“I don’t like that look,” Terius said quietly.
There was no urgency in his tone, so Jaera finished reading her sentence, braced lightly against the cabin wall behind her, and looked up, slow.
The wind was running calm on the water, waves whispering politely back, while the ship wove through on a long lean. It slid one way on the ocean, took a breath, rolled back the other way, and it was easy, just sitting there. She had one heel set lightly against the planks, and her other leg tucked beneath her. Her book rested on her knee. The breeze sifted down her back, cool and comfotable, and Terius sat just beside her, tucked into the corner with his booted foot idly resting against the sole of hers. Easy.
Wick knew three people who made better watchmen than him.
Two of them – his mother, and his grandfather – were long dead, more memories than flesh, with lists of valorous stands that might have been made longer and greater by the time that had passed. He suspected at times, that his mother hadn’t actually stood watch over a door for seven days and eight nights without sleep. He suspected his grandfather had never kept watch over a King’s window, even if it was just to make sure no competing thief took what his employer had an eye for. He suspected neither of them had gone two and three months without being seen at all while personally stacking unwanted guests in the alleys behind their watches for their friends to wake and put back together.
But they were his mother and his grandfather. And they were long dead. Wick had no intention of trying to wrestle any medals off their chests.
The third was a blind man who worked the west quarter behind the warehouses with a stick the breadth of Wick’s forearm. There was no accounting for a blind man.
Connal ignored the resentment simmering in the silence and enjoyed his drink. He took a short sip, pulled the rim from his lips, and swirled the golden brown beer in his mug. He was almost as content with the weight as he was with the sweetness in his mouth.
The beer had foamed nicely, coming off the tap. It stuck just enough on his tongue so that the flavor lingered pleasantly after he swallowed. His body had grown pleasantly calm after his first mug, his second was still almost full in his hand, and both were all the sweeter for the fact that he hadn’t paid for them.
Setting his mug down slow, he met Debora’s eye again. She hadn’t moved, her face a stone mask, while her eyes stayed on his with a jade fierceness. Connal tried not to smile. He barely succeeded.
“What?” Connal asked. He twisted the mug against the table. “Did I misspeak?”
The four of them glanced at each other, hush settling in.
The man ran one hand down his beard, and Eoin took a shallow breath, waiting.
Both women shifted on their heels, the same motion a few moments apart, looking more and more alike. They might have been sisters, but the age gap was a little wide, and Eoin suspected they were mother and daughter from the jealousless way the younger women stayed behind the other’s shoulder. They kept the same ready silence, waiting.
“They’re just standing in the open?” Eoin asked, after the quiet stretched too long. He eased the question into the silence, and all three of them turned to him slowly.
“Yes,” the older woman said.
Eoin nodded. “So. They want to be seen.” He met each of their eyes carefully.
As far as bruises went, it was a beauty, the kind that any ten-year-old would have run to show their friends and catch another chance to tell their epic story of Falling Out of the Jackson’s Tree. It was more blue than black, with fresh red edges, not dense enough to have been any deep hit, but bright enough to catch attention. It ran in a straight line, just above the back of Sadie’s knee, almost hidden in the hem of her skirt as she moved up the stairs ahead of Dana, like a seamstress mark for alterations.
“What happened?” Dana asked.
Sadie looked back, curious, then bent back to look at her leg, smiling. “Chair climbing expedition.”
“Ah.” Dana nodded. “Everything okay?”
Sherah’s sister-in-law, Jachin could work leather into something finer than velvet. If she wore it down, turned it supple as green leaf, she could convince it to hold its strength. If she built it and burdened it, honing it until it would turn a knife, it still ran smooth under the finger, like water. She said it was just about making the leather remember that it was skin.
Her shop always smelled like her oils, like the deep, rich center of a garden plot still waiting for its flowers. Sherah pushed the back door open and breathed it in, taking his first step inside. Her walls were always hung with warm brown colors, these back rooms full of the drying leathers, the front rooms displaying the ready product in every shade from midnight redwood to sun-kissed gold. The early morning light struck a shine and a shadow on every sheet. It was a pretty place.
