Ambrose paced his room.
It’s too small.
I’m closed in.
She’s forgotten about me.
She’s going to let me starve.
She’s going to let Hildreth take me away.
Why? I haven’t done anything wrong.
Why hasn’t she come down here yet?
I’m hungry. Doesn’t she know that I’m hungry? Doesn’t she even care? Or is she too busy with her darling little niece?
She’s forgotten me.
She’s going to let me starve.
WHERE IS SHE?
He stopped and listened.
Light, hunter footsteps.
He bared his teeth.
If it’s Hildreth…If she’s betrayed me…
The door opened and Elsie came in.
“Well. Look who finally decided to show up.”
“Sorry doesn’t make my hunger go away. Wrist. Now.”
“I said now.”
“What’s wrong with you?”
She walked over to him and offered her wrist.
He grabbed her hand – hard and rough.
“Stop. Ambrose. Look at me. Tell me what’s wrong.”
He looked up at her.
“What? What’s wrong? Please. Ambrose. Just tell me.”
“Tell you. Tell you what? What do I have to tell you? You’re the one who locked me down here.”
“I…It was just a precaution.”
“Oh. Well, that makes it better, doesn’t it?”
“I don’t understand what’s wrong. Please. Stop being so—”
He snarled at her. “You locked me up. You’ve had such an easy life. You don’t know what it’s like to be imprisoned, to have no shelter, to have no idea when or if you’re going to eat ever again. I do.”
She frowned. “I had no intention of neglecting you like that.” Her frown lifted. “You know I wouldn’t neglect you like that.”
“You locked me down here without any warning or explanation. What was I supposed to think? Happy daffodil thoughts?”
“I’m sorry. It may not make that much of a difference to you, but, believe me, I am sorry.”
“Many vampires have said words similar to that. Never stopped you from staking them.”
Her mouth dropped open. “That’s an entirely different set of circumstances.”
“Yeah. I’m sure they were.”
“No. Listen to me. What I did, I did for you.”
“Didn’t feel like it.”
“I want to protect you.” She glanced back at the open door. “My niece has a companion – a gargoyle. He can go invisible at will.” Elsie smiled. “Jane thinks that I can’t see him, but I can.” Her smile fell. “If you hurt my niece, her companion will hurt you. He can hurt you.”
His anger dulled into dour resentment. And you’re just trying to keep me under tight control. “I see.” He rubbed his thumb against the white puncture wounds on her wrist. That is not what I want.
Ambrose looked up at her. “Elsie, I’m going to ask you this only one time. Give me an answer. Will you let me bite your neck?”
She flinched and tried to back away from him, but he still had her hand in his grasp.
“Let me go.”
“Elsie. Tell me.”
“I mean it. No. I will never let you bite my neck.”
He smiled. “I could make you change your mind. I could whisper suggestions inside your head. You’ll hear them and believe that they are your own thoughts. You’ll come to me and yield your life’s blood to me.”
She tried to jerk her hand out of his grip. “You try anything like that and I will stake you.”
“All I want is one small bite. It won’t hurt. I promise. You’ll barely even feel it. You’ll think it’s just a kiss. So soft. So light.”
“And darkness will take me. No. That is not what I want.” She pulled her hand to freedom and ran out of the room. She slammed the door shut and locked it.
He ran to the door and bashed his fists on it. Over and over and over until his hands hurt.
She didn’t unlock the door.
She didn’t return.
He sank into a huddle by the door. “I’m hungry.”