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not stop smiling.



Chapter 10



In four hours, the Khatkhata would continue its journey to the rim.

Sitting again at the table in the hotel lounge, this time without the lace, the pedestal, or the fortune cards, Galen watched through the lobby probe as two more Narns checked out and left for the ship. Only two now remained in the hotel, Captain Ko'Vin and the second-in-command, G'Leel. Only two more chances to pull information from the Narns before they left.

The container of breen was now with Cadmus, who was nervous about the gift and afraid he'd be blamed for whatever it contained. Yet he was so relieved to see the Narns leave, that his complaints had been only halfhearted.

An overweight woman in a brightly colored top and pants wove among the scattered lunch patrons, heading toward their table. She wasn't a guest of the hotel, though Galen had seen her in the lounge the day before, also at lunch.

Isabelle was preoccupied, watching G'Leel through the probe in her hotel room. Galen knew Isabelle still hoped the second-in-command with the knife scar across her nose would stop to have her fortune told. She often looks toward us when she's in the bar, Isabelle had said. But she won't come over with the others around. Isabelle's hands were folded tightly, her thumbs tapping a nervous rhythm against each other.

The overweight woman stopped at their table. "Do you tell fortunes?"

Isabelle had done all the fortune-telling thus far. She stopped her thumb tapping to shoot a pointed look at him, raising her eyebrows.

"Yes," Galen said. "We do. Please sit down."

The woman remained standing. "How much does it cost?"

Burell had told them that most people would not believe a fortune-teller unless they had to pay. A fee too low encouraged doubt.

"Five
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