Ambrose regained his senses just as Jane lost consciousness. He gently carried her over to his bed and laid her down.
He crouched beside the bed.
Her breathing was calm and steady.
He tilted his head. “So, what should I do with you, Jane Havelock? I’m no longer hungry. But.” He looked down at the puncture wounds on her arm. They were already two shades lighter than her regular skin color. By the time morning came around, they would be completely white.
Ambrose rubbed his thumb over them. “What will Elsie say?” He frowned. “Elsie shouldn’t have locked me in here. She should have known. It isn’t my fault. It’s Elsie’s fault. It’s your fault, Jane Havelock. You shouldn’t have come down here.”
The door banged open and the overhead light switched on. The scent of wet cement and honeydew melons filled the air.
Ambrose stood and was tackled by a black and gray mottled fury before he could even turn around.
He fell onto the bed, on top of Jane.
The fury yanked him down to the floor and proceeded to pound him.
Ambrose fought back with all of his might, scratching and punching and wrestling. Until, at last, he had his assailant pinned to the floor. He smiled – a decidedly wicked grin. “Looks like you lost, gargoyle.”
Ephrem regarded him with frigid calm. “No. You’ve lost.”
Ambrose laughed. “I don’t think you know what that word means.”
“Mistress Elsie will see what you’ve done. She will kill you.”
“No, she won’t.”
“You’re a blind fool to believe that. I’ve seen them together. I know that she will kill you for hurting Lady Jane.”
Ambrose saw the truth in Ephrem’s words. His smile fell.
Ephrem’s calm thawed into fire. “If you’ve changed Lady Jane, I will make you suffer until you long for death.”
A surge of panic rushed through him as he remembered his days in the exhibit. “I bit her arm and only her arm. Contrary to what you may think, I am not stupid.”
“Then, prove yourself. Let me go. Let me take Lady Jane back upstairs to her room.”
If he takes her upstairs, Elsie will find out that much faster. But if I keep her down here, Elsie will notice that she’s missing. She will look for her. She’ll find her down here.
Either way, I’m going to be staked. I can’t win.
“Fine.” He stood. “Take your lover back upstairs.”
Ephrem rose to his feet. “I am her companion, not her lover.”
Ambrose smirked. “I’m not stupid.”
Ambrose sat on his bed – silent and alone.
Ephrem had left with Jane cradled in his arms and unrestrained concern on his face. And now, Ambrose sat alone with his thoughts.
What if she doesn’t stake me? What if she sends me back? She wouldn’t do that to me. But maybe she would. I don’t know. I don’t know.
He covered his face with his hands and doubled over. I don’t know.
I could leave. He uncovered his face and walked over to the door. Why should I stay here and wait for my punishment? He stuck his fingers in the doorknob hole and pulled the door open.
Ambrose walked through the basement’s darkness. All the way to the top of the stairs.
He tried to turn the doorknob.
It refused to turn.
He tried to kick the doorknob off.
It didn’t fall off.
Ambrose snarled at the door and returned to his room. He slammed the door shut. Only to have it drift open.
Memories of the exhibit intruded into his thinking space. “Rrraaah!” He slammed it again and again and again. “I’m not going back there. I won’t. I won’t!”