Jeff folded his arms across his chest. “Okay. So, how are we gonna go about this? Putting it up for a vote? Battling it out? What?”
Barbara felt a rush of sudden panic.
I hadn’t really gone this far in my planning. But I can’t say that out loud. But I need to say something.
“Umm. I guess what we can do is…” Her mind froze up on her. Complete and total Arctic frozen.
Ambrose stepped over to Barbara’s side, with Sarah firmly in tow. “I say we leave it up to Sarah.”
Sarah shook her head. She pointed at herself and pointed at Ambrose.
Barbara sighed. “I had a feeling she’d say that.”
Ambrose freed his arm and knelt before the small girl. “Sarah.”
She stomped her foot on the floor and repeated the same gesture over and over – pointing at herself and pointing at him. Over and over.
“Stop. Listen to me.”
She folded her arms across her chest and glowered.
“Barbara and I want you to stay with us. We do. But it might be difficult. I am a vampire. People might come and take you away from us. I don’t mean just The Institute. There are other people who might. Good people. People who believe that they are doing the right thing in taking you away from me. And honestly? They might be right. I am a vampire. I hunt people. I hurt people. I could hurt you.”
She gave him a wary look.
“I don’t want to hurt you. I won’t hurt you, but the simple truth is I could. That potential is there. It will always be there. So, you need to decide who you’d rather be with.”
She frowned and shook her head.
Barbara looked down at Ambrose’s black hair. She felt a powerful yearning to run her fingers through it.
I can’t blame her for wanting to stay with him.
I’d be the same way.
John came over to her and crouched. “I’m John Addleston. I’m Barbara’s dad. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a little girl in the household. I might be a little rusty about certain things, but if you want. If you choose to stay with me, I will take good care of you. I will love you as though you were my own.”
Sarah frowned. She tapped her throat, knotted her hand into a fist, and pulled her hand away from her neck in a sharp gesture.
“I know. Communication will be a challenge. I understand that.”
She transformed into her XQ self. Her fiery tentacles unfurled from her back and whicked in the air.
He went down on his knees and held out his hand as if she were a wild animal. “It’s okay. I won’t hurt you.”
She turned back into her human form. She pointed at him, staked her forearm with her opposite fist, and pointed at herself.
“No.” Ambrose said. “John will never hurt you. He will never let anyone hurt you.”
She looked up at him.
Ambrose made eye contact with Barbara’s father. “I trust him.”