The New Moon sat quite and comely, resting out upon the long wide pier, last in the long line up of tourist traps and expensive entertainments that separated the cold waters of the Puget Sound from the rising towers of Seattle's down town waterfront district. The building by day was a simple wooden structure, the steel frame hidden within, the front an array of windows painted in haphazard colors that filtered light through but gave not even the slightest impression of what lay within or without, depending on which side you were on. By night, however, the line to get in was known to stretch for blocks and the thrum of the music could be heard into the early morning.
Pier 70 had a long history and the New Moon was only its newest addition, but a popular one, visible from nearly every office building in town since the I-90 viaduct, the old double layered freeway running outside downtown had been deemed too expensive of an earthquake hazard to repair. The freeway had been tucked underground, leaving a clear unobstructed view of all the waterfront had to offer. Being the middle of the week, that wasn't saying much. Business would be slow but steady from open to close. But on the bright side, it gave Aislinn BloodRose, partial owner of the New Moon dance club the time she needed to tend to general up keep.
"What do you mean you don't believe in getting your hands dirty?!" she asked incredulously, looking down at Alkari for a moment from her precarious perch upon the top rungs of a stand ladder. Her slender body was clad in a pair of carpenter's jeans so faded they were a soft baby blue, the material so well worn it was soft and velvety to the touch. A hammer was resting in its designed position, from a loop just in back of her right thigh. Planting the back of her left hand against her hip, the better to keep the paint brush it held away from her clothing, she cocked a hip and glared down at her cousin.
"I'm a bouncer, not a laborer, Ash. You want someone to help you paint and hammer, hire a contractor."
Alkari was lounged against the door of his car, his arms crossed. Black jeans and a nearly transparent white t-shirt clung to his body, his sandy hair cut short, just barely long enough to fall across his tanned forehead as he gazed up at her from pale brown eyes that were just barely visible over the rims of a pair of black sun glasses. His attitude and position spoke clearly what he was. It wouldn't have mattered if he was grooming poodles or filing paperwork in some office. He just looked the part of bad ass body guard. It was the main reason Aislinn put up with him; he was just the kind of man she needed as bouncer.
Aislinn scowled down at him again and turned to finish touching up the trim about one of the warehouse windows which she had adamantly insisted be replaced. A dip of the brush into the paint pail balanced on the flat deck of the upper most rungs of the ladder was soon followed by a dribble of paint onto the canvas beneath her, designed to protect the sidewalk though Alkari didn't look to sure as to what it would do to protect his car. The lift of her arm to reach the piece in question revealed a flash of flesh as the short shirt she wore rode higher, awarding anyone who angled themselves properly, a glimpse of the white lace bra beneath. Alkari, in such a position, just smirked.
"We should be more careful who we let in, Ash." Alkari moved to one side so as to watch what she was doing and to remove himself from the direct angle of the sun. "If you let just any mutt wander in, they'll take over or trash the place. We've worked too hard to let the New Moon go to the pound."
Aislinn didn't have to pretend that she didn't know what he was talking of. The gentle point of delicate ears, the high cheeks bones, the full lips, they were all tell tale signs of elven blood, but there was something even more exotic running through her veins, and Alkari's too. A look alone could determine that, even if it took more then a good pair of eyes and a nose to pin point exactly what it was.
Despite being fairly new in town, it hadn't taken long to hear about 'them.' The local wolf pack; the Bloodlust. It was hard for some to believe, that some of the nightmares and horror stories about monsters under the bed were true. Sometimes it took that nightmare actually reaching out and ripping your throat out before you took it seriously. For Aislinn, it had been so. Alkari had been the one to prove her wrong. Many just couldn't believe, but for those that did, it opened a whole new world, an entirely new life. With eyes newly opened, it was easy to find others and to learn what you needed to know.
Aislinn and Alkari were intruders here, wolves crossing territory lines. But they had no inclination for power or pack and the other owner of the club was as oblivious to werewolves and their workings as he was to the elven, which was humorous considering he himself was of elven decent. It was obvious to Aislinn, at least, who saw it in his features and the very way he moved.
"We are more the mutts then they are, Alkari, and you know it."
A dribble of paint slid off the brush, onto her hand, down her arm to her elbow and then dripped across the front of her shirt. Her long, dark hair was pulled up into a ponytail, the golden highlights making streaks of glinting paleness through the otherwise ebony locks, catching in the sun with a shine that women paid hundreds to have put in professionally. Equally dark brows now furrowed as she looked down at her shirt which was much the worse for wear.
