Anne’s head tilted from one side of her shoulders to the other, long neck bending with it. Like she’s trying to see if the view changed my appearance. The ‘B’ on her neck shined with a flash, a damned beacon trying to get through to me.
“King Henry Price?” she asked again.
“I already answered you.”
“I’m sorry.” She shrugged, hands on her hips, rings rubbing against rough denim. “You’re just so ugly, aren’t you? Broken nose…so many scars. There’s nothing perfect about you. I thought with all the rumors about you being a hound that you’d be better looking. I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised since we live in a time where every woman will stick a toaster in herself if it vibrates quickly enough.
“Women have no standards at all anymore. They don’t want to work for the complete experience. Seduction takes too much time, better to make a blog post about wanting to ‘get to know people’ I think the phrase is.”
“Rumors…” I said.
I locked on the word, ignored the rest. Yup, she wasn’t there for the teapots. Good to know. Asylum toady? Guild spy? Another mancer testing me before she bought a commission? Could have worked for the government…but then maybe not with the clothes she was wearing. She might have been related to Welf too. All possibilities, none the correct answer.
“Look at his little brain go click,” Anne said. “So cute.”
I glanced at the ‘B’ one more time. “If I’m King Henry and you are really Annie B, then doesn’t that mean I get to cut your head off?” I asked, lips pulling back along my teeth.
Something shifted in her. The second gear that Asylum women have when they’re about you put you in place. “You’re going to close down your shop and then you’re going to come with me for a few days,” Annie B told me in plain terms suffering no argument. “I need someone with the skill-set for an Artificer kind of problem that isn’t prisoner to the Guild bylaws and you’ve been volunteered for it. If you try to cut my head off, I’ll kick your little ***. Understand, King Henry?”
Volunteered? Who would volunteer me? Who could volunteer me? Short list. Plutarch, Ceinwyn, or the Lady. “I don’t hire out or build or design without a contract and unless I say so and last I checked—you didn’t offer me payment.” My hands couldn’t take it anymore—they curled into fists. Plutarch, Ceinwyn, or the Lady. Which one would get a kick out of volunteering me without mentioning it to me? All of them. That didn’t help…
“Get out of my store before I build up the anima to smash you across the street, you pushy psycho *****.”
That’s when she punched me in the face so hard I tumbled backwards five feet and slammed into my shelf filled with glassware.
Read more on Annie B in The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady by Richard Raley: available on Amazon and Smashwords and Nook. Or just type "Foul Mouth" into your Kindle...they'll know what you're talking about.