Private Tales The Starling and the Bear

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer
Her face softened when Lynus finally began to talk- talk to her like a person. It had been a long time since someone had. Isla would cherish the rare moment of humanity. She listened, quietly taking in the details of him for the first time as he spoke of his childhood.

He slouched slightly, as if his shoulders were being held down by some invisible burden. He didn't look old, but appeared troubled beyond his years. Faint lines etched on his face told her of his weariness and despair. A darkness beneath his eyes spoke of restless nights and, for a moment, Isla wondered what haunted him. Though his lips twitched into a smile, his gaze seemed so distant, so sad. So detached, lost in a spiritless world of his own making.

His laughter startled her as she stared a little too deep into his distant gaze.

She refused to answer his question aloud, but accepted the half-hearted offer as well as the drink as she sat beside him.

"Were you a knight?" She broke an extended silence, one he'd probably looked forward to after their tense meeting.
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Lynus let out another quiet laugh at her guess, scratching his jaw thoughtfully. "No... I wish I was," he replied, his voice tinged with a distant longing. Things would have been much simpler..

He shifted the conversation, diverting it back to her, intrigued by her story and the mysteries she held. "How'd you end up here?" he asked, the question coming out a little more bluntly than he'd intended, causing him to wince slightly at his own lack of tact.

"I mean... You may not be wealthy now, but your family weren't poor... Not with a piano and sheet music." he pointed out, raising a curious eyebrow in her direction as he swirled his drink and took another long draw from his glass.
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Isla had wanted to probe for more information, wanted to ask just was he if not a knight? A mercenary perhaps? An assassin? No, he did not appear to be very light on his feet when he came trudging in the establishment. Not everyone was gifted in the element of stealth. Unfortunately before she was given an opening to ask, he had moved on. And boy had he decided to pick a sore subject.

And with such little tact and so much judgment in his tone.

"You are correct. I was not born into...this..." She gestured around her, some of the amber liquid splashing from her glass onto the couch and Lynus' cheek. "But I have been here for a long while. Ten years, if I remember correctly." The hint of bitterness in her tone matched the way her lips twitched downward. "My father was a merchant here in the city, actually. When I was a child at least. We had a manor, servants, and the most beautiful ebony piano imported from Elbion. Ohh..." The bitterness faded and was replaced by something akin to awe as she spoke of the instrument. "It was huge and so glossy you could use it as a mirror. I doubt they have anything close to its beauty anywhere else in the city- even in the palace.

"You asked about my past, though. Not my mother's pride and joy." She took a sip and shuddered at the burning in her throat. "Yes, my father, he was a merchant. And a colossal idiot who let whatever polluted his mind to be spoken far too loudly. People had no interest associating with a lunatic and without business..." She shrugged. "He died. Drank himself to death. And my mother never quite recovered from any of it. Sent me here the day I turned eighteen so that I might provide an income to take care of her and my two younger brothers."

Of course, she omitted, they had never spoken to her again after the day she left.

"Money was good at first. Though I'm not sure if it was because people wanted to sleep with a noble girl or a final 'fuck you' to my father." She tipped her head back, emptying the glass completely before going for a second.

"Your turn."
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Lynus listened in silence as Isla recounted her past, her words painting a vivid picture of a life torn apart by unfortunate circumstance.As she spoke of her father's downfall and the subsequent hardships her family faced, Lynus couldn't shake the feeling of remorse gnawing at him. It was as if he had opened a wound that he had no business touching and her bitterness was palpable. The splashing of the drink onto his cheek went unnoticed as he remained lost in thought, grappling with his own discomfort at the situation.

As she turned the conversation back to him, he felt a familiar reluctance settling in his chest. The alcohol had loosened his inhibitions enough to ask probing questions, but it had not yet granted him the courage to share his own struggles. He had no desire to burden her further with his own troubles, especially after what she had just shared. But he also couldn't bring himself to lie or deflect the question entirely.

"Sorry," he murmured, his voice barely above a whisper as he met her gaze. "I didn't mean to pry. I..." He trailed off, his words faltering. His gaze dropped to the glass in his hand, the swirling amber liquid a silent reminder of the numbing effect of alcohol. Taking a slow sip, he gathered his thoughts.

"My past would bore you.." He offered her a small, apologetic smile. "My parents are.. overbearing. Controlling. They don't agree with my current choice of lifestyle.. I can't seem to fucking escape." he snorted quietly. Until now.. If they'd known where he was right now, he could only imagine their.. upset.

