From White Heart of Justice, Chapter 7
I paid the cab driver his fare, and we climbed out. In front of us, on a high windswept hill on the outskirts of north New Babylon, was the Crystal Palace. We made our way up the steep stone steps that led to its entrance and I imagined how enticing this building might look during spring. With its great glass dome full of wintery winds nestled atop a hill full of grass and flowers, it would, no doubt, look like an enormous snow globe set on a colorful perch, a veritable beacon to would-be adventurers, Haljan hunters, and other wannabe travelers dreaming of something different. Today, however, there was little difference between the gray sky behind the building and the gray atmosphere within it.
Just outside the entrance was a fountain, but instead of water, this one sprayed snow. At its base was a sign:
Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail.
Make a wish and swish.
All proceeds benefit Kalisto’s Hunters’ Widows’ and Children’s Fund
Beneath the sign was a cup for offerings. I looked up and suddenly my pulse and signature skyrocketed with the snow. High above the fountain was the wispy outline of a yeti—a snow beast. Its face materialized from the snow with black eyes the size of the cab we’d just climbed out of and an open jaw at least half the size of Timothy’s Square. It swooped toward us, teeth gnashing, just as Rafe dropped a coin in the cup. He waved his hand in the air and the snow yeti slowly dissolved. A mist of cold, wet snow rained down on us.
“Did you wish for an umbrella?” I said, wiping my cheek with the hem of my cloak.
“Nope, I made a serious wish.”
I gave him a dubious look. “Uh-huh. Let me guess. You wished that Kalisto would have a nose warmer with whiskers inside?”
He shook his head.
“Hot chocolate, at least?”
Rafe didn’t answer. Instead he locked his arm with mine and led me toward the iron-doored entrance. On the way, he sang softly:
“I wished I could kiss your gap-toothed smile.”
When he saw my reaction, he stifled a laugh.
“It would be bliss to do so awhile.”
He stopped abruptly and turned me toward him, keeping a hold on my shoulders.
“But you’re fierce and you’re fiery and oh so wisery.”
He lowered his head close to mine and then said sotto voce:
“So it’s certain you’d yell, ‘Go straight to hell!’”
The wind buffeted us from every direction as the snow continued to fall from above. Suddenly, I was acutely aware that Rafe was holding onto me. He stared at me and for a single second I wondered if he’d meant it when he’d said he wished for something serious.
“Wisery?” I said finally, stepping back. “Only you could come up with a word like that, Rafe.”