Three days after Keegan left Thom was feeling the pressure. Going off to deal with some human piece of wickedness was bad enough, but at least he knew Keegan would return alive. When a Scriostóir was thrown into the mix there were no guarantees.
On top of that, it had begun to sink in that Keegan looked exactly as he had when they’d met, while one glance in the mirror told Thom that he was getting older. He was no longer a cute young nineteen-year-old. He was twenty five now, and he could have sworn he saw the start of fine wrinkles around his eyes if he looked hard.
“Enough,” he admonished himself. “He said my age didn’t matter to him, so grow up and believe it’s true.”
Leaving the bathroom and the evil mirror behind, he went to get dressed for work. It was early still, but he couldn’t bear the thought of hanging around the empty house. A few minutes later he was locking the front door behind him while deciding what he could do to kill the next couple of hours. Then he remembered someone at work mentioning a new art gallery which had just opened. “Might as well check it out,” he muttered as he got into his car and pulled out of the driveway onto the street.
The gallery was in an older but redeveloped area of the downtown. After finding a parking space a block away Thom strolled up the street, enjoying the slight nip in the air that said winter was approaching but not too quickly. When he entered the gallery he was immediately entranced by the artwork hanging on the walls, as well as the three sculptures taking up a place of prominence in the center of the room. While he wandered from one painting to another, taking in the beauty of the subjects, he suddenly felt as if he were being watched. When he turned and saw no one other than the gallery clerk, he chalked it up to his imagination.
An hour later he reluctantly left the gallery. Since it was Sunday and parking was free, he knew he was lucky to have found the spot he had. So he decided to walk the few blocks to the restaurant.
Six exhausting hours later he was wishing he’d taken the chance of finding somewhere closer to park. Bidding good night to his co-workers he started down the street.
“Keegan lets you out on your own,” someone asked, causing Thom to tense in fear for a second before he recognized the man who had stepped out of the bar next door to the restaurant.
“Of course he does, Darius. Not that he would try to stop me. He trusts me just as much as I trust him.”
As Thom kept walking Darius came up beside him, smirking slightly as he matched him step for step. “So you’re meeting him somewhere or going home?”
“If it’s any of your business, which it isn’t, I’m heading to my car and then home.”
“Where he’s waiting, keeping the bed warm.”
“That also is none of your damned business, Darius.”
Darius put a hand on Thom’s arm in what seemed to be a consoling manner. “Touchy, touchy. Does that mean he’s off on assignment somewhere? Are you feeling lonely and stressed?”
“Back off,” Thom growled, pulling his arm away sharply.
“I’m just concerned for your welfare. I know how Keegan is, any bed in a storm, something he’s apparently never told you from the look of shock on your face. Do you honestly think he’s faithful to you while he’s off doing what we do?”
Without deigning to reply, Thom walked rapidly down the street, trying to ignore the knowing laughter that floated after him.