“I am not saying you should abandon your mother,” said the King. “But her well-being is not entirely your responsibility, either. She must also want to be well.”
“With respect, um... sir... y-you don’t know very much about us.”
“That is true. I apologize if what I said seemed callous.”
“It’s, ah--it’s fine.”
A heavy silence fell, and Hector realized that the sun was probably beginning to take a toll on the King, so he raised an iron half-dome to shield them both. The man seemed to appreciate it.
“There is something I still do not understand,” said William. “Well, I suppose there are many things, truthfully. But I am curious as to why you are helping us. Is it only because this reaper companion of yours compels you to?”
Hector glanced at Garovel. “No, it’s not just that. I, um... ah... I... want to... agh...”
He flushed with embarrassment. “I just... we just want to help people.”
The King cocked a blond eyebrow at him. “Begging your pardon, but I find it difficult to believe that your motive could be so simple.”
“I understand that this Roman Fullister gentleman is helping us because he is an Atreyan loyalist and has business interests here. But unless I am mistaken, you were merely a student in high school a few months ago.”
Hector took a breath and scratched his forehead. “W-well... things kinda, y’know... spiraled out of control.”
“Even so, you have put yourself through quite a lot, and you are telling me that was only because you wanted to--”
Hector’s phone interrupted. He fished it out of his pocket and eyed the caller ID. He hurried back down the ramp while it continued ringing.
The King followed.
“Gina!” shouted Hector, and she turned away from her conversation with Lynn’s family.
Everyone gathered around as the phone stopped ringing. Even Mrs. Goffe wandered a bit closer.
The voice mail triggered, and then came David’s confirmation. <“Jonathan. Please pick up if you are there.”>
Hector did no such thing.