Raven felt softness and comfort all around him.
He opened his eyes.
There was a blanket on him.
He lay in a bed.
His own bed.
A hand stroked his forehead.
Tears filled his eyes.
“Missy.” He rolled onto his back and looked up.
Robin shook his head. “She’s still there.”
“The Institute. I’m sorry, Raven. She didn’t come with us.”
Raven sat up. “We have to go back, sir. We—” He winced as all of his joints hurt at the same time.
He collapsed on the bed.
Push it down.
Push all of the pain and hurt and loss out of sight.
I cannot focus on it.
I cannot dwell on it.
I cannot yield.
Not now. Not…
He saw her face.
How she smiled at him even with her voice gone.
He felt her touch.
Her lips on his bare skin.
Her body under his fingers.
And he knew.
I want more.
I want her touch.
I want her love.
I want her with me always.
He couldn’t push it down anymore.
It all surged up with knives and stakes that slashed and stabbed.
He screamed in pain and grief.
I just want you.
“I’m not sure if you need these or not.” Ambrose handed the baptismal certificate and birth certificate to Father Landover. “I brought them anyway.”
Father Landover examined and scrutinized the two papers. He nodded. “Everything seems to be in order. I’m going to my office to make a copy of these for my own records. I’ll be back in a few seconds.”
As the priest left the room, Barbara came over to Ambrose. “It’s going to come so fast. I don’t know if I’m excited or scared.”
Ambrose smiled. “I’m not scared.” He kissed her forehead. “Don’t be scared.”
She wrapped her arms around him.
He sighed happily. “Barbara. We’re so close. All I need is one more answer. One that Father Landover can’t give me. And then. Barbara. Then.”
“You’ll be fine.” She laid her head against his chest. “I know you’ll be fine.”
“I love you. I love you so much.”
John Addleston contemplated the loving couple before him. He watched how Ambrose talked to Barbara, how he touched her, how she looked at him. The love that was plain and unhidden on both of their faces.
I made the right choice in telling him yes.
I can see that.
It’s so clear.
Ambrose won’t break her heart again. I know it. I can see it. If I could give him my blessing all over again, I would. I gladly would.
The priest re-entered the room.
Ambrose and Barbara reluctantly released each other.
“All right! Here’s your originals. Thank you so much for bringing them in. I generally waive it for vampires because it can be so hard for them to acquire the originals.”
“You’re welcome, Father.” Ambrose clasped his hand. “And thank you. Thank you, Father, for everything.”
“It is my pleasure. I know you’ve had to jump through quite a few hoops. Most of them, mine.”
Ambrose smiled. “I wish I could say not a problem, but—”
The priest laughed. “Say no further. I understand. Since you’re here, did you have any other questions or concerns?”
“Only that you pray for us, Father. Pray for me.”
“Dear Ambrose!” He clasped his hands. “You have been in my prayers and always will be.”