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?”
She blinked, a long, deliberate motion, as if she were stopping herself from something, though she didn’t move an inch otherwise.
“You are a pirate, aren’t you?” Connal’s smile stretched at the corners as he said the word again. “That’s how you got that, isn’t it?” He pointed toward her wrist and the piece of leather wrapped around it. Resting against the scarred wood tabletop, it looked too fresh, too smooth, and he knew she felt it more than he did. It was blank, and it shouldn’t have been.
“No,” she whispered. It was a quiet sound, with an edge so delicate, he almost didn’t notice the slice of it. Not until it stung in the clear quiet that followed.
“Really?” Connal gathered himself off the back of chair, and leaned forward over the table. “Because from what I heard, you sack cities. You sink ships. You rob and steal and take what’s yours. Or you wouldn’t be sitting there across from me, asking me to forge papers to get you into ports that know what you are.”
Debora shook her head. She let out a breath, a cold, short laugh. “They might know. You don’t.”
She stood, quick, and Connal pulled back, trying to keep her gaze.
“Remember what you are,” she said. “Just one forger, that I don’t need any more than another.”
“And I’m a Captain, with a ship like you’ve never stood on, and a heavy purse, and pride enough,” she said. “And absolutely no need to give up any of that.”
“Wait,” Connal said. He stumbled trying to push himself out of his seat.
Debora’s mouth curled into a smile, sharp, elegant, and easy. “Good day,” she said. Turning, she abandoned him immediately, and disappeared in the crowd behind her.
Connal spilled his drink across the table, reached for it, abandoned it, straightened, and caught sight of her again, just as she strode out the door. He swallowed. His tongue was too thick, his head too light.
He rocked on his heels, and swore.
I’m a thief! I stole the first line of this piece from my friend, Kate. In fact, we all robbed Kate this week. Be sure to check out the others, and stop by Kate’s blog tomorrow to see what she intended to happen over this drink.