She sat in the room with the five men in the middle of the strangest interview she had ever been in. They had been questioning her for an hour now. Questions about her life, her past, her experience. Questions they probably shouldn't have been asking, but she wanted this job, badly. It offered a descent amount of money, but it's real lure was the fact that she would be traveling all over the world with them. She wasn't running from anything other than the boredom and loneliness that she felt when she was in one place too long. She longed to see the world and all it had to offer.
"I see you have an accounting degree. Did you ever consider taking the CPA?" the young blond asked, snapping her back from her daydreams.
"I took it and passed it."
"Why don't you have it listed?" he challenged.
"I took it to prove to myself that I could do it. I never intended to go into that line of work."
"Seems to be a rather foolish thing to do. You could be sitting in an office right now with the money rolling in." The dark-haired leader finally spoke. He had been silent all this time. It was his demeanor, his carriage that showed her he was the leader.
"I hate that kind of work. I'm not afraid of hard work, but money means nothing to me. I learned the hard way that my happiness means more to me than money ever will." He stared at her but she was unable to read what was in his eyes. He seemed to want to challenge her and she did not back down, her intense gaze meeting his. He looked away first.
They questioned her for another hour and finally ushered her from the room with promises of a decision in a day or two. It wasn't until she was home for a few hours that the strange feelings she had being in the room with them finally wore off. Her dreams were haunting that night. She kept dreaming that someone was in her room, watching her. He would hover over her, his hands stroking her hair and face. She could almost feel them, but when she would open her eyes, she was alone. The feeling of being watched wouldn't go away for days. Walking down the street she would feel it, but when she turned around there was nothing.
"You're hired." The leader had finally called her. He didn't identify himself, but she recognized his voice. "Pack a bag and get rid of everything else, you won't need it. We'll be expecting you tomorrow morning." He hung up before she could say a word. Little did he know that she was already packed. The man in her dreams told her she would be hired today. She had been living in a hotel for the past two days, waiting for their call.
"Well, this should be interesting Kevin. She's so, plain" he said with disdain. "The rest of them will eat her alive."
"AJ's right. Why the hell did we hire her? She's not going to fit in with the rest of them."
"I suppose we'll have something new to toy with" the young blond speculated. "After all, the last one we had didn't last very long before she slit her wrists." They all laughed with the memory.
"I think that you will all be surprised" the leader whispered to no one but himself.
"What IS she wearing today?"
"Why in the world did they hire someone so, average." The voice was dripping with disgust. If they had been standing in front of her, she knew that they would be looking down their noses at her like they had done so many times before.
"And that hair! You'd think she could find something that was in style, like last year, not ten years ago." The group laughed and walked away, leaving her in peace.
She was stunned when she arrived that first morning. The five of them were there along with their dancers and the group of workers that kept things running. Every last one of them, even the workers, was beautiful, tall, slender, physically perfect. All except her. She wasn't a beast by any stretch of the imagination, but she wasn't perfection like the rest. Short, glasses, average figure, piercing green eyes framed by long lashes, full red lips. She had been told on several occasions that her eyes were perhaps the most beautiful eyes anyone had ever seen. Her best feature, however, was her mind. The rest may have beauty, but she was smarter than all of them. It was her mind that kept her sane.
Rolling her eyes, she went back to her work. The amount of money that flowed from these people was amazing. What was more amazing was the amount of money that flowed in. If their success ever faltered, it would be a matter of days before they were all bankrupt. She was working in a large room in the arena, the various workers milling around while the five held court, joking and laughing with their cohorts. The workers tried their best to attract the attention of the five. She blocked all of it out as she worked with her numbers. She loved this, making the numbers work was like a puzzle and it satisfied her need for order. She wasn't really sure why they needed her, no one looked at her reports anyway. As long as they could eat, drink and spend to their hearts content, they were happy.
"Almost done crunching numbers for today?" a voice whispered in her ear. She had been working so intently she didn't even hear the footsteps behind her and jumped at the sound of his voice. "Sorry, didn't mean to scare you." She looked up into his blue eyes, but didn't answer, just waited for the ridicule. "You know, I think you might be developing a hump, you're bent over those figures so much. Then again, I think you had a hump when you got here." The room tittered at his remarks. She still didn't answer. "I guess the ugly ones have to prove themselves in boring ways. You, what's your name, Carmen, come with me." He pointed to a tall, blond, buxom woman who was in charge of the travel arrangements. Her eyes lit up with the knowledge that he had chosen her and she hurried to his side. He captured her face in his hands, tracing her lips with the tip of his tongue before leading her from the room. The rest of the women sighed, wishing it was them. She only rolled her eyes again and began to pack up her things, ready to explore London, their stop for the week.
