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Aid and a Bet

By Quillblade

 

"Ohhh... my head."

Sierra closed her eyes again quickly, because the light from her bedside lamp was too bright for her to cope with. Her dark brown hair was a mess, snarled and tossed over her face from a terrible night's sleep, and her red-brown feathers were similarly ruffled. She felt as if the roof had caved in on her during the night, and there was a dull, incessant thudding sound just behind her ears... like someone banging loudly on a door.

Knock knock knock.

That must have been because someone was banging loudly on a door -- her door. She sat sharply upright, and immediately regretted it as the room spun crazily. Holding her head in one hand, she climbed out of bed and slipped into her dressing gown that hung over a chair. The knocking resumed. "Just a minute," she called, trying not to sound as irritable as she felt.

Her fingers fumbled with a lock that on better days she could open in a half second. Rubbing her eyes, she opened the door and peered out to see who was knocking.

Two young men stood outside in the hallway, each maybe a couple of years her senior and she'd only recently turned eighteen. Although she couldn't place them, they were oddly familiar. Perhaps she'd seen one or both of them from the infirmary before -- certainly they seemed the types to be in there (or to be putting people in there) often enough.

The first was reasonably tall, thin-faced, with messy blond hair and a sharply angular beak that enhanced his less-than-trustworthy look. The smell of some obscure, cloying smoke hung around him, and it was an effort for Sierra not to wrinkle her beak in disgust. His white trench coat, however, was spotless. The man's companion was shorter, stockier, and bundled up in thick clothing. He looked like the sort of guy who solved his problems by bashing heads together: a bruiser if she ever saw one. It was clear who was in charge.

"Sorry to wake you, Miss Roguefeather," said the taller man, with a complete lack of sincerity, "but we're here to collect our winnings."

She stared at him, frowning slightly. "Your what?"

"Our winnings," he repeated, and she noted the hint of an Altairan drawl -- 'are winnins'. "Don't ya remember? The poker game we played last night, where the bets got up to ten thousand bucks and you, well, you lost."

Sierra's grip on the door tightened in her shock. Poker game? Ten thousand dollars? But I don't play poker... Blurred memories of a bad hand of cards and a mounting heap of betting chips floated past her eyes. "I don't know, I'm sure I never..." she began falteringly. A slip of paper was thrust into her hand before she could finish, and she stared at it, disbelieving. It was an IOU for ten thousand dollars, her signature at the bottom.

The men continued to stand there expectantly as Sierra's legs threatened to give way underneath her. She wasn't sure how it had happened, but this was written proof -- she had played a game of poker with this man, played for high stakes, and had lost every cent of it. "I- I don't have that kind of money," she said weakly. "I'm sorry, I can't pay this. I don't even remember, I mean, I'm not sure what possessed me to..."

"Not got the money, huh?" The man clucked his tongue, shaking his head slowly. "Y'know, that's a real shameful thing, doc, betting without the cash -- what d'you reckon, Elron?" His heavier-set fellow nodded seriously, although it was obvious he wasn't quite keeping up with the conversation. Sierra had the distinct feeling that she was being toyed with. "Sure you can do something else to make it up to us, however," said the blond man

"What sort of 'something else'?" she asked carefully.

"Yeah," said the stocky man -- Elron? "Thought we was here for money."

The man paused, briefly rolling his eyes to the ceiling. "'Scuse me, Miss Roguefeather," he said, and his voice was slightly terse. "Allow me a few moments to confer with my associate here." Another flicker of a salesman's smile, and the two sauntered further down the hall, where they began to speak in quiet voices out of her range of hearing. The blond man seemed angry; she doubted that any of what he said was particularly pleasant.

She wasn't trying to listen, in any case, her mind currently preoccupied. What am I going to do? I.. I could just refuse. I was obviously not in my right mind that night. Oh, gods, how did I get myself into this mess? she wondered. Her head was pounding even worse than before. I wasn't drunk, because I don't drink, and I've treated enough hangovers to know that this isn't one of them. I'm sure of that much if nothing else...

They were returning now. Sierra saw the smug look on the blond man's face and she frowned again, this time in concern. She didn't like that sort of expression. It never meant any good. "Well," she asked, "have you thought of anything? I'm warning you beforehand that if I don't like your suggestion I'm going to slam this door in your faces, debt or no debt."

