“Don’t make it obvious you’re hiding, moron,” she whispered, glancing to the crimson-cloak. “Why not just send up a beacon and say ‘here I am, kill me’ while you’re at it?”
The Vanguard General didn’t look around the tavern before taking a place at the bar and talking with Ivan. His error in judgment would give her a brief advantage, however small it would be with a moron like Wren acting guilty on sight. She looked to Elias who pushed away from the table and stood up. The tall Aquantian shifted himself to block Wren from the potential sight of the crimson-cloak.
“Come along, lad,” Elias said.
“Prepare our bags. We leave as soon as I return to the room,” Siobhan whispered.
Elias nodded and waived for Wren to follow him. The moron was at least wise enough not to argue. He stood up and hugged Elias’ side as the pair ascended the short stairway leading to the hall feeding to the rooms. Wren continued to glance back until they disappeared behind the wall.
Siobhan turned her attention back to the bar. She watched the crimson-cloak speak with Ivan, his hand rested on the hilt of his sword. Ivan, the wise man she knew him to be, didn’t glance in her direction. He simply made it so the crimson-cloak’s back would face her far more than his front.
Her hand drifted to the purse by her side, being careful to keep her movements slow. There was no way of knowing how much of the scrawny Vanguards General’s lack of awareness was intentional and how much was his naivety. In the light she could tell he was young, probably a new recruit on his first mission.
She shifted through the purse using only her touch until she found the smooth heart-shaped stone inside. Being careful to keep it hidden in her palm, she pulled it out and pressed it to her lips. The black stone tingled against her skin, faint, a sign the totem’s power was near exhausted. She didn’t know if the seduction totem would have enough left to take down a Vanguard General. Especially if the crimson-cloak had any safeguards of his own. The totem vibrated in her hand as she inhaled until the final tingle pulsed through her skin.
When she slid the stone back into the pouch, she licked her lips. Her heat raced at the influx of energy. The hairs on her arms danced along her skin as she stared at the crimson-cloak, resisting the urge to bite her lip. With one hand, she pulled her hair off one shoulder and lowered the side of her top to expose her bronze shoulder completely. As she stood up, she adjusted her clincher to increase the cleavage she revealed.
The other patrons of the bar refused to look anywhere but their tables. Nobody enjoyed the sight of a Vanguard General, let alone enjoyed being in the same room with one. No matter how new the crimson-cloak was, they needed only appear with the red draped over their shoulders and the eagle emblem on their sword to get a crowd to silence.
Siobhan shook her hips as she walked toward the man. He didn’t jump when her fingers touched his neck and dragged along his sweaty skin.
“Are you one of the Vanguard Generals?” she asked, purring.
His lips parted in a grin, eyes dropping to the mound of flesh on her chest, when he turned. From the corner of her eye she watched Ivan shake his head and pour a drink, emptying a clear liquid into the glass before he slid it closer to the crimson-cloak. Siobhan didn’t let him take the mug immediately, she wanted to have a little fun first and she needed to get that damn seduction energy out of her before she exploded. She touched her hand to the back of his, drawing lines against his knuckles. Her other hand shifted from his neck to his cheek.
The energy of the totem inside her burned to be free. Siobhan leaned in, kissing the underside of his jaw and releasing a single breath of power into his skin.
“Is it true what they say?” she whispered. “Do the Vanguard Generals know how to handle . . .” Her fingers danced against the eagle emblem of his sword as if he could see it. “. . .their swords?”
The wretched crimson-cloak wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her into him. She giggled and ran a hand through his hair. Both his hands explored her hips, reaching behind her.
“Oh, we can do more than handle it,” he said.
She touched the bruise covering his right eye as if it were the first time she saw it, even though she was the one who’d given it to him. He tried not to wince when her fingers pressed too hard on the raised skin above his brow, but she knew a shudder when she felt it. For good measure, she pressed again, harder.
“Does it hurt?”
“Nay,” he said, touching his rough fingers to her lip. “I’ve had worse.”
She purred, twinning her fingers through his burly hair. “Whoever would dare hurt one of our most noble protectors?”
“Two boys jumped us in an alley. I’m looking for them. One smells like horseshit with light brown hair and blue eyes. The other is scrawny, weak.”
Obviously not too weak and scrawny to take you down, you lug, Siobhan thought. “Oh dear. Who would be foolish enough to attack you?”
“It happens. Not everyone understands we’re here for their protection.” He leaned in for a kiss and Siobhan didn’t stop him. It was what she was waiting for. As his disgusting lips touched hers, she breathed into him, releasing the remaining stored energy from totem. His body shuddered, but he didn’t push away. The crimson-cloak grabbed her tighter, squeezing her butt, thrusting her against his pelvis. It was disgusting how easy it was to seduce a man, even without the aid of a totem. Most times, she needed only flash her particular gift of her chest and a nice smile. Siobhan pretended to moan when she pulled away and reached for his mug.
“A toast,” she said, handing the mead to him, “to our glorious protectors. May the Goddess protect them.”
When the crimson-cloak took a drink, she smiled. Her hand continued to brush against his cheek, the other hand moved to his inner thigh. When she made like she was going to kiss his neck, she glanced to Ivan. He leaned against the bar, his arms crossed. Though he smiled, he shook his head. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen her work.
“Oh Goddess.” She grunted when the crimson-cloaks body went limp. Both hands pushed on his weight as he fell into her. “The lug is heavier than he looks. A little help here, Ivan!”
“Do you need help? It looked like you were ready to mount him right here on the counter,” Ivan said.
The bartender chuckled and scurried from behind the bar. When he took the weight of the Vanguard General off Siobhan, she sighed and readjusted her sleeve to cover her shoulder. One hand waived at the other patrons as they spared a glance from their drinks. Still nobody said a word or stepped up in defense of the crimson-cloak, nor would they. She slid herself under one of his limp arms as they half carried, half dragged him up the stairs.
“No blood please,” Ivan said after dropping the crimson-cloak onto a wobbly bed in an empty room.
“Awe, you’re no fun.” Siobhan pouted.
He shook his head. “Siobhan, I still have a business to run! And I quite like my head attached to my shoulder.”
She smiled. “Get out of here. Unless you want to watch.”
“Oh Goddess, no. I’m still traumatized from the first time I watched you seduce a man with totems. I do not need to be reminded how easy it is.”
“Please. I’ve seduced plenty without aid of totems and you know it!”
Ivan grinned and winked. “You never seduced me.”
Siobhan puckered her lips. “You’ve been seduced all right, you just don’t know it.”
“Ah, that explains the itching—”
“If you want to keep your balls, you won’t finish that.”
He chuckled and bowed. “But seriously, no blood. And if there’s a body afterwards, you discard it.”
Ivan closed the door behind him, leaving Siobhan alone with the passed out crimson-cloak. She pulled on the ends of one of her side braid and frowned. If Wren got out of this alive, she was going to kill him for making her do what she was about to do.