Sammy led Ambrose to his bedroom and helped him into bed.
Ambrose burrowed his face into his pillow and sighed.
Sammy covered him with the blanket. He watched him drift off to sleep.
His thoughts went down some dark paths before turning to Barbara.
She loves him.
There’s nothing I can do about it.
I have to step aside and refrain from tripping Mr. Smith as he walks towards her.
I have to let her go.
I will always treasure her, but she has made her choice.
And it isn’t me.
I have to accept it.
I have to let her go, because I treasure her.
Because I want her to be happy.
He thought about their interactions. How they looked at each other. How they touched each other. How much they touched each other.
He makes her happy.
He will make her happy.
I will step aside.
I will let her go.
Barbara looked up as Sammy came through the front door.
He walked over to her desk.
He nodded. “I give you my blessing. I will not interfere. I will not hurt him. I will not try to break you two apart.”
“So, you didn’t kill him.”
“Did you think about it? I mean, you were all alone with him and he is in a pretty vulnerable state when he’s day tired.”
“I considered it.”
She startled. Whoa! I was just kidding.
“For a moment. But what would it have accomplished? What good would it have done? You wouldn’t turn to me. You would leave me.”
“I would too, even if you spun some lie about a hunter popping out of the hydrangeas and staking him. I would have that sinking suspicion that you threw him at the hunter and shouted, ‘Catch!’. I wouldn’t want to be near you.”
Her phone rang and she answered it.
Sammy gave her one last look before heading to the double glass doors leading to his office.
She watched him go through the doors.
Her heart hurt for him.
“You know, it’s rude to laugh when you’re in the middle of a kiss.”
“I can’t help it. I keep thinking—”
“Stop thinking. Focus on just me.”
“What? You mean, like this?” He pressed his forehead against her forehead and stared into her eyes.
“No. Like this.” She straddled his lap.
“I wasn’t even thinking…” He closed his eyes and leaned his head back as her kisses heated his face. “Elsie.”
Elsie stopped and looked back at the server. “May I help you?”
“Yes. I’m sorry, but your behavior is not appropriate.”
Hildreth opened his eyes. “What?”
“You’re making the other customers uncomfortable with your indiscretions.”
“Indiscretions.” Hildreth nodded his head in approval. “Good word choice.”
Elsie smacked his arm.
“I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.”
Hildreth bit down on his lower lip. Keep it together. This would be a bad moment to start laughing.
“We were done eating anyways. Bring us the check and we’ll leave.”
The server fidgeted. “Well. They want you to leave now. You are disturbing the peace.”
Elsie glared at him. “So, what? We don’t have to pay for our meal?”
The server fidgeted again. “I’m not one to question my supervisor’s orders, but personally I think you should pay. But what do I know? I’m just a server, trying to put my kid through college on a minimum wage salary.”
Elsie abandoned Hildreth’s lap, which disappointed him. “Have your supervisor come out here. I wish to speak to him.”
Another fidget. “Couldn’t you just leave? I don’t like confrontations.”
“This won’t be a confrontation.”
“Sure feels like it to me.”
“All the same, I wish to speak to your supervisor.”
“Okay. I just hope there won’t be any yelling.” The server wandered back to the kitchen.
“Ohmygosh.” Hildreth burst out laughing. “I don’t know what’s funnier: the fact that we were disturbing the peace with our wild love-making or that we got interrupted yet again.”
“I don’t see how either of those could be considered funny.”
“It’s all a matter of perspective, baby. I mean, were we really kissing that loudly?”
The supervisor, a beefy Gordon Ramsey look alike with a buzz cut, stopped at their table. “Is there a problem, miss?”
“No.” said Hildreth.
Elsie looked like she wanted to punch him.
“No problems here. Food was excellent. So much better than what I was expecting. Service was excellent. We would like to pay our bill, if that isn’t a problem.”
The supervisor furrowed his already furrowed brow.
“We’ll pay our bill and be on our merry loving way. Is that a problem?”
“No, sir, but…Your behavior was unsuitable for our restaurant. Maybe there are places out there that condone that sort of nonsense from their paying customers. We are not one of them.”
Elsie opened her mouth to let loose her mind.
Hildreth smiled. “It’s always good and admirable to have standards and to uphold them. Bravo to you, sir. And I mean that in the most unsarcastic way possible.”
“Oh. I appreciate that.”
“Now, how much was the bill?”
“Fifty-four ninety five.”
“That seems reasonable. Is that with gratuity?”
Hildreth pulled sixty dollars out of his wallet.
The supervisor hesitated, but only for a moment. He took the money.
“And you may keep the change.”
The supervisor scowled. “Why do I feel like I’m being bribed?”
“No idea. I’m just paying for an excellent meal. Nothing more than that.”
The supervisor walked away, scratching his head.
Elsie smiled. “That was amazing.”
“I know. I’m awesome.”
She kissed him in such a way it made him long for more.
He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her in closer.
She pulled back before they could go too far. “We’d better leave before they send the torch and pitchforkers after us.”
He laughed. “For inappropriate behavior and indiscretions?”