Hildreth sat at the kitchen table, propped his foot up on the chair next to him, and watched Elsie do her thing.
Elsie cracked an egg into a metal bowl and threw out the shells. She hummed softly as she whisked the egg goop.
Hildreth smiled at the sight of her hair in a poofy ponytail.
Such glorious frizziness.
His smile faded.
What if Caten wasn’t lying?
What if he will have her kidnapped?
Hildreth clenched his teeth as he struggled up to his feet again. He hobbled over to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Mmm.”
She leaned her head back against him. “You should be resting your foot.”
“I’ve been resting it all night. Elsie.” He kissed her head right above her ponytail holder. “I’m sorry. If you’re mad at me—”
“I’m not mad at you.”
God opened the windows and suddenly Hildreth could see the light. “Ohhh. Oh, Els.” He chuckled. “Oh, Elsie baby. Baby.” He released her. “Look at me.”
She set her whisk on the spoon rest and turned to face him.
“I did not call Caten to accept his ‘Hunt Ambrose Smith’ job. Yeah, Caten tried to bully me into it like the idiot he is. I didn’t accept it. I will never accept it. I promised you, Elsie, that I’d stay away from that vampire. I will keep that promise. I called him because I was paranoid about how quiet he was being. I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t plotting our individual demises.”
“And that’s the only reason.”
“Yes. And I am not lying. Els, I never want to lie to you again. I—”
She hugged him so fast and so hard she knocked him off his feet.
Elsie and Hildreth fell to the floor. His head just missed the cabinets behind them.
Elsie looked down at him. “And this is why I didn’t want to do anything in the shower.”
He smiled. “Els. My Elsie.”
She kissed him and he could have sworn his heart jumped clean out of his chest. He moaned softly in anticipation.
She kissed him again. “Not yet.”
“You tryin’ to make me crazy, Vansing? I want you so much.”
She stood and helped him up. “Don’t worry. You aren’t the only one going crazy. But I have a plan that will make this wait all worthwhile. Trust me, Mayhew.”
He nodded. “Just don’t jump me like that again. I’m an old man, Vansing. My heart can’t take that kind of shock treatment.”
“Oh, please.” She guided him back to the table and helped him get his foot all situated. “You’re only 34 years old.”
“Six years away from forty.”
“Which still isn’t that old.”
He gave her a skeptical look. “You aren’t just saying that to make me feel better about my age, are you?”
“Idiot. Stay here.”
“Can I help you?”
“Yes, you can. By staying here.” She returned to her egg glop and continued to stir it. “After breakfast, we are going to the doctor to get your foot checked out. I want to be sure it isn’t broken.”
“Yes! I get to see my harem again.”
“Uhh,no. You’re not staying. Just visiting.”
“I know. But I might see them in passing. Mmm-mm-mmm. My lovely harem girls in their lovely nurse uniforms.”
“Seriously?” She set her whisk down again and returned to him. She kissed his head. “You are such an idiot.”
“It’s part of my charm.”
“Yes, it is.”