THE St. Louis Speakeasy
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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 2015 2:20 am GMT 
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It was easy to forget that Sylvia was a clever girl, drowned out as she often was by the sound of Gabe’s own voice. Now he listened to her well-reasoned reply and found himself convinced. He didn’t quite follow everything she’d said—she seemed to be implying that she was not a catch, which, with her figure and pretty face, she obviously was. But he wasn’t about to argue with her. It was true, of course. He would make it good.

As Sylvia talked on, a vivid image of them in the midst of a rooftop adventure popped unbidden into his mind. The last few sentences blurred together a bit, in one ear and out the other. When she had said her piece, his hand dropped down to her waist. He pulled her close and kissed her again. After a minute of this, the cold air didn't seem quite so cold anymore. It might have been easy to lose himself right then and there, had he been an ordinary young man.

“Sweetheart,” he said, pulling away for a breath of fresh air. “Just to be crystal clear, I, uh. I don’t do nuthin’ that could put a girl in the family way.”

For a twenty-year-old male, Gabe was exceptionally careful about such things. This could be attributed to an incident back in Arkansas a few years before. That episode had ended with Gabe skipping town, an irate new grandfather close on his heels, firing buckshot at his head. (Thanks to a pint of homemade whiskey, the old man had missed.) He didn't think Sylvia's older sister had a shotgun, but he took the matter seriously, doing what he could to keep from spreading wild oats.

“Well, not tonight, anyway. Unless you got a diaphragm in that purse.”

It was a joke, sort of. He was guessing she didn’t.

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Just Damn Cute
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2016 1:27 pm GMT 
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She gasped softly at his kiss, melting easily into his well honed art. She would easily agree that the air didn't feel so cold anymore once he had pulled back and spoke to her. It was nice knowing that he, physically at least, was as interested in it at the moment as she was.

Laughing some she nodded her head. "That's quite alright," she said. "I don't want to be in that way for quite a while. I can wait a little bit more for that much." And she was very willing to wait. Her sister would kill her, then Gabe, if anything like that happened. And she rather liked the idea of going on living thank you very much. And it'd be rather unfair to Gabe to have him be murdered and whatnot.

She leaned back in to kiss him again, the eagerness of it leaking in to it. When she pulled back after a moment, she was smiling, looking rather pleased with herself just then. "I am exceedingly glad to have met you, Gabe," she murmured softly, her voice almost lost in the night.

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:49 pm GMT 
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"Glad to hear we're on the same page." He caught the smug expression on Sylvia's face and almost laughed again. He was used to being looked at like prey, but the girl was not exactly your typical predator. "Truth is, sweetheart, there's a million other things you can do what's just as fun..."

***

It was either very late or very early when Gabe roused himself. The sky was still dark, but they couldn't hide up there forever. Eventually the sun would come up. He would have to drop Sylvie off, return to his awful apartment, and clean up in time for work. No doubt she had her own business to see to. Such evenings didn't last.

Quietly he buckled his belt, buttoned his jacket, and retrieved his hat. There was no mirror and not much light; he made a halfhearted attempt to tidy himself, but his tie was crooked, and his hair remained a rumpled mess. He led her off the rooftop and back into the stairwell, locking the door behind them. As they stepped toward the elevator, he took her hand. "Well, darling?" he asked, sounding a bit weary. "How do you feel?"

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Just Damn Cute
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:51 pm GMT 
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Sylvia took a few more moments than him before getting up to her feet and fully adjusting her dress back into place again. It was a little easier for her to look presentable again than it was for him. She had less that she needed the mirror for now. Though her hair was in disarray, she figured it'd be fine. She followed after him to the door back to the real world, giving one more glance back behind her at their little place of solitude.

She squeezed his hand a moment before letting it go to help fix his tie back into place now that there was a bit more light around them inside. "Surprisingly not that different," she said softly, snorting a little laugh. She has expected to feel very different, but it really wasn't much of a change at all. But maybe it just hadn't fully sunk in that they'd done anything. She smile a small little smile up at him, not succeeding in tuning out the sound of the elevator coming back up to bring even further from there. Away from the little escape from having to think about anything else but what she and Gabe wanted to do.

