Raven led the two vampires into The Tuxedo’s Seams store.
A black man in a well-designed suit walked up to Raven and shook his hand. “Hello, Mr. Arden! How are we helping you today?”
Raven smiled. “Hello, Micael. I need to purchase a pair of tuxedos for a wedding.”
“Very good, Mr. Arden. Will one of the tuxedos be for you?”
“No, sir. I have one already purchased.”
Ambrose stepped forward. “It is for my wedding this Sunday.” He held out his hand. “I’m Ambrose Smith.”
Micael shook his hand. “Pleasure to meet you.”
Micael walked around him and looked him over. “mm-hmm. Yes. Yes.”
Robin snorted. “Sure looks like someone‘s checkin’ someone else out.”
“Strictly business, mister…”
“Hastings. Robin Hastings. You wanna make a big deal about it?”
“I’m just doing my job.”
Robin snorted again, but said nothing more.
He stopped in front of Ambrose and nodded. “Very nice. I assume you expect a coat with tails.”
“Of course, sir.” Raven said. “That should be a given.”
“Of course. Of course. I know you quite well, Mr. Arden. I know you would discourage him from anything too unusual or avant-garde.”
“Oh my freakin’…” Robin scoffed. “It’s like Raven’s talking to his freakin’ alternate reality self. Both so prim and proper I could just puke about it.”
Raven shot a sharp glare at him.
“What about Mr. Hastings? Is he to get a tuxedo as well?”
“Most certainly, sir. He is Master Smith’s groom’s man.”
Micael walked around Robin, carefully sizing him up. “Yes. Yes. I think he will turn out quite all right. Come with me, Mr. Hastings, and I will take your measurements.”
“Huh? What for? It’s just a suit jacket, right?”
Micael stared at him as if he’d just profaned his beloved mother’s memory.
Robin scowled. “What? I ain’t doin’ nothin’ but statin’ the obvious.”
“Hardly, sir.” Raven said. “To declare that a tuxedo is naught but a suit jacket is akin to saying that a wedding gown is merely a bustier.”
“Uhhh…” Ambrose looked like his mind had just glazed over.
“Darnation! You’ve gone and broken Ambrose. Nice, Raven. Really nice.”
Ambrose shook his head.
“A tuxedo is much more than a simple suit jacket, sir. Micael. I will let you explain it all to him as you do his measurements.”
“Of course, Mr. Arden. Mr. Hastings, right this way.”
“Why can’t we just do the measurements here?”
The question flummoxed Micael. “Um. Well. Uh. You will be stripping to your undergarments.”
“Given the tight timeframe, I’d rather avoid the need for alterations. I want to be sure your measurements are correct.”
Robin shook his fist at Raven. “I’m gonna totally kill you for this later.”
“Of course, sir. I’m sure you will.”
“Right this way, Mr. Hastings.”
Robin hunched his shoulders and followed Micael to the curtained area at the back of the store.
I can’t think about that.
I’m not thinking about it.
I won’t think about it.
“Sir. Please. Settle down.”
He shook his head. “Need to keep moving.”
Something in his voice stopped Ambrose in his tracks. “What is it?”
“AIIIEEE!” Robin yelped. “Get your freakin’ hands away from there or I’ll freakin’ break your freakin’ fingers off!”
Raven reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. “I.” He grabbed Ambrose’s elbow and guided him to the front door.
“What are you doing?”
“I need to talk to you. I need to talk to you and I do not want Robin to overhear us.”
Ambrose pulled his arm out of Raven’s grip. “What’s going on?”
“It’s about Isellta.”
Raven glanced at the curtained area.
“Raven. What’s wrong?”
He sighed and handed Ambrose the paper. “Read this.”