As Barbara drove to Kevin’s house in her rental car, she told herself over and over that she was doing it for his sake.
She had herself pretty well convinced.
Until she pulled into his driveway.
She ran into his house and all the way up to his room.
And she was not thinking about Kevin.
Barbara entered the room, carefully turned the light on, and walked around to the other side of the bed.
Her two extraordinaries lay on the floor.
Ambrose lay on his side facing away from the werewolf.
Kevin’s long muzzle chin-propped on the vampire’s ribs.
Both were completely sound asleep.
Despite her fears, Barbara couldn’t help but smile.
My two guys.
Even though she really wanted to pester Ambrose first, she knelt beside Kevin.
Kevin exhaled sharply through his nose and raised his large wedge-shaped head. He looked at her through eyes that were no longer human.
She sat back on her feet with a bad feeling of hurt inside her chest. “Kevin. I don’t know if you still know me. I don’t know if anything I’m saying makes sense to you.” She reached for his head.
Kevin pulled back in surprise, only to move closer so he could sniff her hand. He sniffed it in hard, audible sniffs. He moved his head back and tilted it.
“I guess I just want to tell you I’ll miss you. No matter where you go. I will miss you. I don’t love you the way I love Ambrose. I can’t. I just can’t. But I have always liked you. I’m sorry I couldn’t have done more with you when you were still human before this change started. I’m sorry I was never the friend you needed.”
She startled as a man’s hand came to rest on her back.
Ambrose smiled a groggy sort of smile. “I was wondering if you’d come one last time.”
She smiled in return. “Sammy gave me permission to come here. I wonder if he expects me to return to work today.”
His expression turned serious. “Are you all right?”
“With this? I’m not sure how I could be all right with it. On the bright side, he seems to be doing better. He’s more alert and a lot more calm.”
Ambrose rubbed his hand up her back.
She closed her eyes and gasped. “Umm…”
His hand quickly abandoned her back. “I’m sorry.”
She opened her eyes.
The words “It’s okay” and “Don’t worry about it” came straight to her mind, but she couldn’t bring herself to say them out loud.
If I tell him it’s okay, he’ll think “Oh. It’s okay. I can do that now.” And I can’t. I can’t let him turn me on like that. It isn’t right. It isn’t okay.
Ohh, I wish…
She could feel her face turn red from that incomplete thought. “Just make sure you don’t forget again.” Her face turned one shade redder. “Especially after we’re married.”
He smiled a big, happy smile.
And she realized that what she had said was so much better than “It’s okay”.
“I love you, Barbara.” His eyes glazed over. “I…”
She guided him down to the floor.
Ambrose looked up at her. He could barely keep his eyes open, but he looked up at her. “Barbara.”
She kissed him. “My dear, sleepy kitten.”
“Stay home tonight. Don’t…”
“Don’t worry. I’m not stupid. Desperate to see you? Of course. Always. But I’m not stupid. I know the risk and I won’t take it. Not even to be with you.”
He sighed. “Good.” He closed his eyes.
She watched him fall back asleep.
As his breathing changed into a sleeping pattern, Barbara felt the distance between her and him.
Even if I stay here beside him, that line is still there. I am here in the world of humans and daylight. He is there in the world of vampires and moonlight. Our paths cross for only a couple of hours at night and then I have to go to sleep.
If I let him change me, that separating line would disappear. I’d move into his world and he would be there with me. Our hours would be the same. My nights would be his nights and my days his days.
But there would be a price to pay for that change.
I would have to hunt and bite people I don’t know, maybe people I do know. I would live long, unending years with him, but with the knowledge that there is a stake out there with my name on it.
Kevin squeaked plaintively and nudged her hand with his nose.
She stroked the werewolf’s head without even thinking about it.
There’s a stake out there with Ambrose’s name on it. The day will come when it will stab his heart and the man I love will be gone.
Would I know?
Would I feel the shock of his loss?
She edged past Kevin and knelt beside Ambrose’s head.
Maybe he’ll call out to me with his last thought, his last breath.
Maybe he won’t.
Maybe death will come too fast.
And I would never know.
She hugged him tight.
“Mnngh.” His eyes fluttered open. “Ba’ra…”
She released him and laid her hands on his chest. “Be careful tonight. You hear me? You be careful. I don’t want anything to happen to you. I don’t want to lose you. Not now. Not so soon. Please, Ambrose. Be careful. Please.”
“mm always ca’ful.”
He opened his eyes a little and looked at her through his eyelashes. “Love you.”
I could let him bite me. Let the change come over me with all of its pain and painful choices.
“If.” She took a deep breath and let it all out. “If I told you it’s okay, would you change me?”