Ambrose closed his eyes and listened to the phone ring.
Elsie smiled as Barbara ordered a medium-sized hamburger with seasoned fries. She could almost hear Hildreth telling her that THAT was a real meal.
I hope you’re staying out of trouble.
I hope you aren’t overdoing it.
Barbara’s phone rang.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to shut it off.” She answered it. “Hello?”
Her face lit up. “Ambrose!”
Elsie stiffened. Her first instinct was to jump out of her seat and run away.
But she remained seated.
I am not going to be scared away by his ghost.
I will not.
I don’t want him anymore.
“Why are you calling? You should be asleep.”
“Ohhh, is that so?” She giggled.
You’re the one I love.
“I love you too. Ambrose.”
“I wish I could see you tonight.”
I wish you were here now.
“I love you.”
I love you, Hildreth.
Barbara ended the call and put her phone away.
Elsie took a long, deliberate sip of her tea.
“I love him so much.” Barbara said softly.
Elsie looked at her.
“I do. It wasn’t something that happened all at once. It’s been a little by little every day. Every time I see him. Every time he says my name. Every word. Every touch. I fall just a little bit more.”
“And he loves you.” Elsie wasn’t sure if she meant it as a question or a statement. It came out as a bit of both.
Barbara smiled. “And he loves me. Oh, Elsie. He loves me. We’ve had our ups and downs. He’s knelt before me, begging me to take him back. He’s torn through metal fences and brick walls to save me. He wants to make me happy. And he does. He makes me so happy.”
Elsie took another long sip. “This is going to sound strange, but I am happy for you both. Maybe I’d feel differently if I didn’t have Hidreth in my life. Maybe I’d grab your hair and face-smack you into the table.”
Barbara moved her chair away from Elsie.
“But I won’t. It’s been hard, kicking that vampire out of my system. But he’s gone. I know where I belong. And it is not with Ambrose Smith.”
“Then. I don’t have to worry about you calling him and trying to sway him back into your life?”
Elsie smiled. “No.” She thought back on their last phone conversation. “Never.”
The waiter brought Barbara’s hamburger.
It was half the size of the plate.
Elsie raised her eyebrows. “That’s their idea of a medium-sized hamburger?”
Barbara giggled and cut it in half. “You should see what their large looks like.”
Elsie laughed. “I have got to bring Hildreth here.”
Ambrose put the phone somewhere above his head.
If she were here now…
I wish she were here now.
I wish she’d come here tonight.
I know she can’t. She shouldn’t. It isn’t safe.
Kevin huffed out a heavy sigh and squeaked.
Ambrose stroked the werewolf’s large head.
Kevin settled down.
I wish I could see her tonight.
I could go to her house.
Yeah. And walk right into temptation. Brilliant.
Why does this have to be so hard?
Why does this have to be such a struggle?
Why can’t I just be with her and not want more?
I won’t yield.
I wish I could.