NOTE: This story is a crossover and if you are not familiar with one
both of the stories, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll
fill in the gaps for you.
A KNIGHT OF STEELING BEAUTY
copyright 1998 by Conner McBride
"The answer is no Laura! I said I don't want to talk about it!"
Holt was rapidly losing patience with her headstrong eighteen-year-old
daughter. Her temper, however, couldn't compare to the gunpowder fury
evident on Laura's face.
"Mom, it's not like I'm asking to run off with a guy! I'm just asking to
go on my senior trip! You promised! You said I could go if I graduated
with honors! I did! You said I could go if I got a scholarship! I did!"
"Well, I changed my mind! You are entirely too young to go traipsing off
to Europe! This is settled, so quit acting like an ungrateful brat!"
Laura was on the verge of tears. "Mother, Grandma is paying for it and
I've got some money saved. You wouldn't ha--"
"No Laura!" <Of course Rose Holt is paying for it! Easy way to turn you
against me. I won't let you leave like I let Jack walk out.> "Why do you
always have to be so obstinate? You're too flighty, too irresponsible, and
too temperamental! You can't ever do it my way. It's always got to be
Laura's way! Why can't you be more like Frances---"
"Because I'm not Frances!!!! I'll never be like her and I'll never be like
you! Why can't you---"
"No, you're not! You're just as willing to run out and just as
irresponsible as your father. Sometimes I wish you'd never been born!
I---oh God, Laura, I didn't mean---" Her words died on her lips.
Laura whirled around, her brown eyes wide with shock and hurt. The tears
that had been threatening to fall now spilled over in saline rivers down
her cheeks. She spoke quietly. "Yes, you did."
Before Abigail could stop her, the young girl turned and ran up the stairs,
her slamming door causing the pictures on the wall to rattle. Abigail sank
down on the sofa, her body drained of energy. She mentally kicked herself
for saying what she had. <Oh, God, why did I say that? I just can't reach
you anymore Laura.> It was a bitter truth for Abigail Holt to swallow. She
neither understood nor wanted to understand her younger daughter. Somehow,
between trying to survive as a single parent and learning to be on her own,
Abigail had lost Laura in the shuffle of daily routine. <Damn you Jack!
Why didn't you just take her with you? Then I wouldn't have to deal with
her. I can't handle her!> Laura was too much like Jack, too much emotion
and too much of the dreamer in her. Not like Frances. She had seen to
that. Abigail laughed bitterly as she remembered the last time she and
Laura had fought like this. Laura had ended up at Rose's for five months.
Looking up at the ceiling, she could hear muffled noises coming from
Laura's bedroom upstairs. She heard a thud come from upstairs. Sighing,
Abigail rose from the couch. It was time to restore some tenuous peace to
the household. It occurred to Abigail that she didn't even know Laura
anymore. She wondered if she ever really had.
Laura brushed away angry tears. <Damn it all anyway!>
She couldn't stay here anymore, and besides, it wasn't like her mother was
doing anything to make sure she hung around. It was time to get out
anyway. She'd be leaving for Stanford soon as it was. Until that time,
she could at least go someplace where she wouldn't have to fight every day
of her life. She pulled on her leather jacket, the fringes of buckskin
as she bent down to pick up her bag. Laura turned sharply as the door
opened, another wave of anger surging at this invasion to her blessed
Abigail stood in the doorway, startled, as always by the sharp contrast in
each of her daughters' personalities, right down to their tastes in decor.
Both girls had always been neat to a fault, yet that quality was about the
only thing they had in common. Frances' bedroom had been pink and white,
with the usual adornments of a teenage girl---pompons, teddy bears, and
floral accents. Everything Abigail herself had liked as a teenager. Not
Laura. The white walls of her bedroom were covered with posters of Janis
Joplin and Woodstock, the Eagles and the peace sign. Laura's large antique
poster bed was a sharp contrast to the rainbow tie-dyed comforter which sat
Abigail wrinkled her nose at the smell coming from the scented candles
crowded around the room. Laura seemed almost angry that she had been a kid
during the turbulence of the 1960's. A turbulence and need for change that
fit with Laura's personality, she supposed. Abigail suddenly noticed the
bag on her daughter's arm. "Laura, what are you doing?"
