Celta Thursday, cut scene from Heart Fortune, Jace and Laev T'Hawthorn at the fussy women-mostly Ladies' Tearoom
**I do not like this place. It is too fussy. I want OUT!** Zem the FamHawk said.
Reluctantly, Jace opened the door. I will miss you, he said privately to Zem. Please stay close.
There is a strip of park with a fountain across the street. Bathtime! Zem sounded thrilled. With only a flip of a wing as good bye, he soared away.
Dammit, Jace could have used his Fam's advice. He closed the door and turned back to the room. The place reminded him of his mother and how sweet she seemed on the outside and to other people and how rotten she was to him when no one was watching.
Eventually whispers started up again and a genuinely amused woman came their way. "Greet you, Laev."
"Hello, Aquilaria. Looks like business is good."
"Business is great, as usual," she said.
"Nice to hear."
"Camellia isn't in, today."
T'Hawthorn smiled charmingly. "I know."
The woman nodded. "I thought you did. How about a table in the corner." She flashed a smile and began wending her way through the tables to an empty area in a small corner. Then she gestured for them to sit at a table with a white cloth that actually relieved Jace.
Setting fancily cut sheets of papyrus before them, she said, "The menu. Not as simple or hearty as what you'll find at Darjeeling's HouseHeart, or as extensive as the cuisine at Darjeeling's Teahouse."
"Camellia's at Darjeeling's HouseHeart," T'Hawthorn said, without looking up from the menu, "and the manager of Darjeeling's Teahouse would insist on scrying Camellia and telling her that I was there. Which you won't, will you Aquilaria?"
A few seconds' hesitation and a slight sigh from the woman. "No, I won't, Laev. Not right now, not unless she scries me and asks if you're here."
T'Hawthorn smiled up at her, "Which won't enter her mind."
"I'll tell her soon enough, when I compliment her on the place." He grimaced. "I don't like the decor, but I can tell the women do."
"We were all having a very good time until you two gorgeous men walked in," said a waitress, stopping at the table. "Now everyone is preening and watching you." The newcomer laughed. "Aquilaria won't have to tell Glyssa that you were here, she'll hear as soon as a guest here wants to call her, and if that doesn't happen, the gossip will hit her by tomorrow."
The GreatLord set down the menu, rested his arms on the table and steepled his fingers. "Tomorrow will be fine. In a half-septhour, not so much. I have business."
"Uh-huh," said the waitress. "What can I get you?"
Jace glanced down at the menu, printed in very fancy script that he had trouble reading.
"I will have dark roast caff," T'Hawthorn said. "I noticed that at the bottom of the menu you offered 'a full Celtan tea for those who want a heavier meal.' That's me."
"Excellent, and you, sir?" the waitress turned to Jace.
"I'll have that meal, too." He thought about drink. Caff was the standard of the day in the camp, most bad, some good if you knew the right person. He'd had some good tea with Glyssa, didn't remember the name of it, but Camellia had provided it. He grinned at the manager, then the waitress, handed the server his menu. "I'll have the Darjeeling."
They smiled back and T'Hawthorn narrowed his eyes. "Clever."
"I can be," Jace said.
"Have a good business discussion, my lords," said the manager. "Take any physical disagreements to The Green Knight Fencing and Fighting Salon. The ladies might be delighted to see a fight – or might not, but, I assure you, Camellia would be displeased."
Jace sat stunned at being addressed a lord, even if it was by only one letter.
After the two women left – and he noticed that the next party that came in was seated on the opposite side of the room.
"I'm not a lord." Jace finally shook his mind from a trance.
T'Hawthorn shrugged. "I'm sure they feel it's better to error on the side of courtesy and respect. And though I don't think T'Blackthorn or his sons, especially Draeg, would step in here for any amount of gilt, you are dressed much like the trackers when they are working."
"Oh." Jace frowned. "I thought T'Blackthorn...that the Blackthorns..." He stopped since T'Hawthorn's face went still.
"Straif and Mitchella have adopted. They consider Straif's cuz's sons as his own."
"I don't know too much about Druida City or the FirstFamilies, haven't ever associated with nobles, especially on any kind of regular basis."
"Until now," the GreatLord leaned back in his chair, floral patterened like everything else from the walls to the rug.
The waitress appeared with two china floral pots, one long and slender, the other short and round, the standard teapot. Murmuring easy comments about the day, she poured rich smelling caff from the taller pot into a tall, thin mug of simple white. Jace's nose twitched.
Then she poured his light-brown tea that smelled a little flowery, a little delicate but still tasty. He wanted it on his tongue. And when he did taste it, he smiled and looked up at her. "Perfect."
She returned his smile, nodded to T'Hawthorn and left.
"You're really going to drink that?" The GreatLord asked.