Elsie shook her head. “I don’t understand how you can drink that.”
Hildreth swallowed. “I like it. Mind you, it is not root beer. It tries to be with that whole almost anise taste, but no. Just no. It’s not root beer. But it’s intriguing. Have another sip. It will win you over.”
Elsie stuck out the tip of her tongue. “No, thanks. One sip was more than enough.”
“Ahh, but you want some. Deep in the inner depths of your soul, you know you want some more. Mmm. mmm. mmm.” He wobbled the cup over to her. “Ahh, Elsie Vansing. You know you want to drink me. Yum. Yum. Yum.”
“You’re so thirsty for my mighty fine foot beer self. Mm-mmm!”
She laughed harder. “Sorry, but you lost me at foot beer.”
“Aww. I swear I’m not made out of feet. So, come on. One more sip. You know you want to. Elsie Vansing wants to. Yes, yes. She does.”
“Fine. One sip and that’s it.”
“Idiot.” She sipped it through his straw and shuddered. The drink had a slight anise flavor to it, but it mostly tasted like carbonated beet juice. “Bleah! No, it will never win me over. Not even if I were a hundred and five years old.”
“Mm. My Elsie bein’ an old, old woman. I sure hope I’m around to see that.”
“Really? You’d really want to see me look like an ancient crone?”
“Mm-hmm. Because I know you won’t be a crone. You’ll be magnificent, like a duchess who ages with grace and beauty.”
She put her hand on his knee. “It doesn’t matter how well you age. I will love you and just you all the same.”
She swooped in and kissed him without any warning.
He put his hands on her shoulders and returned kiss for kiss.
Her kisses grew more fervent. Her fingers dug deep into his hair. Her fingernails scraped against his scalp.
Hildreth murmured, “Elsie. Elsie. My Elsie.” He shifted in his seat so he was completely facing her. His hands slid under her hair and stroked the back of her neck. He pressed the in-sides of his legs against her legs.
Oh! I want to grab him. I need to pin him against something, anything. I want to tear his clothes off of him and…and…
She broke off and sat there, panting.
He looked at her in silent expectation.
Her hands released his hair and slid down to the sides of his face.
He closed his eyes and whispered, “Elsie.”
This stupid, wonderful idiot. How is it I want him as much as I do? How does he steal past all of my defenses? How did he steal my heart away from Ambrose? Easy. Just by being his own wonderfully ridiculous self.
Because I needed him. I needed his light.
I will always need it.
She kissed his open, expectant mouth.
He let out a pleased moan.
Elsie ended the kiss all too soon and admired him. “Hildreth, I will love growing old with you.”
He opened his eyes and smiled lovingly. “Ditto, Elsie baby.” His smile turned into a grin. “And you should have one more sip of the fabulous foot beer.”
She playfully punched his arm. “No, thanks.”