Ambrose’s rage died down as night slowly changed into dawn.
He slammed the door one more time, but it was terribly half-hearted. He went to bed and fell asleep.
His last thoughts were of Elsie, but he dreamed of Maria. In his dream, they were together again and he was home and everything was fine. No, better than fine. Everything was perfect. He was happy.
Then, Mark Caten barged into the dreamscape with a matched pair of wooden katanas. He charged towards Maria and slashed her from shoulder to waist. She disappeared. And Elsie took her place.
Mark smiled – an obnoxious, punchable smile – and declared that his job was done. He disappeared into a puddle of well-tailored slime and oozed himself off into the sunset.
Elsie looked at Ambrose with her golden eyes and asked him, “So, what happens now?”
Ambrose startled awake. Due to the lack of windows, the room was still dark. But he knew that it was morning. He could feel the severe energy drag that morning always brought. If he focused hard enough, he’d be able to pinpoint the exact time.
That, however, would have used too much energy that he did not have at the moment. So, he didn’t bother.
He caught wind of her scent: lily of the valley and musk. He scrawled out of bed and stood there, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
The door slammed open. The light switched on.
She rammed into him before he could even lower his hands, knocking him backwards. She pummeled him with a fury that made Ephrem’s rage seem lackluster.
He crumpled to the floor. “Stop. Stop!”
She did not relent.
He growled a German obscenity and tackled her onto her back.
“Get off of—” She head-smacked his face. “—me!”
He snarled. “Stop. Hitting. Me.”
“Why should I? I saw what you did to Jane.”
“Oh. Is that what this is all about? Can’t we discuss this tonight? I’m tired.”
“We’re going to discuss it now.”
“There’s nothing to discuss.”
“You bit her.”
His anger came surging back. He stood. “Fine. We’ll discuss this now.”
She rose to her feet and stood in a fighting stance.
He paced around her. “We’ll discuss how you locked me in this room and in this basement without any food and without any way to get any food and then you let your precious little bon-bon come traipsing down here.”
“Do not call my niece a bon-bon.” She swung an upper-cut at him, which he blocked.
“What was I supposed to do, Elsie?” He stopped in front of her. “I was hungry.”
“You should have left her alone. You should have sent her back upstairs.”
“I WAS HUNGRY!”
“You promised me.”
His low energy overcame his anger, making him wobble. He returned to his bed and sat on the edge. She’s going to send me back. I know she will. He slumped into a slouch.
She broke out of her fighting stance and walked over to him.
He looked up at her. “I didn’t bite her neck. I deserve some credit for that, don’t I?”
“But you did bite her.”
“Because I didn’t know when my next meal was going to be. You left me pretty high and dry, Elsie.”
“I didn’t mean to neglect you.”
“But you did.”
She sat next to him on the bed.
For a few minutes, there was silence between them.
Ambrose admired her – from her profile to her head of slightly frizzed black hair to her long, lean body in her tank top and sleep shorts. Why does there have to be such conflict between us? Why can’t we just be a guy and a girl in love? He wrapped his hand around her left wrist. Because we aren’t just a guy and a girl. I’m a vampire. She’s a hunter. Conflict has to exist between us, but I hate it.
“I’m sorry I didn’t take care of you. I was going to come down last night. I was just waiting for Jane to go to sleep.” She hesitated before continuing. “Caten called.”
“He had a job for me and he needed me to come right away.”
“And so you just had to rush off and leave me hungry. You couldn’t have taken five minutes to satisfy my needs.”
“No, I couldn’t. I may be a hunter, but a vampire bite affects me the same way it affects everyone else. I couldn’t possibly go to a job feeling like that.”
“Then, you should have told Mark Caten to eat bitter lemon pie.”
“I couldn’t do that either. Havaton is my city. It’s my responsibility to protect it and keep it safe from unworldly creatures.”
He laughed – a genuine, surprised laugh. “Do you think I’m unworldly?”
“Not at all.” She smiled. “You’re very worldly.”
“And so I am.” He gently pushed her down on the bed and she didn’t resist. He kissed her all over her face and down to her throat.
Her scent filled his head, thrilling him and overwhelming him. He opened his mouth wide, baring his fangs.
Ambrose stopped. I want. I want. I WANT. But I can’t. I shouldn’t. But…He closed his eyes and let her scent wrap around him.
I’ve been good. I’ve been patient. I’m done with square dances. I want a waltz. I need a tango. Just one. One. One. ONE!
He opened his eyes and kissed her lips one more time.
She ran her fingers through his thick head of hair. “I love you, even if you are terribly worldly.”
“I love you too.” Don’t worry, Elsie. This won’t hurt. He lunged for her throat.
She made a quick move and suddenly Ambrose was lying flat on the floor, wondering how he got there so fast.
She was already in a fighting stance with a stake in each hand. “Jane and Ephrem told me to stake you.”
“So, what’s stopping you?” He walked up to her, crowded into her space. “You want to dance, hunter? I say, let’s dance.”