"You always did have one hell of a knockout punch," Teser muttered, getting back to his feet. "And for the short version... well, I've been busy."
"Busy?! So busy that you couldn't even send a message to any one of seven of... no, scratch that, 'cause Nuss is on my s-list and doesn't count anymore... to any one of your 'six' siblings to say, 'Hey, I'm alive, just busy?'" She kicked him in the shin. "Bad answer, try again!"
"Ow!" Teser exclaimed. "Will you please stop kicking me?"
Beryl's eyes narrowed. "Where have you been, Teser Quitaan?"
"That's a long story," Teser began, but at the sight of his sister beginning to draw her hand back for another good strike, his eyes widened and he went on in a hurry. "Big shipping company! Outer Rim mostly... they kept me so busy you wouldn't believe!"
"I don't believe!" She launched another strike at him, but this one was caught from behind by Conn. "You're causing a scene," he whispered into her ear. "Calm down. Last thing we need is an audience."
Beryl gave her brother a hard look, then pulled her arm abruptly away from Conn's grip. She shook her head, and then said, "I need a another drink." Then she headed to the bar. Teser watched her go with a puzzled frown and then turned to Conn.
"She been like this ever since you got her back?" he asked softly.