His hand still held onto her hair.
His breath remained hot against her skin.
His fangs stayed deep inside her neck.
Barbara rubbed her neck over and over as if that action would make the marks or the memory disappear. They hardened under her touch.
She cried softly. What will Ambrose think? What will he do? I could try to hide it from him, but—
She buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
I didn’t want…
I wish Ambrose were here. I want him to hold me in his arms. I want him to kiss away my fears. I want to feel his arms around me. I want to hear his voice. I want…
“Ms. Addleston. You don’t have to fear. If he had changed you, you would know by now.”
“What if it’s a delayed reaction? What…What if…”
“No. You would know without a doubt, Ms. Addleston.” He sighed. “So, I’ve heard.” He waited a moment. “Was Mr. Smith in the vampire exhibit?”
“I don’t know. It was too dark. I didn’t go all the way inside. I don’t…I don’t…”
“I could return and check for you. If you wish so?”
She uncovered her face. “Could you? I can’t go back in there. I…”
“I understand. Stay here, Ms. Addleston. I will return.” He opened the car door and stepped outside.
Just as the whole park went up in flames.
Mark Caten answered his phone. “Caten. What?” His mouth dropped open. “My park…Wide-spread…You blithering idiot! Call the fire department!” He ended his call.
My park. I was so proud of it. I created it from a one sick dragon display to a veritable place of wonderment.
That girl. His expression darkened into a scowl. She had something to do with it. I’m sure of it.
He slammed his phone face down onto his desk. “Guess I’ll have to pay Ambrosia another social call.”
Ambrose leaned his head against the metal bars. He wanted to be furious. He wanted to cry and scream in furious bouts of hurt and rage.
He couldn’t do anything.
He couldn’t feel anything except completely gutted.
“And I can’t…” He exhaled softly. “I can’t go rushing to her side to save her. Even if I found a way to escape, I’d have to run all the way there. I’d never make it in time. I can’t save her. I can’t even try.”
The scent of fresh garlic.
Ambrose raised his head.”What do you want from me?”
“Tell me about this Barbara.”
“Ambrosia, this is not a polite request. It’s a direct order.”
“Then, obey me.”
“Why? You my mother or something?”
“No. I am your god. I get to decide if you live through the night. I get to decide if you get anything to eat. I get to decide if and when you get visited by a particular torture happy hunter.”
“I’m not going to worship you, if that’s what you’re leading up to.”
“Who is she?”
“You’re a pig lard swiller.”
His anger broke through his emotional lockdown. He bashed his fist on the bars.
Mark Caten took a step back.
“Don’t call me that name! It is not my name. I am Ambrose Smith. That is who I am. Ambrosia doesn’t exist.”
“That’s not what I’ve heard.”
“Well, you have faulty hearing. I am Ambrose.”
“Lovely. Back to Barbara.”
“No. I don’t have to tell you anything about her. You don’t deserve to know anything about her. You—” All of his grief and pain broke free of their restraints and took full possession of him.
He opened his mouth and the grief and the pain from everyone he’d ever lost exploded out of him in a loud, gut-wrenched cry.