It was a normal busy day filled with phone calls and paperwork and interviews.
And trying to keep his emotions in check.
But Sammy couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d almost said.
I came so close to showing her my heart.
And she knew it.
One of the ceiling lights above his head burned out.
Ms. Addleston knew what I wanted to say. Maybe I should have said it then.
But Mr. Smith…
A ceiling light in the far right corner popped into shards and sparks.
He is the one she treasures. Not me. I am only a friend to her. That is everything she wants from me. Friendship and nothing more.
I will leave it at that. No matter how it tears me.
But she will always be my treasure.
Barbara forwarded the phone and grabbed her purse. She walked into Sammy’s office. “I’m going home.”
He looked up at her and smiled.
The ceiling light above his head came back on.
“Goodnight, Ms. Addleston. And don’t worry about Mr. Smith. He’ll be safe.”
“And he will return to me?”
The ceiling light flickered. “As long as he still lives, he will return to you, Ms. Addleston. I have no doubt about it.”
She smiled. “Thank you, Sammy. Good night.”
Raven sat in the tree across from her house. He still felt conspicuous. No matter what he did, he felt vastly conspicuous.
But he figured sitting in a tree was at least a little less obvious than standing on the ground.
He removed his gloves and delicately picked out the pieces of bark sticking to the soft material.
And she took over his thoughts.
“Miss Farlington. How may I be of service to you?”
She smiled. “For starters, my name is May Rose. It’s a beautiful name, do you not agree?”
He swallowed, but it sounded more like a gulp. “Miss—“
She touched his lips with one gloved finger. “May Rose.”
He felt terribly flummoxed. “I beg your pardon—“
She laughed. “For what? For my name?”
“No. Miss Farlington, I beg your pardon, but you fail to understand. There is a whole world between us.”
“So? Take me into your arms and that world will disappear.”
“If I could.”
“I’m granting you my permission, James. What more do you seek?”
He held out his gloved hands in a helpless gesture.
She stepped closer and pulled his gloves off. One finger at a time. She set them on the nearby side table and linked her fingers into his.
He looked down at his bare fingers lying against her gloved fingers.
“Look at me, James, and give me one good reason why not.”
“Your family. They will see my actions as betrayal.” He released her. “I cannot go against them.” He retrieved his gloves and put them back on.
Disappointment showed on her face.
“If only things were different, Miss Farlington. I would gladly call you by your given name. I would happily call you mine. Things are not different. They are so. So they always will be.”
Barbara came home.
Raven snapped out of his reverie and watched her enter her house.
And he watched over her house all night long.