“I know just the question to start things off with.” Ambrose grinned. “What kind of tree would you be?”
“What kind of tree? Are you kidding? You’re really gonna start with that question?”
“You wanted fluff. Besides, I had to answer it on that stupid questionnaire. Fair’s fair.”
“That’s true. Mm. What kind of tree…I’d love to say that I’d be something impressive like…an oak or a black walnut. I love black walnuts.” She giggled. “But that just isn’t me. I’d be a dwarf pussy willow tree. What about you?”
“I already answered it, but that wasn’t here or now.”
Her eyes sparkled. “Ah-ahh. Don’t dance around the question.”
Ambrose considered it for a few minutes.
The waitress returned. “Here is your hot water, Mr. Smith. Are you two ready to order?”
“I’m not hungry.” said Ambrose.
She dipped her head in a slight bow. “And what about you, Ms. Addleston?”
Barbara looked over the menu one more time.
The waitress looked over Ambrose one more time.
“Oh, I don’t know. What do you recommend?”
“The Tokugama Miracle is by far our best dish. Especially with a side order of…”
As the waitress spieled out her recommendations, Ambrose felt a slight pang. I never did this with Elsie. What if I had? What difference would it have made?
I would have learned so much about her. What she liked. What made her laugh. Her favorite food. Her favorite song. Her favorite memory.
I don’t know any of those things.
He lowered his gaze to his water. And what did she know about me? I’m a vampire and that’s it.
So, why does she still hurt me? Why do I still want her? Is it just stupidheaded lust? Is that all it is?
What about Barbara? What do I feel for her? The usual bloodlust, of course. He raised his gaze as she told the waitress her order.
Barbara beamed a bright smile at him.
But it’s more than that.
The waitress bowed and left.
“I wrote down on the questionnaire that I’d be an oak. Maybe that’s true. But it isn’t. I’d be belladonna. Poisonous and deadly. Your turn.”
“What’s your favorite song?”
“Now, that’s easy. Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen. You?”
“Barking at the Moon by Jenny Lewis. I love that song so much. It makes me both happy and sad. Just laughing through my tears.”
“I know that feeling. Circle of Life from Lion King does that to me. I’m not sure why it affects me like that. Doesn’t even make sense.”
“You like Lion King?”
She giggled. “I can’t even imagine that. What other Disney movies do you like?”
“Beauty and the Beast. Lion King 2. Not Lion King 1 1/2. I hated that one. It was stupid. Cinderella.”
“No, you don’t like Cinderella. That one I don’t believe. You’re just testing my gullibility.”
He laughed. “How could anyone not like it? It’s funny and romantic.”
She covered her ears with her hands and giggled. “Stop! If you keep going on, you’ll have to hand in your vampire card.”
“What? Vampires can’t like Cinderella?”
“No! It’s just too ridiculous.”
“Well. You’ll just have to tell me something equally ridiculous about yourself. Make it fair and even.”
She uncovered her ears. “Mm. Something equally ridiculous. I’ll have to think about it.”
“Ahh-ahh. No dodging, remember?”
The waitress brought Barbara’s meal. “Here’s your Tokugama Miracle, Ms. Addleston. Enjoy.” She bowed and left.
Ambrose took a sip of his water and shook his head. “Could be a little hotter, but I’ll let it go this time around. So?”
She fumbled with her chopsticks. “Apparently, I don’t know how to use these things.” She set them down on her plate.
“There’s a trick to it. You have to balance it just right between your fingers.” Ambrose scooted over to her.
He took her right hand and gently folded it around the first chopstick. “Just slide the other one right in there. Keep your thumb straight. Don’t bend your hand. And—”
She kissed him and it took him by surprise.