When the woman woke, she was far less drugged than her male companion. And far more angry.

“Who do you think you are?” she said, her voice dripping with poison. “Do you know who I am? Do you have any idea what I can do to you?”

Roake didn’t need to answer, so he didn’t. He looked at her naked body but it did not inspire him.

“I don’t need anything from you,” he said. He knelt down, cut her bonds with his knife and pointed at her clothes. “Get out of here.”

Her eyes showed protest, but then changed. She recognized the opportunity and took it. She gathered her clothes, pulled them over her head quickly and stepped toward the door.

“What about him?” she asked.

“Do you really care?”

She paused for a moment. Then, she said, “I need his carriage to get back.”

“I’m not stopping you,” Roake told her.

She moved toward the door again. Stopped again.

“You are looking for something,” she said.

He sat down with an apple. “It would be best if you left.”

She smiled and walked back into the room. “I don’t think so.” She sat on the edge of the bed, her clothes still in her arms. “I think I’d like to stay.”

Roake looked at her. She seemed resigned. He shrugged and said nothing. She found the thing was looking for in Javis. The real thing. She was staying.

Roake didn’t care. He finished his apple, got up and started looking through his old furniture. The drawers were empty. All of his clothes were gone. He went to one in the corner of the room. He pulled the middle drawer completely out and reached deep inside. He found what he was looking for and took it out.

“What’s that?” she asked.

Roake didn’t answer. He opened the envelope and withdrew the paper inside. He counted it. Nothing was missing.

“I could help you,” she said.

Roake looked at her.

“I could. I heard you talking with Javis in the kitchen. I know a lot of people in the Upper City. And I could get you in without any questions.”

He considered her for a moment. What did she have to gain from this? She was young and pretty. Not beautiful. She accepted an invitation from a man she barely knew to come down to the Lower City. She was wealthy and bored. She was looking for an adventure.

“I’m not an adventure,” Roake told her.

“No, you’re not,” she said. “You’re something else entirely.”

“I don’t need any help,” Roake told her and started walking out of the room.

She stood up. “Lord D’Auberville was a Senator,” she said. She was speaking quickly. “He had a lot of enemies. He was also a man who liked women. A lot. Maybe a bit too much. Rumor has it his wife arranged his murder and made it look like a burglary to cover her own tracks. Rumor also has it that Lady D’Auberville is more inclined to the caresses of women than men. And she’s very devoted to her maid.”

She was sitting naked on the edge of the bed. In the other room was the man who brought her to this place. Roake stood and closed the door.

Fantasy Noir (3)
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