They ran out of the alley. Elsie ran with a lioness’ keened focus and determination. Hildreth cut back his speed just so he could keep up with her.
It’s a good thing she isn’t a vampire. We’d all be in trouble. Me especially. I’d be three thousand times dead and she wouldn’t even have to use her vampire hoo-doo to get me.
Just a look.
Her lips on mine.
And I would be so far gone.
A squadron of vampires converged on the two hunters.
Elsie didn’t hesitate. She danced a dance of sharp kicks and hard blows. Each move flowed fluid and graceful and lethal. Her partners all dropped dead.
Hildreth danced fast and hard and focused. He stayed out of his own head and paid attention to his surroundings.
Soon the squadron was down to ten.
Hildreth looked over at her. “You okay?”
“Oh, I’m just all manner of splendid. You were right. It has been too long since we’ve done this together.”
Another vampire raced onto the scene.
Hildreth aimed his Bossman 550 and pulled the trigger.
That vampire joined the dead.
Hildreth came to her. “Elsie.” He slid his hand under her hair, under her coat collar, to stroke the back of her neck.
She looked up at him. Her expression turned gentle and loving.
Hildreth could have sworn he felt his heart leave his body.
“We need to do this more often, Hildreth.”
He nodded inanely. “Uh-huh.”
Ambrose opened the ring boxes again. One at a time.
They’re really there.
What happened really happened.
My parents gave me their rings…their blessing.
He stroked the smoothed metal.
And it’s all beautiful.
He closed the boxes and put them back into the bag. “Barbara.”
She stopped at the red light. “Did you already have something to eat?”
“Yeah. I caught a quick bite before I came to Sammy’s Place. And I held back. I didn’t kill or change him.”
She smiled and squeezed his hand. “I’m so proud of you.”
“You shouldn’t be.”
She tilted her head. “Why?”
“Because I’m still so selfish. I hold back because I want to do the right thing. I…I want to be a better person. I don’t want to be a monster. But, really, my main reason for holding back is I want you to be proud of me. I want you to see me as someone good. Someone worthwhile. Someone you can trust.”
“Ambrose.” She unbuckled her seatbelt and turned in her seat. “I already do.”
The joy he felt was like a stake to his heart. Tears came to his eyes.
She leaned forward and kissed his eyes. “We’ve come such a long way. Especially you. I am so proud of who you’ve become.”
“I wouldn’t have reached this point without you. If I had stayed with Elsie, even if she had treated me better…Even if she had let me come and go as I pleased, she would not have changed me for the better.” He smiled. “We are too alike. Fire and fire can do nothing but burn.”
“So, are you saying I’m not fire?”
He grinned. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. You are softness. You are light. And, when need be, you are the hardest iron. Barbara.”
He kissed her.
She drew her fingers through his hair to the back of his head.
Ambrose opened his eyes. “Barbara.” His mouth was inches away from her mouth. “Love, you are love.”
Of course, a statement like that demanded another kiss.
So, Barbara kissed him.