Elsie glanced at Hildreth, who was staring fixedly outside the window. “It isn’t that bad. At least, your foot isn’t broken. Be glad about that.”
He shook his head.
She stopped at a red light. “Hildreth. Hey! Look at me. This is not the end of the world. It’s only two weeks.”
“Two weeks that you’ll be hunting alone.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“I know.” He sighed. “I just…What if Mark Caten wasn’t bluffing? What if he is going to send that vampire after you? What if—”
“Hildreth. I’ll be fine. Even if Ambrose does show up, I’ll be fine. He has no hold over me. If I have to stake him, I will stake him.”
“He hurt you.” He looked over at her. “Elsie, that vampire nearly cracked your head open. We don’t have a convenient gargoyle out here to come rushing at him, to chase him away. If he does it again. Oh, Els. What if he does it again? What if he breaks you? What if he changes you? I don’t want to lose you, baby. I love you.”
The light turned green.
Elsie went through the light and kept on going.
She tightened her grip on the steering wheel as a thought grew in her mind.
It was not a good thought.
“It won’t happen again, Hildreth. Trust me.”
The thought grew thorns and burrs with stinkweed flowers.
“I know it won’t.”
He gave her a questioning look, but she didn’t explain.
She didn’t even try to explain.
Elsie dropped him off at his house with the normal amount of love festing.
Then, she headed home.
I shouldn’t do this.
But it will give us both peace of mind.
It needs to be done.
I need to do this.
She parked in her driveway.
Went into her house.
Pulled out her phone.
Took a deep breath.
“This is for Hildreth.”
She dialed Information.
“Hello. I would like the phone number for Ambrose Smith in Pinkerlee.” She frowned. “What? I’m sorry. That is not what I said. No. Not Pinckney, Michigan. Pinkerlee, Ohio. What? Pinkerton? What? No. Pinkerlee. Pinker…What? P-I-N-K-E-R-L-E-E. No. There is no A at the end of Pinkerlee. Yes. It is in Ohio.” Her frown deepened. “What do you mean it isn’t a real city? Yes. See?”
She scoffed. “Yes. His name is Ambrose Smith. A-M-B-R-O-S-E S-M-I-T-H. No. There are no Y’s in Smith. Yes. He lives in Pinkerlee. Oh. He doesn’t have a home number listed.” She sat down in the living room. “Does he have a listed cell phone?”
Her face went pale. “Okay. Um. Yes. Yes, you can dial it for me. Thank you.”
She closed her eyes and listened to the phone ring.
Ambrose walked Barbara out to the car.
“Are you sure you don’t want to change me? I’m here. I won’t fight you.”
He shook his head. “If I were to change you, it would ruin everything. I wouldn’t be your fiancé anymore. I’d be your lord and you would instinctively fear me. I would have power over you. I’d be able to command you to do my bidding and you would have to obey.”
He closed his eyes and kissed her – a sweet, gentle kiss. He opened his eyes. “I don’t want to be your lord. I want to be your lover, your husband. I want to be someone you enjoy coming home to, someone you love being with. I would lose that if I changed you.”
“Mmm. If you’re going to put it that nicely, never mind.”
“Are you mad at me?”
“Not at all. I love you.”
His day exhaustion hit him like a Mack truck going 110 miles per hour.
Barbara caught him and led him back into the house.
They were half-way to the living room when he went dead-body limp.
“Oh, shoot! Hold on! Hold on!” She tried to keep him from falling, but he was too heavy of a deadweight. The best she could do was guide him to the floor. “Sorry, kitten.”
Barbara pulled his phone out of his pocket and laid it next to his face. “I’m going to call you later. So, keep your ear peeled for it.”
She grabbed a throw and a pillow from the living room. She carefully stuffed the pillow under his head and covered him up with the throw.
“Hmm. I guess it would be a major hassle to live like this.” She knelt beside him and kissed his ear.
He moaned in his sleep.
She kissed him again.
“I love you too, kitten.”
The house was quiet.
The phone rang.
Right into Ambrose’s ear.
“mnghnn.” He answered the phone. “Mmashuhh?”
His eyes opened wide. “Elsie.”