Eschia was gone by the time Ambrose came down the stairs. And that was just fine as far as he was concerned.
He didn’t want to talk and he certainly didn’t want to talk to her.
I need something to eat.
He thought about the city down, all the way down, Mark Caten’s personal cliff.
He thought about climbing down that cliff while hungry.
I need something to eat right now.
He left the staircase room and literally bumped into one of Mark’s servants. Her load of folded towels fell to the floor.
“Oww!” She dropped to her knees and started to pick up them up.
Ambrose crouched beside her. Her scent was a lovely combination of sweet bananas and apples. His stomach growled. “I’m so sorry, miss.”
“Ow, it’s nothing. Just the master will be so mad when I have to—”
He laid his hands on top of hers.
I should bite her now. Now. NOW! He smiled. “Don’t worry about the master right now. And don’t worry about those towels.”
She looked up at him.
“Come with me.”
“Just for a few minutes,” He slid his hands up to her wrists. “let’s do what we want to do. No orders. No commands. Just you.” His smile grew. “Just me.”
Her plain face brightened. “Ow, okay.” She glanced around. “Let’s go in the ballroom. No one’s in there right now.”
I’d rather sink my fangs into Mark Caten’s neck. Ambrose stood and helped her up. He kissed her knuckles. “I’ll let you lead the way.”
But she’ll do just fine.
She giggled. “Follow me, then.”
Ambrose returned to his senses and his breathing returned to normal.
She lay limp in his arms with a pair of whitening puncture wounds on her neck.
I never even asked for her name. I just took what I wanted. He laid her on the well-polished floor and knelt beside her. Laetissa was right. Vampires take and take and take. But humans take too. They take and they wound and they destroy.
He raised his head and listened.
Heavy, clumpy footsteps.
“Anne, girl! Where are you, ya lazy girl?”
A door opened and slammed shut.
“Can’t believe you left all that clean stuff all over the floor.”
Footsteps coming closer.
Ambrose widened his eyes. He saw a heavily curtained window straight ahead.
“Anne, you get your tail out here right now.” She turned the doorknob.
He ran to the window and tried to push the curtain open. It was heavy and thick and almost impossible to move.
The door opened.
He snarled and yanked the right side of the curtain down, revealing a stained glass window covered with abstract red and blue swirls. The moon shined through, coloring Ambrose a rich shade of red.
“Oi!” She turned the chandelier on. “What…” And she screamed. “Anne!”
Ambrose searched the window for a latch or a lever or some way to open it.
There was no way to open it.
He swore in fluent French.
“Oi! You! Don’t you go anywhere.” She ran to the door, calling out, “Help! Murder! Murder!”
Ambrose body slammed the window with all of his strength. The glass shattered.
Only to reveal the steel reinforcement bars. There was no way around them or through them.
I could tear them apart, but that would take too long. There’s only one way to escape.
“There he is! Get him!”
I don’t have a choice. He turned and watched the lot charge towards him.
None of them looked like hunters or professional fighters.
None of them had weapons.
He smiled and rushed into the fray: breaking necks, cracking skulls, slashing throats, and relishing every minute of it.
The lead servant, a bossy looking woman with a ruddy complexion, fled the scene as he killed the last three. One, two, three they fell.
Ambrose stood alone amongst the carnage with blood streaked hands. And he felt a strange sort of peace.
He licked the blood off his fingernails, slowly and deliberately, and tried to make sense of his peaceful feelings.
The scent of overwhelming garlic alerted him to Mark Caten’s presence before the other man could say a word.
Ambrose lowered his hand and started on the other one.
“Ambrosia.” Mark Caten stumbled into the room. “What have you done?” His voice was barely above a whisper.
Ambrose stopped in mid-lick. He looked over at his former employer. “I don’t think that question merits an answer.”
The shock on Mark’s face made Ambrose laugh. “Well, look at you all shocked. You didn’t expect this. You didn’t expect me to do this to you. Am I right?”
“We had an understanding.” Mark raised his voice. “You and I had an understanding. My house servants are not to be touched by your filthy hands.”
“Yes. You’re right. We had an understanding. Had. You broke it first by sending Maria away.”
Mark scoffed. “You and that ghost. I don’t know what you saw in her. She wasn’t even pretty.”
“Under normal circumstances, I’d tear your head off for making such a statement. But you’re lucky, Mark Caten. I’m in a wonderful mood right now. I’m going to spare your life. Aren’t you the lucky one?” Ambrose strolled over to him.
“I will send my armed guards to your house in the morning. They will come and take you back to the amusement park.”
Ambrose’s smile fell.
“You’ll be muzzled 24/7. I’ll make sure of it. You’ll never be free and you will never feed. Oh, and I intend to have your beloved Elsie killed.”
Ambrose punched him, cracking his jaw.
Mark clutched his mouth and moaned.
He grabbed Mark’s hair and pulled his head back. “Listen to me. You will not send me back to that place. You will forget all about it. You will leave me alone.” He tightened his grip. “And you will stay away from Elsie. You will not hurt her. You will not have her killed. You will leave her alone. Is that clear?”
Mark moaned a vague affirmative.
Ambrose smiled. “Then, we’re done here.” He released him. “Don’t worry, Mark. I won’t be coming back here again. You and I are just about even.” He walked to the doorway. “Have fun living with the survivor’s guilt.”
And he left.