The priest gave Elsie and Hildreth the full rundown of the wedding ceremony. He told them what they had to say and when they would say it and everything that would happen after that point.
Hildreth paid strict attention.
Elsie did her best to listen to the priest, but her mind kept going back to Hildreth’s scream.
I didn’t expect that.
But he is a man of many surprises.
Her smile grew as she remembered his solution to her sulking fit at Ambrose’s house.
“So, you’re upset at Ambrose. You’re hurt. You’re all of the stars in the Miserable Woman constellation.”
She scowled at him. Is that really supposed to make me feel any better?
“So.” Hildreth smiled. “I say go back upstairs and trash his room.”
Trash his room? Did he really just say that or am I imagining things? “What?” Maybe it’s my subconscious putting words into his mouth.
“Get all of that bottled up negativity out of your system before you get sick.”
“Trash his room…” He said that. He really said that. “That’s such a juvenile thing to do.”
“Sure is. But it will be wildly cathartic. You need to do it.”
It’s insane. “He’ll be so mad. He’ll blame Mark Caten.”
“That’s Mark’s problem.”
She considered his words. Oh, but it’s so tempting. He deserves it. He must have known that I was coming here. He left before I could arrive. That stupid slut of a vampire! I should burn his whole house down!
Trashing his bedroom will be insult enough. I hope it makes him sick to his stomach. I hope it makes him vomit.
Elsie smiled. “I’ll beat you upstairs.”
Elsie looked up at him.
We’ve come such a long way since then.
She took his hand.
He looked down at her.
Maybe when we’re old and gray, we’ll look back on today and marvel at how much further we’ve come.
I want to grow old with you. No matter what griefs and losses may come with age, I want to face it all with you at my side.
I love you.
You dear stupid idiot.
Hildreth focused on everything the priest said, but he could feel Elsie staring at him.
It made him feel happy and giddy.
She’s looking at me.
My Elsie is looking at me like she can’t stop admiring me.
I want to grow old with you.
I want to live a long and happy life with you.
There will be ups and downs.
There will be bad days when I’ll feel like I can’t say or do anything right.
There will be days when that vampire will haunt me and feed my self-doubts.
I will have you at my side.
During all of those worses, I will have you.
My lovely, fierce Elsie.
She looked up at him and took his hand.
He smiled and remembered his first sight of her…
Hildreth followed the directions the gas station attendant had given him to the home of the nearest vampire hunter.
Maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe someone else has caught him.
Someone else has staked him.
I hope so.
I do not want to face another Master Initskay.
He pulled into the driveway and got out of his car.
Hildreth ran to the front door, pulled out his skeleton key, unlocked the door, and went inside.
He stood in the doorway, assessing his options.
If I were a vampire, where would I be?
Easy answer. I’d be where my victim is.
He entered the house and walked carefully to the stairs leading up to the second floor.
He removed his silver crossbow from the holster on his back.
He pulled a bolt out of his coat pocket, set it into position, and headed upstairs.
Hildreth opened every door he passed.
He slammed the door open and stood in the doorway.
Ambrose lurked by the bed. He held a woman’s wrist in his hand.
“I found you, vampire.”
The woman got out of bed.
Hildreth stopped breathing for a minute.
Her black hair was an amazing mess of tangles and frizz. It was the most wondrous and glorious sight he’d ever seen.
What would it be like to touch it?
She wore a spaghetti strapped tank top that showed off her long, beautiful arms. Her perfect skin. Her shirt clung close to her torso.
Her matching white shorts showcased her legs.
“Don’t worry, miss. I will not let that creature harm you.”
Hildreth squeezed her hand.
I will never let that monster touch you ever again.