Ambrose crouched at the edge of the cliff and looked down the cliff wall. He thought about all of the trouble he had climbing up. He imagined doing it in reverse.
It made him just about sick.
“I’ll take the road.” He stood and turned around.
Elsie stood behind him with a stake in each hand.
He moved one foot back—into empty air. His stomach lurched even after he returned his foot to solid ground. “Elsie.” A very small part of his mind saw the impossibility of her being there. He chose to ignore it. “Oh, Elsie.”
She lowered her weapons.
He hugged her and just held her in silence.
There’s so much I want to say, I need to say, but…
He frowned and sniffed her neck.
He released her. “You aren’t Elsie.”
She smiled a little too wide, baring teeth that were all just a little too sharp. “Took you long enough. What do you say? Do you want to pretend a little longer, Ambrosia?”
Ambrose snarled. “You!”
“Yes.” Preyuna turned back into her true form. “Me.”
Police sirens wailed in the distance.
“Hear that, Ambrose? They’re coming for you.”
“Ha. Ha. Ha. Not funny. I’m not a child that you can scare with lies.”
The sirens wailed in big loops as the police cars raced up the cliff’s long and winding road.
“What makes you think I’m lying? I called them, Ambrose, and they responded to my call. I told them that you were out here.”
“Why? I didn’t do anything wrong. I did what I needed to do to survive.”
“You broke Mark Caten.”
“What do you care?” Ambrose smirked. “Is Preyuna, the Queen of the Fey, in love with a rotten-souled human?”
“No. Fey don’t love. We take and we use.”
“So, why do you care about Mark Caten?”
“I don’t care about him. The Fey owe him a debt. As Queen, I must be the one to pay it off by working for him. As soon as my debt is paid off, I will be able to leave this place.”
“Until my debt to Mark Caten is paid off.”
The wails rounded closer and closer.
“But don’t worry about me, Ambrose. They’re coming to take you away. You will never be free again.”
“I’m not going back there.”
She raised the stakes to eye level and pressed a button on the sides. A thin, rusty needle slid upwards in both stakes. The heady scent of rosemary and witch hazel filled the air. “It isn’t your choice.”
The sirens rushed along the road right below him.
I could tackle her. She’d stab me.
I could run past her. She’d stab me.
I can’t climb down the cliff.
And the cops are well on their way.
There’s only one way to escape and I must escape. I can’t stay. I can’t be captured. I can’t go back there ever again. “No.”
The police cars reached the top and stopped. The cops climbed out of their cars and ran towards Ambrose. They all had crossbows.
He smiled and stepped off the cliff.