They spent the next hour talking about big things, little things, and all around pleasantries.
The waiter kept them well-supplied with drinks. Even Ambrose.
As soon as there was an appropriate-sized lull in the conversation, the waiter swooped in and gave them the bill.
John looked at it. “Hm! That’s not so bad. I’ll go pay for it.”
Barbara opened her mouth to object, but John cut her off.
“Don’t worry. I got it covered. Be right back.”
As soon as he left, Barbara turned Ambrose’s face towards her. “See? And you were all worried about coming here. Question: I notice my dad didn’t ask this and I know he was dying to ask it. If Elsie came in here today and sat right over there, what would you have done?”
“I would’ve probably freaked out a little, but trust me. I would not have gone over to her. I would not have demanded that she take me back. I would not have kissed her again.”
“Are you sure? Because she’s right over there.”
“What?” He tossed a quick look over there. “She’s no…Ohh.” He turned back to Barbara and grinned. “You naughty little thing you.”
“I’m going to have to punish you. You know that, right?”
“But how to go about it? Hmm.” He tapped his thumbnail against his lips. “I guess it can’t be helped. I’ll just have to tickle you.”
“You don’t know where I’m ticklish.”
“That’s true. I’ll have to do some trial and error, I think. Let’s start right—”
A woman screamed and several other customers followed suit.
Their waiter ran past their table.
“Hey!” said Ambrose. “What’s going on?”
“Vampire attack over at the register.”
Barbara turned pale. “Dad?”
Ambrose scooted out of the booth as fast as he could and ran over to the register.
The vampire had John pinned to the floor. “You smell so good.”
Ambrose charged at the vampire, grabbed him by his collar and flung him to the other side of the reception area. He positioned himself in front of John and stood with hunched shoulders and bared fangs.
The other vampire was a glutton for punishment, because, sure enough, he came racing back.
Ambrose extended his claws and growled.
The other vampire stopped. “Oh, come on! I saw him first.”
Ambrose’s growl escalated.
“Come on! Give me a fair break. I’m hungry.”
“Find someone else.”
“Yeah, right.” But he didn’t move any closer. He just stood there, fidgeting.
Ambrose extended his claws a little further. “Get out of here.”
“Or what? I don’t see you wielding any stakes over there.”
“Or I’ll hand deliver you to Mark Caten. I hear he could use another vampire for his amusement attractions.”
The vampire gasped. “You wouldn’t dare.”
Ambrose scoffed. “I am Ambrose Smith, a vampire with a bad attitude. You wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve dared to do.”
The vampire fidgeted some more before bolting out the door.
And the customers went wild with applause.
Ambrose turned to John.
Barbara was already there, helping him up.
“Are you all right, sir?”
“Yes.” Gratitude shined warm and bright in his eyes. “Thank you.”
The vampire stopped in the nearest alley and leaned against the wall. “The nerve of him stealing MY food.” He pulled out his cell phone and speed dialed a certain phone number.
“Hi. Incandesca? Yeah. It’s me. I found Ambrose Smith. Turns out he is real and he is in Pinkerlee just like Marauder said. What do you want me to do?”
He held the phone away from his face and sighed as she rambled on and on about Mark Caten deserving death.
He counted to five hundred and sixty before putting the phone to his ear again.
She was still ranting.
“Yeah. Yeah. I get ya. He’s unproductive primordial slime. Yeah, we can all agree on that. What do you want me to do with this Ambrose—-” He sighed again.
An even longer rant.
“Look. I haven’t got all night. And neither do you for that matter. Skip to the point. Okay. Yes. I can do that. Thank you.” He ended the call and smirked. “I can certainly do that.”