When Worlds Fall

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226This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:13 am

"Yeah yeah," I respond as I raise a middle finger behind my back on my way to the door.

"See you later," I smile back at her as I pull it open to leave. "Oh, yeah, so you know where to go next week." I pause at the door to pull a scrap of paper from my pocket so I can write my address out for her. "Swing by on Middas, any time after mid afternoon."

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227This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:15 am

"I can almost promise you I won't remember that, but okay." I nod, shoving out of my chair as I head for my bed.

"Wait, wait!" I call, turning towards the door, grateful he's still in the door writing down the extra instructions, "How do I take this off?"

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228This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:22 am

I hardly look up as I reach over to pull at the clasp on the back of her neck, my finger catching a small lever built into it. It unsnaps instantly, now resting on her shoulders at the grace of its fitting alone.

"There's a safety release on the clasp, and another one under the bottom hem," I say as I finish jotting down the address and time on the piece of paper. "The little O-ring in the center under the bee emblem. That one is for emergenciesn thought so don't use it unless you have to. It'll wear out the mechanism... and there's a possibility I rigged it to release a defense mechanism when you pull it.

"I have everything written downotice on it," I add as I put the paper down someplace she won't lose it. "I'll finish it up before your next visit."

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229This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 1:26 am

"Ri-" With the vox collar unfastened, it's only my own broken voice that speaks and I barely make it through one syllable before I hum an understanding and go to set the collar gingerly in the empty chair. 

"Bye," I say softly, hardly a whisper as I head towards my bed.

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230This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 3:22 pm

***

As the middle of next week approaches, I grow more and more restless and anxious about my horrible decision to invite Ljuba to join me in my home for lunch. The only person, aside from the maid, who's ever step foot inside the large estate since my mother had left it in my care so many years ago is Cliodhna - and that was only long enough for the paramedics to arrive.

When the ships come in on Tirdas, I close the shop early and head out to the docks to make contact with the lone captain who always gives me first pick of his shipments. It's a far cry from half the fleet I had claimed to have contacts with, but it's more than enough to get me what I need at a fair price. Some haggling and a few repairs later, and I manage to make off with enough meats and fresh fruits and vegetables to stock the kitchen for a week or two.

Middas comes far too quickly after that, and I find myself holed up in my house, the shop closed for the day, as I try to prepare myself for Ljuba's impending visit. For once, I'm grateful for my sloppy notetaking skills as I spend much of the day rewriting everything I'd written down regarding her vox unit in a careful and neat script inside a leatherbound journal. I become so absorbed in the task, drawing out intricate diagrams of each piece and even pausing to write down ideas for additional features on a scrap of paper, that I don't even notice the time passing until I hear the creak of the iron gate at the edge of the property.

The sound of footsteps is carried in through the open door leading from the library out to the loggia that connects to the guest room. As social as I am at the shop, the sound of someone approaching my little sanctuary leaves my insides in knots. I sit quietly at my desk in the library with my head resting on my hand, my fingers tangled in a mess of hair as I listen to Ljuba's hesitant approach.

I can hear her stopping a few dozen feet inside the gate, her boots growing quiet on the cobblestones. The shuffle of paper tells me that she's looking at the address again, checking and rechecking that she has the right house. I can't help but smile at that, the uncertain shuffle of footsteps as she walks around on the spot, trying to find some evidence of trickery or some other clue, lifting my spirits ever so slightly.

Sighing, I drop my pen and get to my feet, my fingers closing around a small tin as I push the chair in toward the desk. I take my time walking through the foyer and toward the front door. I pause there at the entry as I draw a cigarette to my lips and light it before tossing the lighter and the tin onto a table by the door and heading outside onto the covered porch.

I say nothing as I take a seat on the top step, the cool stone chilling my feet as I make myself comfortable. Ljuba isn't close enough for me to plausibly know she's there without having to explain myself, so I sit quietly as I smoke my cigarette, my face lifting toward the sunshine as I enjoy the cool breeze.

"Afternoon," I finally call when she's close enough for the smell of her spell ingredients to reach my nose, the smell mingling with the warm tobacco from my cigarette. "You didn't have any trouble finding me, I hope?"

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231This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:10 pm

"No, I found the house okay," I respond, still looking up at it skeptically before tucking the slip of paper back into my pocket. "I thought maybe you were pulling my leg, or tricking me into going up and knocking on some stranger's door." I admit with a nervous laugh, tucking my arms into the loosely knitted sweater I managed to fit over my collar. The sun's out now, offering little warmth, but I can feel the cool threaten of nightfall already.

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232This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:17 pm

"That would be terribly cruel of me," I scoff as I nod toward the neighbors houses. "Have you seen this neighborhood? Bunch of hoity toity bastards. Probably would have called the police on you."

