Warren had never seen so much as a money spider take up residence in his father's study. Mr. Meriwether had never installed anything special in the walls or the fittings to prevent their entry; there just seemed to be something about the room that made it impenetrable to unwanted pests.
Yet somehow, it had allowed this pair of bandits to slip past him.
"Are you...?" he swallowed. A dark and inquisitive pair of violet eyes studied his face from his lap, which had already grown sweaty under the warmth of her behind. Another set, with the same eerie yet entrancing purplish glow, watched from the shadows, falling just out of reach of the yellow light that rushed from the fireplace. "Are you.... friends of Silus Splendid?"
The brother crossed his arms tightly across his chest, and turned his head into his shoulder to muffle a dark and unsettling chuckle. Warren's eyes darted from him to the girl, his sister. A mildly amused smirk had twisted into her blinding red lips, pushing a little dimple into each cheek. A throaty giggle emerged from deep in her throat. Warren's hand, resting somewhere near her knees now, twitched in frustration, and the golden fastener of his pinstriped trousers suddenly felt painfully tight.
"We don't have friends," she explained abruptly. "Friends have a funny habit of dying, don't you know? That's why we stick with one another. Nobody's gonna take either of us out." She exchanged a playful glance with her brother, whose cheeks reddened slightly.
"So, you are the ones he sent?" he asked, eyeing the pale skin of her thighs whenever he reckoned the brother's attention was diverted.
"Yes," the brother said, glaring at Warren as he caught his wandering eyes.
"Right, lovely!" Warren pushed the woman up from his lap, suddenly overcome with a sense of business and determination. She grunted as she stumbled for a step, and Warren strolled leisurely out into the spacious room, cradling his rich glass of red, and bathing each side of his body with the fire's glow. The two perched themselves in the armchair, pressed up against each other quite cozily. Warren dismissed it, his one-track mind now in overdrive.
Warren clapped his hands together. "My father rescued a girl about two years ago. If you could even.... refer to her as a girl at this point in time. He had to replace most of her body with mechanical parts, but somehow managed to salvage her personality and her mind. But the girl -" He shuddered at having referred to her as a girl twice now. "She lost her memory, so it was decided she would live with us."
"An inspiring story, so when does Prince Charming and the fairy godmother enter this little fairytale of yours?" the girl asked, inspecting the fingernails of her right hand as she pondered aimlessly.
Warren cleared his throat, deciding to skim over her query. "My father died six weeks ago. Leaving everything - his life savings, the house, everything - to that little vomit pile of guts and cogs. Once she turns eighteen, all of it will be hers."
"Hold up," the boy murmured. "You need this girl dead before she turns eighteen, right? So you can claim your inheritance?"
"So what you're essentially saying," the boy said, "is that you can't pay us until after this is all done?"
"Er.... Not per sé -"
"C'mon, Zar, we're leaving."
"Wait!" Warren exclaimed as they began to rise from the chair, stony-faced. They turned four steely purple eyes towards him. He dipped into his right pocket, where the solid gold pocket watch resided. He'd had it since his sixteenth birthday, and it was the only lavish present his father had given him since his mother died. "I'm sure this will cover the cost until then." He handed it over, and the siblings bowed their heads to study the timepiece. "I've had it seven years now, and it's barely lost a single second. And it's pure gold, I can assure you. You can have it appraised and come back and do my throat in with a meat cleaver if I'm wrong."
Violet eyes rose again to meet his gaze.
"Tell us more about this girl."