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 The Denial Twist, for Minuit Estelle
Kiefer Carter
 Posted: May 15 2017, 11:30 PM
Quote
Local
gustopholous


Oh, god, he'd really fucked up this time. But there would be another chance. There was always another chance... Right? Her things has been gone when he'd returned home from the party. He'd been full of explanations, excuses, promises, but it turned out that no one was there to hear them. Well, Kaleb had been there... and apparently he'd seen the whole thing.
Well, why didn't you stop her? Of course he was serious, Kiefer had insisted. Why wouldn't he be serious?? How could Kaleb have just watched her pack up and leave? Well, it turned out that it wasn't his roommate's job to save his relationships. Something about her being an adult who was capable of making her own decisions... That she was better off without him, and maybe he'd be more appreciative of the people who put up with him. What bullshit.
She hadn't been at her old apartment either. Or at the diner or with any friend (the few of whom he knew, anyway). By now he'd placed maybe a dozen calls and twice as many texts. It occurred to Kiefer how little of her social life he actually knew (after eleven months, he should know something about her, shouldn't he?) as he prowled the streets for any sign of the missing girl. There were only so many places someone could go in a town this size, but, with every failed inquiry, his mood grew more sour. It didn't help that he was wickedly hungover, either.
This was the last stop. Stilettos. With any luck, he'd catch her on her way outside. The only thing he could do in there was cause a scene. Several hours had passed since the commencement of his search, and gradually—reluctantly—he was beginning to lose hope. As he lit another cigarette, Kiefer's hands were trembling in spite of the night's relative warmth. It was impossible not to look conspicuous leaned up against the back wall by the employee exit. If anyone saw him in this state, they might be tempted to call security... or the police, but he was finding it hard to care. Please. Just fucking let me see her.

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If life ain't just a joke, then why are we laughing?
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Minuit Estelle
 Posted: May 16 2017, 12:03 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


Outfit


Security was gone, her girls were gone, and the customers had all returned to their boring lives; Stiletto’s fantasy was over for another night. Minnie sat back in her plush office chair pondering the idea of a new garter belt. A devilishly red one with matching bra and panties. She bit her lower lip just imagining it. A new sexy something to wear under her clothes when she wanted to feel naughty. Little gems like that always pleased her. It was a secret. Something she could hold onto and be thrilled by.

Tonight she had been bar-tending. While the girls wore skimpy little outfits, she wore her typical corset and tight pencil skirt. They were practically her trademark. As she got up she smoothed down the leather around her hips and wiggled her round ass to see it all fell properly over her curves. Skirts were tricky things. They looked so good, but could bunch up so fast.. at least her’s tried. She was keenly aware of how they felt as she moved. Every step made her feel deliciously good. By the time she got to the employee exit she pulled out a clove cigarette with a cheerful smugness that was only slightly ruined by the appearance of a man in her parkinglot.

Blond, cute, young... she tilted her head and kept a foot propped in the doorway as she waved with her cigarette. ”Why ‘ello. Are you looking for somet’ing?” The words were low, melodic, and caressed with a french accent. ”Or someone?” A quick glance around the lot showed no sign of anyone else. Her own car was parked just to the right of her, but she didn’t bother walking towards it. ”Stilettos is closed for t’e night. I am fraid you missed t’e fun. I can assure you t’at we will ‘ave somet’ing just as titillating tomorrow... and t’e tomorrow after t’at. “

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Kiefer Carter
 Posted: May 16 2017, 12:48 AM
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Local
gustopholous


The door opened, and Kiefer felt his pulse quicken. The hand holding the cigarette dropped from his lips as he hurried to get a better view of his company. What was once his only source of distraction now burned, littering ash on the cement utterly unacknowledged. Whoever this was, she wasn't Emily. The hopeful apprehension dropped from his features in an instant. It was perhaps the first time he'd been disappointed by the arrival of a gorgeous woman. Neither did he employ sufficient tact to hide his frown.
She was friendly enough and dressed so... But never mind. He wasn't in the mood and this wasn't the time. As she approached, he remembered his cigarette and began puffing uneasily. Her initial greeting went unrequited until she hit upon his intent. Are you looking for something? ...Or someone?
"Yeah," he answered shortly before it occurred to him that the woman might actually be able to help. "Have you seen Emily?" Considering the amount of times he'd spoken those words today, it might well have become his catchphrase. Before the woman could assume that he was some deranged stalker, he continued.
"I'm her boyfriend. Kiefer?" Had she mentioned him? "Or I was. I don't even fucking know any more." The words slipped out before he had considered the wisdom of sharing them. "She took all of her things and disappeared. She's been gone..." A day? Two? She definitely wasn't there this afternoon. "I just want to talk to her. I deserve to know what's going on, don't I?" Not like he couldn't make an educated guess...

