Ambrose waited until their scents were long gone and faded. Then, he raced over to the battered Mini Cooper.
He tore the front door off the hinges.
She wasn’t in the front seat.
He looked in back.
She was all huddled up on the floor.
Ambrose got out of the car, ripped the back door off, and went down into a crouch. “Barbara.” He stroked her hair. “Love, are you okay?”
She raised her head. “Ambrose.” She flung herself into his arms and sobbed into his neck.
“Are…are you okay? Are you hurt?” He trembled. “Did they…did they hurt you? Did they touch you?”
She shook her head.
He relaxed. “It’s okay.” He held her closer. “You’re okay. I’m okay. We’re all in one piece.” He broke into a confused sound that was neither a laugh nor a cry, but a strange in between. “The car’s a wreck, though. I’m sorry. I didn’t. I didn’t. I’m so sorry. I—”
His eyes welled up. “If they had hurt you…If..” He blinked and his tears fell. “If they had killed you…Oh, Barbara! If they had killed you.”
“But they didn’t. I’m fine.” She kissed his eyes. “Don’t cry.”
His voice dropped into a whisper. “What would I do without you?”
She didn’t reply.
Barbara broke out of his embrace and climbed out of the car.
He looked up at her.
She knelt beside him.
Ambrose closed his eyes and melted as she hugged him again. “I love you.” he whispered.
Raven entered The Cardboard Box and headed straight for the elevators.
The elevator door was already open. So, he climbed aboard and pressed 12. He leaned back against the wall and sighed.
I hope Missy is safe.
She can no longer transform into XQ, which renders her rather helpless.
I hope she’s safe.
I already had my meal tonight. So. All I have to do is go down to the seamstress and ask her if she can repair my gloves. If she can’t…
I’ll have to buy two more pairs.
The elevator stopped at the ninth floor.
The door opened.
A black cloaked creature came aboard. A black hood covered its head and a swath of black material concealed its face.
The scent of roadkill spun around its cloaked body.
Raven silently moved to the other side of the elevator.
The creature stretched forward a black gauntleted hand and pressed 12.
The elevator began its descent.
Its very slow descent.
Raven cleared his throat and tried to make small talk. “How about those…uh…baseball teams? Do you suppose they’ll win the…uhhh…win this year?”
The creature turned its head towards him and made a sound like screeching brakes.
Raven’s face turned pale. “Uhh…Do you care much for the weather we’ve been having, sir?” It didn’t quite make sense, but his brain had completely checked out on him. So, his mouth was running on its own. “It has been very…uhhh…peachy. I mean, balmy lately. I—uhhh…”
The creature screeched again and strode towards him.
“What do you suppose came first? The chicken or the egg?”
The creature stopped. It stood there as if indecisive.
“I…I like to think they came together as a complete package.”
The creature returned to the other side of the elevator. It folded its overlong arms across its chest and leaned against the wall. Its black veiled face stared at Raven.
All the way down to floor 12.
All the very slow way down.
The elevator stopped.
The doors opened.
Raven waited for the creature to get off first.
It didn’t move.
It didn’t look away from the vampire.
“You may leave first…sir?”
It unfolded its arms and made an after you gesture.
The doors started to slide shut.
Raven hurried to the doors and forced them open.
The creature followed him off the elevator and all the way to the seamstress’.
Raven tried to ignore the creature, but it was hard to ignore that scent. He took a deep breath and sighed heavily.