Week 24.2 – UXM

Previously: Twain was hiding out in Yi Fan’s shed, both unaware of their secret agendas for each other. And now…

She came in early the next morning, smiling. “I have some things for you,” she said.

She gestured to the men outside. One came in and handed Twain a fresh change of clothing. “Since your luggage was lost with your car,” she explained.

The other man came in bearing a tray that he set on the floor beside Twain’s bedroll. There was a plate with scrambled eggs, only brown, and two strips of bacon. Beside the plate was a glass of orange juice. On the other side of the plate was a metal fork. Twain looked up at Yi Fan, who smiled proudly. “Western style, yes?”

“Yes,” Twain said.

“Eat and get changed,” she said. “I’ll be back in twenty minutes and we can talk a bit before I go.”

Twain tried the eggs. They weren’t entirely Western style, cooked in oil and soy sauce rather than butter. Still, they weren’t bad. Twain considered as he ate.

[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”left”]But now it felt more like a land mine that he had stepped on. He was safe until he tried to step off.[/blockquote]The real reason he had come back the night before was that he had realized the nature of the trap he was in. He had thought it was a pitcher plant, tempting him in with the promise of safety and perhaps even love, only to kill him once he was inside. But now it felt more like a land mine that he had stepped on. He was safe until he tried to step off.

To get out of the trap, he had to solve the riddle of Yi Fan.

Yi Fan had seemed genuinely proud of the breakfast she’d served, but it had also been another display of her father’s wealth and influence. Or was it her father’s? Marching servants out to the shed bearing trays of food was not the act of someone hiding his presence from someone else on the grounds. Was it possible that this estate was hers alone? She was young and female in a society that valued neither.

Perhaps her parents were both dead. But then why was she not living with other relatives or married off? She was still pretty, even with the scar, and she was rich. She must have had many offers. Perhaps there was some sort of truth to her story of a curse.

He needed to find out more about her, things she would be unwilling to tell him herself, which meant he needed to talk to her servants. But how could he converse with them? He didn’t speak Mongolian, so unless some of the servants spoke Mandarin, had maybe come from China with her family, he would be up a creek. He finished his breakfast and slipped the fork under his bedroll, then changed clothes.

Yi Fan came in a few minutes later, with a servant who bent to take the tray.

“Hold on,” Twain said in Mandarin and bent to pick the fork up off the floor. As he set it on the tray he asked in a whisper, “What’s your name?”

The servant only stared back at him, plainly terrified.

Why is he so scared? Find out more in our next suspenseful episode!

To read from the beginning, click here

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