Barbara stopped at a red light. No speeding through this time around.
Her phone rang.
She answered it. “Hi! This is—”
“Barbara.” Ambrose hyperventilated.
Her face went pale. “What…Ambrose? Are you…Where are you?”
“I…I don’t know. cold…Barbara. Am I…Are you…you…Is…this really you? Are you…uhh…”
“Ambrose. Please. Talk to me. Where are you?”
“I…uhnn. Shower. Cold.” He audibly shivered. “So cold. So cold. Snow. Snow falling. Can’t. I can’t…I…Barbara. Barbara.”
The light turned green.
She drove through it.
“I’m coming. You just stay put. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t do anything. Okay?”
“Okay? You hear me?”
“Okay. Just stay where you are and focus on breathing. Just keep breathing, okay?”
“I’m coming. I’m going to end the call now, because I can’t drive in a straight line and talk on the phone at the same time. But I am coming. I’ll be right there.”
She ended the call and put the phone in the ash tray.
“What’s goin’ on?” Robin asked.
“I don’t know. It sounds like Ambrose is having a panic attack, but I’m not sure. I’m not even sure where he is. But I’m going to start at Raven’s house. If he isn’t there, then I’ll panic.”
Barbara parked the car in the driveway and ran to the front door.
Robin was right behind her.
She opened the door and went inside.
Robin held her hand. “I’m here.”
She looked up at him and smiled. “Thank you.” She walked through the foyer as Robin sniffed the air.
He stopped outside the living room and pulled her to a stop.
She gave him a puzzled frown.
“He’s in this room here.”
“But he said something about being in the shower.”
He snorted. “Maybe, but his scent is really thick in this room. Trust me. He ain’t in the shower.”
Barbara didn’t argue the point. She entered the living room with Robin still hanging on to her hand.
Then, she saw the Ambrose-shaped lump lying on the couch, all covered up with a blue and black chenille throw.
Barbara let go of Robin’s hand and ran to the couch. She uncovered his top half. “Oh!”
He was shirtless.
Is he completely naked under there?
His hair is very wet. Like he didn’t take the time to dry it.
Would he have taken the time to pull on some slacks or at least a clean pair of undies?
Her blush deepened.
But I am not going to check.
She pulled her mind out of that uncomfortable territory.
He shivered and drew his hands up to his face.
She knelt beside the couch.
His bare arms.
I want to touch him.
I want to show him that I’m here.
I want to show him that I love him.
Robin came up behind her. “You okay?”
She shook her head. “I’m overwhelmed.”
Tracing circles on his palms.
“Got it.” He grabbed Ambrose’s shoulder.
Barbara imagined the feel of his skin under her hand.
Her hand cupped over the curved edge of his shoulder.
Her hand sliding down to his chest.
He opened his eyes. “R…rob…Robin.”
“I…uhh….I…” He focused on her. “Barbara.”
His eyes teared up. “Are you real?”
I need to touch him.
For his own sanity’s sake, I need to touch him.
Ambrose blinked and his tears rolled and dripped away.
She couldn’t resist.
She kissed him.
It wasn’t a long kiss.
It barely satisfied her, but she was the one who pulled away first. “See? I am so real.”
She could feel the heat between them. Heat that wanted to explode into a full conflagration.
She kept her hands in her lap. “What happened?”
“I took a cold shower. too cold. brought up bad memories. was lost in bad memories.”
He curled his hands against his throat and nodded. Tears shined in his eyes again. “Barbara. What if she isn’t dead? What if she finds me? What if—-”
Robin stroked Ambrose’s hair. “If that inhuman scuzz and leaf bag touches you ever again, I’ll tear her apart.”
Ambrose looked up at him.
“I’ll do it for both our sakes.”
“So, don’t get yourself all worried. You’re safe. You’re home.”