Chapter 2

“Just a mess. Some like it rough.” Zephyr said with less concern than Joulan would have liked. Joulan scrunched his face at that thought.  “Right, we can still do this.” Zephyr said as he made his way over to the dresser. He flung clothes onto the floor as he riffled through the draws.
“You’re going to dress up as a lady of the house now?” Joulan said with a little laugh. Zephyr turned to his friend holding a dark green garment.  “No, you are.”

“No.” Joulan said as he balled his fist. Zephyr straightened out the dress. It revealed the slender shape and very low neckline. It was inexpensive and made more to be torn off than shown off. “Joulan, it has to be you. He’d know me at first glance. And you’ve got…” Zephyr began.  “Long hair? This isn’t a joke Zep, this is too much.” Joulan said as his friend threw the garb at him. He ripped it from the air.  Zephyr then went to a cabinet, picked out two glasses and set them on a silvered platter. He began to pour from a bottle of wine that had sat inside the cabinet.
“Look, go in, put the tray down and pick the necklace up. They won’t even get a good look at you.” Zephyr said as his eyes pleaded with his friend.
“This is what you wanted Mitz for isn’t it Zep?” Joulan accused.
“Yes.” Zephyr said. His eyes drifted down.  Joulan stormed up to his friend and grabbed him by the shirt. He was taller and had slight more muscle too.  “You bastard. Fine, I’ll do this but that’s the last help you’ll get from either me or Mitz.“ Joulan said as he jostled his friend back. The act nudged the tray and a few drops of wine spilt upon the board parodying the spots on the bed.
In the shadows and low light the dress changed Joulan’s lanky figure into a petite pale pole. There was not enough time for powder or paint, not that either of them knew there use. Zephyr peeked out of the door. He heard the steps before he saw the origin.  A girl walked towards them armed with a bucket and other cleaning tools.
“Quick, hold the door.” Together they propped themselves against the wooden frame. A moment later the handle jiggled and there was pressure against them. It subsided and steps moved away to the neighbouring room. “Mists,” Zephyr said. “We got to do this now”. Another jiggle and then a door opened and then shut. Zephyr opened their rooms door and held it for Joulan as he stepped out into the hallway. Tray and glass goblets in hand. Their door shut as they heard the adjoining one open. Zephyr leaned down and peered through the keyhole to the overseers room. “Go, it’s laying upon a table to the right of the room next to his trousers.” Zephyr said.
The sound of laughter was cut off as Joulan made an abrupt entrance. Inside the chamber he saw that the tub now had two occupants. The lithe girl had joined Jayr in the bath.  “Hey!” Cherry said. “I got this room tonight!” She complained. Joulan just bobbed his head and made his way towards where the necklace lay in the opposite direction of the two.
“Refreshments!” The Overseer’s lusty growl came as he noticed the drinks. “Bring them here, girl.” He said. Water splashed against the tiled floor as the man sat up. The glasses rattled while Joulan decided what to do next. He chose to follow the command. With his head down he walked over to the couple . A vanity table sat next to the bathtub. Joulan placed the tray on top of it. A damp hand slid up the backside of Joulan’s dress as he turned to go. Joulan froze.

A wet slap resounded not a moment after.  Followed by a “Cheeky!” from Cherry. “You’ve got enough to handle.” She said. The hand slid away but left drops running down Joulan’s thigh. His body shivered but he was free. He made his way across the room and scooped up the pendant. Murmurs of pleasure resumed as he left. Light greeted him as he exited the chamber. Zephyr stood to the side just out of view of the entrance. Joulan held up the necklace and could see his friend’s eyes grow wide and a grin appeared. It was infectious. It was that same grin that had gotten them into trouble many times before but it only worked to an extent. The door to the room opposite opened. A girl with a mop stood in the doorway.
“What?” She said.

The boy’s bolted. Followed by incoherent shouts behind them. Joulan trailed behind Zephyr as they made their way down the narrow staircase and into the kitchen. The dress restricted his movement and made it hard to run but adrenaline coursed through both of their boy’s veins and they were young. They burst out of the kitchen and into the alleyway but didn’t slow their pace. Joulan glanced behind him. No one had followed them. Likely no one cared enough to give chase in the hallway but to a couple of young boys up to mischief it felt as if they were pursued by demons. Joulan got several weary looks from less than sober men as they crossed main street. Finally once they reached the lane opposite The Cathouse they stopped.

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