This follows The Funeral. It’s set in Fae apoc, pre-apoc era, possibly 2010.
“Do you think they did it?”
Senga found it interesting that he used they and not the more traditional it.
She shook her head slowly. “No. No, if Alencaustel was going to do it, they’d either have left absolutely no trace at all, or put up giant signs. Besides, no matter what shit Eavean is throwing around, they’re not a Nedetakaei.”
She dropped her voice to a murmur for the last part of the sentence. For one, it wasn’t a word the Mayor or the Chief of police would (presumably) know. For another, considering her Great-Aunt’s friends, she couldn’t be entirely certain there weren’t Shenera Oseraei – children of the Gods, Law-breakers – in the room. And it was considered ill manners to start a fight at a funeral, no matter what Eavean over there was going.
For a third, she didn’t absolutely know the person she was talking to wasn’t one of those Law-breakers himself.
He raised his eyebrows at her. “You seem confident of their methods.”
“We – yes. I know my cousins, even if we don’t get along well. The way Eavean is screaming and putting up a fuss, I’d put even money on it being her. Or someone else who stands to gain.”
“Did you do it?” His tone didn’t change from lazy curiosity and his body language didn’t shift at all.
Senga made sure hers matched him, all casual-conversation and nothing-to-see here. “Nope. To be honest, I don’t think I could have. Did you?”
And what would she do if he said yes?
He shook his head. “Oaths and promises.” His voice was rueful, even if he still looked nonchalant. “So many oaths and promises. Your Great-aunt there, she had a way of getting those out of people, you know?”
“Yeah, yeah I do know. I guess the question isn’t so much who as why now. Was she working on any new projects?”
“You don’t know? You’re her family.”
“White sheep, remember?” Senga raised her eyebrows. “I hadn’t talked to my great-aunt in years. So?”
“So?” His smirk looked a little strained. If he were an interrogation subject, she’d say he was just about ready to crack.
This wasn’t an interrogation. This was a funeral. A funeral for a relative who had, to be fair, done Senga a number of favors.
“Was she working on any new projects?”
His casual half-smile vanished. “Even if I knew, I couldn’t tell you.” There was a crack in his voice. Interesting.
“Oaths and promises,” Senga guessed. “Great-Aunt Mirabella had a fondness for them. Did you get something good in return, at least?”
His smile was back, a little thing that turned up half his mouth and creased a set of wrinkles he might have had for hundreds of years, right at the sides of his eyes. “I don’t think I know you that well yet. Besides. This is about her. Her funeral and all.”
“Everything’s always been about her.” Senga said it with no malice. She had long ago learned to scrub that from her voice around her family. “That’s the thing about Great-Aunt MIrabella.”
He smirked. “That it is — was? No, looks like it still is. You think it finally bit her harder than she could bite back?”
“I think whatever bit her, it probably had something to do with — her being her,” Senga temporized. She muttered another Working, just as something squish and heavy hit her in the small of the back.
“And you!” Eavan’s screech was unmistakable. Which meant Senga had just been hit with a purse. Well, there were worse things to be blindsided with. “What are you doing, flirting with the help when my mother is dead?”
Senga turned slowly. SOme part of her said she shouldn’t turn her back on the stranger, but Eavan was family, which made her the more immediate threat. “Eaven. I’m glad you could make it. How has your little business been going?”
It did what she wanted it to, which was make her cousin take a step backwards. Eaven was a handsome woman, dressed to the nines for this as for everything, her dress not so much low-cut as suggestive. Maybe Lady Tabitha would offer her a position in her House.
“What would you know about business ventures, you ridiculous low-life assassin?”
“Oh, Eaven.” Senga made soft noises like she was worried about her cousin. “First you accuse Alencaustel, and now you think I’m an assassin? The grief must really be getting to you.” She took her cousin’s arm and steered her, using a bit more force than her concern suggested, towards a seat at the side of the room. “Why don’t you rest for a while, and I’ll see if your boy — what’s his name? Ah, Henry — can get you some water.”
She had Eaven in a seat and was off, ostensibly in search of Henry (Eaven never called the boy by name, and Senga wasn’t sure she knew it), before her cousin could come up with another line of attack.
“That was impressive.” She’d almost forgotten about the tall, dark one. “Do you always handle your family with such – ah – targeted grace?”
“Targeted grace?” Senga raised her eyebrows. “That’s a phrase for it.”
“You were unfailingly polite and brutal at the same time. I don’t want to face you in battle, miss.” He smirked at her, but even though his tone was joking, there was a serious tension in his body language. “You’d still be telling me my vest wasn’t quite buttoned right and helping me with my tie when you stabbed me through the heart.”
“Oh, but I’d be tidy about it.” He’d definitely made her as a killer. If he was as old as he said he was, she probably shouldn’t feel too bad about it. Why, then, did Senga feel like he was sizing her up for a coffin next to her aunt’s?
“Ahem. If those who were asked to be present for the reading of the will – and only those – would please join me in the office right off to the side here?” The suited man suddenly had a power and strength about him that he hadn’t demonstrated before. He also had two very tall men in suits that had to be tailored to them – nobody made suits off the rack that large – standing to either side of him. “We are about to read the will.”
Next: Will-Reading http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1266567.html
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