The salon was old in a pleasant way; it was full of old, well-kept furniture and there were some pictures on the wall. Most of them were reproductions of famous artists — there was a Magritte, a Monet, and what looked like a Delacroix — but one stood out; it was an official-looking paper, carrying the Army’s seal. It was hanged beneath an old sniper rifle.
There were two sofas in the room, rather comfortable, and an armchair stood before an empty fireplace. In the room’s middle stood four ornate chairs arranged around a low, round table. Its legs were made of wrought iron in the likeness of lions’ paws. On it there was a platter with a kettle, a set of porcelain cups and saucers, and a plate of cookies.
Mr. Teilhaber led his guests and Tia to the salon, and sat down. Tia sat in the armchair, picked the book that was lying on its armrest up, and began to read. Mr. Teilhaber poured tea.
“Do not worry, Detective Kane,” he said. “Tia is very capable and I don’t think there are many who can harm her.”
He coughed a little, dabbed his lips with a handkerchief he produced from a breast pocket, and sipped from his tea.
“Let me introduce myself properly,” said Mr. Teilhaber. “My name is Felix Teilhaber, and I am a retired Army captain. Perhaps I should tell you why Tia is living here.”
He sipped some more tea and ate a cookie. “A few months ago I was visiting an old friend in an unsavoury part of town. Some poor fool decided that — I think because of my age and apparent infirmity — I was a suitable target for a mugging. I had my hand behind my back, drawing my gun, when Tia walked up to us. She looked at us and asked, ‘Have you seen my mommy?’
“I began to say that no, I haven’t, when the mugger told her to fuck off. In retrospect it wasn’t the smartest idea. Tia looked at him and told him that her mommy said that you should be polite to other people. Then she transformed her hand into a blade, sneaked behind him, and hamstrung him.”
“He was a mean person, Mr. Teilhaber,” said Tia, not lifting her head from her book. “I beat him up.”
“Obviously she was trained to use her abilities,” continued Felix. “We stayed till the police came, then I offered her tea and cookies. She accepted, and came home with me. I talked a bit with her and heard her story. When she told me she had no home, I offered to let her stay here. This apartment is empty; my son left the house years ago and my wife is dead. I am not her legal guardian — I doubt she has one — merely someone who was kind to her. Obviously, her parents are missing if she is searching for her mother.”
edited 13th Aug '12 1:32:50 PM by desdendelle