“Oh, come on! One more bite.” Hildreth edged the plate towards Elsie.
“I can’t.” She pushed it back.
“You’re not even at the half-way point.” He picked up the grease-slopping, mayonnaise gooping, ketchup glopping hamburger. “Come on. Say ahh. Think of the poor starving orphans in Indonesia. They’d love to have a meal like this and you’re letting it go to waste. Say ahhh.”
“You’re doing it again.”
He lowered the sandwich. “What?”
She smiled. “Sounding just like my mother.” She took the sandwich from him and bit into it.
“There. Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
She shook her head. “Worse.”
Hildreth smiled. “I know your mother says that everyone gives off glowing energy stuff, but I wish I could just glow and everyone could see it.”
“So, everyone can see my happiness. I am so happy, Elsie. I suppose I should worry about what’s going to happen. When is it all going to end? When is the Acme anvil of doom going to fall flat on my head? But you know what? I’m not going to worry about it. I’ve done too much of that as is. And look where it led me – away from you.”
She set her hamburger onto her plate.
“And I’m going to be honest with you.” He took a deep breath and jumped into the deep side of the pool. “Mark Caten called. He wants…” Us? You? Me? “He wants you to stake Ambrose Smith.”
His heart sank. I should tell her I don’t know, I can’t remember. “Sometime after our wedding.”
She looked down at the hamburger.
“What are you going to do, Elsie?” Say no. “Are you going to take it?” Say you aren’t interested.
“If I stake him, we won’t have to worry about him showing up and leaping out of the bushes at us.”
“You don’t have to accept it.”
She looked up at him.
“If you don’t want to. It’s completely up to you.”
“You’re worried about it.”
“No. I’m scared. He’s going to hurt you. He’ll try to change you. I know he will.” Please don’t say yes. Don’t force my hand.
She picked up the sandwich again and took another bite.
“What…” His voice locked up on him.
She chewed and swallowed her piece in silence. “It would be a great relief to have him out of our hair, to know that he’s gone and can’t come back.”
I shouldn’t have told her.
I should have kept my mouth shut.
“I’ll call Caten later and discuss it with him.” She noticed his crushed expression and stroked his hand. “Discussing is not the same thing as accepting. You know me, Hildreth. If I don’t want to do something, I won’t do it.”
I want to go into the bathroom and cry.
I’ve gone and ruined it all.
“I know.” he said softly.