Kevin looked up at the visitors.
They weren’t Night Folk. He was certain about that.
But they had a familiar scent to them. Especially the female.
He squeaked again.
She spoke to him, but her words were unknowable syllables and sounds.
The black furred male touched her and looked at her in a way Kevin almost knew, almost recognized.
The older male said sounds at Kevin.
Kevin tilted his head as if that would make understanding their language any easier.
It did not.
The pain returned.
His eyes glazed over.
His awareness dulled out as the pain possessed him, cracking and rearranging bones.
He lost track of time and place. All there was, all that existed was the pain.
And nothing else.
Ambrose followed Barbara and her father out to the front porch.
John looked at them and smiled. “I’ll go get the car heated up.”
Barbara smiled back at him. “Thanks.”
Ambrose watched her expression, waiting for the moment when her smile would fall away.
She took a deep breath and sighed. “Well! I guess I should be heading home now.”
“Barbara. Was I wrong?”
“Calling you out here. Your father said I did a good thing.”
“I don’t feel that way. I made you cry. I hate making you cry. I—”
She covered his mouth with just the tip of her fingers. “Stop.”
I want to lick her scent again.
I want to.
I want to.
But not just her fingers.
And not just her hands.
His knees trembled.
I want so much, but what if?
“My dear kitten. You did do a good thing. You did me a favor.”
“But it made you cry.”
“Of course it did. But that is not your fault. So, don’t go and beat yourself up over it. Yes, I cried. I still want to. But I’m glad I came.”
He lowered his gaze.
“Ambrose, I’m glad you gave me this chance to say goodbye.” Her hand moved up into the thickness of his hair. “Thank you.”
He looked up at her with a roguish grin. “You know, that isn’t a proper thank you.”
“Oh?” She grinned back. “Well, Mr. Smith. Why don’t you tell me what a proper thank you should be.”
He laughed. “I would, but I firmly believe in Show, Don’t Tell.” He leaned in to kiss her, but she swooped in and kissed him first, taking him by surprise.
He wrapped his arms around her and she reciprocated.
Summer-heated images flashed in his mind.
Barbara removing his clothes.
Her bare skin touching his bare skin.
Her scent all around him, all over him.
But what if?
She broke off. “Mmm. Now, that’s a lovely way to say thank you.”
She looked puzzled. “What if what?”
“Darn it. I didn’t mean to think that out loud.”
“Ambrose, what’s wrong? What are you worried about?”
He walked over to the right side of the porch and grabbed the railing. “My first time was with Anna’s sister, Rebecca. I always saw Anna as a good friend. Rebecca, however, was the unattainable one. I knew I didn’t stand a chance with her. I thought I’d always be in the background admiring her from afar. Then, the day of Anna’s funeral, she talked me into sleeping with her. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t care if it was right or wrong. I didn’t care if it was vastly inappropriate. I said yes so fast.”
He listened to the sound of her footsteps coming his way. “I’d never been so happy. I won’t go into details, but she made me so happy. I thought I made her happy too.”
Her scent wreathed him as she stopped right behind him. “But I wasn’t enough for her. She thought about it. She thought about me and decided I wasn’t worth the keeping. She dumped me the very next day.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I’m scared. I love you so much. I want you. I want our first time together to thrill you into all of your bones. But what if? What if it doesn’t? What if you don’t enjoy it? What if I’m not enough for you? What if the sight of me in the state of arousal disgusts you? What if? Barbara, what if you reject me?”
She wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her face against his back.
“I’m scared. When Rebecca rejected me, it hurt. I had done everything I could think of to make it pleasant for her and that wasn’t enough. The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. All of my encounters after her, I didn’t even try. I figured why bother? I just focused on making myself happy. If you reject me, what will I do? What will I become? How far will I fall?”
“I won’t reject you. I love you, Ambrose Smith. And I will love you. No matter what. So, when that day finally comes, don’t be scared. Just love me.” She hugged him a little tighter. “And that would be more than enough for me.”