Lellabean Extract

“We’re looking for sponsors for a new business venture, and we thought you might be interested in partnering with us.”

I’m used to this sort of request by now, but she is the first Gaellani to come bearing one. Although the requests are rarely in line with our store mission, I wish I could be more encouraging in this case.

“I should tell you now that Grace Talmeri is responsible for any sponsorship decisions,” I say. The answer is almost always ‘no’, as Talmeri’s Teas and Tisanes’ financial straits are only recently lightened. But this gives us all the appearance of both politeness and due diligence, so it’s a worthwhile pretense.

“I’ll send her a message straightaway. But I would love to tell you a bit more about our product if you have a few moments? I truly think it would be of interest to your customers, and I know a good word from you would mean all the difference with Grace Talmeri.”

“I can spare just a few minutes,” I warn. I direct Iskielo to send any tricky orders to Lorwyn while the saleswoman lays her samples out on the counter along with more drawings.

The concept is fairly simple: for a monthly fee, they wish to make a delivery box full of a set of baby clothes. The styles will vary by the month, but because they’ll be produced at scale to standard measurements, they can keep costs down while still supplying quality products in new fashions.

“All of us—the designers, shippers, and so on—are Gaellani, and including with the most trusted Gaellani seamstresses in Sayorsen,” the woman adds. “I believe you worked with one of their daughters, Glynis, during the tea tournament?”

Ah, that’s why she thought to make her case to me. Still. “Why do you think this will be a good fit for our customers, exactly?”

“Because you believe in bringing joy to all people in small ways,” the woman says, and my breath catches. “And you believe everyone deserves that joy. We hope this box not only takes strain off of customers who would have to otherwise do their own shopping or sewing, but also that receiving it will bring them a dose of happiness each month. You also believe in supporting Gaellani businesses, and this experiment could become the largest Gaellani-run operation in Sayorsen.”

She is officially the first saleswoman whose pitch I’ve wished to support.

“If we can get enough support to scale, we can expand our offerings,” the woman continues. “We’d like to be able to tailor the boxes more, even for babies. For longer legs, or sensitive skin, say.”

That would be a wonder. I am not an expert on babies, but I know some fabrics aggravate Yorani’s developing scales—

My breath catches for an entirely different reason.

I study the samples more intently and point at one. “You’re a designer, yes? Hypothetically, could you make this sparkly skirt with a hole for a tail?”

The woman glances at the fabric. “I don’t see why not.” She tilts her head to one side. “I’d have to take some measurements to accommodate these sweaters, but see this one that laces up in the back? Touch this fabric—it won’t catch on sharp edges easily.”

Spirits bless this woman, who has understood my interest immediately.

“Miyara,” Lorwyn’s warning tone comes from behind me, presumably having brought out a tray of tea.

A whiff identifies it as the white with lellabean extract, which will do beautifully for my new favorite person.

I steal a cup off it and offer it to the woman in front of me without even looking at Lorwyn.

“How about socks?” I ask. “For clawed feet?”

My savior waves a careless hand. “Easily done.”

“Miyara no.” Lorwyn’s voice is strangled.

“When you have a baby dragon who goes through her favorite socks this quickly, you are welcome to judge.” I bow low, and the determination in my gaze matches this wonderful woman’s when I look back up. “I will make your case personally.”

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