But his tone didn't pass her by either. "But I seem to have had a better time than you did," she murmured, frowning a little bit. "Sorry if I let you down any..."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:01 am GMT 
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He smiled back at her as she fixed his tie. There was some charm to this. He liked playing the dashing suitor, with a woman at his side to tidy him up once they were done.

Of course she didn't feel very different. Virgins usually said something of the sort. He barely remembered what it had been like for him, the first time--if he'd expected a transformation from boy to man--but he didn't think so. He'd never made a fuss over that sort of thing.

"You're the same sweet thing you always was," he agreed, ushering her inside the elevator.

Her doubts took him by surprise. They weren't especially surprising doubts, but he wasn't accustomed to people who fretted about letting him down. And the truth was, he wasn't disappointed, not by any means. It was pretty much what he'd expected. It didn't matter how beautiful you were. No one was a prodigy from the get-go.

"Darlin'," he assured her, "I had a very fine time indeed. You saw for yourself, I did. 'Sides, we got all the time in the world to practice." He leaned forward, a smirk on his face. "I'll teach you everything I know."

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Just Damn Cute
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:43 pm GMT 
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She rolled her eyes some at the silliness of thinking that she'd be different afterwards. There wasn't going to be some big reveal of new facts now that she had crossed over from being a 'good girl' to a 'bad girl'.She did feel a little giddy if she was entirely honest. But she was indeed still the same person she was before. Now she was only more experienced, and she was very pleased with the experience she'd gained.

His assurance that she was fine did make her feel better. Of course she wasn't going to be amazing, she just didn't want him disappointed in her either. He had surely come into this knowing that he was going to be the much better of the two of them. He'd been the better kisser to begin with, now she was better than she was, but he was still better.

When he leaned in like that she smiled up at him, her grin shifting from happy to sly as her cheeks flushed. But it wasn't embarrassment that made them color, it was excitement at the promises in those words. "I promise to be a very eager student," she murmured, leaning against him a little bit after a small jostle from the elevator. "You are a very good teacher after all."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:39 pm GMT 
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When Halloween rolled around a few weeks later, Gabe still wasn't bored of Sylvie. It had been a long time since he'd had a relationship like this—non-violent, free of transaction, vaguely quaint. It made for a refreshing change of pace, even if it was hurting his business.

He’d been lying through his teeth from the beginning, of course. Getting away with it was part of the thrill, though he never managed to make it last. Everyone had heard a different version of his story. To some he was an actor and a model; to others a safecracker, a taxi dancer or even, on his most whimsical days, a long-lost heir, slumming it in St. Louis until he inherited the family castle. Everyone knew Gabe. That was the problem. As soon as they compared notes, he was finished.

But for now he was in the clear and intended to make the most of it. A relatively harmless acquaintance was throwing a party for Halloween. Leslie would be there, along with some friends from the dance hall. There would be costumes and booze; nothing too sordid. Most of the guests would be people he'd never slept with, and he was certain that Ellery wouldn't show up. It was a good place to take Sylvia, all things considered.

That left only the dilemma of his costume. A ghost, or indeed anything bedsheet-based, was completely out of the question. He might've looked good in a toga, but he couldn't have named a single Roman emperor. In the end, he settled rather blandly on dressing as the Sheikh. He didn't have the complexion for it, but it made the best use of his pre-existing wardrobe. Boots, baggy trousers, a silk dressing gown, and a sash around his waist--that was all it took to make a recognizable ensemble.

He showed up on Sylvia's doorstep only a few minutes later than planned. Halloween had fallen on a weeknight, and it was still early in the evening. But there was a slight buzz regardless, a muted air of excitement detectable in the crisp October air.

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Just Damn Cute
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2016 2:50 pm GMT 
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Things had been smashing for her. She had a handsome boyfriend who wanted to spend time with her. And spend time alone with her. She certainly felt more and more smitten with him as the days had gone on. And while she knew this wouldn't last forever, she was not at all looking forward to it ending. Even if right now it didn't seem like it was going to.

Sylvia had worried quite a deal about this party. There was the issue of what to wear, what she could do that would be good enough. But most especially what she could do that wouldn't make her look like a witch. She refused to do that even if it would be easy. Even if it would be a good disguise in theory. And she didn't want to go with a cat or a bat. Things that were traditionally familiars. She has thought about a raven maybe, or a crow. But as she'd mused over the idea at breakfast, her sister had suggested the best idea. A dryad. She was sylvan after all.

