Barbara parked the car in Raven’s driveway and they unbuckled their seatbelts. “By the way, I love your outfit. You look so comfortable. Did Raven help you pick it out?”
He laughed. “If Raven heard that question, he’d cry. He pretty much wept blood when I entered The Red Envelope dressed like this.”
“Why? It’s clean and it isn’t wrinkled.”
“That’s exactly what I thought. But, no. Apparently, it wasn’t posh enough to satisfy Raven’s Inner Jeeves. He almost fainted when he noticed I wasn’t wearing socks.”
“Wait. Do you ever wear socks?”
“Only if it’s cold out or rainy out. Otherwise, they make my feet too warm.”
“And stinky, I bet.”
She giggled. “I love learning these small, almost insignificant details about you. It’s like you’re filling in the blanks that I didn’t even know were there.”
“Well then, Miss Addleston. You need to tell me one, small, insignificant detail about you.”
“An insignificant detail about me. Hm. I hate onions and radishes? Does that count?”
“Yeah. That counts. I don’t know how to cook. Anything.”
“Not even scrambled eggs?”
He shrugged. “My family had a cook and I was my father’s son. No one saw any reason for me to learn. Then, I was changed and I no longer had a reason to learn.”
“I know you can’t eat human food, but I would love to teach you how to cook.”
A happy smile stretched across his face. “I would love that.”
“I knit my dad a sweater once.” She giggled. “And I forgot to give it a neck hole. Somehow.”
They laughed together.
“I used to climb the tallest trees in our yard.” His smile faded and a sad, sort of nostalgic look came over his face.
He exhaled softly. “I remember what my home looked like. How perfectly arranged our yard was. If I close my eyes, I can mentally walk through each room and see all of the decor. I can almost hear the different creaks in the floors and smell the different scents. I can see our yard’s borders, the flower garden, the vegetable garden. Our trees.”
He stared ahead at Raven’s house. “But that house and that yard…I went there shortly after I regained my eyesight.”
Ambrose looked like he wanted to just leave it that incomplete. So, Barbara prodded him with a simple question, “Ruins?”
He shook his head. “Gone. My family’s home doesn’t exist anywhere except for inside my mind. When I am staked, it will be truly gone and forgotten.”
“Hey.” She laid her hand on top of his hand. “You won’t be forgotten, Ambrose. I will remember you. Robin will remember you. Raven will remember you. Isellta, Sammy, Hildreth, Missy, and even Elsie will remember you. Maybe we’ll remember you in different ways and with different memories and with different emotions, but trust me. We won’t forget you.”
Barbara ran her fingers through his shaggy, black hair. “I will never forget you.”
He looked at her with simple adoration. “Nor I you.”
She traced the line of his eyebrows.
He closed his eyes and leaned his face into her right hand.
She rubbed her thumbs against his cheekbones.
I love him and I know he loves me.
There are no longer any obstacles between us.
And, in six days, we will be husband and wife.
I will be his wife.
I will be Ambrose Smith’s wife.
And I will love him.
“I will always love you, Ambrose Smith.”
He turned his face slightly and kissed her palm.
“And I will miss you like mad when you are staked and gone.”
He opened his eyes.
“You have no idea how much I’ll miss you.”
He smiled. “I know.”