Take A Chance
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Saffron studied the dining room critically from the doorway. The lights were just the right brightness, she decided after a moment - not too bright, and not so dim that the reds and golds and hints of black in the room turned it all into a cave. The table was set… the chairs were just so… The books from her last class of the day were… still… on the table…

She stamped her foot impatiently before she crossed the room, scooped them up under one arm, and marched through the archway into her living room. The colors here weren't so dark, but the room was dimmer, lit mostly by the dining room and the cheerful fire in the fireplace. Each book went carefully into a particular spot on the built-in shelves that faced the fire. Saffron surveyed the results for a moment, nodded to herself, selected a book from a different shelf, and finally settled on the chair nearest the fire to read until her guest arrived. She wasn't necessarily good at being patient, but books sometimes helped…


Skye fidgeted in the carriage as it clattered along the street to its destination. She had started to just ride her horse, but she hadn't be willing to risk the white pantsuit she had chosen to wear this evening to horseback. She got to dress up so rarely these days that she took advantage of every opportunity. She knew the sleeveless, deep v-neck top highlighted her best assets. Well, two of them anyway.

She smiled to herself as she sniffed the flowers she had bought. What kind of opportunity was she walking into? It was so difficult to tell sometimes. But Saffron had been charming and lovely, so when she asked Skye to dinner at her place, she didn't hesitate to accept. One never won the prize without taking chances.

Glancing out the window, she found they were arriving at their destination. Skye quickly checked her reflection in her compact, fluffed her hair that was hanging loose for a change, and gave the footman a dazzling smile as she stepped out of the carriage with his assistance, flowers tucked into the crook of her arm.

She strode purposefully to the front door and stopped. Skye ran her fingers through her hair, letting it fall back into the loose curls it took naturally, and knocked on the door. While she waited for the jewel, she admired the setting.

The house was a single-storied structure, with what looked like a private courtyard in the center; at the very least, there was a tree close behind the front door. Aside from that, and the brilliantly red door, it seemed a conventional house for this street.

Inside, Saffron hurriedly marked her place in the book and set it aside on small table. She rose, smoothing her red and white floral sundress carefully, and headed for the front door. She even made it there without stopping at the mirror in the hall to check her reflection, though she did look as she passed.

She opened the door with a bright smile. "Hello! Please, come in," she said cheerily.

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"Hi," Skye smiled. She stepped inside and handed her hostess the bouquet of flaming red orchids and pale gold lilies dotted with tiny sprays of blue star flowers that were the exact shade of Saffron's eyes. "These are for you."

When Saffron had seen her earlier, Skye had just started her leave and was still in fatigues and a t-shirt; no make up and her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She certainly cleaned up well.

Saffron accepted the flowers gracefully. "Oh, thank you," she answered in surprise. She admired them visually first, and then lifted them to her face to inhale the scents of the flowers. "They're lovely." And then she looked at her guest more closely, and her cheeks pinked just slightly as she added, almost shyly, "You look great, too."

"Thank you," Skye replied, ducking her head slightly. "I'm told I clean up nice when I want to."

She had left her own dark hair loose and lying across her shoulders, though she'd clearly taken great care brushing it out, and she was wearing make up as well. The dress was sleeveless and left her shoulders bare, and fell just to mid-calf; she had on a pair of very low heels that matched the pattern and colors of her dress.

Skye started to say something, realized they were still standing in the open doorway, and took a sidestep further into the entranceway. She closed the door behind her and smiled as she turned back to Saffron "You look beautiful," she said frankly. "I almost feel bad for the rest of Amber, having you all to myself."

That hint of pink in Saffron's cheeks just didn't look like it was going to go away. "Thank you," she answered. "Can I get you a drink or anything?"

"Wine would be lovely," said Skye with a smile. She decided she should let her hostess relax and lose her fluster, so she didn't tell her just how charming that flush was. Perhaps later. "Something smells wonderful."

"I made lasagna," Saffron offered. "Here - I shouldn't be keeping you standing." She smiled brightly. "Let's go into the dining room…" She led the way a distance down the hall and turned into an open doorway. The room inside - the dining room - had red walls and mahogany furniture, but the cushions and rugs and drapes were golden and trimmed with hints of black. The small table was set for two; it could probably only fit four comfortably, unless there were leaves hiding somewhere. Saffron crossed to the sideboard and opened one of its doors, removing a bottle of red wine, two glasses, and a slim, upright vase. "Is red wine all right?"

"Perfect," Skye replied as she looked over the room. "Julian's a bit strict about alcohol in Arden." She grinned over at her hostess. "Something about not needing another damn fool putting a crossbow bolt through his foot."

Saffron laughed. "I can see that. 'Drunk' isn't usually the best time to handle anything that can hurt you." She neatly tucked the flowers into the vase so she could open the bottle and pour. "Even if it sounds like a good idea at the time. Too bad it's hard to remember that when you're drunk," she added with a bright smile over her shoulder.

"I try to avoid that myself," Skye replied, eyes sparkling as she moved over to the sideboard. "Though I am not adverse to a nice toasty buzz. I drink so seldom anymore that I'm a pretty cheap date."

"I try not to get drunk anymore; I hate the hangovers," Saffron admitted, offering the other woman a full glass of wine. "And I never can seem to find that point where you stop drinking and *aren't* hung over in the morning…"

Skye laughed and it was a delightful sound. "It does take some practice to recognize the signs. If your nose goes numb, you've gone too far." She took a sip of the wine and hummed her approval. "Very nice - and you have a lovely home, Saffron." She smiled over her wineglass at the blue-eyed woman. "The perfect setting for such a treasure."

"I'm afraid I'm never paying enough attention to my nose to notice," Saffron laughed, the pink that had almost faded returning to her cheeks. "And it would seem more fair to say the setting houses two jewels tonight, wouldn't it?" She smiled softly.

"I knew you were going to be trouble the moment I saw you berating the butcher this afternoon," Skye said after a moment. She took a step closer to Saffron. Her expression softened, her gaze intense. "But you are, I think, my kind of trouble."

"I was rather hoping you'd say something like that," Saffron answered, her eyes softening as much as her smile had. "Shall we…?"


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