Halcyon Days: Chapter 4

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Battle Lines

Jarvis Wormfang Sutherland, aka Gluttony, stormed into the office, his face ruddy and perspiring. His jowls shook with indignation. I glanced at him mildly. I just hoped he could fly in his drake form. I know, I am mean.

"You allowed the bastard to stay with you," Gluttony began his tirade. "You should know better. He's not a Sutherland. He shouldn't be let into our office nor our house."

I sipped my coffee. "My house, Jarvis. Not yours."

Like Famine a while back, Gluttony bristled at my tone. "My lord."

"And he has Sutherland blood and he's my half-brother. That makes him a Sutherland too. Unless you want to be anal-retentive about the whole thing and research his entire bloodline. He's royalty too, by the way. Offend that side of his family and you will find your life a living hell."

"My lord!"

"I am sure they would put a curse on your physical house and all sorts of misfortune would follow. Perhaps that would encourage you to lose some weight. Do not offend the duende at any level. Unless you offend me and I would have to ask Filipe to call in help from that side of his family."

"My lord!"

I put my mug down forcefully. "Stop repeating yourself. It's disgusting and rude."

"Your father..."

I rose from my chair. "What would my father say then?" I felt my drake form take shape, like an aura. My tail rattled, my hiss rising from my throat.

Gluttony deflated visibly.

"Do something useful, like settle the negotiations with the very important shipping company you have been harping about for the past week. Get that deal done. I hate to threaten people, Jarvis."

"Yes, my lord!" Gluttony blurted, sweating even more. He rushed out of the office.

I sank back into the chair. How did Father manage these people? I was never a people person. The last thing I did that, I got burnt and a large dose of hate from the Myriad groups in Singapore. Now I had to flush the Dark Claws out, erase them from memory and make sure the drake clans listen to me and not do anything breathtakingly stupid.

~*~

For lunch, I slurped down Katong laksa. It was immensely comforting. Thick rice noodles in a creamy spicy soup, liberally coated with chilli paste, sliced fishcake and a generous amount of raw cockles. I made sure Robert didn't drive me to the stall. I had to have time for myself. Done with the laksa, I then sipped a cold glass of iced coffee, watching the lunch crowd throng past the tables and chairs. A stray black cat purred and rubbed herself against my legs. The sun was finally shining after a week of monsoon rains. The trees glistened peridot gold. I felt myself finally relax.

There was a loud crash, metal against metal - and glass shattering. People gasped and yelled, some jumping up from their tables at the stalls. I looked up to find a car jammed up against the railing. I raced across the road and stopped before the car. Its front was pretty much gone. The smell of petroleum was strong. The doors were scrunched up like tin foil. It was an expensive car - Continental car, Swedish brand, silver-colored. A woman was inside the driver's seat, bent over the steering wheel. Without thinking, I wrenched the door open, thanks to my half-Lung, half-drake strength.

The woman flopped into my arms. She was light and smelled of a floral scent I couldn't recognize. Pastel shades - a light sky-blue - expensive pant suit. A diplomat's wife then? She was breathing. I heaved a sigh of relief. I rolled her over onto her back. She had gnarled skin.

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