Vegas’ only magical casino,
was no more magical than some of the shops it housed. Like the
the self-proclaimed world’s greatest designer, for instance, the
Augustine, who regularly pulled out all the stops in an effort to part
supernatural community from its hard earned cash. Or not hard
wasn’t particular where the filthy lucre originated, as long as it
ended up in
one of his tills.
And it usually
And not without
said, as he and Cassie
stared at the western shirt on a male mannequin in Augustine’s
It had a desert scene that changed along with the day outside, or
night in this case, since the fabric slid from a sun-drenched landscape
elongated shadows to a star-strewn evening as they watched. Complete
a coyote that climbed a bluff and bayed loudly at the moon
over the shirt’s right shoulder.
something,” Cassie agreed. It
wasn’t exactly subtle, but then, this was Vegas. Subtle wasn’t
most people’s vocabulary.
something is awful,”
Pritkin commented, causing her to jump. With all the music and
distant sounds of ringing slots, she hadn’t heard him come up behind
“Right. Like our
resident hobo would
know,” Billy said.
Cassie replied, under
“I saw a tourist
trying to give him
a dollar a couple days ago.”
“You did not!”
“Who are you
talking to?” Pritkin
asked, glancing about suspiciously. Because even war mages can’t see
Or their own
apparently. Pritkin must have just come back from a run, because
he was wearing grubby sweats and a pair of track shoes that had
too many tracks. And a hoody that he’d thrown over his ensemble,
hide the weapons he was never without. It had a hole in the elbow.
Billy agreed. “He’s
not a bum. Homeless people dress better than that.”
What’s wrong?” Pritkin
demanded, slipping a hand inside his threadbare jacket.
Billy,” Cassie said
quickly, before some poor tourist got a surprise. “He . . . he likes
and drew his empty
hand back out. “What does a ghost know about fashion?”
“More than you,
The sudden question made Cassie
jump, although it hadn’t come from Billy. Or Pritkin. And all of their
were in plain sight, instead of biting into the tender space between
was, until it moved to
the small of her back. She spun to avoid said finger, only to have it
her face. A look past the quivering appendage showed her the great man
with some sort of robe on his elongated body and a chapeau of the gods
on his perfectly styled blond head. The robe had a mass of gold
the hat . . . had gauze. Layer upon layer of it, swaddled delicately
what appeared to be a pith helmet.
“Well?” the vision
poked her again.
“Well, what?” she
staring at the hat. The air shimmered around it, like the sun off the
and in the heat waves flickered scenes of another time. Planes dropped
great battles in the sky, pyramids rose pale against deep gold sand,
gorgeous woman in a bit of tasseled nothingness draped an arm across
“Who are you supposed to
Pritkin demanded. “Bloody Valentino?”
Augustine shot him a
glance. “Lawrence of Arabia!”
Green eyes took in the girl.
“Thought he played for the other team.”
Augustine’s scowl grew. “Go
he demanded, glaring at Cassie.
“Any particular reason why?”
“Yes,” it was hissed. “I
have a show
“And the pair of you are
“Man has a point,” Billy
Cassie looked down at
had on a pair of khaki shorts and a blue tank top with Suck it up,
written across the front. It had been tossed at her by Pritkin during a
training session, when she complained once too often about the
ridiculous number of sit ups she was being asked to do. She’d chosen to
ironically thereafter, but couldn’t use it where she was going next,
what she needed to talk to Augustine about if he’d stop trying to
off the sidewalk.
“What do you want?” he
hissed, when she refused to go.
“That’s just it,” she said,
struggling to explain and to hold her ground at the same time. “I don’t
never know. But—”
“Then go away!”
“I will be! That’s what I’m
to tell you. I keep having to flip through time, often at a
notice, and most historical people don’t take well to shorts and a tank
“Modern ones don’t either,
have any taste.”
She ignored that, but not
forceful hand on her back. “Wait! I need a favor!”
“Not calling security on you
favor,” he told her, turning to go back inside his shop. Cassie grabbed
arm, and had a camel almost take a bite out of her hand for her trouble.
She jerked it back and the
looked at her smugly, its thick lips pulled back in a sneer, its large
draped over Augustine’s right shoulder. The harem girl was still
the left, and since neither of them had much in the way of bodies,
the hat’s powers being limited, the effect was that of a
with a couple of very strange shoulder pads.
Cassie blinked at them.
And then blinked again when
item suddenly appeared in the air, a sleek black revolver with no
of support, which didn’t seem to bother it at all. It did seem to
Augustine, however, maybe because it was leveled directly between his
baby blues went a little cross-eyed, staring down the muzzle, until
refocused to stare down at Pritkin instead.
“Touch her again and someone
going to have to handle that absurd show of yours,” Pritkin informed
“Overreact much?” Augustine
“Considering how many people
kill her on a weekly basis? No.”
“I’m not trying to kill her!
want her to leave!”
“Give me what I want and I
Cassie said quickly.
“And that would be what?”
demanded. Cassie opened her mouth. “In one sentence!”
“A suit. Like the one you
“Sal?” Augustine looked
“You know. Tony’s vamp? You
a suit that, well, it became whatever someone needed it to be at the
a swim suit one minute, and a business suit the next. It just sort of
“Yes, yes,” Augustine said
impatiently. “That was last season’s model. I don’t have any of them
Although you could check on clearance—”
He turned away, but Cassie
his arm again. He started to pry her hand off, but the gun moved
menacingly closer. He scowled at it.
“I don’t want that suit,”
said hurriedly. ”It only did modern stuff. I want one like it. One that
change into something for whatever historical period I’m in. Like if I
go to the Sixties one day, and to Victorian England the next—“ She
because Augustine’s glare had now reached solar-flare levels of
“Do you have any idea what
asking?” he demanded. “No, of course you don’t,” he said, before she
answer. “They never do. All day, every day, it’s the same thing. Fat
demand to be skinny. Ugly women who want to be pretty. Short women who
be taller and tall women who want me to make them petite! And all
transformative power of fashion. Because, apparently, using glamouries
“I don’t want to be taller or
whatever,” Cassie began, only to have him cut her off.
“No, you just want to look
appropriate for a hundred—a thousand—different times, many of which
nothing to do with each other fashion-wise, requiring not only
silhouettes, but different fabrics, patterns, notions and accessories!
have to construct a garment that could go from cotton to denim to
to linsey-freaking-woolsey, from short to long, from day to evening,
demure to ostentatious, from—“ he threw up his hands. “It’s absurd!”
. . you’re saying it’ll take
some time?” Cassie said hopefully.
“I’m saying it can’t be
yelled, and started back for the entrance to his shop. And then stopped
staggered against the display window, sprawling there to catch himself.
Cassie ran to help him,
that the man’s perpetually high-strung nature had finally resulted in a
attack, only to have him glare furiously—but not at her.
“If you don’t get this
off me, right now,” he said menacingly.
“What thing?” Cassie asked,
from him to Pritkin and back again. And then making the mistake of
help him up. And being snapped at for her trouble by the man, cursed at
girl and spat on—by the camel.
there, covered in
about a gallon’s worth of camel slime, and caught between horror and
“I thought only llamas did
“Get it off me!” Augustine
A couple of security guards
in their direction.
“I’ll take it off when you
lady a polite, reasoned response,” Pritkin said.
“That’s rich, coming from
Cassie stood there
“You want a reasoned
Augustine asked furiously. “Alright, how’s this? I have a major show
another tomorrow—my first menswear line. Mass orders are sure to start
in shortly thereafter, just when a bunch of fools want interviews,
me away from the workroom when I most need to be free to deal with
catastrophes. Like my carefully selected model for my upcoming ad
calling me from the hospital this morning and saying he can’t do it!
accident—in July! And now she,” he hiked a thumb in Cassie’s direction.
an impossible special order. I don’t have time for this!”
