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The Many Tales of Blackjack: Triumvirate

   
"Are you still worried about that?" Whim said quietly. She wasn't mocking, instead serious. It had been years, of course. "That the Others will come for you?"

"They'd have to go through half the supernaturals of London, the way you pick them." Whim said with a wry grin.

"Still? We don't ever get to stop. That's not our life," Erin said, stirring slightly to look at Whim. "The Masters do not die. They do not age. They do not go away. Maybe one day you meet and they are bored of you and do not care what you do, and then ten years later all they can think about is hunting you down. They are not consistent. People are taken back, caught and sold or vanishing almost randomly. They will probably not find us. And if that probably is wrong, well, that's it for us. And if we are very unlucky, that's it for our loved ones, too. None of us ever forget that danger. Not even those of us who celebrate life, who live and love and celebrate being free - we don't do it because we have forgotten the Masters are out there. We do it to embrace this world with all our might, so that if we are pulled back, we will fight tooth and nail every step of the way."

"But there is a difference between living and borrowing trouble," Erin finished, with a faint smile. "And I am happy to advertise through word of mouth. A quieter shop leaves me able to cook more for those who come - and there is something I do not like much in modern advertising. It is just..." Erin waved her hand. "Too impersonal, perhaps."

"Wow." Whim didn't really know what to say to that. There was a sense of inevitability, a sense of fatalism about Erin's approach to the Gentry that she could almost grasp, dealing as she did with the immutable fabric of death. And yet, it was hard to wrap one's mind around such an existence of being hunted as the changelings lived. "Wow..."

"Then I guess... I can try and dig stuff up about toys?" Whim said, after a moment. She moved to safer topics. "Would having a website be safe, you think?"

Erin laughed a little. "It seems to work for Mr. Morgan, he has to do all his business on his. That might be nice. I could take commissions over the web, and ship them out to other countries. It is more difficult to get exact specifications when the customer is not there in person, but... maybe. I think it would be safe, I do not think many of the Masters have figured out the internet yet. Many of the older changelings have trouble with computers."

"I talk to computer by way of my contract with them, and the Masters may do so as well, so I would not make large waves," she added, smiling faintly. "But I enjoy the shop, and I have money. I am not really out to be an entrepreneur."

"So the shop's just a hobby?" Whim said, trying to imagine the prospect of having that kind of cash. She didn't, nor was she ever likely to, though it bothered her very little. She grinned. "And what does Sergei do at the shop aside from make RV planes?"

"He eats," Erin said. "He has his own job, you know. Fixes wiring and stuff. Though I do worry about him when he works on those tall phone lines and everything. I could make him stay home and make him a kept gentleman now, I suppose, but I think he would get bored quickly if he wasn't out doing something."

He was a physical person, Sergei, though Erin had learned enough not to say that in front of anyone. Especially Whim. And there was an element of truth in the joke, now, and if he was stuck in the shop Erin wouldn't get anything done. The Christmas preparations had been interrupted on more than one occasion.

"Uh huh." Whim said, thinking that Erin and Sergei were going to keep trying to wrap each other in bubble-wrap and put the other on pedestals. Hopefully they wouldn't mind it too severely, because otherwise, Whim could envision fireworks going on in the future. "So... Can I ask when's the wedding?"

"May, in the Spring," Erin answered. "Here."

Erin reached back over her seat and rifled through the boxes and parcels and deadly snakes, finally pulling out a smooth white envelope. The word "Whim" was written on the back in gold ink, and the invitation itself had gold calla lilies drawn inside. Given than Whim was driving the car, however, Erin just showed the envelope to her and put it back.

"Well, I'm still writing guest lists, actually," Erin said, musingly. "But I'm delivering them as I make them." After the incident at Aurora and Todd's wedding, Erin intended to deliver all invites personally.

"Sweeeeeeeeet." Whim said, glancing at the invitation as best she could while still driving. She was grinning from ear to ear, imagining the prospects of Erin and Sergei's wedding. Then a thought suddenly occurred to her, a possibly dangerous thought. "Is there any fashion-code I need to follow? Have you got all the bridesmaids lined up and stuff? Who's the Best Man?"

"Umm... I haven't gotten any of the preparations down yet. I'm sorry... I'll... I'll get them to you as soon as I know," Erin said, biting her lip. Even now she was still horribly nervous about perceived failures and making excuses for them. But he'd proposed so recently, and she'd been busy with Christmas, and for some reason whenever she tried to really sit down and work on arrangements, something else would come up or she'd get distracted. It was so strange how that kept happening.

"I was going to ask you if you'd maybe be a bridesmaid, miss," Erin said, shyly.





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