"Woe is me, right?" he glanced at her and took another drink, his eyes growing drowsier as the room started to shift. He laughed under his breath. "I sound like an entitled prick.."
"It is fine." Isla's smile was pained and her words laced with bitterness that proved anything but. "I suppose it was almost cathartic to recall my old life." Almost. Or maybe not at all, for only a moment after spilling bits and pieces of her life to the stranger, she wanted to vomit. Vomit at the pain of old wounds torn open once again to reveal all the horrid, disgusting things she to herself in order to provide for the people she loved. The people who abandoned her.

She needed his voice to distract her from her own self-loathing, but would find it short lived and disappointing. She would not accept it. Not after he left her strip herself down to nothingness in front of him while he remained an armored, guarded fortress.

"I did not ask if your past was boring." She took a sip from the glass, a pale pink lipstick stain left at the rim as she set it back on the table. Having to reach over for it every time she yearned for a way out would slow her down. "If you think your parent's disappointment in you makes you an entitled prick, than that would make two of us. Do you think my mother is proud of me? My lifestyle?"

She did not answer, but she gave him a moment to stew on the question. "You've given enough gold to keep the room for the day and night if you so wish, but you will not be sleeping until you and I are even." She grabbed the glass again, moving closer to him in the process. So much for moderation. "So, if you were not a knight, then what were you? A mercenary?"
Cathartic. He wished he could find it cathartic, but his pain was too recent, his wounds too raw, still bleeding out. All he could do was try to forget, addle his mind with whatever he could and lose himself in the blissful unreality of sleep until next he woke to start over again.

His head fell back as the relentless woman badgered him further, a huff thrown from his lungs and his resignation evident in the slump of his shoulders.. "Yes. Yes, I was a mercenary. Alright?" he turned to look at her, his eyes wandering lazily over her pretty face.

"Told you, boring. Nothing much to talk about so we might as well drink."
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Ha! She had been correct!

She celebrated in her head, a smug grin on her face. As if she weren't just going through a mental list of occupations she knew involved the use of a sword. Occupations she'd learned the names of based on her own clientele.

"I knew it!" She moved to shove his shoulder, it was a clumsy movement that sent her hand just barely making contact with his arm and her entire body jerking forward and almost into his lap. She stopped herself just short of it. More of that amber drink spilled from the glass. The warm feeling in her stomach and the buzz in her head made the pinkness of her cheeks brighter, hotter. Staring up at him, her eyes seemed to glow from whatever morsel of happiness had remained after all the years.

"It isn't boring at all. You must tell me all about it!" Her stare didn't leave his own eyes. "But we will need more to drink. Care to try anything different? I will grab whatever you like."
Lynus tensed slightly as Isla's clumsy shove sent her body lurching forward, though he couldn't help but chuckle at how happy it seemed to make her to be right, or at least, to think she was right. A faint smile played on his lips as he watched her cheeks flush with warmth.

"It seems you've got a talent for guessing," he remarked, his tone light as he held her gaze. Her smile lit up her face with a kind of infectious joy that was long forgotten and hard to resist. Her eyes, he realised, were a striking shade of blue - not of a morning sky, but a mid-summer's night. Such a beautiful thing to have been forced into such a life, he thought with a twinge of sadness, and suddenly the mere thought of lecherous men all over her caused his jaw to clench.

"I'll drink anything," he replied with a wry smile, the tension in his shoulders easing slightly. "Surprise me."
"I knew it!" Isla repeated herself a few times, no sign of her excitement fading. The parts of her that hurt, mentally and physically had been pushed aside for such a small and insignificant moment of joy. Still, she practically glowed with her eagerness to hear about his life as a mercenary when she would return with another tray or two of drinks.

She had met plenty of mercenaries, many who'd paid for a moment or two of her time while passing through Vel Anir. But she had never been able to coax a story from any of them. She had truly never actually had a conversation with many of them. Things progressed quite quickly when time was money, and money was scarce. The most she'd got out of most clients was the talk of her pretty face before she tuned it all out.

"Anything is a dangerous choice, you know." The smugness had been mixed with a sly, feline sort of smile as she disappeared through the doors. She was gone for ten minutes this time and Lynus would have likely heard the Madam shouting at Isla to get back to work. A threat or two. Isla seemed remarkably unphased by it all as she returned with two trays. Drinks of varying colors on each. Some purple, some navy with a shimmering blue dust and some that same amber as before. Glasses of varying sizes also separated a few mixed drinks from straight alcohol.

