had not said whose proposal would be accepted.  They exchanged pleasantries as she departed, Beryl complimenting Petterbottom’s dress which was lovely.  She exited the building after a quick tip to Bert and wrinkling her nose at Hyde arguing with Wisp and another urchin who had wandered inside.  Because of the interference only Mariah heard the entire conversation.  The old pirate gave Beryl a warning gaze, “You will have to be careful.  That type always play for keeps.”

  “I know, and that is why I am taking this carefully.”  Beryl said as she looked over at Mr. Hyde still arguing with the children angrily.  He was covered in crushed kraken guts and shouting.  “I will need Hyde’s help tonight with that.”  Having ‘regulars’ and making ‘money’ for him should make Nicholas blind to a few things he might hear.  Unfortunately he would sometimes bring her clients no doubt.  The time to get the drugs was running out.

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  1. Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs June 16, 2016

    Bookworm listened to Mariah’s account of what she’d overheard.  She knew Beryl wasn’t comfortable with Mariah – especially after what had happened up north – but it would have been highly suspicious if Bookworm had gone there herself.  She shook her head at hearing Miss Trixie’s vehement defense of Nicholas.  “Protesting too much?”

    “Oh, yes.  If Beryl was hoping for any allies on the inside…”  The older woman shook her head.

    Bookworm sighed.  “I hope Beryl knows what she’s doing.”

  2. Beryl Strifeclaw Beryl Strifeclaw June 18, 2016

       Beryl couldn’t tell her friends the truth about her entire plan.  She intended to search his bordello and office for any clues that might exist after a year.  He would have been a fool to keep them and only another murder might offer any fresh hints.  That was something she had considered, perhaps women went missing under his employ more often than she knew.  

       These, and even darker thoughts, were not things she had shared with her allies.  They already disapproved of  her other tactics, if they knew everything she intended they would just be even more worried.

  3. violet Solano violet Solano June 18, 2016

    ((your tactics make perfect sense to me, and after you find out the truth, you can give the evedence to the young man so he can enact his revenge.))


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