Raven sat as close as he could to Missy’s bed, but he had leaned his head back in the seat. His eyes were closed. His mouth was open. His breathing was calm and steady.
He was sound asleep.
No doubts about it.
LM sat in the chair next to Raven, lost and enthralled in the adventures of the four March sisters. He had tried to read the other books that Barbara and Sarah had picked out. None of them had connected with him. None of them had that right spark that ignited his soul. Yet, this book about four sisters had hooked him from the first word.
It was a little like fey magic – strange and mysterious.
The characters were human. Terribly frustrating humans. He questioned their motives from page to page. Yet, he couldn’t put it down.
He scowled and shook his head as Jo rejected Laurie. “It doesn’t make sense. All of the lines were there. Perfect lines leading him to her and her to him. Why would she say no? What is the reason?” He leaned in and reread the whole scene. “I don’t understand. What is the sense in it? What did he do wrong? What was wrong in what he said?”
Raven’s phone rang.
LM tried to reread the whole chapter all over again.
The phone kept ringing.
“Tsk.” He gave in and answered the phone. “Hello?”
His wings rustled nervously. “Jeff. What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I was just checking up on Tessa. Is she all right?”
LM stood. “She’s asleep. Nothing abnormal that I can detect. Just sleep. Just like Raven. Sound asleep. She is safe. You have nothing to be afraid of.”
Is it relief or annoyance? I can’t tell. Some sighs are easy to understand. Others are too oblique. Still others are just meaningless sighs.
“I know. It’s just…It’s difficult. Can I trust you, LM? Can I really trust you?”
LM stiffened his spine. “I am many things and there are many things I am not. I am not a fool. If anything happens to your daughter on my watch, you’ll hurt me. I know you’ll hurt me.”
“Of course, I will. And I will never be able to forgive myself.”
LM understood both meanings of that last sentence and he didn’t know how to respond to it.
He wondered if there was even a need for a response.
“Protect her for me.”
“I will. I am. You don’t have to worry.”
“I can’t help it.” Jeff chuckled softly. “I guess I’ll always worry about her. I’ll always be afraid of her disappearing on me again.”
“It will not happen. Not on my watch. I promise.”
“I know. Oh, LM! I wish she were here with me. She would love it. I have no idea how they all got this place so spiffed up, but it’s amazing. Lights. Rhinestones. Silver everywhere.”
LM frowned as he imagined it all wrong.
“Sorry. The photographer wants me to join Dweeb for more pictures. Tell Tessa I love her. I will come back as soon as I can. Bye.” He ended the call.
LM contemplated the phone before setting it down on the bed.
Tell Tessa I love her.
He smiled a slight smile. “I love you.”
They are words I will never tell anyone. I can’t. I don’t know how to love. I don’t know if I can love. I am part human and part fey and all mess with my crooked, useless wings. I can’t love myself.
Who could love me? Why would they when there is nothing good to me? I am not a straight line. I am a crooked line. I am a broken line with no matching end.
He took Missy’s hand and held it. “You are not a straight line either, but Raven loves you. Jeff loves you too. He will come back as soon as he can. So, just stay strong and don’t slip away. Jeff would miss you. Raven would miss you too.”
But no one would miss me.
“LM.” Capernaum appeared next to him.
The half-fey looked up at him and smiled.
His stiff, crooked wings tried to flap.
Capernaum put his hand on the half-fey’s shoulder. “I’m here.”
“I’m so glad you’re here with me.” LM tilted his head. “Capernaum, have you read Little Women before?”
Nostalgia shined in his eyes. “A long time ago.”
“Good. I have questions. So many questions.”
Capernaum smiled. “Ask away.”