Robin got out of the shower.
His stomach growled.
He got dressed and hurried out of the room.
Ambrose was already in the bedroom, slowly pulling his socks on. He looked up. “Hey. Took you long enough. You should dry your hair.”
“So, what? I don’t catch cold?”
Ambrose chuckled and put his shoes on. “No. So, Raven doesn’t drag you home to blow dry your hair.”
“Darnation!” Robin stomped back into the bathroom, grabbed a towel off the rack, and scrubbed his hair as quickly as he could. “There!” He threw the towel on the floor. “Done. Let’s go.”
Robin followed Ambrose outside. “We shoulda just put on our tuxes. Save us all a whole bunch of trouble.”
Ambrose laughed out loud. “Raven would murder us, especially if we damaged them in any way.”
Robin scoffed. “Just gettin’ them dirty would be reason enough for him to kill us dead. Darned den mother.”
“Raven is Raven. He can’t help being a fussbudget. It’s in his DNA.”
“Wouldn’t be freakin’ surprised. We meetin’ back here?”
“After we’re done hunting? Yeah.” Ambrose pressed his fist above Robin’s heart. “Be safe out there.”
Robin returned the gesture. “You too. It would be a crim’nal shame if you got yourself staked on your own weddin’ day.” His stomach did its best impersonation of a thunderstorm. “See ya!” He ran down the porch stairs and headed into the night.
Ambrose thought about the teenaged boy waiting for him. He thought about his scent of hot fudge and whipped cream.
How it had tasted.
Ambrose licked his lips. “I hope he didn’t forget about our date.” He walked down the porch steps. “After all, it was his idea.”
Raven walked down the sidewalk, watching for hunters and searching for the right scent to chase. Yet, despite his best attempts to stay focused, his mind wandered.
His mind betrayed him.
For the first time in a long time, he thought of her.
Raven swept the handkerchief across his face one more time. He folded the material into a tight square and put it in his pocket. He exited the alley without looking back.
The familiar scent of mulberries and vanilla caught him unawares.
He was glad that he had nothing in his hands because he would have dropped it. “Miss Farlington.” He dipped a slight bow at her companion. “Mr. Vansing.”
“What are you doing out here this time of night?” she asked.
Charles Vansing gave him a look that should have frozen the vampire’s blood. “The real question is what were you doing in an alley at this time of night?”
“I was out walking, sir.”
“In an alley.”
“Yes, sir. In an alley.”
“Ruddy odd place for a butler to be.”
May Rose embraced her fiancée’s arm and looked up at him.
Raven couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t even swallow.
Look at me. Please look at me.
But to what end? We are miles apart even though we be only inches from each other.
“Are you going to explain yourself?” Charles asked.
Raven thought about the dead girl lying behind a wooden crate. “No, sir. I have no intention of doing so. Please excuse me.”
May Rose frowned. “James! Watch your tone.”
He pushed his irritation down. “I am sorry, Miss Farlington. Please forgive me.” He made eye contact with her.
All I want to do is to proclaim my love to you. I wish to propose to you. I wish…I wish for a great many impossible things.
“Of course, James.”
“And please, Miss Farlington. Call me Arden.”
Disappointment showed on her face. “Of course. Arden. Come, Charles.”
He watched them walk away.
What I would have given for a chance to run after her. To clear up all of the mysteries and misunderstandings.
What I would have given for a chance to speak freely to her.
Raven stopped at a street corner and watched the passing traffic.
Yet, it was not meant to be. May Rose Farlington and I were never meant to be.
He put his hand above his heart.
It does not hurt anymore. There is no loss. No deep regret. Missy, May Rose Farlington does not hurt me anymore.
I am truly free.
The scent of blueberry cake caught his attention. He ran after it.