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Everything posted by Ravi FitzCoventry

  1. Having eaten a large quantity of the deli meats he'd ordered from Caputos, Ravi remained dozing, blissfully oblivious to the atmosphere in the room as well as to Amelia's verbal and facial cue for him to jump in and be charming, to say things in British and soothe the troubled waters. The girl gave Maya a faint shrug as the gorgeous, exotic-looking man on the couch failed to move or speak, and Kestrel snorted with a suppressed laugh as she came over and leaned on the back of the couch. "Almost a shame to disturb him." she grinned, taking a moment to admire the brush of Ravi's lashes against his cheeks and the faint dark stubble on his jawline. "He's cute when he's sleeping. Ah, well." She leaned down and gently smacked his face with one hand. "Wsgtthefk?" Ravi's hands came up and he batted at the air over his face, eyes opening and looking up at Kestrel leaning over him. "Hmm?" he said by way of inquiry, then yawned, showing a pink tongue and white teeth, before smacking his lips sleepily. "Maya's home, handsome." The werewolf girl told him. "Beauty sleep's over." "Oh?" He blinked, raising his head and re-focusing his gaze on the woman who'd just arrived and was looking as though she were several ticks from exploding. With a sinuous movement he was on his feet, stepping forward with hand outstretched, his bright, warm eyes on her face and his lips wearing a charmingly apologetic smile. He'd doffed his jacket when he'd settled down to rest, and the emerald green shirt threw sparks of green in the reflective gold of his eyes. "Ms Flynn, a genuine pleasure." he said as he took her hand and gave it a gentle clasp, his voice a smooth almost-purr. "Ravi FitzCoventry - call me Ravi. I hope you don't mind how you found me: your couch really was comfortable and I'm still sleeping off a gunshot wound." He glanced around at the containers, gesturing. "Apologies for this, too. A presumption on my part - as we are imposing a little on you, it didn't really sit right not to bring something for your table - to ease the burden of your day, so to speak. Discussion over good food can make the most difficult of subjects easier - and the wine is a gift for you." He let her hand slide from his fingers and stepped back, still smiling.
  2. He'd remained silent through Kestrel's frankly incredible tale, a thoughtful expression on his face as he now and then took a swig from the beer in his hand. A werewolf, he mused, examining the attractive young woman. But not a serial-killing, hiker-munching werewolf from a horror movie - if she was to be believed. Something different, something called by 'the spirits' to avenge the dead. Interesting... "I have a question." He raised his bottle in one hand to get Kestrel's attention. "I took a bullet last night whilst helping to extract Amelia here from the clutches of some killer cyborgs." He gently tapped the area of his chest where the still-sensitive scar was. "It was the first time I've been shot and, whilst I'd hope it's the last I don't think I'm that lucky. Point being, I didn't die from it, or need a respirator, or an ICU. Just the bullet yanked out and some needlepoint from Sable." He took another drink. "Right now, it's a little sensitive, but mostly pink new skin rather than an oozing wound." "So the question is: what heals like that? Because I'm pretty sure human people don't."
  3. "Given she was probably as incredulous as I and Amelia both were and yet hasn't called the cops to escort you from her premises..." Ravi sauntered over to where Kestrel was leaning by the fridge, helping himself to a beer before moving back to the counter and taking up a perch there, likewise twisting the cap off and taking a drink. "Ahhh... Where was I? Oh, yes. I think Ms. Flynn's cooperation is at least a reasonable assumption, Mr Grimson. Ms...?" he gestured invitingly at Kestrel, who looked at him blankly. "I'm sorry - I don't know your surname." "First name: Kestrel. Only name: Kestrel." she retorted, though not without a small smile. "As you would have it." To his credit, Ravi didn't appear at all nonplussed at this. "Ms Kestrel has the right of it there, I think." So saying, he removed his jacket, hanging it over a chair back, then appropriated the couch, stretching out along it and plumping a couple of cushions under his head to get comfortable and taking another pull on the beer in his hand. "So I suppose we just wait until Ms Flynn gets back from her day job - poor girl - and then go and see Mr Grimson's, um, expert."
  4. "More specifically, in this case, the young lady we're here to help has a bad case of... goblins?" Ravi moved over to lean against the counter, looking for all the world like he was modeling the black wool suit and green shirt he was wearing. Neither professional missed the fact that, for all his smooth voice and ridiculous good looks, the pretty man was tall, broad shouldered and moved with casual grace and self-assurance. Admittedly, in this case, the self-assurance was more of an ingrained habit than an actual sense he was any more in control of things than Amelia. Unlike her, though, he had the advantage of knowing that literally centuries worth of FitzCoventrys were behind him, and those fuckers were judgey to those that let the stiff upper lip wobble. It would not do for even a disgraced scion of the house to betray the blood by letting slip even a hint of panic. This attitude wasn't even formally taught or learned, really. It was simply demonstrated, and expected, and had been ever since he'd been a child, as much a part of him as his coal-dark hair and his dazzling eyes. It had stood him in good stead in prison, when dancing on stage, when meeting DeSombra, and even when being shot by killer cyborgs and not dying - which had really hurt and ruined his shirt and pants. And it served him well now, lounging against the counter for all the world like two guns hadn't just been almost-emptied into his body. He glanced at Mel, which was not an edifying experience from any perspective, then moved his gaze to Kestrel, which was much better. "Now I'm not familiar with any of this strange supernatural thing... Vampires there's plenty of movies and books about, but the only goblins I know about are from those Hobbit movies. I doubt those are a reputable source so... what exactly are goblins?" he asked her with a charming, attentive smile.
  5. "We're both new at this." Ravi admitted. "I've been working for Sable maybe two, three weeks?" He made no sudden moves, but nor did he raise his hands, instead eyeing both gunmen - uh, gunpersons - with a commendable sang froid that fairly oozed poise and aristocratic bearing. Because he wasn't an idiot, and didn't want to be oozing blood instead, he fixed his yellow-green eyes on Kestrel's. "DeSombra is a long-lived lady who doesn't look like it. Loves black. Lots and lots of black. No mirrors in her personal quarters." He tilted his head charmingly. "Sable is her Girl Friday, right hand woman, what have you. Also dressed in black, tight leather and underarm holsters if she's not in the office." "Does that help at all?"
  6. Ravi, in fact, did like the car. To Amelia, it was black, and gleaming, and looked fast and sleek and above all expensive. Ravi, dressed in a stylish black wool suit, dark green shirt open at the throat, and likewise looking sleek and expensive prowled around it, his gold-green eyes gleaming in the dim overhead lighting of the DaSombra vehicle garage, fingers caressing the bodywork in a way that made Amelia feel as though she should give him and the car some alone time. Or maybe get a bucket of water. Or, considering the gorgeous sharp dressed man's almost boyish smile, just standing there and trying not to drool on herself worked too. "Oh, darling, look at you..." Ravi purred, and it really was like velvet stroking your eardrums. Damn the man. "I am going to have to be extra nice to Sable when I see her next." "Okay, so it's a car. Fancy." Amelia flapped a hand to him to get it over with. She'd snorted at the mention of goblins, but other than that hadn't raised any protest at breakfast, so now the two of them had headed down to the garage. "Shh! She'll hear you." Ravi looks shocked and pretended as though covering one of the wing mirrors. "This, dear Amelia, is a Jaguar F-Type R. Five hundred and sixty horsepower, zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds, top speed of a hundred and eighty. And above all, it's a Jag." He drawled the word as though it explained everything. "Scoundrels and shady persons of class have driven Jaguars since time immemorial." He stepped back to her side and regarded the car fondly, adding as an afterthought. "My family had several." "Right." Amelia just stared at the car, then at the package in her hand detailing her new place, then at Ravi. "Should we-?" "Of course." Ravi clicked the fob, there was a low chirp from the gleaming black machine, and he stepped forward, opening the passenger side door for her as though a chauffeur. "I'll let you call this Kestrel person as we drive." he said, motioning Amelia into the incredibly comfortable looking interior.