"We have, and you'll do it," said the man sharply. All trace of slick pseudo-courtesy had vanished from his voice, which was suddenly hard and brisk. The accent was more pronounced. "Now, there's a guy in sickbay at the moment, in there for internal bleeding. He fell off a roof on his last heist, if I recall. He's due out tomorrow, right? We'd like him to stay in there for at least another couple weeks."

Her stomach went cold, at the same time as her frown frosted over. "Are you saying that you want me to... to harm a patient?"

He leaned in close, smirking. "Whatever it takes, doc."

"If you think I'll do that, then you can just take that IOU and-- ugh!" Before she could move to slam the door, the lackey's thick hand grabbed her by the sleeve and pulled her into the hallway. She overbalanced and fell to the floor, but was swiftly pulled upright again. By that time, her head was ringing and she had to fight an overwhelming urge to vomit.

The blond man tipped her chin up with a forefinger, and the nauseatingly sweet scent of him almost made her gag. "Ya don't have a choice. Either you pay up or you do us a favor. There's another way outta this, of course... not got much up in the old skull, Elron, but he does one thing real good, and that's making people compliant. Me, I don't think we need to take it that far. You strike me as a smart girl, doc," he added, almost as an afterthought, "so I figure if I warn ya not to tell anyone 'bout this deal, you'll listen to me. If you don't, let's just say it'll go real badly for ya."

She pulled herself free, backing toward the door again, until she realized that she was acting just how they wanted her, like a victim. Her head came up stubbornly. "I'll get you the money, if it means so much to you, but I will not be your-- your accomplice, no matter what threats you make!"

"Whatever it takes," the man repeated curtly, turning away from her. "I'll be back tomorrow morning, same time, same place, same channel, same demands. You'd better have the cash by then, Miss Roguefeather. This," and he gestured at the scene around him, "is being polite. You don't wanna see me pissed."

Finally she was able to close the door, and the walls shook with the force of her slam. Sierra waited a few more moments, just to make sure that the pair were both really gone, then sank into a chair with a despairing groan. "Oh, gods..."

She was trapped. Trapped without any way to escape. She couldn't harm a patient, whether she knew him or not, but she definitely couldn't get that much on such short notice! She didn't have that kind of money; she didn't even know anyone who had that kind of money...

There has got to be a third alternative here, I just have to calm down and look at this problem in a logical manner.

But she couldn't calm down, with her head still pounding and her stomach doing gymnastics with nausea and worry. She couldn't do this on her own; that much was obvious, but she didn't dare go to her friends for help. Flash would probably go try to settle the issue with his fists, and that wouldn't help at all... besides that, up against those kind of thugs he'd probably lose, and she couldn't let that happen to him. But the thought of admitting to her mentor -- or worse, her parents -- the position she'd gotten herself into made her positively sick with shame.

No, there was another choice. There had to be another choice!

All right, she thought, taking a deep breath -- two -- three -- slow regulated breathing. It worked, and Sierra sighed as she let herself relax. Her headache began to subside as well, and she found that her thoughts came much clearer. Good. Now, is there anyone I know who might be able to get their hands on that kind of money in a hurry... I don't really care who it is, but it would be better to be in debt to someone I know at least casually rather than to a complete stranger. But whoever could possibly have...

Ranger.

The name came from nowhere and dropped into the middle of her mind.

She didn't know the middle Stormwing son very well; oh, of course, most of them had grown up together since their parents were so close, so it wasn't as if she'd never met him before. But although Felicity, her best friend, was Ranger's elder sister (and ironically, Ranger's best friend was her younger brother) the fact remained that she really didn't know anything much about the con man himself, other than his reputation -- and that was hardly favorable! She wasn't exactly eager to explain her situation to anyone, least of all to someone like him... but Ranger was experienced in exactly this area. He might, she thought, be the only one she could trust to be able to help her in this, if she dealt with him the right way.

Her mouth twitched in a wry smile. 'Trust'? This was, after all, Ranger Stormwing she was thinking about: confidence trickster, troublemaker, seducer of the unwary woman and complete scoundrel -- and those were the more flattering terms she'd heard used to describe him. She brushed those thoughts away, however, and dressed hastily.

