Harper took the roll of money from the man without dropping his gaze, a smirk drawing one side of her mouth into a grin. “It’ll buy you…a week,” she said, tucking the wad of cash into her bra so the effect was something of a second, oddly shaped right breast. It was easily a couple hundred bucks, probably about the rate she charged the shifter girl upstairs per month. She gave a short laugh at her overall unfairness. But really, when you came in wearing duds like that, anyone with a brain would charge you more than the poor girl who’d stumbled in out of the rain without a jacket.
The man’s comment on her promise of bodily harm turned her grin full beam. “Exactly.” A laugh bubbled up as she turned to look over her shoulder when Joel added his two cents to the mix. “Baby, you love it when I get rough,” she teased, stepping up to the counter to nestle herself between his legs as he slid his empty glass over. She held out one intricately adorned hand, eyes on those sot pink lips framed by a perfectly trimmed beard. The bottle of scotch slid across the bar where it sat near Aedan, hitting the flower decorating her palm with a sharp slap. “You’ve just never seen me truly angry,” she said, setting the bottle next to Joel’s glass with a smile. “Here, help yourself.” One finger tracing his jawline, she purred, “you can work off your tab later.”
Harper slipped away from the warmth of his big form, crooking a finger at the newcomer to follow her as she started toward the stairs. She reached out as she passed Aedan, trailing her fingers through his golden hair. “I’ll be right back,” she told the three of them.
Taking the steps backwards, Harper watched her newest tenant as he followed, again reaching out to his aura. It was a pale blue that faded to grey around the edges, which hung around him like smoky tentacles that curled and weaved.
They went in silence, passing the shifter girl in the slapped together library/lounge area and taking the hall that held the doors to rooms. The ones that were occupied had little signs on the door handles, like you’d find in hotels. Harper opened an empty one and eyed the space as she leaned against the door frame. “So…you’ve got a place to sleep,” she nodded toward the bed, covered in a poofy white comforter. Next to it sat a night table with a lamp and the latest issue of the morning star. "Place to stick your stuff,” a nod toward the green dresser, a flat screen and TV box sitting atop it. “There’s cable, got all the channels. You find your own goddamn food and you clean up after yourself. I am not a chef and I am not a maid.” She pointed down the hall a ways. “Bathrooms are through there. Enjoy your stay at casa del Moon. Don’t bug me unless it’s really fucking important.”
With that, she left him, passing the shifter who headed toward her own room on her way back down to the club section. Faraday poofed into existence next to her as she reached the bar, a yellow swirl forming like a mini tornado right before he materialized. Harper’s fingers found the money roll tucked into her bra. She held it out to him, the bills getting disappeared into one of many pockets in the Jareth getup he was sporting. “New tenant,” she told him.
Clarice heard footsteps tromping down the upper flight of stairs and paused in her reading, peering over the book that smelled of dust and mold to see Harper skipping down the steps. The owner of Clarice’s current home was…odd, to say the least. The power that sometimes came off the woman was terrifying, though she’d never seen her do much of anything in the two months she’d been staying there aside from smoke a tremendous amount of weed and flit about. Clarice offered the woman a smile, which was met with a gleeful salute as the woman disappeared down into the club section. Moments later the dull thump of music could be felt from below, a soothing vibration through the plush arm chair where she sat.
Returning to the book meant returning to her worry, something Clarice did not look forward to. She could still taste blood on her tongue; thick, hot, sour, despite it having been only a dream. Sense memory was a hell of a thing. She could swear it tasted differently than the game she had taken down in animal form – though perhaps that was simply because it was a memory? Diluted, as it were.
She closed the book on a sigh, staring into the eyes of the snarling grizzly embossed on its worn leather cover. Through and through she had read it, checked seams for hidden pockets containing secret messages. Nothing. It had given her no answers the half dozen times she had read it. Why she kept coming back to it, she had no idea.
Tongue ran over teeth once again, feeling as though they were slick with blood and not just saliva. She shivered at such a terrible thought, pushing herself up from the chair to reshelf the book and leave the foggy memories of her dreams behind. The days she had off were always the hardest. It was sad, really, that she’d been in town two months, lived above one of the most popular supernatural hotspots, and didn’t know what to do with herself on nights she had free from work. They were usually spent reading, but Clarice had wasted enough time in the written word for one night.
She was trying to talk her feet into carrying her down the steps to the club scene when Harper appeared, somehow walking backward in five inch heels without falling on her backside. She was studying a man Clarice hadn’t seen before, towering over him as she did most everyone. Clarice watched her lead him to a vacant room and give a rundown similar to the one she had received upon arrival.
As Harper started back toward the club, Clarice found her feet had indeed begun moving, though they took her down the hall instead of toward the loud base filling the space below. She walked right up to the man who smelled of very little magic as he peered through the open door into his new living space, holding out her hand. “Hello. My name is Clarice.”