Ambrose grunted as his back hit the alley’s rough brick wall. He caught the strong pine scent of stake wood just before Darius thrust it at his heart. He grabbed the hunter’s wrists and spun him around so Darius’ back was now against the wall.
He bared his fangs. “You’re really hoping for a bite tonight, aren’t you?”
Darius narrowed his eyes. “You wish.” He braced his back against the wall and kicked just below both of Ambrose’s knees at the same time.
Ambrose fell to his hands and knees.
“I’m not going to lose.” He kicked Ambrose in the face full-force.
Ambrose fell onto his back, stunned. The scent of cheese and garlic and stake wood pulled him back to his senses.
Darius was there, right there. The stake was coming down again. He wasn’t going to miss.
Ambrose roared and grabbed his wrists again. He tackled him onto his back. Both men tumbled and tussled for the upper hand. Neither man was willing to give up or lose. Losing was not an option. Ambrose full-body pinned him and grabbed his head to smash it against the hard pavement.
A memory surfaced…
Ambrose summoned all of his strength and knocked Elsie flat on her back. He whacked her head on the carpeted floor and lunged open-mouthed at her neck. All he had to do was bite…
Darius scratched at Ambrose’s hands, trying to pull them off his head.
Ambrose closed his eyes and slipped into Darius’ mind.
“Get out of my head!” the vampire hunter said. “Get out! Get out! Get—“
SLEEP. Ambrose put all of his persuasive power into that one, small word.
Darius went silent. His scrabbling hands relaxed and dropped.
Ambrose opened his eyes. “I win.”
And your life is in between my hands. To break. To crush. To shred. To shatter.
He gently set Darius’ head down. “Lucky for you, I’ve undergone a change. A change of heart. A change of me. A change of who I am and who I want to be.” He released his grip on the hunter’s head. “And who I don’t want to be.”
He stood and dusted off his hands. “The fact that I don’t find your cheese and garlic scent appealing certainly makes things a whole lot easier.”
Ambrose left the alley. As he walked down the sidewalk, a giddy sense of relief overcame him.
Barbara? Are you still awake?
Ambrose? Are you safe?
Yes, I’m safe. Barbara, I just had an altercation with a vampire hunter. Don’t worry. I’m okay. I’m safe. I fought him and managed to tackle him onto his back. But the thing is I almost cracked his head on the pavement.
Her mind went silent, but he could sense that she was still there. So, he kept projecting.
I had his head in between my hands. I could have done it. I had the advantage. But, Barbara, I didn’t do it. I may have put him to sleep for a nice, quiet nap, but I didn’t hurt him, Barbara.
I’m so proud of you, Ambrose. Her words felt like an embrace and he wanted to curl up inside of them.
I can’t wait to come home to you, love.
I can’t wait for you to come home too. I love you, kitten. I love you so much.
I love you too.
Be safe, Ambrose. Please be safe.
Always, my love.