Ambrose let out a sigh.
I hope she doesn’t poison my water or try to drug me into submission. That would tick me off so much I’d tear the walls down.
Isellta entered the room.
“About time you got in here. Where were you?”
Isellta took off his shoes and set them in the corner. “My wings were dirty. I went into the restroom to clean them off. Are you mad at me?”
“No. Not at you. Have a seat.”
He sat right next to Ambrose. “So. About Robin.”
Ambrose chuckled. “You’re just gonna dive right in, huh? Okay, what about him?”
“I don’t understand him. Why is he so angry at me? I helped him. I saved him. I brought him a hunter to drink from. And it doesn’t matter to him. He yells at me and he doesn’t make sense. He just…doesn’t make sense.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.”
The waitress returned with a tall glass of water. She set it before Ambrose.
He looked at it and back up at her. “It isn’t hot enough.”
“You didn’t even touch it.”
“I can tell. It isn’t hot enough.”
Isellta poked his finger into it.
“Okay. That does it. I need another glass of water. And, this time, make it hot.”
“As you wish. Sir. Would you like anything to eat?”
“And you, sir?”
Isellta poked his finger into the glass again. “The Gomenasai Ramen.” He put his wet finger in his mouth. “mm.”
She looked at Ambrose. “Anytime you change your mind—”
“It won’t happen. Ever.”
She smiled like she had a toothache. “I’ll bring your order shortly.” She left.
Isellta touched the water again. “I don’t understand. Why did you say this water wasn’t hot enough? It’s very hot.”
“Well, I like my water a lot hotter than that.”
He put his finger in his mouth again. “It’s very hot.”
“Not hot enough.”
Isellta lowered his finger. “Are you mad at her?”
Ambrose ignored that question. “Don’t take Robin’s attitude too personally. He’s gone through a lot.”
“I know what he’s gone through. I was there. I saw it all.”
“You saw it all, but you don’t understand. A creature like you can’t understand what it’s like to be deprived of your freedom, of food, of hope. You can’t imagine what it’s like to wake up every day tired and starved and wrecked with hallucinations. You will never know what that is like. I do.”
The waitress brought in Isellta’s bowl of ramen.
“And where’s my water?”
She glared at Ambrose. “Still heating up.”
“As I was saying, I know what that is like. I know how it feels even after you’ve been set free. The fear remains. The nightmares begin. Small things can set me off. I don’t like the cold. I don’t like the snow falling on my face.”
Isellta pulled his plain wood chopsticks out of their paper sleeve.
Ambrose looked down at the unvarnished wood.
His pupils widened.
His heart raced.
His gaze traveled from the wood up to Isellta’s face and back down. He edged away from the fey.
His breathing raced to catch up to his heartbeat.
“Wood. Splinters. Stakes. Stakes. Stakes.”
Isellta put the chopsticks back into their sleeve and shoved them to the far side of the table, far out of reach.
Ambrose kept glancing at the white paper sleeve as if he expected it to go into attack mode. He shuddered hard.
The waitress returned with the cup of hot water.
Isellta smiled at her. “Could you please take those chopsticks away and bring me a fork?”
She picked up the chopsticks and looked at Ambrose. “Very well.”
And she left again.
“Is that Olessa’s fault?”
Ambrose shuddered hard one more time before settling back down. “No. I’d love to blame her, but no. That was all me. That was because I’m a vampire.”