I scratched the back of my neck.
No, calm down, this will work.
I fiddled with the hem of my heavily beaded skirt.
It’s not like they haven’t seen you here before. You’re a regular.
The man in front of me turned around and glared when I stepped on the back of his shoe. I nodded curtly and said, “Pardon.” He had on a monocle and enough grease in his moustache to start a small fire if I lit up near him. His wife was all decked out in some wild pink feather ensemble. He gave her a look that clearly said in no uncertain terms, She’s a Bringer. They both turned away, the air reeking of posh. I put my hands together in a V, but then stopped, and looked around, hoping no one actually saw me.
This is the Ashwin, after all.
The hologram of the chandelier on the ceiling reminded me of where I was. I shouldn’t be acting like a child.
Why isn’t the line moving?
I knew that if anyone saw how nervous I was, they’d call the Cart over and I wouldn’t be able to see this performance. I craned my neck around to see if Jeremy was on tonight. He always was ready with a joke, or an orange, or a smile, and half the reason why I signed up for so many jobs was to see him. With his chestnut curls, ooh, I could Bring music just from that; forgot the performance. But I didn’t see him and I sighed, disappointed.
The line started moving. I clutched my pouch and then pulled out my T7.
All your forms are in order from last time. You were just here two weeks ago.
But that’s what was making me nervous. I was just here. And the staff might get suspicious since Mrs. Mcmillian only ordered for Music once a month.
Ha-la, ha-la. I won’t let them take me to the Compound. I won’t.
The reminder of the look on Mrs. Issler’s face when I saw her last made me tear up. She deserved Music at least once more before she died.
I felt a hand on my hip. “Button for you, Kitten?” Jeremy whispered as he passed by, slipping an orange into my pocket. Moves so sly, no wonder he had all the ladies after him. But I knew him better than all of those women with the feathers and the silks and the lace. He was from the Vex, same as me, and trying to make a living so his younger brother wouldn’t starve to death. He winked as he drew parallel with me, and then went on down the line asking the patrons if they wanted any refreshments.
As I got closer to the Booth, I began to sweat.
You better stop it. They really will call over the Cart and then Mrs. Issler won’t get her Music after all and Mrs. Mcmillian will boot you out on the street.
Feathers and Grease Moustache went through before me, and I resisted the urge to run up and tighten the boa around Feathers’ neck. The boy at the Booth looked me up and down. He definitely had been on the last time I was here for Mrs. McMillian, but he gave no sign of recognition. My T7 scanned and he waved me through.
Mrs. Issler would get her Music.