Ambrose sat on the edge of his bed.
So many days and nights have come and gone. he thought. I could figure out how many if I try hard enough, but I don’t want to. Because, really? What does it matter? Nothing has changed. I am still a vampire. She is still a vampire hunter.
But something has changed. Something inside of me. I want to see her again and again. And not just for another bite. But what about her? Does she feel the change inside of her as well?
The door opened and Elsie entered the room. She smiled. “You’re looking so much better. I’m glad.”
“Are you?” He stood and strolled over to her. Smooth and easy. His dizziness was gone.
“It’s a strange thing, isn’t it? A contradiction of sorts. You, a vampire hunter, have been taking care of me, a vampire, your sworn enemy.”
“You talk too much.”
“And you’re glad that I’m feeling better.” He intruded into her personal space. “Why is that, Elsie? Tell me. Please.”
“You shouldn’t say please. It doesn’t sound natural.”
“Then, tell me. Why do you care so much?”
“I never said that I cared at all. I—”
“You granted me permission to enter your house. You’ve been sustaining me and healing me with your own blood. Let me know when this sounds like not caring.”
She lowered her gaze as she removed her usual gauntlet. “Are you hungry? I—”
“Elsie. Do you love me?”
She looked up at him, her eyes wide with surprise. “I’m sorry, but…”
“Don’t play shocked.” He smiled. “It doesn’t suit you at all.”
“I’m a vampire hunter. You’re a vampire.”
“Do you love me?”
“We stand on opposite ends of a spectrum. I want to protect lives. You want to take them and ruin them.”
“Don’t waste your breath with what I already know. Tell me what I don’t.”
“I couldn’t possibly love you.”
“Of course. Do you?”
She turned away from him. “I didn’t come down here to have this discussion. I—”
He pulled her hair away from her ear and whispered gently, “Do you love me, Elsie?”
She shivered. “I shouldn’t.”
“I do. It’s stupid and irrational and it just…It just shouldn’t be.”
She looked at him.
“Let it be.” He cupped her face in between his hands and kissed her.
Her gauntlet hit the floor with a heavy clank.
Elsie wrapped her arms around his neck and returned his kiss several times.
She broke away in mid-kiss.
“I didn’t come in here with the intention of confessing my love.”
“I wasn’t even planning to kiss you. I need to tell you something.”
She backed away from him. “I live alone. Right now, we’re the only two people in this entire house.”
He smiled. “That doesn’t sound like a bad thing to me.”
“It isn’t. But what I want to tell you…It isn’t a bad thing either. It’s a good thing.”
“What is it?”
“I have a niece, Jane Havelock. I believe she’s either thirteen or fourteen years old. Her parents are recovering from marital issues. They want some together time. Just him and her. So, they’re sending Jane to me. She’s going to be staying here with me.”
“With us.” His smile grew. “Ahh, fresh blood.”
She slapped his face.
“You will not lay a finger or a fang on her. Is that clear?”
He rubbed his face in silence.
“Ambrose, please. If you love me, please leave my niece alone. I don’t want you to hurt her.”
“Just keep her out of my space and I’ll gladly leave her be.”
“That isn’t much of a promise, but I will hold you to it.”
“I will keep it.”