It was like he was standing in the corner, staring at her.
Red sat in her rocking-chair and brooded in the general direction of the fireplace, staring at the flickering orange flames and yet not seeing them at all. She was holding the last of what had once been a very nice set of wine-glasses, hand-blown and imported from distant Arcadia, and half-full of red wine. The greenish glass of the bottle glinted in the firelight, sitting next to her on a little table.
It had been like that for days now, ever since Yangus had left. She hadn't been able to get him out of her mind, despite the amount of time she'd had to practice not thinking about him after he'd left. She would've thought she would be an expert at it by now. But then she'd heard that he'd been spotted in Pickham again, and she'd reacted like a stupid little girl trying to catch a glimpse of her birthday present a few days early. She'd gotten one of her men to follow him, and when she'd spotted the chance to get his attention she'd taken it.
Obviously he'd been out of town too long if he'd forgotten to keep an eye on a wagon and a mare that fine, or if he hadn't realized that she'd have someone in town to look out for a prize like that. But it wouldn't have mattered if it had been a faded, rusty old cart being drawn by the oldest, ugliest nag in the world; she would've gotten her hands on it anyway, just to make Yangus come back to her.
In a way she was glad to see him again - sure, he'd gotten fat, and the years hadn't made him any prettier, but he hadn't changed that much... not physically, anyway. Which was why she wished she hadn't, in another way. Sure, it had been damn good seeing him again, but seeing him on his knees had almost been too much for her. The Yangus she'd known had never begged for anything. He'd taken what he wanted, and he hadn't taken any guff from anyone.
Anyone but her, that is. That hadn't changed either, as much as she hated it. She sooner would've seen him yell at her, or take a swing if he'd been stupid enough to try it, than see him fall on his knees in front of her like that. Why was that so hard for him to grasp?
It wasn't as if she'd just wanted the jewel. Yeah, the Venus Tear was something else, something she'd wanted for years, and yeah, she was glad to finally have it, but that wasn't the only reason she'd asked him to get it for her all those years ago. She could've gotten her boys together and gone into the Labyrinth herself years ago, and probably would've gotten it faster than Yangus and his new mates had managed. But she'd hoped that Yangus would get it, that he'd understand why a girl would want a bloke to bring her jewelry. He was the one who kept talking about what blokes did and didn't do; how could he be so dense about that?
She had hoped that he'd learned a few things while he was out, but if anything he seemed to be forgetting who he'd been. Or maybe he'd always wanted to be an honest bloke, and she'd just been too blind to see it. Maybe he'd just been a bandit because he'd grown up in Pickham, and really, what else could you do when you grew up in a city like that? Maybe he was happier now that he'd gone straight. Maybe...
She reached over to the little table and grabbed the wine bottle, and poured what was left of the stuff into her glass. She didn't usually drink like that, but she didn't usually sit around seeing ghosts standing in the corner, either.
"So why won't you tell me what y' wanted from me?" she muttered. "You were a bloody fine bandit an' a real man besides, an' you an' me coulda taken that lousy town fer ourselves. If you 'ad just spoken up an' acted like a real man you could've 'ad anythin' ya wanted."
She finished the last of her wine and threw the glass into the fireplace, listened to the tinkling sound it made as it shattered against the stones. It wasn't loud enough to really make her feel any better, so she tossed the empty bottle after it. That was a little better, but not much, so she grabbed at something else and started to throw it - but stopped short when she saw it gleaming in her hand. She might be drunk and a bit upset, but she sure as hell wasn't going to throw the Venus Tear into the fireplace. That would just be stupid.
"Yeah," she continued, lowering her arm, slurring her words only slightly. "you 'eard me, I said anythin'. 'Specially me." Bloody hell, but the place was too quiet. Had to be, if she was talking to herself like that. "An' here I thought I'd gotten over all o' this. You lousy bastard... why'd you have to...?"
She didn't cry. Red did not cry when any of her boys were around; that was just asking for trouble. Instead she found herself hatching another scheme, her thoughts working even in the mild haze of intoxication. There had to be another way to get his attention... her spies told her that he and his mates had found a ship, and that they'd headed off to the west, but she couldn't risk her ship goin' off after 'em.
Ah, well. Something would come up eventually, and she'd take it when it did. That was how she'd gotten where she was now, after all. She just hoped it would work this time.