“Make time,” Pritkin
job’s a little more important your ad campaign.”
“Not to me!” Augustine
“How about if I could get
replacement?” Cassie asked, wiping slime off her face. “For the model,
That would free up some time, wouldn’t it?”
“Oh, let me guess. One of
damned vampires of yours?”
“What’s wrong with vampires?”
“What’s wrong is that
“I knew he was a hipster,”
“—not to mention that
on glamouries to look the way they do and the whole premise of my
the natural man. No glamouries needed—”
“Just outrageously expensive
clothes,” Cassie muttered, wondering what to do with her handful of
“—and no vamps. I need a
“A mage?” Her eyes came up,
slid automatically to Pritkin. Billy burst out laughing. Augustine
“—and in any case, I’ve
solved my problem. Part of the show’s gimmick is ‘be part of the
letting the invitees decide on the new model—”
“They’re going to be voting
photos I supply of suitable prospects, clad in their favorite couture,
“Their favorite? Aren’t they
supposed to be modeling your designs?”
“Yes, but we’re not just
a model, are we? We’re choosing the face of Augustine Homme. It
be someone with panache. Someone with attitude. Someone with a touch of
“Someone like Pritkin,”
that night, Cassie was sitting
in the middle of her bed, surrounded by catalogues and glossy
was trying to narrow down a look for Pritkin that might win the
not having a lot of luck. His iconic one—long leather coat, a couple
weapons, a plain t-shirt, and wild blond hair was so ingrained that it
to imagine him in anything else. But she had to. She had to!
Not that he’d
said he’d do it, even
if she did come up with something. He hadn’t said much of anything
pronouncement, or maybe she just hadn’t heard him over Augustine’s
laughter. Cassie scowled. Damn Augustine! Pritkin was . . . well, he
was a war
mage. They had more important stuff to do than worry about what they
wearing. Or who.
And damn Billy,
too. Pritkin looked
fine. Okay, the hair could use some help, and maybe the holeyer stuff
go, and the boots were looking a bit scuffed . . . but he didn’t look
hobo, damn it! He looked like Pritkin. He looked fine.
But maybe not
fine enough for all
those snobby types Augustine was going to have voting. She sighed and
to flipping through the latest men’s mag, which like the others
contained a lot
of clothes that she couldn’t in her wildest dreams see Pritkin wearing.
only had until tomorrow night!
“Got it,” Billy
said, and a beam of
light hit her in the face.
up, blinking, to see
that her laptop had been turned her way, and was glowing brightly in
Billy Joe had
that his lack of actual fingers did not preclude his being able to
keyboard, and thus spent a lot of time online these days, including
bunch of “fleshbags” in the wild world of internet poker. But this
list of his latest winnings, it was . . . “Oh, no.”
“Oh, yes,” Billy
nodded, his Stetson
bobbing about on its own, because he hadn’t bothered to appear all the
did two, so he can choose. On the left, we have the modern cowboy—”
“Forget the left. What
the heck is
on the right?”
Billy grinned. “I
call it Van Helsing realness.”
“I call it horrible!”
“Most of the audience
will be mages.
They’ll love it.”
“But will Pritkin?”
“Show him and find
out. But it’s not
that far off his usual shtick. Well, ‘cept for the collar. And the
maybe the stakes—”
“I can’t show him
“You’re just chicken.”
“I am not. I just
don’t think this
is his best chance to—”
“You know what he’ll—”
“Bok, bok, bok.”
“Damn it, Billy!”
But Billy Joe just
laughed, and then
even the hat disappeared, leaving Cassie looking at a bunch of the
in fashionable attire. Well, fashionable in the sense that designers,
presumably their clients, used the term. Meaning that you couldn’t walk
public street in some of that stuff without being scooped up by the
guys in the
But a few of the
cowboy pieces were
kind of cute, and had she done any better?
