Jace in the Social Club, Heart Fortune cut, Celta Thursday
Glancing over, he simply froze, hesitating to make one movement that would catch their notice, like a mouse sensing Zem.
Laev T'Hawthorn and his generation might be the young and up-and-coming movers and shakers, but these men were those well settled in power, a half-generation ahead of Laev, or as old as his father would have been. In their prime. With one GreatLord the age of Laev's late FatherSire – no mistaking that gilt head and those pewter eyes of T'Holly. Jace thought he could pick out T'Blackthorn, maybe that swarthy guy was T'Ash, and the younger Hollys, of course, Holm and Tinne, though he didn't know which was which. These were the powers of Druida and a cluster of fighters.
The realization burst on Jace that he might be near The Green Knight Fencing and Fighting Salon, and these guys had come in after sparring. He drew in a deep breath. They all smelled suspiciously fresh after a long day, with manly scents of soap, the same soap. Yep, he'd stay still.
But freezing had been the wrong thing to do, because it had caught the eldest Hollys' eye, GreatLord Holly, once the premiere warrior of Celta The man swaggered over and leaned on the upright of the opposite side of the booth. Piercing gray eyes under old, heavy lids examined Jace.
Some of the other men followed.
What was Jace in for?
"You look like a man ready for fun," the lord said.
A bubble of wild surprise expanded through Jace's chest, got trapped there. He knew his eyes widened.
"Name?" T'Holly asked.
The lord's thick silver-white brows knotted as the man continued to consider Jace. "Laev T'Hawthorn has spoken about you." He thumped Jace on the shoulder. "And here you are."
"Yes, here I am."
The GreatLord looked around, a couple of the men were behind him, one of his sons, but most of the rest were now talking quietly at the bar. "I bet you know some livelier places, Jace Bayrum," T'Holly said. "Hell, I know some livelier places."
His grip was steel around Jace's biceps as he pulled him from the booth. T'Holly looked down at the table. "Soup. Pitiful, son, just pitiful. Let's go get us some raw furrabeast steak, and some rawer whiskey."
"Sounds good," someone else said, then called back. "Hey, we're heading out to someplace with more action."
Weren't all these guys married?
"Great!" another shouted from the bar.
The next few septhours passed in a cheerful blur. When Jace stumbled back through the gate, staggered along the walkway and up the front steps of D'Licorice Residence and through the door, he found the GrandLady herself waiting for him.
She sniffed, then her nose pinched.
He grinned. He knew her better now. She and her daughter Enata were cool, but they weren't as cool as the hostess at that stupid noble club. The Licorice women were fiery under their red and auburn hair. Fiery and passionate.
D'Licorice frowned and said in icy tones, "You smell of liquor."
Jace shook his head trying to get some sense into it, some good words on his tongue. "T'Holly," he said. "Found me at that nobleman's club." He rubbed his upper arm. "The man has fingers like steel."
Glyssa's mother's cold expression cracked. She chuckled. "T'Holly, eh? Come along with me, then." She helped him up the stairs and to Glyssa's room, kissed his cheek. "Welcome to Druida and the Family, Jace."
She turned and walked down the hall to take the stairs up another story. Jace leaned against the wall next to Glyssa's door. That phrase had nearly scared him sober, concerned him more than anything else that had happened all day – the whole week.