Ambrose cupped her face in between his hands and kissed her. Desire urged him to go further.
Push her down onto the bed. You can overpower her easily.
Take her. Make her completely yours.
It’s what you want.
His heart pounded erratically.
I can’t. I can’t do that to her. I…”You should go.” He lowered his hands and dug his claws into the blanket. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
Barbara didn’t question him. She got off the bed and walked to the door.
He looked down at the blanket and resisted the urge to run after her.
“When are you leaving?”
“Are you sure I can’t come with?”
“I could be moral support, if you need it.”
“I appreciate the offer, but this is something I need to do alone.”
She looked disappointed.
He almost relented.
No. I need to be alone.
“Where is it? Where are you going?”
His heart calmed down. He released the blanket. “Averdeen. It’s a small city near the Michigan-Ohio border.”
“That’s funny. I always thought you were European.”
He smiled. “No. I’m a Michigander. My parents did come from England. Does that count?”
She giggled. “Maybe.”
He got out of bed and approached Barbara. His steps were wobbly and uncertain, but he made it over to her.
“Tsk. You should have stayed in bed.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“I do worry about it. You’re not exactly a ten-paged book that I can Frisbee onto the bed.”
“I mean it. You really should be more careful.”
“Barbara. If I don’t see you before I leave—”
“Don’t even start with that. I will see you off. Whether you like it or not.”
“I love you. I love you so much.”
She smiled. “Then, stop talking and just kiss me already.”
He was only too happy to do so.
Elsie closed her eyes and laid her face against his back.
Neither one spoke.
The only sounds she heard were the falling, clicking rain and his muffled heartbeat.
“We should go.” Hildreth said. “Before my whole head turns into one big icicle.”
“When are you leaving?”
He sighed. “Tonight.”
She released him. “So soon? Why?”
Hildreth turned to her. “I’m eager to get this all done before our wedding.”
“I don’t understand. What’s the rush? Why can’t it wait until after our wedding, after our honeymoon?”
“Because it can’t. I’m sorry, but—”
“I’m coming with you.”
He rolled his head back. “Elsie. Elsie. Give me a break! I hate to be so blunt, but I don’t want you to come with.”
“Oh. I see.” She turned and walked back to the shortcut.
Hildreth hurried after her. Only to slip and fall on the slick bridge.
She returned to him. “I swear. I leave you alone for just one second and you slip and fall and—”
He sat up, rubbing his head.
She knelt in front of him. “Are you all right?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. But—”
“Are you all right?”
He smiled mischievously. “I think any possible concussion will be kept at bay, if you would just kiss me.”
“What? If you’re faking me out, I will punch you until you vomit blood.”
“I’m sure you could. I know you won’t.”
“And you think I’ll kiss you?”
He laid his hands on her puffy-coated shoulders. “I know you will.”
“You’re being very presumptuous.’
“Maybe. Am I wrong?”
“Idiot.” She smiled. “You really are an idiot.” She kissed him with a wild passion that should have melted the ice clumps in his hair.