“So, how did you escape the attack on Jet?” asks the elfgirl.
“Just lucky, I guess.” I buy her an ale. She raises a dainty eyebrow.
“You looking for fun today?”
“Maybe,” I reply. “It’s already paid for, so it seems a shame to waste it. But the drink’s for last time. I was a bit rough on you. Didn’t need to be.”
She shrugs my apology away.
“You were just doing your job. I get it.” She takes a deep swallow of the strong ale. “I was rattled anyway. I assumed Jet was after me and killed Norien by mistake. Way you talked, I thought he’d figured out he got the wrong girl and was gonna get me after all.”
The hell? This doesn’t make any sense.
“Wait a moment,” I say. “Why would Jet want to kill you?”
She takes another drink, wiping her lips with the back of a delicate little hand. “I guess it doesn’t matter if I tell you now, does it? You can’t run back to Jet to tell him. And if you could, he doesn’t have the ears to hear it.” She snorts at her own sick joke.
“Tell me what?” I ask evenly. “Why would Jet want to kill you?”
“Because I was covering for his girlfriend.”
Now this is interesting.
“Lynae? How were you covering for her?” Was the Bouncy Tart her avenue of communication to her co-conspirators?
“She has a lover. A human lover. He comes here, hires me for a long session. When we go up to my room, she’s waiting for him. After a bit, I slip out and get a bath down in the washroom. After a good long soak, I go back up, wait a bit longer with them both, and then escort him out. She waits til the hallway is clear and slips out the back.” She laughs. “A nice arrangement. And I get paid enough that the risk of getting caught was almost worth it. Of course, now I don’t have to worry about that.”
“Who is this human lover?” I try not to sound too interested, though I feel a slow burn starting inside. Oh, come on. Not stinkin’ jealousy. Was I lying to myself and Enturi when I told him I had no feelings for her?
“I don’t know. She calls him Captain. I figure he’s a merchant ship captain. Looks like one. Seems a bit rough to be a pat like the other humans that come here. Bit of a rogue, I get the impression.”
Her description triggers a memory. I remember the bartender’s words the morning after Norien was murdered. About the human who looked like a pirate and had a full purse who had been in the night before. Could that human be Lynae’s lover? Was she here betraying Jet while Norien was being murdered?
I take a stab in the dark.
“He was here that night, wasn’t he? The night Norien was being murdered. Having a tryst with Lynae.”
The whore nods. “Yeah. That’s why I was so scared. I was sure that Jet was on to us. And when you warned me, I figured I’d better run.” She shudders. “That was a rough night. But it’s done now.” She shakes off the bad memory and looks at me with carefully cultivated desire. I feel her hand on my forearm, gently rubbing.
“Forget all that. You gonna come upstairs with me or not?”
“Yeah,” I reply. She’s given me some information that might save me some grief down the road. I might as well thank her for it. Not that I am so great in bed that sex with me is a reward. Heh. But she will get the whore’s take of the payment Mýldir made for the house services.
I kinda figured Lynae’s been playing me, and this confirms it. Her flirting’s been intended to keep me in line until the rescue, to do what she wants. She doesn’t care about me.
She’s in love with a human.
I don’t get what the elfgirls see in the big, sweaty, uncouth creatures but hey, to each their own.
We finish our ales and the dark-haired girl takes me by the hand and leads me upstairs.
As she reaches out to grab a door handle, I pull back. I know this room.
“That’s Norien’s door,” I say.
She smirks. “Don’t worry, tough guy. The room’s been cleaned. You can’t even tell there was a murder in there.”
“Why can’t we use your room?”
“It’s already being used.”
The implication is not lost on me.
“You mean – Lynae and her human are here now?” This is rich.
“Yeah, but who cares?” She pulls me toward the door again. “Come on. I’ll make you forget about everything but me.”