Celta Thursday, Cut from Heart Fate
An image coalesced with amazing quickness, showing the outside courtyard and gate. The colors were garish in intensity. Tinne said nothing. Fancy shoes clicked on the flagstone walk before the House. Morning Glory was a blurry shadow.
Again the coughing came and Tinne realized the House had been testing its voice.
The virulent green gate swung open
"Gweetyou, gweetyou, gweetyou!" The House squealed in the unfortunate baby tones of the previous actress.
Morning Glory came into view. Once more Tinne felt the shock of recognition that she looked like his lost wife. She stopped, put a hand on her lush hip, surveyed the House with a curled lip. "Lord help me, it glows. A baby Residence. This has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever done." A feral smile, a caress of her pursenal. "But it pays well and will pay better when I snag the Holly SecondSon."
The tone, the walk, the expression was all Morning Glory and none of Genista. Then Tinne saw her put on a bad mask of his wife and it was even more revolting. She glided up to the House, opened the door and entered, stood in the small atrium. "Greetyou...Residence."
"I am the Turquoise House!" Another squeal.
"You certainly are." Then words under her breath that the Turquoise House still heard and recorded. "Incredibly tacky color on the outside and that glow. Lord help me, I'm glad I don't have to live here with this infantile thing." A quick shudder.
The actress examined the room, raised her voice. "Lovely decorating, Turquoise House. You were lucky Mitchella Clover D'Blackthorn took an interest in you. She does wonderful work, so...rich. And the brash and eclectic showcases your, ah, personality."
Tinne winced at the snide remark of the actress
In the viz, the House answered, "Yeth?" Uncetainty was in the word. A tapestry rippled on the wall.
Morning Glory went over to finger it. "Excellent thread count, pure llamawoolweave. Yes, D'Blackthorn made her life well. Imagine being able to leave such furnishings in a House that so often stands empty. Turquoise House, I hear that Holly SecondSon is living here at the moment and requested you have a new voice. I'm sure we can come to an agreement on that," she purred, and Tinne understood she meant him and her, not the House and her.
The House said, "Tinne Holly, yeth. Are you going to wead to me?"
"Oh, yes." Morning Glory's lips curved. She cleared her throat, and when she spoke again, it was the closest she'd come to Genista's voice that Tinne had heard from her and he squirmed.
"Why don't I recite some nursery rhymes and a few grovestudy prayers and lessons for you?"
"Didn't you bring thomething to wead?"
"My dear, I am an actress, I don't need to read a part, particularly in this instance. Memorization and recitation can be fine. Or," she went to a gilded mirror and primped, and the slyness was back, marring her face, "I can recite some...love...poetry, or something from my last play. I was the lead in a romantic drama."
"I don't think I need to hear love poetry." The House was turning stubborn.
"Very well." Morning Glory shrugged, adjusted the off-the-shoulder dress, fluffed her hair. "When do you expect Holly – Tinne, back?"
"When he arriveth."
Tinne chuckled. Good response.
"He goes out in the evenings, then?" She frowned, touched the line between her brows as if to banish it, turned away from the mirror and began to wander the House. Tinne hoped sincerely that she hadn't entered his room.
Morning Glory sauntered through the dining room, trailed her finger along the surface of the gleaming table. "A single slab of reddwood. Incredible, expensive. Lovely. My dear House, don't you like this voice? I assure you that Tinne Holly would prefer it."
"It changeth too much. Not conssistent in the tones."
"What! Are you, an childish construct, insulting me!"
"I think I want you to go," the House quavered.
"Dear, dear one. You have so much to learn." Morning Glory recovered quickly, oozed mock sympathy as sweet as the syrup in Tinne's cup had been. "A man – a real human person – prefers to have different tones in the voice. More than one personality for companionship. Most Residences have many ancestral characters for the noble lord or lady to choose from."
"I've heard that," the House muttered.
"I'm sorry that you have only one ego emerging, but we will do the best that we can with this." She sighed deeply. "Listen carefully." She declaimed intricate instructions for celebrating Yule in a close approximation to Genista, if Genista had been pompous and sly and mean. "Therefore the house must be pristine for the enjoyment of the holiday, and adorned in the proper manner..." she ended, studiously scanning the mainspace for Yule decorations that Tinne hadn't bothered with.
"I don't think–"
But Morning Glory segued into her last script, and now her voice changed to her own natural tones. It appeared like she was going to do the whole damn play.
"House, stop," Tinne said.
The image froze. Morning Glory's voice cut off mid-word.
"How long does this go on?"
"Ah." Ouch. "Can you, um," Tinne waved. "Make it go faster."
The pace picked up, and after a moment or two, Tinne realized that between various pieces of recitation, Morning Glory was sweetly chiding the House on the lack of maturity, intelligence, sophistcation. Qualities that Tinne would prize and that the actress had but which were woefully lacking in the Turquoise House.
His anger simmered. "Please show the woman's last five minutes inside here."
The mist dissolved, then reconstituted. Morning Glory's last recitation was a Yule prayer, delivered in a pious tone that revealed absolutely no hint of spirituality in the woman who repeated the words. Then she glanced at her wrist timer. "Now, dear one, you must recall that with my help we can make this a loving, special home for Tinne."
"As if you aren't special enough," Tinne said.
"But I must leave," the actress said.
Because she'd been paid for that amount of time and not a second more, Tinne understood. She drew on her rabbit fur cape**, Tinne loathed garments made from real fur, as did Genista. That must have been the first clue he'd instinctively noticed upon meeting the actress.
"We'll be perfect together," Morning Glory said, and again Tinne thought that she meant him – and his gilt – and herself, not a team of Morning Glory and Turquoise House. Without any farewell, she left the house.
"A nasty woman," Tinne said, belly queasy from a surfiet of the female.