by Kaye Jeffreys
Logan came up out of his chair and leaned heavy over Tuskagin's metal desk. "Are you trying to cheat me?"
"No, no. It is a fair price." Tuskagin backed his chair against the wall.
"You think I started hunting diamonds yesterday? Give them back. I'll take them to Sring Plant Valley where they will pay me what they are worth."
"You know the market fluctuates, Logan."
"It's your devotion to drink that makes you think you can rob me. Your father would be ashamed to see you. Now there was a fair man, God rest his soul." Logan fisted his hand over his heart as a sign of respect.
"All right, I'll give you what you ask." Tuskagin counted out credits. "You will ruin me."
Reece walked at Logan's elbow down the street. "Dad, I never heard you talk to Tuskagin like that before."
"He pushed me too far. You must never let the assayers take advantage of you. It's a matter of survival."
Reece nodded his agreement then whispered, "You see the guy following us?"
Logan didn't look back, he'd already seen him. "This is turning into a really bad day."
"Do you think he's from Avenir?"
"He's too tall to be from around here. His clothes are too new. He's probably some station-slicker con man who thinks he has found an easy target in a couple of outlanders."
"Hide out in the alley?"
"Yeah, we’ll give him a surprise."
The two miners turned into an alley.
Jereth picked up his step. What he would say when he caught up with them, he didn't know. He just couldn't lose them. Not now.
Jereth made it to the corner and turned.
One of the miners grabbed his jacket, pushed him up against the wall and glared up into Jereth's eyes. "What do you want?"
"I'm... I'm looking for the miners."
"Well, you found them." The man held Jereth against the wall with compacted strength. As he studied Jereth he brought his eyebrows together. "Who are you?"
"Jereth Davis, sir. My mother was..."
"Deirdre..." The miner's expression softened and he looked through Jereth to a far away place.
"Yes, Deirdre..." Jereth thought he better talk fast. "She was Deirdre Lewis from The Miners of the Five Rims. That's who you are, right? The Miners of the Five Rims?"
Sterness returned to the man's face. "Did your father send you?"
"He doesn't know I'm here."
The miner smiled, released Jereth's jacket, and stepped back. "Doesn't know you're here?"
"At least he didn't know when I left. Who knows what he knows now?" Jereth smoothed out his jacket.
"Well, Jereth Davis, my sister's son, welcome home. We've been watching for you."