"I'm going to stay with Gran. I already called and she said it was
Abigail felt her anger rise again. "Young lady, you most certainly will
"Why the hell not?! It's not like you want me here anyway! Damn it, Mom,
I'm eighteen! I can come and go as I please and it's not like you have a
f)&#@+$ thing to say about it!"
"Watch your language Laura! I mean it!"
"Oh, get over it, Mom!"
Maybe it was a buildup of the tension of the last two years. First a loud
smack, then redness on Laura's cheek. Abigail covered her mouth with her
hands. Laura stood there, stunned into silence, her eyes wide with
Abigail reached out to touch her daughter's cheek. "Laura, I am so sorry.
"I know," came the muffled response. The eighteen-year-old took a deep
breath, struggling to regain calmness. "Look Mother, it's okay." She
looked at Abigail, brown eyes as faraway as Jack's always been. "It just
happened. Maybe it's better if I stay with Gran, you know? It would make
things a little easier."
Abigail nodded, saddened at the feeling of relief passing over her. Never
had she hit her children. How could Laura have gotten to her like that?
She was only a kid. Maybe this was the best thing...for both of them. She
hugged Laura. "Just give me a call when you get to your grandmother's; let
me know you got there safely, alright?"
Laura nodded and turned to walk out.
"About what I said earlier. It's not true. I've never wished you weren't
Her daughter smiled wryly. "I know. You just wish I was someone else."
The door closed quietly behind her.
Abigail looked around at the books piled in the bookshelf, the pictures
and postcards crowding the dresser, every little knickknack, even Laura's
Winnie-the-Pooh Bear from her childhood. The objects were now dead,
without their owner's vibrant personality to illuminate them. Abigail felt
the horrible sense of loss. Laura was never coming back, except in name
only. She picked up a piece of clothing lying at the foot of the bed.
Laura's letterman jacket. She had been so proud that night, Abigail
recalled. Clutching the jacket to her face, Abigail Holt cried quietly,
wondering where she had gone so horribly wrong with Laura.
Rose Holt listened quietly at the door. Hearing nothing, she pushed
door open. Laura was sitting at the window, staring outside.
"I'm okay Gran."
The old woman walked up behind her favorite grandchild, playing with her
long chestnut hair. "Talk to me darlin?."
Laura looked up, tears welling up in her brown eyes. "Why doesn't she like
"Oh Laura." Rose hugged her granddaughter tightly. "Laura, look at me."
She forced the girl to look her in the eyes. "Hon, your mother loves you
very much. Don't ever think she doesn't."
Rose shook her head. "But nothing. You're just too different from each
other, that's all."
Laura spoke up suddenly. "Why does she always compare me to Daddy?"
A gentle hand brushed hair away from her face. "Because you're there."
Rose Holt left the rest of her words unspoken. She had never blamed
Abigail for her son's exit from everyone's lives. She blamed Vietnam for
that. Jack had withdrawn from everyone, and God knows Abigail was trying
to make it on her own, a hard enough task for anyone. However, Rose was
well aware Abigail saw Jack every time she looked at Laura. Abigail had
lived her own shattered dreams through Frannie, right up to her wedding,
and was now trying to squelch any part of Laura she saw as Jack. It wasn't
right, hadn't been right to either of the girls. Rose always felt guilty
over her lack of interference on Frances' part; she was not about to lose
that fire in Laura. The girl needed breathing space and she had been
promised after all...Rose would deal with Abigail later. "Laura, when does
the plane leave?"
Laura stared at her, eyes blank with incomprehension. "What plane?"
"The plane that's going to take you and your friends to Paris. What do you
mean 'which plane'?"
Shaking her head, Laura said, "Mom said no way, whether you were paying
The old lady covered her granddaughter's mouth. "You let me deal with your
mother. I made you a promise and I intend to keep it. Besides, if I was
in Europe when I was seventeen, I think I can trust you at eighteen. Now,
when does the plane leave?"
"Fine, go call your friends and add your name to the list."
