Ambrose put his phone away.
Well. I’ve gone and done it again. Got her all upset. Marvelous. Just marvelous.
He pressed his hand against his forehead. I need to see her.
He lowered his hand. I need to set this right.
I don’t want to lose her.
Barbara struggled to get into her positive mental space as she drove to work.
I can’t be sobbing at my desk. I need to buck up and smile and try not to turn into a human water fountain.
She parked her car and took a deep, shaky breath. I can do this.
I am powerful.
I am mighty.
Hear me roar!
That’s a pathetic roar, but it will do.
She got out of her car and strode into Sammy’s Place, very determined to sparkle and shine at all costs.
Ambrose made it to the front door.
He opened it.
Daylight hit his eyes full blast.
He scrunched his eyes and staggered back.
Darn it all.
He opened his eyes and straggled out the front door.
Barbara settled into her chair and booted up her computer. After three eternities, the log-in screen popped up. She entered her username and password.
“Hello, Ms. Addleston.”
Barbara startled. “Oh, Sammy. I didn’t see you come up.”
He struggled to keep his expression neutral. “Is everything going well? You seem…off.”
She shrugged. “No offness here. I’m fine.”
Her pen jar spontaneously knocked over.
“Is it Mr. Smith?”
“Ambrose? No. He’s fine. I’m fine.”
“Then, why are you upset?”
She gave up. “Is it that obvious?”
He smiled. “Only because I know you.”
“Kevin.” Five of her blue pens shot out of the jar and dart-boarded the wall behind her.
“He’s…” She rose from her seat and plucked the pens from the wall. “He’s transitioning into a full werewolf. It’s happening so fast.”
Sammy walked over to her. “Ms. Addleston—”
The front door opened. “Barbara.”
Sammy pulled the last pen out of the wall and handed it to her. “I’ll be in my office if you need me.”
“Thank you, Sammy.”
He walked to the other side of her desk, nodded to Ambrose, and left the scene.
Barbara waited until he was out of sight before hurrying over to Ambrose, who was standing in a half-slump in the doorway.
“What are you doing out and about this time of day?” She ushered him over to one of the bench seats and forced him to sit.
Ambrose looked up at her – all groggy-eyed. “I came as…” His eyelids drifted down to half-mast.
She sat beside him.
He opened his eyes. “I came as fast as I could. Barbara. If I…If what I said hurt you, believe me. That was not my intention. I—”
“You silly thing. I’m not mad at you. It’s just this whole situation. It isn’t fair.”
“Why does it have to be a whole drawn out process? Why can’t it be like his normal transformation?”
“Because it isn’t. This is permanent. All of his bones and organs are shifting and breaking and reforming into a wolf’s frame and internal arrangement.”
“And they will never change back.”
“Not even after death.”
A horrible thought occurred to her. “Will something like this happen to you too?”
“No. Fortunately, no. I’ve already undergone the misery of being changed into a vampire. I’m not going to change into anything else. What you see is what I am and what I always will be until death takes me.”
A quick image of him lying dead with a stake in his heart flashed before her eyes. She hugged him and held on to him as tight as she could.
“I know. I know even a vampire can’t live forever, but I don’t want to lose you. I don’t want to see you killed by some hunter’s stake.”
His hand glided through her hair and she loved how his touch made her hair feel like silk.
“But that is the only way I can die. My heart is my only weakness, my only vulnerability.” He moved her hair away from her ear and whispered something in French.
It could have been a snippet of Hamlet. It could have been the Ten Commandments.
Barbara had no idea.
But she smiled.
I love the touch of his hands. The feel of his arms around me. The sound of his voice. How beautiful his voice sounds when he’s speaking French.
He started to go limp.
She rose quickly and guided him onto the rest of the seat.
He moaned slightly as he touched down.
Barbara kissed the side of his face.
Ambrose opened his eyes and looked up at her. He kissed her before falling asleep.
“My kitten.” She ran her fingers through his hair. “I love you so much.”