She startled and hopped off the bed. “I’m sorry. I got distracted. I couldn’t—”
“What’s wrong? You sound…jittery. What happened?” He entered the room as fast as he could. “Where are you?”
She walked over to him and took his hands. “I’m here. I’m right here.”
He stared at some point right above her head and repeated his question, “What’s wrong?”
So, he still can’t see.
“I was just thinking. I think too much. I worry too much.”
“Barbara. What’s wrong? Tell me. Talk to me.”
How can I tell him all of the stuff I’ve been thinking? How can I put it into words that won’t hurt him?
“Please. Have I done something?”
“No. It’s…” She shook her head. How do I start? “I know you’re a vampire. I know you’ve been around so much longer than I have. I’m practically a child compared to you. I guess I…I know this. But I’ve never realized it. I’ve never put that into an actual timeline. Ambrose starts here. I start all the way over here.”
His face turned pale, but he didn’t speak.
“The things you had when you were younger, they’re antiques now. My gosh. I never…I never…”
Ambrose stared heartbreak at that spot above her head. “You think I’m an unholy abomination, don’t you? A monster, perhaps? You don’t want me. You don’t love me. You’re going to let this detail come between us. But I love you. Whether I’m thirty, forty, or over a hundred years old, I love you, Barbara Addleston, in a way that I have never loved anyone before. Not even Elsie.”
“I know. And…” She smiled. “And you’re still trying to tell me what I want and what I don’t want.”
“I want you, you idjit vampire. I love you.”
“But nothing. I just freaked out a little. See, it’s like this: It’s one thing to be told that the man I love is over a hundred years old. It’s a totally separate thing to find proof that he’s over a hundred years old.”
“Proof? What proof?”
I could lie. I could dodge the question. “I found that wooden box in your luggage.”
“And you opened it.”
“Yes. A woman’s curiosity is very powerful thing. And I was very curious. So, yes. I opened it. I saw all of those rings. Are they…Were they yours?”
“Yes. I stopped wearing them a long time ago. They filled my head with too many memories.”
“And the locket?”
“Well. I was never one to wear necklaces.”
“Who was she?”
He glanced around the room.
“Ambrose. Who was she?”
He looked straight at Barbara, startling her. “That was Maria.”