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Quick Silver ; Romantic novellette by Lindsy Smigel

 
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Lily-Anne



Joined: 01 Jan 1970
Posts: 15
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 12:18 am    Post subject: Quick Silver ; Romantic novellette by Lindsy Smigel Reply with quote

London, England 1812

Smoke drifted in lazy curls around the seated figures, the clink of ice in glasses breaking up the monotonous sounds of breathing and low murmuring. Elly peered speculatively at the figures opposite her, fingers curled around the playing cards she held. It had been hours since she had entered the establishement, hoping against hope she would find a way to win back the money Uncle had squandered. Now, the endless drone of other club members seemed to drown out the conversation around her, until she felt the trickle of sweat slide down her shoulder blades.. and pool at the nape of her neck.

"Your go lad.." a rough, whiskey laden voice called, bringing her back to the present. With a start, she looked down at her cards, drawing upon a blank expression as she glanced at what she had been delt.

Garbage.. it was all garbage. For not the first time that night, she felt panic well up inside her, but she tapped it down with years of training, fixing her lips into a brief smile for show. The gravel and paint that was smeared on her cheeks, felt stiff when they moved, though it all went with the disguise of being a young lord. What ever it took to gain entrance to these gaming hells, she vowed, peering again at her card mates. Carefully, as she had done before, she opened herself to the energy around her, feeling a vortex of whirling chaos bombard her from every direction. It made her senses reel, so much that she was quiet for some time as she sorted out where everything was coming from.

There, the man to her left.. Lord Crowley, his dissatisfaction rolled off him in waves. To his left, a young runner with milk white skin, his smugness seemed to grow with each card he wad delt. She'd have to watch him. Turning her face carefully, she picked at the emotions that came from each opponent, her uncanny ability to absorb and interpret the emotions of others letting her know when to bluff, and when not to. Of course she would never have gotten in, if not for the help of her friend Jacob, but where had he gotten to?

Biting off a sigh, she displayed her cards, hearing the groans as a sound of satisfaction. Of course, she wasn't a fool, and tried to convey a sense of fair play to each of the players, so they didn't grow anxious or angry with her apparent winning streak. Cheating? Of course, but she thought the dire straights her family was in called for every arsenal she could muster.

The beginnings of a headache began at the edges of her vision, signaling an end to her dealings. That was fine, since she had more than enough to pay off the house debts and buy food for the next month. Waving off, she stood, pulling the thick overcoat across her shoulders to shadow most of her features and lanky form. That's when she felt the pecular sensation of being watched, a feeling so intense her neck tingled, and the hairs on her forearms warned in warning. Discreetly, as she waited for Jacob's return, she maneuvered herself into the shadows, glancing through a haze of pipe smoke at the thinning crowds of gentleman and rakes that patroned the establishment.

Well, she couldn't see anyone directing a stare at her, so carefully, she opened herself up again, trying to pin point any interest or hostility directed her way.

Nothing.. Nothing.. There! Her eyes flew open, glancing towards another corner of the billards room. Straining forward, she kept within the boundaries of the shadows, brows furrowed in study.

The man reclined on a high backed chair, a glass of what appeared to be scotch sitting on the side table besides him. Glancing at his shoes, just about the only thing visible from her vantage point, she noticed the expensive looking gleam they sported, as well as tailored grey trousers cut in the latest fashion. The torso itself, while trim looking beneath a white shirt and waistcoat, was half in and out of the light, so she only got a 'sense' of the way he filled out his jacket.. and the casual grace in which he reclined. Lifting her eyes, she noted the faint outline of a strong, masculine jaw, though the rest of his face receeded into shadows.

Tapping her fingers upon her folded arm, she pursed her lip, somewhat perplexed in what his interest in her.. well, him was.

"Ready then?" Elly heard the spirited tone of her companion, and started, so deep in concentration she had not sensed him arrive. Turning her head, she winced, feeling the headache renew it's vigor.