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Minuit Estelle
 Posted: May 16 2017, 01:11 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


This wouldn’t be the first time she found a man in her parkinglot, but that didn’t make it safe. Minnie moved only a few steps from the door. ”Have you seen Emily?” Emily? Her mind swept over names she’d learned in the past few weeks. Did they have an Emily? ”I’m her boyfriend. Kiefer?” Emily... ... or was. I don’t even fucking know anymore. “ Oh boy. "She took all of her things and disappeared. She's been gone. I just want to talk to her. I deserve to know what's going on, don't I?" She wondered briefly if Niko had worn the same dejected look on his face when she’d disappeared, but didn’t dwell on it. ”Let me check the sign in sheet.”

Minuit exhaled softly, smoke gracing the soft red flesh of her lips. She didn’t tease him or say much more, instead stepping back inside the building to look. Emily.. ah. She hadn’t been around in the past four days. ”Hmm...” The thin piece of paper between her fingers flicked. ”No. She ‘asn’t been in today.” It was far from her business to know anything more, but she figured she could at least make the situation a little more bitter sweet. ”You look like you need a drink.” The cigarette met her mouth with welcome. ”Come on in... I promise t’at management won’t mind.”

It was almost sad to toss the paper onto the pavement, but she wasn’t going to take it inside. ”I’ll tell you what I know, and you can ‘ave a little time to relax. Win win.” She called over a shoulder, curious if he’d follow or run away. In either case she was already destined for a shot before she left. Choose your poison.. I’ll make it for you as long as it is wit’in regulations and doesn’t ‘ave to be served in my cleavage.” That was something reserved for men she particularly liked in a far more.. intimate setting.

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Kiefer Carter
 Posted: May 16 2017, 01:55 AM
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Local
gustopholous


Rather than a simple no the woman offered to check the sign-in sheet. That was something, wasn't it? There was no room left in his tempestuous thoughts, however, for gratitude. His eyes flicked to her lips as she exhaled a luxurious plume of smoke and lingered there momentarily.
As her gaze wandered over the fateful list, he regarded the stranger with tentative expectation. No. She ‘asn’t been in today. All of the fear and frustration which had accumulated throughout the course of the day was released in a single, obscene sentiment.
"Fuck." After a while, he let out a soft groan. Until she spoke again, he was completely absorbed in his own concerns. Emily was fucking gone. For real this time. She wasn't coming back. Breaths came in rapid succession. He was feeling light-headed... But he couldn't do this right now. She was still standing there... watching him. He needed to go home, but that was the absolute last place he wanted to be. Thinking about this, alone and at length, was the last thing he wanted to do. You look like you need a drink. Kiefer managed a pained half-smile. After this morning, nothing sounded less appetizing, but who the fuck was he kidding?
"Ok," was all he had to say. She invited him to the bar, citing that management wouldn't mind, and as he followed her, Kiefer glanced around the tidied, unlit club with a vague sense of fascination. How many times he'd been here, yet he'd never seen it like this... Admittedly, it was hardly the furniture that held his attention on previous visits.
Automatically he took a seat, allowing her to serve him as if their circumstances were completely normal. Choose your poison.. I’ll make it for you as long as it is wit’in regulations and doesn’t ‘ave to be served in my cleavage. He offered her that same rueful grin, but this time it contained a shadow of his former self.
"I thought you were trying to cheer me up." The playfulness vanished almost as suddenly as it had come. "Oh, man. I don't know." He usually just drank beer, but tonight was special. "Make me a fucking Mai Tai," he said with a smirk. The drink was too girly to order in mixed company, but he'd always wanted to try. An empty strip club and a fresh wound seemed a good enough opportunity as any.

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If life ain't just a joke, then why are we laughing?
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Minuit Estelle
 Posted: May 16 2017, 10:07 PM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


She’d seen enough dejected souls to fill a stadium, but none of them would have chosen to stay there. Not when there was a place like Stilettos to fill the the time. Minnie was curious to know what this poor man’s story was. She could see heartbreak written all over his face, but the particulars would elude her until he mentiond it himself. After all, her job was create a fantasy. Someone else could try to play therapist.

Behind the bar she was a goddess. She made drinks that curled toes and wrapped it all up in a pleasing bow. It might have been after hours, but she was determined to give him something he’d enjoy. Preferably something that wasn't between her breasts."I thought you were trying to cheer me up." She arched a brow pleasantly. ”Feel free to use your imagination, last I knew you ‘ad eyes.” They had a strict no-touching policy, and she kept it that way. So, what did he want to drink? "Oh, man. I don't know. Make me a fucking Mai Tai," The little skull and crossbones on her nails tapped the counter thoughtfully. ”Now t’at I can make ‘appen. Do you prefer a strong drink or somet’ing for your tongue to savor?” Her eyes scanned his features thoughtfully, trying to think if she’d seen him before.

Emily.. all the girls had nicknames, but she did sign off on paychecks.

”Sounds like you ‘ave ‘ad it tough as of late.” Minnie didn’t elaborate, pouring rum into a shaker. ”Life’s a bitch. Sometimes it just happens to wear distractingly sexy lingerie.” Preferably with lace. She was fond of a little lace. ”Are you a light drinker? I ‘appen to love fruity drinks, but I can see you ‘itting ‘arder liquor.” Her tattooed fingers flourished the lid of her shaker, setting it gracefully on so that she should begin mixing. ”Not t’at I am pushing.. I prefer it when people don’t drive drunk... I just so ‘appen to love booze too. It is all about balance.”

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Kiefer Carter
 Posted: May 16 2017, 11:01 PM
Quote
Local
gustopholous


The woman's invitation to use his imagination was a welcome one. Kiefer supposed he shouldn't be surprised. She may be behind the bar, but this was a strip club. He wondered what exactly it was that she did here. The dancers, it appeared, had gone home as well as the usual barista. Her face, her body, was not familiar, and he'd been here enough to know. She didn't seem to know Emily, either... From her demeanor, however, he was loathe to say she was new. She acted like she owned the damn place—allowing him inside, just the two of them—but she could have fit comfortably into either role.
This stranger seemed like the sort who would be comfortable anywhere. The confident aura she exuded possessed the ability to affect the environment more than it affected her. Kiefer honored her compromise with a lengthy, admiring gaze. Her fingernails rapped against the counter top as she considered his request. Do you prefer a strong drink or somet’ing for your tongue to savor? Her eyes studied him shamelessly. Were he in the mood to care, it might have been unnerving.
"Let's start out sweet," he suggested. "And work our way up to the nastier stuff." The longer he went, the less taste really mattered. "Are you doing it with me or are you just going to watch?" While an audience wasn't preferable, it wasn't going to stop him. Kiefer glossed over her sympathy without interest. Are you a light drinker? I ‘appen to love fruity drinks, but I can see you ‘itting ‘arder liquor.
"I am an equal opportunist," he obliged. Drunk driving was not a concern. In that, at least, he maintained some responsibility. "I live close enough to walk." This would be far from his first time.

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If life ain't just a joke, then why are we laughing?
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Minuit Estelle
 Posted: May 17 2017, 12:16 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


She liked her cocktails dressed up sexy. They didn’t have to be fancy, but they needed a certain something to put it all together right. A cherry usually worked perfectly. It was like lace on underwear; giving a little skin while leaving the rest to be discovered. Her fingers moved the glass gently across the counter to her heart broken patron, prepared to keep conversation going pleasantly while he was inside her club. "Are you doing it with me or are you just going to watch?" Was that a challenge. ”If you ever do shots, I might... but sometimes it’s nice to just watch. A little voyeurism doesn’t ‘urt ‘ere.” The woman murmured sweetly.

So... was he a light drinker? She had a feeling he wasn’t. Still, Minnie wanted to make sure her visitor made it home alright. "I am an equal opportunist, I live close enough to walk." Her lips curled devilishly, amused. ”Oh? ‘Ow fortunate” Her curvacious form leaned on the counter, getting comfortable. ”I suppose t’at means I don’t ‘ave to go easy on you, Mister Equal Opportunist.”Part of her applauded his being close enough to walk home safely. It was a silly thing to be pleased about since the location of her club was hardly part of anyone’s housing ideals. Still, She had great issues with drunk driving.

