Miriallia stood behind the bar, leaning over the wooden counter. God this was boring. Why did Tolle even bother to open the bar during the day? Who was going to come in for a drink during the afternoon? The only people likely to drop by were raging alcoholics.
Okay, so maybe the odd person might come in to talk over a drink, but those people were more inclined to go to one of the more traditional pubs around the city. Tolle’s club was seen as more of a strip club: A place for adult entertainment, a workplace of the sex industry. Even if it weren’t a totally fair assessment, it was the common assumption, and in some ways, it was true.
Some people tended to avoid places like this. There weren’t many people who talked over business at a strip club, aside from TV gangsters of course, but those kinds of people didn’t exist in the real world, or if they did, they didn’t come in here, and Miriallia had never seen them.
The brunette had seen real gangsters, and they were… different. Less bang-pow; more sociopathy.
The girl checked her phone again. No messages. Come on Lacus, she internally complained. Where are you? Miriallia’s place wasn’t that far away from the club, was it? Okay, maybe a ten minute drive… fifteen if you wanted to obey the speed limit. It had been over twenty since Lacus had called, and she still wasn’t here yet. What was going on? Had Dearka agreed to give her a ride? Had they gotten lost? Were they alright? Was Lacus alright?
No, there was nothing to worry about. Nothing could have happened to the pinkette. Not with Dearka there. The guy was a prick, and he lived on the wrong side of the law, arresting all the people Mir normally associated with, but he was still a good guy. He wouldn’t let anything happen to Lacus. They’d have to go through some seedy neighbourhoods to get here, but it was the middle of the day, and Dearka would protect the pinkette, Mir was sure of it.
She looked back to her phone. Maybe she should give Lacus a call, just to make sure nothing was wrong.
“Expecting a call?” Meer asked, walking over to the bar.
“No, but that’s kinda the problem. Why?”
“It’s nothing. You just looked anxious.”
“No, I’m just waiting for someone. They’re running a little late.”
“Lacus. I’ve been trying to get her an interview with Tolle, but she’s not here yet. If she doesn’t show up soon…”
“Maybe she’s not interested.”
“No, she is. She was desperate for a job. I just hope nothing’s happened to her, that’s all.”
“Lacus… is that a friend of yours?”
“She was here last night, remember? Pink hair, blue eyes, she was dancing on stage with me…”
“I thought that was me,” Meer laughed.
Mir smirked. “Before that.”
“Oh, you mean the virgin?”
Mir’s eyes widened. Was that a new nickname for Lacus? Was it a running joke at the pinkette’s expense, because of her inexperience and timidness? If so, it wasn’t very funny. The girl herself even claimed that she was not a virgin, though she did act like one. “What makes you think she’s a virgin?”
“Oh, no, I wasn’t making assumptions or anything, it’s just… isn’t that her name? That’s what the DJ was calling her.”
“I think it fits though, on more than one level. I mean, last night was her first time on stage, but there’s also the way she acts. Like a virgin, or a prude. She’s like a lost little lamb.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Mir defended.
“I know. It’s just unusual. It’s… cute. Why’s she need to talk to Tolle? Is he pissed about her running off last night?”
“He was, but I calmed him down. I want him to give her another chance, maybe let her do something a little less…”
“I don’t think the stage is too demanding. I mean, she was pretty good before she freaked, and let’s be honest, that wasn’t all her fault.”
Miriallia responded with a coy grin. “I know, if I hadn’t made her go topless, she might have actually filled her time-slot, but if I hadn’t pushed her in the first place, I don’t think she would have gone on at all.”
“That’s a shame. She’s definitely got the ability… not to mention the body. She probably just isn’t comfortable with this kind of work. Maybe she just needs a confidence boost. Maybe I could help.”
Meer’s offer seemed genuine, but there was a glint in her eye that Mir didn’t like. A look of… was it lust? Just what was she planning? Miriallia felt a wave of possession, of protectiveness fall over her. Lacus was hers. Mir had found her first after all. If anyone was going to help the pinkette take the plunge into their world, it was going to be her. “Listen, you seem nice and all, and I’d like us to be friends, so take my advice. Stay away.”
“You heard. Back off. Lacus is mine.”
“You make it sound as though she’s your pet. Okay, so she’s your lamb. I can respect that. It must be nice, being desired by so many people.”
“It is, trust me. It’s just a shame that Lacus doesn’t see it that way.”
