The Nightingale Rises

By: Cynthia Dane

Vincent cleared his throat. “I have an unusual favor to ask of you. Are you available tomorrow night?”

“Yeah. Why? Last minute Aviary meeting?” As far as Nala knew, there wouldn’t be another one until Sunday.

“No. Something more personal. I’m having a business dinner with clients and another couple. It would be rather awkward for me to be the only one there without a partner, so…”

“Vincent,” Nala growled, taking a hint from his manner of speaking when they were alone. “I know you’re not asking me to play your girlfriend for your business deals.”

“Well… not quite.”

She could have reached through her shiny new phone and throttled the man. “What if that starts some gossip? What if Xavier Crow finds out who I really am? I don’t think I’m even on his radar right now, other than him probably wondering what my tits look like.”

“Nala… I will make it worth your while.”

Great. More money. Make her feel even more like a sugar baby. Why not? It’s what I’m good for. Her mother would be so proud.

“To put up with that shit? You better.”

“How does five-hundred sound?”

“Five-hundred what? Thousand dollars?”

“I see your point. I’ll give you an extra thousand, and treat you to some shopping.”

“What kind of girl do you think I am? You think I can be bought for dates like that? You really are my sugar daddy.”


“Wow, what? You suddenly got a conscience?”

“Not at all. I never thought of myself as being old enough to be someone’s sugar daddy.”

“You’re thirty, Vince. So old.”

“Uh huh. Anyway, call me whatever you want. I would be very grateful if you came as my date tomorrow night. Nothing serious, of course, but the others there don’t have to know that. Besides… the man I’ve proposed to – now hold on, not like that – is also in town doing business with Crow. You might want to come and use your wiles to get what he knows out of him.”

“Use my what?”

“Never mind.”

Nala flopped back on her thin mattress and stared at her clothes hanging above her, at her tote bag swinging back and forth above her feet. “All right. I’ll go, but only because I don’t have anything else to do and because I like money.” She had over three-thousand sitting in her account right now. That wasn’t including the several hundred she made from her shitty job every month. “This doesn’t mean I’ll do this regularly, though. Like you asked, I’m mostly doing this as a favor to you, got it?”

“Got it.”

“By the way…” This was Nala’s chance to ask, since she hadn’t talked to Vincent in a few days. “Did you ever find out the source of that note I got?”

“Not yet. I mean, there wasn’t much to go on, but I’ve been doing some clue hunting in what spare time I have.”

“Before or after you fall asleep playing Fallout?”

Vincent didn’t miss a beat. “Before, of course. I’m a responsible man.”

Says the dude who stuck it in unprotected. Nala wasn’t going to go there right now, though. “What should I wear? The lavender dress?”

“No. Nothing from The Aviary. Sends completely the wrong message.”

Oh, I bet. Vincent probably didn’t want to be constantly reminded of sex while they ate dinner with business associates, anyway. “I don’t have anything to wear.”

“I figured. That’s why I’ve gone ahead and sent someone over with my credit card to take you out shopping and to get your hair done.”


“You heard me. It’s my treat. There’s a spending limit, of course, but it should be sufficient to get you a few nice things and some pampering.” Vincent chuckled. Nala did not care for his chuckles. “Unless you don’t want pampering. You could suffer for the sake of it.”

“Shut up. Okay, I’ll go, but not because I particularly want to.”

“Of course not.”

“It’s not Andrew coming, is it?”

“It’s not Andrew. It’s someone you’d much rather go with, if you had to choose.”

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