The joy seemed to flow through Laura like a physical entity unto itself, as
if Laura was emotion made human. Rose was taken by surprise as a pair of
arms encircled her and Laura let out a scream of pure, unadulterated
happiness before running out of the room to call her best friend. Rose
Holt suddenly saw herself at that age. It was worth having Abigail hate
her to see at least one of her granddaughters that happy.
Almost 2 months later...
Laura stood on the Champs Elysees, anxious and wonderfully alone.
two months here had been phenomenal, just being with her friends and seeing
the sights of Paris. Gran had been thrilled with the postcard of
Versailles she had sent her. Laura's heart twinged in sadness. Her mother
hadn't even acknowledged one of her letters. Frances had written to say
Mother was still angry at her. Laura shook her head, pushing away the
melancholy threatening to overtake her.
<Mother would never approve of anything I do, so why bother caring?>
It didn't matter anymore. She had two more days in Paris and was really
and truly on her own to explore, since Amy and the rest of them were
The young girl stood in awe of the elegant passerbys walking past her.
Laura grinned sheepishly. Her clothes screamed American student. To hell
with it! She was in Paris and on her own! Letting out a peal of laughter,
she quickly covered her mouth as several Parisians stared at her.
Giggling, she started running down the Champs Elysees towards the glowing
beauty of the Eiffel Tower.
He saw her standing there, lost and forlorn. Suddenly, his vampiric
hearing picked up her laughter---a musical, lilting sound. She smiled, her
dimples lighting up her face and adding to her youthful appearance. He
almost smiled. Such innocence. The joy and wonder on her face reminded
him of his own dear little Fleur. He could hear her heartbeat, the pulsing
rhythm of the young. He watched as she ran towards the Eiffel Tower. His
eight-hundred-year-old heart almost warmed at this display of
impulsiveness. Her scent came through his nostrils over the night breeze,
the sweet smell of rain mixed with lemon blossoms. His eyes glowed amber.
The dizzying altitude matched Laura's mood. She was flying with
feeling of new found independence. She was alone. It suddenly occurred to
Laura that she was truly alone. She suddenly felt small and insignificant
staring down upon the City of Lights. Paris was a beautiful and cultured
city, full of beautiful and cultured people. She was neither.
Laura wished she could share this moment with someone who would have
understood. Gran would have. Hell, Gran would have love to have come back
and seen Europe again. Dad would have understood...once. Laura pushed
back the hurt threatening to overwhelm her. It didn't matter...at all.
She let her gaze drift toward a couple at the end of the railing.
He kissed her passionately. "Ah, my dear, look below. All
the beauty of
Paris laid out just for us."
The woman, considerably older than him, attempted to giggle coquettishly.
Harry grimaced to himself. There was nothing worse than a matronly woman
trying to act like the belle of the ball, particularly when she had no
intelligent or witty conversation to back it up. Still, there were those
lovely jewels to be gotten, not to mention he and Daniel had planned a
ripper of a robbery this time. Harry grinned. For all that, he could put
up with this vain, boring woman who fancied herself a woman of the world.
He chuckled to himself. Yes, it was going to be a good haul this time.
"Ah cherie, is something tres amusant?"
Harry smiled, his blue eyes twinkling like sapphires. "Nothing Baroness.
Just enjoying the company." Bowing grandly, he kissed her hand. "Now,
shouldn't we be off to dinner" Although, I can think of a few other things
I would rather feast on." His handsome features took on a devilish look.
The Baroness Von Kreig ruffled his ebony hair. "Flatterer. But perhaps
you are right, non? Lead the way mon cavalier."
They passed the lone, tiny figure leaning on the railing. Harry turned his
head, wanting to see her face. The wind blowing her long hair about her
face obscured his view. He shrugged.
<None of that mate. You have big fish to fry.> That wicked grin returned.
<Then again, maybe afterwards...>
Laura leaned on the railing, her chin cradled in her hand. She
had so many
things she wanted to do, she just couldn't figure out what she wanted to do
first. Here she was in Paris, in the City of Lights, the City of-
She whirled around, inhaling sharply. "Who's there?"
"I am, mademoiselle." A man stepped out from the shadows, the moonlight
bouncing off his bright golden hair and illuminating his aristocratic
Her brown eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Who are you?"
