The accompanying photo (slightly edited) is from the famous Sean/Elijah Central Park photo shoot that slashers refer to as the 'engagement' photo shoot.
"What about this one?" Elijah set the photo in front of Katie. "This is the one Sean and I are
thinking of using."
"Well, it's nice enough, I suppose," Katie said, but with no more enthusiasm than she'd greeted any of the other photographic proofs laid out on the kitchen table like cards in a game of solitaire.
"Nice enough?" Sean repeated, disappointed. Talk about damning with faint praise, and they'd saved the best for last. He couldn't believe Katie was being critical of the quality of Martha's photography, but it was clear that something was bothering her. "C'mon, Katie, don't keep us in suspense. Tell us what's wrong. It's obvious you're not crazy about the photos."
Katie primly folded her arthritic hands on the linen tablecloth. "Very well, if you want me to speak plainly, Sean, I will. Now don't you go thinking I'm finding fault with Martha, because I'm not. It's not her pictures that are the problem, it's Elijah's clothes. They're not fitting for our Woodjin to be wearing in his engagement photo. Why, you'll be mailing that picture out to your family and all your city friends. What in creation will they think when they see your young man dressed in those raggedy jeans and that wrinkled jacket and a pair of sneakers?" She said 'sneakers' as if it were a cuss word.
Elijah arranged his features into a contrite expression, but his blue eyes were dancing with mirth. "That I forgot my tuxedo and dress shoes back at the cabin?"
Sean hastily turned his laugh into a cough behind his fist. Katie gave Elijah a darkling look, although Sean thought he saw a suspicious twitch at the corners of her lips.
"Woodjin or not, I can still turn you over my knee and give your hiney a rat tannin', young man," she said.
"I'm sorry, Katie," Elijah said, putting an arm around Katie's shoulders and hugging her. "I promise faithfully that I'll dress up to the nines for the wedding, just for you."
Katie hugged him back, then pulled his head down and gave him a smacking kiss on the top. "That's more like it," she said, and then she sighed. "But oh, your poor hair!" she mourned, not for the first time, and lightly ruffled the shorn parts that barely concealed his pedicles from view. "I do hope it will be properly grown out by June."
"It will be," Elijah said positively. "You know my hair grows faster than a spung in a rainstorm."
When the Devil isn't singeing it away, thought Sean, trying to put from his mind the image of ivory velvet fur scorched black. Elijah was rather enjoying his new hairstyle, appalling as Katie found it, and it was true that easy access to his pedicles had certain advantages…
His eyes met Elijah's over Katie's head and a promise was silently exchanged: Tonight.
Bill, who had been sitting a silent observer, as he often was in the presence of his more voluble wife, cleared his throat. "They're all fine pictures," he said slowly, "and the Woodjin looks happy as a skunk in a whirlwind in every last one of them. I can't rightly see why anyone will care a lick what he's wearing, Katie. They'll only see his smile."
Not surprisingly, Katie teared up at that. But Sean's vision grew a little blurry, too, especially
when Katie took her husband's hand and said, "I knew there was a reason I married you all those years ago, Bill Jenkins. You always do get straight to the heart of things."
We'll be just like them. Startled, Sean looked at Elijah. At times he couldn't tell if a thought was his own or Elijah's, so close had their bond become. Every trace of laughter had vanished from those expressive blue eyes, and this time their silent exchange held a promise far beyond the coming night: