The lady regarded him quietly for a moment and then laughed a harsh laugh. “That man is my husband,” she corrected, though, fortunately, she didn’t sound so pleased about it.
“Oh,” Fiearius replied, widening his eyes in false surprise. “Oh, I’m sorry. I–I just assumed he wasn’t–well…”
Her eyes flicked towards him suspiciously, but there was a distinct hint of interest there too. She took the bait. “You assumed what?”
“Well, I mean…” Fiearius muttered awkwardly, looking down at his feet. “I’m sure he is a great man, but…someone such as him and…someone such as yourself, I didn’t think–It’s none of my business, terribly sorry, ma’am.”
A coy, flattered smile pulled across her face and she took a step towards him for the first time. “Aw, aren’t you sweet,” she cooed softly. “But wrong, I’m afraid. He is my husband.” Her eyes flickered briefly to the fireplace as she grumbled bitterly, “As little as he acts like it…”
This was almost too easy. “Well he is an ingrate to forsake such a gift as yourself,” he stated simply and bowed his head again. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we have business to–”
“Hang on,” she said immediately, stepping towards him again. “Maybe I can help.” Fiearius cocked a brow at her and she closed the gap even further. “What are you looking for…exactly?”
Fiearius eyed her warily. “Potential threats. Unsecured weaponry. Unsavory individuals…” he told her slowly, letting the words roll off his tongue delicately.
As the lady of the house smiled at him shyly, he felt Corra glaring at him, silently urging him to finish this. And for once, he agreed. He needed to hurry it up before it fell apart.
“I don’t know about any threats,” the woman went on thoughtfully. “Nor any weaponry. And the only unsavory individual I’ve seen…is standing right in front of me.”
“Well I’ve full faith in your observation, ma’am.” Fiearius smirked at her, “But I’m gonna need to apply my professional opinion as well, if that’s alright by you.”
She returned the smirk and held out her arm, the silk sleeve of her robe sliding back to reveal her pale, dainty wrist. “By all means.”
With a nod to Corra, who diligently went about pretending to inspect the sofa cushions, Fiearius started opening drawers in the dresser, sifting through the books on the nightstand and running his hands through the curtains. Only when the two of them had scoured the entire room did he even approach the vanity and gently undo the hinge on the jewelry box.
Inside, there it was: the ornate oval necklace, the crown jewel, the prize. Even Fiearius, who knew exactly nothing about even the cheapest jewelry, had to appreciate how this piece shined so brightly he nearly had to squint.
Just then, he felt four slender fingers on his shoulder. “Mr. Levistus,” breathed the woman in his ear, “what kind of woman do you take me for?”
Reluctantly letting the lid fall shut, Fiearius turned around to find Sanilac’s wife standing far too close for comfort, though it wasn’t suspicion or anger in her eyes for the attempted theft of her property. No, it was something very different.
“A lady doesn’t keep weaponry in her jewelry box,” she said softly, practically whispering in his ear. Briefly, Fiearius caught Corra’s eye across the room. Her arms were crossed over her chest impatiently as she mouthed ‘hurry up!’ Again, he was inclined to agree.
“I have to check everywhere, ma’am,” he said promptly and, in a decision he would come to regret, put his hand on her hip to push her away,
Unfortunately, just as did so, the door opened and a voice gasped. “Marjorie?!” As the woman (Marjorie, apparently), spun around dramatically to face her accuser, Fiearius too peered over her shoulder at the man standing in the doorway.
He was middle-aged, also dressed in a robe, his dark hair damp. His handsome face was contorted into a look of shock.
“Marsden,” said the woman distastefully as she crossed her arms over her chest and sidled closer to Fiearius who sidled further away.
The man marched further into the room. “Marjorie, what is–” he began and looked down at Corra who blinked up at him with wide-eyed innocence, her lips sealed shut. “Who are these people?” he demanded. His eyes swung madly to Fiearius. “Who is he?”
“A friend,” she said at once, seizing Fiearius’ hand and not letting go despite him trying to yank it away.
“A friend?” Marsden repeated bitterly, stalking towards them. “A friend?!”
“Yes, Marsden, a friend,” Marjorie replied sharply, turning on her heel to glare at him, effectively stopping his onslaught in its tracks.
“A friend….” he growled yet again. “Have I not been friend enough for you?”
Marjorie expelled a massive ‘humph’ and rolled her eyes. “Oh please, you’re just as bad as Sanilac lately! Neither of you respect me. You both just want to hang me on your arm like a trophy. You claim love, but it’s a lie.” She swung her attention back to him and finished sharply, “I was a fool to think something between a lady and a servant would work. You’re just in it for the status. You don’t love me.”
“And he does?” Marsden pleaded incredulously, gesturing to Fiearius.
“No,” Fiearius replied immediately, as Marjorie blurted, “Yes!”
Fiearius raised his eyebrows. He was no stranger to ending up in uncomfortable situations during a job. He had come to expect them, actually. But as common as gun battles, fist fights and hostage situations were, this had to be the first time he ended up in the middle of lover’s quarrel …
“Yes he does,” Marjorie declared with so much drama in her voice that Fiearius practically believed her. “More than my husband and certainly more than you ever did.”
“No, I really don’t,” Fiearius felt the need to point out, glancing at Corra for help. She had her hand on her temple, shaking her head slowly at this unfolding soap opera.
“How dare you?!” Marsden demanded, apparently not hearing him. “Get your filthy hands off of her!”
Really not helping matters, Marjorie said shrilly, “He can put his filthy hands wherever he likes!” Which only served to piss the guy off even more. Fiearius could see the rage rising in his eyes. Beads of sweat were forming on his forehead. His fists were beginning to clench and any moment…
“You son of a bitch!” he cried and lunged.
Fiearius was prepared when Marsden swung his first blow. He parried his fist away and took a step back, dodging the second. Fortunately, skilled a lover as Marsden may or may not have been, he was certainly no fighter. He mostly seemed to just flail in Fiearius’ general direction and hope that one of his arms was strong enough and fast enough to do some damage.
After only about a minute, Fiearius had enough: in one expert motion he seized the man’s wrist and twisted, effectively holding him in place as he let out a yelp of pain.
“Now hang on just a minute here,” Fiearius began calmly, trying to ignore the look of sheer pride exuding from Marjorie as the men ‘fought over her’. “I don’t give a damn about your mistress, alright?” And then that look of pride sank into a look of betrayal. “I’m just here for this.” With his free hand, he reached over to the jewelry box and roughly yanked out the necklace. “Just this. That’s all.” He looked sharply at both of them, in turn. “And now I have it. So I’m going to leave. Leave you two to…do whatever it is you need to do.”
He used his grip on Marsden to shove him towards Marjorie, who caught the man as he proceeded to nurse his poor, injured wrist in her arms. The necklace in hand, Fiearius turned towards the door and headed towards it, nodding for Corra to follow.
Fiearius only made it a few steps though before he felt a sudden weight attach itself to his back and skinny arms encircling around his neck.
“Give that back, you lying thief!” Marjorie shrieked, clawing at him furiously. Staggering back on his feet, he tried to shake her off, but it only made her more angry. Her legs locked around his, her hand latched into his hair and she yanked him backwards, nearly pulling him off his feet.
“Aggh, get off!” he growled, swiping at her with his arm helplessly. Directly behind him, she was just out of his reach, clinging to his back and relentlessly trying to bring him down.
As one of her sharp fingernails barely missed his eye, Fiearius threw Corra a pleading look to do something to stop this. Unfortunately, Corra seemed to be rather enjoying the show. Still poised impatiently, she was watching Fiearius battle with the parasitic woman on his back with a smirk on her face.