E is for Extreme
“But isn’t that going a little… far?” List asks, brows furrowed and eyes scared. “That’s like saying people are bad, or, I dunno… food is bad.”
“Have you ever met a good demon?” Melinda counters.
“Melinda, I’ve only met one. Ever.”
Melinda regards him with eyes that he thinks seem far too old for such a young woman. “If you ever find a demon hat doesn’t ask for a deal…” She rests a hand on her mouth, tapping a finger as she considers the proposition. “Kill it. But please do tell me afterwards.”
He swallows. See, the thing with Melinda: sometimes she says things – or you see things in her – that frighten you. A little. Or a lot. Then they’re gone, and it’s like… you imagined it. Or it didn’t happen. Anything better than the thought it was real, that maybe you really don’t know her at all.
She regards him with those big, scary-sharp blue eyes, and he nods. Not like he can do anything else.
F is for Frocks
They think Melinda doesn’t like dresses; some clients think that she’s playing at being a man, with the clothes she wears. They’re wrong, of course – she is simply playing at being Melinda.
They’re wrong about the dresses, too, all of them, even Mary and List’ in fact, she went through a long decade of wearing almost nothing but dresses. It was a good decade, that one – she was a housewife for some of it; not a long time, in the grand scheme of things. (She still misses Robert sometimes, in the corners of her mind she doesn’t let herself dwell in. He died in a field, of all places, even though he was a Londoner in his bones – taken by plague.)
It’s simply that they’re impractical – they prevent running, take longer to put on, project woman and not detective. (Helen wore dresses. Adelaide wore dresses, and Nathalie. Aerith wore rags. Melinda wears neither of these.)
Yet sometimes she sees Mary, sees the fripperies she surrounds herself with, and smiles. Perhaps someday, when there are less pressing matters.
G is for Girls
List raises his eyebrows in an abject plea for understanding. “Mary, my mom‘s getting taken out more than I am.”
Mary doesn’t laugh – it’s an effort of will. List has that effect on people – and tells him, “Don’t worry. They’ll fall to your, uh, masculine wiles soon enough.”
He raises an eyebrow. “‘Masculine wiles’?”
Melinda’s apparently taking a break from neck-deep paperwork. She opens her office door, walks past Mary’s desk on the way to the kitchen. She tells him, “I would have thought you a fine specimen when I was your age.”
List stares after her with wide eyes, then looks at Mary and buries his face in his hands with a loud thud.
Mary hears a small sound from the kitchen. Interestingly, it seems like it might be very, very quiet laughter.