Chuckling, he took her hand to place a gallant kiss on it. "Nicholas
"So?" Laura pulled her hand away, backing up to get away from this nut.
As if reading her mind, he smiled. "Cherie, if you are afraid, I can
"I'm not afraid of anything." He smelled the anger which pushed through
her blood, hot and sweet. Hiding his amusement, he nodded gravely. "I'm
sure you're not." He leaned against the railing next to her. "So tell me,
what is a young woman doing alone at night in Paris?" His blue eyes were
kind, almost brotherly. Strangely enough, Laura didn't feel quite so
insignificant or afraid anymore. She looked away shyly. "Trying to find
Nicholas laughed then, a full, rich laugh which warmed Laura's young
heart. "A never-ending quest, petite; but a necessary one. So," he stared
at her pointedly. "What is la belle Americaine's name?"
Laura held out her hand. "Laura. Laura Holt."
"Enchante, Laura, Laura Holt."
She frowned, unsure if he were making fun of her.
Nick studied her, the dim lighting from the Tower hiding his superior
vision. Her face, while expressive, gave no indication of the thoughts and
dreams of a young girl's heart. Nick avoided the temptation to read her
mind. He heard her voice in halting French.
"Vous habitez en Paris?"
Chuckling, he answered, "Oui, for now. You speak French fairly well."
Laura Holt blushed, charmingly, he thought. "High school" he heard her
"So what have you seen in Paris so far?"
Her face lit up. "Oh, pretty much everything. Well, everything you can
see in two months. I've got two days left and needed to be alone for a
while." She gave him a mischievous side glance. "So I can see all the
things the chaperone wouldn't let us go to."
<Ah, the brashness of youth.> "I see. So why are you being allowed this
"Because she's got the flu, so all of us snuck out."
He laughed loudly at her sheer impudence and honesty. "So what do you want
to see that you haven't yet seen?"
Laura shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. Any places you know of?"
Nick looked at this tiny woman-child, who radiated more humanity and
self-possession in her young age than he had known in his mortal life. She
was so like Fleur. He felt the need to treat her as he would have done
with Fleur. He offered his arm. "Oui. The first thing I think you should
do is have dinner in the finest resturaunt in Paris with a genuine
Laura was immediately on her guard. Nicholas noticed her tenseness. "I
promise you I'm not a Frenchman out to seduce American girls. I wish to
have dinner with you because, one, you remind me of my sister, and two, you
need meat on those bones. You look like a starved little street urchin."
She still looked unconvinced.
Nicholas de Brabant, Knight of the Crusades, vampire of the night, couldn't
resist. He ruffled her hair in that way he used to do with Fleur. "We
will walk so that you are free to leave at any time."
Laura shrugged. It would be a great story to tell Gran, and besides,
hadn't Gran always said no one could take care of herself better? "What the
hell? It better have good food, Nicholas whatever-your-last-name-is."
"LeCavalier, Laura Holt. LeCavalier."
Harry smiled, chuckling at whatever the Baroness happened to be rattling
about. What he was really interested in was the lovely two carat diamond
around her neck.
<Flawless, marquis cut, absolutely exquis-->
"Oh dear, what is <he> doing with that little <thing>?"
Harry was pulled out of his revery by the Baroness' indignant cry. "He who
She leaned forward and gestured toward the handsome blond man escorting
what appeared to be a guttersnipe. Whispering conspiratorally, she spoke
in a snobbish tone which irritated Harry. "My dear, all that is known is
his name...Nicholas LeCavalier. He's been in Paris for about six months
now and is rumored to be incomparably wealthy. He's something of a
recluse. A shame." A lecherous grin passed over her face. Eying the girl
with him, she snickered, "I wonder where he found the Little Match Girl."
His brilliant sapphire eyes turned towards the direction of the object of
this inane conversation. A slow smile spread across his face. "The Little
Match Girl" as the Baroness has snidely called her, was the small figure
from the Eiffel Tower. She looked up at Nicholas LeCavalier, allowing
Harry to finally catch a glimpse of her face. She was small in stature,
almost dwarfed by LeCavalier's imposing stature. Her waist-length hair ran
down her back like a brown river. Harry chuckled. He swore he could see
freckles splashed across that snubbed nose. Her full mouth was slightly
crooked, this flaw only adding to an already charming package.
