Private Tales Money of Clandestine Means

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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Business as usual. The office building set aside was abuzz with activity as they worked various aspects of the business. Messages, orders and reports streamed in and out of the building in a near continuous paper trail, runners made good money in places such as these.
Everyone worked methodically and efficiently, the foreman made sure strict discipline was maintained in the workplace and everything went smoothly.

That same foreman now strode between the desks and cubicles with a determined look in his eye, and a very carefully hidden seething rage.
He was dressed mostly in white which went well with his platinum blond hair. He is impeccably cleaned and groomed with an air of crisp professionalism.

The office in the back was his destination, the office belonging to none other than Inara Irren. Maximilian Kouser burst through the door without knocking, slamming the door to the wall loudly before letting it swing shut with another bang.
He strode straight to the desk where the woman sat and slammed a satchel down full of papers and documents.

He didn't immediately say anything, letting the papers spill out on her desk. He stepped back and paced the room for a minute, his anger apparent in his steps. He reached into his inside coat pocket and pulled out a cigar to put between his teeth. He was obviously trying his best to calm down to keep from being reckless.

Finally, he stopped pacing, took the cigar out of his mouth and faced her.
"Miss Irren... Did you invest money without consulting me?"
 

Inara Irren

The Princess of Crime
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Inara had solved that one little problem with the help of Tal and she was very nervous about her payment. Her measurements had been taken and she was knew it was a matter time before she had to pay up. Whatever that psycho had in mind was going to be terrible and she was going to hate it. Or at least she was going to keep her mouth shut since she couldn't lie about hating it.

That is where her mind was when her office door was thrown open and it banged against the wall beside it.

Before she could look up from her collection of papers, a satchel was rudely slammed down in front of her. She lifted her head and took Max in with her hazel eyes. He was just standing there looking pissed off before he started to pace while still looking pissed off.

Finally, he stopped pacing, took the cigar out of his mouth and faced her.

"Miss Irren... Did you invest money without consulting me?"

Inara slowly lifted one sculpted brow at her underling.

Max hated her and, honestly, the feeling was mutual. He was an uptight dick who had been trying to get rid of her since Marcus had put her in her position. They could have friends and she might have even let him co-underboss with her if he had not been a complete asshole from the start.

"Last I checked," Inara slowly set down her quill before continuing. "I am your boss, Mr. Kouser. I do not need to consult with you about anything. Now, please take your satchel and get the fuck out..."
 
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Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"Last I checked," Inara slowly set down her quill before continuing. "I am your boss, Mr. Kouser. I do not need to consult with you about anything. Now, please take your satchel and get the fuck out..."
He scoffed bitterly at her, that was exactly why he was doing his best to not overturn her desk. She was his superior and he was duty bound to follow her orders...
But damnit he didn't have to like it!

He placed his palms flat on her desk, displaying an impressive degree of control to not slap the table.
He bent down, putting his face down to her level to look her in the eye with his piercing blue eyes.
He kept his voice low to prevent himself from shouting, but that just made his voice sound sarcastic and bitterly resentful.
"Think again, "princess". You are an incompetent and that is WHY you have to consult me as your attendant, utilize my experience and expertise to avoid making massive blunders like this!"
He grabbed one of the pages and waved it in her face.
"Three-hundred thousand gold investment, and the company completely flopped before it got off the ground! Every coin we sunk into this failed idea paid off the debt!"

He pushed off the table and shoved the cigar into his teeth, chewing it savagely before taking it out again, asking, "What even was it? A clothing shop? Cosmetics? Bakery maybe? Located in the upper market district?!
Holy gods of trickery and wealth, you are completely incompetent?!"
 
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Inara Irren

The Princess of Crime
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This pretty boy had the nerve to come in here acting like her superior once again. Every single little tiny mistake she might make brought him storming in here in a huff of blonde fury. Inara held his gaze as he spoke to her like she was a useless child.

"Think again, "princess". You are an incompetent and that is WHY you have to consult me as your attendant, utilize my experience and expertise to avoid making massive blunders like this!"

Princess. The only person who was allowed to call her princess and not get sneered at was Tal and that was only because she owed all of this to him. He had figured out that Marcus was her father and reunited them. Yes, there had been something in it for him but it had still worked out quite well for her.

