After his call ended, Quentin entered the living room and renewed his proposal to assist with the bedframe. Ven rose from his seat eagerly, and the two men set to the task. Their argument from before the call hung silently in their air between them, like a humid summer evening.
Bonnie-B and the children arrived as the last of the frame was assembled. Nicholas and Hannah raced into the living room and began tearing into the paper, calling to their father in excited tones. As Quentin joined his children, Bonnie-B caught Ven’s gaze, and tilted her head in a silent question.
Ven nodded, a sad smile crawling across his face.
Lunch was consumed quickly, Ven and the Richardsons ravenous from the morning’s exertion. Quentin commanded Hannah to take care of the trash; as she left for the kitchen, Nicholas went to the bathroom, leaving Ven alone in the living room with the two adults.
“Hey.” Quentin and Bonnie-B looked up at Ven’s gentle call. “Really appreciate what you did for me today.”
“Of course,” Bonnie-B replied with pleasure. “You know, your still welcome to come over for dinner this evening.”
“Any evening.” Quentin leaned forward, and gazed intently at Ven. “Just because you’re living in the city now, doesn’t mean you need to be a stranger.”
Ven sighed heavily, and then stood slowly. “I’ll be up to see you, I promise. But, tonight — ” he waved a hand towards the nearest stack of boxes — “I really need to unpack.” Nodding, Quentin stood quickly, and called for the children.
“Mister Ven — ” Ven turned towards Hannah — “I really like your apartment.” Nicholas echoed his sister’s judgement.
“You guys are sweet.” The young man lowered himself to his right knee, and embraced the Richardson children. After shaking Ven’s hand, Quentin then lead the children out of the apartment, leaving Ven alone with Bonnie-B.
She laid a hand on Ven’s shoulder. “Promise me, that you won’t spend every evening here alone.”
For a moment, Ven considered telling her Aidan was planning to come over tomorrow. But instead, he smiled, and simply said, “I won’t.”
She hugged him warmly, then left to join her family. The apartment door closed, and for the first time that day, Ven was alone in his new home. Sighing, he walked into the living room, located the nearest box, and ripped the packing tape off its cardboard top.