"Good Lord, if her ears were pointed, she'd be a sprite."
He ignored the Baroness' contemptuous laugh, studying her one more time.
Her dark eyes were wide with wonder as Nicholas LeCavalier pulled her by
the arm to the table. Harry couldn't help but smile. She reminded him of
Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. There was the same wistfulness in her face,
that same funny, heartbreaking look. He looked at her dining companion.
Too old for her. Harry's smile melted into an evil smirk. Now himself on
the other hand...
Nicholas sat back in his chair, studying his newfound companion
interest. “So, Laura Holt, which part of the United States are you from?”
“Ah, I see. San Francisco?”
She shook her head. “Nope. Born and raised in the City of Angels. I’ll
be moving to Frisco in August though, to go to Stanford.”
“It’s an excellent university. You’ll do quite well there.”
Laura eyed him. “You’ve been there?”
“I visited Stanford once, yes.” He didn’t feel the need to mention he had
visited nearly fifty years ago.
“This is my first time in Europe.”
Nicholas, or Nick, as she had taken to calling him, chuckled. “I know.”
Growing serious, he lifted her chin, forcing her to look at him. “Now, ma
Laurette, you said you came here to find yourself. Why is that so
important for someone so young?”
She took a deep breath and told him how she had ended up over here. Nick
listened, occasionally comforting, occasionally offering advice.
Throughout the conversation, he felt eyes on them. He met the gaze of a
young man eating dinner with a snide, gossipy woman he knew by reputation,
which was the reason he avoided her. The man’s blue eyes seemed riveted on
Laura Holt. Nick was immediately on his guard. Lacroix had looked at
Fleur in the same way; like a wolf stalking prey. Or a vampire filled with
the scent of fresh blood. He let himself read the young man’s mind.
<Ah…so that’s your game, is it, my young friend?>
His attention shifted back to Laura, who was happily eating the dish he had
ordered for her. Nick watched her. This was one seduction that one
sitting across from them would not be allowed.
“Hey, why aren’t you eating?”
Laura’s voice brought him back. “Hmmm?”
“I said, you’re not eating.”
“Oh-uh-I’m not very hungry.”
Laura shrugged, smiling, her chin resting on her hand, staring at her
accidental companion with interest. He was about twenty-nine or thirty.
She almost giggled as she pictured her mother’s reaction to the sight of
her having dinner with a thirty-year-old man.
With his curly blond hair and baby face, Nick reminded her of a Bottacelli
angel. And he was definitely hot! What would Amy and Shannon have called
him? Oh yeah, a hottie-and-a-half.
She sat back in her chair, ignorant of the stares she was causing. Nick
smothered a laugh. This little one was so unsure of herself and yet viewed
the world around her in frank curiousity and wonder. How long had it been
since he had met a soul so crystal free of corruption? So free of
He was broken out of another reverie by Laura’s annoyed exclamation. “I’m
“You’re staring at me.”
This time he did smile. “Just thinking.”
“Old times, ma petite. Come, you said you wanted to see the more unusual
parts of Paris. Let’s go. I’ll take you to Montmartre, the arts
He stood up, offering her his hand. As he ushered Laura out, Nicholas
could see his eyes following her every movement. Nick’s ice-blue eyes met
his sapphire ones in unspoken warning. The young man’s face grew darker as
he smirked in challenge.
Nick felt his fangs begin to descend in anger. He glanced at Laura, making
a silent vow of protection.
Laura watched the street performers, completely enthralled. Her
wide with interest and he and the rest of the world did not exist. Nick
took the opportunity to watch her. He noticed she tended to blush when she
got excited. She was young, still ruled by emotions and wearing her heart
on her sleeve. That would change as she grew up. Right now, though, she
was untouched by the deceptions which came with maturity and still young
enough to believe she could change the world. Pity she would have to lose
Laura and the rest of the crowd clapped in appreciation as the actors
bowed. The crowd began to disperse, throwing money to the actors. Nick
handed a franc to the male actor, who pressed a white rose into his hand,
nodding meaningfully at Laura. Nick rolled his eyes as he tugged on
Laura’s arm, turning her attention away from the acrobat. Offering her his
arm in old-fashioned gallantry, he was more than a bit surprised when she
took it without a word. They walked that way for a while, with Nick
pointing out the various historical building along the way.
