Barbara closed her eyes.
If he were here now.
Here in this room.
Here with me.
She startled and opened her eyes. “Ohmigosh!” She quickly sat up. “Sarah? Um. Are you able to read minds?”
Sarah gave her an exasperated look.
“What? It’s a legitimate question.”
The young girl drew a big fiery X in the air between her and Barbara before settling back under the covers.
Barbara watched the X flicker out of existence.
I don’t think that answered my question.
Ambrose tucked the hardbacked book under his arm as he and Robin left the hospital. “Well! I’ll see you back at home.”
Robin snorted. “Yeah. Right. Like I’m gonna let you go to Barbara’s freakin’ house all by your desperate hormonal self.”
“I am not desperate!” Ambrose snapped.
“Uh-huh. Sure you ain’t. Don’t matter none, though. I ain’t lettin’ you go there alone.”
Ambrose growled softly. “I don’t know what you think Barbara and I are going to do with a SIX-YEAR-OLD in the house.”
Robin smirked. “I can imagine some things.”
Ambrose bopped him over the head with the library book.
“And you call me stupid.”
“Whate’er. I’m still comin’ with you.”
“Fine. But I’ll prove you wrong. I will behave myself.”
Barbara closed her eyes again.
I don’t know if Sarah can hear my thoughts or not. I don’t think she can, but I am not going to take any chances.
She took a deep breath and exhaled.
I’m going to keep my thoughts pure and clean and innocent. I will not think anything provocative about Ambrose.
Barbara gave it some consideration.
I probably shouldn’t think about Ambrose at all.
Just to be safe.
Just keep breathing.
I’m just going to drop the book off and leave. I’m not going inside. I’m not doing anything untoward.
The muscles in Ambrose’s legs twinged as he walked.
DARN IT! This is just like then.
Just like then…
Ambrose found it hard to swallow and impossible to breathe.
Anna is dead.
He raised his head and scanned the crowd.
And Rebecca is not here.
He bowed his head and tried to keep his thoughts in a respectable state. But he saw her in his mind.
Rebecca Whitt of the red hair and amazing curls.
Rebecca Whitt of the figure that begged to be touched and loved.
Rebecca Whitt, my goddess.
She is not here.
Why is she not here? I should go to her, but how could I? I can barely face her under normal circumstances.
Someone tapped his arm. Mrs. Whitt stood there. Her face was drawn with grief and misery. “Rebecca is not here.” she said softly. “She ought to be here. This is her sister’s funeral. She has a right and obligation to be here. Do you understand me?”
“Please. Go to my home and bring her here.”
His knees shook, but he nodded again.
Tears fell down the woman’s face. “I need her.”
“I will make sure that she comes to you.”
“Thank you, Ambrose.”
He bowed and walked away from the grave site.
I am going to talk to Rebecca. She will have no choice but to see me and talk to me.
She will not be able to ignore me this time.
The carriage driver opened the door for Ambrose.
He entered the carriage and sat down.
“Where to, Master Smith?”
He swallowed hard. “To the Whitt residence.”
“Very good, sir.” The driver closed the door and headed to his post.
Ambrose sat back in his seat, trembling all over.
This is something I have longed for. A chance to be alone with her. To just.
The carriage jumped into action, creaking and swaying to its own rhythm.
She will ride back with me. She will be sitting with me. Next to me.
He closed his eyes and leaned his head back.
Why? Why did it have to be under these circumstances?
The carriage bumped and jostled down the road. Each bump and jostle made Ambrose feel even more jittery.
What am I going to say?
How am I going to talk to her?
How am I going to say anything remotely intelligible? She will think of me as something lower than a fool. She will not speak to me. She will send me packing without a word.
Oh, I will be alone with her. There will be no one to compete with for her attention. It will be just me. Me alone.
He doubled over and covered his face with his hands.
How am I going to get through this?
The carriage ride ended all too soon.
He uncovered his face.
I wish I could run back and…and…
Ambrose remembered the sorrow in Mrs. Whitt’s face.
I need to convince Rebecca to come back with me.
The carriage driver opened the door for Ambrose. “We have arrived, Master Smith.”
I can only hope I will not embarrass myself.
Ambrose raised his head a little higher.
I will not embarrass myself.
I will behave with honor.
I will do nothing I will regret.
I will do nothing to make Robin say “I told you so.”