The Fourth Law

T4L Cover

Excerpt below the fold.  WP formatting is so odd.

“Lily.  It’s okay.”

There was a tug on her sleeve.  She did not remember that.  She turned slowly, in fear and hope.

A young woman, or older girl.  Call her twenty, Lily thought.  A burnt-orange, silk, Chinese-style dress.  Her face that indeterminate Eurasian that could have her from Hungary to western China.  Her hair, though.  Long, and artificially dyed; in this awful light it was hard to tell exactly, but somewhere between a blue and a green… aquamarine?

Aquamarine?!

Lily very slowly put her left hand out, stopping just shy of the girl’s face.

“Is…is it…you, Ai?”  The girl smiled and nodded.

“Welcome to my home, friend Lily!”

Huh?

Happy that she finally saw Ai in person, Lily was completely perplexed.

“Your… home?”

With a look of surprise and her hands to her cheeks, Ai exclaimed, “Oh!  But where are my manners?  I’ve never had a guest before!  Let’s sit over here!”  She stepped past Lily’s left.  Turning, Lily saw a small wrought-iron table with two chairs of similar make.  Those were not there a second ago.  Ai sat primly and waved at the other chair for Lily.  After a moment’s hesitation, she joined her.

Ai continued to beam at her.  “This is so nice!  That’s right, you’re a coffee drinker, here!  I’m going to try some tea, though.”  Ai raised a delicate china cup to her lips, then paused.

Lily looked down to find a stout white mug in front of her.  Her nose told her that the liquid inside was coffee, but why was the coffee as clear as water?

“Uh…”  She didn’t want to appear rude, but her confusion was rapidly overtaking her manners.  Pointing at the mug, Lily asked, “Ai, why does it look like this?”

“Huh?  Oh!”  Ai’s eyes widened.  “You make me older!  Now I know!  Apologies, friend Lily, that was the first time I made coffee.  Try it now.”

Looking at the mug in her hand, the liquid was now quite dark brown.  What is going on here?!  To give herself some time to think, she took a sip.

Wow.  “That’s really good!  Thank you, Ai.”  Ai smiled.  “May I ask you a question, Ai?”

“Of course!”

“Ah… where am I?”

Ai put her cup down, concern written on her face.  She looked left, right, then back at Lily.  She pointed.

“You’re right there.  Did you fall and hit your head earlier?”  She asked in all seriousness.

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