Ketan shot Kyle a warning look. Apparently ‘um hi’ was not the best way to approach a woman you were trying to impress. Ketan stepped forward slightly and Kyle stepped a little to the side letting the pro handle things. Ketan smiled at the women, “Good evening. How are you two doing tonight?”
The Indian girl giggled, the other one said nothing. Now that Kyle was close he realized she looked tired and maybe a little distracted.
Ketan smiled at the Indian and then said something in Hindi. She giggled again, responded, then blushed and lowered her eyes. Ketan laughed, “Were you with anyone?”
“Well, you should be! Here I volunteer.” The girls were sitting at a table rather than a booth. Ketan dropped down into the seat nearest the Indian and, even before Kyle sat, began to talk with her in a rapid fire pidgin of English and Hindi. Whatever he said was apparently charming because she was giggling and blushing again within moments.
Kyle took the remaining seat with far less comfort. “So, this is a nice place, huh?”
“I guess. It’s kinda odd. I guess that’s what they wanted.”
“Yeah. Well, I suppose they wanted to show off that they were in a big tree. I’m Kyle by the way,” And I’m a total idiot. He extend a hand.
“Jessie. Your friend is talking to Suma.”
“Oh, well he’s Ketan.”
There was a pause.
Kyle took a sip of his beer to cover the fact that he didn’t have anything to say. It was named Apple Wheat something, but Kyle couldn’t really taste the apple. He sniffed it covertly, but didn’t get any scent of the fruit either. Then he realized he probably looked like an idiot staring into his beer and set it down hurriedly. “It doesn’t feel like we’re in a tree, does it?”
“There are the branches, but they look a little fake I think. Even though they aren’t.”
There was a pause. Kyle wondered if he had already fulfilled his wing-man role, or if he needed to do something other than sit here and bore Suma’s friend.
“Except coming up, that felt like floating.”
“I came up in one of the buildings. I didn’t like the look of the elevator.”
Kyle wondered if he should pretend the trip hadn’t bothered him, or if he should be honest. “It probably carries a lot of people.”
Another pause, this one longer. Kyle wished she’d say something, but she didn’t. She really looked like she wanted to be anywhere else. Was he doing that badly? He thought that maybe he should work on that irresistibility spell.
“You’d think the whole building would rock a little. Even skyscrapers do that, but I’ve read most of the support comes from the other buildings. With the tree trunk it’s actually more supported then it needs to be.”
Jessie sipped her drink, “Is it true they don’t know how the spell was done?”
Thank heavens, Kyle thought, a sign of life. “Nope, there’s some theories, but the mages involved were all wrapped up in NDAs and the secret never got out. But, hey, what do you do?” Kyle winced a little at his own rough transition.
“Oh? Just because I’m a girl?” Suma said from across the table. Kyle looked at her and blinked. He hadn’t been paying any attention to what she and Ketan had been talking about; only half of their conversation had been in English. For a moment he was worried that she was really ticked off, but the look on her face said she was just kidding.
“Nope, I’m gonna win because I’m good.”
“Well I’m good to.”
“We’ll see.” Suma and Ketan rose in concert and headed off toward a pool table. As they were walking Ketan put his hand on her shoulder to guide her. She didn’t try to shrug it off.
“I guess they’re going to go see who’s better at pool,” Kyle offered with a smile.
“Yeah.”Jessie rolled her eyes a bit and gave him a lopsided smile. Kyle wasn’t certain what that meant. Was she angry her friend had left them alone? “Waitress. I use to work in retail as well, but I’m looking for something better now.”
“You asked me what I do. I assumed you meant what was my job. I’m a waitress.”
“Oh, I’ve heard that can be pretty good work at the right place.”
Jessie sighed. “I don’t think I’m at the right place.”
Kyle suppressed a wince, “Oh.”
“I’m sure something will turn up. I’ve got three quarters of a marketing degree after all!” This time Jessie’s smile was clearly self deprecating.
“You’re in school?”
“Not at the moment.”
Kyle considered asking her why she’d left then thought better of it. It probably wasn’t something positive. Instead he said, “Oh,” again and then darted a quick look over at where Ketan and Suma were playing pool. They were standing fairly close together.
“So, you’re a magical engineer?”
“Wait, how did you know?”
“I don’t know, you just look like one, I guess. I mean, you wouldn’t be in construction or something like that. And you did know about the building.”
Kyle chuckled, this time it was slightly less fake. She’d sounded like she thought his knowledge was good. “I could be in construction.”
“Sure,”Jessie said drawing out the u a bit sarcastically. But she flipped her hair and gave him a half smile. “It’s not an insult. Magic is cool; I’ve never known anyone who could do it before.”
Oh, OK, he thought. You never knew what someone thought about magical work. Some people saw all the math and thought ‘Nerd’. Other people thought of the Arch Mages and the cowboy casters on TV and in the history books. Apparently, Jessie held the more romanticized viewpoint of ‘The Craft’. He held up his hands defensively. “OK, guilty as charged then. But you do know people who could do magic. Anyone can learn.”
“Can you show me some?”