“How am I supposed to trust you when we’ve only known each other for a few days?” Ivy demanded.
Grey turned back around to face her. “I don’t know. But I trust you.”
Ivy met his eyes and was startled to find they were wet. Has he been crying? She began to feel a little uneasy. “Why?” She asked, though she knew the answer. How much easier is it for a man to trust a woman than the other way around? Ivy delivered paper roses to the jail several miles away every month. There were very few women incarcerated, and many men were there for violence against women. She knew Grey wouldn’t do something like that. Or rather, she hoped he wouldn’t. How much do I really know about him anyway? she asked herself again.
Grey, after struggling with his answer finally said, “I don’t know. Maybe you would be able to trust me if we got to know each other better? Maybe spend more time working in the workshop together? What do you say, will you come work with me tonight?” Then, he suddenly bowed low as if Ivy were some sort of hoity-toity noblewoman.
Ivy wanted to roll her eyes but was still too shocked that Grey would do something that pretentious. “I suppose,” she managed, and took the arm he offered. She held herself as far away from him as she could while they walked arm-in-arm.
Ivy couldn’t help but feel like Grey was suddenly being overprotective, now that she was on his arm. He insisted on helping her over a pothole in the road and opening a gate for her so they could take a short cut. She was quickly becoming exasperated with this behavior. She wasn’t one of those shrinking pansy rich folk after all. They turned a corner, and Grey moved to her left side so he could presumably protect her from passing wagons. He offered his arm again, obviously expecting her to take it automatically, but she ignored it, taking a page from Nikki’s book and skipping ahead. She flew down the street, racing past shop fronts and alleyways.
She continued to run until she was far in front of him and was pleased to hear a slightly panicked shout of “wait!” from Grey. She turned around to watch him catch up, catching her breath outside an unassuming, unnamed shop with darkened windows. He ran toward her, his jacket billowing.
When he reached her, he was doubled over, panting. “I didn’t… want,” When he reached her, he was doubled over, panting. “I didn’t… want…” he began, between breaths, “you to run… too far.” He pointed at the nondescript shop. “This is… the front door.” He hacked up something and spit it on the ground. Revulsion swirled in Ivy’s stomach. For all his noble airs, Grey certainly wasn’t too polite.
Leaving Grey to his tormented breathing, Ivy let herself into the shop. She found a mostly-empty room, painted a sickening yellow. In the center of the room was a rag-tag wooden table with some pamphlets and leaflets on it, all advertising the Lightbox Society. Across the room was another door. Ivy tried it. Locked.
Ivy wandered back to the table, and started leafing through the various advertisements. They were roughly printed, and the slogans were so cliché they made her cringe at times. She started shaking her head at one in particular that read, “DARKNESS WILL CONSUME! NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT OR BE ACTED UPON!”
“What, you don’t like them?” Grey’s voice came from right behind her, and Ivy jumped again. Luckily this time there was no desk directly above her head. It seemed like Grey had caught his breath at last.
“No, they’re actually… kinda terrible,” admitted Ivy.
“Well, that’s what your for!” he said brightly. “But right now we have other things to work on. I’ve decided to take your advice and work on some machines of my own! I want your help in building this one.” He went to the door in the back and unlocked it. “Come on!” He said, and stepped through the door.
Ivy followed. They passed through the room full of pews that resembled a church. It was dark and a little spooky, and Ivy was glad when they entered the workshop, where the electric lights were already humming. They cast a warm glow over the mysterious machines scattered all through the room.
“Grey! Ivy!” a voice boomed from somewhere in the shop. Alder Thornton stepped out from behind a machine that belched out a cloud of steam.
“Hello, Mr. Thornton,” said Ivy, timidly. She hadn’t see much of him since her first visit to the workshop.
“Please! Call me Alder,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.
“Okay, Alder,” she said. She glanced at Grey who was looking a little pale.
“You guys about to work on the machine then?” Alder asked.
“Yessir,” said Grey. Ivy noticed his eyes shifting back and forth, as if he were lying. But he couldn’t be. They were really going to work on a machine. Ivy wondered what he had to hide.
“Well get to it! I’ve got some paperwork to fill out, and I need to rest my poor knees. You kids don’t know what it’s like to have every inch of your body revolting against an honest day’s work.” Alder stomped away, muttering about health bills and animatronic prosthetics.
“You ready?” asked Grey, leading Ivy to a different machine than they had worked on last time. This one was much smaller and far more incomplete-looking. It currently looked like a small tangle of gears and wires, but even Ivy could see that half the wires were only connected on one side.
“So what does this machine do?” Ivy asked, turning the mess of mechanics over in her hand. It was only about the size of her fist so far.
“Oh, nothing yet. You’ll see, I’m sure, when it’s finished. I hope you’ll be happy with the results.” Grey’s eyes looked edgy again, but Ivy shrugged it off as an inventor’s fear that his gadget would end up a total flop.