A self-possessed woman with full-bodied red curls sat forward in her leather desk chair, musing over the words on her computer screen and typing haphazardly with short glossed nails. Her lashes, thick and black with mascara, dropped against her cheekbones and sat there for an aggrieved moment as the clattering of keys became almost impatient.

Eric, again. Eliza Hemner had picked the handsome gyuren specimen off of fifth and Magewalk a handful of months ago, intrigued by his powerful demeanor and model looks uncommon of low caliber prostitutes. But since then he had only proved himself an egotistical accomplice to another male gyuren she currently had employed, Cedric. While Cedric was also unruly, he was not losing clients over complaints of "forced his dick down woman's throat" and "woman was so dry when he started he tore labia." The few positive reviews had little to do with his skills but more frequently his enormous member, which she made a point of hiding from him.

Despite her newest dimwit, The Rift, or Hemner's as it was privately known—a fact that made her painted lips twitch up into a wry, satisfied smile—had only been pulling in higher profits lately. Her brothel, posing as a high-class Italian restaurant, had become so flagrantly popular in New York that she always seemed to be searching out new employees, especially since so many of her whores were college students who quit after graduation. Loyal customers and even a bit of roughly-imitated competition was becoming more and more apparent to her, and it was mostly her own willpower and magically-infused finesse that kept Hemner's a notch about the rest. Even a prior corner boy like Eric would polish up in here with time. Just…time. Sighing, she dropped back in her chair, twitching her finger absently to magically lift a scrap of paper from the surface of her desk. The slip of white floated daintily for a moment, before bursting into a flurry of paper flakes, which she carefully caught in midair with a narrowing of her eyes, reconfiguring the slip so it drifted back onto her desk. She flicked it thoughtlessly over to the trash with her will as she pulled up the online account book on her monitor.

It was at this point that she heard a knock on her door. Completely diffusing her magic until it was a warm ball of energy in her chest, she gave the go-ahead for whoever it was to come in, leaning forward in her chair calmly.

Beni entered without a sound, clicking the door shut behind him. She smiled fondly as the little fin approached, his blue gaze shy but attentive, a few locks of his pink hair curling around his left eyelid and brushing across his brow.

"Yes, Beni?" she asked.

He stood in front of her desk and nodded. "Do you have some time?"

"Of course." She took her fingers from the keyboard and swiveled her chair slightly so she was facing him. "Have a seat."

"I brought more notes," he explained in a soft, reserved voice, settling into the chair across from her desk and pulling the notepad out of his jeans pocket. "If that's fine." Hemner's lips twitched as she set her elbows on her desk and placed her hands together on the table so the cufflinks of her suit jacket clicked when they made contact.

"Absolutely," the witch encouraged him. "What have you noticed?"

"Well, and this applies to myself as well the rest of the staff…"

"Yes," she urged him on. But this time the fin did not flick up his eyes to make certain of her approval. Instead he continued on, caught in the lines of writing in his notepad.

"…workers have not been very focused on their jobs lately. Particular…individuals have been frequently late to The Rift but have adjusted their numbers for clock-in…"

"Oh?" Hemner's eyes narrowed. Beni looked up and flushed.

"…by no more than fifteen or thirty minutes but that adds up of course."

"Who are these individuals?"

"Majorly, erm, Cedric, Eric, Freesia, Caleb, and Cedar."

She already had them written down, magic guiding her pen. "Of course. Continue."

"Aside from that, people seem to only be serving clients they're interested in and are basically ignoring the rest, as well as frequently fighting over customers, and not just in the kitchen—"

"God, how do I even keep this place running." The witch shook her head.

"Also, you know better about the interactions in the brothel, but I've sort of noticed that sometimes Rob and Cedar don't really respond to calls right away and make customers wait much longer."

"Oh yes," Hemner acknowledged, smiling tightly. "I don't know about Rob, but Cedar…" She gestured to Beni. "Well, you know Cedar."

"Always busy," Beni put lightly.

"Is there anything else?"

"Hostesses are telling me clients are complaining that the lobby isn't very 'Summery.' They want it brighter."

"What do they expect—windows?"

"Flowers, I think. And the walls are dim."

"Don't they know it's a brothel?"

"I just wrote down what I heard," the fin responded in a quiet voice. "Maybe, uh, we can get some cut flowers and tone up the lighting."

Hemner smirked. "Then people will complain it's too bright for a whorehouse."

Beni nodded. "Probably."

"How's school going?"

The fin, jerked out of his focus, flushed softly, lowering his notepad into his lap. "A-alright." He blushed deeper, digging his thumb into the spiral binding. "I…um…I think I'll probably sign up for an extra class next quarter so I can, uh, focus on my major for the rest of the year."

The witch tilted her head. "Only as long as you'll still be able to work," she stipulated. "You've been getting a lot more popular lately, you know."

"Yes, ah, thank you."

"Your last client, Mr. Orthom I believe, was very pleased with you. You got the notice of his scheduled visit, correct?"

"I did." Beni nodded, blue eyes turning down.

"I think he wants to regular you. With the three others and assorted clients as well, you're going to be heavily booked. I don't want you exhausting yourself with a huge credit load too."

"Thank you for your concern. Full time for just a quarter should be fine though."

"Your classes will have to be lenient. I still need you available for overnights."

"W-well…" Beni bit his lower lip. "I was, um, planning on bringing it up later, but—"

"Do not tell me you signed up for another eight am class, Beni," Hemner sighed. "Do not."

"It's only t-twice a week," the bubblegum-haired fin choked out, pink lashes lowering. "So I was thinking…"

"You remember what I said about that last time. Your schooling is important, but so is your well-being. And your stamina. I don't want you dead on your feet during your appointments."

"Well, I just had an idea that maybe I could, um, just…it would be really good so I could just get everything done and have more time to…"


"Maybe I could…have those two days off?"

Hemner stood up in her heels, towering easily over the small boy. "Now listen Benjamin, I wouldn't say this if you were a lower-tier employee—"

Yani, her fairy maid, burst in immediately, her expression twisted up in panic. Hemner's brows lifted as she adjusted her gaze. "Yani, if this is about the light bulbs on the chandelier again, I said to just—"

"I heard screaming!" she gasped, her Persian blue skin paling and her pupils dilating over silver irises.

The woman stood immediately. "You heard what—"

"From the Virgin Room!"

Hemner's eyes went wide. "What kind of screaming?" she questioned. Her nails dug into her palms.

The fairy panted. "I-I think…" She put her hand against her forehead. "I think…he might be forcing her."

The witch breathed in heavily, grabbed the edge of her desk.

"Mrs. Hemner, what do we do?"

She turned around, picked up her computer monitor, tore it off the cord, and threw it across the room.

"Ericccc!" Hemner roared.