Aesop

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NaNoWriMo Day 2

The woman no longer in red moved through the crowded, dusty streets. She stole furtive glances around her, but was much more calm at this point. Completely obscured by her all-encompassing black attire, her dark eyes the only potentially identifying feature exposed, she felt confident that she was able to blend in. She deliberately adopted a more humble pose, slouching her shoulders and avoiding standing near any men, as was the local custom. She clutched her robes to her and recited a silent prayer that her subterfuge was working, and that she could continue to evade her pursuers. She longed for rest, but knew it was unlikely to come soon.

Meanwhile…

“Where has he gotten off to? Have you seen-Aha! Jason, there you are, you silly thing, whatever are you doing out here? It can’t possibly be good for your health to stand out here in the cold, and you do know how I worry. Honestly, I don’t know what possesses you to put yourself in such an obviously unpleasant, dangerous situation. What do you get out of this?”

The Contessa stepped briefly onto the balcony, gave an exaggerated shiver, grabbed Jason by the arm in a mock attempt to gain warmth, and not giving him a chance to respond, pulled him back into the interior. On her way, she shot a disapproving scowl at the couple, who looked suitably embarrassed at being caught out by someone who they knew had influence over their respective partners. She jerked her head in the direction of her study, and the couple knew this meant that they would need to meet with her later to work out what sort of favor they would owe her to maintain their secret.

“Now Jason, there’s a fellow you simply must meet here!” Jason rolled his eyes at hearing that for the umpteenth time. She pretended not to notice and went on. “He says he might have a job for you.” She took great satisfaction in seeing Jason perk up and become legitimately interested at that. She knew that her talent for making connections between the many people she knew was of great value, and so while she enjoyed making sort of mocking, unnecessary introductions, enjoying that her guests could not refuse her, she also preferred to give everyone at least one introduction that would actually serve their purposes each time they attended one of her soirees. Not letting go of Jason’s arm, she pulled him along and made mutual introductions between him and a large man in an expensive suit, who was chewing on the end of an unlit cigar. He was looking at a golden pocket watch, as though anxious for something to happen, and while he broke into a grin when he saw the Contessa, he still looked preoccupied.

The Steadfast Blade

On Chasing Serendipity

Jared sat in an armchair, set at angle to the flickering fireplace. As Jamie rose from the sofa that created the rest of the angle, he glanced up, hazel eyes framed by a bare hint of gray in his dark hair. She smiled softly at his inquisitive glance, and shook her head. His lips twitched back, and she moved through the hallway, into the kitchen.

When Jamie returned, Jared had gone back to staring at the crackling fire. She set down a glass of wine onto the table to the right of the armchair, and he looked up at the sound of glass meeting wood.

"You only ever stare at the fire and be silent like that when something's on your mind." Jamie laid a hand on his shoulder for a moment, then raised it to caress his cheek. Jared leaned into the touch, closing his eyes, and they remained there for a silent moment. Then she continued, "What is it, babe?"

The endearment always brought a smile to Jared's face, and it did not fail this time. One side of Jared's mouth lifted. "I don't really know, Jamie."

She glanced at the piece of thick paper he grasped in the gap between two fingers. Jared had not once released it the whole evening, Jamie noticed. He caught her glance, and he gave another crooked expression, one shoulder rising and falling. "You know I never keep anything more serious than planned gifts or vacations a secret from you. This came today."

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