The Mass proceeded in the normal fashion and order: Confiteor, Kyrie, the Collect, Epistle, Gospel, and so on, all the way to the Consecration of the bread and the wine.
As Father Landover raised the Host, Ambrose felt a flush of sudden panic.
We’re going to receive Communion today. How is that going to work if I can’t even eat something like sour cream? What about the Host? Am I going to wind up vomiting that too?
His panic spiked higher.
Does this church even have a bathroom? What if I can’t find it in time? What if I vomit halfway down the aisle? Raven will kill me if I get vomit all over my tuxedo. What if—-
Barbara looked up at him.
His panic fizzled out.
I’m not the first vampire to receive Communion in this church. And I can’t be the only vampire to have issues with solid food.
He smiled at her.
It will be okay.
He lowered his gaze to their wedding rings.
My father’s ring is now my ring. My mother’s ring is now Barbara’s ring. My past linked to my present and to my future. My family united by these rings. Even if I can’t see my parents, even if they aren’t here with me, they are here with me. They are here in these rings. They are here in my heart. They live in my memories.
And they always will.
Barbara tried to focus on saying her prayers, but Ambrose kept distracting her. She couldn’t help stealing glances at him.
His black hair.
His black eyes.
His black tuxedo with tails.
His white shirt.
His wedding ring.
My wedding ring.
Ambrose and I are finally married. I can touch him and he can touch me.
And we can do more than that without either of us feeling guilty afterwards.
She looked up at the tabernacle. “Oh, God.” she whispered. “Thank You. Thank You for keeping him safe. Thank You for sending him my way. Thank You for Your help in getting us through all of those barriers before our wedding. There’s so much more I want to thank You for. So many small mercies. So many big graces. Thank You. Thank You for everything. Thank You for him. I love him. I love him so much I could scream about it.”
Barbara glanced at him again and caught him smiling at her. Ambrose.
Barbara, I will love you through my last breath.
Her eyes teared up. I will love you even after you’re gone.
Robin clenched his teeth.
Darnation! Why they gotta project their thoughts so loud? I bet half the church can hear them. The priest sure can. He’s just right there. How could he not hear ’em?
I should project my thoughts to Isellta. I should project them so loud the windows’ll break.
‘sellta, it ain’t gonna be that much longer. Hold on. Wait for me. I’m gonna come. I promise. My beautiful fey. I’m gonna come to you. I’m gonna hold you in my arms for the first time. I’ll fin’lly be able to touch you and I’ll touch you with love. I ain’t got all that anger in me no more. Just love. I love you. You hear me okay, you dumb stupid fey? I love you. I love you so much it makes me feel like I’m crazy.
He listened for Isellta’s response.
There was none.
What if he is dyin’? It ain’t all that likely, but what if he is? How would I know? Or ain’t I gonna know at all?
‘sellta? Can you hear me? Are you still there?
There was still no response.
Ambrose gave Robin a sympathetic look. Don’t worry. He’ll be fine.
Robin scoffed. You hope.
Ambrose and Barbara knelt at the altar rail as the priest said the prayers before Communion.
Ambrose said the first prayer that came to mind. It had been a long time since he had said it. He couldn’t remember the last time, the last date of his last Communion. But he remembered that one prayer and he whispered it over and over: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come to me. But say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
His heart raced as Father Landover turned to them and said in Latin, “May almighty God have mercy on you and, having forgiven your sins, bring you to life everlasting. Amen. May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution and remission of our sins. Amen.”
Father Landover picked up the chalice and continued in Latin, “Behold the Lamb of God; behold Him Who taketh away the sins of the world.” He repeated the ‘Lord, I am not worthy’ prayer three times.
Ambrose whispered it again with him.
The priest carried the chalice to them and offered it first to Ambrose. “Take a small sip.” he whispered.
Ambrose almost laughed at the simple solution to his concern. He hadn’t even considered it. He swallowed down his laughter and accepted the chalice from the priest. He took a small sip, swallowed, and passed the golden cup to Barbara.
Ambrose covered his face with his hands. All of the after Communion prayers he had learned as a child left his mind. He tried to remember at least one of them, but they just weren’t there. So, he said the simplest and most heartfelt prayer he knew, “Thank You, my Lord.”