”I ‘ope the drink is good. If you don’t like it I can make you somet’ing else. On the ‘ouse.” She wasn’t always this kind, but she liked to think that a little kindness could go a long way. ”So, what do you do ‘ere in ye old Lochland Grove? Feel free to lie. Sometimes it’s more interesting.” Picking up a bar rag, she began the cleaning she’d normally pick up in the morning. ”In a band? Got lost on tour and ended up watching The Stones live?” Activity was a good way to give her guests privacy while still engaging with them. Some people liked drinking in peace without a bartender hovering over them like a lost fly. ”The best story I ‘ave ever ‘eard was of a guy who wanted to become a shark so he’d know t’eir minds. Apparently t’eir sister was killed by one while swimming in Russian waters and he swore revenge? Very creative, I gave t’em 7 points.”

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Kiefer Carter
 Posted: May 17 2017, 12:35 AM
Quote
Local
gustopholous


His lip twitched in the semblance of a smirk when the woman replied that she enjoyed a bit of voyeurism ("Guess I'd better put on a show, then"). She leaned against the counter, offering him a view of her full bosom, but he fought to keep his eyes elsewhere. Her mouth was far more interesting, dangerous even. I suppose t’at means I don’t ‘ave to go easy on you, Mister Equal Opportunist. Kiefer exhaled his amusement.
"No, I'd prefer that you didn't," he rejoined, daring her. The man wasn't sure how he felt about the nickname, but it was far from his worst. She slid the drink to him, and he plucked the cherry first, savoring its sweetness, before taking a sip. I ‘ope the drink is good. If you don’t like it I can make you somet’ing else. On the ‘ouse.
"I couldn't hope to insult you." Really, it was fantastic. "But I'm always one for free booze... if you're offering." This chick was definitely a manager... or something. Stilettos had to keep better tabs on their liquor than that. She wondered at his occupation, allowing him freedom to embellish if he so chose.
"Why would I have to lie?" he toyed. "I'm plenty interesting." Kiefer pretended to be insulted that she would think any less. "I own a tattoo parlor." It still gave him a swell of pride to say so. One of the few things in life that did. "But now that you mention it, I am actually also in a band." Kiefer shrugged. "No sharks, but at least it's true, if that counts for anything."

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If life ain't just a joke, then why are we laughing?
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Minuit Estelle
 Posted: May 19 2017, 12:56 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


Another cherry gone. Minnie was quietly pleased to see the drink seemed to work for him. She’d seen her share of order mistakes; The experimental sip, the dawning of what they’d done, the struggle to enjoy the drink they’d just purchased. She had a good view from behind the counter. So far Emily’s lost beau seemed to have little issue. He drank without squirming, and tossed back playful quips. His personality had her wondering what he did for a living, and what he did for fun. He was allowed to lie. Creativity was always interesting. "Why would I have to lie? I'm plenty interesting." Her head nodded thoughtfully. ”I’ll take your word for t’at.” Inside Stilettos it was all part of the fantasy to be whoever they wanted to be.

”Go on.”

She moved a rack of glasses to another section and made room for the clean ones that would be brought up tomorrow morning. It wasn’t a difficult task, but it took her eyes off of him. Some people enjoyed the freedom. "I own a tattoo parlor." Her brows lifted with interest, glancing up and over the counter at him. "But now that you mention it, I am actually also in a band. No sharks, but at least it's true, if that counts for anything." She didn’t know how much was truth and how much was made up, but it didn’t sound farfetched.
”Of course it counts. In movies, being in a band equals extra sexy points. T’ere is probably a fan out t’ere ‘ording merchandise and drooling over your picture.” She teased. ”Might want to check under your pillow for a merry band of stalkers.”

Finished, she made her way back to him, tracing a long line along the bar with her pointer finger. ”As you see, I am not a stranger to ink. It’s nice to meet the owner of the parlor in town. I feel special.” She eyed her fingertips, noting they were clean. ”Now I am curious. ‘Ow long ‘ave you been decorating skin?” Measuring his drink with her eyes, she started making another. ”Are you in it for the art or seeing ot’er people in pain? I ‘ear some people get off on it. Anot’er reason to know who is drawing on you.” One of the many reasons she didn’t have any new tattoos.

