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for eight years and seemed to have little life outside work. His home was a modest apartment two blocks away, though he spent most of his time at the hotel. He ate his meals in his office behind the front desk, and kept a cot behind the door that he was using more and more frequently. He seemed very concerned about the hotel and its staff, though unable to do anything to alleviate those concerns.

Cadmus jerked back a step when he saw them. Then, as he recognized Isabelle, his mouth opened, and Galen caught a glimpse of a damp lower lip sticking out from the bottom of the moustache. "I'm so glad to see you," he said. He had a thin, nasal voice. "I thought you were away. This current crowd"-he stepped up to the desk and leaned toward her, lowering his voice-"they're completely out of control. In the last day they've had two knife fights. They offered one of my employees fifty credits to get married, another employee two hundred credits to run a cocktail straw all the way up his nose. They've made the most outrageous demands, throwing credits away like they were nothing. Their captain offered a thousand credits if we could produce authentic Narn breen from our kitchen, and then when we couldn't, threatened to disembowel our chef. The captain told me the manager at Hotel Ribisi displeased them the last time they were in port. I know that man. He's in the hospital still." He glanced nervously around the lobby. "I have a call button to the port authority, but by the time they arrive, it could be too late. I know your mother put a spell of protection on the hotel, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. But even if no one gets killed, I don't know if I can take this stress!"

Isabelle laid a hand on the counter, her voice measured, calming. "My mother understands.
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