Ambrose stared at the microphone. “You’re kidding, right?”
Barbara patted his back. “Don’t worry. You don’t even have to touch it. Just talk into it.”
He shook his head. “I’m going to break it somehow. I just know it.”
“Stupid.” Robin said. “How you gonna break a microphone? You plannin’ to bite its neck or what?”
Ambrose shot a quick glare at Robin. “Technology and I aren’t friends.”
Isellta tilted his head and blinked quickly. “But what is it?”
Robin smiled at the fey. “It’s a microphone.”
“Microphone. Micro. Phone. Mi. Cro. Phone?” Isellta shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
Raven sighed. “I am unsure why I must be the one to explain this, but very well. A microphone is a device that amplifies the human voice to make it carry further than it normally can travel. In this case, however, we are using it to amplify Ambrose’s voice so he may record his Christmas greeting.”
“Oh. So, it’s a good thing.”
“Usually.” said Ambrose. “But it’s going to act up for me and I’ll throw it at the wall in frustration.”
“Ambrose.” Barbara held his hand. “I’m here.”
“You can do this.”
Mark Caten slumped against the wall in a sulk. “Why Ambrosia gets to go first is beyond my imagining. I am Mark Freakin’ Caten. I should go first.”
Preyuna folded her arms across her chest and stared resolutely at the opposite wall. “I would like to know WHY I have to stand next to Mark Caten.”
“Tsk. Tsk. Cupcake, you know better than to call me by my name.”
She shot a poisoned dart glare at him. “Not here. Not now.”
He smirked. “You’re so cute when you’re being defiant.”
“Can I try it out?” asked Isellta.
“No.” Ambrose took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. “I can do this.”
“Wait! Jay isn’t here. We can’t do it without Jay. People will wonder where he is.”
“Okay!” Ambrose said way too eagerly. “We can wait.”
The recording studio door opened and Hildreth and Elsie entered the room.
“Darnation!” Robin flung his hand at them. “Who invited the hunters?”
“Umm.” Isellta twisted his fingers. “I did.”
“Huh?” chorused Ambrose, Raven, and Robin.
“It would make more sense if I did it.” said Mark. “But no! Someone gave that job to little twig fairy here.”
Isellta’s wings flattened against his back.
Robin snarled at Mark Caten. “Hey! Don’t pick on Isellta or I’ll bust your nose.”
“Ugly ruffian.” Preyuna muttered.
“I invited them because they are a part of this cast. They should be here. I hope Jay gets here soon.”
Robin kissed the top of Isellta’s head. “Don’t worry. He’ll come.”
Isellta smiled at him and flapped his wings.
Ambrose leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. “Let me know when everyone’s ready.”
Hildreth walked over to him. “Hello, vampire.”
Ambrose sighed. “I do have a name. Hunter.”
Elsie bopped them both on the head.
“Don’t even think of starting anything. Either of you.”
Ambrose looked up at her. “I was just relaxing. He started it.”
Hildreth shrugged. “I was just saying hi.”
She grabbed Hildreth by the collar and dragged him away from Ambrose.
The recording studio door opened again.
Missy entered the room.
Raven smiled and came over to her. “I was wondering where you were.”
“Miss Farlington isn’t here, is she?”
He chuckled. “No, miss. There were no ghosts on the invitation list.”
“Good. Oh, by the way! They have a whole bunch of cakes and cookies and sweet stuff in the other room and I don’t even know who brought them or what they’re doing there but I’m so glad they’re there because they—”
Isellta rushed over to her. “Are there any pickles?”
Missy stuck out the tip of her tongue. “Pickles? In the same room as cakes and cookies and sweet stuff? Isellta. That’s just wrong.”
“Pickles are good.”
“Pickles are unholy abominations.” said Preyuna.
Mark Caten drifted into Preyuna’s line of sight. She turned her head and glared death threats at the opposite wall.
“I don’t know why you don’t want to look at my godly figure. Ohhh, I see. I’m overwhelming your senses. I see. Poor cupcake.”
The door opened again.
Isellta’s wings flapped ecstatically as Jay and Maelin entered the room. “Jay!”
He came over to Isellta and hugged him. “Hey, kid.”
“I’m so glad you’re here.”
“So am I.”
Ambrose sat up into a slouch. “I guess that means I have to get to it. Yay.”
He sat up straighter and cleared his throat. “Uhh. I just talk into the microphone? I don’t have to press any buttons or anything like that?”
“Nope! Just talk.”
Ambrose moved his chair closer to the microphone. “Uhh. Hi. This is Ambrose Smith. This past year has seen its moments of peace and quiet as well as some harrowing nerve-snagging moments. But I’m still here and life is good.”
He smiled at Barbara. “Life is very good. I’m hoping that this upcoming year will be better and more peaceful than this past one has been, but I’m sure that won’t be the case. Things will go wrong. There will be trouble and strife and dangers to face and overcome.”
He took Barbara’s hand. “But I will face them and overcome them.”
She smiled at him.
He kissed her hand. “And we will live happily ever after.”
Ambrose turned his attention back to the microphone. “I wish you all a very merry Christmas—”
Everyone else shouted, “AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!”