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A Dangerous Con: The Second Trial, ‘Smiley’s’ Chocolate Rush

  Beryl tugged on her new black gloves, getting the feel for them as they passed her wrist and enveloped most of her lower arm.  The new gloves matched her newest dress that Erica had prepared for her.  They’d never worn extravagant armwear before, but she was not minding the change of pace.  She was just glad this summer was not as hot as past years.  She admired her appearance in the mirror, and the rose patterns cleverly stitched so they blended into the garment.

   The feline double checked to make sure she was ready for the contest later this evening. Everything appeared to be in order, the small purse containing a wrapped chocolate and enough morphine to put down a horse.  Her first week had mostly been filled with her old regulars trying to protect her, but they could not see her every evening.  Nicholas reserved her a night with a drunk in the mood to try something new, and would arrange other future appointments.

   It had been easy to dull the initial man with offers of morphine until he passed out.  The next morning he woke in her bed stripped and with no memory of the previous evening.  Unfortunately, having no recolection of a night spent in her company would get suspicious quickly. She figured that her ruse had two or three weeks at most, so she needed to make every moment count.  

  Beryl joined Diamond in the lobby who had taken this challenge to heart.  She was dressed in her best evening clothes which hugged her form and left nothing to the imagination.  She wore tall heels which left her ankles exposed, up to her short skirt far above her knees.  From her hairstyle to her heels there was no mistaking her profession or she loved to flaunt what she had, “Nicholas choose an old regular we know around here as ‘Smiley’.  You’ll never meet a more pitiful fellow in your life.  Spends his evenings here and at Ruby’s,”  She grinned toothily,  “You have to steal him away from me, after I’ve already got him started.”

  “That isn’t what Nicholas described in his letter.”  The words of his letter ran through her mind as she replied uncertainly.

   The woman shrugged her shoulders as she walked away leaving Beryl behind to catch up, “Guess you missed his fine print.”

  Beryl stared at the back of the lady suspiciously as they walked towards the Canal district, heading towards Ruby’s pub.  The feline was certain that Diamond was lying since Nicholas mentioned she was incredibly competitive.  The woman was trying to hustle Beryl into an unfavorable position for tonight’s mark.

  They arrived at Ruby’s which was enjoying a rambunctious evening.  Several men sat at tables and three members of a small local gang were conversing at the bar.  Diamond turned their heads when she entered, and Beryl also received a few ‘cat calls’.  One man sitting in the corner alone sipping his drink was the one Diamond signaled was their mark.  He was in his late twenties with greasy unwashed hair and pasty skin that had not seen the sun outside New Babbage for years.

  She motioned for Beryl to stay behind, winking, and approached the man who looked up from his glass with a tired expression.  “Hey there, Smiley.  Is this seat taken?”

  Beryl moved to join Diamond and stood beside her, “You look like you could use company.”  Diamond turned to stare at her, but the feline only winked back.  She had waited until the more experienced woman had ‘started’.  

  ‘Smiley’ did not seem to notice their exchange.  He was staring past them towards the bar, “Is it ever taken, Di?”  They sat at opposite sides of him and she pressed herself close, Beryl not to be outdone sat closer and wrapped her tail around him.  The fellow jumped and turned to Beryl blinking. She purred demurely as the man asked, “Nicholas is taking on Moreau now?”

  “Mr. Nicholas is quite the entrepreneur.” She responded quietly while meeting his gaze with her own.  The cat had seen the other girls bat their lashes flirtatiously, but her attempts to Erica and the other girls had prompted laughter.  Instead she held his attention with her oddly colored eyes staring into his own.  “I hope that isn’t a problem for you, sir.”

  The fellow did not respond as he put his drink back down.  Diamond, upset that his attention had been called away, put her hand on his leg and stroked gently.  “If the kitty is bothering you, I can always ask her to go away.  We could have a more intimate evening, just the two of us.”  

  She giggled as his attention turned back to her and he smiled weakly.  Her mirth turned sour when he muttered, “The kitty can stay.  What’s should I call you?”

 She introduced herself quietly, “My name is Beryl.  They tell me you have a nickname you prefer-?”

  Diamond paused her strokes and looked over the man at Beryl.  Belatedly she discovered the nickname had not been mentioned to his face.  Fortunately the fellow shrugged, “Just have a name.  It’s Pual.”

  “Pual?”  She purred lightly as she tested it on her tongue and then giggled.  She put her elbow on the table and leaned against it while she met his gaze, “That’s certainly an interesting name to say.”

  “So I’m told,” He replied halfheartedly, but he seemed to like staring into her multi-colored eyes.  Diamond quietly seethed whenever Pual turned his attention towards the cat.  Their competition for his attention was not going in her favor and it continued to tip against her.  Within thirty minutes of flirting the fellow rarely grinned and it soon turned sour when he did, but clearly he wanted to try someone, something, new.

 Beryl was getting confident it was time to pull out her finisher.  She fished out her purse and took out the special wrapped chocolate she had gotten from Phaedra.  It made her feel guilty knowing he would not be getting what he would expect this evening.  She hoped what he did remember would be worth it.

