“My first real love…” Elsie tried to look into Hildreth’s green-blue eyes, but the shower water pelted her right in the face. She backed out of direct pelting range.
Hildreth stayed put. His hair was completely flattened against his scalp.
It’s almost maddening how cute he looks like that. “Ambrose was the first man I’d felt a strong desire for. Call it obsession. Call it infatuation. You can even call it the Florence Nightingale Effect. You can call it so many things. Maybe even the natural consequences of being a vampire’s blood letter.”
Hildreth winced a little at that last line.
“But you can’t call it love, because that is not what it was. It was messy and constrained and unhealthy. There was no freedom, no trust. He was my prisoner. I could have staked him. He could have changed me.”
“Or killed you.” Hildreth swept aside the hairs sticking to the sides of her face.
“Or he could have killed me. Maybe it would have happened eventually if he and I had stayed together.” Elsie shook her head. “No. There’s no maybe about it. It would have happened. It was inevitable. There was no destined happily ever after for Ambrose and me.”
Hildreth’s expression turned thoughtful.
She gave him a slight shove. “And before you get any crazy, jealous ideas in that head of yours, no. I am NOT secretly pining for him or for what could have been between Ambrose and myself. NO. All of that pining and longing is long dead in the past. It is not in the present and it will never be in our future. I want and love just you. YOU are my happily ever after.”
“Oh, I don’t know. That sounds very defensive.”
“Hildreth Mayhew, I swear if you are still jealous of him—”
“You’d pull my hair?” He sounded entirely too hopeful. “Oh! Oh! Or maybe you’d spar some sense into me?”
The idea of sparring with Hildreth after seeing him naked and knowing his more intimate moves…It was like her brain had turned into a billion beams of light and none of those beams were capable of sensible thought.
Hildreth grinned. “Does that silence mean yes?”
He pumped his fist. “Yes! Hail to the victor! Wooooo!”
“Wait. Are you trying to say that you are still jealous of him?”
“Nope. Just teasing. I know you’re super hot for me and my—” He swayed his hips. “—awesomely manly charms. Ooo! Ooo! Ooo! Look at all these hip swiveling charms.”
She burst out laughing.
“Mmm-mmm. How can you resist such charms?” He put his hands on his hips and swiveled them with dramatic flair. “OOoooooOOooo!” he warbled in an uneven falsetto.
“Stop!” she wheezed. “You’re going to make me die from laughing too hard.”
He laughed with her until they were both well-winded and teary-eyed. Her sides ached, but it was a happy kind of ache.
“You ridiculous, wonderful idiot.”
“Mmm.” Hildreth looped his arms around her waist. “So, I’m both ridiculous and wonderful.”
“You are.” she said lovingly. “And I wouldn’t have you be any other way.”