"You do realize that none of us would ever choose you." This time it was AJ who spoke to her. "We have standards, you know."
"And you do realize, that even if you did, I wouldn't allow it" she retorted, stunning them into silence. She came to the realization early in her travels with the group, that they couldn't fathom the concept that she didn't worship them like the rest. It was the one thing that drove them crazy. "I do have some taste." With a raise of her eyebrows, she picked up her things and left the room, a smirk on her face.
"I despise that woman!" AJ yelled, knowing full well that she was still close enough to hear him. He threw his glass against the wall when he heard her laughter taunting him. "Why do we keep her?"
"Now AJ, she is fun to play with. I'd like to see just how far we can push her before she breaks. You've got to hand it to her, she's the strongest one so far." Nick had returned to the room alone, a satisfied look on his face. "Watching her break will be exquisite." The topic soon turned back to the mundane, the workers still buzzing about, doing their best to attract the attention of the five, or four as it was now. None of them had noticed that the leader was gone.
She didn't even have a plan for her explorations. Sometimes it was just easier to go where her gut led her. She wandered the streets, stopping in a bookstore here, an antiques store there, finally stumbling upon an old church. Her fingers reached out for it's walls, the cool stone chilling her fingertips. Always fascinated by old buildings, she wondered about the men who had built it, wondered about who's fingertips had touched it before hers, wondered about all the history these walls had seen, wondered about the spirits that haunted it. A chill ran up her spine as she realized that the feeling of being watched was back. She didn't bother to turn around, for no one was ever there. Shaking her head, she scoffed at her overactive imagination and headed inside.
Sleep took her easily that night after the show. Thankfully she had her own room and didn't have to share with the people who worked so hard to make her miserable. The man in her dreams had returned. He still caressed her and she would reach out for him, sometimes touching him, swearing that when she woke up, she could still feel the warmth of his skin on her hands. Sometimes in her dreams he held her, protecting her from something, something she couldn't see or feel, but danger she felt deep in her soul. Sometimes he would make love to her and she would awaken, crying out as her body shuddered with pleasure, alone in her bed. Those were the dreams that left a haunted look on her face the next morning......
She had come to the conclusion that these were the strangest employers she would ever had. It wasn't just the ridicule, she knew people could be cruel, especially people who floated through life on their looks. It was the little things. It was they way none of the workers really knew them. They all spent so much time together, yet none of them knew anything about the group and their inner circle. When the workers weren't ridiculing her, they talked freely like she didn't exist. Their only goal was to become part of that inner circle. Carmen was the latest from the workers to join.
Another thing was the way the workers were ushered from the arena immediately after the show. They were not allowed backstage. She didn't really mind, the less time she spent with those fools, the better. Before the show, no matter what the city, however, they all spent the day working in a large, common room. These were the hours that seemed unchanging and unending. Sometimes she would forget where she was, it all seemed the same from one day to the next. Nick and the others trying like hell to get a rise out of her, trying to make her break, becoming furious when she wouldn't react to their taunts.
She couldn't care less what they said to her, she was in heaven. She had seen more museums, more history in the few months she had been with the group than in the rest of her years combined. The ridicule continued from the workers, the group, the dancers, everyone, but she just ignored it. Being alone was something she had long been accustomed to. The sights and sounds of Europe more than made up for all of it.
He had followed her through Europe, learning long ago that she refused to turn around and search the crowds for him. He was with her in every museum, every street corner, every bus, silently protecting her from the dangers she couldn't see. Today he found her in the Louvre, sitting on a bench near an arch surrounded by two huge winged Assyrian bulls. He could read her face having seen it so many times before. She was thinking of the past, of the history of what she was looking at. Every so often she would stand and touch the stone, wonder in her eyes, wonder at how she was able to touch something so ancient. He could feel her heart quicken at the thought. The previous week he had followed her to Versailles. He knew she spotted him in the Hall of Mirrors, but convinced herself that it was just an illusion. Closing his eyes, he could still see her there, surrounded by the splendor, yet more beautiful than any of it. He crept closer to the bench she was sitting on until he was close enough to smell her perfume, to hear her breathe. She shuddered and he knew she sensed him. "I can feel you, you know" she whispered before she left the room, heading to the next exhibit.
