Hey everyone! I’m here to break the silence once again.
Is it spoilers if it’s your own work? Best not to think too hard on that.
“This space,” Jessica said, gesturing to the expanse of lacquered floors cut with long cluttered work-tables, mannequins, and rolling racks of stylish dresses. “Used to be an aerial fabrics studio. When they wnet out of business, my art school mentor was the first to know. He tipped me off, and now the space is mine.” She paused before the three-way mirror and inspected florid ruffed spauldrons. “It’s all in who you know.”
Rylie made the trip alone. Dennis was worse for wear, and could hardly stand Jessica at his best. Rylie tolerated Jessica the same way one tolerates a feral cat – with absolute certainty of eventual betrayal.
Without Dennis’ touch the car fell into full revolt, rattling into the turns, sending Morse code through twinkling dash lights. Rylie switched on the heater and received a sputtering noise and sustained high-pitched whine. She arrived with cold knuckles.
“It is,” she said, smiling dutifully. When Rylie first made the bohemian circles years back, Jessica had worked hard to befriend her. Then, well… feral cat.
Feigning curiosity, Rylie inspected a full-length hourglass dress, with sturdy folds and a bold standing collar. She ran her fingers over the glossy green-blacks, lettuce greens and battle reds.
“In fact, if I were to guess, Id’ say you know a thing or two about the Summer Court of the Shimmering Hills. These are their colors, after all.”
“Really?” Jessica played shock, but Rylie saw the knot in her throat. “This is th first I’ve heard of it – but you know, I can’t feel too bad. Fae culture is everywhere these days. Sometimes you just pick these things up.”
“Some thingsyou pick up can be dangerous,” Rylie said, fondling the fabric with rude force.. Jessica grew close, hands tensed and ready to shoo.
“I’m sorry to distract you with all this fashion talk,” the artist gushed, and Rylie supressed a smile. “On the phone, you said you needed a favor?”
Rylie frwoned. “Sadly, I do. Dennis is sick -”
“And you want to get to the root of the problem?” Jessica’s smile was a touch too gleeful. “Word gets around.”
“Do you know anyone who could help?” She hoped the reverence in her voice would stoke Jessica’s ego just enough.
The artist sighed and scanned the room, as if about to relay a great secret. Her assistant, a much younger man and woman in tight gray pants, fussed over a cell phone. Satisfied, Jessica turned back to Rylie.
“Magical help, I’m assuming. I do know of a nature mage who might have some insight. We go way back. Here -” Jessica scrawled an address on a personalized notepad and tore the page for Rylie. “Ask for Kala. She’s typically available on Saturday nights.”
“No phone number?”
“You know mages,” Jessica laughed. “Tell her I miss her, will you? Give her my address.”
Rylie smiled. “Thank you, Jessica. I’ve been worried.”
“Of course you are! Don’t let me hold you up.”