“I’m just saying, she knows more than she’s saying.”
Ezer was following Senga and Erramun around the house.
This might have been adorable in a normal case, but since Senga was trying to get a moment or seven alone with Erramun, it was growing a little frustrating.
“And I’m saying, of course she does.” Senga checked the back door to the garden – the one in the Sturdy – and found it, too, locked.
Her cousins were fae. They couldn’t enter a house without an invitation, any more than she could. But that wouldn’t stop them from sending an agent, or a team of them, if they thought it would work.
“What do you mean, of course she does?”
“Ezer?” The wards on the house were still amazingly strong. Senga wondered who’d been keeping them up. They seemed to recognize her, at least. “She admitted she’d been researching me – and thus us – since I was old enough to have a Name. Of course she does. And she’s staff in this house, to this family, and has been staff since I was a child. Of course she knows things. How else would she have survived as long as she has?”
She moved on to the next doorway, Erramun following like a shadow and Ezer following like a puppy dog.
“Speaking of our business, well, I got us another job. And I have a lead on what went wrong with the last job. This one, I think this one should be safe, but I’d be more comfortable if you could bring your bodyguard along.”
“He’s not my body-”
“All right.” Erramun seemed to realize that he’d cut her off a split second after the words were out of his mouth. He bowed his head. “That is, if my mistress is amenable to this plan.”
“You’re still not my bodyguard,” she muttered.
“It is, however, a cover. You may not need a bodyguard, but you might need a reason to bring someone with you to some sort of job. And while I might not be helpful in your normal dealings, I would like to see to it that you stay alive.”
“Your concern is touching.” Ezer’s tone dripped with sarcasm. “Can you take orders?”
“Are you an idiot?” Erramun tilted his head as if asking in genuine academic curiosity. “Or are you simply not fae but still working with them? That would explain why you stay behind while they go into danger-”
“I stay behind because they are fighters, warriors, and liars, and I am very good at making deals and getting them jobs.” Ezer didn’t normally bristle at this sort of accusation – it certainly wasn’t the first time they’d heard something like it – but he was definitely bristling today.
“Jobs like the one that got your teammates shot at?” Erramun seemed to have gotten taller. Ezer was not a short man, but with Erramun looking down, down, down at him, he suddenly seemed shorter than Chitter.
“We were set up!” Ezer took half a step backwards, caught himself, and stomped forward. “Back to the point, mister. Can you take orders?”
“Back to my point, junior. Are you a moron?”
“What the hell is your problem?” Ezer shifted up closer to Erramun. Senga considered intervening and decided it was wiser not to.
Erramun’s eyebrows went up. “My problem? You keep pressing a stupid question like you don’t already know the answer. What the hell do you think this is?” He tapped the edge of his neck. “If not a signal of me taking orders?”
Ezer faltered, his eyes taking in the new ink, the symbols on it. He looked over at Senga.
She shrugged, willing to let him dig himself out of this mess. He’d done well enough digging himself into it, after all.
“I meant.” He was gritting the words out through his teeth. “I meant, can you take MY orders?”
“Well, no.” Erramun aimed a smirk down at him. “Not after that stupid question. Not after your orders got MY mistress injured. But I can take her orders. Obviously. And I will.”
“Obviously.” Ezer snarled. “Just because you have to obey doesn’t mean you can take her orders. Those are two different skill sets.”
“A point. I’m impressed.” He sounded bored. “I can take her orders. I will follow her orders. And I have to obey. But whether or not I take your orders is up to her, to my opinion of you, and to her opinion of you.”
“She’s my crew!”
“Then I’d suggest you do a slightly better job of keeping your crew in one piece.”
“It’s not like the job doesn’t involve combat. Do you faint a little at the sight of blood? Big man, big name, can’t stand a little violence?” Ezer’s sneer looked like he’d regained any balance he might have lost. Considering he nearly fainted at the sight of blood, he was talking a pretty big game.
“What I can’t stand-” Erramun clearly hadn’t lost any balance at all “-is senseless or useless violence. They went into a trap. She, Senga, went into a trap. That is the problem. You.” He tapped Ezer’s chest with one long finger. “You sent her into a trap.”
“It’s not like I knew it was a trap! It’s not like I liked it!
“Good.” Erramun dropped his voice to a low growl. “Because if I ever find out that you had done any of that on purpose, junior, no orders will keep me from destroying you.”