The note came just after dawn. Her servant left it on her writing desk on a little silver dish. Lady Persephone Antonia Luna Pepperdrake sat in her dressing gown at her desk balancing a cup of tea on a saucer in one hand as she held the note in the other. It read:
The Vermilion Smoke docked.
I have a good egg for A Good Egg.
Awaiting an invitation for elevenses.
Your devoted servant, Rigo DLC.
Lady Persephone sighed heavily. She knew her brother, Ted, would be along as soon as he had enough of his self-induced oubliette. Annoyance began to tighten her jaw but a swift pang of guilt in her heart released it almost immediately. Still, she was glad he was back and also that she would see Rigo, the Vermilion Smoke’s navigator. Rigo was the only man she knew that could make her forget all propriety. In his presence she could forget any melancholy she would fall into. He even made her forget her work. To this end, she tried to limit her contact with the handsome navi.
She put down the letter and gingerly lifted the cup of tea to her mouth. As she inhaled the soft exotic fragrance, she mused on memories of her old friend, Lenore. They had been as close as sisters. Lenore had soft, auburn hair and hazel eyes. She had always had such a serene countenance. Persephone often thought her friend would have been more at home had she been painted on some fresco in a great cathedral in Italy— wings spread behind her, holding a harp looking up through her halo in askance to the artist’s interpretation of God— Lenore had been a soft beauty with a blush on her cheeks and rosebud lips. She was like a new summer day. Lenore had been the complete visual contrast to her icy, glamorous friend. Persephone’s raven black hair and dark brown eyes set in her light olive skin heralded her noble Venetian ancestry.
Where Lenore looked completely at ease and content, Persephone gave the appearance of a life in complete drama and violent passion. Together they were like day and night arm-in-arm as they walked the halls of their palatial boarding school. They shared secrets, made plans, played pranks and genuinely doted on each other. When Persephone brought Lenore home to her family that Christmas, it had been like the sun broke through a long winter’s night. In the serenity of Lenore’s gaze, she watched her brother fall into a love too deep. He would never recover. The shadow of Persephone’s mistake crossed her reverie. She took another sip of her warm tea then put the cup and saucer down. She wrote on an ivory note card, folded and sealed it. She addressed it to “Rodrigo De La Cruz, Vermilion Smoke” and rang for her maid.