She clutched the
latest magazine to her chest. God, she needed that suit.
travel was a royal pain in the backside even without the threat of
lynched for indecent exposure. Or being mistaken for a prostitute. Or a
Having a suit that could shift as easily as she did would be just a
help, and Augustine was a dick, and they just had to win that
Maybe she was being
she told herself. Maybe Pritkin would like them better than she
one way to find out.
Ten minutes later,
herself being unceremoniously ushered back out onto the carpet of
hallway. A couple of printouts fluttered lazily to the ground beside
barely looked at them!” she yelled, at the resolutely shut door.
“Some of the cowboy
stuff was nice!”
Cassie decided, she was
going to need some better help. Which was how she came to be standing
doorstep of Pritkin’s friend and fellow war mage, Caleb. At three A.M.
rubbing his bald head. He had a gun in one hand and a bandolier of
bottles slung over his bare chest. War mages answered the door in the
the night, but they didn’t do it unarmed.
Of course, they
probably didn’t even
shower that way, so no surprise, Cassie thought, slipping past him. “I
a lot,” she told him.
Caleb demanded, as she
checked out his living room.
Caleb sighed and
shut the door. “Are
you going to tell me what the hell you want, or just stand around being
“I’m . . . not
sure.” Cassie said,
On the one hand,
was a pleasant surprise. She’d never thought of him having money, since
dressed in the same standard war mage attire Pritkin favored when on
which was the only place she’d ever seen him. But the apartment was a
ode to modernity with chrome and fine wood and a big bank of windows
impressive view of the Strip. Such apartments did not come cheap. It
could be a
rental, of course, but still . . .
On the other
hand, however, were the
worrying Snoopy PJ bottoms he was currently wearing. Which, let’s face
not bode well. Maybe this had been a bad idea.
“My niece gave
them to me,” he said,
catching the direction of her gaze. “And did you come over here to
said, feeling relieved.
“I came over to get some help.”
Caleb asked, looking
But, as it
turned out, he was
helpful. At least he was once she explained the bet with Augustine,
would supply the coveted suit if Pritkin was selected from all the
would-be models for the ad campaign. In fact, Caleb even kind of got
having harbored a heretofore unacknowledged desire to see his old buddy
up a little. And, to Cassie’s delight, the closet in the luxurious
well stocked with exactly the kind of stuff she needed.
like fun,” Caleb said,
unexpectedly grinning at her. “If you need a second horse in the race,
“It’s nice of
you to offer,” Cassie
told him sincerely. “But Augustine only made the bet because it’s
doesn’t think he can do it.”
“Of course he
can,” Caleb said
staunchly. But his eyes flickered a little.
thought. Tell me about
* * *
The good news was that she ended up shifting back to Dante’s
with a pile of
very nice stuff. The bad news was that she ran into something
thereafter, because she couldn’t see over top of it. Or make that
shopping trip?” Marco asked sardonically.
Cassie tried to
slip around him, but of course, that didn’t work. When her
chief bodyguard was in the doorway, nothing else was going to fit. And
Not that he was
fat. Quite the contrary, Marco was one of the guys she’d
immediately thought of when Augustine said he wanted someone a little
for his ad. He was tall, dark and handsome in a
biceps-the-size-of-small-children sort of way. He’d trained to be a
shortly before his death, and all these centuries later, he still
“I just stepped out
for a minute,” Cassie said defensively, because he was
giving her that look.
“To do what?” Marco
“No, no, it’s perfect.
Oh, God,” one of her other bodyguards cried, half an
Cassie sighed again,
but nobody cared. If there was one thing vamps loved,
other than for tormenting mages, it was fashion. So a combo of the two
pie. Marco had even gotten in on the act, helping himself to a big old
sarcasm in the form of a “gladiator chic” wardrobe for Pritkin. That
problem, though. It was at least somewhat self-deprecating, poking as
at Marco as it did at his target.
No, the problem was
what the other boys had come up with.
“I am NOT showing him
that,” Cassie said decisively.
“Oh, come on. He’ll
love it,” one of the guys said, pushing a collection he
referred to as “The Prickly Mage” at her. “If ever anything spoke to
of the man—”
“It does not!”
