Missy? Can you hear me? Can…can…Missy. My lovely Missy.
She didn’t respond.
Did I imagine it?
Still no response.
His pupils widened.
I need to know what is going on inside her head. Her father is not here now. I could slip into her mind so easily. I could find her.
Yet, it would be wrong to do so. I would be going against his expressed wishes. I cannot do that.
Raven took her hand and held it.
Missy. Speak to me again. I am here. I am here, Missy.
Elsie looked back at him.
“Could you kindly find Master Farsigh and lead him back here? I need to speak to him.”
She frowned. “Can I trust you, vampire?”
“I may be a vampire, Miss Vansing, but I am an honorable man. I will do nothing untoward to Missy nor will I let either of my companions to do her any harm. You can trust me.”
She gave him a cold, scrutinizing look. “LM.”
The half-fey snapped to attention. “Yes?”
“Keep an eye on him. Don’t let him hurt either human in this room. Do you think you can do that?”
“Yes! Thank you.”
“I’ll be back.”
As Elsie left the room, Raven shook his head. “I do not know why she expects me to attack you or the other young lady. I am not even hungry at the moment.”
Elsie strode down the hall.
She stopped as she realized something important.
I don’t even know which room he’s in.
She shrugged. “Simple solution.”
Elsie headed back to Missy’s room.
Ambrose stood in the middle of a spotlight’s glow. He was dressed in a comfortable pair of slacks, a white dress shirt, and a black vest.
His feet were crossed. His right arm wrapped across his waist. His left hand pressed against his left hip.
He was waiting for the music to begin.
And, with a strong beat and steady percussion, Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” played.
Ambrose danced a solo dance until Rebecca appeared. He took her into his arms and raised her into the air. She tossed her head back and laughed. He set her down and she danced away from him.
He resumed his solo dance.
Then, Maria appeared. They danced around each other, alternating between touching and avoiding. He wrapped his arms around her and tried to hold her close. She grabbed his hands and raised them in the air. She ducked under his arms and twirled. He ducked under her arms and twirled. And she was gone.
And Elsie was there.
He took her into his arms. She looked up at him with uncertainty and distrust. He led her into a complicated dance. She shook her head and pulled away. He held his hands out to her. She shook her head again. Hildreth appeared beside her and she danced away with him.
Ambrose stood alone in the spotlight, panting hard as the music ended. His panting was the only sound in the empty ballroom.
Then, Barbara appeared and the music began again. But it was not Bruce Springsteen. It was Ed Sheeran singing “Perfect”.
He held out his arms in hope and fear.
She ran to him and hugged him as close as she could.
He closed his eyes. He found joy and relief in her arms. They swayed together to the music and he quietly sang along.
Something woke Ambrose. It took him a few minutes to realize what it was.
“Ambrose. Wake up.” She shook him again. “If you don’t wake up, I’ll—”
Ambrose opened his eyes. He looked up into her gold eyes and he felt disappointed.
She isn’t her.
She isn’t Barbara.
“Good. You’re awake. Come with me. I need your help.”
I don’t want her anymore. Barbara is the only one I want from this day on. I love her.
His half-smile grew into a full smile.
I love her. My sweet, iron-willed Barbara.
I love her.
“Are you coming?” Elsie asked.
She grabbed his hands and pulled him out of the chair. “Then, come on.”