“I have to go back home and pick up my supplies.” Elsie pulled on her coat.
Hildreth zipped it up for her.
“You don’t have to do that.”
He smiled at her. “I know.” He set his hands on her shoulders. “Be safe.”
“You too. Don’t forget to carry extra stakes.”
“I won’t forget. Usual meeting place?”
“At the usual time.”
He kissed her – a long, lingering kiss. “I’ll see you there.”
Hildreth stood on the front porch as she backed out of the driveway and drove off.
He shivered. It seems so much colder without her here.
Well. Enough soppy-headed moping!
Time to get myself armed and dangerous.
Elsie shook her head in dismay as she noticed him standing in the cold.
Idiot’s going to make himself sick. What am I going to do with him?
Such a complete idiot.
She drove down the street.
But I love him so.
A dense cheesecake layer of silence slid between Robin and Raven.
Raven side-glanced at him. “So. Isellta.”
Robin clenched his jaw.
Raven cleared his throat. “So, Isellta never returned?”
“I’m merely asking, sir.”
To make polite conversation, for starters. But I can’t very well say that out loud. “I was merely curious, sir.”
The silence gained another layer.
“I’m worried about Missy. She said a strange thing to me before she left. I’m still perplexed by it.”
Robin gave him a death-dealing glare.
“She told me, ‘I love you’.”
“Ain’t sure why that would ‘perplex’ you. Seems to explain itself.”
“It would seem so, but then she left.”
Robin scoffed. “Women. Who can make sense of them?”
Raven frowned. Is he including Isellta into that question? But. Isellta is not a woman. I’m not sure if I ought to point that out to him at this moment.
“It’s rum unfair you never introduced her to us. It’d be nice to have a face to go with that lemon scent of hers. What she look like?”
“Look like? I’m sorry, sir. I am not good at describing others.”
“I ain’t askin’ you to purple prose her. Just the basics. Does this Missy have eyes?”
“Indeed. Brown eyes.”
“Was she bald?”
Raven laughed. “Hardly. She had shoulder length hair. It was dense. You could bury your fingers in it. I never tried. I never considered it, really. That would have been too much. It would have been crossing a line I was not prepared to cross. But she…”
He flapped his hands in an exasperated gesture. “She cares naught for propriety’s lines. She disregards them. She’s impulsive and forward and improper and she makes me feel so…frustrated. Just like Miss Farlington.” He sighed. “That seems to be the only kind of woman I’m able to attract: One who consistently bucks society’s expectations.”
Robin stared straight ahead. “Isellta’s stupid. He wants somethin’ from me. He said friendship. But I keep gettin’ this feelin’ he wants somethin’ more.”
He lapsed back into silence that lasted for fifteen steps. “Ambrose has this stupid idea I’m in love with Isellta.” He shook his head. “I spend all my time yellin’ at him and pushin’ him away. That sure don’t equal love to me.”
Robin rubbed his forehead. “I’ve gone and pushed him too hard this time. I slapped him. And now.” He lowered his hand and shrugged. “I guess he ain’t comin’ back. He can’t be stupid enough to wanna come back. It wouldn’t make sense to him. And God above knows how much the little bugger loves sense.”
They turned the corner.
“I’m rather confused.” said Raven. “Sir. Are you aware that Isellta is a male fey?”
Another glare. “What?”
“What? You think I shouldn’t like him? You think it’s impossible for me to love him? Is that it?”
Raven opened his mouth, but then he realized he had nothing to actually say to that. He closed his mouth.
“These things happen, Raven. Maybe not in your pristine white-gloved world. But they do happen.”
“Forget it. I don’t wanna talk about it. Besides, it don’t even matter. I don’t love him. He was her little minion. Whatever Olessa wanted, he’d jump up and get. He didn’t give a hoot about how much she hurt me. He obeyed her. He never, ever told her no. He never told her to stop. He just stood there like the empty-hearted fey he is.”
“I believe you do him a discredit, sir. He does care about you.”
“Baloney! That scrawny piece of fey don’t even know a thing about love or even simple carin’. He ain’t any different from the rest of his filthy tribe. Heartless to the core.”
“Are you so certain about that, sir?”
Robin didn’t reply.
“Perhaps you are unaware of this, but Isellta used me to bring a vampire hunter here for you to drink from.”
“Stupid fey. I don’t need his help. I don’t need anyone’s help. I’m fine. I can stand on my own. I ain’t weak. I ain’t helpless.”
“I’m sure that is all correct and true, sir.”
“It is and then some.”
“Of course, sir. But the fact is you were incredibly weak and helpless when they carried you into Sammy’s Place. There was no way you could have done any hunting. If it weren’t for Isellta—”
“Shut up! I don’t need a lecture.”
“Perhaps you do, sir.”
“I don’t. I’m fine. I don’t need you. I don’t need anyone. Certainly not that mindless, heartless—-”
“Sir! If you continue on in that manner, I will be forced to slap you. If only to bring you to your senses. The simple truth is you do need help.”
“And, even though it goes against everything I personally believe in, you do need Isellta. If he does love you and you do love him, you shouldn’t push him away.”
Robin balled up his hands.
“I was fool enough to push the woman I loved away. She threw herself at me repeatedly and I refused to catch her. I valued my position more than I valued her. Now, I stand alone. I dream of her. I long for her. I can never have her, for she is gone. Do not make my mistake, sir.”
Robin spun around and punched Raven. “Idiot! Why didn’t you give me this lecture before Isellta ran away?”
“Forget it. Just forget it.”
Raven was completely speechless.
“Let’s rescue Missy so I can go back home and bury myself in my bed and die.”
I don’t think there’s anything I can say to such immature angst. “Very good, sir.”