Spy Glass Page 57

“For what?”

“Shopping with my mother,” he deadpanned.

“But she—”

“Agreed to spend time with you for my sake.”

“But I heard…”

He tilted his head, waiting.

“Er…I only caught a sentence or two, but I don’t think my idea to tell her about Kaya worked.”

“Nothing’s a quick fix, Opal. But it was a step in the right direction. After I reminded her about her own often-repeated advice to not jump to conclusions about new people, she thought a day in town with you would be acceptable.”

“But, I don’t need anything.”

“Really? I thought you needed a dress for Mara’s wedding.”

It was my turn to groan. Dress shopping with Kade’s mother. Kill me now. The alternative—arriving home without a gown—was equally unappealing.

“Okay, but I’m taking my switchblade along.”

“To defend yourself against my mother?” he asked with an incredulous tone.

“No. To slit my throat if the day goes badly.”

He laughed. “Make sure you don’t bleed in front of her. She faints at the sight of blood.”

“I’m so glad you have your priorities straight,” I said. My voice dripped with sarcasm.

Unaffected he pushed me toward the house. “You’ll have…Well, you’ll have an interesting day at least. And you should listen to my mother. She has an excellent eye for color.”

Sarrah eyed my short locks as we walked to town. “First stop, the hairdresser. Those dark roots look awful.”

I sucked in a breath and held it for a moment. It was going to be a very long afternoon. When we arrived in the town of Cumulus, I followed Kade’s instruction and listened to Sarrah, letting the hairdresser return my hair to its natural color. I tried to ask Sarrah questions about her life in an effort to get to know her better, but she either ignored me or gave me a vague answer that implied that I really didn’t want to know so why should she bother.

The dress shop was busy. Sales staff hustled, and the seam-stress fretted over her customers with a measuring ribbon. I didn’t have time for a custom-made gown, so we searched through the racks of finished pieces.

When I moved to the back row, Sarrah stopped me. “Kade can’t afford those. They’re silk. If we can’t find something here, we can ask if they have any other cheap or rejected gowns.”

I blinked at her a moment. Did she just say Kade? Did she actually think I would let Kade pay for my gown? Or I needed him to pay for it? Her opinion of me was worse than I imagined. I endured her abuse for two reasons—guilt over Devlen and keeping the peace for Kade. No longer.

“Outside,” I said. “Now.”

She fussed about wasting time as she followed me. Surrounded by indigo fields, Cumulus’s entire downtown area fit within a two-block radius. I stopped at the edge of town and turned to her.

“I get it. You don’t like me. That’s fine. But you’re making the wrong assumptions about me and that isn’t fine. Kade and I are together. We’re not going to change because you don’t like it. And I’m no longer ignoring all your snide comments. If you don’t have anything constructive to say, then keep your mouth shut.”

“Or what?” She crossed her arms, daring me.

“Or I’ll leave and I’ll take Kade with me. He wants us to spend more time together, but if you’re going to continue to be nasty, then it won’t be here with you.”

“Finally!”

Not the reaction I expected. “Excuse me?”

“I don’t like you, Opal. But weak people who don’t defend themselves I like even less. Come on.” She hurried down the street.

I rushed to catch up. We passed the dress shop. She cut down an alley and knocked on the back entrance of a residence. When the door opened, a young lady peeked out. Laughter, shrieks and wails of children sounded behind her. A mane of blond hair framed her round face and she wore old clothes. A row of straight pins had been stuck in her shirt.

She smiled and greeted Sarrah as if they were old friends, then invited us in. The comfortable living area had been invaded by romping children. We bypassed the troops and she led us to a quieter sewing room.

Sarrah introduced us. “Tori, this is Opal, Kade’s…friend. She needs a gown right away. Do you still have the one you made for Anya?”

Tori frowned. “Yes. After all that work, she changed her mind and wouldn’t pay for it! And you had mixed me such a gorgeous color.”

“I think Opal is her size.”

She scanned me and squealed, dashing for a closet. After sorting through it, Tori pulled out a gorgeous emerald-green gown. Simple and elegant, the sleeveless V-neck bodice was lined with lace and crystals. From the waist down, layers of silk overlapped with crystals sewn along the ends of each layer.

Tori handed me the gown. “Try it on in there.” She pointed to a curtain.

Behind the material, I found a small changing room with a bench and mirror. Careful not to rip the fabric, I squirmed into it. The cool caress of silk touched my skin. I loved it.

When I came out, Tori squealed again.

Sarrah said, “It’s a little big.”

“Minor adjustments,” Tori said as she tugged and pulled. “I’ll take it in around the waist and shorten the straps. A few hours at most.” She used the straight pins in her shirt to mark the changes. “Oh my.”

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