"Three-hundred thousand gold investment, and the company completely flopped before it got off the ground! Every coin we sunk into this failed idea paid off the debt!"

With the sneer on her face, she narrowed her eyes as Max continued to berate her for an investment that she had been assured was a good one. She hated to admit that she probably should have taken it to Max but he was an asshole. She didn't like assholes.

She watched him chew on the cigar for a few moments before he removed it from his mouth again.

"What even was it? A clothing shop? Cosmetics? Bakery maybe? Located in the upper market district?!
Holy gods of trickery and wealth, you are completely incompetent?!"

Inara sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. Had he really just reduced her to a feminine stereotype? Yes...yes he had.

"It was an art company," she replied with her chin held high. "An art company that makes the art. We needed the artist because art forgery is growing quicker than any other segment of the business." Truth. The only thing Inara could speak. Of course, Max did not know that about her because she had not felt the need to enlighten him.

She stood then and walked slowly around her desk to come stand in front of him. He was only an inch or so taller than her but she still had to look up slightly and that irritated her.

"If you were less of an asshole, I may consider consulting you. I think we can agree on that being impossible for you though."

They had definitely gotten off on the wrong foot and Inara was not sure there was a right one.
 
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Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"It was an art company," she replied with her chin held high. "An art company that makes the art. We needed the artist because art forgery is growing quicker than any other segment of the business."
He scoffed again with an incredulous laugh.
"Art forgery in the upper market district? Your own secretary could have told you that idea could never take off!"
He flicked the ruined cigar into a wastebin.
"In the middle market districts, MAYBE if you grease the right palms. The slums most definitely, the port could work just as well even with all the territory wars happening there. The eastern district is almost a guarantee."
He seemed to calm down somewhat after her honesty. He didn't seem to struggle with an urge to shout anymore.
She stood then and walked slowly around her desk to come stand in front of him. He was only an inch or so taller than her, but she still had to look up slightly and that irritated her.
"If you were less of an asshole, I may consider consulting you. I think we can agree on that being impossible for you though."
He smirked as she walked around the desk, giving her his quirky crooked smile. Her wrath never did faze him much, he was confident in his own abilities and all but convinced that he surpassed her in every way... All he had to do was make her father see that.
"Maybe if you consulted me more I might have less to complain about. As it is I have to clean up your messes so that we can at least keep breaking even at the end of each passing month."
Since she was his boss, he willingly ceded the staring contest to her so she could save some face.
He turned his profile to her and pulled another cigar from his coat, this time lighting it with a fire stick, breaking the tiny runed twig to produce the flame.
As he took a drag and let out a plume of smoke, he seemed less bickery, all business.
"I already "re-negotiated" with your artist and co. They'll only get one-hundred thousand from us to help pay off their debt to the guilds, and that will leave them to pay that off to us as they have the funds. They likely won't be able to pay in full by the due date, so we'll be selling them on the slavers block to make up for our losses."

He gathered the papers and placed them in an orderly fashion on her desk.
"A few of these need your signature before the day is out. In the meantime, perhaps you would like to tell me your new plan to make up for this failure? You know how this works, right? You tell me what to do and I make it happen, sound good?"
 

Inara Irren

The Princess of Crime
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Once Max was done with his scolding and huffing about cleaning up her messes, she just crossed her arms over her chest. She did not understand how she got stuck with all the asshole men who wanted to smoke cigars around her. It was a disgusting habit.

"Could you please not smoke that in my office," Inara requested. She doubted he would stop though. He had zero respect for her or her authority. He did as she said so she had no reason to have him disappear one night.

"I already "re-negotiated" with your artist and co. They'll only get one-hundred thousand from us to help pay off their debt to the guilds, and that will leave them to pay that off to us as they have the funds. They likely won't be able to pay in full by the due date, so we'll be selling them on the slavers block to make up for our losses."

Most of what he said to her was still foreign but she did understand this stuff. She really did pick the worst business to invest in but she was never going to admit that out loud.

Inara couldn't stop the visible flinch that hit her body when he mentioned the slavers block. It was not long ago that she stood on that very block and it was only by the deep pockets of Tal that she was not the slave of some terrible person. She was not a slave at all. He had freed her to her father. That is why she now owed the criminal underboss three favors.