  She placed the chocolate on the table and waited for a prime opportunity to offer it, which came when his drink ran out.  He continued to drink from it several times even though it was empty, then sigh and glance at the bar wistfully.  Beryl lifted the chocolate temptingly as she unwrapped it, “Perhaps you’d like something sweet to go with your drink?”

  Pual shrugged, but didn’t reach for the chocolate.  Diamond grinned at her toothily, “Maybe you should go get him another ale to go with that, Kitty.”

  Beryl nodded, but set the chocolate down in front of him.  If he ate it that would settle everything, whatever Diamond tried to do in her brief absence.  She stood up and approached the bar confidently, but not without incident.  

  The three men on barstools had identical tattoo’s on the back of their hand, which Beryl did not care to study closely.  They were dressed and smelled like dock workers, and from what she had overheard had the mouths to match any sailor.  When she walked close, they turned their unwanted attentions and roving hands on her.  

  She endured it, to a point, before she ‘sweetly’ informed them she was not on the market this evening, “Mr. Nicholas already arranged my services for this evening.  But…” She winked and let her tail pass along their legs.  “if you want to arrange something through him…I’d be happy to oblige your…needs.”

  “Nicholas Herding, yes?”  One man with a crooked nose grinned. It looked like it had been broken multiple times and set by inexpert hands.  “Be seein’ you little kitty.” He chuckled, but Beryl wondered if he was being serious or just having a few laughs.

  When she had the ale in her hands she returned to the table, or began to when she realized her mistake.  Diamond had taken her chocolate and was now feeding it to Pual.  The feline cursed as the man took a half hearted bite and his expression brightened instantly.  His eyes opened for a moment and then closed as he savored the taste of the special confectionary.  The depression melted off of his face as he beamed with confidence.

  The cat waited for him to turn his affections towards Diamond, but to her surprise the man stood tall and proud.  He walked towards the bar and Beryl who was still quite startled by his sudden change in demeanor.  She had known of the power the chocolates possessed but had never seen it first hand.  It also appeared that Diamond had not been the target of his affections, even if she had given him the chocolate.

  Which only confounded her more when Pual passed Beryl on his way to the bar.  She twirled about in confusion and watched with mounting surprise as he approached the leader of the gang at the bar and tapped his shoulder.  The gang leader turned around and was as shocked as Beryl to see Pual standing there with a lusty smile on his face.  

  That explains why he was so miserable,  Beryl thought as she watched the man suddenly confess his desire.  At first it was sweet, but then the fellow tried to sweep the gang leader out of his stool.

  The gang jumped to their feet and the leader punched Pual in the face.  The poor man fell back knocking over a table and making three more men spill their beers.  These men stood up and looked at the gang for throwing Pual into their table and joined the fight.  Beryl backed away joining Diamond as the seven men struggled against one another.  One of the gang members picked up a stool and smashed it against his opponent, while Paul fought the object of his desire feeling spurned but willing to make amends.  

  Soon more men joined the brawl as tables were overturned, chairs were busted, and drinks were smashed into the ground.  Even those who were trying to break up the other fighters looked like they were having a good time.

  Beryl and Diamond were the last who had not joined their ‘fun’, and with a quiet look at one another they slipped away into the evening. Once they were away Diamond whispered, “What just happened back there?”

    Beryl considered her response quietly.  Her response made Diamond groan, “I think we just lost Mr. Nicholas’s best customer…”

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  1. Russell -AdventureRuss- Firecrest Russell -AdventureRuss- Firecrest July 10, 2016

    Sigmund dangled from a tree in the park
    opposite Ruby’s pub. The sloth was pleased to finally be in his
    natural habitat, but many things weighed on his mind. The most urgent
    concern was the safety of Beryl, who he had been following all
    afternoon. The cat had been quite cryptic about what she was up to
    and where, so Mr Firecrest had asked Sigmund to keep an eye on her.

    Turning his eyes towards the pubs door,
    Sigmund squinted and tried to see inside. It was no use, he was too
    far away and his poor eyesight could not make out more than a vague
    moving blur from within. He could hear laughter and the occasional
    shout, and could smell absinthe and ale.

    As he dangled, his mind filled with
    concern, both for Beryl and Russell, who was gradually sinking deeper
    into depression and was mixing medication with drink and other
    substances. It had gone on for too long and Sig hoped his friend
    would come out of it soon.

    The sloth squeaked and shifted his grip
    as the sound of a breaking chair came from inside. More crashing and
    shouting followed, accompanied by sounds of anger and violence.
    Sigmund stared in panic as a man with a bloody face fell out of the
    door and was set upon by another armed with a table leg. What could
    he do? Sloths are not built for pub brawls and he had no idea how
    far away help might be. Shaking with fear, he started to climb
    carefully towards the ground.

    A familiar smell wafted into his
    sensitive nostrils, a perfume he had been smelling faintly all day.
    Looking down, he saw Beryl and the other girl emerge from the chaotic
    blur of the fight and walk swiftly away up the street, apparently
    unharmed. Sigmund froze, hoping they wouldn’t see him in the tree.

    Once they had gone, he slowly climbed
    the rest of the way and wandered after the pair. His night wasn’t
    over yet.

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