Ambrose sat in the driver’s seat. He took a deep breath. “I can do this.”
Is he talking to me or to himself?
He closed the door.
“Are you sure?” Barbara buckled up. “I really don’t mind driving.”
“It’s good practice.”
I’m still not sure who he’s talking to. “We could walk. I’m good with walking.”
Ambrose focused on her. “I can do this, Barbara.” He smiled. “Trust me.”
He turned the key and started the engine. An alert dinged over and over. “What? What did I do?”
“It’s reminding you to buckle up.”
“Is that all?” He buckled up. The dinging stopped. “Oh. Good. I didn’t break it.”
“All right. You want to switch to reverse. Good. Okay. Back up nice and easy. Don’t stomp on the pedal. Light touch.”
She cringed as he charged out of the parking spot backwards. “Light touch, Ambrose! Light! Light! Good. That’s better.”
“I can do this.”
“Of course.” She looked at his earnest, focused expression and, despite her fears, nearly laughed out loud.
I love him so much.
Ambrose stopped the car outside The Cardboard Box. “We made it.”
“And in one piece.”
He unbuckled his seatbelt. “And I didn’t kill anyone or anything.”
She giggled and unbuckled her seatbelt. “Will wonders never cease?”
He grinned. “You brat.”
I want to crawl into her lap.
I want to feel her.
I want her to feel everything.
He quickly got out of the car.
I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
Oh, but I want to. So much.
Barbara’s door opened and closed.
Her boots sloshed through the slushy snow.
“Hey.” She touched his arm. “You okay?”
He looked at her.
Does she feel it too? Or is it just me being overly hormonal?
He nodded. “I needed some fresh air.”
“You sure you’re okay?”
I want her to be happy.
I don’t want her to regret anything about our first time together.
I will wait.
I will wait until she is ready for me.
He kissed her forehead. “Let’s go inside.”
He realized that he was being rude, but he stared with a complete lack of subtlety.
The vampire behind the jewelry counter had replaced his missing fang.
With a fang made out of solid crystal.
I just have so many questions.
“Hello again, Mr. Smith.”
He pulled himself out of his stunned train of thoughts. “Are my rings ready?”
“Actually, I was just about to give you a call.”
“Yes.” He pulled open a drawer below the display case. “Smith. Smith. Smith. Ah! Here it is.”
The jeweler put two white ring boxes on the counter. “Just so you know, these two were a lot of work.” He opened the first box. “As you can see, I set the stone. That was the easy part. I had to…”
The jeweler rattled out a whole long paragraph about how much work he put into restoring that particular ring.
Neither Ambrose nor Barbara heard a word he said.
“Oh.” she said softly.
Ambrose took the ring out of the box.
My mother’s ring.
He put it on her finger. The refurbished gold slid smooth and clean over her knuckles. The diamond sparkled with a new diamond’s splendor.
Barbara opened the other box and pulled out his ring.
“As for that ring, it wasn’t as complicated to repair. But, if you look closely at the….”
Barbara put it on his finger. The silver shined like liquid metal.
My father’s ring.
One day I’ll pass it down to my own children, to my own son. And it will be his ring to pass down to his own children.
Generations linked by my father’s silver ring.
Barbara touched his arm. “You okay?”
The jeweler cleared his throat. “I trust you find my work to be satisfactory.”
Ambrose smiled. “And then some.”
“Great! Here’s the bill.”
Ambrose looked at the total and winced.
“Keep in mind, that was a lot of work.”
“I know. Can I do a payment plan?”
“Sure. Have a seat while I grab my payment plan information. I’ll be right back. So, don’t even try sneaking off with the merchandise. Otherwise, I might forget my good manners and bite your lovely fiancée.”
“Calm down. I’m not going anywhere.”
As the jeweler walked to the back of his kiosk, Barbara looked up at Ambrose. “You sure you’re okay? You looked like you were going to cry.”
“I was feeling sentimental.” He smiled. “I do get like that every now and then.”
“What was it?”
“Our rings belonged to my parents. They gave them to me.” He remembered.
His mother – a spirit of light and glory. His father – solid and present until the last moment. And then they were gone.
Then, I felt sick.
He frowned as he struggled to remember.
I woke up in the woods, covered in blood. What happened in between? Where did I go?
He unsheathed his claws. They were clean, but he could see the phantom streaks on them. Blood. From more than one person.
So many scents.
What did I do?
Who did I kill?
He sheathed them.
She took his hands. “What were you thinking about, kitten?”
Ambrose looked at their rings and smiled. He kissed her hands. “I’ll tell you later, love.”