Zosa trudged up the stairs, pulling his keys from the front pocket of his breeches. Yawning, he thought about Zushi’s heaving breasts in his face and smiled, working the long stem of the key into the locking mechanism. He pulled the door solidly behind him, latched the deadbolt and strung the chain across as well.
The main room of Zosa’s suite was as tightly packed and claustrophobic as the rest of the Rusty Spike, with a worn pea green couch less than two feet away from the wall’s turn that led from the front door. The couch’s opposite end sat beneath the tiny window, shuttered closed and barred from within. A cozy bookshelf dominated the wall behind it, making room only for the hat rack Zushi had insisted on jamming into the corner “for character.” Off to the left of the entryway was the small kitchen — barely big enough for one person — and the brief hallway to the two bedrooms was opposite the hat rack.
“Tomas, is that you?” Zushi’s sharp, clear voice called from the kitchen.
“Home is your conquering hero,” he responded, glancing at the stack of scrolls in the basket by the door. Bending down he looked over their labels and muttered to himself, “Can’t believe those bastards from Bheln think I’ll pay for their so-called ‘insurance,’ what a scam … oh, I do need to get that order off to Ujoa, though …”
Zushi came in, wiping her hands on a white and blue plaid patterned dishtowel. At five foot six, she was exactly Zosa’s height, but her curvaceous frame wasn’t as wide by any stretch of the imagination. Her sloppy ponytail had stray strands of crimson hair flopping this way and that, but her smile was a row of perfectly white teeth, welcoming her husband home.
Zosa dropped the scrolls in the basket uninterestedly and held his arms open for her to step into his embrace. ”How is the most beautiful woman in Noma?”
“I’m pretty sure the Mayor’s wife is happily looking down on us all,” Zushi chuckled, pecking Zosa’s lips, “but I am happy to see you home.”
“I’ll never know what you see in me, beautiful wife,” Zosa said, gazing dreamily into her eyes, “but I hope it never goes missing.”
She smiled and rubbed her nose against his. ”You’re one of the most successful men within a thousand wheels, you’re kind to me and you’re wonderfully giving where it really counts,” she said softly, her grin implying mischief. “I can imagine no finer husband I could find. Now, are you ready for dinner?”
“Half full of ale and happy to have more,” Zosa chuckled, his laced fingers at the small of her back. ”Where is our illustrious son?”
“Oh, you know,” Zushi sighed, rolling her eyes. ”Your namesake and his Spellcast.”
“We should never have paid the tinker gnome for that contraption, it cost me three months on the black market and it could cost a lot more if he ever takes it out in public,” Zosa said.
“He wouldn’t do that,” Zushi admonished.
“No? He’s absent minded enough as it is, but when his head’s in that thing… Anyone sees him watching a magic box with stories in it, and it’s a short rope for us. Besides, it’s a little disturbing, don’t you think?”
“More than a little. It’s hungry magic,” she admitted, leading him off towards the kitchen to help her carry things to the table. ”He’s off half the day with his hopper trap to find enough bugs to keep it going.”
“Witchcraft,” Zosa shook his head. ”I’ve got no use for it.”
“That’s funny,” a voice from the hallway said, “it’s always been very effective for me.”
Zushi’s eyes grew wide as she stood holding a casserole dish with two towels. Zosa narrowed his eyes, a look he normally had when he was finding out a business deal wasn’t what he anticipated, and gestured with his hand for her to put the food back. She nodded, reaching for a huge knife while he turned.