I take one final drag off of my cigarette before getting to my feet and nodding for her to follow me. "Come on, let's go inside," I say as I flick the cigarette off of the porch. "It's getting chilly out."

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233This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:27 pm

"Yes, let's." I nod as I follow him inside, lingering back a bit so I can take in the grandness of his home. "Your house is magnificent," I say in a bit of awe, "It'a really very lovely."

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234This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:32 pm

"Thank you," I smile lightly as I lead the way into the kitchen. "I don't usually have visitors, honestly. Most people just think I live at the shop."

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235This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:54 am

"I thought you lived at the shop," I respond with a sigh, hurrying my pace a bit to catch up to him. "You struck me as one of those 'live and breathe work' sorts, so yeah... I thought you lived at the shop.

"And... You know, I didn't figure anyone with a shop like that could live like this... Sorry."

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236This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:51 am

"Like I said, wealthy family," I laugh as I wave toward nothing in particular. "I make enough to afford Hilda, the maid, and that's about it. The rest is courtesy of my mother."

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237This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:41 pm

I grin a bit at that, adjusting the bag over my shoulder - careful of the collar there - and walk lazily behind him. 

"So, what is it we're cooking for dinner, hmm?"

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238This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:50 pm

"Um, here," I say as I pull open a cupboard to feel around for the book I'm looking for. "There are a bunch of recipes in here that were scribed over so I could read them. I got the stuff for the recipe on page eighty-three, but I'm sure I have enough for whatever if that doesn't sound good."

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239This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:51 pm

I approach the counter, taking the book once he's gotten it so I can flip to the page he'd mentioned. 

"Ravioli in a white sauce," I read off as I glance over the recipe, humming softly. "Sounds good."

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240This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:55 pm

"I can help with the dough and the filling if you want to handle the stove part?" I offer as I start pulling down bowls and rolling pins and various other odds and ends.

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241This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:57 pm

"Sure, need me to tell you what you need for the dough?" I ask as I start looking around the kitchen to orient myself. 

"Or you could just sit down, relax a bit. Don't feel obligated to help," I laugh, "unless you're afraid I'm going to destroy your kitchen?"

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242This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:08 pm

"Not at all," I laugh as I glance back in her direction. "I kind of like cooking with someone. My mum and I used to do it all the time before-" My voice trails off with a stiff smile before I shrug lightly. "I just like it. There's nothing more basic than cooking a meal with someone, you know?"

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243This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:13 pm

"Ah, yeah-" I nod, "I always liked cooking with my family." I sigh, starting to gather and separate the ingredients into the various components of the meal. 

"So, did your mum fall ill or... Was there an accident?"

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244This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:20 pm

"No, no accident," I respond, smiling hollowly as I dig around for the matches to light the stove. "Did you want anything to drink? I have - well, just about everything. Tea, wine, beer, whiskey, what's your poison?"

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245This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:26 pm

"Whatever you're having will be fine," I respond with a bit of a dejected smile, glancing back at the cook book one last time before gathering the items for the dough and bringing to where he'd set up his mixing bowls.

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246This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:45 pm

"Wine it is," I say as I step away to find a bottle from the wine rack. I take a moment to get the glasses down and pour the wine.

"Her mind started to go about eight years ago," I say after a moment before placing one of the glasses on the counter beside Ljuba. I step away again to pour the bottle of wine into a decanter so that it can breathe for later before I take a sip off my own glass. "She has more bad days than good now."

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247This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:49 pm

"Oh," I frown, turning towards him as I take my glass and hold it hesitantly. "I'm really sorry to hear that, that must be very hard..."

Sighing, I take a slow sip of my wine before setting it down again, divvying up the last of the ingredients before I start the process for the sauce.

"Honestly, I never know what to say to things like that other than I'm sorry..." I confess, keeping my hands busy as I work quietly, "And, of course, you can ramble on about her, if you like. I'd love to hear. I'm really good at listening, it's the talking part I'm not so good with."

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248This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:56 pm

"You're fine," I laugh, offering her a genuine smile as I sprinkle a little bit of flour on the counter so we can roll the dough out. "She's well taken care of, living with my father in their summer home out by the falls. They'll be moving to their winter spot here in a few months. That'll make visiting a little easier, you know? It's not easy traveling to the other side of the city when you're blinder than a bat."

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249This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:25 pm

"No, it can't be," I laugh softly, the change in his demeanor a touch off putting as I stir the sauce before adding more ingredients. 

"Well, she left a lovely home in your care, and you seem to be doing a great job taking care of it."

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250This is a Title.  - Page 10 Empty Re: This is a Title. on Fri Nov 04, 2016 11:39 pm

"Thank you," I can't help but smile at that as I find an empty spot on the counter to sit on. "It's a little big, though, isn't it?" I ask after a moment, a kind of tension in my voice as I try to keep the frown from my lips. "Hard to clean."

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