Rob managed a small smile as he crossed the worn flagstones that made up the floor of the Dragon’s Teeth. He wished he could be in a more cheerful mood tonight. He was having a guys’ night out, wasn’t he? Far from being annoyed or put out by that, Dannie had practically chase him out the door with a broom, hadn’t she? Business was going well, the children were happy and healthy, Elena was blessedly between teeth at the moment.
But he could never manage to be as happy as he ought to have been at their impromptu fraternity reunions. Not because of the men who came without fail. But because of the one man who couldn’t come any more.
Patience is a virtue. It was a hackneyed line, a perfect cliche. It was something that Tamsin had heard from her mother’s mouth a thousand times — usually growled at one of her siblings, showing just how close Lady Lilias was to running out of her own virtue, that is to say, patience. Relatively speaking, Tamsin was not often at the receiving end of that sentence. But she could still hear that growl as clearly as if her mother was sitting by her side.
She wondered if her mother would have been growling it now.
The sun was shining. The gulls called to each other, doing reconnaissance for their eternal mission of stealing food out of Sims’ hands or, when it could be managed, their mouths. Waves crashed into the dock and the strand below; a powerful wind puffed down the lane, carrying with it the scent of sun, salt, fish, and dodgy dockside takeaway guaranteed to keep you on the pot all day and all night.
Geoff had read a great deal since starting at the cathedral school in the beginning of the year. He’d delved into poetry, not just religious, mystical poetry, but epic and lyric and every other type of -ic poetry there was. Including romantic poetry.
They had much to say about weddings. About love. About the fidelity between two people that could last a lifetime, or beyond.
None of them ever said much about second weddings.
For the second time in a single year, the church was filled with the great and mighty of the land, all assembled to bid farewell to one of their own.
Tuck surveyed the packed church as dispassionately as he could. He had already conducted the preliminaries of the service: the initial blessings, the readings, the prayers and songs. But now came the hard part, the sermon that Tuck hadn’t had nearly enough time to work on. The sermon he wished he hadn’t had to write.
As he walked to the lectern and tried to gather his thoughts, his thoughts stole away from him and danced back to the last time he had preached a funeral sermon to a cathedral full of the greatest of Albion. That had been Lord Lot’s funeral — almost five years ago. Father Hugh had done the sermon for Lord Pellinore’s funeral. He only gave this one to Tuck because he thought it might be more fitting for a younger man to lead the service for a younger man’s funeral. That, and Tuck had to resume his duties sooner or later, and it might as well be now.
It was also, Tuck suspected, a test. Had he learned his lesson from the year prior? Or, given the least temptation, would he careen back into his old ways?
Delyth had been in the doldrums for … what … months? And if it was just stemming from her father’s death … well, that would have been one thing. Cherry could imagine only too well. How many stormy nights had she shivered in her bedroom back in Bledavik, convinced that this would be the storm that would make it so her parents never came home again?
But whatever it was that was getting Delyth down, it wasn’t her father. Her father had died in Imsdyn. Delyth and Dilys both had been heartbroken, but they’d both been recovering. Dilys still was recovering. But Delyth had crashed in Ververe, and she hadn’t pulled herself up yet. Sometimes it was all Cherry, Dilys, and Ravenna combined could do to get her out of bed and into class, to say nothing of doing enough work outside to keep her afloat. And eating regularly and sleeping neither too much or not enough were their own battles.
Luckily, Cherry had a solution, or at least a way to bring a smile to Delyth’s face.