Chapter Fifteen

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          "Thank you for coming with me, Naylin," Siobhan said as she adjusted the front of her dress. She pulled it as low as it could go before becoming improper, a common sight among the female patrons of Rosie's. Though she wasn't gifted with an abundance of size, the tightness of the corset under the dress made her appear bigger than she was. It was awkward and uncomfortable, almost so tight she couldn't breathe. Women who wore a dress like this on a regular basis baffled her. Hell, wearing a dress on a regular basis was strange. Pants were so much more comfortable to her. They were better for riding, better for hunting, and generally better overall.

"Of course, M'lady." Naylin sat on the edge of Siobhan's bed, surrounded by the three remaining bags. The way she crossed her legs made her look more like a child than a young woman. Her dark hair hung in a loose mess against her skin. She was too young to be in a place like Rosie's and far too young to be on her own. Though she claimed to be nineteen, Siobhan was suspicious.

"For the rest of my stay here, when we're in earshot of anyone else, do not call me M'lady. If you need me to have Rosie instruct you of this, I will. It's imperative that I'm nobody of importance. If anyone asks, I am Ilene and I'm here for a good time. Wren doesn't exist, you've never seen him, you don't know him, understand?"

"Nay, I dunna understand. Perhaps it's better this way. I heard tales of these Vanguard Generals, so less I know may help."

"Perhaps." Siobhan sighed. "Can you handle those three bags at once?"

Naylin nodded.

"If the crimson-cloaks, are already here then I will need you to take them to Elias and be as discreet as possible. If they aren't here, we'll go together."

"I is yer servant."

"No, you're my friend. If we didn't need to keep up certain appearances, I wouldn't be asking you to carry my bags."

Naylin frowned. "Ya aren't like other ladies I've met who frequent Rosie's. They care more about getting a good lay then other people."

"That's because I'm not a lady." Siobhan winked. "Come, let's go and hope they're not here yet."

"If I could make a suggestion first." Naylin slipped off the bed and scurried to Siobhan. She didn't wait for approval before grabbing Siobhan's hair. The braids hung free as Naylin worked on the rest of the hair. "Most ladies who come here tie their hair up. I asked some of the male entertainers why, and they say it's because it saves time. Hair out of the way, freedom for . . .uh . . . lips I guess."

Siobhan laughed at the color tinting Naylin's dark cheeks. "Easier access to the neck. Understood."

Naylin stepped away and adjusted the loose braids to hang over Siobhan's shoulders. When she tilted her head, she swished her lips from side to side. One hand reached for Siobhan's head and pulled on some of the tangled strands not holding in place, making them frame Siobhan's narrow face. They curved over Siobhan's chin and merged with the loose braids.

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