“I am sorry, Elsie. I should have told you.”
“Darn right you should have. So, why didn’t you?”
“I thought you’d get all weird and claimy about it.”
She rubbed away her tears. “Claimy? Since when have I ever been claimy about a job?”
Hildreth shrugged hopelessly. “This isn’t just any job, any vampire. It’s him. That vampire. I thought you’d…”
“That I’d want to be the one to finish him?”
He shrugged again.
“I’ve thought about it.” She lowered her gaze. “I imagined myself pinning him down. Pinning Ambrose down. Maybe he’d try to sweet talk me out of it. Maybe he’d yell.” Her voice became a little softer. “Maybe he’d cry. Maybe…he’d half-convince me to stop, but I wouldn’t stop. I’d pull out my stake. He would look at me, pleading with that look. I’d stake him. The light in his eyes, his black eyes, would die out. And that would be the end.”
Good Lord, she’s had fantasies about killing that vampire. I don’t know if that’s better or worse than her having ordinary bedroom fantasies about him. “And then what?”
“He’d be gone.”
Something in the tone of her voice unnerved him. “Elsie.” He touched her hand.
She looked up at him.
His words turned into cement.
“What will Caten do if you don’t stake Ambrose?”
“He’ll probably call me and he’d call me every possible insult. He’d probably…” He looked at her face and decided not to make her feel worse. “…make enough noise and steam to fill a steampunk novel.”
She laughed at that.
He stroked her face.
She closed her eyes and leaned into his hand.
“Elsie. My dear Elsie. Do you…Are you…”
“Mmm?” She opened her golden eyes and looked at him.
Just at him.
And he knew. “I was about to ask you a really stupid question, but you know what? I’m not gonna to do it. Because I don’t need to hear the answer. I already know it. I know you. I have your heart and you have mine.” He touched his forehead against her forehead. “You will always have mine.”
Elsie looked into his eyes.
Ambrose ceased to exist.
And the world disappeared, leaving Elsie and Hildreth in one peaceful moment.