The previous Sassy Saturday post, "A Survivor of the Siduban Chaos Explosion", can be read here.
In this excerpt, Eric tries to get a straight answer out of Kallen but only gets more frustrated as the conversation progresses.
Right now, he was hungry and it was the perfect excuse to visit Annala. Maybe she's forgiven me by now. He stopped running when he reached Across the Sea and pushed the doors open.
Annala smiled from the waiting desk and said, “Hi, and wel-oh.” She pointedly looked away.
“Annala, I'm sorry. I said I was sorry fifty times. What do I have to do to make it up to you?”
Adorably put out, she said, “Eat a carton of wasabi. In one swallow.”
“If that's what it takes, bring it on!”
“An impossible task for a lady's favor.”
Annala jumped slightly. Kallen leaned on the bench to her left. “Knock it off, Kallen . . .” Annala said softly. “Eric's my friend.”
“Then do you mind if he joins me?” Kallen asked cattily.
“I . . . uh . . .” Annala pulled on an ear.
Eric stood a little straighter and said, “Kallen, did you come here to tease Annala or eat?”
“Eat, of course.” She showed him a menu. “Have you had the mushu? They say they have good mushu. I've had real mushu, so I'm curious as to what they think is mushu. Do you like mushu?”
Eric gritted his teeth. “Stop saying 'mushu'!”
Deep breath, calm down . . . “Mushu isn't why you ran off earlier. What is?”
“That act made me hungry.”
“Stop evading! You know wha—”
Annala grabbed them both by the arm and dragged them away from the entrance. Their bickering was driving away customers. Kallen chuckled as the girl, shy and blushing moments ago, hauled them both to her table.
“So you don't mind after all?”
“I'm not his girlfriend, but I am his friend. Don't put your claws in him.”
Kallen raised one hand and said with the utmost solemnity, “Trickster's honor.”
Annala groaned heavily and returned to her post. Her long ponytail swished and caught the light from the windows. Kallen watched as Eric watched it sway, as if in a trance.
“That's what I asked her about.”
Eric blinked. “Huh?”
“Her hair. I asked about her hair. I wanted to know how she kept it such a rich golden color.”
Eric stared at her incredulously. “You know why; she's an elf. Tell me the truth.”
Kallen smirked. It was as if she was pleased with his answer and expected it. She's playing with me . . . Kallen's smirk widened; she knew that he knew, that she was playing with him and it seemed to make her all the more amused.
“I asked her what it was like to be an elf in a human city. I'm interested in elfish culture; you do know that, right? I'm the first human since the Conversion War to be allowed inside Dnaac Ledo.”
“Annala's hometown. Her dad was at the opening joust. He's their diplomat, you know.”
A light shined in Eric's eyes as he realized the answer to an important personal question. So that's why she was wearing a dress!
“. . .and then went home,” Kallen continued. “Eric, are you listening?”
“Something about a gnome?”
“No, home; Annala's home. I paid it a visit last week.”
“Is that why you're in this contest? Politics?”
“Why do you think that?”
“Why did you help me during my act?”
“Why do you think I helped you?”
“Why do you keep dodging questions?”
“Why do you keep aiming them?”
Eric rubbed his forehead. “I'm a curious person. You had nothing to gain from helping me. I know I'm not competition to someone like you—” Kallen blushed. It surprised Eric so much, he lost his train of thought. Dengel reminded him. “But there was still no reason to help me.”
“I wouldn't be so sure . . . you think I'm in the contest to win.”
Kallen munched a cracker. “I didn't say that.”
“Yes, you—” Talking with this girl was giving him a headache. “Why are you in the contest?”
“I want you in the contest. You're fun.”
“What does th—” Eric stopped again, but this time it wasn't of his own will. Kallen leaned over the table and kissed him.
A ripple in his mind; stones skipping across water. Light and warm; deeper; sinking. Puzzle pieces tentatively approaching, connecting. Deeper and deeper until a surface. It was gone.
Kallen was back in her seat and smiling. There was not a hint of smug amusement; this smile was true happiness. It was meant for a dear friend she hadn't seen for years. Eric felt the same and it made him all the more confused. Then, Kallen pulled out a camera.
“You make the funniest expression when startled!” She spun to the kitchen and yelled, “Can I get a waiter over here?” She looked back at Eric. “You want anything?”_______________________________________________________________
A Mage's Power, and the rest of the Journey to Chaos series, are available for purchase at: http://smile.amazon.com/A-Mages-Power-Journey-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00AVMAISG
To learn more about the heroines of A Mage's Power, visit Tvtropes at: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/AMagesPower.