Genre: Historical Fiction
The man in the corner of the tavern had not looked straight at Thomas even once. Observing someone without being noticed in a public place requires the discipline to seek incidental eye contact with that person. The lanky man lacked that discipline.
His eyes would flit past Thomas, or focus on a point right behind him. Thomas did not make the same mistake. He studied his watcher openly for a moment, and then smiled politely as their gazes crossed. The man's face flushed.
Thomas feigned not to notice. He scanned the rest of the smoky common room, searching for a second man. The lanky one was an amateur. He could be a decoy, used by a more experienced spy. The Holy See had many good spies, and assassins. Thomas was sure they were hunting him, eager to catch their former colleague.
A bald man, sitting at a table near the door, caught Thomas's attention. Broad-shouldered, like a soldier, he was watching a game of dice between some craftsmen next to him. Every now and then he would lift his head and take in the scenery. Only after he started talking with the men playing dice, Thomas relaxed a bit. The craftsmen all seemed to know the soldier.
"Looking for something, stranger?"
Startled, Thomas blinked. Then he grinned at the waitress, hiding his annoyance at being caught off-guard. He eased back his dagger into its sheath under the table. "Sorry, lass. Your beauty stunned me. I'll have another ale."