As the dance began, I decided it was time I figured out how James had been doing. I began to look over him intently, looking over his face for worry lines and looking straight into his eyes to see if he could meet my gaze. I'd learned to do this type of face study years ago, and had practiced on James many times. This time however, there was something in his eyes that worried me a little.
"Scrutinizing me again, Bekah?" James asked amusedly.
"Yes." I answered.
"What do you see?" James had gotten used to this staring ritual over the years, really since we were twelve.
"I see that you getting more headstrong and independent and I'm worried you'll go to far." I said frankly. James looked surprised.
"You worry about me?"
"Sometimes. When I see that glint in your eyes, the 'I can do anything I want to' look. Sometimes I think that you going the royal navy wasn't such a good idea."
"Aren't you proud of me?" James looked a little hurt.
"Of course I am. Please don't get me wrong here. I'm just concerned that you're using the Navy as an excuse to sidle out from under your mother's guidance and trying to do everything on your own."
"Well, not everything yet. I still write Mother." James defended himself, but he looked a little guilty.
"Not nearly enough. You really should use this furlough home to draw closer to her. She needs you probably even more than you know."
"I am aware of that. I'm realizing now how hard it is to be the man of a family." We were silent for a little while, each of us thinking. I thinking of James and his family: his mother, brother and two sisters. He was the youngest, his oldest brother had already left home, leaving James to take care of his mother and two sisters. James's father had disappeared at sea when he was very small. Life had never been very easy for the Taavettis after that.
The silence was broken when I shook myself, smiled and said, "I'm not that worried about you. You'll do fine, just keep your mind focused." After that, the conversation changed to lighter topics.