She panted as she plopped back down beside Lynus, legs crossed, and picked up a purple one. "It is probably sweeter than you are used to, but it is a favorite of mine."
As Isla commented on the potential dangers of drinking anything, Lynus chuckled softly, the sound tinged with a hint of self-deprecation. "I've been known to take my chances,"

As she left him alone, Lynus couldn't shake the twinge of guilt that gnawed at him. Isla's excitement over his supposed past as a mercenary had seemed genuine, and here he was, perpetuating a lie for the sake of preserving some semblance of anonymity. He hadn't expected her reaction, nor had he anticipated the guilt that would accompany it and the thought of disappointing her, even inadvertently, left a sour taste in his mouth.

He had never seen such colourful drinks before, and he gave the woman a dubious look as she handed him something purple. Well, he had said he'd drink anything, and he was surprised. It wasn't lost on him that she'd made an effort to do so, either.

"Surely, i'm sweet enough.." he answered with a dry smile and a look that said he knew well enough that he was anything but. He drank, and narrowed his eyes.

"It...tastes like purple."
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"Yeah, sure." She rolled her eyes and clinked her glass to his before taking a large sip herself. It was a flavor so sweet, yet a hint of bitter and sourness lingered behind it. It was the first flavor of alcohol she tasted, the first drink she'd been offered when she began her work. An expensive drink at that. One that the Lady nearly threatened to take a finger for when she snuck a second and third glass of it a decade ago.

It tastes like purple.

She stared at him, blinking as she tried to process. Then she erupted into laughter. "It is Parma violet!" That and some dragonfruit, mango, and another fruit that gave it the characteristic purple hue. "The Lady nearly took my head off when she saw me leaving with it." She giggled, sniffing the sweet aroma. "It is reserved for wealthy clients only, but I think you have more than earned a glass of it."

Her face still glowed with her smug excitement and, perhaps against her better judgment, she leaned into him. This time, rather than a fist, her head pressed against his shoulder and she remained there. Sipping the drink quietly, she was sort of...happy. "So go on then, tell me a story of your mercenary adventures." Her head tilted, she looked up at him, waiting.
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Lynus studied what little remained of the parma violet drink in his hand. It certainly went down easily, he thought as he drank the rest of it. A little too easy. He licked the taste of it from his lips. "I feel like i've just gotten in touch with my feminine side." he rasped a quiet laugh, but the amusement on his face faltered briefly.

"And what makes your Lady think I'm not a wealthy client?" he asked, a hint of amusement colouring his voice. With an arched brow, Lynus regarded Isla as she nestled against his shoulder, her presence offering an unexpected sense of comfort. It had been an eternity since someone had rested their head just so, and although a weight settled in his chest, he found himself unwilling to disturb her. She seemed quite content sipping her purple, her gaze meeting his with a charming sincerity, and he felt quite content to let her.

Mercenary adventures.. Right..

Lynus sighed deeply, trying to think of some truth that he could tell her rather than growing the lie he'd already told. His lips curled into a boyish grin and he nodded, deciding on his story.

"When we were younger, and new to that sort of work.." he began, a nostalgic glint in his eye, "My comrade and I were tasked with bringing in a small band of thieves. We hunted high and low for days, traversing towns and villages, following every whisper of their misdeeds."

He paused, shaking his head.. "We decided that we'd earned a night off to indulge in the warmth and camaraderie of a local tavern. We drank, we laughed, we made friends. And we play cards.. Arryn was quite the cardsharp, winning us a tidy sum of coin and a few trinkets to boot."

As he continued, the laughter in his voice belied the impending twist in their tale. "Little did we know, our newfound companions were none other than the very thieves we were meant to apprehend. So, imagine our surprise when we awoke the next morning, lying on the cold, wet road with nothing more than a headache and our undergarments, robbed of everything we had. The horses too." he recounted, shaking his head incredulously. "Swindled by the very men we had set out to capture."