  7. Her fingers found the light switch as they entered the room, their footfalls muffled by the thick carpeting, and Sienna was acutely aware of Ravi’s hand in hers as the dim golden lamps illuminated the bed and furnishings, casting reflections on the glass of the wall-length window which, as in the lounge, overlooked the Park. Despite her decision of moments ago, she was assailed by a seemingly nonsensical feeling of nervousness at the sight of the bed. Her bed. The bed she’d been sleeping alone in for months waiting for the divorce to finalise as lawyers dickered over portions of her life as though such things could be broken up into commodities. A moment of clarity struck her, and Sienna recognised that she’d been alone in that bed longer even than that, in hindsight. Sure, Tom would come home late and slip between the sheets and give her a peck on the cheek, only to turn over and fall asleep while she lay awake, desperately wanting more than perfunctory touches, resenting the long hours she thought he was working even as she felt guilty and ashamed at her own selfishness. After all, Tom was working for them, for her and their daughter, to provide a comfortable life. How could she resent him for that? How could she bemoan that they only made love a scant handful of times a month when he was always so busy? Of course, in the brutal ripping away of the deceit she now knew the reason he’d so often come home late, but curiously clean and freshly showered. Now she knew why he hadn’t been interested in sex, and even on the few occasions they did do the deed he had been… curiously absent, as though performing a necessary chore, devoid of real fire or creativity. And not for want of her trying, either. She’d bought lingerie, toys, tried to seduce and distract him, tried to kindle some spark of carnal craving in her husband that had been present before the birth of their daughter and absent afterward. But every time Tom had told her that he didn’t want her to act like that, that his wife and the mother of his child shouldn’t behave like a horny sorority girl. All the while boffing some actual horny sorority girl - well, one of a number of interchangeable interns fresh out of college anyway, so near as made no difference. That fucking hypocrite, playing the Puritan at home with her whilst playing rock star with some girl barely older than their daughter, Sienna fumed. It wasn’t the first time she’d had that thought, but now, with Ravi there as a warm presence behind her as she stared at the bed, the thought had less sorrow and more of a savage disdain to it. She looked over her shoulder at Ravi, seeing the warm glimmer of his golden eyes watching her steadily, and took a breath before speaking. “Get comfortable.” she told him, letting his hand slip from her fingers and stepping away from him, moving toward the window. Bright points of light from outside pierced the veil of night as the City That Never Sleeps went about its business, the lights in those other buildings uncaring, impersonal eyes that stared sightlessly at her. She reached for the cord that would draw the blinds closed, shutting out their cold gaze, only for a strong hand to close over hers, stilling its movement. “Leave them open.” Warm breath against her neck, just below her ear. His voice a purr with a hint of growl - husky with his own need as lips caressed her skin - set off a molten cascade that made her draw breath in a small, shaky gasp as her eyes stared out of the window. A hand slid around over her hip to her abdomen, pulling her gently yet firmly against the solid presence behind her even as the fingers of his other hand kept hold of her still outstretched wrist. Sienna could see the outline of his sleekly handsome head over her shoulder in the reflection of the glass, twin sparks of golden wickedness gazing back at her as he trailed his lips along her bare shoulder, igniting a further rush of heat that unfurled like a night-blooming flower under his hand where it rested on her belly. And now the lights of the buildings took on a different context. No longer were they cold, impersonal, vacantly staring in at her. Now the cityscape beyond the glass pane took on an almost feral context: an urban jungle, breathing and living around her, and the points of light the eyes of night-creatures as they watched with a hunger that matched the edge of a growl in Ravi’s voice as he nestled his cheek against hers, meeting her eyes once more in the window’s reflection. “Leave them open.” he repeated in that low, compelling tone. “And rest your hands on the glass.” She leaned forward, feeling him lean forward with her, one hand guiding hers to the glass whilst his other kept her from stepping forward, forcing her to bend at the waist. Sienna was hyper-aware of how this posture pressed her against him, feeling his hardness stirring against her rear like a hot coal on her skin. She placed her other hand up as well, looking out at the city light as Ravi let his hands roam up her torso, across her shoulders, down her back in slow, unhurried motions as though he were a cop, searching a suspect. She shivered slightly at the possessive caress of his hands as they reached her ass, her eyes half-closing as she bit her lip to prevent a breathy sigh from becoming a needy moan. By the time he found the side zipper to her dress, her insides were virtually liquid and her body was quivering. The zipper sounded like something predatory, its voice a low snarl as the nimble fingers of her chosen paramour slowly tugged it down, his hand following the contours of her body closely on the other side matching the progress of the unfastening. Strong, gentle hands guided the dress in its descent over the arch of Sienna’s hips, Ravi keeping up the firm caress of his touch until finally releasing his grasp and letting the cloth fall into a pool around her ankles. Then he stepped back a pace, admiring the view, aware that she could see what he was doing in the reflection of the glass. Sienna didn’t move, her breathing and heartbeat loud in her own ears, painfully aware of her vulnerability and yet unable to deny the attendant arousal such a condition caused as she watched him. She’d worn black lacy strapless bra and panties in anticipation of them perhaps being seen, but had shied away from wearing the full garter belt and stockings that went with the set, instead electing to use stay-ups. Fears and insecurities tempted her to drop her hands and turn around - what if he didn’t find her sexy? What if he simply performed his paid-for task, without caring much one way or the other? Then he stepped back in close, his hands smoothing over her hips then exploring her body without reserve as he leaned over her, and she felt that hardness against her flesh once more, unmistakable in its pure uncomplicated insistence. A soft gasp escaped the woman’s lips as Ravi’s hands separated in their meandering, one heading upwards to glide over the lace fringe of her bra whilst the other dipped lower, toying with the waistband of her panties for only a moment before sliding under that waistband. Sienna’s abdomen tightened as she gulped in a hasty breath, and then his fingers were trailing over her mound, going even lower and this time she really did moan, a soft low sound of pleasure and wanting. His other hand dipped below the lace of her bra, his fingers gentle on her sensitive flesh, caressing the stiffness of her nipple attentively. It almost tickled, but such was Sienna’s arousal that it was just another tantalising sensation that stoked her flames that much higher. His lips brushed the nape of her neck, first one, then a second finger slipping between the now-soaking folds of her pussy with sudden insistence that caused a second, louder moan to turn into a gasp as the sensations overloaded her body. Her legs shook, her hands almost dropping from their position of wanton surrender on the window pane, but some sensibility kept her upright as the impossibly handsome young man behind her played her body like a musician with an instrument. She looked at her own wide eyes and parted lips in the mirror of the glass, superimposed as they were on the lights from outside. Though the chance was slight, it still existed: that someone out there might see this flush-faced, panting woman arching her back and moving her hips alternately against the groin of the man behind him and against his probing, teasing fingers. The thought of it sent a fresh wave of liquid heat coursing through her veins, a small ripple of her impending climax that caused her next moan to take on a throaty note of longing. “Let’s get these out of the way.” Ravi murmured against her ear before smoothly sliding her panties down to mid-thigh, his hands moving up and deftly unfastening the strapless bra. It fell to the floor, the last vestige of Sienna’s modesty. “Normally I’d draw this out more.” the Englishman’s purring tones caressed her, right before he kissed her earlobe. “But I can’t wait another moment.” She stared at herself as his declaration of open unrestrained desire sent a fresh shiver through her form. She didn’t recognise the woman in the reflection any more. The hairstyle was the same elaborate coiffure, the face was familiar… but who was this wanton imposter? Who was she, so vulnerable and yet feeling such power in the act as she offered herself in almost animal fashion to the man behind her. There was a faint awareness of him moving - the sound of a belt unfastening, the whisper of cloth, the crinkle of a foil packet- “No.” she murmured, looking over her shoulder at him for the first time since she’d faced the window. “Pills.” she insisted, nodding towards the nightstand. “Plan B. You don’t need to-” She saw him hesitate. “It’s not a good idea.” Ravi said warningly, his voice heavy with lust and reflecting his own conflicting urges. “It’s not just about pregnancy.” “Are you clean?” she asked him bluntly, her grey eyes luminous as they fixed on his gaze. Slowly, he nodded. “I’ve been with no-one since Tom. I got a checkup after the divorce to make sure. I’m clean too.” She held his gaze, seeing him hesitate, then her eyes dropped to his exposed proud arousal and her voice dropped to a whisper. “Please. I need it - to feel you, I mean. Please.” For a moment more he hesitated, then shrugged and dropped the packet next to his discarded pants. “Alright.” She cried out as he entered her - not from pain, but from a sense of primal triumph and fulfillment as she felt herself enfold the heated steel of his cock. This. Yes. This was what she wanted - the sensation she’d all but forgotten, that almost-violence of male desire. His breath hissed in her ear, his length hilted itself in her welcoming body, and Sienna arched her back further and pushed against the window pane, forcing herself upon back upon him as he moved inside her. The force of Ravi’s thrusts moved her, her breasts swinging slightly from the swaying of their bodies. Let the damn city see! She imagined Tom’s reaction if he could see the real her, that ‘the wife and mother of his children’ could also be so desirable that a man just over half her age couldn’t restrain himself from fucking her like this in full view of whoever walked by. And then thoughts of the city, of Tom, of what the neighbours would think whirled away like leaves before a storm. Ravi’s hands were on her hips, his breath coming in soft grunts against the skin of her shoulder as he thrust in her with increasing speed and force. Sienna’s gasps became moans, her moans became cries, each one almost guttural as she felt him open her, over and over again, each time seeming to plumb yet another layer of her pleasure. She was his client, but in that moment he was using her, satiating his desires on her with little in the way of tenderness or restraint. And this was what she had wanted - to be wanted, to have a man unable to hold back. She felt his teeth grip the skin of her shoulder and wailed, feeling his cock stiffen even further inside the spasming walls of her sex as her orgasm overtook her in a sudden tidal rush. “God fuck you fucking bastard don’t you fucking stooooop!” Frustration, sadness, anger all mingled in the screamed invocation as she rolled her hips back against him insistently. His identity was washed away in her delirium - she wasn’t screaming at Ravi. She was screaming her release, screaming at the specter of Tom’s indifference and betrayal, screaming at her own fears that had held her back from this pleasure. Lips that might, on a bad day, have previously muttered a restrained ‘Well, fuck’ now urged the faceless man gripping her hips with bruising force to fuck her harder, to fill her up, to never, ever, ever stop. She heard him groan,a deep primal sound, and then a flood of warmth filled her and her head fell forward, her legs losing their strength, only Ravi’s hands keeping her upright as she quivered and shook through an earth-shattering climax. She leaned on her hands against the cold glass, gasping softly in time with the pulsing of his cock as each tremor set off more aftershocks. There was a sense of mournfulness in the moment for her as the ecstasy receded and her mind became her own again. He was a gigolo, she reminded herself as she felt him slip from inside her. He would leave now, and she would be alone in the apartment with only the memory of him to- She felt his hands move on her, pulling her upright and back against his body, fingers gently grasping her chin and turning her head towards him as he kissed her deeply, then stroked the damp ends of her hair back where tendrils had escaped to plaster themselves to her sex-flushed face. The kiss broke, and Sienna searched the glimmering golden eyes so close to hers questioningly, unresisting as Ravi bent and carefully picked her up in his arms, her hands going up and around his neck as she tried to process this unexpected development. “You thought we were done?” White teeth flashed in a wicked grin as Ravi started towards the bed with her. “Lovely, that was just the business part of the evening.” He laid her gently down, leaning over her, a bronzed statue gleaming with a sheen of perspiration. “Just the business part.” he repeated, lowered himself to lay beside her. “Now I’m off the clock.” His lips found hers again, his hands gently stroking down her neck and body and Sienna sighed into the kiss, her own hands coming up to grasp his shoulders as beyond the window the eyes of the city glowered and flickered in the New York night.
