“You live here?”
“Yeah. Isn’t it cool?”
Mikaela glanced around with suspicion. When she agreed to drop by and see Scarlett’s ‘family lair’ she expected many things from an old house in the woods to over the top luxurious mansion, but surely not a mix of warehouse, circus and post-apocalyptic bunker stuffed with all kinds of odds and ends. She frowned as her gaze fell upon a dark furry item on the floor by the bar.
“Is that…a rat?
“Oh, it’s Charlie, don’t mind him. He’s a hunting trophy. I found him at the kitchen this morning and we played a little game. I won!” – Scarlett stated with victorious smile shoving Charlie’s corpse under the bar with her bare foot.
Scarlett was the most easy-going person Mikaela had ever met. She could wear a nightgown to a party and sleep in a runway dress, rinsed her teeth with whiskey, took naps on table tops, considered bruises to be love-marks and lived in a world colored in black and white… or more likely blue and glittery pink.
In fact, there was only one thing Scarlett cared about, a man who gave her life. Walter Payne, more commonly known as the Joker, once upon a time a wealthy businessman, who lost his sanity in attempt to outplay time and physics of the universe itself and became one of the most infamous mafia bosses of the present day. According to the rumors Mr. Payne exposed his body to various chemicals and radiation participating in some crazy genetic experiment, which was partially successful. Mr. Payne was older than Mikaela’s grandmother, however his madness mutated along with his body ruining whatever sanity he had left. Walter didn’t survive the experiment, however his murderous alter-ego did. And there she was, standing in the middle of his house…
“Are you alright?” – Scarlett’s voice brought Mikaela back to reality.
“Yeah… Sorry, I had a rough night.”
“Awww…” – Carly swooned in her usual over-emotional manner, leaning over the bar.
Surprisingly enough daughter of world’s most cold-blooded psychopath was pretty compassionate and attentive, almost too attentive at times. She would bombard your house with gifts and leave a million text messages, call you hundred times and show up an hour early when you decide to go hang out together. Once upon a time she almost burned down Mikaela’s house, trying to make her a chicken soup when she caught a cold. The next morning someone anonymously payed for the damage. Just like that time when Carly crashed Mikaela’s car when they were driving home from a bar…
“Carls, are you talking to yourself again? Do daddy a favor, shut the fuck up. I’m trying to work.”
Some gut feeling was telling Mikaela that the voice belong to the mysterious ‘anonymous’ who covered the damage also known as the clown-prince himself and the owner of this humble establishment.
“Don’t be rude, Puddin! We have guests!” – Scarlett yelled back and turned to her friend – “Don’t mind him, he’s such a grump sometimes, but I love him anyway!”
That Mikaela didn’t doubt. Ever since they met ‘Puddin’ was the top subject of every second conversation. “What if Puddin doesn’t like this dress? What if Puddin thinks I’m too fat? Puddin got a new gun. Puddin has pretty ass.” She probably knew more than she ever wanted to know about the man, yet never had a chance to meet him face to face. Scarlett crashed at her place when he kicked her out or messed her up beyond any regonition, bragged about his gifts and text messages, but it was the first time Mikaela got invited to a ‘family party.’
“I told you to stop being so goddamn loud!” – Joker groaned coming down the stairs, his look stopped at Mikaela – “Miss Raita. What a pleasant surprise!”
It was hard to tell if he was being sincere or sarcastic, but there was no doubt he knew who she was. In fact, he probably knew more than Mikaela herself, but she wasn’t easy to intimidate.
“My pleasure, sir. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
She was composed, polite and proper. She had enough experience with unstable people in the early years of her career to know how to stay in line.
“So did I…”
He licked his lips, studying every inch of her body, which sent a chill down her spine. Everything about the man screamed power. Power that knew no control. Mikaela could feel uncomfortable tension in the air growing, then Scarlett’s chirpy voice came to the rescue.
“You two know each other? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“No.” – He cut her off sharply – “And it’s impossible to tell you anything anyway because you never shut up!”
For a moment it seemed like he was about to hit her, but Scarlett didn’t seem to care. There was no fear or tension in her eyes, she simply adored him and ignored his rather frightening attitude all together.
“Sorry ’bout it, boss! Can’t help it!” – She giggled, swirling around him. – “Shouldn’t have dropped me so often when I was a baby! Jokes on you, Mr. Joker!”
He grumbled, clearly loosing his patience, but turned his attention back to Mikaela.
“Would you like to join us for dinner, miss Raita?”
That came as a surprise. What was his agenda? A man like him would never offer a thing without a proper reason. And she could tell for certain those intentions had nothing to do with intimacy, men like him showed their sympathy in a completely different way.
“It would be my pleasure Mr. Joker.”
“Wonderful!” – He clapped his hands – “Manners. Such a rare gift in these pitiful times. I tried my best to put all the right ideas into her head.” – He pointed at Scarlett – “But I’m afraid my efforts were only partially successful.”
“You’re being too hard on yourself.”
He liked her answer, she could tell it by the way he laughed, though the sound of that laughter would probably tie any sane person’s stomach into knots.
“I can tell it’s going to be a wonderful dinner…”