Hildreth ran all the way back to Elsie’s house. Panicky thoughts flurried in his mind, creating deep drifts of panic for him to fall into.
He raced to the front door and tore it open. “Elsie!”
She stepped out of the living room and flew into his arms.
She hugged him with all of her strength.
“Elsie, what’s wrong? What happened? Talk to me.”
“I don’t deserve you.”
“You love me. You’ve been so good and so patient with me.”
His panic spiked higher and higher.
“And I…” She hugged him a little tighter.
“Honey, if you squeeze me any tighter, something’s gonna break.” He stroked her hair.
“When that vampire tried to bite me tonight, I thought about him.”
“I thought about Ambrose. I wanted it to be Ambrose.”
“I don’t even know! Because I’m stupid. Because I’m irrational. Because I’m a horrible ungrateful—”
“Elsie. Just stop.” He kissed the top of her head. “I’m here. I’m right here, Elsie.”
“I know. And it kills me. I have you. I love you. I don’t even want him anymore. I don’t. I swear I don’t. So, why? Why was I thinking about him? Why did I want it to be him? Why, Hildreth?”
“Maybe because…” You still love him. Maybe you still want him. Maybe…He managed a smile. “Maybe it’s low blood sugar.”
“Ha. Very funny.”
“I mean it. Maybe if you go with me to the Casbah Café, that vampire will leave your mind. Maybe it’s me being petty and/or jealous, but he never struck me as a Casbah kind of guy. I always imagined him being more of a McDonald’s. A particularly cheap and tawdry McDonald’s.”
“With roaches scattering all over the floors and fleas in the food.”
“And I suppose the hired help are all motorcycle guys.”
“With guts and tattoos.”
“And greasy long hair?”
“The grease drips constantly into the food.”
“And flies buzz around their heads?”
“Always. Well. When they aren’t marching across the thawed out hamburger meat.”
She looked up at him and grinned. “The flies or the workers?”
He burst out laughing. “Both.”
She lowered her arms.
And his body suddenly felt empty and cold. “Do you have to let go of me?”
Her grin gentled back into a smile. “No.”