“Why did he call you Nessie? You obviously don’t like it. What’s your real name?” the stranger asked while his gaze bore into her chest.
Let him feast his eyes.
He sipped his ale, all cool and calm, as he waited for an answer. She pulled back both shoulders. Waiting until he glanced up, she turned away to ring up a departing customer’s bill, then added the excess to her apron pocket.
Ha! Monty gave me a ‘tip’ then left me for his wife.
“I do not share familiarities with strangers, sir.” She preferred to tug the dress’s lace edging up, but held back. The trim chafed her low neckline and upper arms, but Mac insisted his servers dress in period costume.
“For the tourists, lass,” Mac explained the day she walked in and asked for a job. She did not mind the long dress and doeskin shoes, per se. The whole idea of clothing was bothersome. She enjoyed swimming to the dark depths of the loch clad only in deep green scales.
Even now, she yearned to swim naked.
“Well, now. I can fix that.”
It took Nessía a few heartbeats to understand his comeback. Did he refer to her clothing, or to swimming naked? Only one way to find out. “Fix what, sir?”
“I’ll introduce myself, and then you tell me your name. ‘Easy as pie, and polite as rain’, my father always said.”
Nessía froze. No, her response caught in her throat and her blood thickened into ice. Fingering the coins in her apron, she willed her talons to stay retracted while her left foot tapped the plank floor. The stranger’s sultry voice was not familiar, but the words rang true, because Monty had spoken those, centuries ago.
Nessía stepped closer to the bar. A million questions popped into her head, but she stayed silent.
Let him speak first and prove he has no affiliation to that damnable clan.
“I go by Rory Hawthorn. Though I’m American, I’ve traced my ancestors to this town. I plan to be here for quite some time exploring. Learning. Studying the unusual earthquake history of the area.”
Earthquakes? What would he say if he knew I caused those tremors?
Rory Hawthorn, so called, moved closer. He leaned on the bar, and whispered as if the next words were for her ears only.
“And I very much want to know you better.”
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