Hildreth walked into the dining room.
Elsie sat at the table. Her back was to the doorway. The smell of scrambled eggs scented the air.
He walked up to her, afraid to speak, almost too afraid to breathe. What can I say? What can I do?
He kissed the top of her head. “Elsie.”
Elsie startled and all but threw herself out of her chair. She automatically went into a fighting stance.
When she saw that it was him, she punched him in the gut.
“Ah!” He crumpled down to one knee. “What was that for?”
“That was for making me upset, you flaming idiot.” She went down on her knees and wrapped her arms around his neck. “And this…” She kissed him. “…this is for coming back.”
He embraced her as she kissed him again and again.
She guided him down to the floor and they turned into a tangle of touching and kissing.
Neither one heard the front door open.
Neither one heard the footsteps until it was a bit too late.
They both startled.
Elsie’s mother smiled at them. “I guess you were right after all, Elsie. You two really are fine.”
Elsie sat at the table, eating her eggs and quietly dying from embarrassment. “You could have rang the doorbell.”
“That’s true. But not any fun.” She grinned. “You should have seen the looks on your faces. Priceless!”
Elsie died just a little bit more. Thank goodness we hadn’t taken off any clothes. Otherwise, I’d be dead. Just dead.
Speaking of which, Hildreth’s dead for bolting. When he comes back in here, he’s getting another gut punch.
“Just so you know, you had me worried, Elsie. All of that nothing nothing nothing talk on the phone. I know you. I know that’s your code word for “I’m too mad to speak coherently”. What happened?”
Elsie poked a stack of eggs onto her fork. “It doesn’t matter now. It’s been resolved.”
She sighed. “He wanted to do something. I didn’t want him to do it. He hung up on me and shut his phone off.”
“Mm. Mmm. Mmm.” Clarice snatched the forkful of eggs from Elsie and put it into her mouth. “Mm. Yum.” She pointed the now empty fork at her daughter. “That’s terribly vague. You really should fill in the blanks.”
Elsie reclaimed the fork. “Master Shinowa’s brother was killed by a vampire.”
“It is. Hildreth wanted to investigate to find out if Ambrose was involved.”
“Ohh. Things are suddenly so clear. You didn’t want him to do it, because…?”
“Because my instinct tells me that he’s right. Ambrose is involved. I don’t know why or even how.”
Clarice snagged a pinch of eggs from her plate.
“Keep going. Don’t mind me.”
Elsie looked down at her plate. “And because I know that Hildreth would find something. He’d find a clue that would scream Ambrose’s name. He’d go looking for him. He’d hunt him down.”
“Well, darling. Hunk of hot burnin’ love is a hunter. Isn’t it his job to hunt vampires?”
“You don’t understand.” She set her fork on the plate.
Clarice snatched the plate and finished the rest of the eggs.
“I dread any confrontation between those two. Hildreth is a good fighter. He has good skills. But Ambrose doesn’t play fair. And he hates Hildreth. He would go out of his way to hurt him. He would change him. I don’t want Hildreth to become like that. I don’t want to lose him.”
Clarice laid her hand on her daughter’s hands.
Hildreth leaned his head back against the wall outside the dining room.
I’m sorry, Elsie.