Home > Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2)(17)

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2)(17)
Author: Ilona Andrews

“Me and Caldenia. Possibly the Arbiter and his party as well. He mentioned three people.”

“Caldenia?” His spikes stood up. “Caldenia ka ret Magren? Letere Olivione?”

“Yes. Will that be a problem?”

“I have never had the pleasure to serve her, but I certainly know of her. She’s one of the most renowned gastronomes in the Galaxy. Her palate is the definition of refinement.”

I wondered what he would say if he knew the owner of this refined palate frequently indulged in binging on Mello Yello and Funyuns. “The inn will help you. If you need something, ask for it.” I raised my voice. “I need a two liter pot, please.”

The correct pot slid to the front of the middle shelf.

“I’ll need a gastronomical coagulator, please,” the Quillonian said.

Nothing moved. The Quillonian glanced at me. “Nothing’s happening.”

“We don’t have one.” The only coagulator I knew about was used in surgeries.

“You expect me to serve vampires and Caldenia without a coagulator?”

“Yes.”

“Immersion circulator?”

“No.”

“A spherification device?”

“I don’t even know what that is.”

“It’s a device that creates spheres by submerging drops of a liquid in a solution such as calcium chloride, causing the drops to form a solid skin over the liquid center. They pop in your mouth under the pressure of your teeth.”

I shook my head.

“Do you at least possess an electromagnetic scale?”

“No.”

He shook his hands. “Well, what do you have?”

“Pots, pans, knives, bowls, measuring cups, and silverware. Also some baking pans and molds.”

The Quillonian rocked back and stared at the ceiling. “The gods are mocking me.”

Not again. “It’s a challenge.”

He flexed his arms, his elbows bent, his clawed arms pointing to the sky. “Very well. Like a primitive savage, who sets out to tame the wilderness armed with nothing but a knife and his indomitable will, I will persevere. I will wrestle victory from the greedy jaws of defeat. I shall rise like a bird of prey upon the current of the wind, my talons raised for the kill, and I shall strike true.”

Oh wow. I hope the inn filmed that.

“When do you normally have your morning meal?”

The clock told me it was four in the morning. “In about three hours.”

“Breakfast shall be served in three hours.” He hung his head. “You may call me Orro. Good day.”

“Good day, chef.”

I left the kitchen and went up the stairway. I was so tired, if I didn’t get some sleep, I’d start to hallucinate.

Caldenia emerged from her side of the stairs. “Dina, there you are.”

“Yes, Your Grace?”

A metal pot banged in the kitchen.

Caldenia frowned. “Wait, if you are here, who is in the kitchen?”

“Daniel Boone, cooking with his talons.”

“I love your sense of humor. Who is it really?”

“A Quillonian former Red Cleaver chef. His name is Orro and he’ll be handling the food for the banquet.”

Caldenia smiled. “A Quillonian chef. My dear, you shouldn’t have. Well, you should have years ago, but one mustn’t be petty. Finally. I shall be dining in a style to which I am suited. Fantastic. Does he have moral scruples? I am reasonably sure that this summit will result in at least one murder, and I have never tasted an otrokar.”

“Let me get back to you on that.” I walked to my room, took off my shoes, my robe and my jeans, collapsed into my bed, and fell asleep.

Chapter 4

The inn woke me up fifteen minutes before six, and I crawled into the shower, which nicely banished my sleepiness but did nothing for my face. My skin was puffy, my eyes looked sunken in, and I generally looked like I’d had a week long drunken binge and was just now coming out of my stupor. There was no time to fix it, so I brushed some mascara on my eyelashes, dabbed some powder here and there, put on light workout pants and a loose T-shirt in case I had to move really fast and grabbed my favorite robe. Dark blue, very elastic, and beautifully light, it was made from spider silk and had higher tensile strength than Kevlar. Wearing it was like wrapping yourself in a silk armor. It wouldn’t stop a bullet, but it would block a knife. My mother gave it to me for my eighteenth birthday.

Sadness gripped me, so intense, I stopped, holding the robe in my hands. I wanted my mother back. I wanted her back right now, right this second, as if I had reverted to my childhood and like a scared toddler, I wanted to hug her and let her make everything okay.

I exhaled, trying to get rid of the sudden ache in my chest. If I had any hope of getting my parents back, I had to get more guests into my inn. At least twenty of them would arrive today and I would scrutinize their faces as they passed by my parents’ portrait. I slipped my robe on.

Robes were the traditional garb of an innkeeper. My father used to say they served dual purposes: they nicely hid your body, so people had harder time targeting you and they gave you “a certain air of mystery.” I would need the air of mystery. The three parties to this summit would be bringing their best people. Each vampire was a fortress onto himself, otrokar possessed overpowering strength, and Nuan Cee’s clansmen were ruthless. It would help if they hesitated before they decided to do something unwise.

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