Larkin wasn’t kidding about us being overdressed either. Upstairs half the people were naked, and the others were just itching to strip their clothing off or reveling in their voyeurism. One person was wearing a tailor made, black bag on their head and nothing else. Well, except for a bandolier with condoms hanging off of it instead of bullets.
George leaned in to talk to Ava for a moment, and I couldn’t hear what was said; the music was blaring. Fortunately, it was not Larkin’s tunes, which I found to be in good taste; an artist who plays their own music at their party seems a little ego-centric. Cain took me by the elbow and led me to a bar, “C’mon, Compass, let’s get you lubricated.”
“Eh?” I’m not a fan on innuendo.
“Relax, hero. What’s your poison?”
“Glenfiddich. Do you have stones?” I told the nearly nude bartender.
“15 or 21? Sorry, no stones.” The bartender yelled back, “Want a cube?”
“Naw, neat is fine.”
“Make it a triple!” Cain yelled.
I turned toward him with a raised eyebrow.
“Saves time coming back. Your time and his time.” He eyed me, “What? You weren’t going to drink three?”
I nodded defeat, collected my generous triple and turned back toward Ruby. George and her jewelry were gone. Ava had her head on Ruby’s shoulder. As I watched Ruby’s blouse billowed looser, Ava had unbuttoned her.
“We should get something for the girls.” I said to Cain.
“Don’t bother, mate, I have them covered.” Cain grabbed a pineapple the bartender had just placed on the bar with his other hand, it was festooned with umbrellas, straws, and ribbons.
“Behold, I shall show you the power of my drink over yours!” Cain approached a group of nymphs and said, “Drink ladies?”
They giggled and eagerly bowed their heads over his pineapple and started sipping. He looked over his shoulder, cocked an eyebrow at me and smiled slightly as if to say, “See?”
I couldn’t help but laugh and nod, he’d won this round.
“Can I call you Compass?”
I turned to face this new voice and was startled to find myself looking into the glitter coated face of our host, Miss Bircus herself. She’d lost the short jacket she had been wearing and was down to a pair of loose cotton boxers and red toenail polish. Well, and the glitter. Normally I’m not tongue tied, but she’d caught me off guard, something she astutely realized almost immediately. “I am sorry, we haven’t been formally introduced. I am Larken Bircus.” She held out a dainty hand.
I shook it and said, “William Greer, friends call me Billy. I could get used to Compass again, though; it has been used a lot in the last few days.”
“No.” she shook her head, “I’ll call you Billy, if that’s what makes you happy.”
I was having a difficult time keeping my eyes on her face, and she laughed at me, put both hands under her breasts and held them up on her tip-toes, “Look! Touch! Caress!”
“I think I’m out of my league here.” I said looking away and cautiously sipping my whiskey.
Her hands unbuttoned my jacket, loosened my tie and undid my shirt underneath. “Billy, we’re here to have fun, safe, adult fun. Now, you’re a detective, at least that’s what I read on the web.”
“Are you good at your job?”
“One of the best.”
“Then, with all your powers of figuring puzzles out, how is this evening going to end?”
I thought about it for just a moment, smiled and quipped, “With me looking through piles of clothing to find my hotel key and phone?”
“Very good! Now go play, we’ll catch up later.”
I started to move away, but she pulled me down for a kiss. A kiss that left me wondering if she were searching for my tonsils or my dinner. She pulled back and smiled, “What are you drinking?”
“Whiskey.” I held the glass up, and she sniffed it before taking the glass out of my hand and taking a drink, “Sip!” I warned, “It’s for sipping not drinking, otherwise it just…”
She gasped and put a hand around her throat, for a moment I thought she’d been poisoned, then she flashed me a smile and slithered back up my chest like a python, “Not for me, but it was…exquisite tasting it on your tongue. Later, Billy!” With that, she was gone.
“All right, mate. I thought I’d won with the Lolita trio, but you managed to hook the best fish with whiskey and shatter my expectations all to hell.” Cain was back at my side. He guided me back to the others.
“Having fun, Billy?” Ava asked with a smile, she must have seen Larkin and me.
“It’s been interesting so far.”
She laughed and rubbed a finger across my upper lip, she held it up, and I saw that it was covered with glitter. I shrugged my shoulders, “So she’s just marking people then? I supposed that’s better than lifting her leg and peeing a bit on each of us.”
Cain burst out laughing and had to hold himself up on Carson to avoid falling. Ruby was giving me a calculated, indifferent smile. That let me know she had seen the kiss too and I’ve never been one to let such things drift by, “What, doll? It’s a party, and you’re the one who wanted to come.”
“Oh, Billy! It’s just when I saw her kissing you…”
“Hey, Ruby, we’re out of our league here. Cain says to just let it go and enjoy it. Just…play safe, okay? Not that you need my permission or anything.”
“Sometimes a girl wants permission.”
“Okay, fine. You have it.”
“I heard that we’re your witnesses.” Ava yelled with a giggle. Carson, the stamps!”
Carson got Cain upright and placed his hand palm side up in front of us. “E.”
There were a dozen tabs there, and Ava helped Ruby to one and Carson took his own. I shook my head, “I think someone has to be an adult here.” I took another sip of my drink.
Cain laughed and said with a grin, “Yeah, but not you, mate. Not tonight.”
Something was floating in my drink, it was a tab similar to the one Carson held in his hand. “What did you do?”
He held up his pineapple defensively, “Not me, her.” He pointed across the room at Larken. “Enjoy it, Billy. Go wild!”
I felt the walls I had firmly held in place slowly slipping away…someone else was gaining overt control. “What has she done?” I whispered and knocked back the rest of my glass. “Cain, I’ll be needing a pineapple.”