She held her tongue though. These were things Max would never know about her. Ever.

He gathered the papers and placed them in an orderly fashion on her desk.
"A few of these need your signature before the day is out. In the meantime, perhaps you would like to tell me your new plan to make up for this failure? You know how this works, right? You tell me what to do and I make it happen, sound good?"

"What am I signing? I don't want to worry about misinterpreting something because of my incompetence." Inara said simply with a smirk as she started to walk back towards her chair.

"I am sure whatever I suggest will not be good enough for you, Max, so I am not sure why I should bother to humor you." She resumed her seat and sat back as she crossed on leg over the other.
 
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Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"Could you please not smoke that in my office,"
A request, and with a little less venom than normal... He was almost tempted to put out his cigar just because she asked so nicely... But in the next split second he remembered that she was a bitch, so he continued to smoke it.

He held it between his teeth, ignoring her request.

The eye notices movement more readily than something standing still. And Max's eyes were unusually sharp.
He noticed her reaction to his mention of the slavers block... Why was that so significant to her?
He didn't let on that he noticed though, but filed the observation away for future reference.

"What am I signing? I don't want to worry about misinterpreting something because of my incompetence." Inara said simply with a smirk as she started to walk back towards her chair.
His eyes followed her back to her chair.
"A receipt to confirm the exchange of funds. Your signature on the new agreement with the artists, and your signature and stamp of approval on the order forms for the higher-ups to know that this whole ordeal and its solution was your idea all along."
In his opinion, he spoiled her. Letting her take credit for everything since technically she was the one supposed to be giving orders, not him.
Of course, she also took credit for the failures as well, which he definitely didn't mind at all.

"I am sure whatever I suggest will not be good enough for you, Max, so I am not sure why I should bother to humor you." She resumed her seat and sat back as she crossed on leg over the other.
Tensions had certainly eased between them, now they had gone back to their normal passive-aggressive jabbing.
"I suppose I shall take that to mean that you have no ideas. Then I'll propose a few of my own..."
He pulls a few extra papers out of the satchel.
"With your signature of approval, we can go meet with a certain young Lord Clydus who is looking to get into the merchant business, with the deed to a fleet of ships. The said fleet has sunk just off the Eagles Head spit, but news has yet to reach public ears. If we are swift we can scam the young lord out of a hefty sum and stand high and dry before he realizes what has happened."

He takes his cigar out of his mouth, expelling another cloud of smoke up at the ceiling before smirking at her, his expression saying, "no need to thank me... But go ahead and praise me if you want."
 

Inara Irren

The Princess of Crime
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Inara was not surprised that he ignored her request. It was on par for him being an asshole.

"A receipt to confirm the exchange of funds. Your signature on the new agreement with the artists, and your signature and stamp of approval on the order forms for the higher-ups to know that this whole ordeal and its solution was your idea all along."

Inara picked up her nearest quill and dipped it in the ink. She started to sign the papers that he had so neatly stacked for her. He really did spoiled her and he did make her look good but he was still an asshole so she would never thank him.

Tensions had certainly eased between them, now they had gone back to their normal passive-aggressive jabbing.

"I suppose I shall take that to mean that you have no ideas. Then I'll propose a few of my own..."

She threw him a glare as his little jab. A workplace accident was starting to sound like a pretty good idea.

"With your signature of approval, we can go meet with a certain young Lord Clydus who is looking to get into the merchant business, with the deed to a fleet of ships. The said fleet has sunk just off the Eagles Head spit, but news has yet to reach public ears. If we are swift we can scam the young lord out of a hefty sum and stand high and dry before he realizes what has happened."

He takes his cigar out of his mouth, expelling another cloud of smoke up at the ceiling before smirking at her, his expression saying, "no need to thank me... But go ahead and praise me if you want."

Okay, she would shelf the workplace accident because that was a pretty good idea. An exceptionally devious con that she needed him for. Was she finally going to have to tell him about her little curse? She was and it would probably be better to do it in private before they got to Lord Clydus.

Inara finished signing the stack of papers and set her quill down. She rubbed her forehead before continuing. "Please sit, Max. There is something I need to tell you before we leave..."

