Ambrose knelt beside Elsie’s bed as she slept.
Her long black hair stretched wild and free across her pillow. Her black eyelashes lay soft – top against bottom. Her eyebrows calm. Her lips peace.
Her wrists were bare.
He gently turned her left wrist to reveal the white puncture wounds in her skin. His stomach hurt with hunger at the sight of those wounds.
I could bite her now. Just one small bite. I wouldn’t take that much blood. Just a small sampling. She’ll never miss it. She’ll never even know that I did it. Just one small bite. Just one. Just one. Just…
He sat back on his heels. How long can we go on like this? How many times will I be forced to square dance when I’d rather waltz?
Ambrose rose to his feet and stroked the long line of her neck with his index finger. All I want is one waltz. One sumptuous, delicious waltz.
She startled awake and quickly sat up. “What are you doing here?”
She curled her hand around her throat.
Ambrose smiled, but really it was more like a wince. He took hold of her left hand. “May I?”
Elsie relaxed. “Of course.”
He bared his fangs and lowered his open mouth to her skin.
Ambrose raised his head.
The soft, familiar tread of a hunter.
“What’s wrong?” asked Elsie.
Approaching the door.
He looked at her. “We are not alone.”
The bedroom door slammed open.
A man stood in the doorway.
A man in a black raincoat holding a large, silver crossbow.
Despite the fact that he had been in a fuzzy state of mind last time they met, Ambrose recognized him.
“I found you, vampire.”
Ambrose looked at Elsie. His gaze traveled all over her face, as if he were trying to memorize every detail.
She climbed out of bed and walked over to the other man in just her spaghetti strapped tank top and white sleep shorts. Her hair was a glorious vision of messiness.
“Don’t worry, miss. I will not let that creature harm you.”
“And who do you think you are to come barging into my house in the middle of the night?”
“What? I’m here to save you.”
“Do I look like I need saving?”
“What? That vampire…He was…”
“Yes, he was, but it’s fine. You may go away now.”
His confusion showed plain on his face. “He’s going to turn you into one of his kind. How is that anywhere near fine?”
“He will do no such thing. He and I…have an understanding.”
He shook his head. “Vampires understand only one thing: satisfying their blood lust. Don’t fool yourself into thinking otherwise.”
“I am not a fool. I am Elsie Vansing.”
Recognition lit up his face. “I’ve heard of you. I never thought I’d meet you. I’m Hildreth Mayhew. I’m a vampire hunter too. But I guess you already figured that part out. It’s an honor to finally meet you.”
She smiled. “Thank you for the compliments and for your gallant attempt to save my life, but trust me. I have this situation under tight control.”
Ambrose frowned. Situation under tight control. Is that all that I am to her? A situation to be controlled? His frown deepened. A fool to be kept at a distance in a child’s square dance. I thought she loved me.
“But I can’t leave you like this.” He gave Ambrose an unfavorable look. “With that. Let me take him away.”
Her smile fell. “Take him where? Back to that ungodly place? No. I can’t allow that.”
“Why not? He’s just a vampire.”
“It’s complicated, Hildreth. Please just leave him alone. Go. I’ll be fine.”
Ambrose walked over to Elsie and wrapped his arm around her waist. “Yes, Hildreth. You heard the lady. Go away.” He smiled and it was not a kind smile. “You aren’t wanted here.”
He pointed his weapon at Ambrose.
“Hildreth.” Her voice was a sharp command. “Lower your weapon and leave.”
“If I don’t take him away, you’ll regret it.”
“I’ll regret it more if you do.”
Hildreth lowered his crossbow. “Are you in love with him?”
“That is my business, sir. Not yours.”
He brought his weapon all the way down to his side. “You’ll be sorry. Mark my words, Elsie.”
“Consider them marked. Now, go.”
He gave her a lingering look before leaving the room.
She sighed. “Now, where were we?”
Ambrose released her. “Elsie.”
She looked up at him. “What’s wrong?”
“Do you love me?”
“I haven’t killed you yet, have I? I didn’t let him take you away, did I?”
She smiled. “Then, you have your answer.”
“That isn’t the answer I want.”
Her smile fell. “I don’t understand.”
“I want to know if you love me. I want you to say it out loud. Three words. That’s all that I’m asking for, Elsie. Am I asking for too much? Am I?”
“What’s gotten into you?”
“I want to know. I want to hear it. I want to believe it.”
“Ambrose. You are the most idiotic vampire I’ve ever met.” She kissed him. And it was not a polite, “lovely to meet you” kiss. He returned her kiss with a passion.
It took them a while to finally stop.
She looked into his black eyes and whispered, “I love you, Ambrose.”
He kissed her again – a light feather of a kiss. “I love you too.”
“Are you still hungry?”
He looked at her neck. So pristine and unmarked. “Yes.”
“Very well.” She offered him her wrist.
He looked at her face. Another square dance. Still under tight control.
He managed a smile. “Nothing. Just…hungry.” He sank his fangs into her wrist. Her blood filled his mouth – warm, comforting, filling.
But I want more than that. was his last thought before he fell into his blood high.