  8. "Funny." Ravi commented dryly, taking a breath and relaxing back into the examination table's padded surface as Sable cut the remains of his shirt away. He fixed his gaze on Sable's face as she worked, now and then tempted to glance down from some morbid fascination at what she was doing, but all things considered her face, even focused in concentration, was a better sight. "I'm going to have to reopen the wound to get at the bullet." Sable told him, her professional demeanour broken only by the swift glance to his face. Her gaze warmed for a second as she noticed his golden eyes were on her, then the professionalism was back, and Sable's attention was once more wholly on what she was doing. Ravi heard the metallic scrape of her picking up implements and then... Well, nothing much. Some tugging - vaguely disturbing but not painful. Sable's expression was intent, yet calm, and Ravi watched the mild changes in the shape of her lips, the exotic shape of her eyes as they tightened or curved while she worked. He felt something cool - not cold, but cooler than his skin, running down the outside of his chest to pool under his back. My blood, he supposed, trying not to fidget, or even to breath deeply. The uncomfortable tugging grew in intensity, becoming almost painful, and he was aware of a scraping sensation in his chest. Talking would probably be a bad idea. So instead he focused on musing. What was he? What was Amelia? What was Sable doing later? What would a woman pick up in terms of carnal knowledge over three centuries of extended life? Or eight, for that matter: what did Ravenna want with him - and why did the remembrance of her licking his blood from her finger send prickles of heat through his skin? He tried to get his mind to focus on something other than his favorite past-time and instead pondered other matters. Who was Mourne? Were there other 'chosen' going through the same weirdness right now? Was Amelia going to do something stupid and annoy their hostess? Did the crazy extend into the bedroom? What was Amelia doing la- Dammit. It's said that men think about sex once every five minutes. Ravi wondered how they managed it so little. Thank whatever gods watched over him that he could multi-task. Sort of. More scraping in his chest, and a steady pulling sensation that was over the line of discomfort and into pain. Ravi let out a low hiss and closed his eyes. "Almost done." he heard Sable murmur, her voice reassuring, a balm on his nerves. More tugging, more liquid pooling against his skin, and then - *clink* "Got it." Sable didn't sound triumphant so much as satisfied as she dropped the bullet into a small dish and then began to swab and clean the wound. "Hmm. A couple of stitches and a bandage should be all you need, given what we've seen of how you heal- Oop!" She caught him as he half-rolled, coughing, blood flecking his lips as the fluid in his lung decided it was time to come up and out. Heedless of the blood on her own dark clothing, Sable held a shallow bowl under his face with one hand as her other arm effortlessly supported his spasming form. The paroxysms ceased, and Ravi sank back onto the bed with a weak groan as Sable took the bowl away. Eyes closed, he was aware of her dabbing a cloth on his face and mouth, then going back to sewing him up. He must have drifted off, because it seemed like he'd barely closed his eyes before she was nudging him awake. One of the two huge men was present, and helped Ravi into a wheelchair before stepping aside, letting Sable wheel him out of the infirmary. "Clean up." she told the... guard? Servant? as she left, nodding to the examination bed. They emerged into the hallway, Sable wheeling him to a guest room similar to Amelia's. "Let's get the blood washed off before you start feeling pain again." she suggested, nodding towards the bathroom. As being bathed by Sable went, it was a considerably less erotic experience than Ravi had imagined - she was gentle enough, but businesslike, having him sit on the edge of a bathtub as she wiped him down. "There's a robe and pajamas on the bed." she told him as she helped him up and through into the bedroom - tastefully decorated in dark reds and golds and, yes, black. She seated him on the edge of the bed, hesitating and stepping back as she considered him. "Do you need help?" she asked almost caringly, then corrected "And more to the point, if I do help, will you behave?" "No, thank you to the first question. Hell no to the second." Ravi managed a smile, causing Sable's lips to quirk in a grin and her head to shake momentarily. "Good. Because I'd have one of the bodyguards do it." she teased, turning to leave. She stopped in the doorway, looking back at the half-naked aristocrat as though she had more to say, but instead left in silence. Slowly, and with care to not pull at the stitches under the bandage around his chest, Ravi stripped off his by now ruined pants and socks and shoes. Turning, he found there were indeed a soft cotton set of pajamas and a warm-looking robe on the bed, which he donned before laying back on the bed itself, staring up at the decorative canopy. There was a sense, only a sense, that he was in danger here, but he'd been in dangerous situations before. Panicking wouldn't help matters, and he was certainly in no shape for a heroic escape. Besides, the danger wasn't so much one of intent on his hostess's part so much as just... part of her being what she was. In his opinion, anyway. Given her remarks about his taste, he did feel somewhat like a prepared side of veal. And would that necessarily be so bad, to have her drink his blood? What was it like? Did she have to kill to gain nourishment, or could she just tap him like a maple tree? Did it hurt? These and all his other questions chased him down into slumber as he closed his eyes. He'd completed what she asked of him. He was wounded. Surely some rest was in ord- Reclining on a luxurious bed, in a room of dark red and black, Ravi slept.
  9. "Well..." Ravi shifted slightly on the medical bed. "Considering that I took a bullet in the left lung and I haven't drowned in my own blood and-" he peeled back the bandage a little to check "-the wound doesn't seem to be leaking much, something is definitely up." He re-covered the wound and winced as he let his arm drop to his side. "It still hurts, though. Sort of an itchy burning ache." The handsome young man still seemed to be finding breathing difficult, and his tanned features - which were the same light golden-bronze as his chest, Amelia noted without meaning to - were drawn and pale. "Yeah. What's with that anyway?" Amelia peered at him, then at the location of the bandage. She wasn't an expert: most of her medical knowledge came from hospital depictions in movies, but most people who'd been shot there should probably be ventilated - or was that intubated? Fibrillated? - by now. "Does De Sombra really think you'll be fine once her Girl-Friday digs a bullet out of you?" "Buggered if I know." Ravi wheezed a little, smiling. "I'd imagine, though, that she at least believes that whatever I am, I'm more resilient than I look." He made a face and glanced around for a mirror. Finding none, he shrugged, wincing again. "If I look as bad as I feel, I'd have to be." There were a few moments of silence as he gazed at her, his golden eyes gleaming under the overhead lights of the infirmary. When he opened his mouth, Amelia half expected another witticism, or perhaps some flirtation as he tried to distract himself, but instead his tone and expression were ones of earnest curiousity. "Who do you think this Mourne fellow is? I seem to remember his name being bandied around at some art gallery thing not long ago - the same one I met Ravenna at, come to think of it." He frowned slightly. "Some irate woman was storming up to Ravenna, demanding answers, then storming away again in a worse mood. Mourne's name came up then." He sighed, looking up at the ceiling. "I remember her because she had spectacular breasts and seemed batshit crazy." He winked one golden eye at her. "Always remember the crazy ones." "Lovely." Amelia rolled her eyes at him, trying not to smile. "Just what I need on my obituary - 'Ravi remembered her because she was crazy'." "No, you got upgraded to 'quirky'. And 'looks good in a tight dress'. And 'let me rest my head on her lap after I'd been shot'." He added in a slightly chiding manner, one corner of his mouth twitching as he fought the urge to smile. "Don't sell yourself so short. I don't take bullets for just anyone."
