Ambrose rubbed the heel of his hand across his forehead.
I want to go home and die. I’ll kill Raven and Robin first since it’s their fault I’m out here during the day.
Then, I’ll go to bed and die.
He perked up as he caught a whiff of semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla bean. “Barbara?” He raced after the scent before it could dissipate.
It led him to a bridal shop.
He stopped at the front door.
She was inside, talking excitedly to her father and one of the bridal shop people.
Ambrose focused on just her.
Barbara wore a pale pink A-line dress with no jewelry except for her emerald engagement ring. Her hair was pinned and tacked into a complicated chignon, but one strand had managed to escape. It curved down to her neck.
I want to go in there.
I want to touch her hair.
I want to kiss her all over her face.
I want to hold her in my arms.
The bridal shop employee led Barbara to the back of the store. As soon as she was gone, her father turned his head and looked right at him.
Startled, Ambrose launched into a hasty retreat.
The front door opened. “Hey!”
He looked back.
Barbara’s father walked towards him.
Ambrose’s first instinct was to run away as fast as he could. But he didn’t much care for the impression that would have created. “Hello again, Mr. Addleston.”
“Hi. She told me the good news about your DNA results.”
“Yes. I can safely say that we are not related.”
“And you can marry her.”
“Yes. Thank you again, sir, for granting your permission. You don’t know how much it means to me. How much she means to me.”
“I think I know. She told me you underwent the STD testing. That so?”
“I’ve heard the testing is especially difficult for vampires.”
“Yes. It’s mortifying and awful. I never want to do it again.”
“I don’t know. You’re a vampire. You drink blood. You probably will have to get tested on a routine basis if only to make sure you aren’t carrying any blood-borne illnesses.”
Ambrose’s mind fogged over. Routine basis. Go through all of that misery on a routine basis.
He thought about Barbara. “If I have to, I will.”
Her father smiled. “Then, you’re a much better man than I thought you were.”
Ambrose laughed. “Thanks for the compliment.”
“I sense she’s ready to show off her first choice. I gotta go back inside.” He turned to leave.
“Mr. Addleston. Please wait a moment.”
He turned to face him again.
“Last time we tried to have dinner together, I messed things up. I ruined it all. Can we please try again?”
“You want to take me and Barbara out to eat?”
He clasped Ambrose’s hands. “Of course.”
Barbara’s father went back inside the bridal shop.
The shop employee led him over to the Gawk At The Dress area.
A curved line of poofy lace and damask chairs faced a low pedestal. Six full-length mirrors curved around the pedestal.
The employee guided him to the chair in the center of the chair curve. “Sit here. It’s the best vantage point. All right! Bring her in!”
The other employee pulled the dressing room drapes aside. “Careful. Don’t step on the hem.”
Tears sprang to life in his eyes as Barbara entered the room. My little girl.
The veil cascaded in soft tulle accented with crystals.
The gown was beautifully old-fashioned. Long lace sleeves. High collared neckline. A full skirt of lace and satin.
My little girl is suddenly a woman. When did it happen? When did she cross over that line?
“Do you like it?” she asked.
If only Carolyn were here.
“Mm.” He rubbed away his tears. “It’s beautiful.”