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Kiefer Carter
 Posted: May 21 2017, 11:25 PM
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Local
gustopholous


The man was not unaware of the intimation of pleasure that danced across her features as he pronounced the drink acceptable. It was strange to think that such an insignificant praise from an even more insignificant person could have an effect on her. It was possible that she wasn't as untouchable as he'd initially assumed... Though Kiefer could see how he'd been mistaken. This time, he allowed himself to study her, undress her, without embarrassment, reminded that he need not feel her lesser.
"You're Minuit, aren't you?" He'd heard of the name in passing, but never seen the absent proprietor. He'd expected her to be older, but now that she was before him, the stories seemed entirely believable. Nothing about her had to be exaggerated. Kiefer finished his drink without removing his eyes from her and returned the cup to the bar, ice rattling inside the empty glass. He had greater interests now than alcohol.
The woman playfully lauded his accomplishments, warning that he had better be wary of stalkers, and Kiefer laughed. She was making fun of him, wasn't she? He wasn't too self-important to laugh at himself. When the topic of tattoos arose, she displayed her decorated skin for him—As you see, I am not a stranger to ink—and even went as far as to deem it an honor to meet him. She wondered at his longevity in the art, and he had to pause.
"I've been there three years." Not quite three... And the first two, he'd specialized in piercings. Only the last year boasted any actual tattoo work. Without his asking, she began preparing another drink. When his motives were brought into question, Kiefer smiled.
"The art," he declared, unhesitating. And that was the truth. "There are better ways of hurting people."

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If life ain't just a joke, then why are we laughing?
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Minuit Estelle
 Posted: May 22 2017, 01:43 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


”You’re Minuit, aren’t you?” So he had heard of her. ”T’e one and only.” She didn’t see the point of saying anymore.

So, he had been at the tattoo parlor for three years. Hmm.. he might know a friend or two of hers. She was curious of his motivations. Some people were deeply in love with art, but a few were sadists. "The art. There are better ways of hurting people." Too true. ”T’ere certainly are. I prefer not to dwell on t’ose t’ings.. at least not at Stilettos.” Her eyes looked over his face thoughtfully, noting some change. She turned to move around the bar and head for her office.

”Excuse me, I need to get my t’ings.” She called. ”It will only take a minute.” It took far less. She returned with a small fashionable purse and a dress jacket. ”T’ere. Care to walk me out?” He should still be able to drive. She didn’t feel it was the kind of night that needed drunks, just a little alcohol and some conversation. ”You look strong enough to protect me.” Her lips curled in an impishly crooked smile, letting her eyes roam for only a moment as if measuring the muscles under his clothes.

The light click of her heels sounded loud in the quiet club. Minuit made her way down the hallway with the jacket over her shoulder, not looking back. She didn't need to.”It’s nice of you to stop by tonight. I do love a little company.” The old door opened before her with only a smile squeak. Weeks ago she’d gone after it with an oil can. It had been obedient ever since. ” Ah... I wanted to ask as you...." She paused just outside, slipping her arms into her jacket. "Did you work for Billy for a while? I was going to visit the shop to say ’ello, but it sounds like ’e is not t’ere anymore. Such a pity.“ It was sad to see friends go. The best ones should always stay close.

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Kiefer Carter
 Posted: May 22 2017, 02:37 AM
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Local
gustopholous


His wager, it appeared, was not unfounded. This was Minuit, t’e one and only. If she'd been humbled to meet the new owner of the Body Image, he was comparatively starstruck. Kiefer struggled to hide his interest, casting furtive glances over the rim of his glass. While she agreed that there were better ways to damage a body and soul, she preferred not to contemplate them. At least not at Stilettos.
She measured the change in him and, apparently not liking what she found, excused herself to get her things. In spite of the promise that it would only take a minute, Kiefer was disappointed to see her go. He wanted more... Of her and, granted, the alcohol. He regretted whatever misstep he'd taken. Before he could finish his second drink, she'd returned. Kiefer readily downed the liquid in order to oblige the woman's request of walking her out.
It was allowed that he looked strong enough, and a surge of confidence overtook him at the observation, accentuated by her surveying gaze. His arm was offered in a show of mock gentility, but his real aim was the feel of her hands on him, even by such an innocuous gesture. She was bewitching, truly. Had he already forgotten about Emily?
The lability seemed unforgivably disloyal. No, he would remember her, but not now. Not when faced with the devastation of going home alone. He couldn't bear it. Kiefer would stay out all night if it would delay the realization. Right now he couldn't, wouldn't, think of anyone but Min.
Their steps echoed throughout the abandoned building. The vastness of their empty surroundings was stifling. He hesitated at the doorway as she locked it. Did you work for Billy for a while? Mention of his old boss and mentor shifted his thoughts.
"Yes," the man answered haltingly. He couldn't say where their mutual acquaintance gone or what had become of him, so he left it at that. Just another unexplained disappearance. Lochland was becoming colder and lonelier one person at a time. Seized by this, he spoke suddenly.
"Don't go yet," he entreated. "We can just walk... or drive, if you like." Likely everything was closed by now. Kiefer had long ago lost track of the time, but he was far from sleep. He told her frankly: "I don't think I can go home." Minuit might not value such vulnerable, unattractive truths, but he couldn't not declare himself any better by denying them.

