Next: A cut from Heart Thief.
Ailim struggled to keep her eyes open as dawn lightened the windows of her ResidenceDen. She sipped a cup of hot caff and concentrated on the numbers of the spreadsheet laying before her on her desk. The sheet covered the surface of her desk, lumpy where the outline of her blotter showed beneath. The numbers in all the tiny rows seemed to move around, except the huge, black negative total.
At least she had a new, substantial income to place in the "credit" column. Her judicial record had been reviewed and she'd been appointed the Supreme Judge of Druida. There were few telempathic judges, and she was arguably the most powerfully Flaired. She hadn't had much doubt that she would be assigned the post.
But she had doubted. Before her mother's death, she wouldn't have doubted. It was returning from her circuit rounds to find the Family's financial mess that had shaken her, left her off-balance and still struggling for her feet.
She pulled her gaze from the darkly paneled walls covered with golden-framed antique paintings of still-lifes. Just sitting in this chair caused a resurgence of grief that she firmly shifted aside.
When she'd realized she hadn't the time or the luxury to grieve properly, she'd gone to a MindHealer who'd distanced the emotional storms. Little by little the grief worked itself out of a huge tangled knot into the small, even threads of memory and life.
Ailim sighed and bent again to the figures. She was expected at Judgement Grove by Eighth Septhour chime. At least, she'd already reviewed the several cases she'd be judging. Those were understandable, those were interesting, those were fixable. These figures weren't.