So she went to work on finding the right dress and everything else in between dates. And she had just gotten the last bit she needed a few hours before he was to pick her up.

"I still think it's a little...revealing," Florence said as she stood in her sister's doorway and watched her fix her dress into place.

"You think ankles are too revealing," Sylvia huffed, looking at her in the mirror.

"I do not," the older girl sighed. "But I do think you could leave a bit more to the imagination with your cleavage there."

Sylvia looked down at the top of her dress which was just low enough to show a deal of flesh. "It isn't that bad," she said with finality, turning and heading down stairs with Florence following in her wake. The younger girl flopped down onto the sofa in her sister's office near the front window, waiting for her date to arrive. When she saw him coming up the steps she headed for the door, pulling it open to smile at him as she reached for her shawl. She was dressed in a soft green dress a few years out of date that she'd obviously altered for her purpose. The handkerchief hem floated about her legs as she shifted her weight from foot to foot with each step. Upon her head was a crown of flowers gathered from their garden, bound together with ivy.

Her eyes lit up with amusement at Gabe's costume. "Of course you'd do that," she chuckled, starting to step out to him when her sister appeared behind her and grabbed at her wrist to pull her back for a second.

The older girl just glanced at Gabe, neither disappearing or pleased. "Please be careful tonight," Florence said to Sylvia quietly. "You know what people are like on nights like this."

"Flo, I got this, please," she pleaded, pulling back from her as she pulled her shawl on. "It's just a party." She gave Florence a quick kiss on the cheek and headed out the door at last. "Come on, let's go before she changes her mind."

Coming up the walk behind Gabe was a small gaggle of young boys, probably no older than thirteen, murmuring among themselves a little nervously before retreating and heading down the street some at the sight of Sylvia coming towards them.

((sorry for the novel))

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 1:09 am GMT 
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Gabe tensed up as the door began to creak; he couldn’t tell which sister was on the other side. Then the door swung all the way open with a rush of warmth and light. He broke into a grin. He had no idea what Sylvie was supposed to be. It didn’t matter; she was a vision.

“Happy Halloween, love. Are you…”—he hesitated for a split-second, perhaps out of cognitive dissonance—“…a, uh, fairy?”

There was no chance for her to answer, because in that moment Florence appeared. Gabe’s smile faded. He gave the woman what he hoped was a manly, respectful nod. It wasn’t that he disliked Florence, but he avoided her as much as possible. He was sure that, with the uncanny protective instincts of an older sibling, she knew. Not anything specific. Not yet. It was probably just the suspicion that he was a filthy lying cad. The more she saw of him, however, the more she would find out, so Gabe made a point of keeping his mouth shut when they were in the same room.

He suddenly regretted wearing the Sheikh costume. When Florence glanced at him, he even had the decency to feel a little ashamed.

“I’ll bring her home safe, Miss Brighton,” he called back to Flo as Sylvie led him away.

It was a relief to turn back onto the walk. Being alone with Sylvia was always easier. She never pressed him for the truth. On some level, maybe, she knew she wouldn’t like the answers.

Gabe saw the boys retreat out of the corner of his eye. At first he ignored them. On second thought, he thought they might’ve seen something that he hadn’t. He glanced about, trying to figure out why they had turned tail. “What’s that about?” he asked Sylvia, after a moment. “You got a neighbor who hides in a leaf pile or somethin’?”

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Just Damn Cute
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:45 am GMT 
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Sylvia smiled when he asked if she was fairy. She was confident that she'd be having to either correct people all night or just dealing with them being wrong. She wasn't too bothered either way, really. Fairy wasn't wrong . It just wasn't quite right either.

Florence watched them go from the doorway, and it made Sylvia hurry because she hated the feeling of her sister's worried look burning into her back.

At Gabe’s question about the boys, she glanced back at them lurking a few houses down. “Ah...it's a complicated thing,” she said after a moment. She didn't like lying, she wasn't very good at it really. But if she could be vague about it, it wasn't lying then. “Probably just kids playing some pranks. It's pretty normal for us on Halloween. Everywhere we go, doesn't matter.”

And it was true. Kids played pranks on them. Ding dong ditch. Egging the house. Trampling through their garden. Sometimes just lurking and trying to peer into the windows to see if they could see anything going on inside. But the most spooky thing they'd see would be one of them making a cup of tea or reading a book.

