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Friday, June 2, 2023

F³ Name Recognition 15

I trudged off in a most depressive fashion until I got out of the room. Once free from unwanted eyes, I began to survey the place. The Fairhaven Club was one of the older establishments in Belport, with the same 19th century stylings that gave rise to fanciful mansions and buildings with hidden nooks and secret passages. I had no doubt such actually existed in this place. The secrets that had been spoken in these walls would likely bring down many great people, and shock the general population as to how many of those secrets were needed to make day-to-day life normal.

But for me, I needed to do two things. First, I needed a room for me and Nikki, later. I had done business in this place before, so that was easy enough to arrange. I flagged down a young woman in her uniform, which resembled a tuxedo version of a Playboy Bunny costume with tux tails instead of a cotton ball and a bow tie instead of bunny ears.

“Excuse me . . . Sonia” I read from her nametag, “I am in need a of a private room for some intimate business.”

“Oh! Yes, sir. We have a number of those rooms. Let me check to see what’s available.”

I suppressed a sigh, remembering that in this place, private could also mean intimate, and that such a room would have some sort of bed, either overtly or a fold-out from a couch or wall.

She pulled something up on her phone, which had been tucked into a thigh-high stocking. “Yes, we do have some of those rooms available. How long will you need it for?”

It was a good question. I didn’t want to commit to anything too long, and while I wanted to be done as quickly as possible, I had a feeling that Nikki and I would have to discuss some things, and make some plans.

“Two hours, in about an hour.”

Sonia gave no reaction to the amount of time I requested.

“Reserve it under Nikki Alexander,” I said as she tapped away.

She blinked, then looked at me. “Oh! Yes, I see.”

Apparently, as the only female member of the club, everyone knew Nikki.

“Will you and Ms. Alexander be needing any special requirements of the room?” Her voice dropped into sultry smooth. “Perhaps someone specific to attend your needs?”

I did the math on that pretty quick. In a club full of handsy old men, it was probably an open secret among employees that it was preferable to get in with Nikki, in whatever capacity.

Love to see the BPD come through here, but I’m sure Collins would tell me that every city official was a member.

“Yes, please ask Sonia, that’s S-O-N-I-A, to join us,” I smiled. I tried to make it a sly, knowing smile.”

“Why thank you Mr.—”

“Allen,” I provided.

She nodded. A few more taps, and she extracted a business card from her bra, then wrote on it before extending it to me. I took the gold-edged card, which had her name, club contact number, and in her hand, a room number and a sequence of alphanumeric characters.

I quirked an eyebrow at her. “Last time I was here there was a physical key.”

“There have been some upgrades over the last year. There was an issue with members not returning the keys. Text the room number with this code when you get to the door and it will unlock.”

I nodded, slowly. Tech really wasn’t my thing, though Cassie and Ira had dragged me into the 21st century.

“Does Ms. Alexander have any . . . preferences?” Sonia asked.

Friday, May 26, 2023

F³ Public Display 14

            “They are quite lovely, Thomas,” Nikki said. “I may have to arrange for a pretty for myself, tonight.”

            I felt the warmth of Nikki’s will momentarily wrap around me before releasing. It was the sort of thing that I couldn’t truly get used to. She didn’t do it often, smothering my own will in the warmest, most comfortable weighted blanket when it was cold outside. When she withdrew it, there was an absence, a longing to get it back. Certainly that was what Thomas had done to his pretties, wrapped them up some that all they craved was more of that warm presence wrapped around their souls.

            For me, though, it was a clear signal.

            I pinched Nikki’s bottom.

            Instead of jumping or giggling, or do any of the things that I probably would’ve wanted, her eyes whirled on me, hard as stone and piercing like daggers. “I have warned you repeatedly that now is not the time. Nor is it time for your jealousy.”

            She stood up and crooked a finger at me to get up.

            I did.

            “Go. I have business to conduct and I’ll not have you pouting and pining for me. Arrange a room for us so that I can have proper words with you . . . and pick up a pretty for me. I’m sure the club will be accommodating. But be sure you are waiting for me when I have concluded my business.”

            I had kept my head down and sunk further into myself with each word, being suitably abashed.

            “Yes, Nikki,” I said meekly.

            “Leave us,” she commanded.

            I left, making sure I kept up the meek, defeated posture until I had disappeared into the hallway.

            Maybe I can get to the bottom of this, now.

Friday, May 19, 2023

F³ Pretties 13

            “When I signal,” Nikki whispered, “pinch me.”

            She didn’t give me time to respond as she strode into the salon, pulling me with her. She aimed straight for a pair of the younger men with two women each on their laps, both fawning heavily over them.

            My immediate instinct was that they were vampires, or perhaps wights, but as I got closer, I thought the one with light red hair had the slight yet powerful build of one of the fae. My encounters with their kind had been blessedly rare, but my old partner Max had run into them a few times and had described them and given me the literature to identify them.

            The other one had a strong chin that he constantly kept lifted up, as if he were some kind of royalty. He well could have been as I suspected he the dark hair and nose reminded me of Slavic features, and I was fairly certain that he was a vampire, especially since one of the women who fawned over him wore a lace choker wide enough to cover any potential puncture wounds. I also recognized that glazed look in the eyes of someone whose will had been overtaken by a vampire.

            “Make it soon,” I put almost no voice to the words to Nikki.

            Nikki gave no indication she heard, though. When we reached the area, the two men regarded her passively, and me with disdain as she pushed me into a seat before plopping herself on my lap. Had this been another time and place, I would have greatly appreciated the feel of her there.

            “Thomas,” Nikki inclined her chin to the Slavic man. “Or have you changed your name again?”

            “Thomas still suits me. I had heard that you had adopted this man as your pet.”

            “One wonders why,” said the redhead.

            “Thomas, manners.” Nikki prompted.

            “Of course,” Thomas said. “Nikki Alexander, this is . . . Sean.” The name didn’t come naturally, as if Thomas was trying to change it up.

            Sean raised a glass of something. I didn’t drink enough to be able to identify liquor based on its color or glass.

            “And your pet?” Sean asked.

            “Not worth naming, or should I demand the names of yours?”

            “Ha! Except that your pet is one that our conclave sentenced to death, yet your intervention spared his life, and now you bring him here. Why?”

            Instead of answering Sean, she turned back to Thomas. “Does your friend truly not understand the delights of the flesh.” She wiggled again, and I felt myself growing, er, warmer.

            “Ha! Truly? You could do better, Nikki.”

            “There are more ways than one to be attractive, Thomas. I believe you have seen us at a ball or two.”

            He was at some of those? Well, that’s embarrassing. Guess it doesn’t matter since I wasn’t investigating anything.

            “Dancing. Yes. Well, I prefer my pretties in more horizontal movements.” Thomas raised his eyebrows suggestively. Sean rolled his eyes at the idea, clearly disinterested.

            But he still has his own pair of pretties on his lap. What’s he get from them?

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