Elsie dozed off as Hildreth drove them back to Havaton.
And she dreamed.
The car had stopped in the middle of the road. All four doors were wide open and Hildreth was gone.
She got out of the car and walked in front of it.
All four doors slammed shut.
She turned and looked back.
Ambrose was in the driver’s seat. He smiled, baring his fangs, and revved the engine. “This is what you get for dumping me.”
The car sped forward and there was nothing she could do.
But wake up.
She woke up to the radio blasting a Dixie Chicks song. Something about a dove that won a brand new shoo-shoo peach pie. Maybe she was just tired, but it just didn’t make any sense to her.
Hildreth sang along to it, hopelessly off pitch. He tapped his hands on the steering wheel in time with the tambourine, but he kept missing the beat.
She sighed happily.
He glanced at her. “You okay?”
She looked up at his face. Words and feelings filled her mind. She longed to express them, but it was all too much. She curled her arm around his arm and leaned her head against him. “Yes. Oh, yes.”
He smiled and kissed the top of her head.
“Can we stay like this forever?” she said softly. “Just you and me. Just…” Tears fell from her eyes.
“I’m so happy. I don’t…” She tightened her grip on him. “I’m scared that something will go wrong. You’ll stop loving me. You won’t want me. You’ll—”
He stopped the car. “Elsie. I don’t know where all of this fear is coming from, but I love you. Oh, I love you. It’s cliché and some may say it isn’t possible, but I have loved you from the moment I first saw you. I didn’t know it then, of course. I do now. Look at me.”
She raised her head.
His expression was all gentleness and love. “If you asked me to, I’d drive you all the way to a Las Vegas wedding chapel and get married tonight. Or—”
He thought about it for a minute.
“–whenever we got there. But I know that isn’t what you want. You want a wedding gown with a fabulous mile-long train, a church with a heavenly choir, priest, bridesmaids, groomsmen, relatives, friends, reception. The whole thing. I can’t blame you. I want it too. With the exception of the wedding gown and train. I’d look a whole lot better in a black tuxedo.”
He gently wiped away her tears. “I’ve never been married before. But I know I don’t want it to feel like a Saturday night fling. I want it to feel like forever’s just about to start in the most beautiful way possible.”
“I love you.” He kissed her.
She unbuckled her seat belt and pushed him up against the door, which accidently sprang open, which sent them tumbling on out into the street.
She landed on top of him.
“Ughff. You’re not nearly as light as you look.”
“Muscles.” She sat up. “Are you all right? Does your head hurt? Do you feel dizzy or sick?”
He smiled in a dazed sort of way. “Elsie.”
“Do you feel delirious or—”
“Elsie. You’re worried about me.”
“Of course, I am. You might have a concussion or a broken—”
He sat up and kissed her again. “I love you, Elsie Vansing. I love you.”
“I love you too. But hand over your keys.”
“I’m going to drive you to the hospital. Just to make sure you’re okay.”