“You’re not the mayor,” Ruby said.

Margrave folded her hands over the mayoral desk and smiled. “What makes you say that, my dear?”

“You didn’t run, you didn’t illegally stay in office after you lost, and you’re not even a citizen of the town.”

“Such hurtful things,” said Margrave. “But borne from ignorance rather than malice. The town charter says that whoever wins the election should be mayor. Should is not must; that’s just basic first-grade English. So the city council has elected me to serve as Acting Mayor to let poor Linda have a break from all the stress, spend more time with her dogs.”

“Someone needs to stop you,” Ruby replied. “You’re a pied piper, coming in from outside and leading the town to its doom.”

“I’d be better at handling spoilt children if that were so,” said Margrave. “If I must be stopped, well…” her voice dropped a note, lip curling. “Why don’t you just try?”

Ruby, fists clenched, stood there facing the mayoral desk.

“Oh, go on,” Margrave said, reverting to her smooth, polished tone. She picked up the receiver to the desk phone. “I have a direct line to Deerton PD right here. Shall I call them before, or after you try to stop me?”

Shaking with rage, Ruby shook her head. “I saw what you got them to do before,” she said. “I know what that would mean.”

“What I got them to do? Child. Please. What I gave them was hardly even a nudge; the rest was all there already.” Margrave leaned forward. “And you’re wrong. I’m as much a native as you are; I’ve seen more of this city than you could even conceive of.”

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