TITLE: Shadow of Vengeance
GENRE: YA Fantasy
There were two things wrong.
One: a drunk customer was going to pat my butt as I walked past. He had that narrowed-eyes and trying-not-to-grin look, and his hand slid toward the edge of the table. I sidestepped at the last second and he swiped empty air; his friends guffawed.
Two: someone was watching me, and not the drunks seated at the bar, or the less inebriated crowd in the tavern's main room. Their eyes were trained on food and friends. In that order. Customers came and went; the watcher's attention was constant, making the back of my neck itch like a peeling sunburn.
Since I didn't know who it was, or where they were hiding, I delivered mugs of ale and plates of rye bread and steak, and tried not to let the watcher bother me.
Because in four days, only stealing and revenge would matter.
"You look worried, Megan." Oriph's puckered brown scars shifted when he lifted an eyebrow. "Try to relax."
Of course he could say that, leaning against the bar, gazing across the Harp's Lullaby like a proud father. He wasn't the one being stalked. He also wasn't the one carrying heavy trays across the garlic-and-sweat-scented room.
I slid the serving tray into the rack on the bar and flashed my best waitress smile. "Sorry, boss." Trainees were supposed to control their emotions, or at least not let real ones show.
Oriph shrugged. He understood about graduation coming up; most of his employees were like me, thief trainees. We were the reason he had this tavern in the first place.
I lowered my voice. "Does someone usually watch trainees about to graduate?"
He faked a cough, flickers of surprise and praise in his eyes. "You know how it is. People watch beautiful young women."
"Ah, they must be admiring Ruma then." I smiled, but his not-answer confirmed my suspicion: the watcher was a thief. A guild thief, not like the hungry street trash or petty thieves who stole out of greed. The guild meant family, so in theory I could stop worrying about my watcher because they wouldn't mean me any harm. But I knew better.
Oriph started to reply, but his expression sobered as he gazed beyond me. "Stay here."
The tavern had two exits: one in the kitchen, and the main one around a long, curved hallway. Oriph strode toward the mouth of that hall where a cloaked and hooded figure waited. The cloak would look normal to customers--it was similar to those draped over chair backs--but there was no crest of nobility or house embroidered on the front, and light wouldn't touch the black cloth.
A guild thief.
He was tall, straight-shouldered, and almost invisible in shadow. From the lighted area by the bar, I couldn't see his face, not even a hint.
Maybe he was the thief who'd killed my parents. If he was, I'd kill him.