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Silver Bullet -- Reunion

Today Melissa and I finished Wind Raker, the fourth book in the Order of the Air! As we celebrate, I thought I'd share a piece from the third book, Silver Bullet, which is out in February.

So return with me now exactly eighty-one years, to December 14, 1932, in New York at the Waldorf Astoria. In which Alma meets with some old friends and runs into an old enemy.

She checked her seams in the mirror, then switched off the radio and rode the elevator down to the lobby.

Neither Iskinder nor Jerry was anywhere in sight, and she paused for a moment, scanning the crowd. It was a sedate and expensive-looking bunch, a few couples in evening dress and even a woman with diamond clips in her hair, and she wished she could have worn her mink. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man detach himself from the front desk, and turned to face him as he lifted his hat.

“Mrs. Segura. I hadn’t heard you were coming to New York.”

“Mr. Winchell,” she said, with some dismay. There was no mistaking the columnist, though at least he was speaking at a more normal speed than he used on his radio broadcasts. “I had some business to take care of.”

“Yes, they told me over at Floyd Bennett that you flew in today solo, in a brand-new Kershaw special.” Winchell cocked his head like a malicious sparrow. “I don’t suppose you’d care to give me the exclusive?”

“It’s a matter of business,” Alma said warily. “Confidential. Though if you’d like to talk about the Frontiersman, I’d be happy to tell you all about it —“

Winchell’s eyes shifted, and she swallowed a curse. She glanced back as casually as she could, and was unsurprised to see Jerry and Iskinder moving toward them.

“I see Dr. Ballard’s in town,” Winchell said.

“He’s been working here since the end of the summer,” Alma said, and forced a smile. “Gentlemen, we have company.”

“Mr. Winchell and I have met,” Iskinder said, pleasantly enough, and Winchell gave a toothy grin.

“Indeed we have, Prince. Mrs. Segura, you’re moving in exalted circles these days. Just be careful he doesn’t carry you off — the Ethiopians still have slavery, you know.”

“Ras Iskinder and my first husband were in the war together,” Alma said, her voice as bland as she could make it. “As was Dr. Ballard, of course.”

“Quite a reunion,” Winchell said. “Is Mr. Segura in town, by any chance?”

“As you said, I flew in alone,” Alma answered. “I wish he were here, but he was needed in Colorado.”

“Oh, too bad.”

“Yes,” Alma said. “It is.”

Winchell gave her a smile that boded badly, and looked at Jerry. “And where’s your fiancée the countess, Dr. Ballard? She couldn’t make it either?”

“Who?” Jerry said, his face blank, and Iskinder cleared his throat.

“If you’ll excuse us, Mr. Winchell —“

“That’s news, Dr. Ballard,” Winchell said, as though the other man hadn’t spoken. “After all that talk of an engagement —“

“I’m not engaged,” Jerry said. “And that’s all I have to say.”

“Which almost makes Mrs. Segura’s visit entirely kosher.” Winchell’s smile widened.
Oh, dear, Alma thought. She linked arms with both men, and gave Winchell a smile of her own. “As I said, Mr. Winchell, I’m here on company business. Dr. Tesla — Dr. Nikola Tesla, the famous scientist — has offered to sell me the rights to one of his aviation patents. But of course that’s all confidential.”

“And if you’ll excuse us,” Iskinder said again, “our table is ready.”

This time Winchell let them turn away, tipping his hat politely, and Alma did her best not to look over her shoulder.

“Oh, Jerry, did you have to?”

“Surely it’s time to end that farce,” Jerry said.

“This is that ‘countess’ you picked up during the race? The papers were very cagey about her.” Iskinder spoke to the headwaiter, and they were ushered to a banquette in a secluded alcove.

“That’s a good thing,” Alma said, and Jerry nodded.

“That’s her. She claimed me for her fiancé, but I don’t think it’s working out. It seemed kinder to end it.”

He sounded more amused than annoyed, but Alma shook her head. “In Winchell’s column?”

“Oh, come on, Al, she’ll get a kick out of it.” Jerry leaned his cane against the edge of the table and unfolded his napkin.

“I hope Mr. Segura also has a sense of humor,” Iskinder said. “Winchell plays rough.”

“He does,” Alma said. “But Lewis knows Jerry’s no threat to him. Though I wish I could see his face when he reads it.”

As she’d hoped, Iskinder relaxed a little, and she looked at Jerry. “Any word?”

Jerry shook his head. “Still nothing. Though I did find out that Judson himself is handling the sale, and that he’s in town. Which means your man ought to be able to talk to him tomorrow, Iskinder.”

“I expect so.” Iskinder picked up his menu. “And enough of business and gossip for tonight. Let’s enjoy ourselves.”

“Because tomorrow we talk to Dr. Tesla,” Jerry said, and Alma lifted her glass in acknowledgement.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2013 11:38 am (UTC)
Dec. 19th, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
Silver Bullet has such fun bits!
Dec. 16th, 2013 01:38 pm (UTC)
Why, hello there, Iskinder!! :D
Alma should have planted a smooch on both Jerry and Iskinder, right in front of that smarmy jerk.
Can't wait!
Dec. 19th, 2013 02:59 pm (UTC)
I think you'll like Iskinder. I missed him not being around in Wind Raker, but he's back in Oath Bound.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )