The night was dark, though it was still early. Grimory made his way to the tavern, wanting to drink away the day of following orders on the Fel Hammer. As his hand reached the handle, his fingers brushed against the back of a red leather gloved hand. They both retracted their hands to apologize, until they looked at each other. Grimory would have recognized the pointed red hat over the rude scowl anywhere.
“Get your own tavern,” he growled.
Crorinu spat at his feet and grabbed the door handle. “Bite me.”
“With pleasure,” he said, lifting his upper lip in a sneer and revealing his sharp fangs of teeth.
The rogue sneered and opened the door swift enough to try hitting him. He caught it and growled as he followed her inside, deciding a drink was more important than avoiding one person—which was easy enough to do in a tavern.
But not this tavern.
The small room was packed, except for one corner with a booth. The demon hunter ordered a pint and dropped into the booth. He stopped dead in his tracks as a dagger embedded in the wood just beside his ear.
“That seat’s taken.”
He met the green eyes of the rogue and ripped the dagger from behind him. After a moment twirling it in his fingers, he smirked. “Drink you for it.”
She eyed his beer and sneered. “I’m not drinking watered-down piss.”
Grimory brought down his fist to embed the dagger in the table, then raised a hand for the barmaid. “How do you like gin?”
When the barmaid stood over them, the rogue’s lips gave the faintest glimmer of a smile to the woman, and Grimory’s disposition toward her softened just the smallest bit.
“Bottle of rum and shot glasses, please.” Her smile faded as the woman left. Crorinu cast a pinched expression back on the man. “I will drink you under this damn table, Curls.”
Grimory grinned, partly at what seemed more like a pet name than an insult. “I wouldn’t be too sure about that.”
When the shot glasses were filled, Grimory lifted his as a sort of toast; Crorinu ignored the gesture and drank her shot. When the first bottle was finished, they ordered another. Halfway through the bottle the rogue narrowed her eyes at him.
“Sho, what’sh the deal with you an’that…thing in the robesh?”
Grimory blinked slowly, not quite sure how to respond. He gauged the woman’s level of intoxication, unsure if she was drunker than he. “We’re…jusht friendsh.”
The smile from earlier threatened her lips. “Shad about it?”
He chuckled and shook his head. “Nope.” He poured another shot into each glass. “Why are you shuch a bitch?”
“Why are you shuch a cockbite?”
“You robbed me.”
She pinched her lips then poured another round. “I gave it back.”
“But then you shtabbed me.”
She giggled. “A lot. And it wash worth it.”
Grimory stared at her lips, admiring the curve as the soft sound rang from between them. He took his shot and stared at her long, smooth neck as she tilted her head back to swallow her own. His eyes traveled over her fingers curled around the mouth of the glass as she set her knuckles to her lips and sighed. Then a real smile escaped, pressing into her eyes as a blush spread beneath the freckles over the bridge of her nose. He poured another round, his eyes trained on the feather stuck into her cap as she stared down at her hand.
“Giving up?” he asked.
“You look pretty trashed.”
“You look pretty trashed!” She swallowed the shot. “I’m gunnawiiin.”
They were near the end of the bottle when Grimory started to really feel the effects. He leaned his cheek against his fist.
“You c’n hol’ your liquor better’n mosht people your shizhe.”
She grinned lazily as though it was a compliment. “I’ve had practish.”
He chuckled, his eyes wandering down to the vest. He thought back on the Winter Veil party, vaguely noting it was the only time she hadn’t been covered neck to foot in clothing. He remembered the scars on her abdomen. It would have been impolite to ask, but in his drunken state he didn’t stop to think about that.
“What’sh the deal with thoshe shcarsh? Where’d’ya get ‘em?”
The rogue looked away, her eyes going dark. “Tanaan.”
He blinked lazily at her. “What happened?”
She stared at him, her fingers lazily spinning the glass around on the tabletop. “Y’wanna get outta here? Maybe get a room upshtairsh?”
He didn’t stop to think about it, but pushed to his feet and held out a hand to her. The tavern was still packed and she was forced to walk pressed against him. Grimory wrapped an arm behind her back, setting his hand on her narrow waist to keep her from falling over or getting lost in the crowd. At the door to the room, she dragged him into frantic kisses, causing his hands to fumble with the lock. Inside, she took off her hat and lifted a foot to get her boot off, but stumbled and fell laughing against him. His smile fell as he looked at the top of her blonde head. Her hair was coiled in a mess of a bun typically hidden under her hat.
The demon hunter straightened her as she ripped off one boot. He looked into her eyes and she chewed shyly on her bottom lip.
“You’re too drunk.”
“Like shit I am,” she hissed, bringing up her other foot to removed the boot. “C’mon, Curlsh, you know you wanna.”
“I didn’t shay I didn’t wanna, jusht that you’re—” He stopped, jerking as she grabbed at his belt.
She smiled up at him and he sighed, just missing as her eyes fluttered. She swayed and tipped. Grimory reacted slowly, barely catching her as they both fell onto the bed. She blinked at him.
“Shee? Already have me on the bed.”
Crorinu nodded and closed her eyes. “Jusht a little.”
Grimory set his palm over his face and grimaced, ignoring the firm bulge in his trousers still waiting for action. He let out a heavy breath and turned back to the rogue, whose eyes were closed and her breathing soft.
“I win.” He smirked.
He pulled the blanket down at the corner and lifted Crorinu, then set her under the cover. He eyed the daggers on her vest and began undoing the clasps holding the article around her, so she wouldn’t end up stabbing herself if she rolled over. Her hands shot to his as he reached the bottom and her eyes searched the room frantically. She relaxed and pressed a palm to her forehead.
“Not what?” he asked as she released him and let him removed the vest and her shirt with it.
Grimory blinked down at her as she fell back asleep. He ran a gentle fingertip along one of the long scars that wrapped around her ribs. Once he had her other boot off, he pulled the blanket over her.
“If only you’d stop trying to kill me.” Unable to resist, he bent and pressed a soft kiss to her lips.
Crorinu shot upright, a dagger in one hand. She stabbed it into his side and sneered.
“Keep your filthy paws off me.” A single tear rolled from the corner of one of her half-lidded eyes. She dropped back to the bed as though nothing had happened.
“Son of a bitch,” Grimory groaned and fell to the floor. He ripped the dagger from his side and held the bleeding wound. “I still win.”