Friday, May 17, 2019

#FridayFlash - The Envoy

Playing around with ideas, maybe to expand into something longer. Not sure yet.

***

Gramma Rose summoned me to her sitting room. Arrive at 2, and bring up the good tea set. Early Grey. Cream, not milk. Much sugar. Somehow, her texts were just as imperious and annoying as her voice. At least I could roll my eyes at my phone without being chastised.

She was the only person who could make a 38-year-old woman feel like a little girl.

I brewed the tea, filled the little pitcher with my hazelnut coffee creamer, and topped off the sugar bowl. She hadn't given me very much time, and I barely made it into the west wing and her sitting room before the grandfather clock started chiming.

Gramma Rose stared at me with one perfect eyebrow raised, but she said nothing since I was on time. Even if she would rather I'd been five minutes early.

"Thank you, Cara," she said after I set the service on the side table by her chair. She looked tiny, yet regal, in her wing-backed chair, the crackling fire highlighting her silver hair. "I would like you to meet Lorcan." Rose smiled and gestured to the other chair.

I immediately stopped pouring her tea, mortified that I hadn't seen her guest. I hadn't even known she'd had a guest. How had someone gotten in without me answering the door?

"Pleased to meet you," I said, turning, offering my hand in greeting. I wanted to say more, but all words died in my throat when I saw the elf seated there.

He was stunning. Breathtaking. Otherworldly. He had all the same features men had; two green eyes, a firm jawline, broad shoulders, long legs. Everything about him was just a little more perfected, like a Renaissance portrait. Perfectly tilted eyes. Smooth creamy skin. Exactly symmetrical chin. The correct expanse of brow beneath the sharp widow's peak.

Lorcan could have passed for a model, if not for his ears. They immediately gave him away as an elf. The long points swept all the way to the back of his skull, two emeralds gleaming in his earlobes. One sapphire glinted from the end of his right ear, three loops along the ridge below that.

He rose and clasped my hand, bowing slightly over it. He didn't kiss it, thankfully; I might have lost my mind if he head. "Pleased to meet you as well." Lorcan's accent wasn't quite Irish, wasn't quite Scottish, but was something lyrical and sweet, reminiscent of them both.

I didn't know what to say. I only took my hand back because he sat back down. Blushing, tongue-tied, I stepped back toward the tea service.

"Cara," Gramma Rose said, just sharp enough to hint at reprimand. "Why don't you offer our guest some refreshment?"

"I, um..." I had to swallow to clear my throat before I could speak. "How do you take it, Lorcan? Sir." It wasn't often I was reduced to the muttering shyness of a 15-year-old, but this was the first elf I'd ever met. I deserved some credit for not freaking out completely.

"Equal parts cream and tea, please. Four sugars."

I fixed his tea as quick as I could without making a mess. He liked it even sweeter than I did, and mine was normally diabetes in a cup. I gave him his cup and saucer without making eye contact, proud that my hands weren't shaking.

The three of us remained quiet as I finished preparing Gramma Rose's tea. I blanched as she took her first sip and grimmaced. What had I done wrong this time?

"Well," she said, setting cup and saucer aside, "despite her abhorrent use of coffee creamer in good tea, do you think she'll do?"

Mild chagrin became full embarrassment became rising anger. Her tone of voice wasn't one of chastisement, but the kind of appraisal car salesmen use. "What's going on?" I asked, tone sharp, suddenly over my awe at meeting the elf.

Gramma Rose quirked a brow in disapproval, and Lorcan answered, the saucer clattering as he set it down. "Cara, it's nothing bad. Your family and my family have a long history together."

"I've never heard of you." I met his green eyes with a fierce glare of my own. Gramma Rose tsked sharply, but I ignored her.

"The fault is partly mine. I have not called upon your people in many long decades. The glamours that protect us would have made us fade from memory without frequent contact."

I crossed my arms, one brow raised sharply. "Uh huh."

"Well, the time has come that I have need of a young woman. My daughter wishes to visit the human world, and she needs an escort. A guide, to show her the ways of your realm. Someone to teach her how to blend in."

My eyes narrowed of their own accord. "You need me to babysit your daughter?" This was a level of demeaning I hadn't expected when I read Gramma Rose's text.

Lorcan paused, holding my stare, unphased. Then he smiled, and it quickly turned into a chuckle, which became a full belly laughed. "Yes, I suppose I do. She'll be here tomorrow."

Could be worse. Like being forced to take care of Gramma Rose. I just nodded, still not happy, but unable to fight.

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