Happy Saturday! I slept in today, like a pampered princess. A long week filled with NaNo prep, a SCBWI meeting, and a conference with a mentor will wear a writer right out.
I learned a lot this week about myself and the industry. I’m still chewing it into pieces I can swallow, but once I’ve got it digested…okay this metaphor is going south fast. Let’s just say, I’ll share the wisdom I’ve gleaned once it’s more manageable.
I hope you are continuing to enjoy this first draft in public, 52 fun Saturdays to a novel.
Melody the Mage
Sharna opened the bathroom door, interrupting Birdie and Jackie. They were having a polite conversation about running a gambling house. Thieves and gamblers, she thought.
“Birdie, thank you again for the quick help last night. If it hadn’t been for Hugo and yourself, we would have been in bad shape.”
Birdie’s eyes narrowed. “Of course, Mage. We would never turn down a request from the Mothers.”
Sharna lifted her chin. “I am only recently graduated. I apologize if Hugo felt abused.”
“How he felt is of no consequence, but I do appreciate the apology. If you’d been wearing your robes, the confusion could have been avoided.”
Compelling the bouncer as she had last night was an enormous taboo in Mansion etiquette. If Birdie lodged a formal complaint, Sharna would be hunted down and punished. Of course, that would be the least of her offenses at the rate she was going.
Sharna cocked her hip and sighed. “Yes, well. I’m not at liberty to discuss the reasoning behind my need to travel unseen, but you can trust your assistance was welcome and will be compensated.” She tried to put the sound of a dismissal in her tone, but Jackie ruined it by interjecting.
“Birdie has a wealth of resources.” Sharna heard the almost imperceptible stress on the word ‘resources’.
Sharna paused. Was that resignation in the line of Jackie’s collarbone sagging toward her broken arm? Did the thief want to stay longer? Did she think she was safe here? Or was there something Sharna was missing? Her act faltered for a moment, but she grabbed it back with both hands. Everything depended on her ability to play the part.
Birdie answered. “I deal in more than chips and cards. Information is always a commodity. Just a glimpse of Jackie here is worth a night in my rooms. Her name and description are all over the West End.”
Was she threatening them?
Sharna looked at Jackie in the hopes of some clue as to how to proceed. She looked tired. The stubble of her shaved head combined with her bruises made her look like she’d already been in The Barrows. We can’t keep running. We can’t.
“I…could use some help if the price were right.” She watched Jackie’s posture as she talked and felt a zing of pleasure at the small smile that bloomed around the thief’s lips.
Birdie chewed this a moment, her jaw clenched twice and her bright eyes flicked from Jackie back to Sharna. “I already knew that much. A Mage trying to blend in, and a shattered thief arrive on my doorstep looking like they’ve been bested by a demon. I’m curious, but I’m not stupid.”
Sharna wanted to sit down, but didn’t dare change her posture. Her mouth had dried up again. “Jackie and I will need to talk before any offers are made.”
Birdie turned her back on them to pour a glass of water. When she turned around, she handed the delicate crystal to Sharna. “I’ll be waiting in my office.”
(See you next time!)