"I know" he whispered back as soon as she was out of the room.
Another paper clip hit her in the head. It had gone on like this all afternoon. Nick and the rest of the group were engrossed in some meeting, so it was up to the workers to torment her today. "Hey four eyes, they do make contacts these days, Perhaps you should invest in a pair." Carmen had become a thorn in her side, her jibes never ceasing. "Though with glasses as thick as those, I do believe she's on the short list for a seeing eye dog." She felt like she was back in the third grade. As the next paper clip sailed over her head, the absurdity of it all over took her and she couldn't contain her hysterical laughter. It attracted the attention of everyone in the room, including the members of the group.
"You do realize that we have work to do here. Could you please refrain from making noise so we could continue our meeting. Your laughter sounds like an ass braying." She turned and looked at Howie with a sober expression on her face. She bowed deeply in mock reverence.
"Since this is the only time any one other than me is actually doing work, I wouldn't want to interrupt. Please, O Great Ones, continue with what you were doing." She turned, a smirk on her face at their shocked expressions. She didn't notice the corners of the leader's mouth twitch, a smile threatening to break his stern countenance. Before she could sit, Howie's hand was gripping the back of her neck, pulling her to her feet.
"You would be wise not to mock us" he hissed in her ear. "You have no idea...."
The room was silent as she broke free of his grasp and turned to face him, not a trace of fear in her green eyes. "And you would be wise not to threaten me." She looked past Howie to all of them. "You have no idea what I'm capable of." They all laughed at her threat.
"What in the world could YOU do to us" AJ laughed.
"Your financial future is in my hands" she calmly replied.
"What exactly does that mean?" Nick asked as he walked towards her.
"Do any of you know what these numbers mean? Could any of you actually understand these reports?" She scattered her papers across the table. "You bring in the cash, but it's my investments that keep you afloat. I've made more money for you in the past three months than you have in the past three years. I am the one keeping you in the lifestyle you are all accustomed to." She took in the shocked looks on all of their faces. "Make a note gentlemen, she who giveth can also taketh away. It would be in your best interest not to fuck with me." Nick and Howie just stared at her, their arrogance completely gone. "Now if you'll excuse me, there is canal with my name written all over it. Enjoy your afternoon." She walked out of the room, the stunned silence echoing in her ears.
She stood on the bridge, watching the gondolas pass beneath her, still shaking with the fear that had gripped her since the moment she felt Howie's hand on her neck. She rubbed her neck, trying to shake the feeling of it on her skin. She could still feel the power of his hand, power she had never felt before. It was a sunny day in Venice and she tried to let the beauty of it calm her fears.
She wandered the winding streets, listening to the hum of the city. Before she knew it, she was in the plaza in front of St. Mark's basilica. The unknown presence she had felt throughout Europe wasn't here today, and she felt exposed. Making her way through the crowded plaza, she entered the cool interior, dipping her fingers absentmindedly into the holy water and crossing herself, a habit picked up from years of Catholic school. She immediately calmed and started exploring. No corner was too small, no relic was too minor, she took it all in. The farther she ventured inside, the thinner the crowds got. Finally reaching a quiet corner, she stopped at a small stained glass panel depicting a man and his family dated 1350. Her heart stopped when she saw the man's face, recognizing it immediately. Clutching her chest, she ran in a panic out of the basilica into the plaza, dodging tourists and vendors until she reached a small park. She collapsed onto a bench until she calmed down and caught her breath.
A few mother's and children were having a picnic and she watched the children play a rousing game of tag. The presence returned as she was sitting there and she welcomed it. She knew in her heart whoever was watching her was also protecting her. By the time she left the park, she had convinced herself that she was over-tired and over-stressed, that her eyes had seen something that wasn't really there. A stiff drink and a good night's sleep would cure all her ills.
The dreams came again that night. He laid next to her, holding her in his arms. She could hear him whispering to her...."I wouldn't have let him hurt you. I will keep you safe."
"Why won't you let me see you?" She was surprised that she had finally found her voice and that he was able to hear her.
"You cannot see what you don't understand. You just have to trust that I am always there."
"You weren't there this afternoon. You weren't there until I was in the park."
"I came the minute I felt your panic."
She snuggled closer to him, wrapping her arms around him. "I guess you'll just have to try a little harder next time." His laughter rang in her ears and the dream faded away as she woke up, disappointed to be alone. It took an hour for her to fall asleep again.
