Royce was having a hard time dealing with, he felt like, everything. From his new budding romance with Charlie to keeping a low-profile in a town that was growing more interested in him to Rosemary's new unsafe place of employment and the hunter she kept insisting on being in close contact with to now Crowne butting his big nose into things that were none of his damn business. He was so used to having his life the way he wanted, being the one in charge but the longer he stayed in New Hope, that control was being taken from him. The fact that Rosemary was becoming more and more independent was difficult enough to wrap his brain around. She had always been so needy of him. It was her need that was disappearing. While he was bucket and bucket loads proud of her for finally getting a job that she didn't suck at, he didn't like how the job was changing her.
Okay. It wasn't really changing her that much. He was just noticing certain things. Rosey no longer needed him to fall asleep. Before, he'd sing her lullabies to calm her down enough to close her eyes. Now, as soon as she was done at the Burger King, she came home and fell asleep without waiting for him. Without him period. He'd be left alone to stare up at the ceiling, humming lullabies to himself. She was probably tired and worked out from whatever they were having her do at the burger joint. That was it. And it was no big thing. Rosemary was far too old for silly tunes anyway. So was he. Again, it wasn't like she was having a sudden change in her personality. She still held onto his arm while they slept and still insisted he'd make her breakfast. Things hadn't changed.
But Royce couldn't shake the feeling that soon, they would.
Alexander Crowne was proof of that.
The vampire hadn't caught them in years. And now he was showing up, cards and words galore. Rosemary, of course, was far more excited about the return of their 'family friend'. Her eagerness to approach Crowne sparked up a fight between them. It had gotten mean, both sides leaving with their sides bruised. Ten years they had lasted without a fight. Was it ironic that it had also been ten years since they had seen Crowne? No, it was more like a coincidence that wasn't a coincidence at all. The vampire had always been a sensitive subject for Royce. It was more of a problem for him than it was for Rosemary. He completely understood the connection between them but he still hated the fact that there was any connection at all. Rosemary was his family. NOT Crowne's. And now that damn blood-sucker was trying to get to Charlie? First his sister and now his girlfriend? Did Crowne have any morals?
Of course not. A virtuous vampire was like a vegetarian werewolf. There was no such thing. And Crowne was as virtuous as a shark. Which was a fitting description. Sharks were all bright toothy smiles, capable of picking up the scent of blood miles away. Yes, Crowne was a shark. The one with big nose.
And now he was just being petty.
The front door of the clinic chimed as another customer came in. Today had turned out pretty busy. One lady had come in with her extremely pregnant dog and within an hour, the clinic was home to a bunch of new puppies. Even Rose- err, Abbey had been excited about the tiny balls of sherbert-colored fur. Since the lady had to take off for her own job, Charlie had agreed to keep a watch on them and kept them comfortably set up in the Doc's office (who didn't have the chance to say no since he was busy with other customers). In the middle of that, people kept pouring in. What could have been a smooth day full of brooding was turning into a welcome distraction. Crowne was still at the front of his mind but at least it was easy to forget the vampire, even if it was only a couple hours.
Between the puppies, the parakeet with a sore wing and the other handful of people coming in with their assortment of pets, there wasn't a lot of time for conversation either. Royce kept to his own work, the Doc to his and Charlie to her's. Abbey was plenty distracted the puppies, weirdly so the first time the phone rang, it went unanswered. The second and third, they all lifted their head toward the phone, each glancing to one another. By the fourth, it was the Doc that relented-