Secrets of Hidden Places
Melanie took a deep breath, inhaling the soft smell of wood smoke and the sour, sharp smell of old beer. The bar was large, and crowded tables filled the space. She edged forwards, her tights snagging on the splinters in the floor. She glanced down; the wood of the floor was marked with furrows as though a pack of sharp-clawed wolves had dwelt here. Feeling eyes on her, Melanie looked at the bar. Sharp black eyes glared fiercely at her, making her flinch. The woman was bone thin; her greying hair pulled harshly back, making her skeletal appearance much more prominent. Melanie almost fled under the glare, but a hand on her back pushed her forwards.
“Pretty girl.” The boy smiled at her and steered her into the bar. “Raywin you frighten our first new face this Festival. How are we to live if you behave so?”
“Fool Una, Nit has already served her.” The woman, Raywin, said ‘served’ in such a way that Melanie shivered. Una clicked his tongue.
“Nit.” He looked to Melanie, smirked and jumped over the bar. “Her drinks are sticky sweet.” He leant closer till he was almost nose to nose with Melanie. “I can give you something much nicer.” Melanie swallowed the lump in her throat and felt the heat in her belly claw its way up her neck and over her face. Una’s eyes wandered down her body and slowly back to her face, his smile widened.
“What do you recommend?” Melanie said triumphantly that her voice remained steady. Una’s self-satisfied smile became a smirk.
“Many things.” He turned and opened a cupboard filled with bottles. Melanie still felt the burn of Raywin’s glare and risked a look at her out of the corner of her eye. Raywin was watching her, but her look was no longer a glare, it was desperate. Melanie felt her throat clench; she couldn’t breathe. The thump of a shot glass landing in front of her snapped her eyes away from Raywin. Una took her hand and wrapped it around the glass.
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