  10. Roughly three months before the Gala... The Male Room existed within that curious niche between classy nightspot and sleazy den of iniquity. The woman who owned it, a thrice-married Tennessee heiress who, in her own words, wanted to end her days ‘like a female Hugh Hefner’ had spared no expense renovating, decorating and staffing the place. Adapted from a disused post office, as the name suggested, the establishment boasted a conspicuously official aesthetic: the bartenders and drinks servers were dressed in a tight pseudo-postal service uniform of short-sleeved shirt and shorts, the bar itself looked like an old-fashioned post-office counter, with each tender having their own ‘window’ through which they would take orders and serve customers, and the MC frequently made post related jokes when introducing the acts. The place was clean, the service was good, the clientele was loud and enthusiastic but also up-market, and the drinks were amazing. What gave it the air of iniquity was that the aforementioned acts were male strippers - or ‘exotic dancers’ if one preferred the euphemism. Which perhaps explained the sometimes raucous reaction of the customers, predominantly female, ranging from college girls out on a lark to more mature women looking for an opportunity to escape the tedium of their everyday lives, projecting their fantasies onto the various well-built, handsome and athletic men who were wholly unlike their surly, work-and-sports-obsessed husbands (or in some cases, ex-husbands). The waiters, also selected for their attractiveness and easy smiles, caught their fair share of tips and attention as well, now and then having to gently remind the more ardent customers that hands were for tipping, not for grabbing. Private dances could also be booked for single women or small groups, offering interested clientele the option of greater discretion and more personal attention. The rules were the same, of course: groping was kept to a minimum, hands off meant hands off, full nudity was out, and the men were dancers, not prostitutes. The Male Room’s management was very conscious of New York’s laws about such things. However… Certain women, and more rarely men, who were in the know, who were rich and discreet and vetted by the owner herself, might learn that certain of the dancers could be... amenable to other arrangements. Nothing to do with the club. What passed between consenting individuals off club premises was none of the management’s business, to be sure. The ‘First Class’ membership was only offered to a select few, and those few never told a soul without first clearing it with the owner, whereupon said soul might likewise be offered such a membership. Ravi strutted off the stage to the accompaniment of screams and calls for him to come back, a wide grin on his perspiration-drenched features as he caught a towel tossed to him by the MC, who clapped him on the shoulder. “Good job, kiddo. They’re gonna need mops and buckets out there. Best Friday crowd we’ve had in awhile. Keep it up, and I’ll talk to the boss about getting you a headline slot.” He grinned, showing several gold teeth, and headed past Ravi up the steps back onto the stage, lifting the mic to his mouth and straining to be heard over the crowd. “Now did Ravi deliver, or did he dee-liiiv-errrr?” his voice boomed as Ravi moved back towards the dressing rooms, passing the next dancer with a smile and a nod. Headline slot meant more pay, better cut of the tips, and more exposure. Sure, the spot would probably be on a slower night of the week, at least to start with, but the disgraced scion of English nobility found that he enjoyed the job. He liked the hunger he evoked, and the admiration, and the women… yes, indeed, the women. He just generally liked women, always had- and they liked him, or at the very worst hated the fact that they liked him, which was always amusing in itself. One of the staff was waiting for him as he entered the dressing rooms, a middle-aged man named Karl who acted as maitre-de for the club, and as such got to wear a more formal jacket and pants rather than the tight shorts and shirt of the others. As Ravi headed for the shower, the older man barred his path. “Hey, Ravi. Good show tonight.” he said conversationally, eyes flicking round to ensure nobody was listening. “Thanks.” Ravi stopped, realising why Karl was there, and felt a smile growing on his lips. This would either be a private dance request… or a First Class request. Either meant money, and in the latter case, sex. Satisfied they were alone, Karl leaned closer. “Money wants a First Class.” The maitre-de informed him conspiratorially. “How’s she look?” Ravi asked casually, grabbing a fresh towel and tossing the sweat-soaked one into the hamper. “Rich. Hot. Divorced or cheated on, if I’m any judge. First timer.” Karl said with the authority of a man who’d been doing this job for a while. “Could be a golden ticket if you play it right, m’man.” “Tell her I’ll be right there.” Ravi nodded, starting past him. “Said she wanted to meet you before you shower.” Karl’s voice stopped him. Ravi looked back, quizzically. Sure, it could be said possessed a certain... primitive allure as he was, with his hair hanging lank, skin glistening with perspiration, but it was nothing compared to when he’d cleaned up. Karl shrugged, and Ravi did likewise. “Fine, then.” he said, tossing the towel back on the pile. “Which room?” “Sorting Room.” Karl replied, referring to the sign above the door of the space in question. When Ravi entered the Sorting Room a couple of minutes later and closed the door quietly behind him, the booming bustle of the club dropped away and all that remained was a muted, muffled thump from the bass beats of the next act’s music. Inside, the walls and ceiling were mirrored, a low circular stage in the center of the room surrounded by comfortable couch seating that, with the soft lighting and the distant throb of the music, lent the room an atmosphere of sensual intimacy. The ‘Joan’ sat across from the door, a flute of champagne in one manicured hand and an open bottle in an ice bucket next to her. Stepping more fully into the room so she could see him, Ravi studied her, noting the stylishly done-up red hair, the short leaf-green dress with its plunging neckline and matching heels and purse. Her makeup was flawless, her skin naturally pale and needing little in the way of enhancement, her grey eyes luminous in the dim lights. He judged her to be perhaps thirty, though she could be a well-preserved forty; if so the years had been kind to her, for she was still beautiful. It was around the clear grey of her eyes that the first cracks appeared in her veneer of classy calm. The whites were slightly reddened, the mascara faintly smudged, as if she had ruined it with crying, wiped away the mess, then reapplied it over damp skin. Ravi stepped closer still, looking down at her as she let her gaze travel up his body, lingering for a moment at waist level before moving upwards, taking in the long dark hair hanging lank around his chiselled features before, finally, meeting his eyes. She drew in a breath that quivered softly as their eyes met, the glass in her hand trembling faintly as she drank from it, still looking into the green-gold pools of his gaze. Her tongue moistened her lips before she spoke. “Your eyes… are they real?” quavered a soft voice hesitantly, educated, composed despite the tremor it carried. “As real as yours.” Ravi replied softly, noting the almost timid way she looked at him, her eyes darting away from his before being drawn inevitably back into his gaze. She was nervous, that much was obvious. This was not something she had done before. He sat down on the edge of the low stage, facing her, and waited. “I… I saw you dance.” she said in a rush. “Two nights ago, I mean. Not tonight. And I asked if you were available for… for…” “First Class service?” Ravi supplied, smiling a little as a flush rose in the pale cheeks and her eyes dipped demurely. He let his own gaze wander down the faint blush of her throat and the pale cream of her bosom, noting the gold crucifix on a chain around her neck. Idly, he wondered how religious she was, and whether that was behind her reticence as much as anything else. “I need… My friends say I need a... To…” She paused as he raised a hand, then slipped from his seat and went down on one knee before her, leaning forward to look her in the eye as he took her free hand in both of his. “You don’t need to explain yourself to me.” he said softly, his voice smooth and low. “Not if you don’t want to. Just tell me where you would like to meet me.” He gently caressed the back of her hand with his fingertips. “My apartment.” she answered, her eyes shining as they met his, her expression somewhere between grateful, excited and fearful. “It’s downtown. Here.” Reluctantly disentangling her hand from his, she reached into her purse and produced a card. It was floral patterned, a name, number and street address embossed on the card. “Sienna Walker.” Ravi read from the card, looking up to meet her eyes as she shook her head. “No, it’s Hall, now. Uh… My husband - ex husband’s name was Walker. I need to get more cards made.” she was babbling now, and Ravi once more took her hand in his. “Hall is better.” he said with another soft smile. “May I call you Sienna, though?” “Oh, yes.” she breathed, then blushed as she realised her tone of longing. “I mean, it seems fine, given you… I mean I… We will..” “Be spending an evening in each other’s company, with no expectations of anything other than enjoyment.” Ravi finished for her, seeing her relax a little at his words as she looked into his eyes once more. “Whether that is a glass of wine and some conversation, or… other things is entirely up to you, Sienna.” She blushed just the tiniest bit at the mention of other things, but nodded. Ravi smiled, then brought her hand to his lips and gently kissed her knuckles before letting it slide from his fingers as he stood. “Finish your glass of champagne. It is very good here.” he told her as though he were not mostly naked before her, as though they were dining together in a fine restaurant rather than he being a gigolo she had just solicited. He gave her another dazzling smile. “I will see you later, Sienna.” She was watching him as he left, he could tell. He could feel her eyes, full of that mixture of timidity and hunger, scoring the lines of his form. He wondered if she would go through with the full transaction, or whether she would back out. Either way, she was beautiful and plainly in need of some manner of positive male company. Humming to himself, he went to shower and change. = = = = = = “This was a mistake.” Sienna said, as much to herself as to the handsome young man at the window. Ravi turned from the view over Central Park, studying the woman intently with one eyebrow raised. She still wore her coat, hands clasped as she stood by the lounge’s built-in bar, fingers twining nervously around each other. She wasn’t looking at him - hadn’t looked at him the whole taxi ride here, in fact. Nor had she said more than two words to him, despite him trying to draw her into conversation. They had hurried through the lobby of her expensive apartment building almost as though she was frightened to be seen, and the elevator ride up had been silent and tense - at least on her part. She’d ushered him into the apartment with a murmured “Come in.” - so make that four words - and then turned on some dim overhead lights and headed straight for the small bar in one corner. Whereupon she’d just… frozen as he admired the view - incidentally also watching her reflection in the glass. “Why?” he asked bluntly, wandering away from the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window that offered such a spectacular view and approaching her. “I don’t… I’m not this kind of person.” she said finally, glancing at him fleetingly as he came to lean against the bar, just out of arm's reach. “What kind of person?” Ravi asked in the same straightforward manner, his voice soft, watching rose suffuse her pale cheeks. “The kind