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A Woman Alone

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Emma knew certain rumors preceded her to Venice, though considering the city had played host to Jonathan Strange at his very worst it seemed odd that its people should find her so intimidating.  But she supposed a woman alone was always intimidating, however much men pretended the opposite.

She arrived by mundane transport, despite the offers from certain magicians she knew to help her go faster, for she wished to travel alone.  Arabella was unable to meet her, but she promised her dearest friend in Venice would be waiting, and so she was.   

“Hello,” said the woman on the docks, parasol over her shoulder, when Emma stepped off the boat.  “My name is Flora Greysteel.”  She ducked her head genially.  “Arabella hopes we will be good friends.”

“And do you hope so too?” Emma asked her.  “They say I am not a pleasant woman.”  They said she was cold, haunted, and ungovernable.    

Flora smiled- slow, almost teasing, sweet enough that Emma felt a flush down her neck.  “I have a history of poor attachments.  I reserve the right to judge for myself.”

Emma took her offered hand, and it was as warm as the Italian sun.  “I’m glad of it.”