Missy quietly processed all of that information. “Do you like being a vampire?”
The question took Raven by surprise. “That’s like being asked if I enjoy being a human. What are my options? Human or not. Vampire or dead.”
“Do you mean you’ve never woken up feeling all high and happy that you were changed?”
“I don’t mean to sound rude, miss, but I could ask you the same question.”
“I guess that’s true.” She looked straight ahead at the cracked and dirty chalkboard. “The things they did to me…It’s hard to see if there is a bright side to any of it.”
“Do you want to show me?”
Missy rose from her seat. “NO! If I show you those memories, I’ll have to think about them and I don’t want to think about them because they hurt and I don’t like how they make me hurt and—”
She bowed her head. “I wish I were normal. I wish my life…” She walked over to the shuttered windows. “I wish that my life was as dull as anyone else’s.”
She trailed her finger along the shutter’s metal lines. “I wish I had a nice home and a nice bed and a clean comforter and a pantry filled with cakes and creams and doughnut holes and all sorts of good food and all of it new and fresh and a bathtub. I would love to have my own private bathtub. I would fill it up with soap bubbles and stay in there when I’m not eating.”
She lowered her hand. “I wish my life were all mine.”
He rose from his seat and, pinching the side of his tablecloth censor bar, came over to her.
There were words he could have said but they all felt stilted or clichéd. Like “the sun will come out tomorrow” clichéd.
He laid his unoccupied hand on her shoulder.
She looked up at him.
He looked down at her.
Neither one said a word.
“Darn James Garner and Gena Rowlands.” Ambrose rubbed away his tears.
Barbara smiled and leaned her head against his arm.
“They just stake me every time.”
She hugged his arm. “Do you remember the last time we watched this movie?”
“I prefer not to. I was horrible to you. I wanted to bite you so much. Every now and then, I still do.”
He kissed the top of her head. “No. Barbara.”
“Why did you stay with me after that? Anyone else would have sent me packing and rightly so. I wanted to treat you like you were just another girl out on the street. Just another meal to catch. To bite. To utterly destroy.”
She released his arm.
“Why would you want to be with me after that?”
“Because you didn’t bite me. You had a chance and you didn’t take it. You left me, instead.”
“Only to bite you the next time we met.”
“You couldn’t help that. You were hungry.”
“I was selfish.”
“Hm. Maybe a little.”
“I always will be.”
“I know.” She laid her hands on his chest.
Ambrose felt fire deep inside his skin. One look at her blushing face convinced him that she felt it too. He leaned forward and gently undid her hair.
He put his lips to her ear and breathed, “Do you want me to go further?”
“It’s up to you.” He kissed her ear. “It’s your choice, not mine.”
“I…I…I shouldn’t. I can’t. It wouldn’t be right. Not yet. Please, Ambrose. Not yet. Please?”
He kissed her lips. “I love you, Barbara. I love you so darn much.”
“Do you think I’m being selfish?”
“Doesn’t matter. I want you to be happy. I want us to be happy. I want…” Ambrose stood. “I need some fresh air. I feel overheated.”
He walked outside. The cold air hit his skin and it felt good.
I could lose control so easily. I want to. I want to. I want. I want.
Not if she doesn’t want to. Not if she isn’t ready.
Not if I don’t have those test results.
I will wait.