Ambrose’s dreams were filled with splotches of color and scents he knew. Black licorice and lime. Sandalwood and incense. Semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla beans. Dry wood and raspberry jam. Lily of the valley and heavy musk.
The lily of the valley scent broke out of formation and came to him. It twirled around his arms and circled his chest. It caressed his neck.
Right before it stabbed him in the throat.
Ambrose opened his eyes. His neck pain returned with way too much determination, causing him to start retching all over again.
His body temperature escalated.
His ability to think vanished on him again.
And it was still daytime.
He opened his mouth wide as if he were about to bite someone.
There was no one in the room to bite.
Ambrose dug his claws into the pillow and tore it into shreds. But that small bit of destruction did not satisfy him.
He grabbed the tv remote off the night stand and snapped it in half. He crushed the halves into smithereens and threw it on the floor.
His day exhaustion hit him. He slumped face first into the shredded pillow. Only to get a bunch of duck feathers in his mouth. He spit them out and threw the remaining pillows all the way to the other side of the room. A couple hit the curtain. The rest landed on the foot of the other bed.
He grabbed handfuls of the feathers and flung them on top of the destroyed remote. They drifted down in a lazy fashion.
His stomach clenched up again. He curled into a fetal position as gagging and retching racked his body.
His door buzzed and clicked. Someone pushed it open and entered the room.
Ambrose opened his eyes and stared listlessly at nothing in particular.
He was too warm and too tired and he couldn’t stop gagging.
Someone stopped beside the bed.
Blueberry cream pie.
The hunger tightened its grip on his stomach.
A man’s large hand came to rest on Ambrose’s head. “It’s all right. I’m here.” His hand left his head.
Walking away from him.
Ambrose dug his claws through the stiff cotton sheet straight into the mattress.
The air turned cold as his visitor turned on the air conditioning.
Returning to his side.
His wrist appeared in Ambrose’s line of sight. Ambrose grabbed it and drank long and deep.
The man inhaled a hissed breath.
Ambrose didn’t care. He kept drinking until the hunger subsided.
Then, he fell into a long, sound sleep.
“Your positioning is sloppy. Try again.”
“Too slow. Try again.”
“No think. Fast. Action. Onetwothreefourfive. Fast. Fast. Fast. Onetwothreefourfive. Action. Action. No think. Think is enemy. Think is death. Action wins. Action saves life. Again.”
“Stop. Sit. Rest. Breathe.”
Hildreth was only too glad to do so.
Master Shinowa smiled. “So. I am old Obi-Wan.”
Hildreth startled. “How did you—”
And he got tossed half-way across the room.
“Do not lose focus. Even when catching your breath. Stay alert and you will stay alive.”
“Sit. Rest. Breathe.”
Hidreth sat up.
“You are wrong about me.” Master Shinowa approached him. “I am not Obi-Wan. Young or old.”
Hildreth rose to his feet. “If you say you’re Darth Vader, I won’t believe it. Not one bit.”
“Good.” He launched into a fast-paced attack.
It took all of Hidreth’s focus and determination to keep up with him.
“You block too much. Fight, Mayhew. Find weakness. Find holes in fighting patterns. Every vampire you will face has a fighting pattern. See it. Find it. Exploit it. Focus, Mayhew.”
Onetwothreefourfive.Onetwothreefourfive.Onetwothreefourfive. There aren’t any holes. No weakness. But I don’t want to be thrown across the room again. I will find it. He’s human. He has a weakness. I need to see it.
It’s a whole lot simpler than that.
I need to fight better than him. I need to break him down. Move faster. Hit harder.
I need to throw him across the room.
Hildreth wound up with a foot right in his face. “Get out of your head, Mayhew. No think. Fight.”
“Stop. Sit. Rest. Breathe.”
Hildreth obeyed. “So. You aren’t Obi-Wan. Yoda?”
Master Shinowa laughed. “No. I am Master Sifo-Dyas.”
In a series of fast moves, Hildreth kicked him down to his knees, stood, grabbed him and threw him across the room. “Woo!”
Master Shinowa rolled up to his feet and charged back at him.
Hildreth was ready.