Elsie came out of the kitchen. “Oh. Is she gone?”
“Yeah.” said Hildreth.
“I’ve been paranoid about you running back to that vampire and it isn’t fair. Not to you. I should know you by now. I should know that you aren’t going to hunt him down and shout, ‘Take me. I’m all yours.’ Maybe in the beginning, but not now. Too much has changed. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for doubting you. I’m sorry for not trusting you. I swear I will change. I will trust you.”
He gently stroked her hair. “Maybe the fear of losing you will always be there. Maybe that’s just a normal thing when you love someone. But I promise you I will not let my fears own my life. I will not let them come between us and push us apart.”
She smiled in unabashed wonder. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Barbara gave me a lot to think about and I’ve thought about it. I love you so much.”
“Then, stop talking and kiss me.”
He smiled. “I love you, Elsie.”
And then he kissed her.
Ambrose stared listlessly at the cage’s bars. His mind tumbled in unfocused directions. Elsie. Barbara. Dancing. Music. Bon Jovi, for some reason. Not any particular song. Just an image of Bon Jovi posing with his shaggy hair all poofed out and a “Uh-huh.” expression on his face.
Maybe that image was from a cd cover or some car commercial. Ambrose had no idea and not enough interest or energy to figure it out. “Don’t even like Bon Jovi.” he murmured.
He closed his eyes and fell asleep to Bon Jovi singing “You Want To Make A Memory” inside his head.
Ambrose jolted awake from a nightmare full of thunder and lightning and Elsie staking him over and over. He wouldn’t die, so she kept staking him harder and harder until it hurt.
He opened his eyes wide.
He was still in the cage, but he was no longer in the van.
A rusty muzzle covered his face, but his hands were free.
They made it all too easy.
He touched the muzzle and searched for buckles to unfasten.
There were none.
His hands fumbled all over it.
No buckles at all.
He searched for an edge under his chin, a gap somewhere on his head.
He found nothing.
The muzzle was flush against his skin as if it were a natural part of his body.
The more he touched it, the more it felt like his skin and his hair. It was a part of his body.
He shook his head.
This isn’t real.
It can’t real.
I will wake up soon and this will be over.
I’ll be free and this thing won’t be on my face. I’ll be safe in Barbara’s arms.
On the monitor, Ambrose knelt back on his feet and said softly, “It’s only a nightmare.”
Mark Caten watched Ambrose and smiled. “Welcome home, Ambrosia.”