Lord Augustus Dechantagne sat in a chair at a conference table in The Office of Lizzie Affairs. Around him were seated Mr. Millard Tomley Esq., Mr. James Dawes Esq. and Amoz Croffut, the three of them, with the exception of two secretaries, the entire complement of the organization. The young lord flipped through the papers in front of him and blew air between his lips.
“I don’t think you gentlemen understood what I wanted.”
“You wanted to expand,” said Tomley. “We’re planning to more than double our staff.”
“Two more lawyers and four more secretaries.”
“Exactly,” said Dawes.
“Look,” said Augie. “Up until now, all you’ve done is help the lizzies here in Port Dechantagne when they’ve come afoul of our laws and customs. There’s nothing wrong with that. Yes, you need more help in order to fulfill that mission. You should definitely hire these additional people. But I want this office to keep track of all the lizzies in and around Birmisia Colony.
He looked at Amoz Croffut.
“You’re a military man, Croffut. When I need intel on the lizzies, I want to be able to come to you and for you to have it.”
“You mean you want it available for Governor Staff, don’t you?” said Croffut.
“I mean both of us.”
He pulled a paper out of his breast pocket, unfolded it, and handed it across the table. Croffut read it over and then handed it back.
“All right. So you have the full authority of the Governor.”
“Yes, so when I tell you to hire the people you’ve found, you should do it. You should also get more secretaries, at least one statistician or accountant, a military liaison, a linguist, and at least one anthropologist… or would you call it a reptiologist?”
“The term would be cultural herpetologist,” said Croffut, “but I don’t think there is such a thing.”
“Well find someone. I’d recommend Tiber Stephenson as your liaison, but hire whoever you want.” He looked up through the glass wall that separated the conference room from the outer office, and a smile broke across his face. “You’ll excuse me, gentlemen. My other appointment is here.”
Zoantheria stood at the far side of the large room in a beautiful sleeveless sky blue day dress. It was decorated across the breast with white lace and trimmed down its length in blue bows. She had a smart white boater atop her curled blond hair. She grinned when she saw him hurry across the room to her. When they touched, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply. Then she licked his chin, neck, and finally his ear.
“You are so yummy!” she said. “I could just eat you up.”
“Did you have an extra large breakfast this morning?” he asked, pulling back a bit.
“I did. I ate a two young iguanodons.” She cocked her head and raised a brow. “You don’t think I would really eat you. Do you?”
“Of course not, my love. Still, better to ask the question than to assume the answer.”
“Are you done with your meeting?” she asked, excitedly. “Are you done? Are you done? Are you?”
“It so happens that I am done for now. What is it that has tickled your enthusiasm?”
“I have to show you. It’s so wonderful.”
“Well then, let’s go,” he said. “I assume you’re driving.”
Grinning, she led him by the hand out of the office building to where her car sat steaming away. He climbed up into the passenger side, as she got behind the wheel. Seconds later, they were zipping up Bainbridge Clark Street, and through the gate in the Emergency Wall.
“Where are we going?” he asked, as the vehicle careened around the corner of Shadow Street.
“I met some new people,” she said. “They just bought a house at the west edge of town. They’re from Arbrax.”
“Arbrax? Are they polar bears?”
“No, silly. They’re perfectly nice people, and they said I could visit their house any time.”
She brought the car to a stop in front of a new home. It was constructed in the recently popular all wood style, with a high sloping roof. Zoey hopped out and ran around back to release the steam. By the time Augie stepped out of the car, she was there to take his hand and lead him down a walkway that led past the south side of the house and into the back. The property didn’t seem to have a proper garden, just a carefully placed path that led through pine trees as thick as anywhere in the colony.
“Are you sure we’re allowed here?”
“They said I was welcome anytime.”
The path came to an end before what appeared to be a tiny version of the house. It was constructed of pine and stood at full height with the same sloping roof, but was no more than twenty by twelve feet in dimension. Zoey opened the door and stepped inside, pulling Augie along with her. Inside was a small anteroom with hooks and cubbyholes presumably for the temporary storage of clothing. Beyond that, was an unadorned wooden wall, with a wood door that had a twelve by twelve inch window at face height.
“Take off your clothes and hang them up,” said Zoey.
“What is this?” he asked.
“I’ll explain it all when you’re naked.”
“Um, explain it to me now.”
“It’s a sauna!” she squealed. “It’s, well, it’s a hot room.”
“Yes, I think I’ve heard the term before.”
“Udo me,” she said, turning her back.
With a shrug, he began working the two dozen buttons on the back of her dress. As soon as he had most of them unfastened, she shimmied out of it and began to doff her undergarments. Augie pulled off his jacket and hung it on a peg, before taking off his trousers. He had one leg out, when the door burst open and a shotgun entered, followed by the middle-aged man who was carrying it.
“Who are you?” he growled.
“It’s me, Mr. Björgan. It’s Zoey.”
“Zoantheria?” he asked, squinting at her.
“Yes, it’s me.”
“Oh. Well then, you go right ahead. Sorry about the gun.”
He stepped back out and closed the door. Zoey turned to Augie, revealing that her over-the-bust corset had slipped down, exposing one bosom.