“I am sorry, Ms. Addleston.”
She bowed her head.
“At that time. At that moment, I thought it was the best thing to do. He was ill and injured, Ms. Addleston. My blood could heal him.”
“But you knew.”
“Yes. I knew the consequences. What else could I have done? He was ill. He was hungry. He was in no state, physical or mental, to go hunting. What I did needed to be done.”
She smoothed the creases in her skirt.
He struggled to keep his emotions squashed down.”He promised me that he would not return until he knew he was safe.”
She looked up at him. “Why didn’t either of you tell me? What did you think I would do? Go running after him?”
His heart raced. He walked to the other side of the room.
Need to get away from her. I don’t want to hurt her.
She rose from her seat and came over to him.
“Ms. Addleston. Please. Sit down. All the way over there. Sit. Please.”
“Just tell me why.”
He clenched and unclenched his hands. Think calm. Think peace. Flowers and sunshine. Pink. Blue. White. Clean white.
“Sammy. Why didn’t you tell me?”
calm. calm. flowers and sunshine. blue skies and sunshine. picnics and sunshine. kittens frolicking in the grass. pyjamas. puppies. bunnies. pumpkins. berries in cold water. sunshine. still water. cool breeze on open wings. His heart rate calmed down. “I didn’t want to worry you and I’m certain Mr. Smith felt the same as I. He will return.”
“I know. But what if he isn’t the same? What will I do, Sammy?”
The easy answer was there inside his head.
But if she were to reject me…”I am here, Ms. Addleston.”
She widened her eyes in surprise.
“If you need someone to talk to. If you need a shoulder to cry on, I am here.”
“Oh. Of course.” She smiled. “Thank you, Sammy.”
“It is my pleasure.”
Ambrose licked the blueberry cream pie scent off his lips.
“Barbara.” He reached for that thought and struggled to make sense of it. But his mind was still not working right. Thoughts did not come easily and a small part of him knew that they should come easily, like breathing or smiling. Easy and natural.
He sat up and fell into a coughing fit. The coughs were weak and shallow, but they made his temperature rise all over again. He pressed the back of his hand against his mouth as if that would stop the progression.
The hunger grabbed into him again.
“Barbara.” He reached for that thought and collapsed onto the bed. “Barbara.” The hunger bent him and tormented him.
It needed satisfaction.
It demanded blood.
He couldn’t resist.
He had to obey.
Ambrose crawled out of bed and weeble-wobbled over to the closet. He got dressed with an utmost lack of grace.
A black box fell out of his slacks pocket.
He bent over to pick it up, which threw him into a bad cough and retch routine. He sank to his hands and knees and rode the tide of misery until it left him overheated and wheezing.
He touched the box with one finger. It was still wet from when he took his shower.
He opened it.
He became still.
Two rings lay inside: one was silver and a diamond. The other was a plain gold band.
Ambrose removed the gold ring and slipped it on his thumb all the way down to the first knuckle. He rubbed his index finger around it in gentle circles. It was both rough and smooth.
A sudden memory broke through his mind’s barriers.
His father smiled at him.
His father held him close.
His father’s large hand lay on his much smaller hand and they spun the ring together.
Ambrose gasped. He took the ring off and put it back into the box. He closed it up and almost threw it somewhere.
But he held on to it.
Even in his mentally addled state, he knew that this was not something to throw away.
Ambrose pressed it to right above his heart before returning it to his slacks pocket.