Once he had found his seat opposite her, she spoke again.

"I cannot lie," her face was deathly serious as she said the words. The curse that haunted her and had ruined her life in multiple ways. She did not like people to know unless it was necessary.
 

Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"Please sit, Max. There is something I need to tell you before we leave..."
Uncharacteristic of her to have a “sit down” with him. He was duly curious so he pulled out the seat opposite her and sat down to listen to what she had to say.

She couldn’t deny that the sunken fleet scam was a good idea, if not a limited time offer. She couldn’t be about to tell him that the idea won’t work. All she had to do was sell the deed to the lord and they’ll be scot free and riding a huge pile of money out of the red financial line!
"I cannot lie,"
He smirked, waiting for her to continue.

An awkward silence dragged on while he waited.

“… And?” He prompted.

Generally a sentence starting with, “I cannot lie” was followed by an admission of some sort, a confession.
Perhaps she was still gathering her nerves to tell him? But her serious expression didn’t indicate that she was struggling to tell him something.

He took the cigar out of his mouth and held it between his fingers.
A look of visible confusion growing on his face.
 

Inara Irren

The Princess of Crime
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It took her a second to realize that he wanted her to continue. He thought she was about to make some grand statement. I can't lie...I think you're great or some shit.

"I physically cannot lie, Max. It is impossible for me. I will end up with a migraine if I try and the words still will not come out."

Inara hated admitting this to him. He already thought she was weak and useless so now to learn that this criminal underboss couldn't lie would be the icing on the cake.

"Marcus knows but no one else in our part of the Syndicate knows except you now. All of this to say...I need you to take the lead on this. If I try to directly sell him a fleet of ships, he will know something is off..."

Her hazel eyes implored Max. She really needed to find a way to lift this curse but that could wait for now.
 

Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"I physically cannot lie, Max. It is impossible for me. I will end up with a migraine if I try and the words still will not come out."
He blinked in surprise and his left eyebrow shot up.
He had to admit, that kinda stumped him.
Was that true? She couldn't lie? He tried to think back through all of their interactions, trying to remember any point in which she might have knowingly lied... Nothing.

If it wasn't true, what on earth would she gain by telling him? She hates his guts and she knows he hates hers, why give him even more reason to think poorly of her?

"Marcus knows but no one else in our part of the Syndicate knows except you now. All of this to say...I need you to take the lead on this. If I try to directly sell him a fleet of ships, he will know something is off..."

Her hazel eyes implored Max. She really needed to find a way to lift this curse but that could wait for now.
Marcus, her father knows...

His jaw clenched.

If her father knows, he gave her this position knowing that she was incompetent and cursed... With a sinking feeling he realized that no matter what he did, her father loved her too much to recognize that she was a detriment to the syndicate... All his hopes went up in flames at this realization.

This also explained why her father put her under his protection... Max would probably have been the best underboss the syndicate had seen in a long time, so he was the ideal candidate to setup as his little princess's bodyguard.

He crushed out his cigar on the floor.
He picked up the quill from her desk and looked her dead in the eyes, watching every aspect of her face and body language to know the truth.
"Tell me that this quill is a sword."

He set aside his hatred for now. This was a far more serious problem and her father trusted him to be able to handle it.
 

Inara Irren

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Inara could see the emotions that Max was struggling with but she kept her head up high. She had leaned to live with this and she had found ways around it for years but outright lies were impossible.

"Tell me that this quill is a sword."

Inara lips quivered as she stared at the quill in his hand. She knew the amount of pain she was about to be in but she had to show him that she was telling the truth.

"That quill is a..."

Her mouth opened to say the word sword but nothing came out. Her now balled fist hit her desk before she brought her other hand to her head. It felt like a sword was slicing into her brain as a tear slid down her cheek.

She strained to say the words but she couldn't. She couldn't even form them on her lips. Once she had given up on trying to say the word sword, she let out a breath. It whooshed from her like someone who had been holding their breath for several minutes.
 
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Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"That quill is a..."

Her mouth opened to say the word sword but nothing came out. Her now balled fist hit her desk before she brought her other hand to her head. It felt like a sword was slicing into her brain as a tear slid down her cheek.

