Chapter 38: Changes
The promise of passion is to a lover as a blueberry to a starving rat.—Degumóni Chois
Lily sat at her desk and struggled to keep her script neat as she penned a hasty letter. It was the fifth one she had written that morning, the four previous ones were sent out to the various suppliers of fabric in hopes that one of them would have a yard of Klafin Sheer for sale.
She could imagine the delicate whorls of the fabric in her head. The pattern was famous for looking like frosted glass with an alluring design, but it was also difficult to purchase in a hurry. Like the glowing fabric she used for trim, the Klafin carried a hefty price and was treasured by most seamstresses across the city.
A young man stood across from her, his cap was balanced on his head as he rocked back and forth on his heels.
Lily glanced up at him and then down to the letter. She finished her entreaty to Masuin da Kasin, a supplier on the north side who had slightly shady reputation. She wasn’t Lily’s first choice—Mausin never was—but rumors are that she had an eclectic selection.
With a flare, Lily finished her letter. Signing it, she blew on it lightly to dry it. As she did, she glanced up again to see the young man staring at her.
He turned his head. “Sorry, kudame.”
Lily tensed for a moment, wondering if she was working too hard to follow Penir’s suggestion. She had spent most of her free money on couriers asking for a bit of expensive material; the perfect fabric to finish the collar.
The young man took the letter.
She tightened her grip.
Lily stared at him, her mind spinning furiously. Images of the Klafin raced across her thoughts as she pictured it in place. The whorls would fit nicely into the collar, following the curves of the young girl’s chest, and drawing the appropriate attention.
“Kudame?” repeated the courier with a gentle tug.
The fabric was a perfect choice, one that would be the talk of High Society for months.
It was also Penir’s choice. It would be her touch on Lily’s dress. It would be Penir’s reputation that marked the outfit.
The courier tugged again.
Lily stirred and pulled the letter from his hand. “Hold on, I need to make a change.”
The courier let out a quiet sigh. “Yes, kudame.”
Lily set it back on the table. With a sigh, she looked over the letter. The muscles in her back tensed as she stared at it, her mind once again flashing through the sheer materials that would work in the collar.
She settled on two of them, a Piliot and a Warchoisn. Both were sheer but didn’t have a classical whorl pattern of fish bone lacing. Instead they were designed around tiny dots and curves. With a smile, she crossed out Klafin and replaced it with her own choices.
With her heart beating hard, she dried her letter and handed it back, this time with a fifty jem bill. “Please, deliver with haste.”
The courier’s eyes widened at the cash, it was double the normal rate. Instantly, he bowed his head. “Yes, Kudame dea Kasin.”
The door bell rang out. Mindil came in. Her flowered dress fluttered with every step she made, showing off a generous amount of her thick thigh. She smiled broadly before stepping aside to let Hasan come in after her.
Hasan carried two large cloth bags with him. They would have lunch for all three of them, along with an appropriate selection of wines and treats.
Lily smiled to both of them.
“Good afternoon, Lily… oh, you have company?” Mindil smiled and looked him over. “Is he getting a dress?”
Both Hasan and the courier blushed.
The young man ducked his head. “I-I need to go. Thank you again, kudame.”
Before anyone else could say anything, he rushed out of the store with Lily’s letter.
Mindil turned to watch him. When she turned back, she was grinning.
“Did you have to ask about the dress?” asked Hasan with a hurt tone.
“Well, you won’t wear one for me.” Mindil headed over to Lily to give her a hug. Her fingers splayed against Lily’s back as she ground her breasts against Lily’s chest. “Another letter for the lace Penir asked for?”
Lily kissed Mindil on the lips, a chaste one. “No, I had a different idea.”
“Are you sure?”
Nodding, Lily slipped back. “Yes, I think I am.”
Mindil stared into her eyes for a moment then stepped back.
Hasan came back into the front room without his bags. “Lunch is set up on the empty table, is that okay?” He came up to Lily, his intense eyes focused on her the time it took for him to walk the length of the room.
A flutter of heat rippled inside her.
He took her in his arms and held her tightly. The smell and warmth of his body washed over her.
She let out a soft moan and lifted her lips.
Hasan kissed her, his slender body tight against her frame. His hand cupped her ass, holding tight as his lips captured hers. Almost instantly, she felt his hardness growing between them.
Lily smiled and then pulled away. “No distractions.”
Hasan resisted for a moment, his fingers digging into the softness of her cheek.
Then he jerked and relaxed his hand. He looked over his shoulder at Mindil.
Lily followed his gaze to see Mindil’s lips moving silently. There was a stormy look in her eyes.
With a sigh, Hasan stepped back. “All right. No more distractions,” he said sullenly. He glanced back at Lily, his intense gaze boring into her and sending a flash of warmth coursing through her veins.
“Not until after the party, Has.” Mindil’s voice came back with a wry tone. She pointed at both of them with a grin. “Then, I think Lily dear is more than willing to show me what you two were doing when I was out of town.”
Lily and Hasan both blushed and looked away.
Mindil hummed as she turned and headed to the back room, her hips swaying as she walked. “Come on, lovers. Lily needs lunch and I got some of those lovely lemon treats to enjoy.”
They had just entered the back room when the door bell rang out again.
Lily, in the rear, looked back. When she saw the fogged glass and the figured by the light from the street. His dark shape was familiar as was the scent of ozone that flooded through her store. She smiled broadly and rushed over to him. “Kendrick!”
He swept her into his hard, muscular arms. “Well, you seem happy. Did you find the fabric?” His low voice rumbled against her nerves, caressing her as she sank into it.
“No, but I found a better choice.”
“Either Piliot Glousin and Warchoisn Fagoin. Both are sheer but they… they…” She struggled with the words for a moment. “They fit my design better.”
Kendrick tensed, his arm “Warchoisn? I saw that name.”
Lily gasped, pressing her body against his as she looked up into his blue eyes.
He frowned for a moment. Then he smiled broadly, his teeth shining. “I saw a bolt of that at Dame Masuir da Kasin’s. She asked what I thought of it, but I was looking for Klafin Sheer.”
Tensing, Lily gasped. “You did?”
Kedrick grinned and kissed her. “I’ll get—”
“What are you doing here!?” snapped Hasan from behind her.
Kendrick’s head snapped up.
“Get away from her!” Hasan came striding up, one hand pulled back. There was fury on his face.
Kendrick relaxed his arms and gently pushed Lily to the side. She could feel the tension in his body, the way his back leg shifted back to protect himself. “Good afternoon, Hasan da Kasin.”
Hasan slapped Kendrick.
Kendrick turned his head back slowly, the muscles in his neck and chest flexing. Around him, the air grew more humid and wisps of mist spread out along the ground at his feet. The scent of ozone grew stronger, an acidic scent that teased the back of Lily’s throat.
Fear flooded through Lily’s veins but so did rage. Stepping forward, she grabbed both men by their shoulders and shoved them apart.
She couldn’t move Kendrick, his weight and hardness felt like a wall.
Hasan, on the other hand, stepped back. He waved his hand angrily. “Get out of this, I’ll deal with him.” He looked over his shoulder. “Quiet!”
Mindil closed her mouth with a snap. She jerked for a moment in shock. Then a look of rage crossed her face. Her mouth opened but no noise came back, nothing to indicate that there were words coming out as she screamed at Hasan.
Kendrick sighed. “Let it go, Has. I’m not here to fight.”
“You’ll—” Hasan’s voice silenced but his lips continued to work.
Mindil finally caught up to him, slamming into his back with both hands.
He lurched forward, his face smacking against Kendrick’s chest. With a gasp, he flailed for a moment before he managed to shove himself back to his own feet. His cheeks were bright red with his emotions. Turning around, he glared at Mindil and then at Kendrick.
Lily panted. “Hasan?”
His hand balled into a fist. His gaze bore into Kendrick, the hatred almost visible in the air between them. It rippled through the misty air that surrounded Kendrick.
Kendrick continued to stand tensely, his eyes narrowed as he watched his rival.
Mindil screamed at him, her voice silent and mute. It was surreal watching as she berated her husband.
Hasan closed his eyes. “Warchoisn?”
Kendrick stepped back.
Surprised, Lily said, “Yes. Over on Twenty-Seven and Tulip.”
“I’ll get as much as I can.” Hasan glared at Kendrick.
Kendrick stepped aside.
Without another word, Hasan stormed out of the store.