Chapter 29: Hidden in plain sight
By Whitney Emeigh
Bodies pushed and jostled against each other. Adette allowed herself to be led through the crowd. Lana talked on and on about several things: the people in town, who would give the best price, and who to stay away from entirely. Adette tried to take it all in as best she could, but the whole idea of being lead around the village square by a girl who wanted nothing more than to be friends was making her feel a bit strange.
In school, she’d had friends, but they’d long since graduated and moved on to better things. More than once, Lana would look her way only to realize that Adette was only half paying attention. Something about the day was putting her into a strange sort of state that she couldn’t quite shake.
“Addy!” Lana stopped them both short. Her arm slithered free of Adette’s. Both hands were placed firmly on her hips, and the look she had on her face said that Adette had definitely done something wrong.
“I’m sorry Lana. This is all just so much to take in.” Lana’s angry face softened slightly.
“I keep forgetting how new you are. Alright, maybe we should take a break.”
“Miss Adette,” a gruff voice interjected. Lana turned and the surprise on her face was plain.
“Mr. Zinner, what a nice surprise.” Adette said with a smile. She reached out and shook the older man’s hand.
“I’ve something I owe you, miss.” One gnarled hand took hold of one of Adette’s smaller ones. He turned it over so that her hand was palm up and placed one silver coin into the center.
“I thought you might like it.”
“I’ve not felt so good in ages.” Ms. Zinner flexed his hands and watched them with wonder.
“I’d be more than happy to make another batch,” Adette said. “For a small fee of course.”
“I’ll bring it round tomorrow. I’ll need to make a fresh batch. Would you like this one to be bigger than last time?”
“I would like that very much.” Mr. Zinner smiled the first genuine smile Adette had seen.
“Then I will certainly see you tomorrow.” Mr. Zinner tipped his black bowler hat and disappeared back into the crowd.
“What on earth did you do to Mr. Zinner?” Lana’s mouth and eyes were wide with shock. Adette shrugged and took Lana’s arm once again.
“I made him some tea is all. I think it might have helped his joints a bit.” Lana shook her head. She nearly tripped over the skirt of another woman before she’d stop staring at Adette.
“That must have been some tea. Mr. Zinner is the town grouch. I’ve never seen him so much as talk to anyone and especially someone from out of town.”
“Sometimes I really wonder how much of a friend you are Lana. You keep accusing me of being some strange deviant all on account of my out of town status.” Lana slapped Adette lightly on the shoulder.
“You know I don’t mean it like that. I just mean that he’s notoriously mean to everyone. He especially doesn’t seem to like women, but you he’ll talk to. He even seemed to like you a little.” Adette shrugged. She wasn’t about to give up anything else. She had a secret to keep after all.
“What stalls should I be buying from?” Changing the subject was always the best way to get the focus off of herself. Lana stared for a moment longer before taking the bait.
“Well, what do you want to buy first?” Lana continued to walk. She was slowly sweeping from side to side. She nodded occasionally at the shop keepers she knew.
“I’d like to buy some herb and vegetable seeds. I need a few more things for my greenhouse. I’d also like some fresh vegetables for cooking, but the herbs should probably come first.” Lana nodded and began to steer them toward a stall whose owner she knew.
“This is the man to see about herbs and seeds. He’s even known to get some unusual ones in from time to time.” Adette nodded and stepped toward the stall. There was a good assortment of things, but nothing that she wasn’t familiar with. In the end, Adette felt a bit disappointed. She’d be able to get all of the things she really needed, but there wouldn’t be much hope for the rarer essentials. She supposed she’d make do with what she’d found so far.
“I’ll take these and these,” she said as she set the items she’d chosen onto the counter.
“That will be one silver, miss.” Adette’s head shot up. She knew that voice. The face that stared back was smirking knowingly. Adette extended her hand across the makeshift counter and dropped the one silver piece into the waiting hand of Tarn.