Despite the ordeal, there was a fondness in Lynus's gaze as he recalled their foolish escapade. "And to add insult to injury, we had to trudge back to the city in the early winter chill, with not a thread on our backs nor a coin for a hot meal.. We were bedridden for days with flu." he sighed wistfully.
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From that comfortable space between his arm and his chest, Isla stared up at him. Just stared with a face full of awe and eyes...Eyes that showed a sort of innocence that seemed so foreign in the room designed for the filthiest desires. Each word, no matter how true or untrue, seemed to linger in the air for Isla to savor. And she did just that, letting through a part of her that had not seen the light of day in far too long. A part that died the day she turned eighteen.

She interjected with an 'oh!' or some laughter throughout the story. Not because it was her job to entertain the clients, but because he allowed that little light that lingered within her to come forth- the part of her she thought had long since stopped dreaming.

By the end of his story, her smile was practically beaming and it may have been partly due to the alcohol, but Isla had eaten up every morsel of it.

She would blame the alcohol entirely for what she did next, for Isla reached up and placed a hand on his face- briefly lingering as she felt the prickly hairs- and placed her lips on his.

How odd! She thought, feeling another mans' lips on her own. A sensation she had felt hundreds of times before. A sensation she had grown used to many years ago. How odd, when it was a kiss given with her consent. To hold such power over something so small, so often disregarded. It was like Isla had awoken yet another part of her she had suppressed. The part of her that could feel.

The kiss was over as soon as it began and Isla faced away, slinking back into that space between his arm and chest. Her face, hot and pink, didn't dare stray from looking straight ahead. Away from him and back towards the glasses of liquor.
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She seemed to fit so perfectly there against him, as though the contour had been carved for her. It looked good on her, the joy that appeared to be genuine, the curiosity and amusement that brightened those dark blue eyes of hers. Fuck, she was beautiful. He'd happily tell her shitty stories all night if she kept looking at him like that. It'd been so long since anyone had. Like he made her happy in some way.

It's literally her job to pretend she's happy...
If she was pretending, she should've been performing on a stage, not in a bed.

Lynus felt a surge of warmth spread through him as her soft hand cupped his face, and then her lips met his in a brief yet electrifying kiss. He was taken aback, his heart suddenly pounding against his ribcage. It was a fleeting moment, yet it stirred something long forgotten, deep within his chest. The memory of her touch, her lips, lingered even after she withdrew, leaving him breathless. Stunned.

What was he feeling? It was literally her job to make men feel things.
And yet, he hadn't expected to enjoy her company quite as much as he was, had not anticipated or prepared himself for the rush of sensation that coursed through him at her touch. He'd wanted to be left alone and assumed she'd be more than happy to oblige him.

As Isla retreated, settling back down against him, he could do little but blink, his brows arched and his gaze lingering on her flushed cheeks. Apparently, he'd lost the ability to speak, though at least the breath he'd held finally tumbled free and his tension eased.

"I uh..." His voice came out as a mere whisper, thick with a mix of surprise and uncertainty. He cleared his throat, trying to regain his composure, but the words eluded him still and with a heavy sigh, he simply wrapped his arm around her, pulling her closer against him and let his head fall back. Perhaps, in that moment, words were unnecessary.
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She felt she should apologize, but as she stared ahead with her face more red than the velvet of the sheets, she found herself unable to come up with the words to mend the line she had just crossed. With his lack of words, she knew it must have been a mistake. He paid for her time, declared he did not want it, and still she did the thing that was expected of her. Though, it was not forced. Not rushed. Not for money that she had wanted to kiss him- and still wanted to.

He had given her something no one else could. A temporary moment of peace and, whether she liked to admit it, speaking of her past had indeed made her feel a little less bitter. Perhaps it was because now it was a shared memory and she no longer carried the heaviness on her own. She knew, however, that when he decided to leave and when he found no more solace in the tiny room, it would be hers and hers alone again.

She remained, pulled close to him for quite some time before she chose to face her mistake. “I should not have done that.” She did not pull herself away from him. She did not wish to see the disappointment on his face. The thoughts that would be so plainly painted on his handsome face that she was just another whore and he was just another man. Nor did she wish for him to see that stupid burning blush she could not rid herself of.
In that pregnant silence, Lynus found himself lost in a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. He should have been angry, perhaps even ashamed of himself for being in such a place and allowing himself to indulge in fleeting moments of intimacy with a woman he barely knew. But as he'd looked into Isla's eyes, felt the warmth of her presence beside him, all he felt was a strange sense of comfort.