that…” she hesitated, anguish twisting her pretty mouth. “Likes men?” Ravi supplied, smiling slightly at the shock that replaced her nervous anguish as she stared at him. “No! I meant-” “So you don’t like sex?” Now the flush turned angry-embarrassed rather than mortified, her grey eyes sharpening as they stared at him. “I mean, we can always play Scrabble.” he went on with an insouciant grin. “It’s your dime, as they say over here.” “I mean I’m not the type of woman who solicits fucking gigolos!” she snapped, eyes flashing now as anger overtook her nervousness. Ravi took a moment to savor the change in her manner, noting how she’d stopped wringing her hands and was straightening up, glaring at him almost imperiously. A formidable woman, when she wasn’t doubting herself. He nodded as though considering something. “So… What other kinds of gigolos are there?” he asked, still leaning casually against the bar. For a moment, she just stared. Then she started to laugh helplessly, her emotions whipsawing from shame to anger to mirth. She rested her hands on the bar, head lowered as she laughed, until her shoulders shook from more than laughter, and sobs mingled with her giggles. At that Ravi stepped forward, sliding his arms around her and pulling her into a hug, feeling her stiffen at first, then relax against him, burying her face against his shirt as she wept for what, he surmised, was likely not the first or even the second time tonight. Her hands clung to his shoulders, trembling a little with her sobbing, as whatever poison was in Sienna’s soul was flushed out with the salt of her tears. “I’m sorry.” she murmured into his shirt, sniffling as her composure started to return. She straightened, futilely attempting to smooth the tear and makeup streaked cotton before looking up to meet his amber gaze. “Don’t be.” he replied, smiling slightly. “It looked like you needed that.” “I did.” she confessed with a small laugh, then another sniff. “And now I need a drink.” she said, mindful of the fact he was still holding her close, and that she had just embarrassed herself. He let his arms slip from around her as she stepped away, nodding as he took a step back himself, resuming leaning against the counter and watching her. She removed her coat, feeling his gaze but not looking at him as she dumped it on one of the stools, before moving around behind the bar’s counter. “I’m having bourbon.” she told him, grabbing the bottle and a glass. “You?” “I shall be guided by the lady.” Ravi replied, causing her to smile as she got another tumbler, pouring a generous measure into each before sliding one towards him. Lifting her own glass, she clinked it against his and wordlessly tossed back half of the contents as Ravi sipped, both of them feeling the warmth of the liquor move through them. Sienna topped up her drink, then relaxed somewhat, leaning against the other side of the counter from Ravi, watching him watch her. “What?” she asked, feeling heat in her cheeks at his stare and hiding it with another sip from her glass. “How long?” At her blank look, he held up the ring finger on his left hand and waggled it, nodding towards her own hand holding the tumbler. Sienna glanced down at the band of pale skin marking where, some might say, the best years of her life had been wasted. She wasn’t so sure. Marriage to Tom Walker hadn’t been terrible - indeed, if it had she’d likely not be so distraught. She’d met him right out of college whilst interning at a merchant bank where he was a junior accounts manager, just a few years older than herself. They’d become work-friends, then friend-friends, then he’d asked her out, and for the first few years everything had been great. His rise in the office hierarchy had been meteoric, his keen head for figures and ability to shake the right hands and close the right deals contributing to that, and when they’d decided to have their first child he’d been very firm that whilst Sienna absolutely could keep working, his preference was for her to look after herself, the baby and the home. After some thought and discussion, she’d agreed, and hadn’t really regretted it. “How long married, or how long divorced?” she asked bluntly, her voice feeling raw in her throat, fingers tightening on the glass in her hand. “Yes.” Ravi shrugged, still watching her. She gave out a snort of laughter. Together, her and Tom had had a lovely daughter, who went to the best schools and was currently at Stanford… and then, almost twenty two years after marrying Tom, Sienna had found out about the affair. Affairs, plural. And after confronting her husband, she discovered that the affairs had started about the time she became a mother. And the why… the why burned in her soul. “Twenty one years, and four months.” She said, refilling her glass and taking another swallow of the fiery liquor. “He cheated.” It wasn’t a question. Sienna nodded, and Ravi echoed the nod more slowly. “I’m sorry.” “Yeah. So am I.” She propped herself against the counter, leaning closer to him, watching the play of light in his yellow-green eyes. “What about you?” “What about me?” he asked, changing the inflection and emphasis of the question slightly. She smiled a little. “Is your name really Ravi?” “Absolutely.” A smile, a sip of his drink. She watched his lips as he tasted the bourbon. “Is the accent real?” She asked challengingly. Focus on him. Focus on something that didn’t hurt. The warmth from the bourbon in her stomach was mingling with a different warmth. He was beautiful without being effeminate. His voice was soft, but resonated with some manner of purring subharmonic. He was watching her, but not dispassionately. Showered and dressed in well-fitting, classy clothes, he looked nothing like a stripper. He looked elegant, but the memory of him covered in perspiration, his hair lank with sweat following the sinuous, stretching dance he’d performed was seared in her mind’s eye. That, she felt intuitively, was the real man. The elegance, the urbanity, was an overlay atop something primal and raw. Something dangerous. “As real as my eyes, and the rest of me.” he answered with a flash of a grin. “You don’t look English. I mean-” she flushed a little but continued. “You look…” she gestured with her fingertips. “Exotic?” Ravi suggested. As she nodded, he shrugged. “I come from a mixed bag.” “You sound educated. Why do you work as a- Well, why do you do this work?” “You sound educated too. Why did you solicit me?” He answered calmly. “I asked first.” she riposted. “Because I like to show off, I like women, and it would utterly shock and disgrace my family if they knew - or cared.” Ravi replied, smirking slightly. “Now you.” She hadn’t been expecting an answer, at least not a real one, and it threw her off balance for a moment. She took a sip of her bourbon, grey eyes watching him over the rim of the glass, then as the glass lowered she shrugged. “All my male friends are Tom’s friends too. And… I don’t want a relationship, not yet. But I do want… or need… to feel-” she hesitated under that gaze, feeling her cheeks crimsoning. “Desired.” she said through suddenly dry lips. He didn’t answer for a moment, and then slowly put down his tumbler. Sienna’s eyes followed it, then flicked back up to his face as he straightened from his repose. She felt her heart thudding against her ribcage like the flutter of a trapped bird under the weight of his gaze. There was gentleness there for sure in his expression, but there was also hunger lurking in the golden pools of his eyes, something entirely carnal. She found herself straightening up also from where she was leaning over the bar counter, very aware of herself, her body, in that moment. Ravi half-turned, holding his hand out towards her as he took a step away from the bar. He said nothing, simply watching her expectantly, patiently. Sienna’s glass made a soft click-clack sound as she set it down with a hand that trembled, and she took a breath before stepping around the counter, smoothing her dress nervously with her palms, before reaching out and taking his hand. He drew her close, and she half-closed her eyes, face tilted upwards in expectation of a kiss, only to look down again as he guided her hand to his shoulder, then took her other hand in his before resting his free hand above her hip. “Are we dancing?” She blinked, looking up at his face. “We are.” he smiled, moving closer so their bodies were nearly touching and swaying gently. She could faintly smell his cologne, something woody, expensive if she was any judge, and could feel the heat of his body as an almost physical force pressing against her. “There’s no music.” she protested, laughing softly, a little drunk on bourbon and him as she met his eyes again, but her feet and waist picked up the rhythm of his swaying as she spoke. "Is there not?” came the reply as the hand on her waist slid around to the small of her back, drawing her even closer. She sighed, breathing out and trying to calm that fluttering in her heart and relax against him. Sienna rested her head against his collarbone and closed her eyes, feeling a steady drumbeat in her ears, and realised that her feet and his were moving in time with that steady cadence. She wasn’t sure how much time was passing, only aware of how her heart was settling down - beating faster but not the panicky tremors of before. She felt… safe? Safe to be herself. Opening her eyes once more, she glanced at the reflection of the two of them in the glass of the mirrored wall behind the bar. Who was that woman, dancing with the tall elegant young man? She didn’t look like a mature woman of over forty years, a mother and a jilted wife. She didn’t look like the woman who, grim-faced and resolute, had gotten ready to go out tonight as though preparing for battle. This woman had natural colour in her cheeks, her eyes sparkled in the dim lighting of the lounge. She looked younger, less careworn somehow. She looked... Desirable. A rush of heat accompanied that realisation, the nervousness of earlier replaced by an entirely different tension as she turned her face back up to regard Ravi. The shame of earlier was gone. She didn’t note his youth relative to her own in that moment. She didn’t feel old at all. She felt alive, eager… a hunger of her own rising to complement the glimmer of carnality in his own gaze. She stopped swaying to the unheard music, her hands sliding up and over his shoulders, feeling the tumble of his long dark hair over her fingers as they traced up the back of his neck, pulling him down slightly. Rising on her toes a fraction in her heels, her lips sought his. The kiss was gentle at the outset, despite being underlaid with that same eager hunger each partner felt. Lips moved against one another, tongues gently teased, and Sienna was deliciously aware of the hardness of the body under the clothes, of his hands roaming down the slice of bare back exposed by her dress, the fingertips toying up and down her spine, going lower each time. With a muffled murmur she pressed herself even closer, mouth asking - no, demanding more from his, her small white teeth nibbling at his lip before she opened her lips wide against his in mute invitation. His answering kiss drew the breath from her lungs and ignited fresh heat in her belly, something long dormant inside her uncoiling like lazy feline energy, becoming taut and predatory as it awakened. With a gasp she broke the kiss almost roughly, her hands locked in his hair as she stared up at him, catching her breath. Her mind spun, and she knew that this was her moment of decision. Was it enough? Was the interest, and the conversation, and the kindness of the handsome man enough? Was the kiss that still tingled on her reddened lips enough? Again she caught sight of her reflection. No. No it was not. Not even nearly enough. She stepped away, taking his hands in hers and tugging him along with her. He resisted, just a little, forcing her to stop and look at him, to answer the question in his gaze. “Yes.” she murmured, nodding. “Yes, I’m sure.” Holding her gaze a moment longer, Ravi inclined his head and let her lead him to the bedroom.
