“I think he’s waiting for you.” Lady Zenica took a draw of her cigarette and blew the smoke toward the young man playing the violin on the street below. She settled into the embrace of the shadows on the balcony. The night air hung heavy with smoke and the perfume of gardenias. The white blossoms rioted over wrought iron balcony rails and twined up the edges creating a lush bower for the lady and her vassal. Fen didn’t lean out of the shadows. He could see the player well enough and, as the lady was right, he did not wish to be visible to the street.
He nodded and flipped through the glossy photographs on the table between them. Moody streetscapes, street performers, and, very rarely, a portrait. It was at the portrait he stopped. The violinist smirked up at him from the print. He passed it to his patron. “He’s content where he is. Would be a hard sell.”
“More interested in you than what you can offer,” Lady Zenica mused, and tapped her thin fingers on the bottom of the print. She flicked the young man’s smile and a bit of ash fell to his cheek. She picked up the print and tapped the ash off. “Keep him around and curious. He may be of interest to others.”
Fen nodded, but his stomach dropped. He hid it well, and his lady was taking her leave. He leaned back as her footsteps faded, and listened to the skirl of the fiddle. The current tune invited the listener to linger to hear whether the tangled strains would ever resolve in a satisfactory manner. After awhile, they did. There was a pause. Fen rose and walked to the railing. Beneath the orange streetlight, the violinist looked up at him and smiled when he moved out of the shadow of the gardenias. Fen shook his head and the young man leaned against the lamp pole with a questioning look. Silent, Fen debated his options. He liked none of them, and he would never trust to luck again. So he turned back into the shadows leaving the fiddler without an answer. He smelled the smoke of Lady Zenica’s cigarette and said a brief prayer for the young man. Then he chuckled. Prayers from him may well have the opposite effect.
I stole the first line of this piece from Gwen over at ApprenticeNeverMaster. Check out her blog tomorrow for the original fiction. And as always, keep your eye out for the whole ring of thieves.