Hildreth searched the cemetery one last time.
“And it’s an all clear! Woo-hoo!” He ran across the graveyard’s uneven ground with an easy and natural grace. He didn’t trip even once.
He ran to the back of the Williards’ mausoleum and scrambled up the ladder built into it.
Hildreth reached the top in a matter of minutes.
Elsie was already up there. She sat in the middle of the roof in mediation pose, facing away from him.
Hildreth admired her perfect posture.
Her frizzy black hair.
Her petite but powerful frame.
Hildreth saw her in Ambrose’s arms, hugging him. Kissing him.
Jealousy flared up inside of him.
Why did you have to go to her?
Why did she take you in? Why didn’t she stake you? Why did she love you?
Hildreth walked over to Elsie and sat beside her.
She turned her head and opened her gold-colored eyes in the dawn’s early light.
I can’t do this to myself.
I can’t let these thoughts and fears own me.
I will not let that bloody vampire own me.
I trust Elsie. I love her and I trust her.
Elsie spread her hand on his knee. “You look like you’re lost in your thoughts, Mayhew.”
She will not leave me for him. She wants me. She does not want him.
He put his hand on top of her hand. “You know how I am. I get a thought in my head and I’ll chase it around for hours if I have no interruptions.”
“That is true.”
“Sometimes that’s a good thing. Other times? Not so good.”
“What was it this time?”
He looked down at their combined hands.
If I tell her, she’ll get mad at me.
If I don’t tell her—-
No. That’s the path of too much drama. I’m not going there. Not this time around.
“I love you, Els. I trust you.” He paused and waited for her to prod him.
She said nothing.
“What is it, Hildreth? What’s wrong?”
He shook his head. “Nothing.” He looked up at her abundantly frizzy hair, at her bright gold eyes.
The words escaped on him.
“Why did Ambrose come to your house? Why you? Why did it have to be you? Why couldn’t he have found another hunter? Why did it have to be you?”
Her mouth tightened into an irritated line.
“Els. I just don’t understand. Why? Why you? Why him? Why did you ever let him into your house? Why didn’t you just stake him?”
“Hildreth. We’ve been over this before. I’ve answered this question. I don’t understand why you’re asking it again.”
“I know, but I want to know. I want to understand. I want—”
“Hildreth!” Her expression softened into concern. “What happened?”
“Nothing. I swear, nothing. Just.” He sighed. “Just me being a stupid jealous idiot, as usual.”
“Because I don’t understand it. I want to understand, Els.”