Jeff stepped forward. “Or you could stay with me. I’m Jeff Farsigh. My daughter, Teresa, is a fiery thing just like you. So, it’s not a big deal to me if you suddenly flame out. I won’t panic and throw buckets of water at you.” He huffed out a sigh. “I feel like this is all coming out all wrong. Maybe I should start all over again.”
Ambrose smirked, but he refrained from saying what he was thinking.
John stood and moved out of the way as the former hunter approached her.
Jeff knelt before the small girl. “I am Jeff Farsigh. I used to be a vampire hunter, but I had to give it up a long time ago because I had to kill someone I loved. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t handle it. I hurt me.” He pressed his fist above his heart. “Here. I felt like I had staked myself. I hurt me. I broke me. Then, I met this wonderful woman and she saved me. I loved her. I loved her like the swan loves the lake and the fish love the sea. I married her and we had a little girl together. A little girl who made our family whole.”
He bowed his head as the old, familiar pain flared. “My wife died. So, it was just me and my daughter.”
John gave him a sympathetic look that said plain as plain, “I know that hurt. I know that grief.” But he stayed out of Jeff’s spotlight and kept silent.
“I took care of her the best I could. I loved her with all my heart. Then, in a moment’s flash, she was gone. I lost her. She was stolen away from me and she was gone. For ten long years, she was gone. I lived with the grief and the guilt. I didn’t just fail her. I failed to keep my promise to my wife. I promised her that I would keep Tessa safe. I would protect her. She would be safe with me. My Laura could die knowing that our little girl was safe with me.”
His eyebrows quilted up. “And I let her down. I let them both down.” The pain and the guilt tidal waved him, threatening to tug him away in their undertow. “But she came back. She found me. But I’ve lost her again. Only this time, I know where she is. I can see her and I see her. Every day, I see my Tessa, but she can’t see me. I don’t know if she can even hear me. I hope. I pray. I know that she’ll wake up. I just don’t know. I don’t know if she’ll need my help afterwards. I don’t know if she’ll be perfectly fine. I hope she will be, but I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.”
Jeff fixed his gaze on the floor, but he didn’t really focus on it. He had no idea what color it was, if it had any patterns, if it were a tight-weaved or a shaggy carpet. “If you don’t want to be with me. If you choose anyone over me, I will understand.”