Elsie finished the rest of Hildreth’s Crazy Bacon Man pancake.
He finished the rest of her Swedish crepes with lingonberry jam.
“Mm! I just realized something.” He swept the red jam up with his finger and sucked it off. “You’ll probably punch me for not thinking about it until now.”
“The most important ingredient to a good wedding, besides a gorgeous bride and a studly groom.”
“Very. I’m sure you agree.”
He grinned. “Anyway, we need to pick out our wedding rings.”
“Normally, yes. I would punch you for overlooking that detail, but I already have it covered.”
“I already bought them.”
“While you were training at Master Shinowa’s.”
“You lovely, forward-thinking woman.”
“You don’t mind that I did it without you?”
Hildreth sat back in his seat. “I don’t know. I’ve always had this lovely, romantic idea of going to the jewelers with my significant other and trying out all of these rings and fussing over diamond size and shape only to have her go with the first ring she tried on.”
“If it makes you feel better, I went with the first one I tried on. I didn’t even consider any others.”
“Huh. Okay. That makes me feel much better.”
“It’s so gorgeous! The band is—”
Hildreth’s phone rang.
He took his phone out and frowned at the caller ID.
“Who is it? If it’s Mark Caten—”
“It’s Master Shinowa.” He answered the call. “Mayhew speaking.” He glanced at Elsie. “I’m sorry . It’s hard to make you out. Hold on.” He touched Elsie’s shoulder and mouthed the words “Be right back”.
Hildreth went into the Men’s bathroom. All of the stalls were occupied. So, he stood out in the open, even though it made him feel horribly conspicuous. “All right. What happened? Are you all right?”
“Mayhew. I know which vampire killed my brother.”
Hildreth held his breath.
“It was Vansing’s vampire. He left fingerprints.”
Hildreth remembered to exhale. “What are you going to do? What do you want me to do?”
“It is difficult to know that answer. Kencha would want me to let go.”
“Do you want me to hunt him, Master? Give me the word. Tell me that’s what you want, what you need—”
“Mayhew. You speak of revenge. Revenge is not in my heart. Only sorrow. Only hurt. Only new open wounds. Revenge would create new wound upon old.”
He curled his unoccupied hand into a fist. “Then, why did you call me? Why did you tell me this?”
“It is a heavy burden to share only between an old man and his young daughter.”
Hildreth’s shoulders slumped. “I’m sorry, Master. Are the police gonna come after him?”
Master Shinowa fell silent.
“Master? Are the police—”
“The police here do not care about vampire attacks. It ties up legal system. Causes riots among pro-vampire crowd. Hard to find judge or jurors who are neutral about vampires. Many mistrials.”
“But he’s guilty!”
“I know, Mayhew.”
“What do you want me to do? Something must be done. It isn’t right. It is unjust for him to walk free when—”
Hildreth stopped talking.
“Your words do not speak to me. They speak only to yourself.”
“I do not crave revenge.” He paused. “You should neither.”
Hildreth ended the call. He shut the phone down and put it in his pocket.
So? What should I do with this information? Nothing? How can I do nothing? Should I tell Elsie?
Or should I keep it to myself?
What should I do? What is the right thing to do?
But that can’t be right.
Master Shinowa is wrong. He’s wrong.
And what? I’m right? I know better than him? I know more than he does? It is his brother, not mine. If he doesn’t crave revenge, why do I?
Does this desire for revenge really have anything to do with Master Shinowa’s brother? Or is it all about me reaching for any reason to stake that vampire?
If that’s all it is, I should just go ahead and accept Caten’s offer.
He looked straight ahead.
And watch him go into gloating ecstacies. Yeah, that’s a great plan.
I should go back to Elsie.