“Oh, really?” The vamp
arched an eyebrow. Mircea must make them practice
that, Cassie thought resentfully. “Then why isn’t he offering to help
“He . . . he hasn’t
refused,” she pointed out, a little lamely. Because he
hadn’t offered, either.
“Oh, that’s big of
him,” the vamp sneered. “The Pythia, the person he’s
sworn to help and defend, badly needs something to do her job.
could mean the difference between life and death—”
“—in the right
circumstances, something that would require nothing more than
a little time on his part. And what does he do?”
“That Caleb guy stepped
right up, didn’t he?” One of the other vamps pointed
Damn it; I shouldn’t
have told them that, Cassie thought.
“As any of us would if
asked,” the first vamp said piously.
“Hell, even if not
asked,” another laughed. “I always wanted to be a model.”
“They don’t make
glamouries that big,” someone else said.
Marco threw a pillow
“So take ‘em down and
see what he says,” the first vamp challenged her.
“It’s not even five
A.M.” Cassie pointed out.
“And? Isn’t he
supposed to be an early riser? And haven’t you spent all
night on this?”
But ten minutes later,
she was fuming. Okay, maybe Austin Powers Revisited
wasn’t likely to be a hit; hell, maybe none of them were. But she
Pritkin coming up with anything better. Or anything at all.
Cassie stomped away
from his room for the second time that night, tired and
put out and just a tad angry. The guys were wrong, she told herself. He
HAVE to do this. If ever anything went above and beyond the call of
duty . . .
Which would have been
fine, if Caleb’s delighted face hadn’t kept swimming
in front of her eyes.
Pritkin has the right
to do what he wants, she reminded herself again. And
anyway, he still hadn’t said he wouldn’t do it. Maybe she just hadn’t
right combo of war mage and couture yet. And British war mage, at that.
Caleb’s stuff had been too American. Maybe what she needed was a
* * *
“Come in, dear girl, come in,” Jonas told her, opening
the door on his vine covered cottage in the English countryside. “I was
just doing the washing up.”
right.” Time difference, Cassie reminded herself. And then her stomach
reminded her that she hadn’t had breakfast. She’d discovered recently
that she could do without food or sleep, but not both. At least not and
think straight, and she had to think. She was running out of time!
some left,” Jonas remarked idly.
hour later, Cassie was finishing up some really wonderful chicken salad
while Jonas modelled some of his favorite outfits for her. He seemed to
be having a good time, and damn, who would have guessed that he was
such a clothes horse?
wasn’t just her part time magic teacher. He was the head of the Silver
Circle, the world’s leading magical organization, and therefore a
powerful political figure. Of course he had nice clothes. He probably
had events to go to all the time.
thing was, while his clothes were nice, they were nice for
an, uh, older gentleman. The layers of tweed and velvet and fine wool
that complimented Jonas’s shock of white hair and portly frame might
not work so well on Pritkin’s more muscular one. Or on the elite
of the magical world, who probably wouldn’t be impressed by tweed.
left a few things of his here, up in the attic,” Jonas offered, “If
they’re any use to you.”
his clothes that are the problem,” Cassie explained.
yes. But he didn’t always dress the same way, did he?”
Jonas said, and then got off on a tangent about umbrella styles.
escaped as soon as possible and went upstairs, wondering what could be
gleaned from Pritkin’s old clothes.
discovered to her consternation that a wardrobe wasn’t the only thing
waiting for her in the attic.
time you showed up,” Rosier said, and threw something at her.
Considering that the blond-haired devil bent over a trunk literally
deserved the title, being prince of the incubi, a demon lord, Pritkin’s
estranged father and Cassie’s long-time nemesis, she very
understandably ducked. As a result, the bundle hit the wall behind her
head, but instead of exploding it only bounced off and came to rest on
the dusty floor.
scowled. “Damn it! That’s Cavalli.”
what?” Cassie asked nervously, shying away.
looked at him.
