September 5, 2016 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
Enrie stared at Ilonilarrona. Behind the Associate Governor, she was pretty sure most of her dorm-mates were also staring at the woman.
Gianci, however, was chuckling. “Ma’am, I’m terribly sorry. But if you think Enerenarie here was ‘up to something’ today, well, I’m afraid you’re right.”
What? Enrie turned slowly to look at Gianci. Behind Ilonilarrona, people were gasping and whispering.
“Well, of course she has. I’m not stupid, you know. She’s been plotting against her betters for ages now.”
“That’s not what I meant. I assure you, there was no time for plotting where Enrie or I were concerned today. And no room for it, either.”
Oh! Enrie found a smile coming to her lips. She leaned in a little closer to Gianci and watched Ilonilarrona’s reaction.
The woman sputtered. “What do you mean? What—”
“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Kivsi’s drawl was notable even when she couldn’t see him behind their intruder. “Lady Enerenarie and our Gianci there were down at the beach, or possibly sharing a very small study cubicle, or maybe that little gazebo in the courtyard. I mean, really, what do they do where you come from… Associate Governor?”
It wasn’t the first time Enrie had been given cause to be grateful to Kivsi, but it was close. She let her smile grow into a grin. “He’s right, you know. Not about the gazebo, although it’s a very good idea. I was quite occupied today, although I’m sorry if you feel I should have been giving you thought or consideration, cousin.”
“Feel you should have been… You little brat, you’ve been messing around things that don’t concern you and getting in my way since I started—”
“Started? I’m sorry, what have you started? I thought you were here to take Ulunumani home from school after she was expelled.” Enrie’s heart was in her throat, but she smiled as if her life depended on it — and it might, or at least her vowel. “I’ll be sure I’m not, ah, otherwise occupied when you need me next time, cousin.” She bowed deeply, almost as low as she would have to the Emperor, hampered somewhat by her position on the stairway.
Ilonilarrona was not all that bright, but she wasn’t an idiot. She knew she was surrounded by an entire dorm of diplomatic students and she might know that she’d already slipped up once or twice. She bowed very shallowly back to Enrie, ignoring Gianci altogether. “So your story is that you were holed up with this Byittie all evening, and weren’t digging around in my business or my cupboards at all.”
“When you put it that way…” Enrie began slowly. How had this woman gotten to an Assistant Governorship? “Well, let’s see. Was I holed up with Gianci all evening ? Yes. Was I digging around in your business or your cupboards? No. I hardly had time for something like that.”
“And you admit to that?”
“I don’t see why I shouldn’t.” Enrie smiled brightly. “Gianci’s lovely and sweet, and, besides, if I’m cuddling up with a Bitrani, I’m in quite good company, including a number of our revered ancestors. Or had you forgotten that part?”
She hadn’t actually gotten away with anything, Enrie knew. But still, it felt good to watch Ilonilarrona gape like a fish at her.