Mid-90s Melbourne, autumn. A Friday night.
The music was loud, the girls were moving, and the customers were happy. That was how she liked things. Sauntering through the main bar, she threw smiles left and right to her regulars, laughed. No---she wasn't working right now. No, they couldn't convince her to. It was early in the night yet, and she was ready to enjoy it. Cigarette to her lips, the smoke trailed behind her as she stepped out of the lights and noise, into the streets of Melbourne. Crowded, dark, the alleyway was full of graffiti. She knew every inch of it, had been here longer than some of the artwork. Proper jobs came and went, but this she always came back to.
"Oi, you're out early."
The voice made her pause, turn around. Blow exasperated smoke out her mouth and nostrils. She flicked ash to the ground, staring at the wretch in front of her. He'd made her a deal, was he here to deliver? The look on his face said no, and she wasn't interested in anything more.
"What do you want, Ty?" she sighed. "Are you here to make more empty promises? Because I don't see her with you. It's beginning to feel like you can't find her."
"I can, I just---I need more time. I'll get there, babe." Slowly he shuffled forward, toward her. She took a step back as he did. Shook her head.
"I'm not your 'babe' anymore, I thought that was clear?" at the door, two of the bigger bouncers lurked. She knew they were there, and he did too. They weren't an idle threat, either. "You assaulted my client, Tyler. You reckon you can find Ameliana, excellent. Find her for me. But that is all. At least until you get this anger of yours in check." She looked back toward the door, gave the bouncers a subtle wave. Everything was fine here. Tyler was sober, more likely to burst into tears than lash out. The bouncers didn't move anyway, and she was grateful for that.
"I promise, I'll be better, babe," pleaded Tyler. "I miss you. I don't care... about the other stuff. Just. Come home?"
She shook her head.
"Not yet," she said. "Go home, Ty. When you've proven you can keep your cool, let me do the things I need to do without getting jealous... maybe then I'll join you." The end of the cigarette came way too soon, she dropped the stub to the footpath and ground it out with the toe of her stillettos. She didn't stay to see what he did, just turned her back and walked on down the alley in search of a better night.
That meant getting as far away from this district as she could. Familiar faces surrounded her here, she was the queen of this strip. No one would dare touch her here, she had powerful clients with a very loose attachment to the law. It was hardly somewhere she could relax, though. A better suburb, a brighter street. A bar on one of Melbourne's more iconic and well-reputed streets. She made her way there, let the unfamiliar crowd melt away her frustration at Tyler. She didn't like this side of him. The pathetic side. Once upon a time he'd thrilled her, challenged her, and then... it fell apart. As it always did.
A long sigh, a drink ordered, held in one hand. She surveyed the crowd of well-dressed people. Was this a function of some sort that she'd walked into? At least she looked the part. More formal than the average nightwear, she always dressed to impress. You never knew who was out there with a wallet full of cash, after all.
Another cigarette. That's what she needed. She found one and---where was her lighter? She had just had it. The bar was a wizard venue, yes, but... her wand had mixed results. Always had. Sometimes it worked, other times she set her eyebrows alight. Not ideal in a public venue.
"I'm so sorry, sir," she tapped the shoulder of the nearest man. "Could I trouble you for a light? I seem to have misplaced my wand..."