Barbara sat in the driver’s seat and closed the door.
I should jump out of the car.
I should hug him.
Just hug him.
I should kiss him.
One last kiss.
But the way I feel right now, one kiss wouldn’t be enough.
I want more than one.
She looked over at him as Jeff pulled him away from the car.
Ambrose locked eyes with her.
Hoo-boy! Do I ever want more than that.
She turned forward and started her car.
Jeff held onto Ambrose’s arms as Barbara backed out of her parking space.
“You do realize that all of this manhandling is unnecessary, right? I am not going to run after her car.” Ambrose said.
“I’m aware of that.”
“Then, let me go.”
Ambrose’s pupils widened as unwanted memories popped up in quick succession.
Sunlight shined down on him. No shelter. No peace. No food. People staring and laughing. Laughing at his helplessness. “Look at the vampire!” “Is that really a vampire?” “Make him come here. I want to see his fangs.” “I want to see him bite someone.” He scratched the barrier again and again. His stomach was empty. There was no way through the barrier. And the sun shined bright. Tired. Hungry. Weak. Tired. Hungry. Too hot. Tired. Hungry. People everywhere. No shelter. No peace. Hungry. People everywhere. Barrier. No way to get to them. Tired. Hungry. Weak. Hungry. Hungry. People staring and laughing. People everywhere. No shelter. Sunlight. Tired. Tired. hungry hungry. always hungry.
“LET ME GO!” He struggled to break free. “I’m not going back there. I don’t care what you do. I’m not going back there. I’d rather be staked. I can’t go back there again. You hear me? I can’t go back there again. I can’t. I can’t.”
Jeff stared at him, clearly baffled. “What?”
“I can’t. Don’t take me back there.”
Jeff shook his head. “Okay. I won’t take you back there.”
“Can I believe you? Can I trust you?”
“Can I trust you?”
What has he gone through? What is he so afraid of? I’m assuming he isn’t talking about the elevator. It seems to be something more than that. Something bigger. Something psychologically damaging.
Barbara pulled out of the parking lot and drove away.
Jeff released him. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Ambrose rubbed his hands up and down his arms.
“Ambrose, do you want to—”
“What is there to talk about?” He stared off in the distance. “The fact that I was exposed to the elements? The fact that I had nothing to eat and no way to hunt? The fact that…I was hungry. I was tired. I was. I was sick and they all came to stare at me and laugh at me and I couldn’t touch them.” He shuddered. “I can’t go back there. Please don’t take me back there.”
Jeff felt a surge of compassion for the vampire. “What kind of hell were you in?”
“One owned and run by Mark Caten.”
“You have nothing to fear, Ambrose. I will not take you back to Hell.”
Ambrose refocused on him.
“Not even if Caten offered to pay me big money for it. I’d throw his offer right back in his face.”
“Why? You don’t even know me.”
Jeff gave Ambrose a long, hard look.
How old is he? Looks like he’s…somewhere in his twenties? Twenty-eight, maybe? But I’m sure he’s older than that. He seems older than that.
How many lives has he taken?
How many people has he changed?
How many hunters has he killed?
“You’re right. I don’t know you.”
He could be the one who changed Master Initskay. How would I know?
“But my Master always taught me that a hunter is not a mindless machete. A hunter must be willing to show mercy when it is needed. Otherwise, what is the difference between a hunter and a vampire?”
“You won’t take me back?”
“No. No matter what.”
Ambrose bowed. “Thank you.”