  11. "Seconded." Ravi raised his glass in a salute, then sipped his drink, appreciating the taste that masked the taste of his own blood in his mouth. He took a labored breath, then set the glass aside and regarded Ravenna D'Sombra soberly. "I've taken a lot on faith, which so far I do not regret." He paused, considering his chest. "Which I realise may sound strange considering I am sitting here with a bullet in my vitals." Looking back up at both women, the one barely out of girlhood and the other one... well, much older by far, he continued. "But I'd really like to know what to do now, what is expected of me for being 'chosen', and what the benefit package is. There's got to be something to counterbalance getting shot at, after all. If all this is true, and I've certainly seen some amazing things to suggest it is, how do we discover what we are?"
  12. Ravi had blinked at the sudden disappearance and reappearance of D'Sombra, even coming as it did on top of an evening that was best described as 'interesting'. He settled back on the admittedly fancy looking knock-off chaise, with Sable helping him get comfortable. "She loves doing that to people." the lovely - what was the word? Ghoul? She didn't look particularly ghoulish - murmured as she placed a cushion behind the young man's head. He smiled slightly through his pain at her. "Always fun to keep people off-balance now and then." The handsome Englishman murmured back before coughing spasmodically for a few beats. Sable patiently held his shoulders as he coughed, preventing him from moving around too much, and as the fit passed and he took a ragged breath she poured him a glass of water. He took few swallows as she held it for him, then the dark haired woman set the glass aside and reached for the front of Ravi's shirt. "We should take a look at it." Sable kept her voice low, plainly not wanting to interrupt Amelia and D'Sombra's conversation. Quickly and efficiently, she unfasted the buttons and peeled back the blood-soaked shirt, her gaze finding his as he watched her. "If you say anything about me not wasting time getting you out of your clothes, I'm going to poke the bullet hole." she warned him, eyes narrowing even though her lips curved in the faintest of smiles. "Perish the thought." Ravi replied, giving her a charmingly lopsided smile, then gritting his teeth and hissing in pain as Sable gently probed around the wound. "Jesus! That hurts." he groaned. "Bleeding has stopped." she informed him, tearing a clean scrap of his shirt off and dipping it in the water before wiping away the worst of the blood around the hole. She watched his face. "How are you feeling? Other than in pain." "I can feel the damn thing inside me." he muttered, acutely aware despite the pain of how gentle her touch was. He studied her expression, golden eyes half-lidded as he tried to relax. "My, my. Is that concern I see there?" he asked teasingly. "Concern that I don't get any more of your blood on me." Sable retorted, but she smiled a little as she dipped another clean scrap of Louis Vuitton shirt into the glass of water and swabbed away more of the blood on his chest. He smiled back, letting his eyes close as he just listened to the conversation happening not too far away.
  13. "Apartment isn't a... good plan." Ravi's voice contained an audible wheeze, rendered breathless as he was by both pain and a collapsed lung. "If they're hunting you, it's the first place they'd look." He coughed. "Hell, they might even have friends there watching the place." Sable's eyes sought him out in the read mirror. "How're you holding up, Ravi?" "Fan-bloody-tastic. I'll be dancing a jig in no time." he replied hoarsely, the taste of his own blood coppery in his mouth. He wasn't feeling very good, despite Sable's assurances that he wasn't in immediate mortal danger from his wound. She didn't even know what he was, the young Englishman grumped silently, how could she know how much danger he was in, for crying out loud?! He reached up and tapped Amelia's arm where it rested next to his head on her lap. "D'Sombra implied to me that what you think you know isn't important." he told the scared woman, then coughed again before adding. "I rather get the impression... that it's you who is important, not whatever you're working on. We should go to D'Sombra."
  14. As the pain receded Ravi was dimly aware that this must be shock. So... this was it. It hardly seemed sporting, really. His whole life he'd been a ne'er-do-well, flouting rules of decency and morality, disgracing his family, taking advantage of people who thought themselves to be his friends, all with a razor smile and a soft word to deflect criticism or blame. And in the end, he'd been shot saving a cute-but-crazy girl from faceless assassin corporate drones, all to chase the meaning of mysterious dreams and cryptic truths dangled in front of him by an immortal woman. He- Wasn't feeling too bad, all things considered. He spat up some of the blood that was in his throat, clearing his airway, and whilst he was aware of a certain breathlessness from the inoperative lung, Ravi couldn't detect anything more than a fiery itching irritation as he drew another breath. He chuckled weakly, looking up at the concerned face of Amelia. "Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated." he said hoarsely. "Allegedly." As she drew back a little, he opened his ruined shirt and looked down, noting how the blood wasn't so much flowing as oozing sluggishly, the wound almost looking like it was trying to scab over. Ravi stared in fascinated amazement, then looked up at Amelia, shrugging slightly, before turning his attention to Sable's dulcet tones. "I'll see your blouse and raise you a Vuitton shirt, if we're comparing expenses." he retorted. "I wasn't counting on getting shot. Though it doesn't seem to be as painful as the movies make out." he added, fighting the urge to giggle. Blood loss, that must be why. "Or maybe it's a new humane type of bullet issued to prevent lawsuits." Laying in the back of Sable's car, he smiled up at Amelia, blood staining his lips and chin. "Y'know, I'm sure I'd feel a lot better with my head on your lap." he suggested, golden eyes glimmering with mad humor. "Always wondered what it'd feel like to die a hero, lovely women stroking my hair and crying over me. Just don't tell my family. They'd never believe it..."
  15. "Bugger." Ravi stepped back from the door, glaring at it in exasperation as he yanked out his phone and tapped out a message. [DOOR STUCK!] "I thought you knew where you were going!" Amelia's voice carried an edge of panic as she looked from the door to the handsome young man. Ravi pushed his phone back into his pocket and gave her a long-suffering gaze. "I do! That's the damn service door! It's not-" he turned and kicked at it. "-my fault it's-" kick "-stuck!" This was not shaping up to be a good night. Amelia was cute, but also a bit crazy when drunk - ordinarily something that promised all sorts of delights, but the type of crazy so far exhibited was more 'rubber room' and less 'rubber dungeon'. Then the crazy had reached out to him, and he was on the run from two suits whom, he instinctively felt, meant him and Amelia no good whatsoever. His amber-yellow eyes narrowed in fear and fury, he pushed down the release bar and hammered his shoulder against the door. "Open, you fucking-" the rest of his tirade was lost in a series of grunts of effort as he repeatedly threw his weight against the obstacle. Amelia glanced down the corridor back the way they'd come, then stepped up to help, the cold sense of danger doing an admirable job of sobering her up. Together, the two glanced at each other, then threw their shoulders against the door.
