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Contented, he sat at the dinner table, empty seats surrounding him. He barely listened to the dull conversation of the others as it droned on around him. The mother and daughter worked around him, one on the kitchen side of the room making a salad, while the other set the table at which he sat. The younger woman had gone around the table once with the silverware, now she made a second turn with glassware.

This house always had imaginative table settings. He had to give them that. Too colorful for his taste but entertaining to say the least. This setting was no exception. The garish hues of yellow and orange would compete with the natural colors of the food. He almost winced when that thought came to mind. When it came to plate ware, as well as everything else, the neutrals of black and white were best. It was unfortunate everyone didn't have good taste.

He frowned as he reached up to his place setting and straightened the fork that lay on a yellow napkin. For all the years he had known this family, been a part of it, he never remembered them properly setting the table, not even once.  At least the silver tines are glistening.

"But Mom, I called her again. She's at work."

Even his spoon was tilted, not a lot, just a bit. A small push in the right direction took care of it.

"Well then, we need to figure out who else to call."

His eyes drifted to the neighbor's place setting. The knife was tilted. It sat on the orange napkin crossing the spoon next to it at its tip. Putting his fingers to the bottom of the knife, he made the slight adjustment, so it was perfectly perpendicular to the plate.

Azurine turned to her husband as he came into the kitchen, her eyebrows creased. "Mike, Sunny's been gone too long. Sierra called Kelly but she's at work. We tried her other friends. I don't know what else to do."

Mike leaned back against the counter. "You're sure you tried everyone?"

Once she was done with placing the silverware, Sierra added the glasses to the table. Worried about her sister, she hastily put the yellow-tinted cups on the table. She slammed it down directly across from him at the top of his plate, not just above the knife, as it should be. A sigh escaped him as he eyed it. Come on, people, can you just try a little?

Before he was able to get his hand on the glass, Sierra moved it to what she thought was its proper spot. She smiled apologetically and said, "I'm sorry, Uncle Devon, I know you like everything arranged properly."

"It's fine, dear," Deven said, his tone kind as he instantly forgave her. "I know I can be a bit troublesome. At least, that's what your Aunt Clare tells me."

"You're no bother and you know it," Sierra said as she hugged him and giggled. "You're my favorite uncle."

Devon warmed, as he did only in the presence of his nieces. The stiffness that was part of his bearing loosening enough for him to show his good humor. It was a joke between him and the girls. Married to Claire, Azurine's only sibling, he was their only uncle.

Devon eyed Sierra as she walked off, making sure she wouldn't catch him as he moved the cup to just the right spot. He shook his head at himself, Sierra and Sonora were his one, no two, weaknesses. His eyes scanned the room, the others he could take or leave, but those two he loved as if they were his own children. 

He smoothed a hand over his hair in case it had ruffled during the hug. Even when they were children, Devon could brave their sticky, messy attentions with a smile. A true sign of his affection, he'd always thought.

"We are going to have to call the police," Mike said to his wife.

Devon's already good posture, got even better as he straightened even higher. He didn't want police anywhere near him or his projects.

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