Spy Glass Page 60

“Maybe they don’t like failing, and want to finish the job?”

“But why take my blood? To use as bait? It’s not like I’m in hiding. They should be able to find me.”

“It’s just a possibility. You need to think it through for the various people you dealt with this last year, including Devlen.” His arm tensed.

I glanced up at Kade, but he stared at the wall.

“He has a good reason to hate you,” he said. “Cooperating with the authorities and helping you could all be an act.”

Before my training with Valek, I would have conceded the possibility, but not after. Plus he had plenty of opportunities to get to me before. No. Not Devlen.

“All right, I’ll dig deeper. Perhaps I’ll unearth a playmate from long ago bent on revenge,” I said.

He relaxed. “From your mother’s stories, it’s a wonder you lived through your childhood at all.”

“Hey!” I pushed him away. “My mother loves to exaggerate.” Then a notion struck me. “Since I’m dead in a ditch, maybe she won’t tell her embarrassing stories.”

Within an hour, I wished my mother would switch to the humiliating stories. But no luck. Even though she continued to ignore me, she told Kade about all the times poor dead Opal had disappointed her.

When Leif arrived with the tablecloths, I ran from the house. “Thank fate, you’re here! One more minute with that woman…”

Leif chuckled. “Suck it up, Opal. You’re the one who decided to show up late.”

“I didn’t decide…never mind.” The reasons would take too long to explain.

“So how’s my favorite glass wizard…er…my favorite soon to be sister-in-law?” he asked.

He had the decency to squirm when I didn’t answer.

“Well…er… Kade!” Leif rushed over to say hello.

Next to the tall Stormdancer, Leif seemed shorter than he was. His stocky build was due to thick muscles and not fat. What he lacked in speed he compensated with his strength when he wielded his machete. Despite his tactless greeting, he was dependable and grounded. A good man in a storm. Well…not as good as Kade, because of the whole Stormdancing thing. But someone reliable to fight beside. Mara had found a mate who suited her perfectly.

Leif’s horse, Rusalka shifted her weight in impatience. She was another fancy Sandseed horse. Her saddle bulged with tablecloths. I untied the packages and removed her tack. She nuzzled my ear before taking off to find Quartz and Moonlight.

Leaving the saddle for Leif to put away, I carried the large bundle of tablecloths into the house. Kade and Leif followed. I dumped them on the kitchen table, and Mother tsked over the wrinkled material.

She sighed. “If only poor dead Opal were here to iron these.”

Shocked, Leif looked from my mother to me and back. “Wow. That’s…that’s… Wow.”

Kade ginned. “Leif is speechless. Amazing. If only poor dead Opal were here to enjoy it.”

I swatted him. “Don’t you start.” And before Leif could add a comment, I ordered him outside. “Go, pick up your saddle and take Kade with you.”

In high spirits, they left. They could be jolly. They didn’t have to iron a stack of linen tablecloths. My mother was well aware of my aversion to ironing. I set up the board and started the first of—no doubt, many—punishments from my mother.

“What did you do to your hair?” Mara asked.

“Nice to see you, too,” I grumped. “I’m sure your hair wouldn’t look any better after bending over a hot iron all afternoon.” I eyed her golden curls. Even sweaty and dirty from working in the glass factory with our father, she still looked radiant.

I waited for the familiar tug of jealousy. My straight hair and dark brown eyes were no comparison to her beauty. My athletic build almost boylike next to her curves. However, the envy failed to poke me. Instead a sense of pride spread through me. This lovely lady was my sister. I realized she had never made me feel ugly. It had always been my own lack of confidence.

“I can still work with that length,” she said as if I hadn’t just growled at her. “It won’t ruin my special surprise.”

I couldn’t stay annoyed with her for long. Never could. Besides, all this preparation and work was for her and I shouldn’t be difficult. After I finished with the ironing, my mother set the dining room table for supper. I helped with the silverware and noticed she miscounted the place settings. One short. I skidded to a halt when I realized she had done it on purpose. Poor dead Opal didn’t need a plate.

Closing my eyes for a moment, I debated if I should just eat in the kitchen. But I had endured much worse than my mother’s cold shoulder, and I could get through the next few days. I added another plate.

Ahir and my father arrived just as the hot dishes were ready to be served. Their sense of timing never failed, and I wondered if they smelled dinner in the factory.

Details about the wedding dominated the conversation. I embraced the comforting flow of voices, content to listen to the plans and Leif’s appreciative noises over the roasted duck. It was delicious as always.

“…hope the weather holds out,” Mara said. “Rain would turn the courtyard into a muddy mess and ruin our day.”

“We could have the wedding in the factory,” my father offered. “I’ll move the gaffer’s benches—”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Jaymes,” Mother said. “I have more of that oiled cloth. We’ll make sides like a tent and keep the rain out.”

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