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If life ain't just a joke, then why are we laughing?
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Minuit Estelle
 Posted: May 23 2017, 01:06 AM
Quote
Newcomer
Kat


She didn’t know the man at her bar, but she could tell he was feeling better. He had a spark in him that told her it was safe to leave him alone without finding out tomorrow he’d jumped off a bridge. Heartbreak could be such a bitch. She’d felt it herself several times. In end she’d managed, and he would too. The worst he’d probably do now was send drunk texts he’d regret tomorrow when he woke up.

Now it was time to go home to pamper her feet and relax a little before bed. She ignored his offered arm in favor of letting her arm sway at her side. "Don't go yet. We can just walk... or drive, if you like." Her fingers opened the door in front of her with a smooth push. "I don't think I can go home." Minnie locked up before turning to him with a soft smile. ”She must ‘ave been quite a woman.” She murmured, humming as she plucked another clover cigarette from her pack. ”T’e best ones leave t’e worst pain.” Not that she knew Emily, but she liked to think that since she was one of her’s she had some class. Call it pride.

Winking, Minnie headed for her car, smoldering cigarette propped between her full red lips. ”If you can be’ave, you can come wit’ me. “ She could see already she wasn’t going to be pampering her feet tonight. Smoke floated of gently from her mouth in a delicate exhale. ”Not t’at I’m taking you ‘ome, but I’ll give you a little more of my time. Let’s ‘ead over to Gertie’s for a few. I could use a bite to eat, and it sounds like you want a place to stay... t’ough, if I were you I’d just crash in my tattoo parlor. At least you know you can’t get kicked out for loitering.” Just her opinion. she slipped the sleeve of her jack up to her elbow and flicked her cigarette away from her. somewhere in that purse of hers were her keys.

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Kiefer Carter
 Posted: May 23 2017, 06:51 AM
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gustopholous


((OOC: Sorry if this is shit. I am exhausted.))

While Kiefer, to any third party observer, could not appear too much attached to life (or limb, for that matter, judging by any attempt to preserve it), never had it occurred to him to intentionally end his existence. He was no stranger to disappointment, and, while it would be a blatant falsehood to claim that he did not feel this most recent example, heartbreak could no longer derail him as it once had. There was no life, no hope, no purpose to derail. It was intolerable to him to be alone, but there were always those willing to use and be used as a reprieve from the crushing silence... And their parting, understood from the start, was easily overcome.
Their relationship had been a novelty, but as immeasurable and unexpected as their euphoria had been, such was the devastation of its inexorable decline. The waning five months had seen its fill of jealousy and insecurity and forced indifference. Now that it was over, Kiefer, though he might never admit it, felt close to relief. He did not regret the pain. Like Icarus, he had learned. Only this fall had not ended him. It was, of yet, too soon to count this resilience a blessing. Kiefer felt lost, to be sure, but at least he was lost in a once familiar territory. It wouldn't take long to regain his bearings.
She must ‘ave been quite a woman.
"She was," Kiefer reflected somberly. It was a gravity befitting death. Kiefer made a decided effort to counter the mood with a light-hearted observation. "But I've never been much good at monogamy." The man's wry grin stopped short of his eyes. Although he could not promise to behave, the woman offered her time if not her home.
"Gertie's. Great," Kiefer agreed with subdued enthusiasm. He was grateful, but could not bring himself to say as much. The allure of alcohol was far greater than that of food. It would be foolishness to decline her generosity, though. The possibility of sleeping at the parlor was a new one to him and ingenious at that. It was, however, firmly dismissed.
"No," was the eventual resolution. "Gotta keep up appearances, you know?" As if an afterthought, he concluded: "I'll figure something out." Another worry for another time.

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If life ain't just a joke, then why are we laughing?
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