"Yes, most assuredly. " she murmured, handing him the notes that would be transferred into currency by one of the [manager of a hellclub]. Standing, she half turned, trying to gain another look at her 'admirer' while Jacob began to usher her towards the door.

That is when she had the luck to see the man lean forward, and two things occurred at that instant as he face came into focus.

One, Jacob began to argue with the [hell club manager] about transferring the notes into currency; apparently guests of members were not allowed such a privledge until they signed up for member ship.

Two, Elly gasped, a hand flying to her mouth as recognition and an sharp pain sliced through her brain, the raised emotions of those around her cutting her in two from the inside. Closing her eyes tight, she felt the floor begin to buckle beneath her, or were those her knees? As darkness began to descend, and she faintly realized she was going to faint for the first time in her life, she dimly saw the figure stand.. all that masculine power and beauty she remembered so well moving with a predator's grace straight at her. Her last thought before she slipped into an unceremonious pile on the floor? ; How beautiful his eyes still were, and how cold.
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Lily-Anne



Joined: 01 Jan 1970
Posts: 15
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the dream, no, the flash back, she was walking from her home towards her secret place. Darkness wound through the tree's like moonlit ribbons, softening the harder edges of reality; her reality. She could still feel the sting of her uncles hand on her face, the scrapes on her palms and knee's.

"Elizabeth! Where is the tea set? You filthy vagabond thief!" She hadn't the chance to remind Uncle it had been he who had sold it, his anger throwing a painful haze all around her. Still, she had stood her ground, even as her small body shook like a leaf from her uncle's uncontrolled anger. The other's were counting on her, to protect them. It had taken everything in her twelve year old self to keep his attention away from their cowering forms.

Now, bruised both physically and mentally, she wandered down the well worn deer trail, feeling the summer heat through her night rail. Elly had slipped from her bedroom window, once everyone slept within the old [type of architecture circa 1700?s] mansion, secure that no one would come after her. Her feet knew the way, knew when to lift to avoid curled roots, and when to turn until she found herself before the clear pool that fed by a mountain stream.
T
he water called to her, beckoned to soothe all her hurts, but something else stirred her. A whisper, shadows that converged into a singular shape that began to stalk her from the underbrush.

Feeling no fear, she turned, just as the shadows leapt, gold eyes staring hungrily into hers.





Elly woke with a rush of emotion beating down at her from every corner, her hands instantly covering her face to keep the harsh lights from her sensitized eyes. She groaned, distantly picking up the raised voices of her companion and the hell club's manager. Apparently, they hadn't even noticed her small faint, sucking in a breath to separate their anger from her own erratic emotions. As she steadied her breathing, she became aware of the scent of sandalwood and a fainter, earthier musk. That, accompanied by the fact her hands were curled into an unfamiliar cravat brought the last few moments rushing back to her.

Gasping again, her eyes flew upwards towards her admirers face, instantly speared by intense gold orbs that stared at her with faint amusement. He must have felt the stiffening of her body, as though she prepared to flee, and his arms tightened upon her even as he lifted her to her feet.

The manager and Jacob both suddenly became aware of her small situation, turning to stare with equal amounts of bemusement and fear at her.

Fear?

Remembering her disguise, she placed a hand at her cheek, trying to disentangle herself from her admirer while pulling her clothes tighter around her form.

"El.. Edward, too much to drink?" Jacob perfected his amused grin, though his eyes shifted between her and the man now several steps to her right. Elly could not respond, merely groaned as she remembered to laugh with a faint slur and lean into Jacob's side.. glad to have distanced herself from [him]. Perhaps he did not recognize her, she wondered fiercely, trying to pull on her wits.

"What's wrong?" Jacob whispered into her ear, making her turn her face slightly to catch his words before they floated away.

