Ambrose pulled one more ring from the box – a silver band with baguette-shaped emeralds separated by clusters of small diamonds.
Being so young.
“It isn’t stealing.”
“Anna. I’m going to pull it off her finger while she’s asleep. Trust me. It’s stealing.”
“Hey! Grandmother stole it from me first. I’m just reclaiming it with your help.”
“What if I get caught?”
She shrugged. “I’ll play the whole innocent, I Had No Idea card and let you get all of the blame. So, don’t get caught.”
He slipped the ring onto his thumb and gently spun it. The old stones still held plenty of sparkle. “I never did give it to her. I never told anyone that I was the thief. I kept it. My own secret treasure.”
He quickly raised his head and listened.
Footsteps coming up the hall.
He frantically scooped everything into the trunk, buckled it shut, dropped it on the floor, and tried to drag it to the door.
The steamer trunk held its ground like a leather-bound monolith.
The footsteps were coming closer.
He grabbed the whole trunk, lifted it over his head, and hauled it to the door.
The footsteps stopped.
He started to lower the trunk to the floor.
The door swung open, walloping him in the face.
Barbara poked her head into the room. “Ambrose?”
Ambrose pressed the ice pack against his face.
“I really am sorry.”
He sighed. “You could have knocked.”
He lowered the ice pack. “What are you even doing here? You’re supposed to be at work.”
“Sammy sent me home early today.”
“He knew I had plans tonight. I was going to pick you up at work and take you out and…Well. You’re here. Kills all of my plans dead.”
She giggled. “Don’t think of them as killed. Just…rearranged.”
“Did you…Do you want to go out with me tonight? No. You’re too tired.”
“Hey. How about giving me a chance to say my own answers?”
“But nothing. Yes, I’ve had a busy day, but the thought of finally getting a chance to spend time with you made it all wonderful.” Her expression softened. “I read your letter.”
“Are you okay with that? If you want me to stay…”
She took the ice pack and held it to his forehead.
Her scent was tantalizing and alluring, teasing him to do something.
And so many things more.
“I wish you could stay. I love waking up in the morning and seeing you there on my couch. You have no idea how cute you look when you’re sleeping. You’re just like an exhausted kitten.”
“Why? Why a kitten? If I must be an animal, can’t I be a bear?”
She giggled. “Silly. Bears don’t look cute when they’re sleeping. Kittens do. Therefore, you’re a kitten.”
“There’s some really terrible logic in there.” He looked up at her. “Can’t I be a black cat?”
“Nope. You’re a fluffy gray.”
She shrugged. “No idea, really. It’s just the mental image I get when I watch you sleep.”
He smiled. I should ask her now.
She set the ice pack on the table and sat beside him. “So. What is the plan for tonight?”
“Is it my turn or your turn to pick?”
“Not sure. So, I let you pick.”
“We should do something totally off the wall. Something unexpected. Something…” He tried his best to keep the suggestive tone out of his voice. “Something we would never ordinarily do.”
Judging by how quickly she blushed, he assumed that he was only somewhat successful.
“I don’t mean anything like that. I meant what I wrote. I will wait.”
He smiled mischievously. “We should trespass.”
She’ll say no. Never in a million years. She is not the law-breaking type.
She leaned forward. “Where’d you have in mind?”