Grateful that she'd been given most of today off from her work in the Infirmary, because she would have been very late if she hadn't, Sierra checked herself in the mirror and was relieved to see that the circles under her eyes were only faint. At least she didn't look outwardly as terrible as she felt inwardly. Snatching her comb from the drawer, she straightened her messed hair, then left her room. Her appearance wasn't something she worried overmuch about, but that would have been too much even for her to ignore.

*****

It was still fairly early in the morning, not much past eight, and most of the Brotherhood were still down having breakfast so she walked alone up the stairs and through the halls to A50. In fact, by the time she arrived at the door, she was beginning to wonder whether he'd be in at all, and if he were, was right now the best time to knock and ask...

She lifted her hand, hesitated briefly, and knocked. There was no reply. The door was unlocked, and she started to open it, when she decided that -- all things considered -- that might not be a very wise thing to do. So she knocked again, louder this time. A voice muttered something from inside, then more clearly said, "Hang on." About half a minute later the door opened a crack and the young man peered out, almost suspiciously.

Ranger Stormwing's face was not one to immediately inspire confidence. It was a lean face, silver-feathered except for two dark patches around his eyes that made them seem sunken. His hair drifted over his shoulders, long, tangled, and a deep navy blue that was almost black in the dim light of the hallway. To complete the look, the left side of his beak was pierced with a large sapphire stud. That he was naked from the waist up didn't concern her at all, as she'd seen many bodies in her short time as a doctor, although she found herself thinking critically that the man should eat a bit more...

Ranger noticed her look and pushed the door further open. He raised an eyebrow curiously. "Sierra Roguefeather. I'm a little surprised to see you outside my room, of all people... Come to check on my health?"

Sierra ignored the innuendo, and favored him with a smile that was supposed to be winning but more likely came off as watery. "I'm sorry if I woke you up, Mister Stormwing, but I--"

A grimace. "Ranger. Please, just Ranger. Anyway, 'mister' is supposed to be a title of respect, an' that would just be wasted on me."

"Ah... oh... all right," she stammered, thrown. "Can I, uh, come in?"

He looked her up and down, shrugged, and nodded, stepping back away from the door. "Yeah, sure, come in and I'll find you a seat." Pausing a moment, she steeled herself for whatever she might find in there and walked past him into the room. She was rather surprised to find that it contained nothing of what she'd expected.

While her own room was neat in the sense of 'spick, span and not a thing out of place', Ranger's was orderly in the sense of 'chaos grown in rows'. It was clean and more or less tidy, although there were a number of old books stacked in tall piles at the farthest end of the room and, she noticed, the ceiling had a few cobwebs on it. The walls had no dirty posters on them, you could see the carpet, and while there were some articles of clothing strewn around the place, all of it seemed to be his.

She watched as Ranger pulled out one of a couple of chairs that had been shoved into a corner beside the wardrobe and a large writing desk. He dropped it into the middle of the room, indicating that she sit down, though he himself remained standing. "So, what can I do you for?"

Perching nervously on the edge of the offered chair, Sierra said, "I'm afraid... that I have a favor to ask of you, Ranger."

"I don't bite," he replied, grinning at her obvious discomfiture. "But I do charge. What sort of a favor are we talkin' about here?"

"I need to, ah, borrow some money. A rather large amount of it."

Both eyebrows rose this time. "Uh-huh. How much and why?"

"Ten thousand," she whispered, her eyes chained to the floor.

Ranger went rather quiet, and for one concerned moment she wondered if he would simply refuse her flat-out. Silently, he picked out the other chair and put it down beside hers. Then, "You didn't answer my other question, babe." She noted he'd gone straight to a pet name. "Why do you need ten grand?"

"To... to pay off a bet." She winced. "I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't do this to you, but I don't know who else I can ask. I'll... I'm desperate, Ranger, I'm prepared to pay just about any price for it. I'd prefer you didn't ask for it in money, though, but I really can't blame you if you go and charge some incredible amount of interest since I'm asking for so much and..." Abruptly she realized that she was babbling, and she closed her beak with a snap, flushing.

He stared at her, again in silence, but this was swiftly broken as he began laughing. "A bet! Sierra Roguefeather, the most conservative girl in the Brotherhood, gamblin'! Someone check on hell, I think it just froze over... Hah! Oh, this is too good..."

