This post follows directly on the last one. Made a couple of name changes. I've already used the name "Frank" for the coroner. So, Frank Sturgis becomes Patrick. John has also become Jonathon--it seems to fit him better.
First draft. Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks!
Quick synopsis. Anabelle Sturgis is the Special Examiner to the King. She's also a Fire Witch. She's named the fire elemental who keeps her company Flicker. She is investigating the murder of a family member of one of the Fifty (the nobility in this world), a Water Witch who has drowned--an impossibility that puzzles Anabelle. She, her ex-husband Jonathon, and Jonathon's brother, Patrick, are attempting to interview Eli Gorham, a Patriarch and father of the murdered Water Witch.
What could only be the head butler hurried toward them—at least, he hurried as much as his dignity would permit.
“Sheriff Sturgis,” the butler said. “We were not expecting your visit.”
“I’m sorry, this isn’t a social call,” Jonathon said. “I have with me Deputy Patrick Sturgis, who will be interviewing the staff, and Special Examiner Anabelle Sturgis.”
And when the butler looked from on to the other, Jonathon added, “It’s a long story. We’re here to see Eli Gorham.”
The butler’s face smoothed of expression, and she could almost hear the refusal trembling on the tip of his tongue. Anabelle moved forward, managing to step on Jonathon’s foot as she did so.
“If His Lordship’s at home, please convey my card and ask if he is available for an interview.”
She handed the butler her card. He examined it, then gave her a respectful nod. “Right away, madam. If you will wait in the drawing room…?”
He led them into a room so formal, so cold, that every piece within it seemed on display, like a museum.
Once the butler left, she turned to Jonathon. “If you want answers, let me do the talking, Jonathon.”
“What did I say?” Jonathon asked, bewildered.
“Jonathon, you’re my brother and I love you dearly, but you can’t talk to the Fifty,” Patrick said. “You’d better let Anabelle deal with Eli Gorham.”
“I didn’t hear her complaining about my communication skills when we lived in the same house,” Jonathon muttered.
She really looked at Jonathon for the first time since she’d spotted him outside. His dark hair still waved back from his forehead in that familiar widow’s peak, and his face looked tired, as if he’d been putting in late nights.
“You’re thinner,” Anabelle said critically.
Jonathon threw up his hands. “How about, ‘it’s nice to see you, Jonathon?’ Or even, ‘how have you been, Jonathon?’ Instead, my eating habits are up for discussion.”
Anabelle looked at Patrick. He shrugged, a little smile tugging at his lips. She sighed. “Cranky as ever, I see. Patrick, you owe me.”
“All I did was introduce you,” Patrick said. “Don’t put me between the two of you.”