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Jacinda smoothed the dress over her hips as she looked in mirror. It was a dark purple silk with gold accents at the hip and bosom. Not too low cut, though. Not that she was remotely modest. But she wanted to look like she belonged, not draw attention to herself. Her hair was done in a stylized braid that hung over one shoulder. The jade earrings complemented the dress.

The Villa she stayed in was small but a nice place for all that. She'd not stayed with Ricky after the quetz hunt. She wasn't upset with him. In a way, he'd saved her life. Under normal circumstances, after a hunt like that when the blood was hot and the fight had been good, she woulda had a nice vigorous bout of wrestling with him to celebrate. In the cave even.

But he was too busy worrying about the girl. Not that Jacinda didn't care, not really. Just that the hunt never stopped. The girl was out and if she was smart, she'd be able to make it on her own now. Instead, Ricky had decided to adopt her or whatever. Play house anyway. The kid was good-hearted. And a fool. He had no idea what he was getting into.

Not her concern, though. Not her life. So she'd kicked around the city for a few days. Ricky's intel was dry anyway. But in a dive bar she'd started hearing stories about the American, Oakland, and his taking on of the cartels. Not that local politics interested her. Rather, the things she heard about Oakland. The whispered rumors about abilities. Her ears had perked up at that. She did more digging and the rumors grew. Both of his background and of more recent activity.

It had been a long time since she'd hunted a god. Usually, the ones she'd gotten were pathetically sick and weak. Easy prey. Once, she'd taken out an entire family. There were twins who would call on the power. If ever there was clear justification for terminating a bloodline, that was it. She'd been good at it. Made it look like an accident. Still, a part of her hadn't been completely cool with the whole thing. But that had been a long time ago and she'd not had to do that since.

This Oakland though, if he was a god, he would be a new challenge. He was not sick or weak. Obviously. His power was something he consciously used. This would be a real hunt. So she had gotten closer, paid off people, learned what she could. There was some sort of public function the man was having in connection with the local government. Looked like they got their balls back now that they had a new player in their midst. Pathetic.

It hadn't been hard coming up with a cover to get in, nor some fake ids. She always had them with her. Today she would be Lucy Nolan, a reporter for an obscure American media outlet, a persona she'd used before. A search on the internet would even show articles that she'd "written" and published. Anticipation stirred in her as she made sure that she looked the part. She always felt this way when starting a new hunt.

Satisfied she'd fit in and be able to gather intel, she went to the car she'd ordered up and it delivered her to the Governor's mansion where the fete was being held. She held her purse in her hand with a few necessary items. She was relatively unarmed, aside from the small wooden knife at her thigh and the chopsticks in her hair the doubled as weapons. She breathed a sigh as she passed through the detectors without incident.

People milled about and she had second thoughts about her dress. She could've been nearly topless and wouldn't have stood out. As in the dresses of so many of the younger women- arm candy clearly- were as low cut as physically possible without falling off. One or two caught her eye and she smiled cat-like. She did like a nice form and she had to give it to them. They knew how to show off. But she wasn't here for that.

Her eyes scanned the room even as she took a flute of champagne from a passing waiter. It did not appear that Oakland had arrived yet. She took a sip, enjoying the tickle of the bubbles in her nose.
Dane continued to reside in the hotel condo following his introduction to Damien. Until invited otherwise.

Thus, on the night of the party, the soft footfalls of cream suede loafers strolled up the drive after being released from a taxi cab. The women in view were dressed fine, but he was much more immaculately attired than they. Mexico City lacked a comparable to Savile Row, but Dane made the cream silk of his suit worthy of tonight's affair, not the other way around.

At the gate, an arm stretched its way across his path. A softness in Dane's eyes, smoother than the milky cream of his suit, peered up the length of that arm. "I'm allowed inside,"
he spoke gently.

The man checked the list in his possession. "Name?"

Behind, Damien's guards exchanged silent words. Dane looked back to the man with the list. Others were waiting in line. He had the urge to tell him.

One of those guards quickly turned the man with the list aside. A dove-like smile parted Dane's mouth.

Surprise whitened the face of the man with the list. He quickly welcomed Dane, and the gate opened before him.

"Thank you,"
Dane spoke as he passed, laying a hand on the man's arm as he did.

Inside, Dane was greeted with all the glittering light of a party.

He hated parties.

Yet he smiled and snatched a glass of champagne to hold as he walked around. He didn't intend to drink any.

