Jeff felt that familiar adrenaline rush and thrill as he fought Ambrose. He automatically counted in his head with every punch.
Ambrose tried to hold his ground, but Jeff reverse roundhouse kicked him in the chest. He stumbled back and fell into the armchair closest to Missy’s bed. He landed splat across Raven’s lap.
Raven groaned in his sleep.
Jeff raced over to Ambrose and raised his fist as if he were about to stake him.
Ambrose narrowed his eyes. He kicked Jeff hard in his abdomen, knocking the wind out of him.
Jeff doubled over.
In a matter of seconds, Ambrose was there, tackling Jeff onto his back.
Jeff looked up at him in surprise.
Ambrose smiled drowsily. “First pin wins, right?”
Hildreth rushed into the room. “Jeff!”
A man with black hair pinned Jeff to the floor.
Hildreth didn’t ask any questions. He raced forward, grabbed the man by his shirt front, and was about to toss him.
Then, the man raised his head and made eye contact with him.
Ambrose smiled, baring his fangs. “Hello, hunter.”
Hildreth’s world tilted over and spun in bad directions. “You.”
Hildreth dragged Ambrose up to his feet. “You filthy rotten—”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am not filthy. I’m clean.”
“Implying what? I’m not?”
Ambrose smirked. “You said it, not me.”
Jeff stood. “Hildreth. Stop. It’s okay.”
He shot a glare at the former hunter. “He had you pinned.”
“Jeff. He had you pinned and you certainly don’t look like you’re carrying stakes.”
“It’s okay. I asked him to spar with me.”
Hildreth frowned. “Why him? You knew I was coming.”
“I needed…Hildreth. I needed to take my fears and frustrations out on something. And my punching bag is all the way at home.” He put his hand on his friend’s hand. “And I didn’t want to hurt you.”
His words make sense. It makes sense.
He glared at the rapidly wilting vampire in his grasp. “Why are you even here?”
Ambrose slowly opened his eyes. “Raven’s my friend. tired.”
Elsie froze in the doorway.
The ghost of his touch stroked her skin.
A ghost whisper of his voice breathed in her ear.
She stiffened and strode over to Hildreth.
Ambrose looked at her and smiled a groggy smile. “Barbara.”
“Elsie—” Hildreth started to say.
She didn’t let him finish his thought. She uncorked Ambrose from Hildreth’s hands and punched Ambrose’s face with all of her strength.
He fell to the floor.
“Whoa!” Jeff said.
She spun around and swung a punch at Hildreth.
He ducked and grabbed her wrists. “Els. It is not—”
“Don’t even start, Mayhew. Why is he here? Did you know that he’d be here? Did you call him—-”
“Els. Stop. I came here because Jeff needed me. I don’t know why that vampire is here. I had no idea that he’d be here.” He tightened his grip on her wrists. “I did not call him here. Why would I even do that? Things are going so good between us, Els. Why would I want to ruin it all?”
“I don’t know.”
“Elsie. I promised you and Master Shinowa that I would not hunt him down. I know it looks bad, but I have kept my promise. I swear I have kept my promise.” He released her wrists. “I don’t know if you believe me. I don’t know if you even want to believe me. All I know is I don’t want to lose you. I don’t want you to give up on me and walk away. I love you, Els.”
She punched his arm. “Do you really think I’d give up on you that easily? Don’t you know by now how much I want you, you idiot?”
“Els.” He caressed her face. “Elsie baby.”
Maelin entered the room and into the overwhelming scent of tangerines. She smiled. “Robin.”
She glanced around the room, ignoring the Hildreth, Elsie, and Ambrose drama going on.
And there he was.
All curled up in an armchair near the window.