He lingers in what is supposed to be a quick hug hello, his arms keeping me against him, his head bent way down, his nose almost touching my jaw, lips against my throat. My goosebumps have deployed, every hair on the back of my neck stands up straight and I hold my breath. Of all the stupid things in the universe to be caught in today, this tiny allegiance would have been the most unlikely. Except for, you know, nonexistent boundaries.
You smell positively intoxicating. What is that?
(One drop goes so far that there's still a third of a bottle left. I kept it, okay? Sometimes I put a little drop in the hollow at the base of my throat and then I can smell it all day long. I'm sure I'll still be doing it when I'm a hundred and twelve. It reminds me of him. It makes me feel safe. Unlike the Devil, who makes me feel as if I'm perpetually in danger.)
Remind me to take you to get something new. Did you like the last Cartier? I thought it was beautiful on you.
I shake my head and attempt to disengage from his arms but he's having none of my escape, in spite of how he skated smoothly past the question of my loyalties once again.
I do need to discuss something with you. Henry's recent choice of weaponry-
It's a toy.
No, it's very real, Bridget. Wasn't the pocketknife enough?
A slingshot is a good tool for him to practice his aim with.
You're determined to live in a Lord of the Flies type of environment.
What would you prefer I gave him to work on?
A laptop. I've been thinking about introducing him to the stock market.
Caleb, he's eleven-
I was much younger when I started enjoying my first dividends from penny stocks, Bridget.
Woo. Lucky kid.
He's smarter than you'll even be, Diabhal.
I don't doubt that for a second, but I want him to know more than busker tricks and outward savagery, Bridget. I want him to be independent early on. Then he can have everything.
Like you do?
Yes. Except that I don't have everything, Bridget.
And that's why a slingshot is more important than a paycheck. You can get a girl with life skills and busker tricks but you can't get one with cash. Well, you can, but she won't be the same quality. Come to think of it, that's rather ironic, isn't it?
I smile at him and he finally lets go of me.