“I don’t want to go to the solstice festival.”

Flynn’s complaints fell on deaf ears as Penny fussed over Harvey’s hair.

“If I have to go, you have to go,” Harvey groused.

“It’s only one day of the festival,” Penny added. “Papa and I have to be in attendance; we made almost every dress being worn in the pageant, you know.” She beamed, then pinched Harvey when he tried to touch his hair. “Stop it! You’ll mess it up. Again. Honestly, you two. Both walking around in need of haircuts.”

“I thought it made me look a bit rakish,” Flynn said, touching his own hair as if defending it from Penny’s criticism. She just rolled her eyes. Then she shot him a sly look. “Your little Ivy will be there. Papa just made a dress for her, she came to pick it up just the other day with that shiny sister of hers.”

“She’s not ‘my’ Ivy,” Flynn said. “And I would rather expect her to be there. Her family seems...upstanding.”

“Well she’s going to be in the pageant, based on the dress she picked up. It’s really quite lovely. I’d think you’d like to at least see her in my fine handiwork.”

“Why would you think that?” Flynn grumbled, ears going slightly pink. “Ivy is a friend. And she always looks nice, I don’t see what the big-“

“Ah ha! So you do like her.” Penny pointed a finger at him accusingly.

“I don’t,” Flynn protested. “Uh. I mean, I don’t not like her. She’s nice, and interesting. But it’s not...I don’t...stop looking at me like that.”

Penny was pursing her lips and giving him a very skeptical look. She shook her head. “Come on, Flynn. You have a soft spot for the girl, and I’m fairly certain she likes you.”

“Because I’m a doll?” he asked, smiling slightly. Penny nodded.

“It’s not like it would matter one way or the other,” Flynn insisted. “It’s not like I’m trying to court her. I’m not that naive. I don’t even know how long I’ll be here and anyway girls like Ivy Brownwell don’t associate with dock workers. That they know of. And besides, not to question your infinite wisdom, Penny, but I think you’re off the mark on this one. Ivy doesn’t have any real romantic interest in me. She’s just lonely, I think. And come on, those pompous stuffed shirts that are actually appropriate husband material for someone like her are all boring.”

“Well for both your sakes let’s hope I’m wrong. But I’m not.”

Flynn rolled his eyes but was glad to let the matter drop. Penny finished fixing up Harvey’s hair and then insisted on helping with dinner since according to her Harvey had nearly burned the place down a few too many times.

“I don’t know how he survived before he met me,” she quipped, tying on an apron. She’d taken the plain white one so Harvey was left with the frilly floral print one and Flynn snorted with laughter while Harvey glared daggers at him.

“Was he always such a nuisance?” Penny asked Flynn as she chopped vegetables.

“Actually yes.” Flynn grinned. “He used to go the schoolhouse back in Seahollow, but he was always sneaking in frogs and dead fish to prank the teacher and the other kids. That’s how he wound up being taught by my mom. She homeschooled me, and one day Harvey’s poor dear mother came to the house, dragging him by the ear, and begged my mom to tutor him because the teacher had had enough of his bullshit. Mom agreed, and she set him straight the first week. He was always well behaved when Laura Dawson was around. I think he had a little crush on her even though he was scared of her. I guess that’s Harvey’s way; he likes pretty girls who can also scare him.”

“Oh, you shameless flatterer,” Penny crooned while Harvey rolled his eyes.

“Barf,” he muttered.

“My mom was supposed to be a governess,” Flynn went on. “She came from a poor family but had an aunt who worked at this finishing school. She got mom in so she could learn to read and write and everything else. Mom loved learning, she can’t get her hands on enough books. But the family she was supposed to work for fell through because...because of my family. I assume Harvey has told you about that.”

“That you’re Benedict Radcliffe’s son? Yeah, he mentioned it. Hard to believe. I mean you do look like him; you have those Radcliffe blue eyes. But you’re so much...softer, than anyone in that family.”

“Are you calling me fat?” Flynn feigned indignation and Penny laughed.

“No, you idiot. The Radcliffes are cut all in sharp edges, you know what I mean? Like marble statues that came to life. Violetta gets dresses from us sometimes and that girl may look exactly like an angel but I’ll tell you, that personality of hers could frost the windows during a heat wave.”

Flynn laughed. “You’re probably right about that. Cordelia and Claudia might even be worse. But anyway, Cordelia pretty well ensured that Mom couldn’t get a governess job anywhere near here. She could’ve gone away, I suppose, but this is where her family was. So we moved into a little cottage in Seahollow and she works in a bakery down the street, and I’ve been slinging fish and barrels of pickles and whatever else comes through on the docks since I was thirteen.”

“Until the day our dear Flynn buys his own ship and sails off into the sunset, leaving us peasants behind,” Harvey said.

“I’m closer to a peasant than you are,” Flynn replied dryly. “But I have been saving, for the past decade; for a ship of my own. I understand ships and how trade works, from watching and talking to the merchants that come into the harbor. I think I could carve out a living for myself, if I just had the ship.” Flynn sighed. “It’s a dream, more than anything. The likelihood of it actually happening is slim but I can’t quite let go of it. It seems, sailing where you want. Being your own boss. In charge of your own life. No Radcliffes to worry about, either.”

“And you can bring me extravagant and exotic gifts when you visit,” Harvey said. “I think I’d like a monkey.”

“You are a monkey,” Flynn retorted.

“I think it’s a nice dream,” Penny said. “It’s very romantic. Honestly, Flynn, I’m surprised you’re not married yet.”

“Romantic I may be, Miss Penelope, but I’m also broke, in case you missed that part.”

“A handsome penniless rogue,” Harvey declared, waving a spoon in the air dramatically until Penny took it away and swatted his arm with it.

“So you’ll come with us to the festival tomorrow?” she said to Flynn. She phrased it as a question but the look she gave him said, “I will drag you there if you refuse.”

So Flynn huffed out a breath and shrugged. “Yeah, all right. I’ll go with you.“