Three hours later…
Ambrose stumbled into a shadowy alley and slouched against the nearest wall.
Wanna be in bed.
Sending me on this wild goose chase.
When I find him, I’ll…
He closed his eyes and slid down into a sit.
Where else can I go?
Where else can I look?
What more can I do?
His arms fell limp at his sides.
What can I do?
His head started to drift downwards.
He opened his eyes and raised his head.
“Oh holy darnation.”
I know where to go.
darn it darn it darn it
He banged his fist on the ground. “DARN IT!”
He rose with a severe lack of elegance, grace, or even simple ease.
Ambrose swerved out into the sunlight.
He winced as the brightness scalded his eyes.
If Isellta isn’t there, I am going back to bed and no one on this Earth or beyond it is going to make me search for him any more today.
Ambrose entered The Red Envelope.
He collapsed into a lacquered black chair with stiff red cushions. He leaned his head back.
“Hello, Mr. Smith. I see you’ve returned.”
He raised his head and bleared a look at her. “Yeah, I’m here.”
“Have you reconsidered my—”
“No. I’m here on business. My own business. I’m looking for a fey who’s gone missing, the little idiot.” He rubbed his hands up and down his face. “Couldn’t he have done this at night?”
“What is his name?”
“Isellta.” He lowered his hands. “Have you seen him?”
She smoothed non-existent creases on the lower half of her dress. “Have I seen him? Hm. What will you give me in return?”
“No. I’m not playing that game. I’m too warm. I’m too tired. Just tell me what I want to know.”
She returned to her post to handle a couple of customers who just came in. “Yes, we have an available room. Please follow me.”
He leaned his head back.
What else can I do?
He closed his eyes.
His body relaxed as he started to drift off.
A voice whispered inside his head, “I can tell you everything. Join my harem and I will tell you everything. I will help you.”
Lips touched his lips.
He jolted awake.
Sure enough, the waitress was standing right there, kissing him.
He pushed her away. “No! That is not why I am here.”
“It should be, though. Your last kiss was sadly lacking. It was neither long enough nor passionate enough.”
“Oh, poor you. Do you know where Isellta is?”
“Are you going to join my harem?”
“Answer my question.”
“Answer mine first.”
“Dream on, lady.”
“Well! Same to you.”
And enlightenment came to his poor, tired mind. “You don’t even know where he is. You’re just trying to waste my time.”
“No. I’m trying to recruit you.”
“I don’t want to be recruited. I want to marry the woman I love and live joyously ever after with her.”
She eye-rolled. “Again with the boring human sentiments.”
“And that, my dear fey, is why I will never be with you. You don’t love me. You’re incapable of loving me.”
“Love is foolishness and nonsense.”
“Yes. It is glorious nonsense and it is what I want. I don’t want to be one amongst many. I want to be just one. The only one.”
“What an appalling, ridiculous, nonsensical, HUMAN notion. I don’t know how or why you find that appealing. It doesn’t make sense to me. Being with only one person.” She scoffed. “No wonder you humans are so mentally disordered.”
“Whatever.” He stood. “There’s no point in talking to you. You don’t know anything, fey. Bye.”