Page 99

“Page tests” of novels are the vogue thing now. Some people say page 70. Some say 99. That snapshot is supposed to give people (who? readers? agents? editors?) a broad idea of the story and whether it is going somewhere.

kkellie, a damned talent novelist who is currently shopping for an agent, just posted page 99 of her latest novel, so I thought I’d post page 99 of mine.

That was generous, but I didn’t trust anyone else to search Maggie out. Only I really cared about her. Only I would really look.

“I would be pleased to go with them, sir.”

His nostrils dented. “You do yourself credit, Ms. Drinkwater, but I think not. One can see you’re not recovered from your ordeal and you’ve said yourself that you’re unfamiliar with our weaponry. Let the Rangers look for her.”

“But I—“

“Let. The Rangers. Look.” His eyes were cold.

“Sir, I’m her sister. We were raised to be wary of strangers, especially strange men. If I go along—“

He raised his voice. “That is enough, Ms. Drinkwater.” His hands stilled on the knife. “You stay here. The Rangers will look. That is my decision.”

I dropped my head. “Yes, sir.”

I had drunk too much wine to suppress my sense of disenfranchised disappointment, but he ignored it. His eyes went from my face to my moccasins, then back up. They didn’t stop until they were on my eyes again.

“Have you been provided for? Do you have a place here?”

“Yes, sir.” My voice was flat. “Mrs. Hailstone thinks that I might be a chambermaid for your wife.”

“Does she. She’s taken a shine to you, then.” His mouth tightened. “If Hailstone needs help, she shall have it.”

“She says she does.”

He was manifestly displeased by this news, which further irritated me. Why did the man care? Perhaps the prospect of having me so near, virtually buzzing in his ear, bothered him. Well, I could put his mind at rest.

“She seemed sure that it was only a temporary position.”

Mala Burlwood, who had been dozing on the Bear’s left, opened her eyes. Knox leaned forward, and Lucius Strong actually hooted with excitement. Sgian alone of the Bear’s board companions remained still, though something came alive at the backs of his eyes. With a burst of panic I realized that the subtext of my statement had been ambiguous.

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