Ambrose slumped to the floor as his day exhaustion overcame him. He leaned his head against the wall and panted softly.
Barbara wanted to go to him. To comfort him. To help him.
But Hildreth would not let go of her arms.
Elsie entered the scene with a Bossman 550.
Barbara struggled to break free of Hildreth’s grip, but it was impossible. He was too strong.
“It’s the end of the line for you, monster.” She aimed the weapon at him. “Got any last words, scum?”
He turned his head and gave Barbara a long, listless look. “Barbara.”
“Good enough.” Elsie pulled the trigger.
His arms flailed up against the wall as the bolt hit home.
The light in his eyes dimmed.
He stopped breathing and he fell.
Barbara woke up with tears already running down her face.
And I can’t call him to see where he is, to see if he’s all right. Just to see. Just to know.
What if she has found him? What if she has staked him?
What if that whole savage hunger thing was too much for him? What if chooses to stay away because of it?
She closed her eyes. Ambrose! If you can hear me. I don’t know how far you can hear thoughts, but if you can hear me, please come home to me. Ambrose. Ambrose!
Ambrose! Ambrose! Ambrose!
He stopped and looked around. “Barbara?”
Ambrose! Ambrose! Ambrose!
“Barbara!” He ran as fast as he could.
What if she’s hurt?
What if there’s another vampire trying to bite her?
What if she’s dying?
His heart hurt and he could barely breathe, but he kept running. “I’m coming.”
He kicked the train station door down. “Caith girl! Get over here RIGHT NOW!”
She jumped off her lookout crate and landed on all fours. Her tail swished angrily. “What are you doing on my turf? I thought I told you to—”
“Shut up! I’m in no mood for niceties. Do you have a phone?”
“I found that phone fair and square inside someone’s pocket. I’m not going to just hand it off to some crummy—”
“Give it to me or I’ll knock down THE ENTIRE BUILDING!”
“Criminy! You don’t have to be like that, do you?”
She settled into a sit and tucked her tail around her feet. “What do I get in exchange?”
He snarled at her. “You want to keep the roof above your head, right?”
“What? You wouldn’t really knock it down. That would be stupid. Mean and stupid.”
“I’ll give the phone back to you, if that’s what you’re so worried about. I need to make a call.”
“Okay. But it will cost you. Just so you know.”
She jumped back up to her lookout point and disappeared on the other side.
He tried to enter the building, only to be forcibly bounced back. “What? I was able to go in here before. Hey!” He banged his fist on the door frame. “How come I can’t come in?”
“Criminy! Some people just don’t have clues. I uninvited you, genius.”
He frowned and tried to remember.
But that memory was not there. “Why? What did I do?”
“You’re the vampire. Figure it out yourself. Oh! Here.” She walked around the crates in her human form.
“I don’t remember. It isn’t there. Why can’t I remember? Why isn’t it there? What else am I missing?”
“Not my worry.” She held up the phone. “You better give it back to me when your done. Or I’ll claw you to death.”
“Oh, calm yourself down, little cat. I just want to make one phone call. That’s all.”
She handed it to him. “And just so you know, I’m a caith. Not a cat. Get these things right, greenie.”
“Vampire. Not greenie.” He dialed Barbara’s number and listened to it ring.
What if she doesn’t answer?
Barbara. Barbara. Please. Please answer.
The sound of her voice left him speechless.
“Hello? Is someone there?”
“It’s…Barbara, it’s…it’s me. Are you okay? Are you all right? I heard your call. Oh, please tell me you’re all right.”
“Ambrose? Is that you?”
He smiled. “Yes.”
“Are you all right? Sammy told me everything. Are you all right? Can you…Are you coming home?”
I don’t have a house of my own. But…”Yes. I’m coming home. Are you all right?”
“Yes. Oh, yes. Be safe. Come home to me.”
I will propose to you. I promise. “I will.”