Elsie didn’t think of her father or her mother. She didn’t even think of Hildreth.
She didn’t think of the should have been or the could have been or what might have been.
She didn’t dance with regrets or with sorrows.
She danced with her master and danced in the moment, all dressed up in her wedding gown, wedding veil, and her father’s gauntlets. She enjoyed the sight of her master dressed in his best formal attire and the feel of him holding her in his arms and leading her around the floor.
The moment seemed to be eternal. It felt like something that could be held and preserved like a rose petal or an apple blossom. It was something that she could tuck into a book or place inside a box to take out and relive as she wished.
The moment was over as quickly as it had begun.
Jeff played the last note and his voice finished the line.
Elsie hugged Master Shinowa and he returned the hug. “Thank you.” she whispered as the remnants of the crowd applauded.
“Is much my pleasure, Elsie Mayhew.”
Hildreth admired Elsie as she danced. It wasn’t a fancy dance. It was a simple, slow dance. Yet, he couldn’t take his eyes away from her.
I want to interrupt.
I want to go over there and cut in. I wonder if I can. I wonder if I should.
This is a moment she needs. It’s the moment her dad’s death denied her. I’m not going to be the one to ruin it or rob her of it. After all, I am not that vampire.
He sat next to Clarice and smiled.
But darn! It is so tempting. She’s so beautiful. She’s so amazing. My Elsie.
She’s fierce and bold. Strong and independent. She doesn’t need me to bolster her self-esteem. But she loves me.
“It’s the most amazing thing.” he said softly.
“What is?” Clarice asked.
“Elsie and everything that she is. She is amazing and she loves me, which amazes me. She wants me. She married me. It’s just a whole stockpile of shock and awe missiles.”
“It shouldn’t be.”
He pulled his gaze from Elsie and focused on Clarice.
“Elsie is a great many things, Hildreth Mayhew, but let me tell you this: She is not blind. I can tell you for a fact that she is definitely not blind. You’re the hottest thing since cats discovered hot tin roofs. Of course, she wants you. The fact that you have a crazy sense of humor and a good heart…? Well, that’s just extra peaches in the cobbler. And it’s why she chose to marry you. Guys like you don’t exactly live on every street corner, waiting for the right woman to swoop them up. A girl has to dig hard and deep to find those diamonds among all of the dirt and coal.”
Hildreth chuckled. “I wonder how that vampire would feel about being called dirt and coal. He’d probably be offended.” He sighed happily as Master Shinowa and Elsie finished their dance. “We’re gonna be fine, me and my Elsie. That vampire no longer has any dominion over us. He can’t touch us. He can’t hurt us ever again.”
Elsie and Master Shinowa hugged. As soon as he let her go, she turned and strode back to Hildreth.
Hildreth stood quickly, but his knees jittered.
She stopped in front of him.
“Hey there, Elsie baby.”
“Hey.” She looked at her mother. “Is there any reason why we should stay here any longer?”
A big grin spread across Hildreth’s face.
Clarice seemed to think it over. “Welllll, all of the guests are leaving. So, unless you’re going to stay and help the help clean up—-”
“We can go?”
“Hmm. mm. Mmm! I detect so much eagerness.”
“Mom. Can we go? Can Hildreth and I just go already?”
“Definitely a lot of eagerness.”
Clarice stood and kissed her daughter’s forehead. “Go.”
“Good.” She grabbed Hildreth’s hand and plowed her way to the open door in a blaze of determination.
Hildreth looked at the expression on her face and couldn’t help laughing.
I think she’ll kill anyone who gets in our way.
My wonderful, fierce Elsie.