“I will tell you here and now, Miss Alana Collins, I loathe and detest you.” Having made that announcement, Barnabas turned to leave.
Alana would have none of that. She grabbed his arm. “Oh, no you don’t. You aren’t going to make a big statement like that and leave. Oh, heck no!”
Barnabas sighed. “But I must leave. Or else I will fall madly into your arms and kiss you with all of the passion my soul possesses.”
“I love you, Miss Alana Collins. Body and soul, you have bewitched me.”
Raven shook his head. “It really does come out of nowhere.”
Missy lowered the book. “And it’s such a waste of a beautiful love confession. I should be swooning and crying from the pure beauty of it. But I just want to bash him over the head with a canoe paddle. He can’t be that stupid and wishy-washy and stupid and why her? She’s one of his descendants. They’re related. It’s like he’s going after his daughter. Eww! How can I ship that?”
Robin barged into the kitchen. “Hey. Why you two sittin’ on the table?”
“We’re reading.” Missy said, as if that explained it all.
“Darnation. You got a problem with chairs? Eh. Don’t bother answerin’. I don’t really care. Raven.” He grinned. “I talked to Isellta.”
Raven reluctantly abandoned the table and walked over to him. “What happened?”
“I talked to him on the phone. It was him. It was…it was my Isellta. I talked to him. I finally got a chance to spill all my guts at him. Ev’rythin’ I’ve been wantin’ to say, I said it. I said it all and…and he loves me. My Isellta loves me. I didn’t think he would. I thought he’d just call me a bunch of damaged goods again and tell me which part of Lake Erie to jump into. But he didn’t. He…He’s been missin’ me as bad as I been missin’ him.”
Robin sat down on a chair. “I keep thinkin’ it ain’t real. I’m gonna wake up any second and be mad with disappointment.”
“Trust me, sir. I understand that feeling.” Raven returned to the table and smiled at Missy. “I feel it every day.”
She smiled and held out her hands to him.
Raven climbed on top of the table. He took her hands and knelt. “I keep expecting you to disappear. Maybe you are still imprisoned in The Institute. Maybe you aren’t even real. Maybe you are a figment of my mind – a Miss Farlington that I can keep and hold on to and declare my love to.”
Missy wrinkled her nose. “I don’t like any of those possibilities. I like being alive and free and here with you. I like being me – whether I’m Missy or Tessa Farsigh. I’m me. And I love you, my pretty shirtless Raven.”
“I love you as well.”
“Hm. Then, you should kiss me.”
He saw no reason to debate the issue or hesitate.
Robin stretched. “Well. You two look busy. So, I’m gonna hit the road.”
Raven extracted himself from Missy’s face. “Where are you going?”
“This Sunday, I’m gonna go get him. I’m sick and tired of seein’ his empty rocker sittin’ in my room.”
“I could remove it for you, sir.”
“I could tear your fingers off for you. That’s Isellta’s rocker. It ain’t goin’ nowhere. It’s gonna sit there and wait for him to come back. And he is gonna come back. I’m gonna go there and bring him home. And, if he can’t leave right away, I’ll pitch a campin’ tent and make myself all comfortable until he can leave.”
Robin sighed. “But that’s all gonna go down on Sunday. Right now, I’m all jittered up. I need to go outside and walk. Or I’m gonna get all stir crazy and scribble all over the walls and punch holes in them.”
“Please, sir. Do not damage my house.”
“Don’t worry. I ain’t plannin’ to. I’m just sayin’ I could if I don’t get goin’ outside.”
“Did you want me to join you on Sunday?”
Robin hesitated. “I don’t know. I almost wanna say yeah, sure. I mean, I did help you rescue Missy. It would be fun to go on another rescue mission with you.”
Raven shook his head. “Fun is not the correct word, sir.”
“Yeah, whate’er. Thing is: I ain’t got a clue how I’m gonna react when I see him. I might go berserk and get all…” He made a bunch of unhelpful hand gestures. “If you know what I mean.”
“I’m afraid I don’t, sir.”
“Too bad. I ain’t gettin’ into details.” He hesitated again. “Would you wanna come with me? I mean, you don’t have to. I get it if you don’t wanna.”
Raven climbed off the table again, because he felt that the next line had to be delivered on equal ground. “Sir, you are more than just my responsibility. You are my friend. I will help you.”
Robin hugged him.
Raven gladly returned the favor. “And if anything goes wrong, I will be there to back you up and comfort you.”
“Thanks.” They released each other. “You’re one of the good ones, Raven.”
“I try my best, sir.”
“I know.” He patted Raven’s arm. “I’ll see you at dawn.”