12/25/21 Snippet, TINSEL RAIN.

I keep doing chapters, and then I keep finding reasons to break up the new chapters into smaller chapters. But I’m still 70% done, and I expect it’ll be ready for alpha by the deadline. So we’re in business.

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Speaking of knots of pain: Daisy was waiting by my office when I came back from dropping off Graciella. “Hi, Tom,” she said, with the same little sadness I associated with her these days. “How are things?”

“They are going along, Daisy,” I replied as I unlocked the office. “Just don’t ask me in what direction. Drink?”

“Just water is fine.” She sat. “Tom, you need to know…”

“That Eddie was slicing?”

She winced. “I suppose you found that out very quickly.”

“It’s what I do, Daisy.” I handed her the glass, with actual ice from my coldbox this time. “So why are you telling me now?”

Daisy looked at me. “You’re not even mad, are you?”

“If I got mad every time a client lied or forgot to tell me something I should have known from the start, I’d never get anything done. It took years of training to get this way, though. Monks would yell made-up stuff in my ears, then smack me with sticks every time I looked upset about it. It was all very zen.” I drank a sip of my not-water. “So. Why are you telling me now?”

“Because of poor Carmine’s death, Tom.” She looked at me. “He was a slicer, too. An expert at it, if you take my meaning. And he was working a lot with Eddie in the last few months. When I heard about it, I made a connection.” She smiled, wanly. “And now I’m handing it to you.”