Robin perked up as Barbara’s scent intensified. He opened his eyes and watched her stride past his cell. No. Come on. COME ON! Just…please. See me. Sense I’m here. ‘cuz dang it all! I’m RIGHT HERE!
She walked to the staircase and headed up the stairs.
Come back. Please…
She reached the top of the stairs and opened the door.
Barbara. Please. I’m right freakin’ here!
She walked through the doorway.
She didn’t look back.
DARN IT ALL!
But Am’rose is still here. He’ll come back. He’ll see me this time. He’ll bust me outta here and I’ll find ‘sellta and we’ll get ourselves all outta here. There ain’t no way he’s gonna just leave me here.
Robin closed his eyes and waited. He knew that it was all a matter of time. Ambrose would come running after Barbara. As long as Ambrose was alive and not imprisoned, he would come running after her.
Ambrose’s scent drifted into Robin’s cell.
He opened his eyes.
Ambrose stepped into Robin’s narrow point of view.
HEY! STUPID! I’M RIGHT FREAKIN’ HERE! CAN YOU HEAR ME OR WHAT?
He inhaled sharply.
Ambrose wasn’t alone. He had someone cradled in his arms. And that someone was clearly not Robin. The stench of boiled cabbage and burnt garbanzo beans collided with Ambrose’s oak, mocha, and musk.
Ambrose carried him past Robin’s cell and to the staircase.
What the freakin’…?
Ambrose carried him up the stairs.
What the actual freakin’ heck? STUPID AMBROSE! YOUR NOSE GONE STAKED AND DEAD OR WHAT? THAT AIN’T ME! I’M HERE!
He reached the top of the stairs.
Robin choked up as Ambrose walked through the open doorway. I’m right here. Come back for me. Don’t leave me behind. Please!
Barbara left the mansion and ran back to the car. She got into the front seat, closed the doors, and after a moment’s hesitation, locked them.
She touched her forehead against the steering wheel. Small snapshots, like pieces of evidence, flashed before her mind.
The missing eye.
The ruined hands.
The empty hopelessness in his good eye.
She shivered. He did that. Ambrose…The man I love did that.
Horror struck her as Barbara remembered his confession in the hospital. He did this to children too. How young were they? How many children did he—Oh, God! How many?
Her mind cruelly set those pieces of evidence on a child’s face. Bile rushed up to her throat. She unlocked the door and stumbled out of the car. She barely had enough time to double over before she vomited.
Barbara sank to her knees and cried.
Ambrose’s mouth was dry. He couldn’t swallow. He had climbed the dungeon’s staircase with the hopeful thought that Barbara would be standing in the hall. That she’d be standing there waiting for him.
She wasn’t there.
Three hundred and forty thousand What Ifs racked his mind. Ambrose trembled as he followed her scent. He had a small thought of just dropping the prisoner on the floor and running after her.
He was pretty sure that would be a bad idea, though.
I can’t leave this one behind. Raven can help him. It’s the only way I can make it up to this poor man.
He walked around the left corner and hurried to the front door. It wasn’t easy to hurry with his arms so full, but he hurried. Thoughts about Barbara leaving him behind forced him to hurry.
Ambrose opened the front door and stepped outside.