The wicked heroine, p.34
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       The Wicked Heroine, p.34

           Jasmine Giacomo


  Sanych had eaten her fill of stew and had found it quite satisfying. Unlike her search for Geret. She had checked with the Dictat, with the caravan masters, and had wandered through the groups of people sitting and chatting around various bright fires as night fell upon the caravan. Only then did she decide to check his tent.

  With the general hubbub outside, Sanych couldn’t hear anyone inside, but she saw that Geret’s lamp was lit. She lifted the flap and began to step through, not thinking of personal space, not thinking of intruding. The only thing on her mind was the topic she wanted to advise Geret on. She was surprised and discomfited, therefore, at the sight that met her eyes within the tent.

  Geret sat on the edge of his cot, looking mournful. Meena sat cross-legged, shins pressed against his thigh, with one hand on his shoulder and the other on his knee. The look on her face was one of such gentleness, Sanych was baffled. She had never seen Meena look that way before. The sight of the two of them so close together made Sanych frown in confusion.

  The motion of the tent flap caught Geret’s attention; he looked up and cleared his throat as he recognized her. Meena shifted smoothly and rose to her feet. “Later, then,” she said to him, brushing past Sanych without another word.

  Sanych found her heart thumping more than usual; she wasn’t sure what she had seen, or what it meant. She hadn’t experienced a wide range of social situations in her sheltered life. If it hadn’t had to do with a teacher, a colleague, or a servant, she knew her understanding was terribly limited.

  “Evening, Archivist Sanych,” Geret greeted her, switching gears.

  “Uhm, evening…Geret…” Sanych was mortified to hear her voice so hesitant.

  “Did you need to tell me something?”

  “Yes.” She took a deep, steadying breath. “The weather’s going to be a bit wet for the next day. I thought you should know so you can prepare the caravan.”

  “How do you know that?” Geret asked with a puzzled frown.

  “It’s…in the clouds,” Sanych replied, opting for the short version.

  Geret’s eyes widened. “You can read weather? That’s amazing. That’ll be incredibly useful on this journey. Why didn’t you tell me you can do that?”

  “You didn’t ask. Um, that was all I had to say just now, actually,” Sanych said, still feeling uncomfortable. “I’ll let you rest.”

  Geret’s expression dimmed; he looked…disappointed? Sanych wasn’t certain she was in a proper frame of mind to be sure. “Good night then,” he said warmly. “I’ll see you bright and early.”

  “Yes, good night.” Sanych slipped back out of the tent flap and took a few steps away into the deepening gloaming before pausing to take a deep breath and try and sort herself out a bit.

  Before she could, however, a single finger tapped gently on her left shoulder.

  “Wisdom, Geret–” she began, turning in that direction, then stopped short. A large yellow prairie rose occupied the space directly in front of her, its sturdy stem held in slim fingers. She traced them up to their owner’s face, and met the warm hazel gaze of Salvor Thelios.

  “Sorry. Not Geret.” He smiled down at her, offering the flower.

  Sanych took it. Its sweet-salty fragrance reached her nose, and she murmured, “It’s lovely. Thank you, and I’m glad.”


  “Glad you’re not Geret, this particular moment.”

  “Really.” Salvor tilted his head, pondering this pronouncement for a long moment. “In that case, fair Archivist, I’ll simply bid you a good evening, and wish you a restful sleep.” He took her left hand and bowed over it, but he didn’t kiss it. Instead, he held her gaze for a smiling moment, then turned and slipped away into the gathering darkness.

  Sanych pulled her left hand close to her chest and clasped it with her right, holding the flower awkwardly. She watched him walk away until she couldn’t discern his form in the dark any longer. Her heart still pounded, and she was still unsure why.

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