“Look, I don’t want to take the virgin away from you or anything. I just want to share. She has so much unfulfilled potential, and it’s adorable, but you do want her to blossom, don’t you?”
“I can handle that on my own. She trusts me. I don’t want someone like you blowing this.”
“Someone like me? You don’t have to be so greedy. I just want a little taste, but okay, I won’t interfere. Just promise me one thing.”
“If you need an extra pair of hands to mould her… just consider me.”
“What if it turns out she’s not into girls?”
“Does it really matter? We’ll all get something out of it in the long run. She gets to develop into a proper woman, you have your little girl all grown up, to do with as you wish, and I get to lay my hands on that body of hers. It’s win-win. I just want to help. Is that so bad?”
“Okay… I’ll consider it. If – and I mean if. If it turns out she needs a woman’s touch, I’d prefer to do it myself, but if do I need help… you’ll be the first person I call.”
“That’s all I ask.”
Just then, the phone rang. Not the cell phone in Mir’s hand, but the landline under the bar. It was an internal call. The brunette picked it up and answered. “This is the bar. Mir speaking… okay, thanks. I’ll be right over.” Hanging up the phone, Mir turned back to Meer. Hey, can you cover for me?”
“What’s going on?”
“Doctor wants to see me.”
Meer gave her a comforting grin. “Good luck.”
“Hey, don’t look at me like that. I’m sure it’s nothing.”
“It’s check-up week, right? Something must be up if she’s calling about your results so soon, especially if she wants to see you in person.”
“Shut up, I haven’t even been tested yet. Besides, she’s got someone there who wants to see me, that’s all.”
“Maybe it’s Lacus.”
Mir’s spirit picked up at that. “Hey, maybe. I wonder how she wound up in the doctor’s office though… I hope nothing happened to her.”
“No… I’d better get going.”
“Okay, see you later.”
Miriallia made her way down the halls and corridors that made up the club. This place had grown quite a lot from the failing nightclub it was when Tolle first got his hands on it. His father, being the unwise drunk that he was, had mismanaged it into the ground.
The brunette wondered what was going through his mind when he decided to leave his failing business to his son. Did he have faith in him, or was it a cruel joke, like passing on a large debt wrapped in the paper of a Christmas gift?
What would he think now? What would he think of what Tolle had turned it into? When he’d started, the club only consisted of what was now the main room, but since then, it had grown. Now they had a bar, a casino, and how could she forget the back rooms.
Of course, Tolle couldn’t take all the credit. It had been Shani’s financial backing that had made it all possible, but favours from the greenet didn’t come free. He had invested a great deal of money into this venture. It was only a matter of time until he would come to claim what he was owed.
Miriallia shook her head. She had more important things to do than think about Shani and Tolle. She had other pressing issues to deal with. Personal ones, such as Lacus, and whatever the doctor wanted, and then there was—
The brunette froze in place, eyes widened. That voice, so familiar. That tone, so arrogant, so smug, so infuriating. Her eyes narrowed as she turned around.
There he was, walking straight toward her. That blond hair, slick as usual. Those violet eyes. That tan skin.
She didn’t need to worry about this problem, it was coming to her. The asshole was coming to her.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded.
“Hey, that’s no way to talk to your boyfriend.”
Miriallia smirked. “You’re not my boyfriend, Dearka. We’re not dating anymore, get it?”
“Yeah, your new office bitch gave me the message.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You know, the stripper you took home last night. Pink hair, blue eyes, white skin like a ghost…second best ass I’ve seen since high school.”
“You’re talking about Lacus.”
“That’s the one. I might never have found you without her, I owe her a lot.”
“She has a lot to answer for then. Leading you to me, bringing you here, letting you into my house… You have no idea how long it took to get your stink out from the last time you were there.”
“Ouch. But she didn’t let me in. She was still in bed when I got there. It’s funny though.”
“Given the way she acts, I wouldn’t expect someone like her to sleep naked.”
Miriallia smirked. “Well, I may have had something to do with that….” Suddenly her smirk dropped. “Wait a minute, if Lacus didn’t let you in…” Dearka reached into his pocket and fished out a familiar looking key… her key! “Wait, how did you… You gave your key back to me, I remember! I had to pry it from your sticky little fingers!”
Dearka looked back at her, his grin suddenly turning sheepish. “Well, I may have happened to uh… make a copy?”
“God you’re a creep. What are you even doing here? I hope you didn’t come to see me.”
“I did actually. You got a minute?”
