Elsie felt like a muddled, confusing mess as Hildreth entered the banquet room and headed her way. Her heart beat too fast and not at all, somehow at the same time. It didn’t even make sense to her.
I want to grab him.
I want to punch him.
I want to throw him at the nearest wall, pick him up, and throw him at the furthest wall.
I want to spur him into really sparring with me. No more gentle touch. No more kid gloves. I want risk. I want danger. I want to feel like my life is a fragile thing in his hands.
She frowned as a strange thought came to her.
Is that why I was so attracted to Ambrose? Because he was dangerous? Because I knew that he could hurt me? He could kill me? He could change me?
Is that the real reason why I kept him trapped in the basement? Because I didn’t want him to hunt anyone but me?
Is that what I really wanted all along?
Do I subconsciously want Hildreth to be Ambrose?
The photographer flapped his hands in irritation. “What did I tell you before? NO frowning. Let me see that smile. Come on! Smile!”
No. Maybe that was true at one point.
I know it was true at one point.
Hildreth stopped behind the photographer and pulled melodramatic poses.
Her smile grew and the photographer rhapsodized.
It isn’t true anymore. Ambrose Smith never made me this happy. I never loved him like this. There is no way on this Earth or on any other planet that I could love Ambrose Smith the way I love this wonderful idiot. It just isn’t possible.
“Okay! Very nice. Very good.” The photographer turned around and startled. “Gaaaaah! What—”
I love him.
I love him so much.
She marched over to Hildreth and grabbed the lapels of his tuxedo jacket. His dilapidated boutonniere further disintegrated. “I love you. You hear me, Mayhew? I love you.”
He smiled lovingly at her. “My Elsie.”
“And you are mine. Don’t you ever forget that. Not ever.”
“So wonderfully fierce.” He kissed her forehead. “My warrior queen.”
Elsie released her choke hold on his lapels and grabbed the hair on the sides of his head.
He laughed, a delighted and ecstatic laugh.
No. Ambrose Smith has nothing at all to do with how I feel for Hildreth. How could he? They are two completely different men. One I loved. The other I love and desire.
Her fingers burrowed deeper into his hair as she kissed him. “mmm.” She broke off a little too soon. “If we weren’t surrounded by so many people, you would be in serious trouble, mister.”
“Hmm? Is that a threat or a promise?”
She smirked. “I’ll let you decide.”
“Mmm. mmm. mmm. Naughty, naughty Elsie.”
The photographer cleared his throat. “I do hate to interrupt such a tender, loving moment, but I do have more pictures to take before we can call it canned and done.”
Elsie reluctantly released him. “I’ll get you later, Mayhew.”
“Oh, now that is definitely a promise.” Hildreth said.
“Yes, it is.”
“Okay, lovebirds! Follow me over to the next venue.”