Kennia, clad in black leather clinging to her muscular form, leaned against the back of Tai's chair, looking at the mewling duke trying to make a deal with the Tong. The duke hadn't even noticed her, assuming she was there simply for show - and she was, she had to admit, quite the sight. The dark clothes made her blonde hair almost glow, and many mistook her for a simple delight for the eyes. Tai knew better; Kennia was not only his love, but a partner in crime and a true confidante.

Tai finished his report on a surveillance detail that the Tong had done for the oily man. The duke snapped at Tai, clearly upset about the results. Foolishly, the duke went for his bejeweled dagger, spewing out a threat to Tai. Kennia, in one smooth, dark fluid motion, like an ebony panther, pulled out her blade and stepped in front of Tai. The motion came to an abrupt stop as her blade glistened at the noble's throat. She purred to the now terrified man, "I'm sorry duke, we weren't introduced, but I am Kennia."

Still seated and never having moved, Tai smiled at his love, poised and ready to pounce on her prey. The duke was frozen by a combination of surprise and utter fear, his hand dropping from his pretty little knife. Tai chuckled, glad that he had never underestimated Kennia – and glad that so many mistook her as a beautiful ornament on his arm. The element of surprise often worked to the advantage of the Tong.

Leaning forward in his chair, Tai peered through the crook of Kennia’s arm, his grin at the duke partially obscured by the curve of Kennia’s breast; “I’m sorry Duke Tolman. I didn’t quite catch that last threat.” Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the slight curl in Kennia’s lip, who was thoroughly enjoying putting Tolman in his place (pompous, corrupt lord that he was).

Standing up, Tai rested his hand Kennia’s hip, the tips of his fingers savoring the feel of the leather taut over her skin. Keeping his eyes locked with the duke, Tai spoke to Kennia, “Careful my dear; neither of us would want any blood on those gorgeous new boots you just bought.” The duke’s eyes managed somehow to widen further, as the edge of Kennia’s smile also grew.

Tai reluctantly took his gaze away from Kennia's face, and spoke sharply to Tolman, "Though I understand that you are none too happy that your young wife has taken up with the local tailor's apprentice, you make a grave mistake taking that anger out on the Tong - I strongly suggest that you sit back and keep your hand from your weapon." As the duke kept his hand from his blade, Kennia uncoiled a bit, sheathing her blade in her blackened scabbard. Though she kept her eyes on the duke, she smiled inwardly as she felt one of Tai's hands discretely but firmly cup her left rump cheek.

The duke, sitting back and regaining some false courage now that Kennia's blade was not at his throat, retorted to Tai (still underestimating Kennia as simply beautiful and dangerous now ... not yet understanding she too was a decision maker), "Can you understand?! The tailor's apprentice? You must finish this work and kill that man; I demand satisfaction!"

Before Tai could reply, Kennia had already moved forward, and put both hands on the duke's chair, thrusting her face right up to his. As the duke, terrified again, pulled back in the chair, Kennia spoke sharply and directly, "Be clear Tolman. The contract was simply to provide you information on your wife's afternoon 'walks' - there was no agreement to bring harm on anyone." She stood up straight, crossing her arms over her leathered chest, her eyes fixed on the duke, who no longer would make the mistake of not addressing them both.

"But, but", the duke sputtered at them, "I'll hire you to do it then! Aye, I'll give you gold for it." Now it was Tai's turn to smile inwardly; why did so many think that the Tong was composed of simple mercenaries willing to take any job? Tai was glad that the Tong's other business 'interests' allowed them to be a bit picky about their 'customers'. He knew that Kennia, who had actually conducted the surveillance with some of the other Tigers, had grown fond of the young lad, who was clearly in love with the duchess, and the duchess with him. The Tong would not be taking this contract for several reasons.

Before Kennia could say this, perhaps with a bit too much of her characteristic spirit, Tai calmly replied, "No Tolman - we will not take that work. We have honorably completed the work we agreed to do for you. I am certain you will look elsewhere, but our business is finished. I urge you to take your leave." The duke, grumbling but still fearful of Kennia, left.

Kennia watched him go, her blue eyes flitting to Tai once the door closed behind the duke, saying, "But Tai, he most certainly will hire some filthy street thug to harm or kill that boy! Oh, what I wouldn't give to run a blade through that snake of a duke." Tai turned to Kennia, and pulled her close, calming her with a tender kiss of thanks on the lips for her defense of him, and smiled at her, his eyes twinkling at hers, saying, "But my love - who do you think our next appointment is?"

At that moment, as if on cue, the side entrance of the room opened, as the duchess took off her hat and came in from the side street. Tai welcomed her, "Ah Duchess, I am so glad you could make it; there are some final details to discuss in regards to your contract. As you feared, your love is in great danger, and your husband must be stopped." As Tai pulled out a chair for the woman, Kennia smiled - she liked this line of work.

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