As Ambrose drifted off to sleep, he muttered, “comfoiofer…died…”
“kizzen atlbl.” That was her mind’s best transcription attempt of what he said.
She went into the kitchen.
The computer sat there, all plugged in and ready.
She tried to turn it on.
She tried the couple of computer hacks she happened to know.
She sighed. “Poor Ambrose. He really doesn’t have any luck with electronics.”
Hildreth took a couple more minutes before re-entering the room. “Sorry about that.”
Elsie smiled at him. “Don’t worry. I’ll kill you later.”
This woman. This beautiful woman. I would gladly die for her. He stopped in front of her and stroked her face. “No, you won’t.”
She laid her hand on top of his hand.
“I know you won’t.”
Her hand slid to his wrist.
“So! You kids gonna be taking off your clothes with me standing right here?”
Elsie stepped away from him. “Mom!”
Elsie punched his upper arm.
“I knew it! We should go out to eat first. I’m starved.”
“I’m all for that.” said Hildreth. “I haven’t had anything to eat today.”
Clarice gave Elsie and Hildreth a searching glance. “Hmm. Yes. I think I’ll go outside and start the car. It usually takes forever to heat up.” She winked at them before grabbing her purse and coat.
Hildreth waited until she left the room. He turned to Elsie. “Look. I need to say this and I need to say it now before she comes back or I lose my nerve. What I did today, what I said to you on the phone…” He went down on his knees. “I’m sorry.”
She looked down at him.
“Maybe I meant well. Maybe I really was thinking about Master Shinowa. Maybe. But maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I wanted to find another reason to hate that vampire. You were right. You are right. I need to just stop. I need to let it go. I need to let him go.”
“Are you still planning to confront him?”
He sat back on his feet. Yes. No. Maybe.
If I do, I’ll be able to protect her from his wiles and influence. If I don’t, she’ll have to face him.
“I don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Idiot. Don’t you know I feel the same way about you? Please. Just stay away from him.” She descended to his level. “I don’t want to lose you.”
“And I don’t want to lose you. Elsie.” Words flooded his mind, but they all got blocked up in his throat. “Elsie.”
I should tell Mark Caten to go to the store and just eat a bunch of bananas. I should tell him to seek help for his Ambrose Smith hatred.
“I hate to run off on you again, but I need to use the bathroom.”
“Can’t it wait till we get to the restaurant?”
“Well, hurry up.”
Hildreth went into the bathroom and locked the door. He pulled out his phone and called Mark Caten.
He answered on the first ring. “Caten.”
“Hello. It’s me. Look. I’ve been thinking about your request.”
“Who is this?”
“Ohhh, I thought you sounded like a loser. Turns out I was right. So, you’ve been ‘thinking’ about my request.”
“Yes. I’m not gonna do it.”
“I don’t like what this is doing to me. It’s tearing me apart. It’s pushing me away from Elsie. I can’t. Do you hear me? I can’t do it.”
Dead silence on the other line.
“Do you hear me? Are you there?”
“You are a weak-gutted fool. Oh, look at you. Look at the hunter, choosing his slut over his responsibilities.”
“Elsie is not a slut!”
“Whatever you say, lover. How well do you think she’ll do against him?”
“Oh, I’d love to see that death match. How long do you think it will take him to get her undressed and—”
“I said shut up!”
“I’m willing to bet on five seconds. She’ll see him and get all horny and jump him and—”
“What is wrong with you? Why can’t you just stop? Why can’t you—”
“MY DAUGHTER IS DEAD, YOU INSENSITIVE INSECT!”
“Then, get help!”
“Help? I thought that’s what you are. Hunter.” He paused. “You know she’ll do it. She won’t be able to resist him. You know, Mayhew. You know.”
Hildreth ended the call and slammed the phone face first on the counter.
He sank to the floor and covered his face with his hands. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He broke down into a hard cry.