Ambrose stumbled back and nearly fell into a narrow planter box situated right behind him. He managed to catch his balance.
Isadora strolled across the street as if it were her own personal boulevard. And it was like something from a nightmare. No cars blocked her way or tried to ram her down. No convenient Mormons stopped her to convince her to accept the Lord and Savior. No little kids ran into her path.
Not even a single mugger, prostitute, or busker halted her progress.
She kept her gaze fixed on Ambrose and she kept walking straight towards him.
I should run. I need to run. Need to get away. Don’t want her near me. Don’t want her to touch me. Need to run. Need to run. But if I run, she’ll run. She’ll chase me. She’ll catch me. She’ll pin me down. She’ll bite me. Don’t want her to touch me. Don’t want her. I don’t want—
She stopped in front of him. “My child.”
Ambrose held his ground. “Don’t you dare touch me.”
“You say that every time we meet.” She tapped his lips with her fingertip.
He grabbed her wrist. “I said Don’t.“
She didn’t try to pull her wrist from him. “I’ve had a great many children over the years. Even over the most recent months. But none of them were or have been anything like you. My dear, delicious Ambrosia.”
He tightened his grip. “Let’s get some things straight here: 1. I am not your child. 2. I am not yours by any stretch of the word or of the imagination. 3. My name is Ambrose NOT Ambrosia.”
“You say all of that, but you know—” She smiled and shook her head. “—it isn’t true. I created you. So, yes. You are my child and you always will be.”
Ambrose released her wrists with a shove. “Get out of my space and leave me alone.”
“And how are things going with your human…mistress? Blood letter?”
Her smile fell. “Wife?”
“Yes. I’m married now. And, in case you’re thinking it, Ha! No. I am not going to abandon her for you. I love her.” Wonder softened his expression. “And she loves me. Despite all of the bad things I am, she loves me.”
“Love is fine and dandy, Ambrose. But—” She took a step back. “—I could make you happy in ways she cannot. I can understand you in ways she never will.” She held her hands out to him. “Our days and nights would be in sync. I would be awake with you, all night until the dawn. She cannot offer you that. She can try, but her human weakness will always keep you and her apart. You know this, Ambrose.”
“Can you still choose her over me?”
“Yes. Without a doubt, yes. I know the difficulties of being with a human. I know all about the frightening power imbalance. How easy it would be for me to kill her or change her. Her scent is enticing and alluring, especially when I first wake. My desire for her blood is something I will have to live with and fight every time I wake up.”
“Oh, my child.” She stroked the side of his face. “I offer you freedom.”
“And I can’t accept it.”
She dropped her hands. “I could force you to do it. No matter what you may say or think, Ambrose, you are my child. I can take control over you. I can make you sit, talk, heel, roll over, and play dead like a well-trained miniature poodle. All it would take is a word. Only so many words. A command and you would obey.”
“That is not freedom, my lady. It is the worst kind of imprisonment to steal away my choice.” He smiled knowingly. “And that is not what either of us wants. You want me as your child. Your lover, perhaps. But if you take away my rights, my autonomy, I will hate you. I do NOT want to be locked in another prison cell.”
Her mouth dipped down. Her eyes turned sorrowful.
“And you, my lady,” he took her hands and held them. “you do not want to be my captor.”
“No.” She looked down at their hands. “I don’t.”
“I’m sorry that I can’t give you what you want. Who knows? If you hadn’t abandoned me after my change…”
She looked up at him. “Who knows?”
He released her hands. “We never will.”