She strained to say the words but she couldn't. She couldn't even form them on her lips. Once she had given up on trying to say the word sword, she let out a breath. It whooshed from her like someone who had been holding their breath for several minutes.
He watched the results of her attempt... It was true.
"By the gods... You really can't tell a lie, can you?"
He set down the quill and stood up from his chair, pacing thoughtfully.

Not only could she not lie, but it caused her great pain in the attempt. She needed him more than he thought, and more than she was willing to admit.

Damn Marcus!

"Son of BITCH!!"
He shouted aloud, stomping once in frustration, more to himself than anyone else.
He turned back to her, placing his hands on the desk, not at all a kind look on his face.
"If I do this, if I take point in all your meetings and keep your little secret, you owe me big time! And I'll choose how and when you pay me back. Deal?"
He pulled off his glove and put his hand out to shake, his eyes boring into hers and underlining the intensity of the moment.
He was about to shake hands with his enemy... Damn Marcus to the thirteen hells for this!
 

Inara Irren

The Princess of Crime
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Inara was less than pleased at having to tell him the truth and reveal this part of herself. She didn't like him, she didn't trust, and she knew he hated her with every fiber of his being. Her father had trusted him enough to put her life in his hands so she would have to deal with it.

"If I do this, if I take point in all your meetings and keep your little secret, you owe me big time! And I'll choose how and when you pay me back. Deal?"

Her eyes traveled to his face and she scoffed. She was really getting tired of owing men favors. Favors that they could cash in as they saw fit.

Fuck that.

What was she going to do? She would lose a lot of business for the Syndicate if she didn't accept his offer. His deal. His handshake.

She slowly lifted her hand to take his. "Fine," she said with a growl.
 
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Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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He took her hand firmly and shook it once before releasing it. He casually brushed his hand off on the front of his coat before putting his glove back on.
"Alright. Against my better judgement, we're doing this together... But we will have to do it my way if this is going to work.
Obviously, since "you're the boss" you cannot just sit there and let me do all the talking. You have to say your piece to sell this properly. You cannot lie, but I'm almost positive your condition doesn't compel you to speak and that you've been guilty of lies of omission, unless I've not paid as much attention as I thought I have.
Thus, you will only say what you know outside of mentioning the more damning details of this operation. Say only that we have a deed for a fleet of fifty trade frigates.
I will go into all the details on the condition of the ships and negotiate the price."


He folded his arms across his chest and went on detailing the job.
"We are representing a client, the owner of the fleet that wishes to sell his fleet and retire. Naturally, the documents and the deed are expert forgeries, and the client is already filing for bankruptcy.
Our young buyer will never see his ships, and our client will never see any of the money. We cover our tracks and we're home free."


He sat down in the chair again, still examining her and her reactions.
She really couldn't lie?! What a curse to be under.
"Is there anything else I should be aware of before we go on? Seems your stories past has the potential to put a wrench in plenty of our daily operations around here "
 

Inara Irren

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Inara watched him brush his hand off before she just rolled her eyes. He was such a jerk.

"Alright. Against my better judgement, we're doing this together... But we will have to do it my way if this is going to work. Obviously, since "you're the boss" you cannot just sit there and let me do all the talking. You have to say your piece to sell this properly. You cannot lie, but I'm almost positive your condition doesn't compel you to speak and that you've been guilty of lies of omission, unless I've not paid as much attention as I thought I have. Thus, you will only say what you know outside of mentioning the more damning details of this operation. Say only that we have a deed for a fleet of fifty trade frigates. I will go into all the details on the condition of the ships and negotiate the price."

Inara listened to his plan in silence. She did nod when he mentioned lies by omission. She could do that without an issue. That is how she had survived and worked on her own for so long. You just had to learn to work around the lie and find the spots where you could exploit it. In this type of situation, the outright lie when she knew the ships were sunk...she couldn't do it.

He folded his arms across his chest and went on detailing the job.

"We are representing a client, the owner of the fleet that wishes to sell his fleet and retire. Naturally, the documents and the deed are expert forgeries, and the client is already filing for bankruptcy. Our young buyer will never see his ships, and our client will never see any of the money. We cover our tracks and we're home free."

