I thought you guys might enjoy another snippet from The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing -- coming out in print TOMORROW!! (What? If that doesn't call for multiple exclamation marks, I don't know what does.) Here's a snippet that on a spice scale of 0-5 comes in very mild indeed, but one hopes that's not all you're looking for in your chosen reading material. ;)
Eventually, with everything piled neatly around him on the floor, Jimothy shook his head. "It's all here—not that there's much." He looked around at his meager belongings. "It would be easy to tell if something were gone." Even his folded bit of parchment containing his abortive attempt at a new love song was there. He began putting it all back, starting with the pages. He didn't want Ricky to see them yet.
With everything put away, he closed the chest and leaned heavily on it to rise. Ricky reached out his free hand to help him up. "Thanks. I feel like an old man."
"You know," Ricky said, placing the lantern on the table, "I still owe you that back rub. You could collect now if you like."
Jimothy was strongly tempted, but shook his head. "My ribs are so sore I don't think I can hold myself upright much longer tonight, and lying on my stomach just sounds like a bad idea right now."
"I suppose you're right." Ricky sat on the edge of the bed and looked around, frowning. "Why would someone break in and not take anything?"
"Why would someone mug me without stealing my money?" Jimothy sat next to him. "Who could have gotten up here this evening?" he wondered aloud.
"Anyone going to the privy would have had the opportunity."
"But would that give someone enough time to come all the way up here, pick a lock, search a room, relock the door, and come back down without anyone wondering?" Jimothy shook his head.
"It is unlikely," agreed Ricky.
"Besides, there are people coming and going from the kitchen constantly. Surely someone would have spoken up if anyone headed upstairs without permission."
"They could have slipped in between the staff. Or it could have been another guest," mused Ricky as the idea struck him.
"Could be. Seems more likely, too, doesn't it? And there's only one other guest." Jimothy fought back a yawn. His mind was spinning, but his body was about worn out. "At least, as far as I know," he added wearily.
"We'll ask Maeve or Japheth in the morning. You should get some sleep," advised Ricky, concern in his voice. He wrapped a warm arm around his lover who happily leaned into the embrace.
"When there's the chance someone could break in while I'm asleep?" he argued half-heartedly. "I'm not sure that's such a good idea."
"You can't stay awake all night, and there's no real evidence that anyone was in here."
"What about that healthy paranoia you invoked earlier?"
Ricky shrugged, admitting stalemate. "All right," he admitted. "Still, I'd rather you not be alone tonight. I'll stay. I'll have Nita bring some strong tea to keep me awake."
"No." Jimothy shook his head and sat up. "I'm not the only one who needs some rest. I see those dark circles under your eyes," he said, his tone almost scolding. "You should go home. Get some sleep. If the woman in the next room really did break in here, she didn't find anything. There's no reason for her to try again."
"Except maybe to finish what those thugs started," said Ricky darkly.
Jimothy shook his head again. "They did their job, and she won't hurt me. But you—" He hated it, but it had to be said. "There's no guarantee you'll be safe if you stay here tonight." He stood up slowly and, as they talked, he carefully put away his guitar and transferred his night's earnings from his mug to his purse.
"What makes you think you're safe from her?"
"Something she said earlier tonight. She said that a talented musician was valuable to her."
"And you believed her?" Ricky challenged.
Jimothy met his lover's doubtful, worried gaze. "I couldn't tell you why, but I do believe her, yes."
They stared at one another for several moments. Ricky was the first to relent. "All right. But I'm not leaving you here alone." Before Jimothy could argue, he went on. "I have an idea." He rose and took the chair from the table, lodging it carefully under the door handle. Next, he took the bucket of water from beside the brazier and placed it about a foot to one side of the chair, in the path of anyone who might be hoping to sneak into the room. "Satisfied?"
Jimothy nodded, yawning. It was a stop-gap solution at best, but he was too tired to argue any more. "I suppose it'll have to do."
Thanks for reading! And don't forget that every comment is an entry to win a prize! What's that saying? Vote early. Vote often. Or in this case, post often. ;D