“Thank you for the offer. A little drink sounds nice. It really would be tempting.”
It certainly was. How often did she get the chance to drink with a hero, to talk to one and to make contact with spheres far above her reach? It would be nice to drink a little bit before going to bed, to have some fun and leave behind the worries of the day. Also, Peino Starhand undeniably was a nice, handsome man. Lotye remembered how close she had been to him that afternoon, in the alley …
But she shouldn’t think about these things now, Lotye told herself. A more realistic perspective looked different. There would be questions about her and her history. Questions she really didn’t want to answer, less so in the night, after being caught sneaking through an apartment like the thief she was. Or even worse, there would be awkward silence, with her not knowing what to say and how to react to the things he would say. She would be like the little girl in the presence of a grown man, a famous hero on top of that, just like during the meetings of the day. And that was a role she didn’t want to play a second time. Why couldn’t things always be as easy as they were when one was out there, taking care of things, running and hiding? Lotye slowly shook her head.
“But I think I’ll …”
She stopped before she would have started to stutter. It didn’t have to come like this. She could just be who she always was, couldn’t she? The person who had made her way through half of Lyrion, living from hand to mouth and sometimes from other people’s hands, too. But that person didn’t sit on velvet couches, drinking fine mead out of crystal glasses. That person didn’t talk to people who had caught her in their houses, she just ran.
“I think I’ll have to turn it down.” She hunched her shoulders, her arms still crossed. “Good night milord.”
With that she began to walk past him again and didn’t turn to look back a second time. Now she didn’t care about the sound her bare feet made on the floor, she just quickly made her way to her room and closed the door behind her.
It was time to go to bed. This time truly. Lotye took off her clothes and folded them neatly. After she slipped into the unfamiliar nightgown, she put them next to the bed, close in her reach, just like she had always done, so that she would be able to get dressed and ready in mere minutes the next morning.
Some habits never change, but at least no mean straw will prickle me tonight. She pulled the blanket over herself and closed her eyes.