x
He'd been having a very nice dream. They were all on an island, and they were its sole inhabitants, and all was right with the world. Johanna was climbing a tree to bring them down a coconut. Even in the dream he knew it wasn't real, but it was so nice, and he wanted it to go on forever. He was probably half awake, but he could have remained in his dream world for as long as his imagination could invent it.

That is, if that mermaid hadn't started shrieking.

x
"It ain't sliced," she said through gritted teeth. "Just banged up. The handle hit it."

Sweeney looked at the foot in question. It wasn't excessively swollen, at least not yet. There was a large purple mark across the toes. It look like it probably hurt a lot, which would explain why she'd screamed so loudly, but he couldn't be sure of its severity. Mrs. Lovett was known to exaggerate.

He let go of her ankle, and she removed her foot from the chair where she'd been resting it so he could examine her injury. "You're lucky it was just the handle. If it had been the blade, it would've cut right through you." He probably didn't need to remind her of that, though. He trusted she knew how well the cleaver carved human flesh.

x
She'd been lying on the couch for hours now. He'd counted three. Her bruised foot wasn't even propped up properly, and she wasn't staring at it like most depressed patients do. So it wasn't the ankle that was bothering her.

He would have asked her about her mood if he had gotten the chance. But, as with exaggeration, Mrs. Lovett was prone to jumping on people as soon as they cleared their throats.

"It's me closet, Mr. T," she said before he could even speak. "I'm running out of dresses. I wore some in the bakehouse and...well, they ain't fit for most company," she explained, choosing her words carefully.

"You want me to buy you a dress."

She perked up at that. "I was thinking I'd pay for it, but if you're offerin'..."

x
"What do you think, Mr. Todd?" she asked. She had already asked the same question of the tailor, and all of the people who were in the shop at the time. Most had said yes, but apparently she wasn't satisfied. Or else his opinion was valued over everyone else's. Whatever the case, he found the same question asked of him. "Is this a good color?"

"Yes," he said, and instantly regretted it.

For she looked up at him, her eyes widening slightly and her face aquiring a hint of a girlish blush. Then, as quickly as they had widened, her eyes narrowed skeptically. "Mean it?" she asked, and it was obvious that she didn't believe him.

If only her suspicions were right! He wouldn't have hesitated to lie to her about the dress, if only to keep her from sulking about the pie shop, not getting a spot of work done. But he wasn't lying about the dress, or how she looked in it, and he didn't know where that put him.

He swallowed. "Yes, Mrs. Lovett. I really mean it."