Jay ended his call.
The bartender swished over to him. “Anything to drink, buddy?”
Jay sighed and set his phone on the bar counter. “Yeah. Large ginger ale.”
The bartender smiled. “The usual, huh? Coming right up.”
Jay mentally replayed the conversation he had with Raven on the phone and he knew all of the right words. All of the words he should have said.
All of the right words he did not say.
Maybe I should order something alcoholic and get myself sick-drunk. Maybe a passing vampire will take mercy on me and bite me.
But where does that leave Isellta?
And what about Hank and Dave? I’m sure they would like to share a bed again at some point in time.
He sat up straighter.
She’ll be coming back soon. Probably not tonight. That just isn’t possible.
But it will be soon. I’ll be in her arms again.
She’ll hold me and comfort me.
That in itself is reason for me to hold on.
That and the narrowing possibility of Isellta coming out of this state. He’ll need me even more than before.
I will hold on for him, so the poor kid won’t be left all alone.
The bartender set the drink before him.
Jay took a sip and looked down at his silent phone.
Come on, Robin. Call me.
Please call me.
Raven felt overly aware of the folded paper in his pocket. He could hear it crinkle with every step. He could almost see how the edges were becoming dog-eared from rubbing against his phone.
Ambrose side-glanced at him and gave him a long, contemplative look. “So, yes. I decided that tuxedos are too old-fashioned and futsy for my liking. My true personality is not represented correctly by something that belongs on a hearse driver. So, I’m going to wear my khaki cargo pants and my cleanest black tank top with hemp thong sandals and a bleached denim baseball hat to the wedding.”
Raven stopped and stared at him in horror. “I beg your pardon, sir, but what manner of madness are you speaking? You cannot attend your wedding dressed like an out of work gardener. I will not allow it.”
Ambrose laughed. “I thought that would pull you out of whatever mental dungeon you had yourself trapped in.”
Raven’s horror abated. “Then, you were not serious.”
“Not at all.”
“Good. I assume you do have a tuxedo already purchased.”
Raven removed his gloves, folded them neatly in half, put them in separate pockets, and unsheathed his claws. “Your wedding is in two days, sir. If you do not have a tuxedo yet—” His pupils widened as he realized that there was a Part 2 to that concern. “Tell me that Robin, at least, had the foresight to purchase a tuxedo.” Even as he said it out loud, he knew that it just wasn’t possible.
“Are you joking? Can you imagine Robin going into a tuxedo shop without you? I can’t.”
Raven walked over to the nearest You Are Here! sign and stared long and hard at the red star pinpointing their location. If he were Superman, he would have laser-eyed the sign to death.
Push it down.
Do not explode.
Do not lose control.
Do not kill Ambrose.
Do not kill Robin.
They may be irresponsible, but do not kill them.
He turned to face Ambrose.
His expression must have been quite a sight, because Ambrose nervously backed up.
Raven smiled reassuringly.
Ambrose did not look reassured.
“I had hoped to spend time with Missy, but no. That, unfortunately, will have to wait. You and I and Robin are going to the tuxedo shop in The Cardboard Box. I will buy you both tuxedos and all of the accessories you need. If the tuxedos need any adjustments, as I am certain they will, I will make them.”
“Oh.” Ambrose looked moderately relieved.
Raven bared his fangs. “You and Robin will be unable to leave my side until I finish the adjustments.”
“What? But I will need to go to work tomorrow.”
“I will call Master Borscht and explain the situation to him. I am certain he will understand.”
“I will explain it to her as well.”
Ambrose was so crestfallen Raven almost felt bad for him.
His claws and fangs retracted. “You had plenty of time to attend to this matter and you did not. It is your own fault, sir, if I may say so.”
“You’re right. I’ve been counting down the minutes and hours and days in my head. I just…I never thought about it. It honestly never crossed my mind. I’m sorry, Raven.”
“Very well, sir. Now, to get Robin’s attention…”