The entirety of Bridge Street was devoted to fancy clothing shops and cafes. Blitt wore a randomized face on the mask Danathan had given him, chose one of the countless shops and entered. A sales clerk turned, looking surprised to see him.
“Hello, how can I help you,” she asked with a smile.
“My wife shops here, I think.” The softness in his new digitized voice startled him as he spoke.
“I mean that it’s one of these places. There are so many along this street I can’t remember. And your shop has the sort of look she wears. Here, let me show you.” Blitt pressed a series of buttons on his watch and a holographic representation of Priscilla sprang to life in front of them.
“That holopic must be pretty old. The Anton Carmical ensemble she’s wearing is 3 summers ago. But, she’s got good taste, and I should know because I sold it to her. Nice to meet you, Mr. Reid. I’m Stacy.” She extended her hand and a warm smile.
“It’s Littman,” explained Blitt as he shook her slender hand. “She kept her maiden name.”
“I never knew she was married,” she replied, beckoning him to a dress display.
“We’re separated. Things are just starting back up again and I want to get her something nice for this weekend.” He smiled back at the woman.
“Congratulations. Rekindled romance can be just as hot as finding new love, and I’m going to make sure I find the perfect gift for her to remember this special time.”
“Thank you,” Blitt said as he begin perusing dress styles. Might as well make something out of this and get her something nice, he thought.
Danathan’s paying for it.
* * *
At noon, Priscilla received a card informing her that a gift was waiting for her at Carriage. “please make an appointment for fitting,” it read, signed ‘B. Littman.’
She sighed, wanting to crumple up the neat, gold-trimmed card, but finding it too elegant to do so. She set it down next to the dinner plates she had been stacking and tried to get back to work, to forget about the note and forget about Blitt and to let things stay the way the were for a just a bit longer. She wanted Blitt to remain a warm memory,for Danathan Dowells and her father to disappear, and for her odd relationship with Briggan to continue and remain as it had been. But she knew that she couldn’t do that. Her father wasn’t going away, and Blitt wouldn’t wait. Given the circumstances, she knew that he couldn’t wait. And Briggan had been too good to be true from the start.
She couldn’t drop everything and go see Blitt, because that meant literally dropping everything; the cafe, her life with Briggan, Melbrook. Everything. And in return, she thought, she’d have to go on the run, probably protected by Blitt, and most definitely still subject to her father’s abusive scheming.
But she could be with Blitt.
She weighed the decision. Thinking about Blitt brought up memories of her time with him before her kidnapping. They had been with each other during the eight months following the Garden Wars. Priscilla was a dancer at Starluft’s Academy of Performing Arts and Blitt was a soldier come back from war front, missing his family and still shaken from the horrors of combat.
When they met, both of them had apprehensions about becoming too involved in a relationship with each other, but the attraction was obvious. Blitt, with his good looks and war-forged persona, and her with graceful poise and a delicate upbringing that hungered for the thrill of a hardened edge like his.
Blitt provided that hard-edged thrill and more. She had also discovered within him a softness that, coupled with the ice-cold steel that had been forged within him, made him an exciting presence to be immersed in. So she did. She wrapped herself up in Blitt’s hard exterior and used him as her shell. She fancied herself protected from all sorts of threats, physical and otherwise. No one could harm her. Not even her father.
Blitt’s protection and love had come into her life, sweeping away her pains and insecurities and then was swept way itself by her father, Danathan Dowells and Blitt’s dangerous excursions for them both. From the time he started up with them, she feared that he might not return from one of them. Tragically, that time came when she needed him most. She hated him for that, but she hated herself even more for still loving him.
She sat at the cafe table, stacked high with clean dishes of fine porcelain, thinking solemnly about the events currently at hand, intermixed with those of the past. They were confused thoughts. Some of them were horrible ordeals when she went through them, yet she found herself harboring a strange sort of fondness for them in hindsight. Others that felt wonderful at the time hurt immensely while she reflected upon them. Dating Blitt. Getting on with Briggan and his gang. Actually belonging, even though she knew that she was still being controlled, but in a different way.
She was going to betray one of them. And they both knew that it had to happen, only they didn’t have a clue about how she would decide, or any way to aid her in the decision. That, most of all, weighed upon her. The future. Immediate and terrible, she saw it right in front of her like an unavoidable storm raging against the horizon.
She decided that she wasn’t going to make up her mind just yet. At least not without first seeing what sort of gift Blitt had gotten for her. As she settled upon that choice, an unconscious wave of emotion stirred within her, only noticeable for the briefest of moments. She thought it odd, reminiscent of the mind techniques that Briggan’s Keeper had taught her, but quickly dismissed it as she returned to polishing the gleaming surfaces of dinner ware.