"For future reference, if I do not know it is a lie then I can say it," Inara told Max. If he had just told her that information and left out the part about forgeries and never seeing the ships or the client being fake, she could've easily sold it. She had to know that she was telling a lie. She had learned early on to only get the basic details sometimes. It was better that way.

"Is there anything else I should be aware of before we go on? Seems your stories past has the potential to put a wrench in plenty of our daily operations around here "

Max sat back down and studied her. Inara felt her lip twitch into the start of a sneer but she forced it to stop.

"Oh, would you like me to tell you my whole life story, Max?" She said with obvious sarcasm. She was most definitely never going to do that!
 

Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"For future reference, if I do not know it is a lie then I can say it,"
THAT was a useful tidbit. Of course it stood to reason, but of course, when has magic ever been on the side of reason?

"Oh, would you like me to tell you my whole life story, Max?"
He rolled his eyes and sighed.
"If your background has anymore unpleasant surprises that might cost us money or other assets, then yes. Tell me your WHOLE backstory!"
Fat chance of that.
"If it's on a "need to know" basis, I "need to know" if I'm going to cover for your every weakness!"

He waved it off.
"No matter. If things go south, you get behind me and try not to get in the way. If nothing else I can keep your honest ass alive long enough to regret it."
He was about to reach for another cigar but seemed to think better of it.
"Are you ready? The carriage should be waiting for us by now."
 

Inara Irren

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"If your background has anymore unpleasant surprises that might cost us money or other assets, then yes. Tell me your WHOLE backstory!"

"If it's on a "need to know" basis, I "need to know" if I'm going to cover for your every weakness!"

Her entire life was one unpleasant surprise after another. She really hated him and she really really wanted to new bodyguard...or whatever he was supposed to be besides a fucking asshole all the time.

She hit her fists on the desk as she stood up and looked down at him. "Listen, you self-righteous, egotistical jackass. I do not need you to cover for me. I don't need you at all. I have gotten through my life just fine on my own and with my inability to lie. I do not care if my father assigned you to watch me or help me or whatever you are supposed to do, I will kill you!"

There was no lie in her words. She wanted nothing more than to slit Max's throat and she really didn't care what Marcus had to say about it. Her only weakness was her ability to lie. She was slowly learning this business shit.

"No matter. If things go south, you get behind me and try not to get in the way. If nothing else I can keep your honest ass alive long enough to regret it."

"Fuck you," she growled at him. She didn't even acknowledge his question about if she was ready to go. She had no desire to go anywhere with him.
 
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Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"Listen, you self-righteous, egotistical jackass. I do not need you to cover for me. I don't need you at all. I have gotten through my life just fine on my own and with my inability to lie. I do not care if my father assigned you to watch me or help me or whatever you are supposed to do, I will kill you!"
He met her gaze evenly. The threat of violence seemed to have a sobering effect on him, while at the same time seemed to make his hands disappear into his pockets in anticipation of said violence.
Perhaps he had pushed a little too far, or maybe she was merely reestablishing her dominance in the situation. Regardless, he couldn't get into it with his boss's daughter, it wouldn't matter his reasons, if he laid a finger on her he'd lose it, and probably some other extremities for good measure.

The fact that she wasn't lying was not lost on him... Although he wondered if exaggerations of the truth were allowed by her curse? Although, to figuratively kill someone wasn't any better.
"I'll take that to mean that you have nothing more to share. Good, surprises are a bitch in the middle of a job."

"Fuck you,"
He stood up from his chair and took his hands out of his pockets to straighten his coat, releasing his grip on his hidden knuckledusters in order to do so.
"Fuck me? For one who cannot lie, I would be more careful with how I use those words... One might take it the wrong way."
He moved to the coat hanger and picked up her own coat, holding it open for her.
"Apologies, boss. It seems you bring out the worst in me. If we can call a truce for the sake of business until said business is concluded, then we can verbally abuse each other to our hearts content afterwards. For now, we can attempt to act like we tolerate each other for the sake of our client."
 

Inara Irren

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He moved to the coat hanger and picked up her own coat, holding it open for her.
"Apologies, boss. It seems you bring out the worst in me. If we can call a truce for the sake of business until said business is concluded, then we can verbally abuse each other to our hearts content afterwards. For now, we can attempt to act like we tolerate each other for the sake of our client."

