“They should be back in a fortnight,” said Willa. “Won’t it be exciting to have actual aristocracy in the colony?”
“They’re still the same people they always were,” said Alwijn. “There’s no reason to expect them to act differently just because they’ve met the king.”
“Absolutely,” agreed Baxter. “I can assure you that Radley Staff won’t have his head turned because he’s been made a Baron.”
“What about Augie Dechantagne?” wondered Ernst. “How does a ten year old boy deal with becoming a viscount and an earl and whatever else the king decided to make him?”
“Well, it’s not like he didn’t already strut around like a little lord,” said Wissinger. “You know what he did when Ari Grayton threw a stone at his sister? He walked right up to Grayton’s father and told him, ‘I plan on shooting your son tomorrow, just so you know.’”
“I’ve heard that story before,” said Baxter. “I think it’s probably grown with the telling.”
“All I know is that Ari Grayton is back in Brechalon now at boarding school.”
“Speaking of,” said Willa. “I haven’t seen Iolana in a while.”
“That’s Lady Iolana,” corrected Wissinger. “Maybe we should look for her. It wouldn’t do to lose her.”
“I’ll check the garden,” said Baxter, leaving the others, crossing the room, and exiting through the stained glass doors. The brisk air felt good after the warmth inside, but it was only a few seconds before the chill began nipping at his hands and ears.
Though the center of the garden was well lit, there were plenty of dark corners. Baxter glanced around quickly, almost missing the couple snogging against the northwest verge.
“A word, Maro,” he said, taking a couple of steps in their direction.
Maro McCoort started, turning to look over his shoulder, revealing between him and the wall, Sherree Glieberman, her large glasses askew. While she straightened them, smoothed down the bodice of her dress, and rearranged the large cross she wore on a chain around her neck, he stepped quickly over to where Baxter stood.
“This is a party, not a Mirsannan seraglio.”
“You’re not my father,” said McCoort.
“No, and I’m not hers either, lucky for you,” said Baxter. “Besides it’s too cold out here for the young lady. He blew steam into the air in front of him.
“Let’s go back inside.” McCoort returned to Sherree and guided her by the shoulders past Baxter.
“We’re almost married,” she said, peering at the man through her thick glasses as they passed.
“I’d smack the smug off both of them for a pfennig,” Baxter muttered, once they were inside.