Elsie quietly packed her bags.
Hildreth poked his head in the room. “Hey.”
“Uh-oh. I get the feeling I’m in trouble again.”
She folded her camisole in smooth lines.
“What did I do wrong?”
He came in. “Elsie. What’s wrong?”
She put her camisole in the suitcase and moved on to the next article of clothing.
He laid his hands on her shoulders.
She shrugged them off. “You just blurted it right out there, ‘I intend to marry her.’ You didn’t ask me if I wanted to marry you. You didn’t even consider my feelings. You didn’t—”
“I told him the truth.”
She looked up at the ceiling. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the truth or not. I wanted a proper proposal. I wanted to be shocked and swept off my feet. I wanted a candlelit dinner and soppy violins playing love ballads and you dressed to impress.”
He smiled. “Soppy violins?”
“It’s the romantic cliché, Hildreth. And that’s what I wanted. I didn’t want an offhand remark during a meeting with my master. I wanted it to be this one perfect moment. Just you and just me.”
“I didn’t know what else to say. I mean, how did you want me to answer that question? ‘Yes, we will live apart’? Or did you expect me to move in with you and just be nothing?”
Her shoulders relaxed. “You could never be nothing, Hildreth.”
“I wouldn’t be your husband. There would be no physical or spiritual ties binding us for life. If that vampire decided to show up, you would have no reason to turn him down.” He looked at her with hurt in his eyes. “You would leave me for him and you would be free to do so.”
She turned to face him. “I will never leave you for Ambrose.”
“There is no but. I can’t go back to him and I won’t. He blew it when he left me without saying a decent good-bye. If that’s how he wants to treat me, fine. I have a couple of cold shoulders too.”
He frowned. “So, you want to be with me just to spite him. If that’s—”
“Idiot. I want to be with you because you aren’t Ambrose. I know I can trust you. I love you.” She kissed him.
He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.
When she finally came up for air, he smiled. “So, will you marry me?”
She kissed him again. A light, gentle kiss. “Yes.”