Ambrose walked out into the hall and Jeff followed him. “After you, vampire.”
“What? You don’t want me walking behind you?”
Jeff shrugged. “It’s a safety precaution for both of us. This way, if you try to face-plant the floor, I’ll be able to catch you.”
“I see. And I won’t be able to bite you. Not that I want to. I just want to sleep right now.”
“Then, let’s stop talking and start walking.”
Ambrose nodded. “Seems like a good idea to me.”
The two men lapsed into silence as they headed back to Missy’s room.
Ambrose side-glanced at him and thought about a great many things. A slow smile spread across his face. “So, you’re in love with Elsie.”
Jeff jolted as if Ambrose’s words had zapped him.
“Hildreth won’t like that, you know.”
“What are you even talking about? Elsie is Hildreth’s fiancée. Hildreth is my friend. I would never—-”
“Oh, please. Spare me the denial baton twirling. I’ve heard it enough times from Robin. Do I have to hear it from you too?”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t feel anything for her other than simple admiration.”
Ambrose laughed at that. “Well, that is a new one. Robin never tried that line. Too bad. It would have been an interesting experience. And sorry. But I do know what I’m talking about. I’ve told this to Robin, so I might as well tell it to you too: I’ve been around for over a hundred years. I know what love looks like. Especially soft, shiny, brand new love. And it’s all over your face.”
Jeff turned his head forward and didn’t respond.
“But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. I won’t tell either of them, because that is none of my business. That’s yours. You should be the one to spill that jar of beans, not me.”
Jeff didn’t respond to that either.
“Besides, I know what it’s like to fall in love with someone you feel you can never have.” His thoughts turned to Rebecca. “I’ve been there before…”
Anna found Ambrose sitting in a wing-backed chair in the library. She spread her arms on the top of the chair and slouched.
He looked up at her. “You know, if you keep coming over here unannounced like this, rumors will spread about us.”
She scoffed. “About you and me? Impossible! I have known you all my life. You are practically my brother.”
“Not everyone will see it that way.”
“That would be their problem, not ours.”
“They would make it our problem.”
She waved her hand in dismissal. “Anyway, I noticed you at the ball yesterday.”
He raised his book and tried to focus on the words.
“I noticed how you were staring at my sister.”
Rebecca appeared in his mind.
Rebecca with her impeccably styled red hair.
Rebecca with her full throated laugh.
Her beautiful skin that looked so soft, so touchable.
“So what if I were? I was not the only man doing so.”
“True. You were the only man staying away from her.” She came around to the front side of the chair.
Trying to read his book was an exercise in futility. He gave up and set the book on the small table next to him. “What do you want?”
“I want you to be honest about it. If you are in love with Rebecca, just say it. Trust me. I have no romantic interest in you. You will not break my heart if you admit your feelings for Rebecca.”
“Anna, what would be the point in admitting such a thing? She has so many suitors. Why would she even look at me?”
“Because you come from a good family. You are young and handsome and smart.”
He let out a surprised laugh. “You just called me handsome.”
“Well, I couldn’t possibly call you ugly. That wouldn’t be true. Just go to her and admit your feelings. I am sure she would reciprocate them.”
He thought about it for a moment before shaking his head. “It would be a waste of time. I would never be able to get the words out. I would sputter and spit and turn into an absolute side show. No, I will keep it to myself. I will keep it safe and secret. Maybe some time in the future I will find the courage to speak my heart to her, but not yet. I am not ready.”
“But who knows?” Ambrose said. “Maybe some day in the future you will find the courage to speak your heart to her.”
Jeff shook his head. “She’s engaged to Hildreth. They’re getting married tomorrow.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
Jeff shot a sharp look at him. “What do you mean?”
“I may be a vampire, but even I know that life is full of surprises. You never can tell what the future may bring.” He stopped outside Missy’s room and knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” Elsie asked.
“Ambrose and Jeff.”
“Come on in.”