Saturday, October 30, 2010
The Drache Girl - Chapter 6 Excerpt
The dinner bell rang and Staff said goodbye to his two employers and went to his table. The broken glass had been repaired and the dining room looked none the worse for wear. As usual, the darkly beautiful Amadea Jindra was already seated; her heavily laced white dress was a study in contrast with her dark olive skin. As Staff set down, he noticed the plunging back left both her shoulder blades sensuously exposed.
“Miss Jindra,” he said.
“Good Evening, Mr. Staff.”
The waiter brought a salad of leaf lettuce and thinly sliced fruit. It was garnished with a peach cut into the shape of a rose. A moment later, he returned with glasses of sparkling wine.
“You must come from a wealthy family, Miss Jindra,” he said. “To be able to travel first class passage alone to Birmisia.”
“It’s considered rude to ask a woman about her money.”
“That is true.” He shrugged. “I’m uncouth.”
“That’s alright. You were trying to make conversation, Mr. Staff. I think that is a move in the right direction.”
“You’re not very good at it, you know.”
“Yes, I know.”
“I’ll wager you’ve not had to do it often.” She speared some lettuce on her fork. “I would suppose you get by mostly on your looks.”
“Polite dinner conversation is not really a major requirement of naval service,” said Staff. “Neither are looks. But what I was really getting at, is whether you might be looking for employment once we arrive in Birmisia. You’re specialty is scrying…”
“Spying on people?”
“Perhaps that was unfair.”
“Perhaps,” she agreed. “I must admit that my finances aren’t what they could be. I spent everything I had for this passage.”
“Maybe I can help then. I suppose you can use you magic abilities to search for natural resourses?”
“I can find the location of anything,” she said. “I see no reason that…coal?”
“I see no reason that coal should thwart me.”
The waiter brought out a fine grilled sea bass, with roasted vegetables, and a crisp white wine. The dessert was vanilla ice cream, served with tea. Feeling quite full and satisfied, Staff bid good night to Miss Jindra, and made his way back to his cabin. He peeled off his clothes and hung them on the hook on the back of the cabin door, then lay down and immediately passed into sleep.
It was the middle of the night when knocking woke Staff up. He stepped through the darkness and opened the door, allowing the dim light of the hallway to spill inside. Matie Marchond stood outside, looking just as strikingly beautiful in her black mourning dress and veil as she had in evening clothes. She pressed her face close to his.
“May I come in?”
“I don’t think that would be such a good idea.”
“Just for a minute.”
He opened the door enough for her to pass through and then closed it behind her. He found his matches in the dark and lit one of the lamps, then turned to face Mrs. Marchond, who was admiring his mostly unclad body.
“I’m sorry about what happened,” she said.
“Are you really?”
She shrugged. “Not really, I suppose.”
“You had your husband try to kill me.”
“I was angry,” she said. “No woman likes to be spurned.”
“Now we can be free to enjoy each other’s company. We still need to maintain a sense of decorum, at least until I get back to Brech for the reading of the will. But we can at least continue to see each other.”
“It’s my general understanding that when a woman tries to have you killed, the relationship has reached a downturn.”
“I didn’t try to have you killed, not really. Raoul found out from someone that I had been to your room. I told him that you tried to seduce me, but I turned you down. I didn’t know the old idiot would try to shoot you. Still, no harm done.”
“No harm? He’s dead.”
“I mean no harm to you. He had been having chest pains for some time. I fully expected him to die sometime on the trip.”
“It doesn’t bother you that he’s dead?”
“Bother me? I’m overjoyed. I put in my time. Twelve years I’ve had to live with that old windbag and his disgusting habits. Now I’m finally free.”
Staff nodded thoughtfully.
“And here we are.” She turned around and presented him with the long row of shiny black buttons from the top of her neck to the top of her bustle. Staff paused for a moment. Matie Marchond was certainly beautiful. She looked back over her shoulder, and then stuck out her lip when she saw that he wasn’t reaching to unfasten her.
“You’re not still mad at me are you?” she asked.
“Then why not? I know you find me attractive.”
“You’re beautiful. But you no longer have the one quality that made you perfect.”
She frowned. “And what’s that?”
“You’re no longer married.”