The hairs on the back of his neck prickled. “Again?”
“Yes.” She turned into a red fox and seemed to smile. “Again.”
A series of images flashed through his mind: fox, Maria, Mark Caten, then gone. “The amusement park.”
She wagged her tail with a lazy glee. “So, you do remember me. How flattering.”
Ambrose clenched his hands into fists. “How could you leave me?”
She tilted her head.
“You saw that place. You saw the state I was in. You knew that I was a vampire. How could you leave me there?”
She sat and curled her bushy tail around her black-socked legs. “Mark Caten hired me to do a demonstration for a client. I did my job and left.”
He grabbed her by the neck and hauled her up to eye level.
She quickly transformed into her fey shape.
“I had no shelter. No food. No way to find any food. Day after day after day of sunlight sickening me.”
“So, what will you do, Ambrose? Break my neck? Bite me?”
“It is tempting, but it would be a waste of time. You fey are all the same – completely bloodless.” He released her with a shove.
“So? What will you do?”
He smiled. It was not a nice smile. “I’ll go after someone who has plenty of blood flowing through his veins.” He strode towards the curtain of crystals, his mind racing with ideas and plans.
She came over to him and stopped in front of him. “You mean Mark Caten.”
“That question doesn’t deserve an answer.”
“It wasn’t a question.”
“Then, you don’t get an answer.” He tried to push past her, but she blocked him again.
“Why waste your time in so much anger?”
“You’re fey. You would never understand.”
“Try to tell me.”
“Why? Because you’re so handsome.” She trickled her fingers along his neck line to his shoulders. “I do hate to see handsome things become consumed by nonsensical emotions.”
He backed away from her.
“Why waste time with so much anger, such hostility, when you could be free and happy?”
“Free?” He thought of Elsie and the hurt returned. “How can I be free? It won’t stop. It’s always there. She’s always there, waiting to show up, waiting to catch me off guard, waiting to stab me with all of my regrets. How can I be free of something like her?”
“Are you talking about Maria?”
He walked over to the strings of crystals and watched them sparkle. He grabbed handfuls of them and tried to yank them down.
They didn’t come down.
“Arraaghh!” He tugged with all of his strength.
She spoke, but it was not in English. It was a complex blend of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and a long dead language of musical tones.
The strings wriggled and slithered out of his grasp.
He started to reach for them. Only to have them turn into a solid plaster wall.
Her voice rose and fell.
Ambrose dropped his hands. He turned around and stood very still.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and finished the last few words of her fey song. “So. It isn’t Maria. There’s someone else.”
He tried to look away from her, but he couldn’t move his head.
“She’s lovely, as humans go. Black hair. Gold-colored eyes. And fire. Yes, brilliant fire. A hunter.”
“Get out of my head.” His voice was low and soft like the beginning of a growl.
“You loved her, in your own selfish way. She loved you as only humans can. Whole-heartedly.”
“It’s none of your business. Get out.”
“I could turn into her if you wish. And you would believe that I am really her, that I am Elsie Vansing.”
She released his neck.
Ambrose spun around and punched the wall. Over and over until his fury was spent. He spread his hands on the battered wall. Why does it hurt like this? He bowed his head. When will it stop? I want it to stop.
Tears fell unchecked down his face. I want it to stop.
“Look at you. All riled up and tearful. And why?”
“You don’t understand. You will never understand.”
“She isn’t the only woman out there. You’re young, handsome, and unattached.” She stroked his bare ring finger. “Go out into the sea and get your feet wondrously wet. Or—”
He raised his head.
“You could stay with me.”
“What? In here?”
“Silly vampire. This isn’t my home. Come with me, Ambrose, to my realm. There, you’ll be free. You will be my King.”