Rain pelted the now dark city, Soft music drifting across the empty streets from the Lunair lounge; A stark contrast from the usual fast paced music the club was known for.
Paws sat at the darkest corner of the bar, gazing intently at the lounge singer. Melody Breeze, he had to admit, she lived up to her name. Her soft and gentle tone carried easily across the lounge, captivating all those who listened; And that included the men sat at the centre table. Don Caporosa surrounded by his lackeys. Not a night went by that he wasn't there, staring up at her. Paws had seen that expression thousands of times. He knew the Don wanted her; And just like everything else Don Caporosa wanted, he'd get it eventually, he always did, the whole city knew that. No matter how many times the girl declined his advances he'd keep coming back; And those rejections were slowly becoming less and less frequent. Paws sighed taking another shot of whiskey. How many years had he been doing this now? 5? 10? How long had he spent keeping this clueless human safe? However long it was, he was beginning to think it was too long and obviously a pointless endeavour.
Paws sat there lost in his own thoughts until the music ended. Melody smiled, said her goodbyes to the audience and disappeared behind the stage curtain. There one of Caporosa's men waited for her. He whispered something in her ear. She gave him a warm smile and followed him to the Don's table. A few laughs and a short conversation later and she was sat with the Don smiling pleasantly at their conversation. A slight red tinged her cheeks as he moved closer and held her tight.
Paws downed his last shot and moved to leave. If this was the world she wanted she could have it. He was done protecting her.
Melody's heart pounded in her chest as the Don pulled her close. She didn't want to be there, surrounded by some of the most dangerous men in the city, but when Don Caporosa requested your presence, well, there was no way to refuse. Not if you wanted to keep your head firmly on your shoulders.
She wished she could leave. She just wanted to go back to her tiny house back on the other side of town, Check on her little sister. Melody knew she'd still be up, staring out their kitchen window, waiting for her to come home. Even at this late hour.
“You seem rather distracted my dear. Something on your mind?” The Don asked as he slowly slid his hand under her dress and up her thigh. Melody scrambled back jumping out of her seat and away from the table. Silence fell across the club and suddenly Melody found herself surrounded by Caporosa's men. She turned back to the Don. He looked angry. though he held a calm expression she could see in his eyes he was seething with rage.
“I-I'm sorry Mr. Caporosa. My boss wouldn't like it if he found me fraternizing with the customers. He's very particular about it a-and I can't lose this job. Not with my little sister counting on me and all. so...” Melody stuttered as she tried her best to remedy the situation.
The Don waved a dismissive hand, his charming smile returning as he rose from the table and took a step towards her.
“Well, we can't have that can we? Don't worry my dear. I'll talk to your employer, clear up any misunderstandings he may have.” he took her hand and kissed it gently. “you have a good evening and be sure to keep your wits about you. The streets are no longer safe after dark.”
Melody gave him a sweet smile and quickly disappeared backstage to change.
The Don watched her go; Oh how he loved to watch her leave. But she had made a fool of him and that was something he couldn't forgive. He called one of his men over to him as Melody disappeared behind the curtain from view.
“Make sure she learns her lesson. Nothing to extreme, but the girl has to be put in her place.” His man nodded and silently exited the club. With a sigh the Don made his way to the club owners office. He had told her he would smooth things over with her employer. And though a pointless and tedious task, if it would give the girl some piece of mind, he was willing to waste some of his time to make her happy; He was a man of his word after all.
Melody made her way to the service entrance at the back of the club. After that terrible incident with the Don she had all but stumbled over herself in a rush to change into her usual clothes; A long blue dress that came to just above the ankles and a pair of walking boots. She knew it was odd attire, but it allowed her to change quickly and if she did happen to get into any trouble she could at-least try to outrun any attacker without tripping over her heels.
With a heavy sigh she opened the door.
“You be careful getting home now you hear” Gray the stagehand called after her. She turned to him and smiled. Such a sweet lad. He was what the rest of the world would call 'a little slow' but he had a good heart. He was always trying his best to look out for her and the other girls. It was something she appreciated.
“I will Grey. Thanks, and goodnight.”
With that she left. The metal door closed behind her with a loud thud. Quickly she began to make her way down the winding back alley, trying her best to make as little noise as possible. She breathed a sigh of relief as the city street came into view. Just a few more steps and she would be out in the open and on her way home.
The scraping of brick and animalistic growls sounded behind her. Melody froze. Fear gripped her, tightening her chest, cementing her feet to the ground. She knew she shouldn't have; she knew it was a dumb idea, but her body moved before she could stop it. Melody turned to face the creature that had clawed its way out of a connecting alley. She screamed.
Grey couldn't help but overhear the conversations as he cleared the tables for the night. It was one of the many perks of the job. He loved to hear the small titbits of gossip or just the pleasant conversation in general. Conversation like that wasn't something he got to experience personally often. Excluding Melody, the other girls that worked at the club and that nice cat gentleman who frequently drank in the dark corners of the bar, others would barely take the time to talk to him at all. He knew they all thought he was stupid, just because he was different.
Whispered conversation drifted from the next table over. A few of Caporosa's men had lingered after closing. They would stay for as long as they pleased of course. No one could work up the courage to tell them to leave.
Grey slowly wiped down the table he was at and listened in closer. He could have sworn he heard Melody's name.
“Are you serious?”
“That bitch shouldn't have made a fool of the Don like that. She deserves everything she gets.”
“Yea, but the boss said-”
“Screw what he said. There are plenty of dolls ready to throw themselves at him. He'll set his sights on another lass soon enough.”
Grey's heart dropped. Was she OK? What did they do? Grey resisted the urge to drop everything and run. He knew he couldn't stop whatever was happening, but he knew someone who could. Keeping a level head, he gathered up the glasses and brought them over to the bar. After handing them to the bartender he made his way through the kitchen and out onto the city streets. If he ran fast, he could still catch him.
Paws dragged his feet as he made his way through the pouring rain back to his office. Why her? Of all the people in all the world, why did she have to be the one to save him all those years ago?
Paws sighed deeply and took another drag from his cigarette. He felt like shit. Even if he was done with this indebted protection fiasco, he should have at least made sure she made it home safe. It would have been the right thing to do.
“SIR! SIR!” Paws turned to find one of the wait staff from the club bounding towards him. Grey he thought his name was. Good kid. But right now, there was a look on his face that Paws didn't like. It put him immediately on edge.
Grey stopped abruptly, hunching over to catch his breath, panting heavily.
“Sir. Sir please you have to help. The Don's men. They, they were talking about. I think there planning on doing something with Mel.”
Paws eyes widened. How could he have been so stupid?
“Where is she?” he asked, concern heavy in his voice.
“She's not long left the club. Went down the back alleys a few minutes ago.”
Paws ran past Grey and back the way he had come. It was in times like these he was thankful for his cat agility and reflexes. He just hoped he wasn't too late.