"I am? Really? I'm so glad you told me. Based on your expressions, I'd never have guessed that-that-"
Her voice broke into a nervous gulp as the glowering twist to Brock's visage s.h.i.+fted even farther down the spectrum from "unaamused" toward "homicidal." Widders.h.i.+ns decided that, just maybe, Brock-baiting was not the healthiest pastime to engage in.
With his short-cropped dark hair and rock-solid jawline, Brock might even have been deemed handsome, if someone of a far gentler persuasion had resided behind his face. Though a member in good standing of the Davillon Finders' Guild, Brock wasn't actually a thief. He was, rather, one of the guild's "negotiators"-or, in more mundane terms, a leg-breaker. He was no less a blunt object than the weapon he favored.
He stepped nearer the table, his tread shaking the floorboards into spitting tiny puffs of dust. Widders.h.i.+ns's eyes, of their own accord, flickered to the enormous hammer at his side.
In her agitation, and in spite of her determination not to taunt the man any further, she blurted, "Gee, Brock, I didn't know you were a blacksmith. What-what were you planning to forge with that?" She chuckled nervously, and wished now she hadn't sat atop the table. Her position offered little room to retreat. "You know, when they talk about members of the Finders' Guild 'forging' things, that's not really what they mean. See, most people in our line of work prefer pen and ink. It's really a lot more-"
"Shut. The h.e.l.l. Up."
She did just that, leaning back ever farther as Brock loomed nearer, until it seemed that she might wind up lying flat on her back in order to meet his gaze. He finally stopped, however, no more than a foot away.
"You annoy me," he told her succinctly. "That's never a wise idea."
"It's a habit," she retorted instinctively. "What do you want with me?"
"What do I usually want from people, Widders.h.i.+ns? What they owe the guild. And you, girl, are a little behind."
His fellow thugs smirked at the entendre.
Widders.h.i.+ns scowled despite herself. Lisette again-it had to be. n.o.body else would be riding her yet about a job she'd just completed yesterday.
He could, she supposed, have been speaking of other, older jobs, but she'd never held back on those. Well, not much; everyone held out a little....
"I don't know what you're talking about!" she insisted, indignant.
The others chuckled once more, having heard it a thousand times from a thousand mouths. Brock shook his head. "Of course you haven't," he said snidely. "This is all a big mistake."
"Well, yes, it is! And besides," she added quickly as his hand settled on the heavy mallet, "if you kill me, the guild never gets what I supposedly owe them! They'd be unhappy with you for that, yes?"
"I'm not supposed to kill you," Brock told he
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