He looked to see the cause of her rapture. He swallowed the bile coming up
his throat. There it was. Sitting on a velvet cushion in perfect,
crystalline symmetry---the Rajah’s Star.
Sitting in the window of the antique museum as if it were royalty. His
dead heart actually skipped a beat. Nick knew the legends surrounding the
fabled jewel. One legend was particularly special to him. The Rajah’s
Star was fabled to be able to grant the greatest desire a man could ask
for. At this point in his far-too-long unlife, Nick was clutching at
straws to regain his mortality. Tonight would be the night. He looked
down at the girl. He would not involve her in this as an innocent pawn.
Stealing, even for one’s humanity, was still thievery. Laura had her whole
life ahead of her.
“Oh, it’s pretty.”
Nick smiled shakily at his fellow misfit. “Laura, that gem was a wedding
gift from the Rajah of Agra to his queen, and all you can say is ‘it’s
Laura apparently didn’t hear his little jibe. “The Rajah of Agra? Didn’t
he build the Taj Mahal?”
He smirked, shaking his head. “Yes, my little American, the same.”
Rolling his eyes at the American expression, he draped an arm around her,
steering Laura away from the jewel. “Come Laurette, let me take you back
to where you belong. Your chaperone has probably figured out you and your
friends have left the safety of her watchful eye.”
“What’d I do?”
“Nothing. I just think it’s rather late for you to be out.” A gleaming
smile only served to further irritate her.
“Nick, for crying out loud, I’m eighteen! If I wanted a curfew, I
could’ve stayed in L.A.!”
“Well, young lady, I feel responsible for you and---“
“Why Laura, that was not a very ladylike gesture!”
Their friendly bickering continued all the way back to Laura’s rooming
house, provoking stares of amusement and amazement at the dignified blond
Frenchman and his rather agitated little American companion.
“Tonight, you’ll drop from the skylight; but remember, the jewel
is in the
window, so you’ll---Harry, am I boring you?”
“Hmmm? Oh, sorry Daniel. I just have something on my mind.”
Daniel Chalmers didn’t miss the silly grin that was spreading across his
young friend’s face. <Someone is more like it./ “Alright Harry. Who is
Harry’s eyes grew wide with innocence. “Who’s who, Daniel?”
“Don’t give me that. I’ve known you for a while and right at this moment,
your mind is on some little chit with a slender waist and big blue eyes.”
Chalmers sighed as he heard Harry dreamily mumble, “Big brown eyes.”
“Harry, if you get caught, you won’t be seeing those big brown eyes
anytime soon, so I suggest you pay attention.” Daniel grinned wickedly.
“Besides, this one is a helluva a challenge.”
He breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Harry snap to attention at the word
“Better. Now remember, tonight you’ll drop from the skylight at the
center of the main room. The Rajah’s Star is in the main window, so you’ll
not only have to watch for guards but for anyone on the street looking
through the window.”
Harry nodded, tensing his muscles. This could be the hardest robbery he
had done yet. “Is the skylight able to be seen by any of the outside
“No, but the guard makes his rounds every twenty minutes, so that doesn’t
leave you much time.”
Looking at his mentor, Harry asked, “What about that rumor going about
that someone else is planning to go after it?”
Daniel shrugged. “That’s why we’re doing this tonight. Whomever it is
hasn’t hit yet, apparently, but I don’t want to give them the chance. The
sooner we manage to fence that gem to Anwar, the easier I’ll be sitting.”
“You don’t think Anwar would attempt to put one over on us, do you?”
Shaking his head, Daniel looked out the window of his hotel suite. “No, I
trust Anwar completely. It’s his contact in New Delhi I’m not sure about.
Nothing to do with this job, however.”
Harry stood up, downing the last of his brandy. “Well, I’m going to go
Daniel Chalmers turned around, a wide smile on his face. “Who is maiden
Harry grinned sheepishly. “I wish I knew, mate.”
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