Part 1739 – In Comparison

Was it yesterday or a whole lifetime ago that I was worried about her running off with Ambrose Smith?

Maybe it was all just a bad nightmare and this.

He opened his eyes and looked into her eyes.

This. Here and now.

He cupped her face in between his hands.

This is what’s real. This.

He rubbed her cheekbones with his thumbs.

This here is what’s been real all along.

Her love for me and my love for her.

Our mad crazy attraction for each other.

Our desire for each other.

Every look.

Every touch.

Every kiss.

Every moment.

Is this all real or is it just a beautiful dream?

Maybe I did step off that cliff.

Maybe I am falling into the quarry and this is my mind trying to distract myself from the inevitable crash and break and snap and blood loss.

Hildreth kissed her again.

If this is not real, if I am falling to my death…

Her fingers were tight against his scalp.

What a beautiful way to die.

***

There was a time I would have pushed you out of the way so I could run to Ambrose.

There were so many times I placed him above you. I wanted him more than I wanted you.

She ended the kiss, but kept her face close to his face.

Those times were a long time ago.

His breath was warm and soft on her skin. “Elsie.” he murmured.

She opened her eyes and found that he was already looking at her. “Hildreth.”

“Els, I’m going to ask you this only once and I will never ask you again.”

She released his hair. “I’m listening.”

Hildreth sat back on his feet. “It’s a stupid question. You’ll punch me for asking it. But I would like to know the answer before we get married. I want to chase away any lingering ghosts.”

“Okay. What’s the question?”

“When I touch you…When I kiss you…Whenever I say your name, do you still compare me to that vampire?”

Elsie frowned. “Why are you asking me this? Have I done something? Have I—-”

“No. I just want to know.”

She stood and scanned the premises for any vampires.

Hildreth stood. “It’s not that I don’t trust you. I do. I just need to know.”

“You are an idiot.”

“I know. Always have been.”

Elsie spun around and shoved him. “Why do you have to question me? Why do you doubt me?” She shoved him again. “What do I have to do—” Another hard shove. “—to make you trust me?”

“Els.” He grabbed her hands.

She quickly jerked them away.

“This isn’t a matter of trust. This is….This is….” Hildreth threw his hands in the air. “I don’t know! I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t know how to get the words in my head and all of these feelings inside of me….I don’t know how to voice them. I don’t know how to get them out of me. I don’t know how to put it all into plain words, because those words just aren’t there.” He spread his hand on his chest. “But I can feel the thrum of those unspoken words right here. They’re right here and I don’t know what to do with them. I don’t know how to express them, Els.”

Her anger left her. “Hildreth.” She hesitated.

I don’t want to say this, but apparently it needs to be said.

For some reason.

“In those early days and weeks of our relationship, yes. I compared you to Ambrose.”

He looked away from her. “I’m guessing I didn’t fare too well in comparison.”

“Maybe not. But then, Hildreth. Then, I got to know you. Your strengths. Your weaknesses. Your goodness. And I saw. I saw how much Ambrose paled in comparison to you. Hildreth.” She gently turned his face back into her direction. “Ambrose Smith doesn’t hold a candle to you. He doesn’t even hold a match.”

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