Excerpt from The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Water Mirror

by Kai Meyer

The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer X
The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2005, 256 pages

    Aug 2006, 272 pages


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"Oh, well, more or less. But his clothes make them slender. And very few women want their husbands to learn how much plumper they actually are. Umberto's reputation may not be the best, but his business is doing better than ever."

"The husbands will find out the truth, at least when their wives..." Merle blushed. "When they get undressed."

"Oh, there are tricks and dodges there, too. They turn off the light, or they make their husbands drunk. Women are cleverer than you think."

"I am a woman!"

"In a few years, maybe."

She stopped indignantly. "Serafin Master Thief, I don't think that you know enough about women -- aside from where they hide their purses -- to express yourself about such things."

The black cat on Serafin's shoulder spat at Merle, but she didn't care about that. Serafin whispered something into the cat's ear and it calmed down at once.

"I didn't mean to insult you." He seemed quite taken aback by Merle's outburst. "Really, I didn't."

She gave him a piercing look. "Well, then I'll excuse you this one time."

He bowed, so that the cat had to dig her claws firmly into his shirt. "My most humble thanks, madam."

Merle looked away quickly to hide her smile. When she looked at him again, the cat had vanished. Spots of red blood showed through the fabric of Serafin's shirt where its claws had dug into his shoulder.

"That must hurt," she said with concern.

"Which is more painful? Being scratched by an animal or by a human?"

She chose not to answer that. Instead she walked on, and again Serafin was right next to her.

"You were going to tell me something about the mirror phantoms," she said.

"Was I?"

"You ought not to have started about it otherwise."

Serafin nodded. "You're right. It's only -- " He stopped speaking suddenly, stood still, and listened into the night.

"What is it?"

"Shh," he said, and gently laid a finger on her lips.

She strained to hear in the darkness. In the narrow alleys and canals of Venice you often heard the strangest noises. The close spacing between houses distorted sounds beyond recognition. The twisting labyrinths of alleyways were empty after dark because most people preferred to use busier main ways. Robbers and assassins made many districts unsafe, and usually cries, whimpers, or rushing footsteps rebounded from the old walls and were transmitted as echoes to places that lay far from the source of the sound. If Serafin had in fact heard something to arouse concern, it might mean everything or nothing: The danger could be lurking around the next corner, but it also might be many hundreds of yards away.

"Soldiers!" he hissed. He grabbed the surprised Merle by the arm and pulled her into one of the narrow tunnels that ran between many houses in the city, built-over alleyways in which utter darkness reigned at night.

"Are you sure?" she whispered very close to his cheek, and she felt him nod.

"Two men on lions. Around the corner."

At that moment they saw the two of them, in uniform, with sword and rifle, riding on gray basalt lions. The lions bore their riders past the mouth of the passageway with majestic steps. It was astonishing with what grace the lions moved. Their bodies were of massive stone and nevertheless they glided like lithe house cats. Their claws, sharp as daggers, scraped over the pavement and left deep furrows.

When the patrol was far enough away, Serafin whispered, "Some of them know my face. So I'm not keen to meet them."

Copyright 2001 by Kai Meyer.  All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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