Ambrose glanced at Laetissa. “I’ve never seen a changed hunter before. Tell me. Do you still have hunter tendencies?”
“I’m a vampire now. Not a hunter. Just a vampire.” She shuddered. “Look at me! Look! Look! Look! I’m a vampire, not a—”
“Answer my question.”
“I would, but I don’t know.”
“Fine. I’ll rephrase it: Do you want to stake me?”
“No, but yes, but I’m not a hunter. I don’t hunt vampires. I…” Her voice broke. “Why did he change me? Why me? Why? I trusted him. I trusted him.” She let out a keening wail.
He frowned. If I had changed Elsie, would she have turned broken like Laetissa here? What would I have done if she had? Would I have faced up to my mistake? No. Not likely. I know how I am. So, then. Would I have thrown her into another dimension?
He thought about Elsie. No. I would never do such a heartless thing to her. So? What would I have done? Stake her? Yeah, right. I can’t even touch those things.
So, why can she?
“You staked that woman back there. How? All vampires have a natural revulsion for stakes.”
“Because it’s mine. It’s precious to me. Oglithorpe carved it for me the day I became an official hunter. It’s so lovely. I had to keep it, even after I was changed. It’s so lovely. Precious. Beloved. Darling. Dear. And you can’t take it from me.”
“All the same, you shouldn’t be able to touch it.”
“IT’S MINE! ONLY MINE! DON’T TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME! DON’T EVER TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME!”
“Fine. I won’t take it away from you.” He scoffed. “As if I would.”
“Good.” She relaxed. “Do you suppose my house is far from here? I hope it isn’t. If it is far away, what will I do?”
“Avoid hunters. Avoid sunlight. Have at least one meal a day. And go home. That’s my plan anyway.”
“Oh. Do you know where your home is?”
“Of course, I do.”
“Is it far from here?”
He looked off into the distance. “Probably.”
“Oh. So, you don’t know where it is.”
Ambrose glared at her. “I know you should—”
“Can I go home with you?”
“I’m scared. What if my home is gone? What if some vagrant moved in and threw out all of my seashells?” She bowed her head. “What if Oglithorpe is gone?”
“You won’t know until you go back.”
“But then I would know and I wouldn’t know what to do.” She grabbed his arm. “Please, Ambrose. Let me come home with you. I won’t get in your way. I’ll split my catches with you. I’ll—”
Ambrose snapped to attention as he caught wind of a familiar scent: dry wood and raspberry jam. “Hildreth.” He grabbed her wrist and ran.