Edited by Dane Gregory, Jan 5 2015, 12:13 PM.
She watched the guests carefully as she waited for Oakland to show. Body language told her what she needed to know. They might as well have worn numbers indicating their importance or wealth.

A woman who entered on the arm of a very attractive far younger man stood tall and regal, surveying the scene while the man moved as if nearly invisible. Arm candy. She wouldn't have minded some candy at the moment.

Others came in and she pegged them as well. These were all the higher ups in the city and they moved about with a bit of relief. Oakland had given them some breathing room, after all. Though she had no doubt that many would have and had attended parties thrown by the cartels too. Such was the nature of politics. Sleep with whoever gives you an advantage. They were pathetic.

The looks people gave each other showed interest and friendliness while positioning of arms and set of chin gave truth to the lie. No one seemed to want to overtly show dislike, though.

Except for one man. He walked in as if he owned the place, surveying his kingdom. If she had not seen pictures of Oakland she would have assumed this was he. He was a slender young man who held himself as if the world and the people in it were his toys and he knew it.

It was clear some of the guests knew it too. There was no hiding their disdain. She caught little snippets of hushed and shocked conversation. So this man was in Oakland's inner circle, huh? She put on a friendly smile and maneuvered herself so that gradually she got closer to him.

Soon, she was standing next to him idly sipping on her drink while watching the sycophants. "Pathetic isn't it?"
she said with a smile.
Dane laughed when someone told a joke, but the retorts in Spanish made him glare and walk away. He couldn't stand to subject his hearing the poor player that took his turn at the piano pounded out, so he wandered into a farther parlor where a group chat about one of the paintings. It made him miss sketching his mockinbirds, but having promised Damien to set aside his villainous persona, he'd not sketched them since. Other things, however, he might doodle as boredom grew.

He was watching the bubbles rise in the golden liquid of his glass when a distorted, purple reflection caught his gaze. A woman spoke. Dane blinked and tried to study what she may have referenced, but nothing unusual stood out to him. Perhaps she referenced the Mexicans' poor tastes in tailors. It was what Dane would have described.

A posh accent responded, bored, and a trifle irritated that he was so unsure of which particular element in view was the pathetic one. "What is, my dear?"

She wasn't particularly attractive, even in that dress. The style was ill-suited to the harsh demeanor she posed: too flirty and feminine, at odds with the muscular cut of her arms, the broadness of her shoulders, and the clip of her tongue. Blood red would have been more classic on her: simple lines, diamond jewelry. That was what Dane would have selected she wear.

He of course was far too polite to indicate as such, though. And since she smiled first, he returned the favor.
Edited by Dane Gregory, Jan 5 2015, 07:18 PM.
She was surprised at the accent. After so much Spanish, to hear a cultured English accent was out of place. It seemed to confirm that, at the very least, this man was unique.

She turned her head so that she could watch him peripherally. "Them. I would wager half the people here were probably at a cartel party last week."
She took another sip. "My guess is that as soon as Oakland leaves, this country and town will return to what it was."
She waved it all away as if it were nothing. "The way of the world."

She turned to look at him. He was not bad looking, though not her type, with those refined features and delicate build. Probably break a hip or something if she tried to manhandle him. Probably all that aristocratic inbreeding. Of course she'd never say any of that to him.

"You're a long way from home,"
she said feigning casual interest.
While his companion described flickering loyalties, Dane's gaze roamed across the faces she described. "You're here too,"
he pointed out the obvious. By her own definition she was as pathetic as the rest. More, simply because she did not recognize her own hypocrisy.

Bored, his gaze roamed to that of a quiet man standing alongside the room. Hard lines crimped the corners of Teodoro Baxa's eyes. A scar cut across one ear and burn marks pimpled his knuckles. His otherwise crisp suit jacket was undone, leaving room for holstered pistols beneath. He was not one of the sycophants described by this woman. Nor was his companion standing against the opposite wall: Salvino Cobian, younger than Baxa, but just as grim of expression. Neither man drank, like Dane, but at least he was holding a glass in the pretense of partying. Dane's idea of fun differed greatly from theirs.

Baxa and Cobian were but two of the presence of many of Damien's guards. Just for fun, Dane moved to a balcony. Teodoro Baxa, the nearest of the two, shifted so that Dane remained in his line of sight. Like pulling the strings on a puppet.

He peered over one shoulder, delicate eyes falling back to the mannish woman in his presence. "Dane Gregory, Lord Dane, if it were not for the Custody's dissolution of the peerage. And the fact that my grandfather still wastes space in this world."
If the old man would finally stop breathing, the worthless Earldom would pass to Dane's father and bring him one step closer to the respect he deserved. Until then, bowing.. or begging ..subjects would suffice.

