matapam (pamuphoff) wrote,

_Cool as Ice_ part 25

"She needs time to adjust, without being hounded by newsies." Keiq shrugged. "Time to grieve and time to figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life."

And glancing at Tanya, she needed a good night's sleep to start with.

Wacky was picking up on that as well. "Are you hungry? Or would you like me to show you your room?" A glance over at Keiq. "And Keiq? Since most of your stuff has been moved out, how about you take the room next to Tanya?"

"Oh. Good idea. I think I've still got clothes here . . ."

Keiq woke when the baby cried at three in the morning. And when the baby was back asleep, caught quiet sobs, and walked around to tap at Tanya's door.

"Hey, need a shoulder to do that crying on?"

Sniffle. "I'll be all right. I just . . . we started out so wrong . . . and I think Mikel realized how much he'd hurt me, and was trying to . . . well, I was just so angry, all the time. I didn't care if he'd had a change of heart. I didn't let him make amends. And now he's dead and I'll never know if he ever loved me. Me. Not my sister. Not because I looked like her."

Tanya sat up against the headboard and wrapped her arms around her knees. "I wasn't very lovable, these last months. I was stupid to marry him. Stupid to fight the life I'd married into, in ignorance of what was expected of the wife of a Warrior."

Keiq nodded. "Not to fight beside him, but to stay at home dealing with home and children without him. And in Paris . . . the social life is still so brutal in a well mannered, knife-in-the-back, fashion." She sat on the foot of the bed.

"Oh . . . have you been married before?"

"No. But Ice . . . he's a Warrior, he circulates at such a high level. He enjoys politics. If I get up the nerve to marry him . . . well, I'll wind up hosting parties and having tea with the other high society wives."


"Yeah. At least I know what I'll be getting into." Keiq shook her head. "I just have to decide if Ice is worth it."


"Yeah, well. You are now faced with . . . well, something probably better than if you'd faced Mikel's death right then. I mean, a huge family, all expecting something, money or property from the estate.

Tanya laughed a little. "They would have swarmed, shedding tears, and taking inventory. His other wives . . . They had more sense than to move to Paris, or divorce him. He . . . while I was pregnant I know he . . . visited them. Well, why not, they were his wives, too. And no doubt when he died they finally came to Paris. In mourning. With lawyers."

"Oww! I didn't think about . . . guess I'd better let Ice know I'm not sharing him. Not that polygamy is very common any more."

"Good." Tanya snorted. "So here I am, with one set of clothing, and a baby with three borrowed outfits and a day's supply of diapers. What am I going to do?"

"Go shopping." Keiq grinned. "Clothes, to start with . . . do you want to buy a house? Do you want Mikel's House?"

"No!" The girl shook her head. "I have bad memories of that house. I want something smaller, something that can be all mine."

Keiq nodded. "I'd recommend staying close to Versalle, and the Rangpur group. And I'll be there when I get up the nerve to marry that man."

Tanya nodded. "And land enough for a horse."

"Near the riding trails." Keiq slipped off the bed. "Let me get my comp, we should be able to get a list of houses for sale . . ."

They had a list to check out before they both went back to bed.

And made plans over breakfast.

Chapter Fourteen

nine days

"The plaster looks fantastic!" Ice stood back and admired it. "You almost don't notice the lack of windows and doors."

"And the holes in the roof." Keiq snickered. "I'm taking Tanya on a tour and shopping trip."

"Excellent. And I called the electricians. The wiring goes in tomorrow, and the next day the plasterers return for some of the inside work. And, dammit, I am going to finish. One. Staircase. Today!"

That got a snicker. "Getting interrupted too often?"

"Yes . . . so do you need to borrow the ute so you have room for the goodies?"

"Yes, but . . . I was wondering about an illusion . . . Stop laughing. We're going to be going to some places where appearances matter."

Ice just grinned. "White or black?"

"White, and can you remove the back seat? Tanya's really impressed with Wacky's big wall screen."

"No problem." Especially since it gave him hours of completely uninterrupted time to concentrate on de-rusting and augmenting all the steel supports.

He was just finishing the final support, when he heard the ute pull up.

Laughing female voices. ". . . long as the Ghost hasn't gotten him." Keiq grinned up at him. "Hi, Ice."

Tanya snorted. "I had heard that sometimes the strongest of the warriors hung around for a bit after they died. Perhaps I should have believed the tales."

Ice cleared his throat. "Let's face it, it was just my imagination what with the seance and all. But maybe you could write down those tales? The Historians would appreciate them. Although One only knows what the vid writers would turn them into."

Keiq snickered. "The first vid of the Cyborg attack is coming out next month."

"Maybe." Ice grinned. "The only thing about the trial I approve of is the possibility of delaying the release of those vids." Ice pinched the bridge of his nose. "I was going to put up the wood frames on the ceiling between the electricians and the plasterers. I'd better get the wood ready to put up and work right behind the electricians."

Keiq nodded. "Nine days. One! I hope it's over fast."

Back out to the wood pile.

Twenty-six ceiling beams. Three meters long, fifteen centimeters wide, ten deep. With . . . carvings. A search through the books gave hints.

The women returned,

Tanya laughed and sketched out a pattern. "Something like that. I lived here for two years and Mikel remodeled twice."

She snickered and poked at a picture of the dining hall with red velvet curtains. "Dust collectors. He threw them out after three months. And suddenly all the servant girls had red velvet dresses to wear on their day off."

A wave upward. "The roof. What a mess! I hated it when he took down the tower."

A swipe of a tear. "Damn him. That was the only place where I could get away and be private for a little while." She stomped off.

Ice exchanged wry smiles with Keiq. "So much for any lingering belief in the god-like properties of the old Warriors. You'd think, knowing Isakson, that I wouldn't have any illusions of them as anything but tough sons-of-bitches."

Keiq snorted. "Indeed. Isakson was . . . interesting. And the house Tanya made an offer on has, if not an actual tower, a rooftop deck." She flashed a grin. "Three hundred square meters. One sixth the size of this behemoth. The Realtor nearly cried when he realized she could have paid cash for something larger and more exclusive."


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