He shut his phone off.
Elsie sat down on her bed.
Why is he doing this? Why now?
Why won’t he come home?
Why won’t he let it go? I don’t care about Ambrose anymore. I don’t care about him. I don’t!
She slammed her phone face down onto the bed and pounded it with her fist.
Why can’t he see that I love him? I want only him.
Her phone rang again.
“Hello? Oh, mom. I was expecting someone else. What? I just have a headache. That’s all. Mom! For goodness’ sakes! No! It’s nothing like that at all. No. Hildreth isn’t here. He’s—”
Off gallivanting about with stupid revenge ideas in his head.
“—busy. No. It’s nothing. I mean it’s nothing. Mom, you don’t have to come here. I’m fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. I’m just tired. That’s all. There are no negative vibes in the air. I’m fine.”
But he shut his phone off. He’s never done that before. Not to me. Not like that.
“Yes. Yes. I will talk to him as soon as I can. His phone is not on right now. You’re imagining things. I’m fine. I swear I’m fine. Could you do me a favor? Could you call the florist and make sure they’ll be able to fill the order? Thanks. Mom! Seriously. I’m fine. Do I have to write it out and fax it to you? I’m fine. And I am not doing avoidance behavior. Yes. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.”
But this isn’t fine.
I am not fine.
I should go back to her.
I don’t want to lose her.
Not over something like this. Not over that vampire.
Hildreth got out of bed and searched for Master Shinowa.
He found him in the kitchen, cooking something that looked like cream of wheat but smelled like tofu. “Master.”
“You are troubled, Mayhew.”
“Yes. I want to go to Indust City to find out if that vampire was involved with your brother’s death.”
Master Shinowa sighed, but he kept stirring the mysterious slop.
“But if I go, I’ll lose her. I don’t want to lose her.”
“Your path seems clear.”
“But what about your brother?”
“The police will find their clues. They will seek out the one who did it. They may catch him or they may not. I will accept whichever may happen.”
“Mayhew. Kencha is dead. Elsie is not. Do you see it? Can you see your path?”
“Then, accept it. Take that path that leads you home.”
“Yes, Master.” He turned to leave, but stopped. “Master, may I ask you a question?”
“I’m getting married to Vansing next month.”
Master Shinowa stopped his stirring. “My dear Mayhew!” He looked up at him with bright-eyed joy.
“My parents are dead. I don’t really have anyone. Can you be my best man?”
Master Shinowa jumped clean out of character and hugged him.
He quickly released him. “It would be an honor. Go home to Vansing. Apologize. Grovel. Kiss her feet. Make her happy. And tell her the truth.”
There were so many things Hildreth wanted to say, but his body refused to be of any assistance.
So, he hugged Master Shinowa instead.
Elsie sat at the kitchen table, munching down a bowl of Wheaties.
Her cell phone rang.
She answered it.
“Hildreth. What is the meaning of—”
“I’m coming home.”
“In a couple of days, I suppose?”
“Now.” He sighed softly. “I don’t want to lose you. I love you so much.”
Her spoon slid into the milk, completely forgotten.