Part 1414 – “Hi! I’m In Pinkerlee!”

Hildreth’s phone rang.

He released Jeff and answered it. “Hey, thank you for calling the Greater Giraffe Healing Center in Salt Lake City! Come here to heal up your injured giraffes and jump in our lake. It’s fuuuun!”

Jeff smiled a tear-messed smile. “Dweeb.”

“I don’t have any giraffes.” Elsie said.

“No giraffes? Oh, that’s going to be a problem, miss.  Anyyyy hippos?”


“Then, I guess you’ll have to go fish.”

“I don’t have any fish either.”

“Well, that’s very disappointing.”


“Love you too. So, what’s happening?”

“Not much. My dress is almost ready. The seamstress has a couple of last minute adjustments that she needs to make and then it’s all mine. What are you up to?”

“I’m in Pinkerlee.” He winced.

I didn’t mean to just blurt it out like that.

“What are you doing there?”

He recognized that tight sound to her voice. “Els. I haven’t broken my promise. This has nothing to do with that vampire. I’m here for Jeff. His daughter is in the hospital. I had to come. He needed me to come, Els.”

Elsie didn’t reply.

“Elsie, if I were here for that vamp, which I’m not, I wouldn’t come here in the middle of the day. I mean, seriously! What am I going to do? Bang on all of the front doors, yelling his name?”

“If you wanted to find him, you’d find him.”

“Well, I don’t.” That response felt too incomplete and vague for his likings. “I mean, I don’t want to find him. I am not here to hunt him down, Elsie. I am here for my friend and that is all.”

“I need to go.”

“Elsie! Listen to me. Don’t push me away. Please don’t push me away. I am telling you the truth.”

She didn’t respond.

“Els? Are you still there?”

The call ended.

Hildreth looked at the Call Ended message on his phone.

And he felt as if he’d stepped off the edge of a cliff.

Jeff patted his back. “It’s okay, Dweeb. I’ll take you to her.”

Hildreth nodded.

Maybe that wasn’t the right response, but it was the only one he could manage at that point.


One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

One. Two….




Elsie sank to her knees and pressed the heels of her hands against her eyes.

I’m overreacting.

But what if I’m not?

What if I’m right?

What if he is lying to me and…

She stood and resumed her assault on her punching dummy.



Three. Four. Five.



Three. Four. Five.




Arms wrapped around her waist.

Strong, wonderfully familiar arms.


She elbowed him and spun around. “Why were you even there to start with?”

“What? You aren’t even going to say hi?”

“Don’t joke around.” She threw a furious punch at Hildreth, which he blocked easily. “I want an answer.”

Another punch, another block. “Why were you in Pinkerlee?”


Another punch, which he dodged. He grabbed her arms and shoved her against the dummy. “Stop.”

“Let me go!”



“No! Listen to me. You listen to me.”

She froze, stunned into silence.

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong, Elsie. Jeff is my friend. He needed me to be there for him and I was. I was not there for Ambrose Stinking Smith!”

“How do I know that?”

A hurt expression came over his face. “Because I am telling it to you. I could drag Jeff in here to back me up. He is upstairs. But I shouldn’t have to go that far. I made a promise to you and to my master. I will not break that promise just for the lol of it.” He loosened his grip on her arms. “I will never break that promise.”

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