It was a rainy November day – bone cold with rain that should have been snow.
Raven stood under his umbrella alone. He scanned the crowd and observed.
Mrs. Farlington stood with the family clustered around her. Their umbrellas huddled against each other as close as dragon scales, protecting the mourners.
May Rose was not there.
She will come.
After so many days, so many weeks, so many months, I will see her again.
He subtly tensed up as Charles Vansing approached Mrs. Farlington. He wore a thick overcoat, but no hat. Rain drizzled his frizzy black hair, weighing it down to his scalp. His gold-colored eyes were somber and full of sympathy. He spoke to Mrs. Farlington, but whatever he had to say was of no importance to Raven.
He scanned the crowd again.
Where is she?
Will she not come to her own father’s funeral?
A hand patted his back, startling him.
Charles Vansing stood behind him.
Raven did not ask the first question that came to his mind. He said what was expected of him.
“Hello, Mr. Vansing. I am glad you could make it.”
Charles patted his back again and nodded. “May Rose couldn’t come.”
Push it down.
Don’t let him see.
“Given the delicacy of her condition, travel is difficult for her.”
“Ahh, I understand, sir.” He started to turn away from him.
“She wanted to come. She wanted to see you again.”
Raven froze and it was not because of the cold rain. “Are you implying something, sir?”
He turned to face Charles again. “You have nothing to fear, sir. There is nothing between your wife and I. There never has been.”
“Can I trust your word, sir?”
“Yes. If you doubt me, speak to any one of the Farlingtons. Ask them what manner of man I am. They will tell you, sir, that I am a man of honor. I know my place, sir. I know where my boundaries lie, sir. I have not and will never cross those boundaries, sir. Most certainly not with another man’s wife. Sir.”
A wave of day exhaustion came over him. He tightened his grip on the umbrella handle and struggled to stay alert. “Did you have any other slurs or calumnies you wished to hurl at my feet?” His posture wobbled. “Sir?”
“None. I believe we have an understanding.”
“I should hope we do, sir.”
A woman’s hand stroked his hair over and over and over in a soothing gesture.
Raven opened his eyes a crack and glanced upwards.
Missy looked down at him and smiled.
His eyes closed and he slept.