  16. Ravi blinked, obviously taken aback as he watched Amelia spit denunciations, jump off her barstool, then land on her arse and try to scramble away from him. The blink? Human experimentation? What was that he'd seen in the shadows when she'd been going on about the blinking? What in the hell..? He sighed, sliding off his own stool as Amelia fetched up against the legs of another club-goer, his own movements a graceful and poised counterpoint to her frantic drunken scrambling as he stepped over and leaned down, offering her a hand. Whatever particular brand of deep-seated nuttiness his oblique confession had jogged loose, it was plain that Amelia was distressed. "So far as I know, my employer has nothing to do with human experiments or the blinking lights in clubs, Amelia." he said in a soothing voice, his hand remaining outstretched to the frightened woman. "I'm here for two reasons: to get you safely away from people who are after you, and to get you to meet with my employer, who wants to help you to find the truth you've been chasing before those other people can stop you." He kept his eyes on hers and his tone calming. "So far as I know she means you no harm. And nor do I. But there are people who do. And we need to get ahead of them."
  17. "Mysterious, hmm?" The charmingly crooked smile was distracting, especially as Ravi was mirroring Amelia's body language, leaning in slightly as she did, propping his chin on his hand and studying her up close. "I can live with mysterious." Behind the devastating smile, he was wondering whether Amelia had picked up on Sable's surveillance. Or whether the other party Madam D'Sombra had mentioned was also following Amelia around. If that was the case, then perhaps enough time had been wasted. After all, the other party - the 'Powers That Be', as Ravenna had called them - had been painted as people who didn't wish the girl well... at all. His task was not so much to sleep with Amelia - though that wasn't necessarily a minus - but to deliver her to D'Sombra with open ears so the vampire, she's a vampire, you know it immortal woman could give them both the Truth. Whatever that was. The game was fun, this flirtation and steady seduction. But if the Powers That Be were closing in, drawing things out further would be dangerous. "Well, my colleague - employer if you must know - is quite high circle, very plugged-in to matters that normal people don't usually even notice." he said casually, watching Amelia's face. "She has an eye for the unique and unusual - whether that is objects or people." He took another sip of his drink, his eyes never leaving Amelia's.
  18. "Been overdoing it, frankly." Ravi settled onto the stool beside her, one elbow on the bar, half-turned towards Amelia as he spoke to her. Whether it was his dress sense, his posture, his looks or some combination of the three he almost gave the appearance of posing for a GQ photoshoot, but there was an effortless quality to the overall effect, as though grace and poise were an extension of him rather than some false face. "Grinding away, nothing but work, work, work... Thank you." he smiled momentarily at the bartender as a drink was slid in front of him, picking it up and taking an experimental sip. Evidently approving, or at least not revolted, he refocused his warm golden eyes on Amelia. "So a colleague suggested this place to blow off some steam." he went on, smiling a little. "Said it had a good energy and decent DJs. I'll confess, though, it's reassuring to see a familiar face here. You with anyone, or can I monopolise you?" he asked with a devastating hint of dimple, his gaze mischievous for a second before sobering a little, one hand toying with his drink as he regarded her. "But seriously - I'm sorry to hear you're not doing well. What's the problem, if that's not rude to ask?"
  19. "Well, this is short notice." Ravi drawled from the back seat as Sable wove the black (of course) sedan through the streets and traffic. Glancing at the rear-view mirror, the efficiently professional woman caught a glimpse of a bare shoulder and chest the shade of golden coffee - and wasn't sure whether the pang in her lower abdomen was relief or disappointment that more of the mostly-naked man was not currently visible as he shifted and twisted around back there, getting changed into the clothing he'd insisted on going back to his apartment for when she's peremptorily yanked him out of his 'day' job. "She's been busy these last two weeks." Sable focused on her driving as she gave him the lowdown. "She just surfaced tonight, and given how erratic her patterns are I thought it best-" "Yes, yes... unf... You're quite right." he managed to squeeze into the stylish not-quite-skin-tight black slacks and sat up, causing Sable to glance at the mirror again, this time only seeing the play of the lights outside in the green-gold eyes as they stared back at her in the reflection, the rest of Ravi's features lost in the gloom but for a hint of a cheekbone and the line of his jaw. "You think you can handle this?" she asked him bluntly. "Nothing is certain." He shrugged, pulling on the pale green shirt that itself contained enough hints of yellow in the shade that it complemented his eyes. "Without constant contact, I'm largely starting afresh. On the upside, it's a nightclub. If she's on the prowl, so much the better. If she's just there to dance and drink, then perhaps she won't mind company." His lips quirked in a wry smile. "As my boss likes to say: be what the clientele want you to be, sell them their own fantasy." "And what's her fantasy, then?" "I'm not sure." Ravi sounded almost cheerful as he pulled on his shoes and straightened once more, white teeth flashing in a grin as he ran his hands back through his hair. "I'm rather looking forward to finding out. - that's the fun part Well... one of the fun parts. Finding out about people: what they like, what they hate, what they desire..." his eyes met her again and Sable re-focused on the driving, pretending not to hear the soft, ever-so soft chuckle from behind her. The Two Ton Tones was a decent enough place. The vibe was partyish without being sleazy - well, no more sleazy than most nightclubs - the DJ seemed to be competent and enthusiastic, and the bar staff could mix a drink without referring to a crib sheet every ten seconds. Better yet, the place knew Ravi. He'd been here a time or two in the past, and so when he walked to the head of the short line one of the bouncers nodded and waved him past the rope. That bit of theatre made Ravi smile a little even as he thanked the man and pressed a fifty into his hand. It was a symbiotic relationship - Two Ton Tones was not so exclusive that they had actual VIPs coming here often, and Ravi was not really a VIP. But by a little game of let's pretend, the club got to be seen letting mysterious and handsome strangers in with some ceremony and he got to be treated as someone special, which in turn would encourage those who witnessed the exchange to think he was someone special, which ironically made him someone special. And so the little lie became a little bit true. Appearances were not everything, he would be the first to admit. But in the game of influence, perception informed opinion. Some people might argue the point. But then, they would be arguing it from the other side of the rope whilst queuing outside. So sorry, Ravi would say, I can't hear you over the sound of the club I got into first. The place was well packed, he noted as he descended from the lobby to the main floor, eyes searching along the bar first for- Aha, there she was, drink in hand and watching the floor, head nodding a little to the beat of the music.. He considered Amelia for a moment as he approached - the girl cleaned up pretty well, the clubwear she'd squeezed herself into flattering her figure, a far cry from the interesting yet dressed-down Amelia from the coffee shop. He wasn't going to do another bump-meet - for one thing repeating a trick twice in a row lacked elegance, for another spilling drinks on each other would only shorten the evening, and for a third Amelia might get a little suspicious. So instead, he opted for the direct approach. "Amelia?! Is that you?" he spoke just loudly enough to be heard as he came to rest up against the bar next to her, his tone both admiring and surprised as his golden eyes gave her a chivalrous but appreciative once-over before meeting hers again. "You look amazing. How've you been?"
  20. "...so it sounds like progress." Sable nodded slowly as she considered, then threw the handsome man across from her a wry smile. "You were supposed to charm one woman, not two." "I'm an overachiever." Ravi yawned, showing pink tongue and white teeth for a moment before covering his mouth. "'Scuse me." he apologised, reaching for his tea. Dressed in an off-white linen suit and leaf-green shirt, he was a picture of elegant dishevelment as he lounged in the chair comfortably, with the air of one who could sleep anywhere given half a chance. It was the following day, and in response to Sable's call for an update Ravi had once more taken the chauffeured car uptown to the NYX building. "Late night?" Sable's perfect eyebrow raised a little higher. The insouciant Englishman shrugged. It was a measure of his attractiveness that even with a five-o'clock shadow and slightly rumpled clothing he was just as enticing - less polished, but that just meant the raw animal attractiveness was closer to the surface. Or something. "Nine in the morning is no time for honest folk to be awake." he countered, flashing her a devastating smile. "It's a time for staying in bed and listening to the breathing of the person next to you, wouldn't you agree?" "I'm sure." Sable was not going to be drawn out on the matter of her sleeping habits, but couldn't resist a little curiousity. "So you took the friend home?" "Truthfully, I slept alone." Ravi stretched his spine out a little, wiggling to get comfortable in the chair, then resumed his boneless slouch. "Marilyn is lovely, but not the quarry I am pursuing, so I felt it best to save my energies. I text-flirted with her a little is all, and even that was light." "I'm surprised and impressed." The tone was not completely irony-riddled - Sable had been half-expecting that the incorrigible Brit would get distracted chasing an easy conquest. But she couldn't resist the urge to razz Fitzcoventry a little either. "I'm surprising and impressive." Ravi's gold-and-green eyes met hers over the rim of his teacup, flirtatious humor in his gaze. "So what is your next move?" Sable decided to steer the conversation back to business, and safely away from the subject of beds, sleeping with people, and Ravi's proclivities in that arena. He smiled a little wider, then abruptly stood and moved to the pin-board behind him, cup in hand. "A night-time encounter, next." he decided aloud, with a thoughtful tone as he stroked his chin. "Seems our Amelia has a few nightspots she likes to go and let her hair down at. I need one that's not too far from the mainstream that I'd have to be some hipster indie-scene fellow to know about it." He considered the board, then tapped a photograph. "This one. She seems to go there most Friday nights, usually with friends, and I won't need a soul patch and fake spectacles to get in." He came back and slouched into the chair again, saluted Sable with his cup, then took a drink. "Good. I'll write up the report so Miss D'Sombra knows you're making progress." Sable looked up from her laptop when there had been no acknowledgement after a minute, only to realise that Ravi FitzCoventry had closed his eyes, cradling his empty cup on his stomach as he slumped in the chair, and was to all intents and appearances asleep. Shaking her head in amused disbelief, and taking the opportunity for a safe lingering look at his face in repose (the way his long lashes brushed his cheeks was particularly noteworthy), the professional got back to typing up the report.
