The spy (Chapter 31)
Another day, another dinner.
Such is the life in a politicians household, I guess. There seems to be two dining arrangements- a dinner party or alone in my room- and nothing in between. There are no small dinners with just Giddean, or simple dinners with just him and the Captain. No, either a large group appeared to talk about the day’s politics around Giddean’s table or Giddean was working, leaving me to fend to myself.
We are again in the dining room. It is again decorated, this time with vibrant blue flowers in ribbed glass vases with gold rims. The dishes match the decor, glass dishware with small painted blue flowers with golden leaves decorate the edges. I’m surprised by how feminine all the dishes are, but maybe Giddean’s mother selected it?
I am sitting between James and the Captain again, but who I really want to speak to is Mr. Hertilz. It’s unlikely to work, but maybe I can explain to him that I need to leave here- that this is all a mistake. Maybe he can take me back and I can find a man I have a chance with at one of the socials. I want that chance, a chance at happiness with someone, someone who notices my existence, someone who tries. I sound pathetic, but if I can’t get home I need something better than this.
I think of Barth. I haven’t thought of him since I arrived. Maybe I can find someone like him. Not him precisely, now that I think about it he just wasn’t right, but someone like him. Someone happy, uncomplicated, someone who would I could try with. Someone who would be happy I’m around.
I’m also eager to know what happened to my friends. I smile thinking of Ana, I’m sure she found someone nice to settle down with- she is sweet and has the air of innocence about her- someone would go that. I worry more about Becky with her fire, but she must have also found someone- maybe someone who matches her spirit.
“What is the news from Fushaga?” James asks, always so polite.
“The same as always. The same rumors that they are running out of ozk- the Fushites are obsessed with losing their power. A few talk of King Munter coming-”
“What’s ozk?” I ask the Captain quietly as Mr. Hertilz continues updating the others.
“A rock that when burned turns into a fuel for the spaceships.” the Captain whispers, “Almost all of it is in Fushaga.”
I mouth a thank you as I go back to listening to the conversation just as it was getting heated.
“-ask for reassignment!” Mr. Hertiltz’s tone and face is flushed with annoyance.
“As much as it pains me, we need someone on the ships to keep an eye out for things.” Giddean speaks with authority as if his determination on the subject is all that matters. He has been snippy at his cousin since dinner began, maybe before given the conversation in the hallway.
Kin nods in agreement next to him. “There has to be worst things then spending your day surrounded my females”
“All I do is hook up wealthy Haringshudians with suitable females. Why you need a spy for this I don’t understand” Mr. Hertilz shakes he head. I look at him. He is the same handsome man I saw on the spaceship, but he is no longer the passive jailer.
“Actually…” Kin begins looking a little sheepish, “I wanted to talk to you about that.”
Mr. Hertlitz looks over at Kin, his dark eyes examining him. He sighs, “Just write down what you are looking for and I’ll see what I can do”
Kin nods and gives a little smile. Giddean’s friend reminds me of child sometimes, his uncomplicated mannerisms and open expressions make him the opposite of the closed and broody Giddean. How those two are friends, I just don’t understand.
The conversation continues throughout dinner with Mr. Hertilz telling of all the news from Fushaga, most of which I didn’t understand the significance of but with everyone almost enthralled with the news I didn’t want to interrupt to ask too many questions. It’s odd to see the somber man in a different light- a man who seemed so solemnly dedicated to his job on the ship, now seems resentful of his position. He seems now less of an authority figure and more of man.
After dinner everyone gathers in the library to continue the discussions. I’ve noticed it’s the room of choice to just hang and I can see why: it has beautiful dark wood bookcases, rich leather couches, odd knickknacks in glass cases, thick deep red carpeting, and a beautifully carved stone fireplace. It would almost be my dream library except the weird torches they use here for lighting makes it just a little bit too dark to read.
Giddean wanders immediately over to a gold platted tray and begins pouring a deep brown almond liquor into glasses for everybody. Almond seems to be the flavor of choice in Giddean’s household and I have yet to see a dinner without it. James plops down on a couch, annoyed after the Captain has been teasing him about some priestess.
I turn my eyes to my target for the evening, Mr. Hertilz. He was standing on the far side of the library next to fireplace patiently listening to Kin excitedly explain what he is looking for in a female companion. He simply nods to signal that he is listening. He is clenching his jaw, as Kin rambles on not noticing his tension.
I have to be patient and I have to get Mr. Hertilz alone.
I see Giddean look up from pouring drinks. Alex, Kin’s secretary, and I are the only two left without a conversation partner. Giddean looks between me and Alex, and then between me and Mr. Hertilz. He then walks towards Alex who has taken up a large leather chair by the couch, next to James and the Captain. This leaves me standing near some bookshelves alone.
Great. He really could make it less obvious that he didn’t want me there. For some stupid reason, the rejection still stings a little even when I know there is nothing between us.
I stroll over to the tray and grab a drink before walking towards the class cases holding strange nix-knacks. Strange rocks labeled in native Pinn, a small clock, an old book laid open for inspection. I understand the significance of none of it, yet I pretend my attention is fixed as I wait for my opportunity to corner Mr. Hertilz.
It doesn’t take long. Mr. Hertilz excuses himself from Kin’s eager ramblings and heads to the hallway, I assume to use a bathroom or any excuse to get away from Kin.
Now is my chance. I look around the room and no one is paying attention to me, Kin having wandered towards the others near the couch. I take the opportunity to slip out the door to the hallway.
This is it.