I wonder if it was okay to leave him alone like that. He might come looking for me and walk face first into a wall. Or he might wander towards the basement and trip and fall down the stairs. Maybe I should have brought him back here with me.
Barbara unfastened the latches on the steamer trunk. “Hm. So much for my vote of confidence in him. Sorry, Ambrose.”
She raised the lid. “Okay! So, what does he need? Underwear, obviously. Slacks. Shirt..Socks? Does he wear socks?” She tried to remember. “I guess I don’t stare at his feet all that much.”
Barbara pulled out a pair of white briefs and set it on the bed. She had no comments – mental or verbal – about them. She just put them on the bed and searched for a decent looking shirt.
She found a white V-neck shirt. Huh? Does he actually wear this? He packed it. So, I guess he must. Unless he’s just really bad at packing a suitcase.
“Sorry, Ambrose. Okay. Slacks…He’s got a pair of blue jeans, black cotton slacks, dress slacks, khaki Bermuda shorts—”
Her eyes widened. “Shorts? What? Why shorts? Wait. He owns a pair of shorts. Does he actually wear them when he’s out hunting?”
The mental image that created appalled her. “That’s just awful.” She put them back in the trunk. Thought about it. And stuffed them in deeper.
Her knuckles bumped against something hard. “What’s this?” She burrowed through the layers of clothes and pulled it out – a narrow wooden box. It was weathered-gray as if it had been outside for a long time.
She sat on the bed. This is something private. I should put it away and pretend I never saw it.
Yep. That’s what I should do.
She unlatched it and raised the lid.
A scattering of antique rings and jeweled pins lay inside. Some of the pieces needed a good cleaning. Others desperately needed new stones to fill in the gaps.
I wonder why he has all of this with him.
A locket lay in a tangled up mess in the far right corner. Tarnished silver with a delicate ivy pattern etched into the metal.
Barbara set the box on the bed and pulled the locket out. Sure enough, the chain really was a tangled up mess.
“Oh, it will take me forever to untangle it. But first.” She dug her fingernails into the sides and pried it open.
A woman’s portrait lay inside. Her face was soft edged and framed by waves of chestnut hair. Her blue eyes were serene as if she were contemplating Heaven. But her mouth was set in a smile that wanted to be a laugh. She wasn’t beautiful, not by modern standards. But there was something extraordinarily appealing about her face.
Barbara’s heart sank.
This woman doesn’t look anything like Ambrose. So, it can’t be a relative. And I doubt it’s just a family friend. “Maybe I’m jumping too far. Maybe it just came with this collection of jewelry from an estate sale or something. Maybe…Maybe she’s nothing to him. Maybe it’s a family heirloom. Maybe…”
She closed the locket. “Maybe I’m overthinking this.” She put it back into the box. “I could ask him, but he would get mad that I was prying in his personal belongings. Searching for clothes is one thing. Opening boxes I have no business opening..Well. That’s completely different.”
She looked at the other jewelry pieces.
All of the rings were thick and heavy – obviously meant for a man to wear. She picked up an old-brass one with a oval centerpiece. A fleur de lis sat in the middle of the oval. The rest of the ring was decorated with what honestly looked like a bunch of small, warped wrenches.
She smiled at it. “I’d love to see this on his finger. I bet it would look just—” Oh. Right. He’s a vampire. What if these are his? Well, obviously they’re his, but what if they’ve always been his? Like, he bought them when they were brand new?
A strange feeling came over her. I’m standing here in the present and he’s standing all the way over there in the past. There’s a large gulf between us. One that neither of us can completely cross. I will always belong to this day and age. And, no matter how hard he tries to cross to my side, small bits and pieces will always keep him bound to his time. Like these rings and that mysterious woman in the locket.
She put the ring back into the box, closed the box, and stuffed it back into the steamer trunk.
And I can’t cross to his side.