Cavalli. The Italian designer?”
spent a moment wondering how Rosier had gotten him in there, before it
clicked. God, I need sleep, she thought wearily. “What are you doing
you.” He threw something else at her.
she caught it, mostly to keep it from slamming into her face. It was
more couture. Versace.
isn’t Pritkin’s,” she said. It wasn’t a guess. Strewn haphazardly
around the attic were a bunch of clothes, most dating from the
nineteenth century by the look of them, and the outfit she was
squashing between her hands was from the current season. And so not
Pritkin. She recognized it from an ad she’d seen in one of the
magazines, and had quickly dismissed for looking like something a
gigolo would wear.
an incubus, she suddenly realized.
is now,” Rosier said, pulling something out of the bottom of the trunk
and sitting on the lid. He summoned a lit cigarette with a gesture, and
smoked it while the pages of what looked like a photo album turned over
by themselves. “If you can get him to wear it, that is.”
. . . want him to wear it?” Cassie asked, looking suddenly askance at
the expensive clothes.
want him to get his head straightened out!” Rosier said, exhaling
vigorously. And then muttering under his breath as the pages continued
to flip. “Damned boy, nothing but trouble, don’t know what I ever did
Cassie jumped, as that last syllable had been as loud as a whip.
“Here it is,” Rosier said, and pushed the book at her—from across the
room. Like Pritkin’s gun, it ignored gravity. Unlike Pritkin’s gun, it
shot across the space between them and hit her in the gut.
let out an audible ooomph, and wondered if she’d just cracked a
rib. But she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of acting like it. She
pulled the damned book out of her solar plexus, and glanced at the open
then abruptly sat down, pain forgotten, to peruse it more closely.
picture was old, faded and yellowed, and half obscured since time had
glued half of it to the back of the preceding page. But enough remained
visible to show her Pritkin perched casually on the edge of a desk,
holding a familiar-looking coat. But there the similarities ended.
hair was more I-couldn’t-be bothered-today and less full-scale
catastrophe. The boots had some buttons and flaps on them, but they
were also unscuffed and maybe even a little shiny. The shirt likewise
was old fashioned and high collared, but it didn’t look bad with the
sleeves rolled up over muscular forearms. And the vest was actually
attractive, plain gray or some dark material, but snug-fitting and
buttoned up over a broad chest.
of the pieces looked particularly high end; this was a working man’s
ensemble. But everything fit him, and was noticeably missing holes,
dirt or other signs of wear. And Cassie suddenly realized what she was
“This was before,” she said slowly.
Rosier didn’t say anything else. He didn’t have to. The picture was
from before Pritkin’s world fell apart, before his incubus abilities
accidentally killed his wife, before he attacked his father for not
telling him that that was a possibility. Before the demon council
condemned him to slavery in the service of said father for all eternity
Said penance had been postponed because Rosier didn’t want an
unwilling, resentful slave; for what he had in mind, that would be less
than useless. So he’d cut a deal with Pritkin to allow him to continue
his life on earth as long as he obeyed one prohibition, the one thing
it was believed that no incubus could ever do: never have sex.
It meant avoiding attracting any women, or interested men. It meant
denying part of what made up his nature at its most basic level. It
meant forfeiting a major source of his power. And it meant keeping on
doing it for as long as he wanted to remain free of his father’s
And unless Cassie was very much mistaken, that was the time
Pritkin’s wardrobe went straight to hell.
“What’s wrong?” Rosier asked, seeing her suddenly burning cheeks.
“Nothing.” She gently shut the book.
“Oh, what now?” he demanded. “This is a prime opportunity, can’t you
“For him. You want him to live like this for the rest of his life?
Stuck here, all but penniless, certainly powerless, put upon by every
Tom, Dick and Harry on this pathetic ball of—”
“I want him to do what he wants to do.” And to wear whatever he wanted
to wear. She’d been thinking only of herself, of her needs, of the
crazy job she’d somehow ended up with and the thousand little details
that went with it. She hadn’t been thinking about him.
