Then, the dream switched and memories jumped and jumbled.
Master Initskay sat huddled up in the furthest corner, scratching his arm in long, deliberate lines.
“It hurts, but nothing is hurt. Look. Nothing. Not a scratch. Nothing. Nothing.”
He looked up at Hildreth. “Stake me.”
Hildreth reached behind his back and pulled out his Bossman 550. “As you wish.”
He pulled the trigger.
The stake flew out in Matrix-style slow motion.
Master Initskay blinked and he turned into Ambrose.
He knocked the slo-mo stake out of his way.
The Bossman 550 disappeared.
“Well, hunter. Let’s see just how well you’ve trained.”
Hildreth got into his fighting stance.
He reappeared right next to Hildreth. “Too late.” He snapped Hildreth’s neck.
Hildreth woke up.
Blasted vampire! Why doesn’t he go haunt Mark Caten? I bet Mark would get such a kick out of that.
I can’t wait to get out of here.
Get to stalk the streets with Elsie again.
He smiled. “And introduce her to the world of loaded chili cheese fries with extra cayenne sauce. Ha! She’ll totally gag.” He laughed as he imagined the look on her face.
Hmm. I should be careful, though. If I keep pushing all of this unhealthy stuff at her, she’ll make me eat things, horrible things, like…tofu burgers. Meatless chicken patties. Seaweed salad. And, worst of all, fish tacos. Such a blasphemy, making tacos without hamburger meat.
But I’ll gladly eat it to humor her.
My beautiful, passionate Elsie.
Who knows? I might even like some of that horrible stuff. It isn’t that likely, but there’s always that possibility.
I’m willing to try it to make her happy.
Elsie bought seven boxes of the wedding favors and returned to her car.
She opened a box and pulled out one of the favors – a faceted crystal heart with silver confetti inside.
She turned it in between her fingers.
The sunlight caught the crystal’s edges and threw out vibrant colors. The confetti shined sharp.
“It is beautiful.” Elsie returned it to the box and set the box on the passenger seat. She called her mom.
“Hi. It’s me. No, mom. Hildreth isn’t here. Yes, I’ll be sure to give him all of your lovin’. Mom!” She shook her head. “I finally did it. I bought the favors. Is there anything else I need to do? Yes. Yes, they are very pretty. I’m glad I got them. Is there anything else? What? Oh, shoot! I forgot. No, I didn’t forget because of that. We haven’t even done that yet. Good grief. All right. I’ll come now. I just want to stop at the hospital and let Hildreth know. Okay. Bye.”
She admired her loot one more time before returning to the hospital.
Elsie entered his room.
He was sound asleep.
She came over to his side.
Her gaze travelled all over his face, taking in every small detail.
Its overall shape.
The calm in his expression.
His short light brown hair.
His smooth forehead. No wrinkles. No worry lines. No frown.
His eyebrows. Not too thin. Not too thick. Just the right shape.
His closed eyes.
His well-shaped nose.
That small space between his nose and his upper lip.
The space between his lower lip and his chin.
His chin down to his throat.
His throat all the way along his shoulders.
There she stopped.
The collar of his hospital gown had listed to the right, revealing the scar that Ambrose had left on his skin. One on the front. And she knew that there were four on the back.
Hildreth opened his eyes. “Elsie.” He smiled. “You came back.” His smile fell as he noticed her expression. “What’s wrong?”
“Promise me that no matter what happens, no matter how obnoxious Mark Caren gets about it, promise me you’ll stay away from Ambrose Smith.”
“What? Why? What?”
She laid her index finger on the scar. It just barely covered it. “I don’t want him to touch you again.”
He took her hand.
Her fingers curled around his thumb.
He kissed her fingers one at a time. “I promise.” His face brightened into a smile. “So, you planning to join me for lunch?”
“I’d love to, but I have to go to Pinkerlee for one last fitting.”
“You don’t want to stay?”
She released his hand. “I can’t.”
“You sure you don’t wanna try to bust me out of here?”
She kissed him. “You’ll be out of here soon.”
He shook his head. “Not soon enough.”
She stroked his hair.
“I’m sorry. I have to go. I’ll see you later.”