“I’m here!” Sherah called, glancing between the open doorways. He wasn’t entirely sure where Jachin would be this early in the day.
Answers served with an overabundance of questions from one Kate Kearney
Kate Kearney searched: What are three obscure vacation spots?
1) Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota – President Roosevelt, an outdoors man since his childhood, worked to increase the nature reserves all around the country. Unlike his first National Park – the very famous Yellowstone – his namesake park has remained a a quiet place to camp, hike and drive. You’ll see the same thing at the other parks in that corner of the country – bison, badlands, and buttes – along with 110 square miles of rainbow streaked rocks.
2) City Island, New York – Okay, so New York City is famous, and City Island is technically inside New York City’s limits, but according to what I’ve been told, few of the locals will know which way to point you if you ask after this once-upon-a-time fishing town on the north side of the city. Take a short boat ride and step into a town that still remembers what the old New York looked like.
3) Eugene, Oregon – But maybe you want a mix of the outdoors and the arts. Try Eugene, a liberal city known for it’s restaurants, parks, and urban feeling, while just out side, you can kayak and visit the coast.
Did I sound like a travel agent? :)
S.E. Stone, over at Paper, Pen and No Plan, tagged me in the Bookshelf Tag. I had the great pleasure of going to school with Stone and have enjoyed reading her blog ever since I found it a few a months ago. Week after week, she strikes up an easy conversation about writing, reading, and all the bits of life around the pages of a good book. If you like those things, head on over and say hello.
The rules of the bookshelf tag are simple:
1) Do not talk about Bookshelf Club
1) Answer the following questions about books on your bookshelf
2) Tag five bloggers to complete the tag after you
You can answer the questions any way you like, which means that I definitely will. I will definitely choose freely between text, images, videos, and excessive punctuation, and switch between them at my pleasure. Remember that the universe has gifted you with the same permission to freedom – in this tag, in all your other writing, and in life at large. Good luck. :)
On to the questions!
1. Is there a book that you really want to read, but haven’t because you know that it will make you cry?
(Well, this is going well so far.)
It took three weeks to sail between the islands, though rough weather could turn it into a more interesting five. More interesting, because chill turned to actual cold, and there was nothing boring about being soaked hourly from scalp to heel, and the elegant sweeps that the current usually carved across the ocean’s face were hidden beneath the chopped waves of a storm. The straight shot from port to port turned into a jagged stumble, and the sails pulled twice their usual weight in the lines under the sharp wind. But five weeks on a boat three strides from port to starboard, with a crew of nine and a comfortable capacity of six, was still not the long ocean crossing on a broad ship that Eliah wanted to make.
And at fourteen, he had already made thar crossing forty-four times. He shouldn’t have been keeping count, but it made it easier to brag and complain.
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Eliah wandered farther downhill, toward the end of the street. A few roads back, he’d been walking on pavement, but now it had turned to hard packed dirt between the great square warehouses near the water. One street over, it would turn to wooden boardwalk, and then to deep, crystalline water. He was content in the dust for now. The crowds on the piers were always thicker, and while he didn’t have an particular destination, he preferred to make good time.
Up ahead, the road stopped at the base of another of Lesser island’s rolling hills. Other hills rose high as they pleased, but still dropped off into the ocean in the same general line as their lower neighbors. This one held onto its height, leaving a fat ridge of green that curved out into the ocean and shielded the harbor like a bent shield arm.
When the road ended, Eliah paused, and glanced toward the docks, and then clambered up the hill. He really didn’t have anywhere to be.
1. When I was very small, I feared the Witch at the Window. I don’t know why. I suppose she was a climber, green fingers hanging on the sill outside, and her long nose pressed to the glass. There was no tree out my window, and she never came tapping, just a silent thing peering in. We kept the shades drawn at night, to keep the car lights out, and all our sleeping in, but sometimes the corner pulled away at the bottom. I never looked, already knowing she filled the peeking space.
2. It took me a long time to learn not to watch horror films before bed. It took longer to learn not to watch them at all.