Her words hung heavy in the air, a confession tinged with regret and vulnerability. He should have agreed, should have echoed her sentiments and distanced himself from her touch. But he couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead, he found his hand reaching for her chin, gently guiding her gaze back to his own.

"No, you shouldn't have," he murmured, his voice soft yet firm as he leaned in to capture her lips in a tender kiss. It was a gentle caress, a whisper of warmth against her skin that sent a shiver down his spine.

But as they parted, he couldn't help but smirk at her words, his fingers tracing the curve of her jawline with a gentle touch. "But I definitely shouldn't have done that," he admitted, his voice laced with amusement and a hint of self-deprecation.

And then, without warning, his thoughts spilled out in a rush of honesty, his gaze tracing over her features with a mixture of awe and desire. "Fuck, you're beautiful," he sighed, his knuckles brushing against her jawline before he withdrew his hand. "But I meant what I said.. I'm not here for that." he sighed, unable to deny that, whether alcohol fuelled or not, he wanted to have her.
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Gods. Her skin was burning at his touch.

She couldn't force herself to look at him again, shame burning at her soul for being so stupid. But he could force her to. And he did, callused hands gently pulling her face back up to look at him. Back into eyes bluer than oceans- and just as tempestuous, she thought. She did not look away as he leaned back into her and returned the kiss. The shame in her core dwindled to little more than an ember.

But something replaced it, burning brighter and hotter than any shame could. She wondered, shivering as he traced her skin, if she had been gifted with magic then she may very well have burnt this whole place down.

That too seemed to simmer down to nothingness as he pulled away, though a little part of her agreed with his reluctance. Even if he thought she was beautiful. Even if she had been lying in his arms. He had been clear from the beginning and she would respect that. If only because she had never respected herself.

The look on her face shifted. Lust and that enamored look she had when he told his stories. They were gone. A painfully neutral look struggled to mask the hurt on her bruised face.

She was silent when she pulled herself out from his arm, and reclaimed the spot on the couch closest to the window. She picked up another drink and sipped it slowly, staring back out the window and into the freedom of the kingdom around her. "I wouldn't have..." She sipped, refusing to allow herself a glimpse of how he reacted. "I don't want your money."

For all it was worth, she hoped he understood. Nothing she had done was for the coin he had given the Lady or the sack he'd tried to give her. For the first time in the better part of a decade, she felt repulsed by the thought of being touched by anyone in exchange for a roof over her head and food in her stomach. Shameful. A stain on the Montesseret name.

Isla hoped his coin ran out soon, for his own sake. That or he could finally enjoy the cold and bitter silence he had begged for.
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The chill that settled into his chest was instant, the moment she withdrew to the opposite side of the couch, the weight of her absence pressed upon him. He'd grown accustomed to the comfort and warmth, though now a curtain had been drawn between them, casting a shadow over the fragile connection they had shared. He watched her in silence as she reclaimed her space, watched her retreat into herself, and the distance between them was palpable.

It was a stark reminder of the reminder of their circumstances, of the vast divide that separated them despite their brief connection. Still, he couldn't help but feel a pang of regret, nor could he deny how tempted he was to pull her back against him. The solace he'd felt.

He loathed to think that he had caused her any shame, that he had extinguished the spark of joy that had briefly illuminated her beautiful face. Conflict raged in his mind as he sat there. He had not felt such comfort in so long, and acknowledging such things came with its own crushing guilt.

"This was a terrible idea.." he rumbled quietly and swallowed down another concoction of alcohol before he got unsteadily to his feet. "It.. wasn't my intention to offend you.. or hurt you." his brow furrowed, drowsy eyes once again falling to her neck.

"I'm sorry, Isla. Thank you for the drinks, and the company.." he nodded, dragging a hand down his face as he turned to leave.
Thank the gods or whoever had listened to the silent pleas in Isla's head as she sat and stared out the window. Silent and still, even her posture stiffened as his voice broke the silence. But Isla did not respond. She did not so much as glance in his direction as he got to his feet and finished the drinks she had brought for him. She just sat there and waited until he heard the door open and shut behind him.

And when it finally did, she threw her face into her palms and sobbed quietly. And entirely for no reason at all, she realized. The feelings were imagined and only amplified by the alcohol. This was her job. Nothing more. There was no life beyond it. No family. No home. Only a numbness and that fleeting gladness when she realized she never asked the man for his name.

