Kate loved the nightlife in Gotham with a detached sort of tolerance of the well-traveled daughter who has outgrown the mystery of her home. Gotham had made her, but in many ways she had perceived the city as a cage since she’d discovered the world and the world had taught her to spread her wings.
Doing her duty as Kate Kane, heiress to a company and fortune, pressing the flesh and playing the part of young woman looking for a rich husband, was never her favorite part, but the board of Kane Enterprises - running business for the female heir who could not be trusted with the business - had insisted. She needed to keep up appearances at least where the press was concerned. Too many of her exploits were already attracting attention.
Luckily, Kate had never been stupid enough to let the board know too much about her other "down time activities”. Gotham had more than a few establishments and speakeasies where Kate could don a tuxedo instead of a fancy dress and go dancing with all the young ladies she set her eyes on, although it was better that the moralizing Gotham gentry and middle class men who were running her company for her, never learned of those.
Thus, she was here, sipping champagne, smiling like a dressed up doll and dreaming of far away. Just a week ago she had bought a plane and she couldn’t wait to take it down to south America to break it in. She wanted to go adventuring again as soon as possible, and she did not care what excuses people were going to tell the press about it. For all she cared they could tell them the truth: That Kate Kane was following in her father’s footsteps. Nobody had ever told the general not to go looking for trouble.
“I’m sorry,” Kate said sweetly, when a young man, obviously from a well made family, asked her for the next dance. “I’ve hurt my ankle. Stupid me. No dancing for me tonight. You better ask someone who'll be more fun.” She made sure her insincere smile did look apologetic enough to pass.
She ordered a cocktail, because she was getting a little tired of the champagne.
“Aren’t you going to dance, darling?” a melodic voice with a heavy Italian accent asked over her shoulder and someone took the seat beside her at the bar. Kate was not exactly in the mood for conversation. There were hardly any interesting people at these kinds of events and she was not in the mood to play eligible heiress.
“I’m sorry,” she said and, as she turned, made sure to raise her voice a little too high, going for a bit too tipsy. But the woman who had taken up her place at the bar was not what Kate had been expecting. She looked like a film star and at the same time like she had no place here. “I don’t think I will find the right partner tonight.”
“A beautiful thing like you?”
“I’m not the problem,” Kate said and just for a moment let her mask slip, sounding annoyed.
The woman laughed, heartily. “They are quite boring, aren’t they? Living their very boring, safe little lives, thinking they are so adventurous with their uninteresting eccentricities.”
Kindred spirit , Kate thought and smiled. The accent was giving her the shivers. “Nice to for a change meet someone with a little more experience of the world at one of these events.”
The woman toasted her. “Baroness Selina DiGatti,” she said, introducing herself.
“A European baroness! You must be the star at these parties.”
The woman laughed again and it fascinated Kate how she laughed with her whole body, her expression amused and mysterious at the same time. “For a time,” she said and looked at Kate.
She could feel the sudden spark of interest, read the forward look in exactly the right way. Kate had used that look countless of times all over the world, when she had wanted to make her interest clear. She was good at that look.
And so, it turned out, was the baroness.
“Look, cara, I would really like to see you dance, but I understand if this isn’t the right place for it.”
It was extremely forward to be propositioned in the middle of a party like this. But then, people would not even get their meaning… and Kate liked a bit of adventure. She regarded her new friend with different eyes. Selina DiGatti did not look uncomfortable at all. She looked like a cat who had gotten the cream already and if that was what she thought was going on then she hadn’t seen anything yet.
Selina DiGatti looked like a woman who knew what she wanted and knew how to get it and Kate liked that.
While most women here in the room were the kind of respectable women who only went out in the company of husbands and families, the two of them were clearly here on their own, the odd ones out. And while Kate had toned down her usual style, she still felt like she didn’t belong.
And the baroness with her shiny black and glittery dress, holding a lit cigarette in a silver cigarette holder, showing off her enticing neckline, was quite the picture of a woman Kate wanted to get to know a little better.
“There is a balcony,” she suggested.
“Aww, cara,” the woman purred. “That sounds like an invitation to so much more than dancing, cara. How could I ever refuse?”
* * *
But there was the here and now and for the moment that was even more exciting.
For a while she was leading, then Selina took over and Kate let it happen. “You’re quite good at this.”
“Practice.” Selina pulled her closer with a sure hand.
Kate could not get enough of the indecent closeness and staring at the perfect line of Selina’s lipstick and the posh pendant she was wearing on a necklace around her neck and that was conveniently placed to draw attention to her decollete. “That is a very nice pendant. That is a dark beauty of a jewel.”
“Family heirloom,” Selina said breezily, “but it’s not the jewelry that has your attention, I hope.”
Kate kissed her, because it was just the most outrageous thing to say and she loved it.
Possibly, this was the first time she had fun at a party like this.
* * *
Even on Kate's mind there were no questions to be asked of her mysterious lover, no mysteries to hunt, no adventures beyond the bed to explore. She lost herself in her own desire, allowed Selina to take her to new heights that she hadn’t yet dared explore.
Even the the sounds of pleasure fit together like a perfectly balanced melody.
Spent and exhausted, Kate sank into the sheets, at peace like she had never been in Gotham.
* * *
She had never cared for the pair and jewels only interested her when she had to hunt for them with a treasure map in hand.
Alone in bed, she laughed, not surprised at the turn of events at all.
This was Gotham and this was exactly what she expected from her hometown.
* * *
Kate, amused, laughed some more. Soldiers didn’t scare her, and she’d been on her toes around cutthroats and lowlifes so often, that the fact that someone had beaten her on her own turf was surprising and exhilarating.
Well, girl, it’s not like you didn’t have a memorable experience.
* * *
Kate focused on the ladies jewels.
In the end it was a priceless picture that was gone.
She smiled. There were only a few people who could play her like this.
* * *
They were developing a pattern.
But when she came beneath Selina’s fingers, biting the back of her hand to keep the noise in, the only thing she wanted to hold on to was the novelty of a dangerous romance .
* * *
And she was making a difference, with her bat in hand and her rage as a shield, she had taken down Nazi after Nazi and enjoyed it. It was not her first war, but this one was threatening the world – and it was still personal.
But not all of the blood that was covering her was that of her enemies, tonight.
She was glad to find friends back at the safe house. After the bleak violence it was good to know you were not alone behind enemy lines. She let her little sidekick clean her wound, until Selina stepped in. “I will take care of that,” she said and ordered Helena away.
“One the same side now,” Kate said, “that is a strange feeling.”
“Oh, cara,” Selina said, “we were always on the same side or you would never have danced with me on that balcony.”
She chuckled. It was so true. Good Jewish girls did not dance with shady women on balconies or rooftops. But Kate did. Bat-Woman did. And she was not ashamed of it.
“Come on,” Selina urged and Kate came to her feet, let herself be pulled along.
Helena was playing music in the next room and some of the kids were singing and dancing.
This time Selina was leading. Kate was just too tired to argue. The steps felt natural.
Tiredly she let her head fall onto Selina’s shoulder. “Let’s have a peacetime dance again sometime.”
“Between the sheets I hope.” The whisper was like a purr.
“I’d like that,” she admitted.
It would be good to have a warm body to hold on to tonight, to forget about the nightmarish things she had seen. And Selina was always good at making her forget anything outside their little world, where they were just pursuer and pursued, never quite settling on who was playing which role.
“Thank you,” she whispered and held on tighter.
Selina kept quiet, but kissed her ear.
Even in war there was beauty and peace. Kate was glad she would always have this to hold on to.