Either she was a good actress or I was staring into the eyes of an Iberan. Slitting my eyes, I narrowed my view, gazing deeply into her blue eyes. They were very beautiful. That fact didn't seem to change no matter where she might be from.
Her black hair was a little odd since she had blue eyes; blond hair would have been the standard. However, her hair color didn't betray her geographic origin, either. Iberans and Handrins are virtually identical -- to the untrained eye, that is.
Perhaps if I lived near the border I could have been able to tell a difference between her accent and the accent of Handrins who live in and around the capital city. To my ears, though, she sounded like a Deraman.
Obviously, I was silent for too long, for she spoke up. "Say something," she said, leaving her mouth open just a little as if she wanted to say more but couldn't come up with the words. "Please."
I closed my eyes in a long blink. With my eyes still closed, I reached out and placed my hands on her shoulders, saying, "You have spoken to my mother."
She made a sound as if to say "huh," but her mouth was closed the entire time. Even with my eyes closed I could tell this was the case. I opened them and continued, "There is no other plausible explanation, and anytime I need an improbable explanation, all I have to do is think of my mother."
"I don't understand," she said, tapping my right hand.
"Sorry," I replied, removing my hands from her shoulders. "I didn't mean to leave them there so long."
"That's okay. I actually didn't mind them being there. I just didn't want this situation to become ackward." She paused for a couple of breaths. "I guess it's too late for that, huh?" I nodded, and she continued, "I don't know what you meant by the comment about your mother. Sorry."
"Don't worry about it," I responded, waving one hand in front of me. "I suppose you haven't met my mother, then." Trying to choose my words carefully, I continued, "It would be like her to sabatage a relationship that I want by encouraging the other person to say prepostorous things."
"So," she asked, her words coming out slowly, "do you believe me or not?"
"I'm not sure," I replied, tilting my head thoughtfully to one side. "I'm leaning toward not believing you." Then, in a whisper: "I think you are a good actress, though." Returning to normal volume and my hands spread out in an emphatic gesture, I continued, "I would go see you perform any play at the Blue River Theater any day of the week."
Even though I winked at her in an effort to lighten her mood, it didn't seem to do much good. Her frown, which had been there since I voiced my disbelief, was made of some stern stuff, indeed. I frowned at my failure to make her smile, which did prompt her frown to go away for the most part.
"I'm being serious." Her tone was firm, which made something click in my mind, telling me that there was a lot going on here, and it was time to let the jokes die.
"Okay, I'm listening." I rubbed my chin as she began to tell her story.