"I should ask you the same thing, I need that money Jacob." her fingers curled into the wool of his jacket, trying to convey her desperation before she looked towards the manager. She stiffened, seeing [him] leaning over, conversing rather seriously with the manager.

Had he known? Was he going to give her up? For a moment, she almost felt her despair mingle with grief, a veil of tears as her last hope slipped away finding the surface of her eyes.

As though he felt her regard, or perhaps the beating of her desperation, he straightened, turning his head sharply to spear her with those beautiful eyes. In the next instance, he was striding towards the door.

Stunned, she glanced at Jacob, and his rather intense stare at the retreating back of her assistant. Seeing the manager begin to approach them again, she tugged on his sleeve, and he seemed to pull himself together.. turning back to the rather shame faced employee.

"I am so sorry, I had no idea the circumstances of your Guest. We will have the funds drawn in just a few minutes, if you could follow me?" his face was wreathed in apology, and for a moment Elly could just blink. She detected no ulterior motive from him, other than the over willingness to please and a touch of greed. Confused, she followed Jacob, burrowing deeper into her great cloak as she continued to fight with the migraine that dulled her senses.

"I'm sorry.. circumstances?" Jacob inquired, running an agitated hand through his cleverly arranged blonde locks, making them even more 'chic' as they fell around his pre-Raphaelite features.

"Why, the ones involving the Marquis of course! Had we known, well, had we known your friend was playing -for- the Marquis, and not merely as a guest.. well, certainly we might have been more prepared. But! All shall be righted, nes'pas? Come come come. "
J
acob could only shrug, as he followed the manager to collect the bank notes. Elly, stunned yet again, looked to the doorway, her moment of grief rising with a mixture of elation, hope, and above all else, fear.

"Oh Marcus.. " she whispered.
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Lily-Anne



Joined: 01 Jan 1970
Posts: 15
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Outside, steam rose from the cobble stoned streets, mingling with the scents and sounds that denoted this as the dredge of the city. To a wolf, those smells and ear piercing sounds were only amplified, adding to an already wild and chaotic turmoil.

Tensed and ready to pounce, Marcus walked with a stiff gait that kept it?s sinuous grace when he moved, jacket flapping as the wind gusted through the alley. Keeping his head low, he skirted the troughs of running sewer water, the smell assaulting his sensitive olfactory organ with a wave of decay and putrid waste. Lifting his arm, he used it to buffer out the scents, intent on clearing the alley when a sound came to his attention. Not slowing his stride, his head cocked to a barely perceivable angle, ears that could hear far greater than any normal human waiting for the slide and shuffle of feet as they scurried in his wake. Unbidden, a smile curled his lips, lids grown heavy to mask the glee that briefly flared within their golden irises.

Deliberately he slowed his stride, allowing his pursuer to catch up with him while he inhaled deeply. Again, the noxious odors of the humans around him beat at him with tenacity, but he calmly filtered their scents, and paused when he could not catch the one who chased him. Brows furrowed, he quickly scanned his side and across his shoulder from behind the collar of his jacket, seeing nothing, but knowing someone was there, their breathing rasping in the cold night air.

Having his fill of surprises for the evening, he moved in a circle that brought him once more into the safety of shadows.

?You can come out now, I know your following me.? he demanded, his voice clear and low, years of discipline drowning the traces of his Welsh accent. When no answer was forthcoming, his shoulders tensed, and he began to scan his surroundings as the beast inside him clawed for release, wanting a true hunt to take place. It took true will to continue with the fa?ade of bored patience, leashing the wolf into it?s temporary cage until it could be called upon.

He sniffed, and tensed even more so when he smelled a distinct and familiar fragrance. It was accompanied by the short, round figure that crept from the alley like the rat he so fondly shifted into. Keeping the look of disgust from showing, Marcus calmly waited for the rat to creep closer, eyes chips of radiant ice.

