They respect you, love you. It’s clear to see, even if they do revert to true children in the privacy of their own home with you. I truly am happy that they are with you. [He smiled and leaned back in his chair, unable to take his eyes off of her.] You must come to my home for dinner. You and your children. It would be my great honor to host for you.
I promised that I’d take them into the market tomorrow. They worked hard today helping me clean the house and then Adeline helped me with dinner, and Crispin helped himself to the cake, but he’s a growing boy. Will Trent be all right with me coming over to dinner? I’m not sure if he knows what I did for a living, but I don’t want to make him uncomfortable.
You belong to no one. You make your own rules. Let it be a reminder to those who would forget, [he said evenly, his voice soft and quiet, but serious and intense. She was the maker of her own future now. He closed his eyes as he accepted her kiss, reaching a hand up to the base of her neck, resting it gently at her collar bone. A loose curl teased against his skin as he returned a kiss to her own cheek. He lingered, only long enough to remember her feel and her scent before moving back. He let his hand fall, caressing her skin before removing the contact completely. Dozens of thoughts, memories, moments passed through him in that time, leaving him with only one. ‘She was always right.’] Dinner was nice, thank you. And your children are very well taught.
I think I answer to my children as much as they answer to me, [she said with a little laugh, her hand resting on his shoulder. For so long they had been apart, and there were so many things left unsaid, old hurt and pain — but she couldn’t think on that then. She couldn’t. There wasn’t the time. She sat down again and covered the knife back up.] The children do well when company is around. It’s when company isn’t here that they tend to act like children. Crispin is young yet, he has his moments regardless. But they are good and loving, and that’s all I could hope for.
[He didn’t say a word about her uneaten meal, simply made the observation as she returned and sat back down at the table. He gave a small laugh as he slowly pushed the box toward her.] Open it, [he coaxed. He kept his smile, waiting for her expression, waiting to see how she would react to the expertly crafted dagger.]
[She picked up the box when he told her to open it and she did. She saw the dagger, black as sin, and she picked it up. Some would question the gift but she saw the beauty in the dagger as well as the practicality. It would fit well in a sheath on her thigh.] Thank you, Archibald, [she said, rising smoothly from her chair and pressing a kiss to his cheek.]
[He smiled as she opened the door, his eyes traveling from her eyes to her beautiful curls to the all too familiar jewelry she wore. He remembered the day he had given them to her, a small surprise. Small enough to go unnoticed, but it was the intent behind the gift. He had been calling on her for little over a month. They would talk, quip, love and love hot. Sapphires. The fire she had and the color he loved, they suited her well. Seeing her wearing them softened his smile as he stepped through the doorway and into her house at her permission.] Thank you, Esme. Your home is lovely. And quite scoured, [he teased lightly as he stepped with her into the dining room. The house looked lived in, despite the recent move. It was small, small for his tastes, but it seemed to fit Esme well, the Esme who sat across from him. He ate his food without complaint, indulging in conversation when available, trying to keep it light, though realizing that her daughter was the same girl who excelled in science, it was difficult for him to keep the subjects universally applicable for everyone. He even indulged in a small piece of cake, though even then, he only ate half. He had never been a fan of sweet food. He sipped from his wine, and watched Esme with her children as she set them for bed. He wished them a pleasant evening, taking the small box from his pocket and setting it on the table for Esme when she returned. He sat patiently, left with only his thoughts and a well aged glass of wine.]
[She laughed and led him into the dining room. She let Archibald and Adeline talk about what they willed and she stayed helping Crispin with his meal, it gave her a good excuse as to why she wasn’t eating. When the meal was done and the children had their dessert, after she tucked Crispin into bed and spoke for a little while with Adeline, she walked out and sat back down, pushing her mostly uneaten dinner away from her before her eyes caught sight of the box. She was never one to play coy and raised a brow before outright asking:] Is that the present for me?
I do believe I will have the time afterwards. I shall see you soon. [Archibald changed into a pair of loose slacks, navy turtleneck, and jacket and took hold of the small, rectangular box. What may have held an expensive necklace held something far more practical, something he was sure Esme would appreciate, though hoped she would never have to use. He checked to be sure the black dagger was still within before exiting from his house, a car waiting for him at the front door. Trent was left to his room with his equations and books, while he made his way through the dusted streets to Esme’s house. He parked the car and approached the front door, waiting patiently for an answer.]
[She didn’t dress formally, but she wasn’t dressed casual either when she opened the door. Her hair was piled on her head, the curls escaping and falling down on either side of her face. Small sapphire gems hung in teardrops at her ears, and a small, matching, necklace was all she wore around her neck. Most would find it strange that someone of her standing would choose something so normal, nearly plain. The jewels weren’t grand. They weren’t magnificent. There were something that a beau would give to his lover, but he would have been a young beau, and she just as young. There were one of the first things that Archibald had ever given her, other than a flower that remained pressed between the pages of a book long forgotten, long tucked away on a shelf to be found later on by some other young pair of lovers looking to read a book of poems as they promised each other forever and a day, not knowing that forever would end tomorrow. Her skirt was black, her top was white and neatly buttoned, yet for once, she wore no shoes. That had been her first act of rebellion. No more of those torturous heels. She opened the door for him and smiled, stepped back and let him in.] Come in, Archibald. Welcome to my home, [she said, inviting him in. It was cozy, but not grand. Rustic without being run down. There were fresh flowers and new carpeting, photos of old friends and the children, of a life she had created despite the odds. Dinner was simple enough. Chicken and potatoes, though the chicken was slightly burnt and the potatoes a bit overdone, Esme had never been one to master cooking, she never had to, but there was salad and bread, a nice wine for the adults and fruit juice for the children, and a cake made at the sanctuary that she had bought and brought home for dessert. All in all, it looked and felt like a home.]
I wouldn’t insinuate otherwise. Just making an observation. I will be there in twenty minutes. Although, your gift may be better given in private.
You and your observations. If you stay till after dinner, we can visit and the children will be in their rooms reading, or sleeping. I guess the latter.
Of course not, I wanted to. The second light dinner, not much of an appetite lately? I will come then. It’ll give me a reason to dress down.
Not much of one, I’m fine though, I promise. Yes, come in casual wear. The children will be in the same.
You should have the books appraised, they could be quite valuable. Yes, a gift. Decline an invitation from a friend for dinner in her new home? Never. It would be my honor to ever do so.
You didn’t have to get anything for me. Still, you’re welcome to come for dinner. We’re having something light. We’ve been cleaning all day, but you’re more than welcome.
Scouring, as in cleaning, or scouring as in searching for something? And you’re welcome. I’ve a gift for you. Call it… a retirement gift.
Cleaning. Though, through cleaning I did find quite a few old books. A gift? And I was going to invite you over for dinner, but I wasn’t sure if you’d come.