He offered one elegant hand to shake hers. Around a delicate finger was a thick gold ring.

She smiled at his comment and had no interest in correcting his misunderstanding. I am here. But not for what you think. The man stared off at two hard looking men in the corner. The way they stood, focused on him, said that he was important. But perhaps not as she had thought. Members of an inner circle might have a guard or two present. But never that looked at him as if he was the danger.

She was tempted to leave him to his watchers and continue her recon when he moved toward the balcony and then turned to her and introduced himself, offering his hand. Inwardly, she rolled her eyes even as she gave her own cover name. "Lucy Nolan."
Another pansy-ass who thought himself royalty or some such. His hands were soft and delicate and feminine, far more than her own. She had no doubts of her own attractiveness. She'd seen the hunger in men's eyes quite often. But this man displayed none of it. It was entirely possible his interests ran to other men.

She eyed the two guards again. Was that the reason? Mexican culture still had a strong machismo sentiment despite decades of social reform. Still, it seemed unlikely that would be the reason.

Curiosity peaked, she didn't look away from the men while she spoke to him. "Your friends don't seem much impressed with your lineage."
She wanted to laugh at him. Peerage. She decided to be a bit rougher with him. "Does Oakland distrust men of distinction such as yourself?"
Lucy? An outdated name.

She'd noticed who Dane had spotted, which meant she was trying to determine just what function he played in Damien's court. Perhaps he was a ransom held by the Mexicans for leverage or sport. Maybe he was a rabid dog incapable of being let off the leash. Or perhaps he was what he really was: a killer and those two guards were his goons. Miss Lucy Nolan would like to know, and Dane did enjoy tugging the hook he'd stuck through her cheek.

He gazed into the courtyard below. A duo of men, one smoking a cigar, the other holding a glass of port, spoke softly to themselves below. Dane placed the champagne flute on the railing and offered his freed palms for Lucy. "Do you really think so? I always find it difficult to determine when someone does or does not trust me. Actions speak louder than words. Will you dance with me?"
As he reached to turn her aside, his elbow nicked the glass. It tumbled silently from the edge and struck the head of one of those two men. Dane did not wait to see what happened, he knew that the individual would be taken for medical care. Stitches would be needed once the shards of glass were pulled from his scalp. Damien's people would see to it he was escorted from the grounds without interrupting the party. True, as nobody on their floor, or even the others on the balcony, realized what happened below.

Hopefully he made it home from the hospital safely. Hospitals were not always the safest places in a city.

He was a curious one. She had trouble figuring out his role with Oakland. He moved about freely....but had an obvious guard. People did not hide their distrust of him...and it didn't bother him at all. Oakland's keeping him around said something, though what it was she didn't know.

It seemed her first cast had caught something. Now to reel it in and see what it was. She brushed aside his casual statement and took his hands. Dancing could be fun. And if she earned a bit of his trust, perhaps she could learn more about Oakland's operation.

He moved about effortlessly and she quickly fell into step with him. Despite her assessment of him, she found herself enjoying his complete indifference. He was what he was and did not care to pretend otherwise.

Strangest of all, despite the very real differences between this manicured, cultured and physically unimposing man and the massive, earthy and masculine Regan, there was something eerily similar. She had not expected that at all. No man she was with ever reminder her of Regan.

She was surprised to find her smile was real.
He spent the rest of his evening in Lucy's company. She behaved quite pleasing for normal social standards. They danced. Dane flirted. He brushed her exquisite braid behind her shoulder. He pulled the strap of her dress higher when it slumped. He straightened her necklace. He jingled her earrings playfully. Then of course, Dane's smile was intense.

His two Mexican brothers remained closeby, but Dane ignored them for the most part. Until at some point in the night when he was flagged by one of them. He politely excused himself from Lucy's company and joined Teodoro on the balcony. They spoke quietly for a few moments. "--what hospital--?"
he mouthed. After Teodoro answered, Dane peered out into the night, a faint smile on his lips, and nodded. At that point he returned to Lucy to bid her farewell.

"It was a pleasure to meet you, miss Nolan. Thank you for the company of your dance. I hope to see you someplace more intimate next time."
He glanced out the corner of one eye, pinning his two shadows to the walls by the ferocity of his gaze. With that, he slipped Lucy's hand into his and kissed her knuckles.


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