The waiter at the Gendarme Kicker Café smiled. There are some days I hate my job. Other days I love it. Today I love it. Love it so much. Everything is wonderful and going right. The customers are all in a good mood and leaving generous tips. No one in the kitchen staff has had a meltdown. And I haven’t dropped one dish today.
Life is good and I couldn’t possibly feel better.
The front door opened and a couple entered the restaurant.
The waiter’s good mood fell as he recognized the gentleman.
And just like that, my day is ruined.
He winced a smile across his face. “Hello again, sir.”
“Table for three, please.”
“Certainly. Right this way.”
As the waiter led them to a booth, Ambrose tried to resist.
But he failed. His gaze moved to the table Elsie had been sitting at on that bad day.
It was vacant.
In his mind, he saw their ghost images locked in a tableau. He stood at Elsie’s chair, kissing her. Hildreth stood on the other side of the table. Maybe his face showed anger. Maybe it showed hurt. Maybe it showed both.
Then, Barbara took his hand and the ghosts disappeared.
He looked down at her and smiled in relief. He squeezed her hand.
She smiled back at him.
“And here you are.” The waiter set the menus on the table.
Barbara slid into the booth and scooted over several spaces.
Ambrose came in after her and sat close to her. He laid his hand on her knee.
She looked up at him and her smile grew.
“Would you care for anything to drink while you wait for your third party member?”
“Iced tea.” said Barbara.
“Hot water.” said Ambrose. “Not tepid. Not lukewarm. NOT flavored. Just plain, simple hot water.”
The waiter smiled with a significant lack of conviction. “Of course, you do. I’ll bring your drinks out shortly.”
As the waiter left the scene, Ambrose rubbed her knee. “Are you sure you’re all right after what happened to your car?”
“Oh, sure. I will have to buy a new car, which is always a lot of—”
“Barbara, are you okay?”
Her smile faltered before falling altogether. “No. Those werewolves…I doubt that any of them were Kevin. He couldn’t have completed his transformation this soon.”
“One day…He’ll be just like that. Just another pack member focused only on his alpha and his alpha’s needs.” She looked down at the table. “One day, he might attack me and he will have no memories of me to rein him in. He might kill me or change me. And he’ll feel no regret.”
That’s why vampires beat werewolves. At least, we retain our humanity.
“Why does it have to be like this?”
“I don’t know.” He hugged her and she cried into him.
What can I say to ease her pain? How can I bring her smile back? Maybe…”Maybe he’ll become an alpha and he’ll have his own fleet of minion werewolves.”
“If he becomes an alpha, he will regain his ability to think as a human and be able to speak through his mind.”
She raised his head. “How likely is that?”
“For someone like Kevin…”
He shrugged. “It’s hard to say, but there’s always the possibility.” He wiped away her tears and kissed her eyes. “No matter how slim, it’s a possibility.”
The scent of warm sea air caught Ambrose’s attention.
I know that scent.
“Why is Barbara crying?”
She perked up and rubbed away the rest of her tears.
Ambrose turned to face him. “I didn’t do anything. It isn’t my fault. I—”
Her father, John, smiled. “Calm down.” He sat across from Ambrose. “Just tell me why.”
“It isn’t Ambrose’s fault. My car got attacked by werewolves.”
John frowned. “Kevin?”
She shook her head. “But it got me thinking about him.”
“Did they hurt you?”
“She shook her head again. “Ambrose scared them off.”
Ambrose laughed. “Scared them may be a slight exaggeration.”
John elbow propped on the table. “So, how did you make them stop?”
“Easy. I pinned down their alpha and told him, ‘Hey! Tell your mangy lard-eaters to get away from my girl or I’ll tear your head off’.”
Barbara hugged his arm and smiled. “And that’s how you phrased it?”
He chuckled. “Well. I may have given the alpha the toned down version of that, but the essence was the same.”
“So? I’m your girl, huh?”
He stroked her face. “And I’m your kitten.”