Jeff watched how Elsie grabbed Hildreth’s hair.
The way she kissed him.
The way he kissed her.
It’s a good thing I’m not in love with her, because I wouldn’t stand a chance. They are right together.
They belong together.
Jeff rubbed his wedding ring.
Just like us, Laura.
I wish you were here with me. I wish you were here, standing here next to me. I wish I could hear your voice and feel your touch.
I wish you could kiss me one more time.
One last time.
And a whole lifetime’s worth of one last times.
I need to pull myself together.
I need to regain my self control.
I need to push all of the hurt and all of the pain as far down as they will go. Even if I must push it down to my feet.
Raven pressed his forehead against the heels of his hands.
Never let them see.
Never let them know.
Never lose control.
Always in control.
Raven exhaled a shuddering breath.
“Oh, Missy. How you make me fall apart!”
If you knew.
If only you knew.
“Can I touch you?” a woman asked.
He startled and uncovered his tear-messed face. “Ah. I do beg your pardon.” He pulled out his handkerchief and quickly rubbed away his tears.
“It’s okay.” She smiled. “I have seen a man cry before.”
Raven took a couple of steadying breaths. “All the same, I do apologize. I usually have better control over myself.” He carefully examined his handkerchief before neatly folding it and returning it to his pocket.
“Are you all right?”
“Hardly.” He sighed. “It was wrong for me to yell at Jeff. I should have respected his wishes and left it at that. I should not have lost control the way I did.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes.
“She means a lot to you, doesn’t she?” Maelin asked.
Another few minutes passed by in silence.
Raven sighed. “I ought to apologize to him.” He stood. “Will you come with me?”
Maelin stood. “Of course.”
They walked down the stairs.
“If I begin to lose it again, you have my permission to touch me and calm me down.”
She smiled at him. “Thank you.”
Missy, I am coming back to you.
Robin opened his eyes. “‘sellta!” He sat up and glanced around.
Isellta was nowhere in sight.
Robin huffed out a hurt breath. “Of course, he ain’t here. Why would he be?” He pulled himself out of the armchair and shuffled over to Ambrose.
He bonked the older vampire on the head.
Ambrose woke with a startled snort. He glared at Robin. “There better be a good reason for that. Or I’ll throw you out of the window.”
“Yeah. Yeah. Whate’er. Can we go home? I need to stretch out in bed. I’m gettin’ weird cramps in weird places.”
Ambrose rubbed his eyes. “I’d love to say no, but bed does sound good.”
“Huh! More like won’erful. So, let’s go or I’ll punch your head again.”
Ambrose stood and did a full body stretch.
Robin quickly looked away from him.
Jeff frowned. “Will you two be okay walking home? It is still daytime.”
Ambrose gave the window a bleary look. “Oh.”
“Ain’t sure what the big deal is.” Robin said. “We got a taxi waitin’ for us. So, let’s go.”
“Oh, right. We do. Okay, bye.” Ambrose wobbled like he was going to fall back into the chair.
“Stupidhead.” Robin grabbed his arm and dragged him to the door. Ambrose followed him as if he were a drowsy kid being led to his bedroom. “And just so you know, we ain’t takin’ the stairs.”
Ambrose growled softly. “hate elevators…”
Hildreth watched Elsie as Ambrose left the room.
He didn’t say good-bye to either of us. Not that I care. I don’t, but what about her? Does she feel slighted? Does she feel hurt?
He folded his fingers with hers. “Els?” he said softly.
She looked up at him and he lost his words. “I’m ready to go home, Hildreth, whenever you are.”