  21. About a block down the street outside the coffee shop, Sable sat behind the wheel of a sleek black (of course) sedan, her attitude one of calm patience underscored with perhaps a tinge of anxiety - though it was hard to tell as she sipped tea from a thermos and watched the front of Coffee Project. First contact in this sort of affair was touch and go - the wrong word, a random occurrence, and Ravi could come sloping back to the car with his tail between his legs or with only a partial success. She'd be lying if she said some part of her didn't want to see the arrogantly charming Englishman humbled, if only a little. He was entirely too full of himself where his admittedly charming effect on women was concerned. So when the door of the cafe opened and she saw the subject and another woman whom the files had identified as an acquaintance step out, her first thought was that Ravi FtizCoventry had struck out, blocked by the Sisterhood, and would shortly be headed back this... way... No, he'd stepped out after them, smiling and chatting to both young women as they gestured up the street, the friend blushing a pleased pink as she took Ravi's proffered arm, then looping her other hand through Amelia's arm as they headed away. Sable stared. And didn't miss Ravi's casual look back over his shoulder and flash of momentary smile in her direction before his eyes turned to his companions. Son of a bitch. she thought amusedly. Well, she might as well head back to the office. It appeared first contact had been, at least to a degree, a success. That was a relief. While Miss D'Sombra hadn't specified an urgent timescale, setbacks were undesirable... to say the least. = = = = = = "...so then she said 'But I was saving that for the party!'" Ravi finished a family anecdote to the accompaniment of Marilyn's shocked laughter and Amelia's chuckling. "No!" Marilyn gasped, still giggling. "Swear to god." Ravi placed a hand over his heart. "My cousin lives in her own world and only touches down in this one occasionally. You know how most girls go through the princesses and unicorns phase? Well, nobody told her to grow out of it. She's on her fourth husband already and she's only five years older than me." He shook his head ruefully, then grinned at the two girls. "You'd think that the eligible bachelors would swap notes and steer clear." They were drifting through a clothing store, chatting as they browsed, and Ravi had found he was enjoying himself. Marilyn was charming, and Amelia was too, possessed as she was of a dry wit and a willingness to employ it. He'd already picked up a clean shirt and jeans and was wearing them, the old ones tucked away for future cleaning in the store-issued bag, and was now following the two friends as they gossiped and caught up, now and then being drawn into the conversation but generally content to observe and comment.
  22. "That would be my preference." he quipped in an easygoing manner, reaching out and taking Amelia's hand in a gentle, firm and lingering shake, his eyes on hers throughout the exchange. "I do feel terrible, though. You ladies were going to catch up and have a peaceful afternoon and I come galumphing in and ruin it." He looked a little chagrined, the handsome line of his mouth turning down in a slight grimace as he let his fingers slide from Amelia's. "It wasn't your fault." Marilyn's expression was compassion personified as she put a hand on his arm again. "Perhaps." he allowed with a smile at her, then looked back at Amelia earnestly, his expression brightening in a hopeful smile as an idea occurred to him. "Tell you what... Why don't I come around shopping with you both? You can catch up, show me where New Yorkers shop and hang out, there's less of a fifth wheel vibe if we're all doing something... plus I need to pick up a new shirt now in addition to some other things." he added mischievously. "That way, everyone wins. What do you say?"
  23. "Wolston." Ravi smiled back. "At least, that was my family home." At her blank expression he went on. "It's a tiny village just outside the city of Coventry. But I've lived all over England, really. Boarding school in Harrow, summers in Dorset - when I wasn't visiting family in India - and yes, Glastonbury a time or two for festivals." he grinned. "India?" Marilyn's eyes went wider. Ravi chuckled, sipping his tea. "Mmhmm. My maternal grandmother is from Punjab, so I have a bunch of uncles, aunts and cousins. And because they're Sikh and family is very important, I've had to go and stay with all of them at least once." He leaned closer conspiratorially with a playful smile. "And the only Punjabi or Hindu phrases I know are bad words, so please don't ask." It wasn't strictly true: Ravi could get by asking directions or ordering a meal so long as the other party was cooperative... but as lies went it was a humorously little white one. "And what do you do?" Amelia asked, smiling at little at Marilyn's excited laughter. "Currently? I'm a recruitment consultant." Ravi shrugged offhandedly. "Confidential clientele who are looking for special individuals, that sort of thing. Headhunting, I suppose you could say." "Sounds fascinating." Marilyn would likely have answered that if Ravi had said he slung burgers at McDonalds, but at least this job actually did sound somewhat interesting... and mysterious. "What sort of special individuals?" "Well, I can't get into specifics, you understand." Ravi demurred, taking another sip of tea with evident relish as Marilyn and Amelia nodded. "God, they do a nice cuppa here. Anyway, it varies from client to client. I've spent a while building my brand now and I've not really had time to kick back and enjoy New York, so when a colleague recommended this place as a good spot to relax I said 'why not?'" He chuckled, a warm amused sound. "I must say, it's been a memorable first visit, but not one I regret at all."
  24. "Oh, I'm an import." Ravi smiled at the cute girl, angling as he sat so he faced both women. "Been here a little more than a year. Working and networking. You know how it goes." he said, leaning in as if confiding for a moment before stirring his tea a little. "Coming over and taking jobs, that sort of thing." he said with a playful smile as Mari giggled. "And no, I'm not one to lose my, erm, shit over an accident that was my fault, Marilyn." "Mari." Amelia's friend sighed rather than said as she gazed at the light golden eyes of her new crush, fancying there was a hint of green in their depths as well as they caught the daylight from outside. "Many would say it's a little early for that - we just met. But I'm game if you are." The line was smoothly delivered, almost deadpan, as the incorrigible Englishman raised his tea to his lips. Marilyn went deep red, then laughed, a pleasant sound of merriment that caused some nearby patrons to look around. "Noooooo." she protested giggling, lightly pushing at his arm with her hand - and not at all copping a feel of hardened muscle under the jacket. "I meant call me Mari. My friends all do." Her wide eyes were earnest, rapt, and spellbound. Figures. Ravi sighed inwardly. This was not going to be easy - the girl code forbade poaching as much as the bro code did. He could either retreat now and re-plan, or improvise... And retreat was not one of his preferred options. "So what about you both?" he asked, taking another sip of tea as he regarded both Amelia and Marilyn from over the rim of the cup. Lowering it again, he cradled the cup intimately in his hands as he fixed them both with his attention, a teasing smile on his lips. "What do two such charming ladies do in the Big Bad Apple when they're not accosting Englishmen?"
  25. "Nonsense." Ravi took the proffered napkins and, lifting the shirt away from his skin, attempted to blot the worst of the coffee from the formerly pristine white cotton. This, incidentally, afforded Amelia an unparalleled view of a flat stomach with taut ridged abdominal muscles that were adorned with just a little hair, not so much as to be a rug and not so little that it looked as though he waxed, trailing down to the waistband of his jeans...and that was enough staring. Probably. Ravi wiped the damp skin briefly, then used the wadded napkins to similarly blot his jeans as he continued. "I absolutely insist. I was the idiot not looking where he was going." He considered the remnants of the napkins ruefully then tossed them into the bin by the cream and sugar station. "At least I'll smell nice." he smiled, looking her in the eyes for a moment before glancing at the barista behind the counter who was watching the drama avidly - not least because one of the players was Ravi. "Miss? Could you get another one of whatever it was I ruined for..?" he looked at her with a start as though he'd committed another faux pas. "There I go, forgetting my manners." he sighed, shaking his handsome head with a rueful smile as he once more met Amelia's eyes. "I'm Ravi." he said, holding out his hand to the young woman.
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