"Widders.h.i.+ns, you have absolutely lost your mind. I couldn't think of a less logical argument if I sat down and worked at it."
"Perfect! If it's not logical, you can't argue with it. I'll be at your place at noon."
The door slammed, and she was gone.
Genevieve shook her head, bemused. There was a great deal to be done before opening. And as for next week...Well, she hated to disappoint her friend, but there was no help for it. She was absolutely, positively, not going to that stupid parade. Not a chance. No way. Under no circ.u.mstances. No.
"Isn't this fun?" Widders.h.i.+ns shouted happily. "I told you you should get out!"
Genevieve gritted her teeth and tried to think about something other than throttling Widders.h.i.+ns with her bare hands.
She still wasn't sure precisely how this had even happened. One moment she was flopped out blissfully in bed, sleeping off a hectic but profitable night of drink-filling and food-slinging at the Flippant Witch, without a care in the world, snugly coc.o.o.ned against the late autumn chill.
The next, Widders.h.i.+ns was in her bedroom, having picked the b.l.o.o.d.y lock, and practically dancing with excitement, shouting at Genevieve to hurry up and get dressed. It was barely after noon-the depth of night, as far as the tavern keep was concerned. This was absolutely outrageous behavior, even from a close friend, and Gen resolved to berate the thief soundly, just as soon as she had a moment to fully wake up, to regain her equilibrium, to...
They were outside and halfway through the marketplace before Genevieve rea.s.sembled her scrambled wits sufficiently to speak. And by then, of course, it was far too late. Genevieve smiled a tight, closed-mouth smile, wondered briefly how Widders.h.i.+ns had managed to get her dressed (with most of the laces tied properly, even!), and then grudgingly went along.
A decision she now bitterly regretted as the inexorable press of the gathering crowds hurled the pair this way and that, two floating bottles on the seas of Davillon's populace. The crowd was a living thing, moving and even breathing as one. The sensation was unpleasantly akin to that of being swept away by a very loud and sweaty tide.
Speech was very nearly impossible: lean over, shout at the top of your lungs in your friend's ear, scream your throat as raw as if you'd gargled with gla.s.s shavings, and it was still necessary to repeat yourself two or four times before the object of your comment (which probably wasn't all that important anyway) wandered out of view.
It was hot, too. Not the heat of the day-it wasn't all that long until winter-but the heat of thousands of bodies, each pressed uncomfortably close in a macabre parody of intimacy. The miasma of perspiration and perfume was enough to fell an ox at thirty paces.
Sweating in unladylike rivulets, jostled by strangers, bruised in uncountable tender areas
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