Tin Man/Medical Investigation: Alchemy

Part Twenty-Four
Prompt: Granted

Eva hefted another big volume off the shelf to the table. Looking at the table of contents, it reminded her of the Merck Manual. Not that she had to look at one for her job duties, but she wasn't going to let anyone throw her off with jargon.

Someone was still left in the room and she looked up. It was Dr. Connor's twin, Mr. Cain looking resolved and embarrassed at the same time. "I need to ask you some questions."

"I really don't know anything about Ned Barterman. My protective suit didn't fit and I could barely touch anything."

"Not about that." Cain's ears were turning red as he perched on a nearby chair. "About DG. She was raised on the Other Side and you're closest to her age."

"Okay." She closed the book and waited for the questions.

"I don't know what I'm doing wrong. It's like every time I show romantic interest in her, she runs away. I must be doing something that doesn't match what she grew up with."

The girl had a screw loose if she wasn't accepting romantic gestures from this hunk. "Are you sure she's running away? Or is she playing hard to get?"

"I kissed her this morning and she jumped out of the bed and left the room with a spell." His left hand came up and rubbed his eyes and she saw the silver band on his ring finger. "She shouldn't even know how to teleport yet."

Eva took a deep breath. "Well, Earth comes down hard on women who get entangled with married men. Not nearly as hard on the men, but they don't escape the trash talk either."

Cain's glare was just as hard as Connor's. "My wife is dead. DG was with me when we found her grave."

She was surprisingly relieved she wasn't dealing with an adulterer. "Well, then she's probably waiting for you to take off your wedding ring and declare yourself ready to move on."

"My what?" The glare softened with confusion. She pointed to his left hand, but his expression didn't clear. "What does jewelry have to do with moving?"

"If it's not a wedding ring, you're wearing it on the finger reserved for one. During the wedding ceremony, when you exchange vows with your wife, you also exchange rings as a symbol of your union and your vows and a hands off sign to everyone else. Did you have a Vegas wedding and not remember that part?"

"I don't know what Vegas wedding means." He held up his hand to stop her explanation. "Everybody does this wedding ring on the Other Side?"

"It's practically granted in America, along with diamond engagement rings. Course, there's always a few people who don't believe in traditions like that."

"You have an obsession with jewelry," he snapped. "What's the point of taking it off to move?"

"Moving on to a new relationship. If your partner dies or you divorce, you take your wedding ring off when you're ready to date again." A little nagging detail finally clicked in her brain, and Eva reared back. "The boss took his off. He called Natalie Natalie instead of Dr. Durant to all of you people and he took his wedding ring off!" Cain looked confused over her enthusiasm. "Perfect example to fall into my lap. Dr. Connor is divorced. His marriage to Jack's mother is over. But he hadn't taken off his wedding ring until after I left for Neverdale, probably because he wasn't ready to deal with just how much Natalie means to himó"

"Stop, please." Cain held up his hand again. "So you think DG is waiting for me to take off this ring and because I haven't, I must not want to get married again?"

"Either that or she's into girls." He got up abruptly and strode to the door. He did remember to say "thank you" before he left the library. Eva shrugged and looked down at the book. "Okay, I need at least one disease before I can go find out what is up with the Boss and Natalie." She opened it back to the table of contents. "Coughing illnesses, probably the best place to start."

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