"They are bad news," he grumped angrily.
"And you need a nap," she grumped back at him, turning to scowl again as she propped the brush over the open bucket. "You are just jealous that there's more then one wolf in town. One wolf every few nights is not a hostile takeover. If we stick to our own turf, keep our heads down and stay out of their way, no one will even notice we are here."
She turned to admire her work for a moment before taking up the pail and brush and carefully descending the ladder. With a sigh, she scrutinized and compared the windows as she descended, realizing that her initial suspicions were correct. She was going to have to replace and paint them all or leave the club front looking even more patchwork than normal. It was a good thing she had purchased with that in mind. "If you need to go mark your territory to make yourself feel all manly, please feel free! Go right ahead; be my guest. But mark my words, Alkari, if you get arrested for exposure while pissing in a corner, I'm not bailing you out… good morning, Officer Bradley!" Her tone changed from scolding immediately into the much louder, cheerful adaptation she always took when dealing with the law.
Seattle City Police were a long call from the St. Louis and New Orlean's divisions but Aislinn was more than aware of her reputation and the past that she had tried to get away from. She hadn't run anywhere near far or fast enough, only managing to drag it with her. The very first night the New Moon had opened had brought the police force down in style, eager to get a feel for what this new scene was going to mean for their jobs. That very same night her file had been pulled and within hours, every officer on the force knew where she came from, how many times she had been brought in and on what charges. There had been nothing they could do to her, of course. She wasn't breaking any laws. However, it had taken a deal of convincing to make them believe that. Not that she could blame them. Prostitutes weren't well known for honestly coming into large sums of money, moving to new cities, and miraculously opening up dance clubs.
Even after six months of saintly business, the police were constantly checking on her, as if expecting her to be living her old life again. At least the difference in their behavior was evident. Not once, since that first night had she been treated badly or felt as though they thought her trash. It was amazing what a good smile, a pair of pretty eyes, and a legal and profitable business could do.
"Morning, Miss BloodRose." Officer Bradley nodded to her as he came to a stop at the foot of the ladder she had been just about to move. He looked up, shielding his eyes to see what she was doing. "Something broken?"
"How many times do I have to tell you to call me Ash or Aislinn, if you have to be formal? And no, just some minor face lift issues before opening. How is that whole keeping the streets thing working for you?"
The man flashed a white toothed smile at her. "Just fine. Just got word that there was activity at the New Moon and thought I would swing by, just in case."
Aislinn brushed a loose tendril away from her eyes, tucking it behind one ear, as she smiled up at him. The movement left an artful streak of paint behind, causing the officer to smile slightly, though Aislinn herself was more or less oblivious of it. Her dark eyed gaze followed Officer Bradley's, up to the façade and the fresh paint.
"You never struck me as the fix'em'up type, Aislinn," Bradley said with a smirk.
"Yeah? Well the choice was him or me." She jerked a paint smeared thumb towards Alkari sarcastically. "Apparently, he's going union, so obviously I'm doing it." She looked back at the lounging bouncer and stuck her tongue out at him, childishly.
Alkari and Aislinn, despite being distant cousins, had a history that went back to when Aislinn had been just a toddler. Even now that she was a young woman, their six year difference at times seemed a gaping chasm of centuries.
Bradley grinned at her actions. He was among the majority of the police force having decided she was harmless and rather cute. "I've been meaning to ask you," he said, moving over to help her slide the ladder towards the other window. "Shouldn't you be in school, or something?" His eyes watched her face as she paused just before climbing up the ladder again.
She was seventeen, and even that just barely. Laws had changed a lot in the last few years. Just five years prior, and after much dispute, the legal drinking age and what did and did not constitute a minor had come under direct scrutiny of the Supreme Court. There had been many varying opinions, but with the independency of teenagers growing at astounding rates, it was no surprise when the former drinking laws had been revoked deeming that any person of an age to be considered self sufficient was to be granted the liberties of that status. Similar laws had been instated shortly after for the school system, country wide. Surprisingly enough, it had had the opposite reaction of what many had anticipated. Certainly, there had been those who after the required school years had dropped education altogether, but high schools and colleges had soon found themselves swarming with a far higher attendance and academic level, the bad apples having voluntarily removed themselves. Occasionally, it was found that the bad apples, stayed to hide themselves from whatever or whoever might be looking for them, and this having been recognized, actions were soon taken to deal with this problem, as well. With all of this in mind, Aislinn knew where the question came from and saw it more as a compliment then anything. Without outright saying it, she had just been told she was a smart, good kid.
"Mr. Bradley," she said carefully, pondering for a moment if this man had actually looked at more then just the first page of her police file. "I'm the girl you don't take home to mother. I'm what is considered black listed. Sure I could probably be in school, and I don't think I would do so bad, but let's face the facts. I was what was commonly referred to as a whore. And since the school district now requires legal records for each enrollee, the chances of any school, high school or otherwise, ever taking me is slim to none. Why expose myself to the common knowledge of everyone by even trying? The risk is too much and the reward too little. At least this way I am respected and getting by on my own two feet."
"As opposed to her back," Alkari said with a slight grunt as he pushed his sunglasses firmly up his nose, hiding his honey brown eyes from view.
Hand over hand, she hoisted herself up the ladder, pointedly ignoring Alkari's comment as she drew the hammer out. It was with careful application that she pried the back side of the hammer head between the wall and the rotted out trim of the water seals for the window. "Can you hand me that piece?" she asked, indicating what she meant with the hammer. Bradley stooped to retrieve the length of fresh trim, handing it up to her as she dropped the salt rotted wood between the ladder and the building; the side away from her adoring public.
"Besides," she said at last, reaching into her pocket for the open box of nails. She drew out several, and laid them on the flat near the paint can as she continued, "I've learned more then they could ever teach you in one of those schools." Placing the trim, she took a nail, holding it and the trim in place with one hand as she brought up the hammer with the other.
"There's no point trying to talk sense into her, Officer. She never listens." Alkari pushed to his feet and moved towards the pair, well aware that Aislinn was oblivious to the view up her shirt and equally certain that Officer Bradley was taking advantage of that fact. "Stubborn, a pain in the ass, willful to a fault," he shook his head. "If it weren't for her money, her witty repartee, and the nice tits, she wouldn't be worth the effort."
"Huh?" Officer Bradley jerked his gaze to Alkari, the word 'tits' drawing his attention to the fact Alkari was in fact speaking and proving beyond a doubt that he had been caught in the act.
Alkari snorted a short laugh through a tight lipped smirk, tilting his head to look over the rim of his glasses at the man before pushing them back into place once more. "Nothing, just mumbling… HEY WATCH IT!" Alkari danced back several feet as the paint brush came crashing down from the top of the ladder, spraying paint across the canvas, barely missing the police officer and splattering Alkari's shoes.
Up above, on the ladder, Aislinn was standing with wide blinking eyes, her forefinger pressed to her bottom lip in a vision of near innocence. "Ooops?" But there was a shadow to her eyes that showed that wasn't what she would have said had certain persons not been present.
"You don't mind picking that up for me, do you?" Aislinn asked almost sweetly as she began to ease down the ladder, her eyes on Alkari with an intensity that was tangible. "Oh… I forgot. Your brawn gets in the way for your brain. Let me." Stepping down she bent over to retrieve the brush while Alkari glared at her. His lip curled slightly, as he watched her but the look she cast him as she raised her head silenced the threat of his growl almost instantly.
Her eyes had gone completely golden, rich and deep, empty, cold, remorseless, pitiless, bottomless. Like a pair of windows looking into a dark tomb but no one was home. "Why don't you go stand near the wall and look pretty. It is after all what you do best. At least I hope so, speaking certainly isn't in that category." Turning her back on him instantly, she smiled quickly and brightly at the young officer who was now looking at the two of them rather uneasily, though he had enjoyed the few moments when Aislinn had been bent over, her round backside towards him, a mere foot away at most from brushing against what would have promised to be a most enjoyable region. She might have been a whore, but she was a handful and a half of wit, intelligence, beauty, wealth, and walking sexual tension. Or at least, so he thought.
"I think I will leave you two be now," he said eyeing them both.
Aislinn straightened, her features immediately fixing into a warm smile as she nodded her head, setting her pony tail to swinging behind her, the golden highlights gleaming in the sun."No worries. You know how it is, Officer. Until the doors open, it's as exciting around here as umm…" with a little smile and an ironic shrug she held up the paint brush, "… as watching paint dry."