“I'm sure it's nothing though, don't worry about it. Florence can handle whatever it is.”

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:42 pm GMT 
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When he was a kid, he'd never been the sort to bother the neighborhood outcasts. Not because he was more compassionate than the rest. More likely, it was because he'd been scared. Young Gabe had had no intention of getting skinned alive or turned into a frog. He used to take the spooky stories to heart--too stupid, maybe, to do otherwise.

He looked back at the boys again. Something about them moving in a pack summoned a dark flicker of memory. He worked hard to live in the present, and mostly succeeded, so the effect of this thought was an unfamiliar chill. "Couple of ladies livin' alone, some people can't find it in themselves to leave 'em be," he muttered, trying to shake the feeling. It didn't even occur to him that Sylvia and Florence could have elicited the behavior. "If you got a mess to clean up come tomorrow, I'll lend a hand. Nothing complicated 'bout that."

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Just Damn Cute
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 3:51 pm GMT 
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She looked at him a little surprised by the offer. Not that she thought of Gabe as unkind. Just the kind that would avoid work if he wasn't getting paid for it. And even maybe sometimes if he was. So him offering to help clean up was a bit of a surprise. "That's real sweet of you, Gabe," she smiled, nodding her head some and making her hair bounce some. "Real sweet."

She didn't want to linger on the thoughts of what those boys might do, if anything, and instead turned her thoughts back to the party. "And to answer your earlier question, I'm a dryad. A tree spirit. My name is Sylvia after all." She beamed a little proudly at that for a moment before laughing. "But it's sorta like a fairy so you were close."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:06 pm GMT 
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Her assessment of his industrious spirit, or lack thereof, was actually spot on. He wouldn't have offered if he'd thought the chance of being called upon was very high. But it was worth the risk. He had to remind people now and then that he was, after all, a Pretty Good Guy.

"It's nothing," he said lightly. "I been bothered now and then. I know what it's like."

The strange creeping mood was easily shaken. He turned back to Sylvia, smiling again. That was before her explanation of the costume. He had never heard of a dry-add. He had no idea what her name had to do with it. And truth be told, he didn't much care for the notion of tree spirits, watchin' passers-by from up in the dark branches.

Gabe didn't like being reminded that he didn't know anything. Still, he gave no sign that he was out of his depth.

"Well that's right clever of you." He grinned, looking her up and down on the pretext of examining her dress. "I bet you sewed that costume up yourself, huh? There's a theater or two in town would pay good money to a seamstress like you, love. If you ever got tired of working at home. Just a thought."

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Just Damn Cute
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2016 8:27 am GMT 
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Sylvia wasn’t sure that he fully understood what she'd said, but she wasn't going to point it out any. That would be no good for the night to make him feel bad for not understanding something. That never seemed to work well with men after all. She hadn’t expected him to know anyways. Most people wouldn’t. She only knew because of her upbringing.

“I only altered this one,” she said with a little shrug. “Got it in a consignment shop. Some lady spent a lot of money to be fashionable for a few months and then got rid of it and now it’s mine. Just fiddled with the hem and made it a little flowier is all. Though I could have sewn it I suppose.” She shrugged some, lips pursed. “Dunno if I’d want to do it as a living though. It might ruining the fun of it.”

She smiled over at him, looping her arm in his easily. "I'd sew for you if you like though."

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Egad!
 Post subject: Re: Hard Luck, Harder Ground ((Artemis))
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:21 am GMT 
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"Oh yeah?" He raised his eyebrows, grinning a little more broadly. "If you was to sew for me, and dress me up however, what wouldja have me be?"

He really hoped the sheik costume passed muster. It would've been much better if he'd given her a crack at it, but it was way too late for that.

As they spoke, Gabe led the way. The party was not quite in Sylvia's neighborhood. It was a slightly shabby house some fifteen minutes away. She hadn't met very many of his friends, for reasons that would be obvious to almost everyone but Sylvia. The host and hostess of the party, however, were good people, unlikely to give him away. They were young, married and childless, disreputable only in a harmless sort of way.

By the time they got to the end of the block, they could hear the buzz of music and voices. "Just so's you know--don't Mister and Missus these two. Andrew and Celia'll do. They think they're pretty modern. Theater people...you know the type."

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