My tower was old but she made it look like the mortar was still setting. By the time she’d perched on the chair opposite mine I had looked up from my work and put aside my pins, she had the look of business and that business wore a guild pendant as big as a baby’s head. I could hear the coin.
“Short, aren’t you?” she said.
“I prefer to think I’m closer to the ground.”
She squinted. She was thinking. I could tell, even on this short acquaintance, that lives were weighed and measured when she thought, and usually came up light.
“But handsome,” she said. “And I bet you know it.” I didn’t commit.
“What’s your name?”
“Ormond.” I said.
“I meant your real name.” She leant in and creaked her chair like she’d been sitting in it for years and knew how best to get a performance out of it. I thought how easy it would be to mistake the sound of coin for a bag full of teeth.
“Are you still hunting?” She knew the answers but she liked the game, I’d forgotten the rules.
“Yes.” I pushed the pinned beetle I’d been working on a short inch closer to her. She didn’t look at it, just ordered one of her wrinkles into a smile. I was trapped, there was no room in my world for a coleopterist.