Her face turned redder than ever. Why did I believe he would be any help at all? I should have gone to Tarrin, or even to Felicity, at least they wouldn't have laughed at me... She started to rise, but was astonished to find that Ranger, apparently moving at light speed, had appeared at her side with a hand on her shoulder. She was even more surprised to see his previously mirthful expression replaced by one that was uncharacteristically -- so far as she knew -- serious. "Ah, babe, don't do that. I was only kiddin', I didn't mean to insult you or anythin'."

Finally he sat down. "So tell me what happened."

"I'd rather not. It's embarrassing enough without going over it again."

"Look," he said patiently, "I can't really help ya if I don't know what's goin' on, can I? How'd you get yourself mixed up with a high stakes crowd? I take it that you lost."

"Oh yes," replied Sierra, letting a little of her bitterness and shame creep into her voice. "I really... I don't remember much. It was last night, but most of it seems to be lost in some kind of fog. I'm sure I never started out gambling, and I don't know how it turned into this. The only thing I clearly recall is looking at my cards and suddenly discovering that I'd run up quite a debt without knowing it. And," she added sharply, seeing his expression, "I wasn't drinking. I had soda water."

Ranger tapped his beak thoughtfully. "Who got it for you?"

"Well, they did, but--" She stopped, appalled.

"Yeah, I'd say you were drugged." Ranger apparently seemed blessed with the ability to read minds as well, or near enough. "It's a pretty common way of extractin' money from someone who's reluctant to part with it. Not to mention other things. Codes, passwords, girls' innocence... hah, never have done that myself. I prefer a cleaner con.

"So, who were 'they'?" he continued, much to Sierra's relief as she'd found herself totally speechless. "I'd like to know where my money's going to end up, so I can work on gettin' it back soon as possible."

"I-I don't remember. It's all so blurry."

"Fascinating."

"What is?"

He grinned crookedly at her. "I've never heard you lie before, Sierra, I find it... most fascinating."

"I wasn't lying!" she exclaimed. "I don't know them, I can't even think why I ever would have sat down and played cards with them to begin with. They came back this morning to collect their money, but I didn't... I don't have it."

"Can you describe them?"

"Well," she said after a moment's thought, "one was short and had more muscles than intelligence..."

Ranger snorted. "That last describes about half the guys in the Brotherhood, babe. Try and be a little more specific. You said there were two of them, I gather that he was the brawn and the other guy was the brains, right? Taller, off-white feathers, gray eyes?"

"I wasn't really looking at his eyes," she admitted. "But yes, I think so. He was wearing a white trench coat. Dirty blond hair, it stuck out like he's never washed it or used a comb... um... he smelled a little smoky, I couldn't place it..."

"Nor would I expect a girl like you to do so, I can tell you now it was hash." He frowned. "Yeah, I know the guy you're talkin' about -- Darrell Evenfeather." The name was oddly familiar, but she couldn't think from where. "You'll go a long way by never listenin' to anything he has to say," Ranger continued. "Second best con man in the Brotherhood."

"Oh?" she asked. "Who's the best?"

"You're talkin' to him, babe," said Ranger, sounding surprised. "Poor Darrell ain't got a chance of catchin' up, though," he continued, with mocking sympathy. "Apart from his exploitable weakness for hash, everyone knows that he cheats."

"What?"

"I said he cheats."

Sierra's eyebrows lifted incredulously. "How can you cheat at being a cheat?"

"You either employ a bunch of thugs and goons to rough people up or you dope 'em senseless, that's what I mean by cheatin'," he explained. "That's wrong, should use your own wits, not drugs and hired fists. It's a matter of finesse and personal pride."

She tried not to sound too amused. "I see."

"They're gonna come back tomorrow then, huh?"

"Yes, so they said." I don't need to mention this Darrell's little 'alternate method of payment'... or should I? she wondered. He knows the man better. I can warn Kerry and Tarrin that our patient has enemies, but will that really achieve anything? How serious was the man? Or was he only trying to find some way to bind me with worse blackmail? She resisted the urge to bite her lip with frustration, and concentrated on the present. "Are you saying you'll help me?"

"For a price."

"Of course. I expected nothing less. Name it."

Eyes narrowing speculatively, he looked her up and down, and Sierra shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. A number of horrible scenarios were popping into her mind, but she pushed them away; none were worse than what her blackmailer had suggested. Well, except maybe one... she thought, grimacing inwardly. So caught up in her thoughts she almost didn't hear him say, "A favor in return."

