“I really should be going. My husband and Franny are out in the car. I don’t want to leave them alone for too long.”
“That’s true.” Ambrose said. “It isn’t daytime yet. You never can tell what might be out there.” He stood. “I’ll walk you out to your car.” He offered Olivia his hand. “If you don’t mind?”
Olivia smiled. “Do I mind being escorted by a man as handsome as you?” She took his hand. “Not at all.”
“That’s what I thought.”
Barbara put her hand on his shoulder. “Be careful out there. Like you said, you never can tell what might be out there.”
He looked at Barbara with so much love it stole Olivia’s breath away. It made her think of her own husband.
I want to go to him.
I want to tell him that he’s my only one.
“Don’t worry, love. I’ll be careful. I’ll be inconspicuous. If there are any hunters out there, I’ll just stroll right past them and they’ll never know.”
“Hmm. I don’t know how inconspicuous you can be when you look that dashing.”
He laughed. “You’d be surprised. Love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Here.” Deliosa stopped in the small patch of woods behind an abandoned bookstore. She transformed into her dragon form.
Sammy took a moment to admire her before going through his own transformation. He rubbed his head against her neck. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding, Lee.
She purred warm and deep in response. I’m sorry I misunderstood. She nudged the side of his head. Samer, let’s become skye.
He raised his head. Yes. Let’s become skye.
She leapt upward and flew into the sky.
He purred and flew after her.
Barbara couldn’t help the twinge of jealousy as she watched Ambrose lead her aunt to the door.
Mom, is it just me? Did you ever feel that way about Dad? Did he ever feel that way about you? Is it okay for me to feel like this? Or is it wrong?
I love him and he loves me. I know he loves me. I don’t doubt him. So, why should I feel this way? I don’t understand it.
She sat in her seat.
I wish you were here.
Ambrose stopped and looked back at her.
Her heart skipped a beat.
I want to run to him.
I need to run to him.
I want to grab him.
I want to hold on to him.
Ambrose grinned at her and winked. He resumed his escort mission.
And he calls me a brat.
“Just you wait until you get back here, Ambrose Smith. I’ll…I’ll punch your arm.”
Sammy and Deliosa flew in perfect synchronization.
Soar higher and higher.
Sharp dive only to swoop upwards again.
He opened his mouth and sang out his joy.
She sang along with him.
Red and yellow roses bloomed in the trees below.
Ambrose bantered easily with Olivia as he walked her outside. His thoughts, however, kept straying back to the young woman he’d left inside The Red Envelope.
I want to go back to her.
I want to run back to her.
I want…need her kiss.
They walked past an older man slouching against the trunk of a troubled looking Ford Mustang.
Ambrose released her hand and nonchalantly switched sides.
“Tsk.” The man strolled over to him and grabbed his shoulder. “It isn’t polite to walk past people—” He shoved Ambrose. “—-and not say Hi.”
Ambrose gave him a cold look. “Why should I say hi to you? I don’t know you.”
“Tsk. That’s no excuse.” He bared his fangs and rushed at Olivia.
Ambrose grabbed the back of the man’s shirt and flung him at the nearest car.
The man landed in an ungraceful sprawl all over a red Camaro’s hood.
Ambrose lowered himself into an offensive position. “Olivia. Go to the car. Now.”
Olivia didn’t argue. She ran.
The man slid off the car’s hood. He ran after her.
Ambrose roared and charged at him. He bared his fangs and claws.
The man ran faster.
Ambrose caught up to him.
Knocked him flat on his face.
He straddled the vampire’s lower back and said in his ear, “Maybe you’re a new vampire. Maybe you don’t know anything. Maybe you’re a death seeking fool. But know this: No one touches my people.”
The man fidgeted. “How am I supposed to know who your people are?”
“Easy. If they are with me, they are mine. Olivia is mine. Her family is mine. Barbara is mine. Raven and Robin are mine. John Addleston is mine. Everyone in that banquet room is mine. You touch them, you will die.”
The man scoffed. “You’re a vampire. You can’t handle stakes any more than I can.”
“Then, I will beat you up. I will punch you and punch you until you are pleading for mercy. But, if you hurt anyone who matters to me, I will show you no mercy.”
The man went still.
“And trust me. You will wish that you were dead.” He paused. “Do we have an understanding?”
“Good.” He got off the man’s back. “Get out of here. Or else.”
The vampire ran away.