Kode’s older sister, Kira, was leaning over a display of jewelry, fisting a jade-green necklace in one hand. Her nose was two inches from the Braetic across the table, the two exchanging intimidating glares. Eena watched for a few seconds as Kira all but crawled over a pile of merchandise, her face scrunched up with resentment, yet enviably stunning as always.
“Hey Kode,” the young queen whispered.
“What’s going on?”
Eena watched the fistful of necklace come within a whisker of smacking the merchant’s nose.
“She isn’t going to hurt the guy, is she?”
Kode snorted on a chuckle. “Not if the dude’s got any sense.”
Validly concerned, Eena inched closer to the confrontation, straining to hear their growled dialogue. Kode and Niki crept closer too. Efren, however, stayed where he was, testing the flagpole’s ability to support his body weight.
They watched the feisty Mishmorat hold up a small pouch and shake it in front of the Braetic’s eyes. Kira’s fingers curled like claws around the purse. She seemed to smirk for a second when the merchant flinched. In a blink he was back in her face again, shoving aside the purse.
“What is she trying to trade?” Eena asked, her voice still hushed as though she might disturb the haggling taking place across the way.
“Viidun coins,” Kode said. “Ef gave ‘em to her.”
“Are they worth much?’
Kode grinned wryly, “He sure as hell don’t freakin’ think so.”
Eena foresaw Niki’s disapproving smack to the back of Kode’s head before he even finished his sentence. He cursed at his girlfriend for the physical abuse, an unwise response that earned him an additional thump on the head.
“Freakin’ tyrant,” Kode grumbled.
“Vulgar grogfish,” Niki retorted.
Still unable to hear well enough to satisfy her curiosity, Eena stole in closer to the scene of heated bartering. She stopped when Kira’s strong voice carried over the murmur of the crowd. Kode and his girlfriend were right on her heels.
“This purse is worth ten of those gaudy necklaces. You oughta be payin’ me to take ‘em off your hands, Braetic!”
“That alien money is worthless to me, Mishmorat. In all my life I’ve never left Moccobatran soil. And even if I were to take an interstellar trip someday, you’d never catch the likes of me on a barbarian planet like Rapador!”
Kira jerked her head, causing her black, cascading hair to ripple over her shoulder. The action made the trader flinch again. His eyes tapered, appearing to fume over what he perceived as intentional bullying.
“You ain’t gonna sell this crap to no one else,” the exotic Mishmorat said. “Be smart and take the money. Hell, you could make a dozen pieces of jewelry from these coins. Sell ’em all for ten times the worth of anything you got here.”
The Braetic shoved his finger at Kira’s chest, breathing down her throat at the same time. “Why don’t you just take your pretty little backside away from my table and make your own Viidun jewelry. Sell it yourself and then come back with a reasonable offer for my necklace.” His palm opened flat, demanding she hand over the jade stones still in her fist.
“You wanna make me?” Kira breathed.
“What do you plan to do, steal it?” The merchant challenged her in a gesture, nostrils flaring.
“I’m no thief, but I’m not above beating some sense into you ‘til you choose to barter like a respectable Braetic!”
Caught up in the intense interaction, Kode supported his sister a little too loudly. “Teach the freakin’ crook a lesson, Sis!”
Niki smacked her boyfriend upside the head without missing a beat.
Richelle E. Goodrich (Eena, The Tempter's Snare (The Harrowbethian Saga #5))