“Don’t mind my paranoia, but I just want to be absolutely sure. You aren’t running away from the Glorious Elsie and Hildreth Love Fest Hour, are you?”
Jeff chuckled. “Glorious Love Fest Hour, huh? No, I’m not. I really did forget something at home. And, yes. I will come back. And, no. I’m not driving off so I can cry and pine in private.”
“Huh. I didn’t even consider that one.” Hildreth thought it over. “That’s actually a good one. So dramatic.”
“Dweeb. I’ll be right back. I promise.”
“I’ll be waiting for you, dork.”
Jeff grinned and headed to the parking lot.
Hildreth raised his hand to wave at his friend. The sunlight caressed the gold ring around his finger, flashing it into life.
He lowered his hand and contemplated his wedding ring.
It isn’t anything fancy.
He rubbed his finger over the slick surface.
But it’s beautiful. Everything it stands for is beautiful.
He held his hand up to the sky. “Mom. Dad. Master Initskay. Do you see it? Do you see me? I’m happy. I’m so happy I could cry.”
The restaurant door opened behind him. “Mayhew.”
Hildreth turned around and bowed to Master Shinowa. “Master.”
“No.” He stood up straight. “Jeff forgot to grab something from home.”
“And I’m out here because I needed to ask him a question.”
Master Shinowa didn’t pressure him for details.
“It was regarding something he’d confided in me on the way here. I don’t really know if I should say more than that.”
“If uncertain, keep words inside. Release words when certain.”
“Good. Come, Mayhew. Vansing waits anxious for you.”
Hildreth followed his master back inside. “Ha! I just thought of something. You can’t call Elsie ‘Vansing’ anymore. You’ll have to call her Mayhew. That should be an interesting situation if you’re all like ‘Hey! Mayhew! Git yerself o’er here.’ And Elsie and I would be like ‘Ya’all talkin’ to me?'”
Master Shinowa grinned at him. “Elsie always Vansing to me.”
“Huh. Is that so? I feel like I should be offended or put out by that.”
“Maybe. But is so is so.”
Hildreth shrugged. “I guess that’s true.”
They walked all the way back to the banquet room. Hildreth stopped just outside of it. “Master.”
Master Shinowa gave him a questioning look.
“Thank you. Thank you for coming. Thank you for being here. Thank you for standing at my side.”
Master Shinowa’s expression softened. “It is much honor to be with you on today, Mayhew. Much honor and pleasure. You are grown to be good man and much good hunter. Initskay would have pride in you.”
Hildreth bowed. “Thank you, Master.”
“You be welcome. Rise, Mayhew.”
He stood up straight.
“Vansing waits with much impatience.”
Hildreth smiled as he imagined Elsie furiously pacing with sweat drops shooting out of her head.
Yeah. That seems about right.
He followed Master Shinowa into the room and caught sight of Elsie posing before the curtain of hanging crystals. “Master? Is it cheesy for me to say that she shines brighter than all of those crystals put together?”
“No, Mayhew. Not cheese. Simple truth.”
So it is.