“Before they kicked me out?” Came a curt reply. Ariella rushed forward and grabbed the rags of Joulan’s shirt.
“Like the dregs?” She pushed hard.
“No!” Shouted Zephyr. One of the lads blocked his path.
Joulan pitched backwards. His grip on the barrel waned and it tumbled with him. He hit the ground with a solid thump. With luck the drum had fallen on top of him and he now cradled it in his arms. Ariella moved with a rabid ferocity. She raised her bare foot to kick the downed boy.
“Stop, stop! I have coin!” Zephyr said. This paused the attack.The girl turned back to him.
“Give it to me.” She said.
“Wait. “ Said Zephyr as he put his own cask down.
“I do this five times a week. If you let us go now I’ll give you one in five.” He said eyes locked between her and his friend.
“Two.” She said as she took a step away from Joulan. “Two in five.” Ariella said with a mocking grin.
Zephyr’s brows furrowed. “Fine.” He dug a coin, the one Con had given him, out of his only pocket and lobbed it to her.
“Hey, that’s just one!” said one of the club wielding boys.
“I’ll give you another tomorrow. “ Zephyr said, speaking to Ariella rather than the boy.
She halted for a moment but then nodded her agreement. “Tomorrow, here, or else I’ll find yous.” She said with a drawl. With one last hard look at Zephyr and Joulan she and her minions backed away into the night.
Zephyr let out a full sigh and walked over to his friend. He moved the barrel and then offered his hand. Joulan took it eagerly. Freed from the weight he tried to get his feet under him but had to perch on the keg to catch his breath. He swept his long hair from his now sweaty brow and then eyed the unlit parts of the alleyway. “Remind me not to run errands with you again.” Joulan said. Zephyr had picked up his barrel and had it over his shoulder.
“Coin’s hard to come by though, a bloody nose would have been cheaper.” Joulan said as he mimicked Zephyr.
“Would of taken too long.” Zephyr said. “We’re late as it is, come on.”
“Yes, Boss.” Joulan replied.
They rose and made their way to their destination. Madame Boswells.
The Cathouse grew busier as the evening drew on with patrons flowing in and out of the main entrance. Fortunately there was a service entry that Zephyr led them to. He gave the door a knock a good half dozen times. An irate but soft voice shouted various insults through the wooden door. A slit opened to reveal a pair of hazel eyes framed by a blend of pink and blues. They bounced from left to right through the horizontal slit until they finally came rest upon Zephyr.
“Zep!” Came a high pitched screech. The door swung open and light poured into the street silhouetting the two boys. Inside the doorway stood a slender woman covered in paint, powder and other various makeups that gave her a bright complexion. “And you brought a friend! You lazy brute, you made her carry the Ale for you?” The woman said with a cheery smile.