There was a quiet knock on the door and Matthew looked up. He had retired to his chambers, a small apartment-like constellation of adjacent rooms. The first was his study, furnished like a living room with couches around a coffee table situated in front of a fireplace. By the window stood a desk, a smaller version than that in his office, with a laptop and a notepad and a gold-tipped pen along with other expensive writing utensils. Leather-bound books with faded writing were piled in the bookcases, and a small sideboard stood covered with fine bottles of various taste. To the right of the room there was a white, sterile bathroom and to the left a door led to the master bedroom with nothing but a king-size four-poster bed carved from oak and draped with curtains of red, heavy velvet.
He had been sitting at the desk, writing the last document for the journey. Usually, he would be in the grand office, but he had no further appointments that morning except from one, which could not take place in the grand office. Not since Shade had barged in last time and interrupted. Shade was not known for being picky about the things he witnessed while in his lord’s presence – needless to say, he had seen his share throughout the ages – but Matthew had none the less taken the necessary precautions now and moved the private appointments elsewhere.
When he wanted a quiet talk with the members of his family, he placed them outside business-like surroundings and into an environment more family-friendly. At least, that was the excuse he used to justify his actions. And although his Agents were taught to regard him as their father and him they as his sons and daughters, they were still in the category labelled ‘business’. His chambers also provided a more relaxed atmosphere. If he were to give a reprimand or the like, he would still call his herd to the grand office.
But now he turned his attention to the door as it was opened, and Gabriel entered. He was a spitting image of his late mother, in every aspect that Matthew could imagine. The boy was leaving his teens and had come to yield a true young man’s posture and expression. Whenever Matthew laid his eyes upon his son, pride swelled in his heart. No gift in his life had been greater than his son, however, he had failed to truly appreciate it for a long time. But that was the past. Their secret pact was physically represented by the silver ring on their left ring finger.
“Father? You called for me?” Gabriel asked as he stepped in. The hoarse, youthful voice revealed his age. Still not entirely matured but just about to. He shut the door with a nudge from his heel and approached his father, who rose from the desk at the sight of his son.
“Yes, Gabriel, come on in,” Matthew said and gestured for Gabriel to take a seat in the couches.
“Is this about the trip?” The young man seated himself and made room for his father to settle down beside him. Matthew smiled kindly, not the usual thin, threatening smile, but that of genuine love, something which only Gabriel was allowed to witness. He put an arm around his son’s shoulders.
“Actually not,” Matthew replied and the smile diminished slowly. “Remember the two girls yesterday evening?” Gabriel nodded without answering, knowing his father hated being interrupted when words were unnecessary. “Well, there’s a risk of an investigation. Thomas is on code yellow, but it might not be enough to ensure an entirely risk-free procedure.”
Gabriel straightened up in his seat and looked worried at his father. “So, you say there’s a possibility for you being arrested this time?” he asked with a light frown.
“Yes, if Thomas can’t hold her off and Vladimir and Isobel’s barriers are breached while we’re away, then it’s possible,” Matthew answered. Gabriel sighed and looked down into his hands resting in his lap.
“And I’m in charge if that happens?”
Matthew put a hand behind Gabriel’s neck and turned his face kindly insisting. “Yes, and you need to promise me not to panic,” he said quietly. Gabriel nodded reassuringly, as if to convince both his father and himself that he was up for the task.
“I won’t disappoint you, father,” he said firmly enough for Matthew to accept its conviction. He closed his eyes as a hand slipped through his short, blond hair.