Maro and Sherree McCoort sat across from one another at a cozy table in Bonne Nourriture. A lizzie waiter arrived with open bottle of wine and poured a sample for the gentleman. He took a sip and nodded. The lizzie filled both of their glasses and stepped away.
“This is a lovely treat,” said Sherree. “I didn’t think we would be able to go out as often, since our livelihood in the form of the publishing house and newspaper is gone.”
“That’s all being taken care of,” said Maro, waving his hand dismissively. “The colony can’t do without a newspaper. The banks have to give us the loans we need to get going again. Until then, we’ve got your family’s money.”
His wife frowned, but didn’t say anything else on the subject.
The human waiter, a rather oily-looking Mirsannan arrived at the table. “And what would monsieur and madam like to start out with?”
“We will have the escargot in garlic butter.”
“Very good, monsieur.”
“Why do we always have to start our meal with escargot?” pouted Sherree, when the waiter had gone. “I would like to try the crepes. Everyone says they’re wonderful.”
“But escargot is the best appetizer they have. It’s three marks fifty more than the crepes, so it has to be better. I’ll tell you what. You pick our main course.”
“All right. I think we should have seared xiphactinus with crabmeat in sherry sauce.”
“Are you sure? The beef is one mark fifty more. It’s probably better.”
“Oh, no! I’m not eating Beef Dechantagne!”
“But they don’t call it that here,” he said. “It’s just boeuf en crute.”
“I don’t care,” she pouted. “Those people are just too full of themselves, without going and naming food after them too.”
The couple ate their dinner of fish with crabmeat and both enjoyed it. For pudding, they had Mirsannan ice cream topped with local pineapple. With a friendly handshake for the maître-de, a clandestine five mark banknote in his palm, Mr. McCoort guided his wife out of the restaurant and down the walkway to where his bright yellow Sawyer and Sons steam carriage waited. Helping her into the passenger seat, he started to step around to the driver’s side.
“Bechnoth uuthanum pestor paj,” said a voice from the darkness.
Bright blue light engulfed Maro McCoort and within seconds, his body was frozen solid. Sherree screamed.
“Shut your yap, girl,” growled a man stepping out of the darkness.
He was tall and thin. Dressed in a suit and bowler hat, he seemed completely unremarkable, unlike the wizards who had been strutting around town. But his black eyes were filled with menace. He climbed up into the seat next to the woman.
“You can get out and take care of your fellow, or you can take a ride with me.”
Sherree jumped out of the car and hurried around to stand by her husband. With a laugh, the man slammed his foot down on the forward accelerator. Then he frowned as the vehicle rolled a few feet. The steam cock had not been set.
“Premba uuthanum tachthna,” he growled, placing his hand on the dash. The vehicle lurched forward and raced away into the darkness.