Ambrose followed her around to the front side of the house, through the front door, and into the foyer. He glanced around at the lavish décor. Gold leafing. Mahogany. Dense velvet. So much money on display.
But it was all very precise and fastidious. Everything sat or hung in their rightful place. Nothing dared to be out of order. No rumpled carpets. No dust. No burned out lightbulbs. No dirty footprints.
It all feels so artificial. Like a house that is meant to be walked through, but not lived in.
She stopped in the middle of the foyer and looked at him, as if waiting for directions.
“Take me to Mark Caten.”
“Mark is not here.”
Ambrose gaped. “What?”
“He is away on business. You may leave a message with me, if you should so desire.”
If I should so desire. But I’m hungry! He walked over to an onyx hall table and picked up the vase sitting on it.
It was an ivory Lladro with a cream-colored dragon curled around it.
It was beautiful.
It was rare – one of five ever made.
It was priceless beyond all imagining.
Ambrose tightened his grip on it. I went through all of that trouble for nothing. His stomach growled. FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! He let out a murderous yell and smashed the vase repeatedly against the table.
It popped and splintered and shattered into many unfixable bits.
She blinked. “You broke it.”
He stepped hard on the pieces, pulverizing them. When I find him, I will kill him. I’ll bite him, drain him of his blood, and I will kill him. He smiled. Now that I have access to his house, I can come and go when I wish. And I will come. “When will he return?”
“You broke his vase.” That glazed over expression left her face. “He will be very angry.”
“Good. He can join my club of angry.”
Her irises turned white.
“So. You’re a fey.”
“Yes. And I lied to you. Mark is here. Follow me and I will take you to him.”
“You think I’m stupid, don’t you? I know an obvious trap and this is an obvious trap.”
Her hands transformed into large, dangerous claws. “I speak the truth. Come with me, Ambrose Smith.”
“Why? Why would you—”
Red and black spotted wings sprouted out of her back. “Come, Ambrose Smith. I know you. I know you want your revenge for Maria.”
He shook his head. “This is about so much more than just Maria. He betrayed me. He imprisoned me. For no reason. I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t know…I don’t understand what I did to deserve such a cruel punishment.” He resisted his natural inclination to think of Elsie.
“Come with me, Ambrose Smith, and you will find out.”
“How can I trust you? You belong to him.”
“I am Eschia of the Brittle Woods. I don’t belong to any human.” She held out her clawed hands. “Come with me, Ambrose Smith.”
“Did you come up here only to give in to fear? If so, you might as well leave.”
“If this is a trap—”
“Can I trust you?”
She smiled. “I am fey.”
“And I am a vampire. Know this, Eschia of the Brittle Woods, if this is a trap and I’m dragged back to that place, I will escape. I will come back here. I will kill you.”
“I know. Will you follow me?”
He looked at her outstretched hands, at her long claws. Their dark brown color made him think of stakes. I am not touching that. “Lead on.”