Ambrose ran down the hall. His mind raced with panic-laced questions.
What if she’s already gone?
What if she doesn’t want to talk to me?
What if she tells me that I’m too late?
What if she tells me that she doesn’t want to deal with my traumas and dramas?
I want a second chance.
But what if there are no second chances this time?
I hurt her when she needed comfort. She’ll tell me to get lost and she’d be right to do so.
He pulled the glass doors open.
And she was there.
Still there at her desk.
Ambrose hurried over to her. “Barbara.”
She peeked a quick look at him before lowering her gaze.
He walked around to her side of the desk. “Barbara.”
“You shouldn’t be over—”
“I’m sorry.” He went down on one knee.
She turned her seat to face him.
“I’m sorry for biting you, for scaring you, for hurting you, and for not comforting you when you needed it.”
“That’s a lot to be sorry for.”
“But I am.” He bowed his head. “I botched things so badly with Elsie. I can never turn around and make it all right. That time is gone. And so is she.”
“Did you kill her?”
“Not directly. But she was killed because of me.” He raised his head. “Am I too late with you?”
“You hurt me.”
“I offered my blood to you when you needed it and then you turned around and yelled at me and hurt me.”
“I’m sorry. What can I do? How can I make this right? Can I make it right? Can I…” A horrible thought crossed his mind. An easy way out.
Raven’s way out.
He stood quickly and shuddered.
I could do it. Take those memories out of her pretty little head.
But I can’t.
It would disgust me to do that.
I will not violate her mind.
She stood and laid her hand on his arm. “Ambrose. What’s wrong?”
He looked at her. I will never do that to her. No matter what. “If you don’t want me, I’ll understand. I’ll walk away. As I said, as I warned you, I am a monster.”
“Maybe you are.” She smiled. “But I still get that feeling that you’re trying to tell me what to do. Maybe not in direct words. Just in very small parenthesis. ‘If you don’t want me’ meaning ‘You don’t want me’ meaning ‘You should dump me now’. And maybe I should. For all I know, you could be the wife beating sort and I don’t want that kind of drama in my life.”
“So, as I said before, give me three dates, starting tonight. I should know by the end of that third date if I want to go any further.”
“Are you sure about this?”
“As sure as when I let you bite me.”
The phone rang.
She sat down and answered it. “Hello! Thank you for calling Sammy’s Place. Oh. No. This is not Piano Pizza. Sorry! Good-bye!”
“I’m sorry for calling you Elsie.”
She set the phone back into its home base.
“It wasn’t intentional. And it isn’t true.” He went down to her level and laid his hand on the side of her face.
She looked at him and he could see that the hurt was still there. “You aren’t Elsie and I don’t want you to be her. I’m happy with you just being you.”
“Do you mean that?”
He kissed her gently on the forehead. “I do.”