Once within reach, the wolf pounced, snagging the rat by his arm and flinging him without much trouble against the far wall. Pinned, the narrow face of the shifter grew gaunt and pale, as his body squirmed in protest, though he could not make a sound as Marcus squeezed his throat harder with the muscle of his forearm.

?Please.. Please! I meant no harm! cloffrwym y blaidd (great wolf) ! ? The rat continued to struggle, his air supply again cut off after his gasping apology.

?Why do you follow me?? Marcus growled, baring teeth that snapped with menace. Carefully, he looked down both sides of the alley now, dimly growing aware of the tiny red eyes that watched. Cursing his own stupidity, he let the rat go, watching as the shifter slumped down into a puddle of blubbering flesh. Rat?s were known as group animals, and outnumbered wolves a hundred to one. If they were given cause, they could be a force that would tear down any wolf pack. He should have watched his surroundings more carefully, should have thought more before he acted.

Still, even now, he could not get the image of [her] from his mind. The eyes that swirled with mercurial light piercing him with such knowledge and memory. It had taken all that he was not to roar with anger, that she would risk herself in such a place, gambling no less!

Shaking the distraction from his head (though her scent still lingered in his memory) he again moved to tower over the rat-man. ?Why were you following me?? he asked again, keeping his voice low so others could not overhear.

?I.. was merely.. Wondering what an alpha of the wolf clan was doing in London, aside from the occasional mongrel, we are not often gifted with the presence of such a fine, predator. ? the words were hissed from between an overbite that would make a true rat envious, the red-rimmed eyes moving in rapid directions without ever settling on Marcus himself.

He growled.

The rat squeaked.

?ALRIGHT!? he screeched, hand at his throat as the rats in the alley began to creep perilously forward. ?There?s word that the wolves are moving back into the city.. That a big move for Alpha is going to be taking place. Since the old leader died so suddenly so many years ago??? his voice trailed, as his narrow features tightened with a cunning smile directed at the looming wolf.

?So?? he answered tersely, fists clenching. He knew his half brother had been making plans to usurp Marcus?s tenacious grip as Leader, but to have it brought up by an outsider. This time, the growl was low and made the wave of red-eyed rodents surge even closer.

?So? Well..? the shifter inched his way back into a standing position, looking this way and that. Then he straightened, but retained a curve in his spine that made him appear even shorter than what he was. ?The rats have always been discounted among the other shifters, even though we outnumber everyone and have shifted human history. ? A hiss of sound came from the now growing wall of rodents to their left, which could be interpreted as boo?s and hisses and outraged cries. ?Others have tried to dominate us, use us as their army fodder.. No one has ever tried to negotiate with us. ?

?I would think that would be a strength. What has this to do with anything?? Marcus questioned, growing leery by the minute. Giving the shifter a guarded expression, he waited for the point to be dropped.

?We? are inviting you, to negotiate.. ? the word was hissed. ? with our King. ? the words dropped like a ten ton sack, for all the shock value it presented Marcus.

Stunned, his digested what that could mean to him, an alliance with another shifter clan. It had never been done, at least, not in the northern parts of Europe. There had been talk of a Naga clan joining with an almost extinct Lion clan in southern India, but that was hearsay since none of the shifter nations had formal meetings or a direct communication line.

Something Marcus hoped to change.

Eyes lighting, he carefully withdrew his presence from the rat, inclining his head with the briefest of gestures of respect.

?That would be? a most fortunate arrangement. I accept.?

The rat-man licked his lips, before he straightened and motioned for Marcus to follow. Despite his reservations, Marcus soon followed, eyeing the undulating wall of rat faces as he passed. Though he journeyed into the shadows of unseen danger, ironically, all he could think upon as he disappeared into shadows, were two flashing mercury eyes.
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Lily-Anne



Joined: 01 Jan 1970
Posts: 15
Location: Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As he was led deeper into the rotting stink hole that was London's [slum district], Marcus mulled over the last few months that had brought him back to the city. As Alpha of his clan, he not only had a duty to keep his family in line, but to insure their future existence is kept from public knowledge. A responsibility thrust upon him when he was twenty one, under circumstances that to this day, he battled to find the truth to. While
wolves in the wild killed for leadership, the [family name] worked off human tradition, where leadership was inherited. It coincided with the title that his family had also obtained some several hundred years ago, while in the service of King [name] himself.
Those days of blood and sorcery were far gone now, given to days of politics and mad little men with God-complexes.