"What... kind of favor?"

"That's the point." Ranger shrugged lightly and grinned. "I haven't got a clue. For you to pay me back in cash would take years, and as for certain other favorite methods... well, I know you ain't that sort of girl. Who am I to argue with that?" She must have looked as surprised as she felt, because his grin broadened. "Not that I'd mind arguin', of course..."

"Ranger," she said warningly. "We won't even go there."

He laughed, leaning back in his chair, one arm tucked around behind his head. "I'm disappointed," he said playfully, "it's such a fun place. But I digress. You're in my debt now, Sierra. If and when I need a favor you can do for me, I'll call it, and after that we're even. Deal?"

"Deal." Sierra smiled, infinitely relieved. "And thanks."

"Don't mention it." He smirked. "To anyone. Ever. I got a reputation to keep up, you know; I can't go around givin' out thousands of dollars outta the kindness of my heart, seein' as I'm not supposed to have one at all."

"Far be it from me to be the cause of your financial ruin," she quipped. "And, really... I'd appreciate it if you kept this between us, as well. I'd rather not have to explain myself to anyone else. You're the only one I could trust with this."

Ranger looked a bit startled, and laughed shortly. "Trust? Me? There is a first for everything. Hang on a moment." Standing, he walked over to the large desk and pulled open one of its drawers. His hand re-emerged holding something that looked very much like a calculator. At his questioning look Sierra rattled off the long string of digits that was her account number, and Ranger tapped it out on the keys. He pressed his thumb against the ID pad, the device beeped, and with a satisfied nod he put it back. "You're now ten grand richer than you were before, I put it straight into your account. You can collect any time ya like. Just remember you owe me, right?"

"I won't forget," she said, and with a brief smile stood and left his room. A couple of members standing further down the hall looked up, exchanged knowing looks, and went back to chatting amongst themselves. Sierra tried not to feel too offended. After all, she told herself, Ranger's reputation precedes him, I shouldn't be so shocked that they'd think the worst. Still, I suppose it would be too much to ask that they didn't recognize me...

But Ranger hadn't seemed as terrible as that reputation made out. True, the innuendo and pet name of 'babe' had been a little trying, and it was difficult to remember that he was only seventeen -- a year her junior -- from the way he acted, but if that was all the rumors were based on, well... Sierra wondered why she of all people ever listened to the grapevine in any case.

She smiled drolly, shaking her head. Well, it's not like I'm going to be doing business with him very often. I'm grateful to him, certainly, but one debt is enough for this lifetime.

*****

The rest of day rolled by with little trouble. Sierra saw nothing of the con men, either Ranger or Darrell, and that suited her just fine. Instead she spent the rest of the morning chatting with her friends, letting not a word of the problem slip, and in the afternoon arrived on time to help the doctors until the evening. By the time she went to bed that night, she'd all but forgotten the unpleasant events of earlier. She did not forget to take out the ten thousand dollars from her personal account in preparation for the next morning.

Deliberately she set her alarm early, and so by the time the expected knock came at the door she was fully dressed, fully alert, and had the money in her hand. As she opened the door, Sierra found that Darrell Evenfeather stood there alone.

Before he could begin to speak, she thrust the money into his hands. "I believe this is what you were after, Mr Evenfeather," she said, and felt a strange thrill at the surprise on his face. "Ten thousand dollars. You can count it if you don't trust me." She gave him a polite smile. "And I think that ends our debt," she added and, not wanting to continue this any more than necessary, started to close the door.

His hand shot out and blocked her way. "What's the hurry? You got something you don't want me to know?" The smile on his face was cold, and made her squirm inside. "Where'd ya get that money so fast?"

"That's none of your business."

"It's all of my business, doc. You told someone, didn't you? An' after I asked ya so nicely not to." His other hand caught her arm and held it tightly. "In my world, that sort of behavior is called crossing, and I don't like it, you hear?"

She tried to pull her arm back, but his fingers only dug in harder and she winced. "I haven't crossed you any more than you crossed me to begin with. You have your money, isn't that enough?"

His smirk only grew, so that it had a hint of goblin to it. "Not really, no."

Sierra was about to reply, although with what exactly she wasn't sure, when Darrell's eyes widened in surprise and he was jerked roughly back, his grip slipping from her arm and leaving a couple of bruises behind. The con man landed in an undignified heap on the floor and sat there, spluttering with indignation.

