Oubliette nodded, her hat whispering as it brushed the low ceiling of the elevator. Patrice could not have tolerated being in such intimate proximity to a caretaker. She had forsworn dolls as a girl, Bastian had learned, and this fact intensified his feelings for her. She espoused that the caretakers, like dolls, were an affront to the natural order. But, when pressed, Patrice refused to elaborate on what she believed the natural order to be, and her eyes would always look far away.

Bastian almost failed to notice that the elevator had stopped until the doors shuddered open. Oubliette's hand spidered up his back to the space between his shoulders, urging him forward and out.

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