Eugene was the worst name for a vampire he'd ever heard heard. Mack eyed the crumpled creature at the end of the bar, keenly aware of how the bloodsucker's eyes tracked every step his new tavern wench took.
"That's going to be a problem," he muttered, polishing a tumbler. He'd been cleaning the same glass for a solid ten minutes.
"With that curse hanging over her like an executioner's axe? No, couldn't be a problem at all," drawled a slightly slurred voice beside him.
Mack quirked his brow, glancing down at the thoroughly sloshed Cesario. "Your mustache is falling off."
There was much swearing and tweaking as the Shakespearean refugee righted the offending facial hair.
Calponia's first day on the job produced several interesting results, including the revelation of the cross dressing young woman before him. For five years, Cesario drank his bourbon and never breathed a word about it until trouble on two legs started her first shift. The odd thing was, even though Cesario's identity as a woman had been revealed, she continued to dress and act as a man, much to the amusement of the tavern's clientele. Mack wondered about that, but it was personal policy to not pry into the private lives of his patrons.
'Never get involved'. A motto he'd upheld without difficulty for too many years than he'd readily admit.
Calponia grabbed another couple handfuls of tankards from the bar for the table of pirates, taking extra care in the over-sized loafers Mack loaned her. She made it all of three steps before her feet tangled over each other. Beer and wench went flying, straight to the floor. Eugene leaned back in a movement as casual as it was fast, snagging the back of her shirt before she slammed into the ground.
She 'oofed' hovering above the mess, her hair dragging through beer as the vampire slowly eased her up. The shirt ripped, right at his fingers.
"Good grief," said Mack, pinching the bridge of his nose. The vampire caught her a second time, hauling her up before the universe intervened. The main room fell rather silent, collectively holding its breath to see what other mishaps unfolded. When nothing exploded, they returned to their conversations.
Calponia stared at her feet, a right dripping mess. Mack frowned at her. Was she cringing? He set the glass down, nabbing a fresh towel to drape over her head. The way she flinched made him decidedly uncomfortable. She appeared to expect something awful to happen to her again. Not that he could do much to reassure her. The damn curse ensured that.
He set a hand on her shoulder, producing a key from the ring on his belt. "Upstairs, first door on the left. Go clean up girl," he said, resisting the urge to shake her out of her mopey mood. Her eyes darted up, quick, nothing more than a flash. His frown deepened. She took the key as if the metal burned her, hurrying up the stairs.
She slipped twice, pausing for a moment to recover her breath as she scrambled up out of sight. Mack shook his head.
Don't get involved. He turned the words over, pointedly not glancing back to the stairs. He shook his head, unable to dislodge his current train of thought. The vampire scowled at him from across the bar. Eugene was rather good at it, with the fangs in all, but Mack had spat in the face of much more frightening demons. He simply waited.
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***Winner of the Wattys 2016 for Hidden Gems*** The Edgewise exists everywhere and nowhere. A sanctuary to all realms, should you find the door. Managed by one Macklemore Edgewise, proprietor, guardian of the between places, and barman of mystery...