Or about the fact that the world’s shabbiest incubus might be that way
for a reason.
“And you think he’d be better off here with you, I suppose,” Rosier
“I think that’s up to him, too,” she said. And shifted.
* * *
“Cassie! Cassie!” Someone was yelling her name, and she wished
they’d stop. She pulled the blanket over her head. “Cassie!” It
stuck a tumbled blond head out from under the covers, only to see Billy
Joe hovering in the air right above her bed. “What?” she demanded.
She put her head
“No, no.” A
chilly ghost finger lifted up the blanket. “Come out. You’ll like this.”
“If it involves
getting up, I won’t.”
“How about if it
involves getting a present?”
She poked a
single eye out. “What kind of present?”
Marco said, coming in the bedroom door.
several vamps behind him, but they were almost obscured by the dress
box in Marco’s hands. One with Augustine’s label on it. Cassie sat up.
“What is that?”
“Open it and
So she did. And
felt a little disappointed, since it was only a plain grayish dress
without even any embellishment on it. It looked like the kind of thing
her governess would have approved of, but it definitely wasn’t up to
Augustine’s usual standards. Which made it weird that everyone was just
standing there, looking expectant.
“Um. Tell him thank
you?” Cassie said.
“Oh, don’t thank him,”
one of the vamps laughed. “He was ungracious enough about it, the
rubbed some sleep out of her eyes.
“Seems he doesn’t like
losing a bet.”
“Doesn’t . . . losing
. . .” Cassie’s eyes got wide. And then she threw back the covers,
grabbed the dress, and hared off to the bathroom, where a moment later
she was wearing a stylish fringed flapper ensemble, complete with long
beaded necklace. And a second after that, an eighties era, wide
shouldered power suit. And then a sixties minidress, an Edwardian
velvet gown, and a silver disco dress—
wear it out,” Marco told her.
“It’s so cool!”
She spun around. She looked like Olivia Newton John in that horrible
movie she couldn’t remember the name of right now but it didn’t matter
because she had her dress! Although, come to think of it, why did she
have her dress?
“It only works
for the last century or so,” Marco was saying. “Augustine said
silhouettes getting too complex after—”
“—that and him
having to layer too many spells onto one garment, which would result in
none of them—”
shouted. He stopped, pursing his lips. And raised a single eyebrow. “How?”
He grinned. “Go
downstairs and see.”
And so she did.
Before she ever got across the lobby, she did. Because the damned
things were almost a story high.
abruptly, in the middle of the concourse, her mouth hanging open, and
stared for a full minute. “Goddammit!”
“You don’t like
Cassie spun to
find Pritkin standing behind her, wearing the same sweat stained
exercise clothes as before.
“Thought it came
out rather well, myself.”
“I—yes. Rather .
. .” Cassie swallowed. “Well.”
“And it matched
the title of the collection.”
She looked back
at the very natural, one might even say au naturale,
man adorning the promotional posters. “Uh—”
“And I suppose
Augustine’s clients must have thought so, too.”
Cassie bit her
lip. She didn’t think that’s what his clients had been thinking. Not
the women, anyway. And then she knew it wasn’t, when two came out of
the shop, loaded down with packages. And started walking their way,
stopping every so often to look back at the posters.
“If they could
make my husband look like that, I’d buy every damned piece in the
line,” one of them said.
didn’t say anything. She was too busy looking at Pritkin. And sneering.
realized that they were standing directly in the path leading to the
main lobby. There was, of course, plenty of room to go around, but
someone with a diamond on her finger the size of a quail’s egg probably
wasn’t in the habit of being the one to move. “Excuse me,” the woman
Cassie stood her
ground. But Pritkin moved out of the woman’s way, albeit with a
slightly ironic bow. She swept past, and the two ladies resumed their
conversation. “I wonder who they used?” Quail Egg said.
Cassie’s eye, and smiled slightly. “I suppose the clothes really do
make the man.”
“No,” she told
him. “No, they don’t.”