Life would move on as it certainly did twenty minutes later when the Lady summoned her and forced her to clean herself up. Put a smile on your pretty face and get back to work. She said, tossing a towel that Isla used to wipe off the mascara running down her cheeks. She returned to the floor, bruised cheek and a smile plastered on her face. And life continued on where it had left off.

Isla was grateful that, despite the yellow-brown bruise on her cheek and her wounded pride, business had not slowed down over the next two weeks. The touch that she recoiled from now served as a welcome distraction and though she did not forget about the stranger she'd shared her past with, she could coexist with the memory of him.

Who was she kidding? There was not a moment that she did not wish it were him here instead.

Even now, undressed in bed with another nameless man, her bare back peppered with kisses from someone else's lips. She thought about him. He was the distraction from her life in hell.
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It wasn't long after he'd fled the bordello like a coward that he was 'apprehended' by his parents' guards.

"Prince Lynus, we have been charged with bringing you safely back to the keep by th--"

"Fuck off Gunner." He'd growled and continued walking.

"My Prince, your Father and Mother would like to speak with you imm--"

"Quite aware, and unless you are bereft of sight, I am walking toward the Keep, am I not?"

"Aye... I, we shall escort you, My Prince."

"Do whatever you fucking please just stop speaking to me."


Lynus didn't bother arguing as his father berated him, demanded he bathe, that there be no more alcohol in the keep, that he not leave the keep without his guard again, that he must stop wallowing and meet with the suitors they had lined up for him... His head hurt, he was tired and drunk, and he had heard it all before. When finally the King threw his hands into the air in exasperation, Lynus retreated to his chambers, dismissed Arryn and chamber maids, and locked his doors.

He found the bed less comfortable than usual. The people more irritating, even Arryn had taken to avoiding spending his free time around him. His grief plagued him still, and yet he found his mind distracted by another. The memory of Isla's smile and laughter comforted him, her voice still fresh and clear in his mind. Then he'd torture himself with how he'd harmed her, and how she'd retreated from him and said nothing as he'd left.

And then, he thought of the men who'd since visited her room. Empty bottles shattered against his walls each time his mind circled back to that thought, and the cycle of torture continued until there was no more alcohol left, until he couldn't sleep, until the memory of her face was slipping from his mind.


"Excuse me ser.... Excuse me!"


"You cannot go in there!"

Lynus discarded the handkerchief on the door handle with a sneer and threw it open. This was yet another terrible idea, he realised, when he saw her with another man's lips against her skin.

"Time's up. Out. You'll be compensated if you hurry up about it." he clenched his jaw, his eyes on the floor rather than further brand his mind with the image.
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Isla watched the door handle turn, anything to keep her hollow stare from the man in her bed. She made no immediate move to cover herself or protect a modesty that did not exist. The Lady and other girls had always been given permission to enter each other's room bearing drinks or offers to join whatever fun was being had. For extra coin of course.

But the voice that caught her attention was not that of the Lady or the other whores and she only glanced up at where it came from when the man behind her shoved her aside and put on the pair of trousers on the side of the bed.

"What the fuck?" She her eyes lazily followed along as the man who had paid for her walked around the bed and went to grab his top. A flurry of profanities were thrown every which direction. "Can you not read? The room is occupied." Isla glanced up at the familiar figure at her door.

Only when she saw that disheveled blonde mop on his head, did she pull the silky blanket up to cover herself and watch as the man marched up to the blonde. She could hear the cruel amusement in his voice as he spoke, "I never pegged you to be the whoring type." He moved in a way that made him look more muscular. More menacing. The man laughed.

Isla was quiet throughout, only staring blankly as though she were sedated.

"Is this where you've been running off to after Selena?" The man laughed again. "I'd bet she is rolling over in her grave right now."
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Lynus felt the blood rush to his head, his vision tinged with red as the man's words cut through him like a knife. His rage boiled over, fueled by the mention of Selena's name and the disrespect shown toward her memory. Toward him. Toward Isla. He had never been one to tolerate insolence, but this was a level of audacity that pushed him past his breaking point.

Without a moment's hesitation, he lunged forward, his fist connecting with the man's face with a sickening crunch. The man staggered back, blood streaming from his broken nose, but before he could fully recover, Lynus' hand shot out to wrap tightly around his throat.

"You dare speak her name?!" Lynus snarled, his voice a low, menacing growl as he pressed the man against the wall, his grip tightening with each passing second. Not even Lynus spoke her name, and this filth thought he had the right to? His mind was a whirlwind of fury and grief, his heart pounding in his chest as he fought to contain the tempest raging within him.

