It took him a couple of misstarts and wrong directions, but finally Ambrose had Hildreth dangling over his shoulder.
And he marched forward through the forest to the road through the car-cluttered street. Cars honked. People stared and tried to take pictures.
He ignored them all and kept on going to the forest on the other side.
He didn’t stop.
Until he came upon Laetissa’s body.
Ambrose dropped Hildreth, who landed with a moaned, “uumph.” He approached her – soft and uncertain. She’s lying so still, but maybe. Maybe he was lying. Maybe she isn’t dead. Maybe.
He knelt beside her. “Laetissa?”
Her eyes were fixed at half-mast. Her body lay still. So terribly still.
Ambrose touched her face. “I wish I had a seashell to give to you.” And touched her long white-blonde hair. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have left you.”
He leaned forward and whispered in her ear, “I hope you find Oglithorpe.” He curled his hand into a fist and pressed it against her chest. “Good-bye.”
Ambrose stood, strode over to Hildreth, scooped him up, and continued on his way.
Elsie woke from a dream with a convoluted story line. She opened her eyes and stared into the dark..
She crawled out of bed, grabbed her robe, hurried to her niece’s room, and opened the door.
Jane slept – steady and calm and easy.
It isn’t here. Elsie leaned against the door frame.
She spun around and reached in her sleep shorts pocket for her stake. It wasn’t there.
Ephrem flattened his wings against his back in a submissive gesture. “I was worried about you trying to exert yourself before you were ready.”
She frowned. “I promised you I wouldn’t go hunting.”
“I know.” He opened his hand to reveal her missing stake.
She reclaimed it before he could change his mind. “Something’s wrong.”
“I know. I can hear it in the air.” He frowned. “It sounds like a wrong note being played over and over.”
“What is it?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know, Mistress.”
The doorbell rang.
Elsie and Ephrem exchanged worried looks. “Stay here, Mistress. I’ll take care of it.”
“Take care of what? It can’t be Ambrose. He wouldn’t ring the doorbell.”
The doorbell rang again.
“All the same, I don’t want you to get hurt. Stay, Mistress.”
She said neither yes nor no.
He left anyway.
“One. Two. Three. Four. Five.” She ran down the stairs after him.