"You okay?"

The young man standing next to her gave her a sideways look of concern. She managed a faint smile. "I'm fine, Ranger. That really wasn't necessary... it was appreciated," she admitted, "but not necessary."

He grinned at her. "Actually, it was."

Darrell rose to his feet, his fists balled, and sent Ranger a glare that spoke of murder. "You always stick your beak where it ain't wanted, Stormwing. The girl ain't any concern of yours, she owed me and now she--"

"Has paid it," Ranger finished for him. "With the money I lent her, which makes her in debt to me, therefore worth all of my concern, and the same immunity any client has from anyone else in the League. Such as you. If it takes forever for her to pay me back, then I'll wait forever. All in the rules, of course, if you wanna look them up."

"You tricky bastard..."

Ranger made a mocking bow. "Of course. That's why you're only second best, because I remember to think ahead. So I suggest that ya go back to your own little affairs, Evenfeather, an' leave me to mine."

Scowling, Darrell stepped back. "I'll remember this one, kid. Don't think you can get away with playing the wild card forever."

"I have nothin' to worry about," said Ranger calmly. "You're bloody terrible at poker."

"Well," said Sierra, as Darrell's retreating back stalked around the corner and out of sight, "that was... an experience. What did you mean by 'immunity'?"

He shrugged. "Basically, as long as you're in debt to me, he can't try cheatin' you out of anythin'. We keep the whole favor thing quiet, you start looking as though you're earnin' a bit of cash to pay me back, we can keep this goin' until Darrell's long forgotten about you. He'll probably forget within a week, anyway, I can tell ya now that money's gonna go toward another six month's supply of hash."

Sierra had nothing to say to that, and she rubbed her arm absently. Which reminded her of something else, and she lifted an eyebrow questioningly. "Ranger, much as I appreciate you coming to my 'rescue', as you did, why were you here to begin with?"

"Uh, yeah, well," replied Ranger, looking, for once, caught out. "I sorta figured Darrell wouldn't want to play fair in this, y'know, so I decided to -- ah -- be ready to protect my interests if it came down to that."

"Mm-hm."

"Hey, my reputation was at stake here too, babe..."

She regarded him curiously -- the odd eyes always with a shade of cynicism over them, the dark blue hair that hung in tangles over his shoulders. "Is your reputation really that important to you?" she asked gently.

"Is yours?"

"I..." Blushing slightly, she looked away. "Yes, I suppose it is."

He shot her that crooked grin of his again, but somehow it was a little more serious. "Actually, I'd be lyin' if I said that was the only reason... not that I'm particularly averse to lying, of course... but I know what Darrell's like, and I knew he'd never leave you alone after he got that money from ya. You'd be nothin' but a prime target. You're a nice girl, and I didn't want to see him get his claws into you."

"Oh." On an impulse, she hugged him. "Thank you, again."

He gave her a puzzled half-smile, as if he couldn't work out why she'd just done that, and stepped back a pace. "I, uh... I already told you, don't mention it, no problem."

Sierra realized with a mixture of amusement and embarrassment that she'd made him feel uncomfortable, and an awkward silence fell around them for a few moments, during which she struggled for something coherent to say. Finally she made an attempt. "Well, by the time we get down to breakfast there won't be anything worthwhile left."

"There's never anything worthwhile to begin with. Cereal and a glass of orange juice is all very well, but I could really go for hotcakes and syrup." He quirked an eyebrow at her. "There's a cafe 'bout two blocks from here that does really great breakfast dishes. Wanna join me?"

No, that's all right, she said... or meant to say. Halfway from her brain to her voice the thought stopped and turned itself inside out. "Hotcakes sound wonderful. I'll just get my purse..."

"On me. No extra charge," he added, as she gave him a sidelong glance. "I'm in a generous sort of mood this mornin', cash in on it while ya can."

"I'll remember that." She smiled slightly.

Ranger looked doubtful. "Maybe I shouldn't have said anything... I've seen that look before, and it usually means that I'm gonna be spendin' a lot more than I originally bargained for."

"Don't worry," she said, laughing. "You'll find I'm quite inexpensive."

"But very good quality."

"If you say so."

"I do, yes."

They walked out to breakfast.

 

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