If Elsie’s punching dummy had a mouth, it would have pleaded for mercy.
Elsie punched it in a series of powerful blows.
Over and over.
Until a pair of hands came to rest on her shoulders. “Elsie.”
Hildreth rubbed her shoulders in silence.
She relaxed into his hands.
“Elsie. Are you mad at me?”
“For what happened tonight.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
She frowned. “Hildreth. What are you thinking? Do you think it was your fault?”
His hands went still. “I was weak. That vampire reached into my head and took over. I didn’t even know what I was doing. I had no idea, Elsie. No idea.”
“And…” He hesitated. “This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. Only.” Another pause. “Last time. Elsie. It was her. That girl on the train. She reached into my mind and she.”
His hands retreated.
“She made me feel. She made me. Elsie, she made me…She tried to make me…”
Elsie tensed up as she filled in the blanks.
“I didn’t do anything. I swear I didn’t. I know I didn’t. But Elsie, she tried and I…my body reacted to her suggestions. But I broke through. I didn’t want her. I only wanted you. I knew she wasn’t you. I staked her.”
Elsie turned to face him. She was both relieved and disappointed to see that he had indeed put his clothes on. His feet were bare. His hair dripped.
He stood one-footed again.
I should be hurt and offended by this confession, but how can I? He jumped out of his window like the idiot he is just to make sure that I was all right.
Still. “You didn’t tell me any of this before.”
“I’m telling you now. Elsie baby, are you mad at me? Is that why you left me in the bathroom?”
“Idiot. I left you in the shower because I know how I feel about you. I know how much I want you. I know if we tried to do anything in the shower, I’d wind up accidently cracking your skull.”
He laughed. “Fierce little thing, aren’t you?”
She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Come May 21st, you’ll find out just how fierce I can be.”
“Mmm. I look forward to it.”
Elsie helped him upstairs.
He tried his best to make light of the situation, but he was clearly hurting.
Stupid, wonderful idiot.
She guided him into the living room and down onto the couch.
“Huh?” He looked up at her. “Did I miss something? Did we go into a time vortex anomaly thing and skip to May 21?”
“No. You’re going to stay here.”
“Okay. So far so good. I like this.”
“I’m going to hunt.”
“And you are to stay here. If I catch you hobbling around with your Bossman 550, I’ll—”
“Kiss me until I’m senseless?”
“More like punch you until you’re senseless.”
“Well.” He winced as she propped his foot on the ottoman. “Mnngh. That isn’t very romantic, Vansing.”
“Keep your foot up. Stay here.” She looked at him sitting on her couch with his bare foot all propped up. A rush of emotions overcame her.
She sat beside him.
This ridiculous, gorgeous man.
I want him to just stay and never leave.
Even though her body yelled all sorts of heated commands at her, she kissed him.
A gentle, soft kiss.
But she couldn’t help herself.
She dug her fingers into his hair.
And he chuckled.