September 28th, 2020

_Who Counts_ part 4

"We all have our vices." Ice waved it all away as he strolled up the steps and into the building.

Ruin hustled a bit and made it to the apartment ahead of everyone and unlocked the door. And ran around like mad telling men where to put the furniture.

Then back to work.

Which, when you think about it, this stuff is going to have real world consequences, real soon now, makes it a lot less boring.

At five, Ice handed them keys and cash cards. "I'm assuming Madam Fear will feed you two tonight. So I'll bring dishes, and pans and stuff tomorrow." And sent them off with Granny.

First stop, the apartment.

"Humph! So masculine. Dark leather over stuffed chairs! Well, glam up, girls, let's go party!"

Ruin squeaked, "But we have to work tomorrow!"

"Oh, tosh, girl! That pretty boy knows you two should have a night on the town, your first night here!"

Ruin gulped, and headed for her luggage. Her one low cut blouse, the black skirt that was sort of swirly. Black low-heeled pumps. A little bit of makeup.

Granny shook her head at the outfit, and sent her back to put more color around her eyes. "And add some black, for drama!"

Then a terrifying drive down into what looked like a restaurant-and-bar district to pull up shrieking in front of "Vive la Franswah." Garish in the bright lights of two dance floors and a long bar. Dim on the periphery, which looked to be full of undersized tables.

The woman who popped up to greet them was so made up, it was hard to guess what she really looked like. Wearing something that could have passed as a swimsuit if not for all the lacy frills and sequins. She escorted them through the well lit areas, and then into the dimness and a table. "Your waitress will be right with you!"

Another scantily clad woman trotted up with a menu. Ruin tilted her toward the light of the bar to read it--one page of food, three of various wines, beers, and mixed drinks. Down at the bottom, a tiny list of non-alcoholic drinks.

Granny barely gave it a glance. "Martini? Do you want one too, Fayt?"

Fayt nodded.

The waitress looked at Ruin.

"Shirley temple."

Granny and Fayt looked at her in disbelief.

"I have to work tomorrow."

The waitress just asked if they wanted anything to eat.

"Not yet, leave one menu." Granny waved her away and turned to survey the bar. "Hmm, slim pickings on a Wednesday, but it'll pick up as the night goes on."

The waitress swooped back and delivered their drinks. A shirley temple turned out to be a lemon-lime soda with a dash of cherry juice and two fake cherry spheres on a tooth pick. Not bad at all.

A man walked up. Blonde hair, brown eyes, a faint wrinkle across his forehead advertising an age over a hundred. "Are you ladies waiting for someone, or am I lucky enough to have found three single women?" A smooth baritone, trying to glow at them.

Ugh. Lounge Lizard. At least he's not aggressive about it, like the Teamers.

Granny finished off her drink and stood up. "So, you know how to dance, handsome?"

And then there's Granny. And I am absolutely not expecting her to haul this guy off to a dark corner for a quickie.

Then Fayt flashed a smile at a guy who was at least younger than the first.

Ruin flagged the waitress. "Nachos. And another shirley temple." So I'm not just sitting here.

But there was a pair of men eyeing them, walking up. "You two new in town?"

Fayt beamed. "Just got in this morning. You guys work around here?"

"Yep. We can tell you all about Paris. You like to dance?"

"Oh yeah!"

And off they went, leaving Ruin eyeing the other man.

"So . . . just out of curiosity . . . is this like, the premier sleazy pickup joint in Paris?"

A big guy at the bar snorted beer and started laughing.

The guy standing beside her looked around and glared. Looked back and smiled. "Not even close. So what are you doing in Paris?"

"I'm a Directorate School student, interning for the summer."

"Oooo! An Intern. Is that what they call it these days?"

Ruin lowered her brows and turned away, for lack of anything else, to look at the menu.

"Oooo! The cold shoulder! Hey, look guys, we've got a Directorate Intern, here. Who thinks she's too good for us."