Marcus had worked the last few years across the continent, a war-hero with an uncanny ability to sniff out his enemy, and anticipate their moves. Little did anyone else know, he had a preternatural edge few other soldiers could boast.
Now, however, he scowled as he straightened, it seemed his position would be challenged by old tradition. If his half brother wanted to challenge him for leadership. he had better
have thought everything through. As it was, Marcus had plans, plans his father would never have allowed because of his grip on the old ways. The same traditions that were slowly destroying his clan, and many other clans of varying species.

"Just a little farther...." his guide hissed towards him, eyes red slits in the darkness.
The steam of the septic systems billowed from the stone buildings and vents, tickling his throat with the overwhelming stench. Cautiously, he took stock of where they had walked to, a small incline leading down into an open pipe that was an inch shorter than his six two.

Rats of varying age and size scurried along side them, an undulating mass of fur and teeth that could kill as viciously as any wolf could. However the difference was rats never left a bone or hair waisted, thus evidence of their kills was very hard to come by. For centuries, the rat shifters had lived beneath the dredges of society, calling the sewers and more populated areas home. Something no other shifter could boast.
He ducked, feeling his feet submerge into the trickling water to his ankle, invoking a grimace. Rather than complain, he trudged forward, eyes glowing specs as they veered left, than right, moving deeper beneath the streets and pipe systems. After what seemed forever, he began to smell the surprising scents of herbs and cooking food, glancing as they rounded a corner and came upon a small market like setting.

The dry side walls and walk ways of the underground were lined with make shift carts and half broken carriages; filled with items that were hawked, traded and sold. The female of the clan, woman of petite stature and swarthy skins, prevailed as the dominant numbers among those who milled up and down the 'street's'. When he and his escort rounded said corner, activity seemed to come to a halt, eyes varying from black to pink focusing on him with almost a singular mentality. Keeping his poise, Marcus kept his eyes forward, restricting the urge to growl low as a warning, this was, after all, their territory.

After a few minutes, they came across a tent that had been strung from the arch of buttresse. The material was a patchwork of silks and satins, bright colors that seemed at odds with grays and blues of the surroundings. He sniffed the air, and instead of the noxious odors of the underground, he came back with sweet myrrh and
sandalwood, scents at odds with the area.

"Come.. come," the rat-man beckoned, his neck cracking as he shifted his head to peer at the wolf. One hand, tapered to sinuous claws, moved the delicate material of the door aside, causing the incense that burned within to waft into his face, making his eyes water and burn. Ducking his head even more, he finally straightened, and felt his jaw slacken when he took in his surroundings.

Now able to stand to his full height, the inside of the tent was surprisingly spacious, more spacious than what Marcus would have guessed. This led him to believe sorcery was involved, some sort of dimensional spell that allotted the rat-King such a luxury.
The space was filled with odds and ends, to his right, a cream brocaded chaise piled with multi colored pillows that spilled to the overlapping rugs. Buffet tables groaning with roasted meats and fruits, and furniture that ranged from ancient and scarred, to gleaming with fresh polish. To his left, Marcus noted that several feral eyed females lounged upon pillows thrown on the floor, their dresses worn but still of the latest fashion, muslim and silks high waisted around figures that ranged from thin to plump. One of the woman, a black eyed woman whose weary expression gazed at his own hungrily, stroked a long, flesh tail that protruded from beneath her skirts.