Inara came around her desk and walked over to Max. She allowed him to help her into her coat (only because he was already holding it ready for her). She left out a hmph at his words. They would definitely continue verbally abusing each other until one of them killed the other. Survival of the fittest? Yes, she would outlive him for sure.

"Fine," she said as she pulled open her office door. After they both in the hall, she closed her door again and locked it. She didn't speak until they had started to walk again. "I wonder if pretending I can tolerate you counts as a lie," she mused. It wouldn't matter as long as she didn't have to say she could tolerate him or that they were friends.

The two of them arrived downstairs and walked out to the awaiting carriage. Time to do this and try not to kill her partner.
 
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Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"Fine," she said as she pulled open her office door. After they were both in the hall, she closed her door again and locked it. She didn't speak until they had started to walk again. "I wonder if pretending I can tolerate you counts as a lie," she mused. It wouldn't matter as long as she didn't have to say she could tolerate him or that they were friends.
"I know I most certainly can tolerate you, anytime."
He gave her a sideways look and grinned, "Just leave the lying to me, boss. That's been my job long before you came along."
He would step ahead just slightly to open the doors for her, cordially allowing her to go through first.

When they arrived at the carriage, he waved the footman aside and opened the door for her himself, allowing her to enter before climbing inside and closing the door behind them. He sat opposite her in the carriage as it pulled out into the streets, angling his body so he could lean back in his seat and stretch out his legs to rest them on the seat beside her.

"News of the sunken fleet hasn't reached full circulation yet, we should have more than enough time to close the deal and be gone before the noble receives the news... However,"
He looks her in the eye once more.
"I was serious before. This is a very delicate opportunity with a small window. If things go badly, I want you to stand behind me. Your father will hold me accountable if anything happens to you, and as long as those are his orders, I will do everything in my power to prevent anything from harming you... But just stand behind me, alright?"
His expression was almost imploring, expressing exactly how much he respected her father and his orders.
 

Inara Irren

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"I know I most certainly can tolerate you, anytime."

He gave her a sideways look and grinned, "Just leave the lying to me, boss. That's been my job long before you came along."

Inara unconsciously smiled at his words. He could tolerate her anytime. That was possibly the nicest thing he had said to her. Was she growing on him? Probably not. He could lie easily. It was his job after all.

"News of the sunken fleet hasn't reached full circulation yet, we should have more than enough time to close the deal and be gone before the noble receives the news... However," He looks her in the eye once more.

"I was serious before. This is a very delicate opportunity with a small window. If things go badly, I want you to stand behind me. Your father will hold me accountable if anything happens to you, and as long as those are his orders, I will do everything in my power to prevent anything from harming you... But just stand behind me, alright?"

She settled into the carriage and watched Max sit opposite her before he got extremely comfortable. Inara sat back as well and crossed one leg over the other gracefully.

"You know I have taken care of myself my entire life, right?"
She asked as a perfect dark brow rose slowly. "But, I will stand behind you, Max. I still cannot believe Marcus assigned me a bodyguard like I am incapable of fighting for myself."

Inara frowned slightly and looked down. Adjusting to her father being a father was one of the harder aspects of her new life. He felt guilty and wanted to make up for the lost years but she was not a child.
 

Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"You know I have taken care of myself my entire life, right?" She asked as a perfect dark brow rose slowly. "But I will stand behind you, Max. I still cannot believe Marcus assigned me a bodyguard like I am incapable of fighting for myself."
He cringed a little at the term "bodyguard". But that's what he's been reduced to, from being the boss in all but name and title, to a mere thug in less than twelve hours.
He did have to admit that he had no idea what she was doing before this or where she was all these years while he was climbing the syndicate ladder... Perhaps she was worth looking in to? Maybe find a little more dirt as ammunition to throw at her.

"I could care less whether you could take care of yourself or not. It's the principal of the matter. The boss sits at the eye of the storm and deals with the big fish while the muscle takes on the small fry, you don't lower yourself like that, it's not professional."
Meanwhile he'll be looking unprofessional and getting his hands dirty, ruining his suits and busting his fists on the idiots that don't matter, like a thug roughing up for protection money. He'd already worked up from that spot and now he was right back there.

