Elsie stood like a queen. A fierce, splendid, warrior queen. She looked at her reflection and loved what she saw.
“So?” The seamstress smoothed the dress around her. “You like?”
All thoughts of Ambrose and Barbara left her mind. Only Hildreth remained. “I love it.”
“Right you should. I spent so many days and nights working and slaving over…” Her voice faded as Elsie lost herself in happy daydreams.
Why can’t real life be like a movie? I should look at myself in this mirror, think warm, mushy thoughts about marrying Hildreth, and suddenly time warps forward and we’re saying our vows.
She smiled. I hope that moment lasts forever when it does come.
Hildreth smiled as the nurse led him back into his room. “Thank you for walking me home, miss.”
She smiled back.
“I would give you a good night kiss, but I suspect that’s against hospital policy. Besides, I’m already engaged.”
Her smile fell. “Oh. Are you really?”
“Mmm-hmm. No kidding.”
She helped him into bed.
He laid back against his pillows. “She’s an amazing woman.”
She focused on reconnecting his lines.
“I’d never been in love before. Until I met her. I’ve heard so many love songs and seen so many romantic movies, but I never knew, never realized that love could feel like this. If you asked me to describe it, I don’t know if I could. It’s something you just have to feel. You know what I mean?”
“Of course.” The nurse sighed. “Well. I think we’re all set in here. Do you want the tv on?”
Hildreth shook his head. “I’m just gonna go to sleep.” He closed his eyes. “Till she comes.”
The nurse left his room and gently shut the door. Her professional demeanor cracked and crumbled.
She walked briskly through hordes of patients, nurses, wheelchairs, doctors, and twin five-year-old boys trying to out-scream each other.
She entered the nurses’ lounge, shut the door, and locked it. She threw herself down on the old beaten up couch and had herself a good cry.
It isn’t fair! Why are the good ones always taken?
Elsie returned to the hospital and entered his room.
He was asleep.
She came over to his side and stroked his hair. If we weren’t vampire hunters, where would we be right now?
He sighed and opened his eyes. “Elsie.”
“Sorry, I missed lunch.”
“Don’t worry. I haven’t had supper yet.”
She looked at him in silent admiration.
He smiled. “What’s that look for?”
“My mother says all sorts of things about you. Things I’m too decent of a person to repeat.”
He laughed out loud at that. “I’d love to hear you say them, though. Elsie Vansing talking dirty. Woo-hoo!”
“Don’t get your hopes too high. It isn’t going to happen. But she is right. You are everything she calls you. Every single thing.”
“Should I be flattered or alarmed?”
She laughed. “You idiot. I’m flattering you.”
“I know. Elsie. When I get out of here tomorrow, can we just run away to somewhere? Anywhere? No vampires. No hunting. Just you and me.”
Before she could respond, the nurse brought in his supper. “Hello, Mr. Mayhew. I’ve got your supper right here.”
“Ahh, anything good?”
“We have a tofu burger with reduced fat mayonnaise, sweet potato fries, and a pack of vanilla pudding.”
His mouth dropped open in shock. “Are you serious?”
Elsie discreetly hid her smirk.
The nurse uncovered the food.
Hildreth stared at the not-hamburger.
“I’ll let you enjoy your meal.” She left the room.
He shook his head. “I feel like I’m being punished for something.”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous. Tofu burgers are great.”
“You’re just trying to make me feel better.”
Elsie sat on the bed next to him. “Maybe. Come on. Pick it up and eat it.”
“It isn’t a real hamburger.”
“It’s good for you.”
“It’ll taste like sawdust and dog food.”
“It will not. Come on.” She picked it up and held it to his mouth. “Say Ahh.”
“I will if you take a bite too.”
“Of course. Say Ahh.”
He sighed. “Ahhh.” He took a bite and chewed it.
“And you’re not allowed to spit it out. So, don’t even try.”
He swallowed it.
“It isn’t hamburger. It tries. It tries so hard. But it tastes better than I thought it would.”
“Good. Take another bite.”
She took a bite.
“Hey, no fair. That was a lot smaller than my bite. Boo! Boo on you!”
She laughed. “Oh, Hildreth.” She set the tofu burger back on the plate. “I love you so much. What would I do without you?”