Looking back in front of him, he approached a desk whose chair was turned away from him, feeling his jaw tighten back up as he waited for the owner of that chair to finally turn to face him.

"How do you like my .. kingdom, little pup?" a familiar voice nearly purred, a tongue clicking on the roof of a mouth as the figure stood and came out to face him.

Marcus narrowed his eyes, feeling the corners of his lips move on their own violation.
"Smells like cheap perfume and unwashed bodies, little urchin. " he countered, before his smile enveloped his features, and both figures embraced tightly.

The man he embraced laughed, his accented timbre rolling and clicking his syllables as he stood back to eye Marcus with a more focused expression. His face was swarthy, much the woman in the market place, but his hair was a lighter brown, streaked with amber and blond. Eyes of pure black were pin points in his lean face, his slender, athletic figure garbed in colorful silks of an eastern persuasion. He was the antithesis of what Marcus would be described, but the two had been good friends since their first meeting almost five years ago when Marcus had first found himself thrust into the politics of his family.

"Who would have thought, the little urchin soldier, would be a King? You never said your father was a patriarch. " his tone mildly surprised, Marcus took up a seat opposite his friends chair, crossing his legs as he continued to take in his surroundings.
The click of glass told him that his friend was pouring them drinks, a heavy pause before Marcus was handed a glass of scotch, and his friend replied.
"I wasn't. The position was offered.. " at the raised eyebrow Marcus offered, his friend continued. " after some, physical persuasion. Unlike the wolves, we rats still retain leadership as a position to be fought over. "

"Kamir, I never knew you were so politically ambitious. " he replied, making himself comfortable though his instincts were still wired from earlier. He hand stirred the scotch within it's glass, lifting it to taste and being pleased that Kamir still remembered his favorite brand. "I was surprised, at your messenger's proposition. Or that you even knew I was in town. " His statement was met with a smug smile.
"Times have changed, even I know that Marcus, or should I call you Your Grace?" he added with a lofted brow, before settling back into his chair. One of the woman who were lounging moved to his side, long tapered fingers combing through his hair and stroking a bare arm. It was surprisingly warm and humid down in this make shift world, unlike the chill of mid January that cut through the London streets above.

Marcus ignored the jab, focusing instead on why he was brought there.

"You know, there hasn't been a recorded alliance among the clans for as long as anyone can remember. Although I'm curious, what exactly you hope to gain from the wolves?" he questioned, eyes moving briefly to another female who had made her way to recline at his feet. He smiled, briefly, assessing her figure as he was used to. It conjured an answering
smile reminiscent of the vivacious widows he was accustomed to pursuing. As Leader, he had his pick of the willing females in the clan, but so much now, they were more interested in political ambition rather than love's ambition. While physically satisfying, it left him empty and cold to the mating ritual. Especially these last few months

Turning away from the inviting smile, he looked back to Kamir, and noticed the smirk he had in place.

"The rats have been under estimated for thousands of years. Although we can shift the tides of human and shifter existence alone, we have been looked upon as the dredges of our society. Our females are considered nothing more than pets, our males filthy thugs. We have never been given the prestige of the predatory clans as is our due. " one shoulder lifted in a gallant shrug, as though Kamir had rehearsed the speech many times. "What we may lack in individual strength, we make up for in sheer numbers and intelligence. "


Marcus smiled to himself, watching Kamir closely as he sipped more of his drink.

"Well, then why would you need the assistance of the wolves?" he countered.
Kamir turned, and graced him with another smug smile. "We would finally be taken seriously, a true threat to our enemies. "

"We're not here to get involved in any personal wars Kamir. " Marcus warned, brows furrowing in brief concern. Kamir waved the concern away, chuckling briefly.

"Neither are we, but it would send up a warning flag to any looking to encroach on our territory, wouldn't it?" he injected smoothly, leaned back within his chair.
"Also, wouldn't it look interesting to those looking usurp your precocious position with the backing of a another clan Leader?"
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