Hildreth’s mind very quietly went KA-BOOM. “Ambrose. Smith. Your…You…”
She’s the one who was kissing Ambrose? She’s the one Elsie got all fired up about? Her? Really? Ambrose went from Elsie to her? Really? She seems nice and affable and she is pretty, but…Really?
He cleared his throat. “I..uhh…” He looked down at his empty hands. “My towel. I was…umm…Yeah. I’ll be right back.”
He fled into the bathroom, closed the door, and locked it. Why did she have to come here? Why did she have to ask me?
Elsie won’t help her. I know she won’t. Which means I’ll have to help her and I don’t want to help her.
No. Not her.
I don’t want to help him.
If someone’s dragging Ambrose into the tenth level of Hell, okay. Fine. They’re welcome to it. But how can I tell her that?
She needs help.
What kind of help?
Does she expect me to actively go in and rescue him? I hope not.
If not, well. What other kind of help would she need?
She knocked on the door, making him jump.
“Are you okay in there?”
“Uhh, I…” He found his towel lying on the floor. “Uhh.” He tossed it into the bathtub and grabbed another towel. “I’ll be out in a minute.”
“Oh. Sorry. I’ll let you do your business.”
“But I’m not…” He shook his head. I’ll let her think that. It will give me some time to figure this whole thing out.
He got the towel wet with soap and water. No. I’m not going to worry about this. I’ll just play it by ear.
He rubbed the soapy towel on his wounds and winced. We’ll see what happens.
Barbara settled down in a wide-set leather armchair. It feels wrong to sit here doing nothing while Ambrose is being dragged of to points unknown. But what else can I do at this point? I don’t know where they’re taking him. Elsie does.
I just need her to tell me where the amusement park is at. Sammy and I can take it from there.
She leaned her head back. Hm. I sure hope he has a shirt on when he comes back out here. That was so many levels of awkward.
The front door opened.
Two women came in, bustling with packages and happy talk.
“Are you sure? It was expensive.”
“Elsie. Elsie. Elsie. You only get married once.”
Barbara suddenly felt like the intruder that she was. She pulled her feet up on the chair, hoping to be somewhat invisible.
“Unless your husband dies and you meet hot eligible bachelor #2.”
They loitered far too long in the foyer.
I haven’t really thought this part through. I want to talk to her, but she won’t appreciate the fact that I snuck into her house when she wasn’t home. It’s a total creeper thing to do.
Ah! I know. I’ll just play invisible until they go upstairs and then I’ll sneak out through the front door and—-
Elsie’s mother strolled into the living room. “I’ve tried so hard to find a hot eligible bachelor #2 for myself, but…” She stopped in front of Barbara’s chair. “Oh.”
Barbara stopped breathing.
Elsie drifted out of Barbara’s line of view with her armful of packages.
“Hello.” said Elsie’s mother.
Elsie returned to the foyer without the packages. “Mom? What’s wrong?”
Barbara wanted to go completely invisible.
“We seem to have a…Oh, I don’t know. Should I call you a guest, young lady?”
“What?” Elsie came over to her mother’s side. She glared at Barbara. “You. What are you doing here?”
“Umm. I needed to talk to you.”
“Oh, really? I thought you said enough last time.”
“Well. So did I, but—”
Hildreth chose that moment to come out of the bathroom, still shirtless. “Okay, Barbara. I…Oh. Elsie. You came back earlier than I’d expected.”
She looked from Barbara to Hildreth. “Mother. Is my training room still in the basement?”
“You haven’t dismantled it?”
Hildreth stepped forward. “Elsie.”
“Good. If you’ll excuse me.”