“No. I’m busy. You see, I work here, and for some people, when we’re at work, we actually do our jobs. Maybe you should give it a try. If you’ll excuse me.” The brunette shoved Dearka away and headed back to where she was going.”
“Yeah,” the blond called out after her. “That’s kind of why I’m here.”
Miriallia froze once more, looking over her shoulder. “What do you mean?”
“I need to talk to you. It’s important. As in, official police business important.”
Miriallia’s eyes widened. What was going on? Was she in trouble? Was Tolle in trouble? Were they somehow linked to… shit! Had they finally busted Shani? No, there was no way he’d betray her, but those other two, or the creep he worked for… they would have no such qualms with leading the police to her if it got them off their trail. For a moment, she was fearful.
Swallowing the lump before it formed in her throat, Miriallia steeled herself. Of all people, why had they sent Dearka? Was it because they had history? Were they planning to use that, or had the blond volunteered? Just what was this about?
“As I said,” Miriallia stated in a cool, collected tone. “I’m busy. How long is this going to take?”
“Not long. We can talk about it later. Will you be home tonight?”
“I don’t know, I guess so.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you there, alone.”
“It’s gonna be a late night. Don’t wait up on my account.”
“Oh, I don’t mind waiting. Just give me a time.”
“Like I said. Don’t wai—“
“Like I said, just give me a time.”
Miriallia sighed. Dejected, voice low, she begrudgingly complied. “I’ll be home at three.”
“Okay, see you then. Just remember. What I want to say is private, so don’t go bringing any stray cats home with you.”
“Hey it’s not my fault if people follow me home. I’m a very attractive, desirable woman.”
“Don’t I know it… okay, guess I’ll see you tonight.”
Miriallia turned away, leaving the blond, but before she could take a single step, she felt a hand grab her by the wrist.
Scowling, she wrenched her arm free, turning back around. “What?!” she demanded.
Dearka merely looked at her, those violet eyes, so full of playful banter before, now joyless. Was he sad, hurt, concerned… guilty?
“What is it?” she asked in a somewhat softer tone. The great blond prick may have been a royal pain in her ass, and she may have dumped him ages ago, but it still pained her to see him like this. Deep down, she did still care for the lump.
“Just… be careful, okay.” Why was he being like this? Miriallia was starting to panic. What was going on? What did he know? “We know what you get up to. You’re hanging out with the wrong kinds of people… people from the wrong side of the tracks.”
“Yeah? Have you forgotten which side of town I live on? From where we’re standing, you guys are on the wrong side of the tracks… the wrong side of the law,” she reiterated.
“Okay, fine, don’t trust us then. That’s probably wise. I get it, but you know you can’t trust them either. They’re scum, Mir. You can act tough all you want, but you’re not one of them. I know you’re not. I know you. If you can’t stay away from this club, then at least try to stay away from the pimps and the gangsters who are always hanging around.
“These people have had free run of the streets, but there’s a change in the wind. We’re closing in on them. Wild beasts don’t react well in cages. If it gives them even a second to get away, they won’t hesitate to throw you in our path to save themselves.
“Maybe you should lay low, stay out of sight for a while… and another thing. Stay away from Andras.”
Miriallia’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “I knew it. Look, Shani is an old friend. He helped me out back in the day so I owed him a few favours. I’ve paid him all he’s owed, just last night in fact. There’s nothing going on.”
“I know. I believe you, but that doesn’t mean the others will. I just… I don’t want a piece of shit like that giving you a bad reputation… I just hope it isn’t already too late.
“Remember what I said, okay? Just keep it in mind. Just… be careful.”
Miriallia swallowed, hard. Her mouth… it was so dry. She needed a drink, and she’d just left the bar. “Yeah, okay.”
“Look, I know you probably don’t trust cops, and that’s fine, I’m not asking you to. Just, don’t trust the gangsters either.” Miriallia nodded. “One more thing. I was just wondering, right here, right now, with just the two of us, do you… shit, don’t worry about it.”
Why was he acting like this? It was so unlike him, it was scary. “What is it? Just ask.”
“Do you trust me?”
Mir’s eyes widened. Why was he so different? Where was the arrogant prick she knew when they were dating? Was this his true self? Was that all an act? Had he changed?
Had Mir done this to him, or was he just so worried about her? She wanted to hug him, to kiss him, to punch him in the face, to do anything, anything to wipe that sad look from his eyes.
“I… yeah, I do.”