The sound of Ambrose’s dark, warm voice in her ear made Elsie’s knees shake. “Ambrose. It’s been a long time.”
Ambrose saw her face, her untamable black hair. He felt her kisses, her touches. “Yes. Last time I saw you, you tried to beat me up for the stupidest of reasons. What do you want?”
Pull yourself together. I don’t want him anymore.
He’s a shameless, heartless slut.
And I don’t want him.
“Just so you know, I am calling for a legitimate reason.”
He scoffed. “Did Lightweight Mayhew get pummeled by another vampire?”
She frowned. “He is not a lightweight.”
“Whatever. I’m tired, Elsie. Get to the point. What do you want from me?”
“I don’t want anything from you.” She sighed. “Hildreth made the mistake of calling Mark Caten.”
“I don’t know. Random paranoia. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is Caten threatened me.”
Her lips always felt so right on mine. And her blood…
Ambrose wobbled up into a unsteady sit. “Threatened you? Wha?” He winced and rubbed his forehead with his free hand. “What kind of threat?”
“He threatened to have you kidnap me.”
Ambrose dropped his hand. “That lime juice brained monkey. And what? What am I supposed to do after I kidnap you? Bring you to him? Lord! That man lives on a fantasy island in a fantasy realm. Like I would do HIM any favors!”
His touch made my hair feel like silk and my skin like deluxe velvet.
Elsie smiled. “I thought you’d say something like that. So, I have nothing to fear.”
“Not from me, Elsie.”
The hairs on her arms stood up in goosebumps.
He shivered and closed his eyes.
But it wasn’t her face he saw.
He saw Barbara.
Her wavy honey-blonde hair.
Her love for him.
“Ambrose. Can…can I see you one last time?”
“What for?” He opened his eyes.
“I don’t know. I…”
“Just one last time?”
Yes! “No. I’m sorry. We had our moment. That moment is gone. I’m with Barbara now, Elsie.”
He saw Barbara’s smile.
Felt her kisses and her touches.
“I love her. Oh, Elsie. I love her so much. She makes me happy. She makes me glow. She makes me…better.”
“I suppose you’ve slept with her already.”
He scoffed. “I don’t see how that is any of your business.”
He grabbed my head and bashed it against the floor. It hurt. There were lights and sparklers everywhere and it hurt.
He kissed her as if she were the only person in the room, in the whole world. And I was nothing.
I still am nothing to him.
“If Mark Caten calls you—”
“I’ll give him directions to the Grand Canyon with expert instructions of how to jump off it. I owe him nothing. I have no reason or desire or interest to steal you away for him.”
“Are you interested in stealing me away for yourself?”
He laughed. “No, Elsie. There was a time I would have said yes. It’s gone. It’s long gone, Elsie. I know what I want. I know who I dream of at night. Who I long for. Who I need in my life.”
“It isn’t you.”
“Well. I think we’re done here.”
“What’s the matter, Elsie?” His voice was gentle an concerned. “Why are you trying to pull me back?”
“I am doing no such—”
“Has Hildreth hurt you? Has…has he left you?”
“No.” Even though Ambrose couldn’t see the visual, Elsie held her head higher. “Hildreth isn’t you. He’s faithful. He’s good. He loves me. He wants me so much it makes me feel insane.”
His laughter warmed her ear. “I suppose you’ve slept with him.”
“None of your business.”
“Sounds fair to me. Good-bye, Elsie. Don’t call me back.”
Ambrose ended the call.