Raven frowned as Preyuna closed the door to the monitor room. “Sammy, am I making a mistake in trusting her?”
Sammy took a breath and exhaled slowly. “If you are, we all are.”
“That is hardly consoling.”
Raven wanted to pace, but years of patient waiting kept him standing still. He pulled his sopping wet gloves out of his pockets and inspected them. Their seams. Their stitches. Their hems. Their buttons. He took his time doing so and it calmed his nerves.
He smiled as his well-practiced motions stirred a memory…
Aloysius handed his gloves to him. “I will let you start small.”
James sat a little straighter. “Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!” He felt all bright and shiny inside, but he managed to keep his calm. He examined the gloves as he had seen his father do so many times.
Stitches. Fingers. Palms. One at a time. Backs.
Not hurried. Not rushed, not slow. Careful.
No holes. No snags. No tears.
Everything as it ought to be.
He handed them back to his father.
“Well, James? Are they in good order?”
“Yes, sir. They are.” He hesitated. “Will you double-check them, then?”
Aloysius seemed surprised by the question. “Is there a need to do so?”
“Did you not pay attention as you examined them? Did you skim over the finer details?”
“No, sir! I did it as you do. I was careful. I paid attention.”
“Then, that is sufficient. I have no need to re-examine what you examined so thoroughly.”
The memory warmed his heart and hurt it at the same time.
Sir…Father. It has been a long time. So many years have come and gone since that first lesson. I am no longer a child. I am a man now. I have been a man for a great many years. Have I done well, sir? Are you proud of me?
There was no response.
“I think it was a mistake to let her go in alone.” Deliosa said.
Raven turned towards her. “I beg your pardon?”
“Preyuna. Can we trust her not to set any traps or any deceptions for us?”
Raven looked back at the closed door. “I am uncertain.”
“Uncertain?” She gave him a curious look. “Aren’t you worried?”
She smiled and a rose pattern blossomed on the marble walls.
The door to the monitor room opened.
Raven returned his gloves to his pockets.
Preyuna stepped out. “Come on in.”
Raven’s claws extended a little past his fingernails, but he kept his expression at peak professional calm.
Deliosa took hold of Sammy’s hand. Sammy smiled warmly at her.
Red tulips mingled with the roses on the marble.