The man gasped for air, his eyes wide with fear as he struggled against Lynus' grip. But Lynus paid him no mind, his focus locked on the man's face, his features contorted in a mask of pure rage.

"Do you have a fucking death wish?!" Lynus spat the words out, his voice a venomous hiss as he pressed the tip of an encrusted dagger against the man's neck, a warning of the imminent danger he faced.

"You are going to leave and feel lucky that I gifted you your life. A word about this to anyone, I'll know, and I'll take it back before you can even think of saying her name again." he grit out, pressing just hard enough to draw a bead of blood. Lynus thought about spilling far more, had this been anywhere else, his restraint may have slipped.

Lynus released his grip, letting the man crumple to the ground in a heap. He stood there for a moment, chest heaving with exertion, his mind still clouded with rage. "Get. The fuck. Out." he warned.
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The man struggled against Lynus' hands tightening around his throat, but even Isla could make out that cruel smile that came and went when he knew he struck a sore spot on the prince. He tried to talk back, but with his airway cut off he was unable and soon he realized that the frantic man was going to kill him. He looked to Isla, fear in his eyes, silently begging for help. Begging her to step in or begging for one of the employees the remove Lynus. None of that happened.

Isla's eyes drifted away from his purple face, up to the man strangling her lover of the hour.

When the blade poked into his neck, that sneering look vanished. There was only fear. He did not dare talk back and mock the prince or his dead wife. Groveling at his feet, he agreed to the terms he had been given. Not a word would be said, he promised. Isla wondered if he'd be an unfortunate body they found in the river in a few days.

But she didn't care. At a snail's pace, she wrapped the blanket tighter around her body and watched as the man scrambled to get to his feet and stormed out. She could hear the crashing as drink trays hit the ground and the shouting from some of the other girls.

"Why are you here?" She broke her silence as everything settled around her. "What do you want from me?"
Lynus' chest heaved with rage as he watched the man leave, the sting of his words still fresh, his heart still pounding. Isla's voice dragged him back into the room, her questions doing nothing to soothe the ache he felt.

'What do you want from me?'

The question felt like a dagger in his chest, twisting and turning, forcing him to confront emotions he had tried so hard to bury. What did he want from her? He realised how difficult that question was to answer, and he could barely look at her as he attempted to find the words. He concealed the small blade and rubbed at his face as he began pacing the room, as though he could erase the image of them laying there from his retinas. Jealousy. There was no denying how angry he'd felt before his wife's name had even been mentioned, and that had all been because of what he'd seen.

What the fuck had he expected to see? Her sitting where he'd left her, waiting for him with a drink in hand and a smile on her face, delighted that he'd decided to come back?

"I just... wanted to see you. I thought..." His words faltered as his gaze found hers. She looked so tired, so worn. Drowsy, even. The look on her face pained him more than he cared to admit.

Lynus didn’t bother trying to fight the urge to go to her, to check on her, his hand reaching to settle gently on her face as his brow furrowed with concern. "Are you alright?" he asked, his voice softer now. His eyes searched hers, looking for any sign of the spark that had drawn him to her in the first place.
  • Spoon Cry
Reactions: Isla
The dazed look in Isla's eyes shifted as the man left and her attention turned towards the blond, scruffy man threatening her clients. Still sleepy, but with a lingering hint of irritation and hurt that she wanted Lynus to feel as well while he paced around. A hurt that seemed to have no cause. He was a client, too. Nothing more. Nothing less. A passing face that she wished to never see again.

"You thought?" She propped herself up on one arm, her brow raised. "Thought what? Thought I wanted you to come back? Thought I wanted another few hours of misery while you get belligerently drunk and play with my heart?" She looked away when his hand made contact with her face, fingers lingering over that yellowed bruise. "No, of course you did not think that. You probably thought I had no heart. I'm just a whore at your disposal."

Her ranting was cut short as he approached with an open hand. She didn't recoil immediately, but after a few seconds of silence she swatted his hand away. Isla sat up, pulling the sheets with her.

"Are you alright?" She refused to answer the question. "Why else would you barge into my room while I am working? Why else would you kick out a well paying client? You know I have rent to pay. I'd like to eat food this week. Having an aggressive and quite frankly unkempt man barge in does not look good for me."