It definitely was not the best taste, but it did the job. Ambrose was no longer hungry. He released the boy’s arm.
The boy jolted awake. He pulled his arm to his chest and regarded Ambrose with blatant terror.
Ambrose wanted to take a few minutes to apologize and to explain, but Isadora’s command to go home to his wife kicked in. He stood and left.
Raven released Emo Man’s arm. He pulled out his handkerchief and dabbed away any traces of blood off his mouth.
Emo Man turned pale. “Vampire. You’re a vampire! You bit me! I’m going to become a vampire now!”
Raven shook his head. “It does not work that way, sir. If I had changed you, you would certainly know by now.” He sighed. “It would be quite obvious. Besides that, a bite to the wrist is insufficient to change a person into a vampire. If I wanted to change you,” he tapped the side of Emo Man’s neck. “I would have to aim a little higher. Fortunately for you, I do not wish to do so.”
Raven turned to leave.
“Wait! Wait a minute!”
Raven stopped and looked back at him.
“What of this job opportunity and your employer? Was that just a lie to get into my veins?”
“I am afraid so, sir. I was very hungry and you have a wondrous scent. I had to say something to get you to follow me.”
Even with his hair draping into his right eye, Emo Man looked angry enough to spit flame and fury in Raven’s face. “You…limey little space worm fop!”
Raven saw no reason to honor that insult line-up with a comment. He turned and walked away.
Isadora’s compulsion pushed Ambrose to go faster. He yielded to it and broke into an all-out run.
He ran down the sidewalk, across intersections. He didn’t wait for red lights or green hands. He just kept running through crowds and traffic.
But Isadora’s compulsion played just a small part in his rush to get home.
Barbara was the true magnetic force pulling him onward. Ambrose thought about holding her in his arms, about touching her face, about kissing her lips, about her touching him and loving him. If he could have flown home, he would have. But even flight would have taken too long.
He just wanted to be home right now.
Raven strolled through the crowds. He wasn’t in a particular hurry to get to his destination – The Red Envelope. He knew that Ambrose would not be there yet.
He knew that Ambrose would return to Barbara after getting a bite to eat. Their reunion alone would take a while. He was sure of it.
He held his hands limp at his sides with his fingers uncurled. In his mind, Missy was walking beside him and it was all a matter of time before she took his hand….either hand. As long as he didn’t look, he could pretend that she was there. Right there.
Raven smiled at the pretense.
Yet, Missy would not be so silent. Not even if she were angry at me. Especially if she were angry at me. She would speak volumes of words.
He mentally reached for her.
Missy? Are you there?
Raven! Are you okay? Are you safe? Is Ambrose safe? Have you heard from Robin and Isellta yet?
He smiled at her rapid fire line of questions.
I am safe and well. Ambrose is safe and well too. And no. I have not heard from Robin or Isellta yet. I was going to give them a few minutes before reaching out to them. How about you? How do you feel? Any oddnesses? Any changes?
Nope! I’m doing 100% well. Oh, Raven! I can’t wait until I can come home with you.
Raven imagined her being home again. It was like imagining the summer sunlight in the midst of a hard, gray winter. A splendid mix of surreal, wonderful, and almost too much to hope for.
I look forward to it as well, Missy. My dear Missy. I love you. I cannot wait to hold you in my arms again.
And I’m looking forward to seeing you shirtless again.
He choked out a laugh.
I love you, Raven. Don’t stay out too long.
Do not worry. I will come to you as soon as I can.
Ambrose entered the residential area, leaving the business side of the city behind him. He ran all the way to Barbara’s house.
He ran all the way home.