Part 2378 – Goodnight, Ladies!

John watched Clarice leave the kitchen with Sarah. Clarice said something that struck Sarah as funny. The small girl silently laughed.

He felt like he was looking into the future. It was both frightening and exciting. 

It will be a whole new life. It won’t be me, Carolyn, and Barbara. Won’t even be just me and Clarice. It will be me, Clarice, and Sarah. A whole new family just like that. And Elsie will be part of our family too, even though she won’t live with us.

They left the kitchen and the room was silent.

John Addleston stood alone.

But I’m ready. After being alone for so long, I’m ready to move forward. I’m ready to step into this new life’s frightening and exciting unknown.

He double-checked the faucet and the stove dials. Everything was turned off. Nothing was left running or needlessly plugged in. He frowned at an unexpected question that came to mind.

Am I marrying her for the right reasons? Or do I want her just to quell the loneliness in my bed?

Just one thought of her was enough to kill that doubt.

He smiled. “I love her, Carrie. Just like how it was with you, I can’t help but love her. She’s amazing in so many ways. So much stronger than she seems to be. I love her. It would be an honor and a delight to be her husband.”

No doubts about it.

John glanced around the kitchen. Everything was in order. Everything that needed to be off was off. He nodded and left the room.

***

It took a lot of persuading on Clarice’s part to convince Sarah to take her bridesmaid dress off. Clarice offered her one of Barbara’s old nightgowns she’d found stranded in the bottom drawer of the dresser.

Sarah made a “Yeah, no.” face at it and went to bed in just her underwear.

Clarice considered stripping to just her underwear too, but she saw just how provocative that could be if John were to come in for who knows what reason. She kicked off her shoes, but stayed fully dressed. She laid down behind Sarah and covered up.

Sarah automatically rolled over and hugged her.

Nostalgic feels hit Clarice at full strength. She hugged Sarah and remembered…

***

Clarice laid on her back, listening to the house’s silence. She could almost swear she could hear the kitchen clock ticking through the walls.

She looked over to Gerry’s side of the bed, but he wasn’t there. “He’s out there saving the world from vampires.” Her voice sounded loud in the silent dark. “But he’ll come home to me. Every night he’ll come home to me. He’ll be safe. He’ll be whole. He’ll come home to me.”

She didn’t dare put it into words, but she knew. There was a strong possibility that he would meet his match. He’d meet a vampire stronger than him, faster than him, more determined than him.

Gerry would be injured, killed, or changed.

She rolled onto her side and tried to go to sleep. But that unspoken possibility haunted her. She couldn’t even close her eyes.

A timid knock sounded on the door.

Clarice turned on the small lamp beside her bed. “Come in?”

The door opened. Elsie toddled into the room in her Mighty Mouse pajamas, dragging her security blanket behind her. Elsie’s frizzy shoulder-length hair was a rumpled up uproar. “Mommy?”

Clarice sat up. “What’s the matter, sweetie?”

“Had a bad dream.”

“Well, come here and snuggle with me.”

Elsie ran to the bed and climbed up there. She crawled over to her mother. Clarice captured her in a hug. “Ahh! I got you! Yeah, I got you!”

Elsie giggled.

“I got you and now I’m gonna EAT you!”

Elsie giggle-shrieked. “No! Don’t eat me!”

“Ahh, too late! Ahhhh! nom nom nom nom nom.” She fake-nibbled on Elsie’s shoulder, making her giggle even more.  

***

“And he came home that night.” Clarice stroked Sarah’s hair. “He came home from every hunt, safe and sound. And I had a whole day’s worth of hours where I didn’t have to worry about him.”

Sarah’s body relaxed as she fell asleep.

Clarice sighed. “I never would have guessed that he’d be killed by a car.”

The small table lamp on top of the dresser flickered and browned.

She sat up. “Gerry? Gerry, is it you?”

The light returned to normal brightness.

She settled back down. “Oh, I’m a silly thing to jump to that sort of conclusion over something like that.” She hugged Sarah and drifted off to sleep.

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