by Caitlyn Konze -
Anjelika flicked her hair off her shoulder with the back of her fingers. The motion initiated a rainbow eruption in each individual strand like the waves of Eclectia on a summer-side cycle. The dispenser's head turned her way before her straight, heavy locks settled back to somewhere-between-blonde-and-mud. Ignoring the line of current customers, he put on a crooked smile and sauntered her way.
“What's a high class act like you want in the butt-crack of Avenir?”
Anjelika's breath caught before she dismissed the dispenser's banter as a bad line. If he knew, her father would know, and enforcers would be hauling her back to top level. “I want a can of pine.”
“One essence of extinct planet, on the way.”
He flipped a tall, thin canister into the air, caught it behind his back, and presented the scented air in a mock bow. Anjelika couldn't completely hide her smile. This was exactly why she preferred bottom-feeder bars to the cred-stick machines on admin levels. She took the canister and tipped a few extra credits.
With a sniff, she turned away. A rotting sweetness overwhelmed her senses. She glanced back at the counter and caught the dispenser's eyes boring through her clothes. The scent made this morning's beetle steak crawl up her esophagus. Anjelika locked her jaw while she found an empty hoverbench. She had to get the smell of lust out of her nose.
The pressure just hissed from her can of scented air when a young man paused at her table. Either a miner or orphan by the look of his thread-worn and dirt-encrusted clothes. Sweat-laced apprehension and leafy dirt tickled her nostrils. She swatted the air. “Sorry, I don't do handouts.”
The guy looked down at a piece of paper, then back to her. “Anjelika Loynis?”
Her eyes narrowed. “How did you know?”
He slid an envelope onto the table. “Delivery.”
Anjelika fingered the letter. How could someone know she'd be at this exact vapor bar? She opened the letter carefully and read it. No. Her eyes started at the top again. Was this some kind of sick joke? She reread it another three times.
“I demand to know who sent –” But the runner had already left.