Ambrose tried to remember getting out of the car and entering the house.
I obviously did it at some point.
He pressed his face into the pillow.
Ambrose tried to remember where he was. A house? A lean-to in a junkyard?
Must be a house.
He sighed and his body relaxed.
But it doesn’t matter. I’m safe.
Ambrose closed his eyes and fell asleep.
Raven closed the door.
His head reeled in irregular patterns like an indecisive Ferris wheel. He spread his hands on the wall and pressed his forehead against it.
I could close my eyes and let my body fall to the ground.
But I cannot.
If I do, if I sleep for only a moment, someone will come and stake him. I cannot let that happen.
If only I could.
If only for a moment
I slept and they died. They all died. My vampires. My friends. Staked and gone forever because of me.
Only my fault. If I had been there, I could have protected them. I could have saved them.
I failed them and they are gone.
I cannot sleep.
I cannot tell him. He would not understand. No. Not would not. Will not. He will not understand.
I will not sleep as long as he is with me.
I will not fail him as I failed them.
The vampire panted as he tried to block Elsie’s blows. “You don’t…You don’t understand.”
“No. More like not interested.” She kicked him in the chest and he fumbled, tumbled to the ground.
Elsie dove at him with her stake in her hand. She raised the weapon to his one vulnerable spot.
The vampire opened his eyes. He grabbed her wrist and pulled it to his mouth.
And for a moment…Just one moment, Elsie saw Ambrose.
His black eyes.
His black hair.
His fangs stabbing into her skin.
She screamed and stabbed him. Over and over and over.
“Elsie!” Hildreth ran to her.
“I hate you! I hate you! You…you…”
“Elsie!” He grabbed her shoulders.
She elbowed Hildreth hard. “Leave me alone! Why can’t you leave me alone? I don’t want you! I don’t want you!” She stabbed the vampire so hard something cracked.
“Elsie. Look at me. Talk to me.”
She stood and started to walk away.
Hildreth ran after her. “Hey!” He grabbed her arm.
She spun around and slapped him. “I told you. I…Oh. Oh, Hildreth.” His hurt expression crushed her. “I’m sorry. I…”
“Elsie, what’s wrong?”
How can I explain that? How can I tell him? I can’t. “Nothing.”
“Do you trust me?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then, talk to me. If you’re hurting, tell me you’re hurting. If you’re scared, just tell me. I won’t think less of you. If there’s something going on, just tell me. Talk to me. Let me know what’s wrong. Don’t lock me out.”
“I just want to go home, Hildreth. I’m tired.”
His mouth turned into a sad line. “I’ll walk you home.”