Granted, he had street cred, the people under him in the syndicate respected him, he even knew and chose most of Inara's staff by name and could rattle off all their dirty secrets.
He was confident he could have the backing of the syndicate if he played his cards right, people knew him and knew his reputation and track record. Inara was as much an unknown to them as she was to him... But Marcus had all of their respect and loyalty... And not a little bit of fear.
Max may be able to command a good portion of the syndicate in spite of Inara, but not in spite of Marcus.

"... But, if it makes you feel better, I can let one or two sneak by so you can have your fun."
 

Inara Irren

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Inara felt mildly bad when Max cringed at her words. Not enough to apologize, of course. She was curious what his job had been before she had showed up and been placed in her position. Maybe she would ask him someday.

"I could care less whether you could take care of yourself or not. It's the principal of the matter. The boss sits at the eye of the storm and deals with the big fish while the muscle takes on the small fry, you don't lower yourself like that, it's not professional."

She looked out the carriage window and let out a deep sigh. "I have never been one to sit behind a desk, Max."

Come to think about it. She had never sat behind a desk unless she was jimmying open the lock on a drawer. She was a hands on person and that was why she liked working with Tal. He was hands on and he didn't treat her with kids gloves. He didn't treat her with any gloves. He tripped her, laughed, and then made a deal to benefit himself before he helped her up.

She was lost in her own thoughts until Max spoke again.

"... But, if it makes you feel better, I can let one or two sneak by so you can have your fun."

Inara let out a small hmph at his words. "Well hopefully we will not have to fight anyone today."

"Max..."
She bit the inside of her bottom lip and then continued. She was definitely switching to a more serious topic now. "Why do you hate me so much?"
 

Max Kouser

Maximilian Kouser, the Velvet Glove
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"I have never been one to sit behind a desk, Max."
Made sense, she could have grown up in the sewers for all he knew. He wasn't either, but then again, he only planned to sit behind a desk when he needed to. Maybe they weren't so different if she weren't a spoiled brat, he grew up with nothing as well and fought his way up and out of Elbion.
He could fight and win and that's why Marcus trusted him to protect his daughter in the first place...

But the way she said it, she seemed almost despondent, like she actually didn't want the job at all, as if she didn't just swoop in out of the blue and milked the situation for everything it was worth.
But, knowing what he knew now about her, he was carefully listening to her words.
Her exact phrasing could most certainly be true, past tense she was never one to sit behind a desk. But now?

Inara let out a small hmph at his words. "Well hopefully we will not have to fight anyone today."
He nodded.
Yeah... hopefully.
Calculations, planning and initiative could only get one so far. He was confident that this con would work but he was cautious non-the-less. Even more-so because this whole thing was his idea and if it went south, it certainly wouldn't look good on him, and if she were to get hurt because of his idea...

Well... That would be a pill too big for him to swallow, and if they survive, she won't let him live that down, if Marcus didn't kill him.

"Max..." She bit the inside of her bottom lip and then continued. She was definitely switching to a more serious topic now. "Why do you hate me so much?"
This was out of the blue... As if she didn't know or couldn't guess. Asking a question you already know the answer to isn't a lie.

His position certainly was a downright pickle for him. He had to make her look good, cover up for her and keep her safe. She'll take the credit for the good and bad that happens under her watch, but if he failed on that last point the responsibility will fall on him and he'll take the punishment.
His prospects for advancement were practically ashes for him, even with the backing of his underlings he couldn't oppose the two obstacles to his success, the boss and his daughter. He couldn't take credit for success since all his orders supposedly come from her now, any good initiative he takes is attributed to her.
She's got the entire Allirian syndicate handed to her on a silver platter, and he lost his place at the table entirely because of her.

His jaw tensed at the question, he leaned his head back against the seat cushion, folding his arms across his chest and looking down his nose at her as if trying to detect the trap in her question.
He smirked and leaned forward, taking his feet off the seat beside her to plant them firmly on the floor of the rocking wagon.
He pointed an accusing gloved finger at her.
"If I answer that, we're not going to be tolerating each other for very long at all. I'm going to keep my promise, and to sweeten the deal, I won't say another word for the whole rest of the ride, deal?"
His pointed finger turned into an offer to shake on it.