Ambrose curled his hands around the hot coffee mug and took a sip.
“Well?” asked Barbara.
“Mmm. Now, that is hot water. So.” He carefully set the mug on the table, but kept his hands around it. “Where do we go from here? I assume I can’t return to my hotel room. I’m sure they’ve gone and rented it to someone else.” He startled. “Wait. My clothes…My stuff…”
“Don’t worry. Sammy sent one of his employees to fetch your things. But he had them dropped off here, for some reason.”
“Good. Could you find me a change of clothes?”
“Uh. What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to take a shower, of course. I need one so bad. I feel like I have things sprouting off my clothes.”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“Will you be all right taking a shower? I mean, by yourself? I mean, with your eyesight being the way that it is?”
A slow smile spread across his face. “Are you blushing?”
“Maybe. But will you be okay?”
“Are you worried I’ll scald myself?”
“No. Not really. I don’t think you’re stupid enough to make that kind of mistake.”
He burst out laughing. “I appreciate your vote of confidence.”
“I’m more worried about you tripping over the bathtub and falling and I’d have to come in and rescue you.”
Her face must be on fire by now. “And?”
“And it would be very awkward and difficult. Trust me. You’re not exactly a newborn kitten. You’re tall and kind of heavy and almost impossible to move when you aren’t conscious.”
“You just called me kind of heavy.” He grinned. “I think I should feel insulted.”
“Don’t be.” Ambrose released his mug. His fingers stretched wide as he fumbled for her touch.
She laid her hand on top of his hand.
He relaxed and turned his gaze to where he thought she was sitting. “Just don’t be.”
If she hadn’t come into my life when she did, where would I be right now? I’d still be stuck on Elsie obsession mode. I know that for certain. And I wouldn’t be happy. Not like I am now. “Promise me you’ll never change.”
She released his hand. Her chair moved back.
Footsteps. All the way over to him.
He raised his head and searched the darkness for one small spot of light. For a moment’s glimpse at her face.
Her scent surrounded him as she kissed him.
A small burst of panic rushed through him. It’s so dark. I might be kissing her. I might be kissing someone else. But no. This is her scent. This is her. This is Barbara.
“I promise.” she whispered.
She’s right there. Right in front of me. After being apart for so long, we’re together again. My lovely, innocent Barbara. “I will never change you. I promise I will never change you.”
She didn’t reply.
What is she thinking? What is she feeling? What is she doing? Why does it have to be so dark? Why now? WHY?
“I’ll grab your change of clothes and I’ll be right back.”
“Wait. Please. Are you mad at me? Did I say something wrong?”
“No! Not at all. I was lost in my thoughts. That’s all.”
“Thoughts.” She paused. “Thoughts about you. And me. And how much I’ve missed this. Talking to you. Being with you. Just…you. I’ve missed you.”
Her simple, honest words choked him up. When I saw Elsie at that dinner gone wrong, she showed no signs of feeling that way. It had been so long since I had seen her and she yelled at me. She slapped me. She made me feel like the worst kind of clodhopping idiot.
But Barbara. She missed me. She missed me as I missed her. And she said it. She missed me. “I’ve missed you too. I’ve missed you so much.” He clumsily rose to his feet. “Can I hold you?”
She didn’t reply.
She hugged him.
And he hugged her.