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Rhythm is a Dancer

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Subject: Party Time!

From: Grayson Fell

You know, you and I should get to know each other better.  I get the feeling you're not going to be on this bandwagon forever, and you never know when a friendly contact elsewhere might come in useful.

Seriously, we should go out and party.  All at my expense, naturally.  Arlon pays me so much money it's almost embarrassing and I've got to spend it on something.

I know some crazy places, including this members-only club in the Concession, where you can...  Ah, but that would be telling.  It's more fun finding out for yourself...

Yours,

Grayson

- - -

Grayson's not surprised that he has to go all the way to the Waterfront to find Elizabeth; whenever she's not running and gunning, she's sitting at the wharf overlooking the bay.  She's got ambitions that even money can't satiate and they've all taken root right here.

"You get my invitation?"  He asks, as-cool-as-you-please.

The Irishman stands from the crate full of dope and straightens her blazer.  Then, she turns those cold and dangerous criminal eyes upon him.  "Did you forget your formal signature, Fell, or are you trying to get familiar?"

"I asked you to a party, didn't I?"  Grayson recalls, never losing his cool.  There was a time in his life when the criminals of San Paro frightened him, but those days are long gone.

Elizabeth snorts a little in response.  "You still haven't given up your Praetorian fetishes."

"And what about you?"

"Badlands - born and raised."  He never would have guessed it, looking at her now, because Elizabeth never allows herself to be seen in a business transaction without a suit.  But he doesn't doubt her; he can see the badlands in her eyes.  "Parties are—"

"—something you couldn't afford," he finishes.  "You're moving up in the world, MacCailín.  Treat yourself."

- - -

The aggressive knock on the door is followed by a curt, "MacCailín?  It's Grayson - open up."

Touching up her hair for the fifth and final time, Elizabeth answers the door to find her date standing on the other side.  He's not carrying flowers or chocolate - or even a bottle of wine - and he doesn't wait for an invitation before pushing his way inside.

This is exactly why she gave him directions to a hotel room and not her apartment.

Hungrily, Grayson sizes Elizabeth up from behind those dark sunglasses and he licks his lips like some sort of animal.  He reeks of alcohol already, so Elizabeth blows him off, asking, "So?"

In contrast to the jeans and racer jacket Grayson's sporting, Elizabeth's dress is short and tight-fitting latex beneath a fiery blazer.  Typical.  She's trying to show him up with that edge of professionalism, even on a night like this.  With a single swipe of his hand, Grayson throws Elizabeth's blazer open and peels it off her shoulders.

"Better."

- - -

This members-only club in the Concession turns out to be a hoity-toity fetish club.

Loud music, overuse of a fog machine, and an endless flow of narcotics.  Life seems to move in slow motion under the intense strobe effects, painting her world in seductive shades of reds and purples; it effectively numbs even the most fine-tuned senses.

Elizabeth is caught like a fish in a trap on the dance floor—Grayson's trap—and she can tell by the wicked little smile that tugs at his lips that this is exactly what he had in mind when he invited her here.  "Live a little."

Between the drugs and the alcohol, they become glued to one another among the bump-and-grind on the dance floor.  The crowd crashes like a wave to the rhythm of an unfamiliar soundtrack.  It's hot - like Grayson's breath on her ear, her jaw, her neck, her shoulder - and she weaves long, slender fingers into his short hair.

Among the filth, Grayson stops short of working her bra out from beneath her dress.  Something feels wrong.  Like he's moving too fast, like he didn't come here tonight with the intention of taking advantage of Elizabeth.

He's had too much to drink.

- - -

Grayson wakes to the warmth of the morning—or is it afternoon?—sun in his face and, with a groan, he rolls himself over to escape the intrusive bright light.  He doesn't roll far before colliding with the bed's other occupant - Elizabeth MacCailín.

Sitting up too fast, he nurses his headache and demands, "Why are you still here, MacCailín?"

"Because this is my room," Elizabeth answers shortly.  She's wide awake with a book in her hands and it occurs to Grayson that she could have gotten up and gotten dressed while he was still fast asleep.  But she didn't.  She's sitting there with her book with bedhead hair and not a trace of makeup.  "Why are you still here?"

"You're right—" With a grumble, he moves to get up and dress himself before Elizabeth stops him.

Those long, slender fingers are warm against his cold bare back and it burns him up like a fever.  Without a hint of concern, she insists, "Lay down before you make yourself sick."  But when he looks back, the book is closed on the bedside table and her grey eyes are sincere.

It's not the hangover that's making him sick—it's her.