He looked at his fingers splayed out on the wall.
“Think of it, Ambrose.”
“I am.” I’d be far from her…from Elsie. I wouldn’t hear her voice, see her face, and she would never see me again. Is this what I really want? Yes. I want to forget her. Let her go. Move on with my life.
She’ll forget me. She’ll find someone else to love. Who knows? Maybe she’ll have a fit of stupid and marry Hildreth. He smiled. As if that is even likely. Why would she go from someone like me to that waste of space hunter? I’ve defeated him twice already. First time, I was under the sun’s influence. Pathetic. He can’t even beat a sick vampire.
“I will love you for the rest of our very long lives.”
But, I’m forgetting one small detail.
He lowered his hands. “You’ll love me.”
“Ha!” He turned to face her. “Fey don’t love. They don’t even know what that word means.”
“Maybe I do.”
Ambrose was all set to tell her what he thought about that, but then he caught scent of freshly peeled garlic. “That smell.” He glanced around the room. “I know that smell.” The room was empty of anyone other than Ambrose and Preyuna. “It’s him. Mark Caten.”
He snapped a sharp look at her. “Why is his scent up here? Where is he? Where is he hiding?”
“You’re imagining things.”
“I don’t imagine scents.”
“Then, look around. Do you see any place for him to hide? Do you, vampire?”
He glanced around, desperate to find a crack, an obvious hidden door.
No such luck.
He closed his eyes and tried to sense where the scent was coming from.
The scent thinned and faded and disappeared.
He opened his eyes. “It’s gone now.”
“If it ever was there.”
“It was. Let me out of this room. I need to find him.”
“Ambrose.” Something in her voice touched him, grabbed him, held him captive. “Mark Caten is not worth your anger. So, he wronged you. So, he betrayed you. So, what?”
She curled her hands over his hands. “You’re alive. You’re free. You are no longer anyone’s prisoner.”
“You’re fey. You don’t understand. You can’t understand. Everything that’s gone wrong in my life has gone wrong because of him. It’s his fault. It’s all his fault. I haven’t done anything wrong.” He winced at the memory of holding her head in his hands and smacking it against the floor. “It isn’t my fault. It isn’t. IT ISN’T!” He turned to face the wall again. “Just let me out of here.”
“You’re afraid, Ambrose Smith.”
“I’m hungry. That’s all.”
She tilted her head. “You’re afraid of becoming nothing. You think this anger keeps you alive.”
“It gives me something.” He fell silent for a few minutes before continuing. “It gives me motivation to wake up, to leave my house.”
She appeared in front of him and kissed him – a light, gentle kiss on the lips. “Find new motivation. Find yourself somebody to love.”
His mind raced from Maria to Elsie. He refused to think further back than Maria. “It hurts.”
“Then, do what I do. Find somebody. Don’t love.”
Ambrose didn’t respond to that.
The wall transformed into the crystal curtain.
He started to leave, but she grabbed his arm.
“And Mark Caten?”
He glared at the crystal strings and considered trying to pull them down again.
“Ambrose. What about Mark Caten?”
“That isn’t an answer.”
He smirked. “It is, if you’re asking the right question.”
“Will you leave him alone?”
NO! But…Do I want to do this for the rest of his life? “I don’t know. I need to think about it. I’m hungry. I can’t think on a empty stomach. And I need to think.”
She released his arm.
He left without even saying good-bye.
Preyuna waited. Five. Ten. Fifteen. Twenty minutes.
She smiled and strolled to the back of the room. “All clear.”
She opened her hand and spread it out on the empty air in front of her.
The air shivered and rippled. Mark Caten walked through it. “That took a lot longer than a minute.”
“You know how he is.”
“Oh, I do. Stubborn little brat. What did you find out?”
“He’s in love with a hunter named Elsie Vansing.”
“Elsie? Well, that’s just bad taste. Does she love him?”
“Yes. She chose to heal him instead of kill him.”
He tsked. “I’ll have to do something about that. Can’t have employees who can’t do their job because of looove. Come, cupcake.” He held out his arm and she gladly took it. “I have some questions about becoming King of the Fey.”
“I’ll answer them. As soon as you pay me.”
He laughed. “That’s why I love you.”
“And that’s why you will pay me this time. Or else.”
“Of course, my sweet cupcake.” He led her to the crystal curtain. “Of course.”