She was startled by a knock at her door. Her heart fluttered as she saw Howie standing on the other side. "It's awfully early Howie. Is there something you wanted?" She tried desperately to sound calm.
"I was wondering if we could go through those reports. I'd like to try to understand them."
"Could it wait until I actually start working? I'm not exactly dressed yet."
"No. I'd like to do it now." He pushed past her and came into her room, sinking calmly into the chair next to the window. Sighing dramatically, she grabbed her robe and the reports, hoping against hope that he was smart and would understand it quickly. She moved her chair closer to him and started with page one.
Midway through the first report, she could tell he lost interest. It was his hand on her thigh that gave him away. "You'll want to remove your hand from my leg."
"Fine. I do believe, however, that you'll be asking me to return it shortly."
"Funny, I thought I was, how did AJ put it, below your standards. You have several beautiful women who would give themselves to you no questions asked. Why the sudden interest in me?"
"You should be thanking me for my interest. It's not like you're getting it from elsewhere. Now, could we go back to the reports." She started in again, her fear growing. She knew he could take her and there was nothing she could do to stop him. His fingers brushed against hers as he followed along and she flinched at his touch. Scooting his chair closer, he draped his arm across her shoulders, his fingers skimming her breast. She swatted away his hand and jumped to her feet.
"It would be best if you leave now." He stood and walked slowly towards her. She did her best to stand her ground, but as he came closer, she shrank back from him until she ran into the bed. He laughed as she fell back on to it.
"Well, it looks like I've got you right where I want you" he smirked. She prepared to fight. He would take what he wanted from her, but she would make it hard for him. He started to bend over her when she felt the presence near by. Howie stood without saying a word and left the room. She locked the door behind him and propped a chair under the handle. Crawling back into bed, she hid under the covers. She was afraid for her safety. She was more afraid for her sanity.
She fell into a fitful sleep and the dream man returned. She rushed into his arms and started sobbing. "Shhhh. He won't try to hurt you ever again." He stroked her hair until she calmed.
"A-a-am I crazy?" she hiccuped.
"Come on, let's get you back into bed." She wasn't watching where she was going and ran into the corner of the dresser. He caught her as she stumbled and swept her into his arms, carrying her the rest of the way.
"I thought you were supposed to protect me." She grimaced as she ran her hand over the knot on her thigh. He moved her hand and she gasped as he kissed the forming bruise. Untying her robe, he continued to kiss his way up her body. She could feel him laying on top of her, but she still couldn't see his face. The robe was pushed from her body, her nightshirt went over her head, her panties slid off her legs. His warm skin was pressed against hers and she could feel him filling her. She cried out at the sensation.
*beep beep beep* Her alarm went off and she sat up, fully clothed. Tears streamed down her face as she realized that she was once again alone. Throwing the covers back, she grabbed her robe and headed for the shower. A glance in the mirror brought her to a halt. "Oh god, I am crazy" she said as the rubbed the bruise on her leg..........
She still worked diligently on their finances, they still taunted her mercilessly. She just kept ignoring them. If they had cared, they would have seen the dark circles under her eyes, the haunted expression on her face. The encounter with Howie had left her jumpy and fearful. Every knock, every sound in the hallway startled her. Sleep was slow to come most nights. She still had the dreams, but not as often. The mysterious presence, however, was with her every waking moment.
They were in Paris now. On her day off she decided to go to Versailles again. The gardens would be in full bloom and she was dying to see them. She was going to skip the palace, but changed her mind at the last minute. Taking the tour yet once again, she marveled at it's splendor, at what it must have been like during it's prime. She broke away from the tour in the Hall of Mirrors. It was her favorite room. If she listened hard enough, she would swear she could hear the musicians playing in the background. The presence was with her again today. As she looked in one of the mirrors, she actually thought she caught a glimpse of it. It wasn't a person, just a shadow that passed quickly from her vision. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine what it must have looked like, candles lit, their flames reflecting off of the mirrors. When she opened her eyes, she couldn't contain the gasp that escaped her lips.
It was dark out, the candles were lit, women were tottering awkwardly on their heels trying to balance their wide dresses and tall wigs, foppish men in their silks and satins flirted shamelessly, all the while the musicians played in the background. She too was dressed in the manor of the day, a handsome man at her side. "Would you care to dance, my pet" he murmured against her ear. She nodded her ascent. Following him to the middle of the floor, they joined the rest of the couples dancing. She was able to follow the dance, but couldn't seem to get a good look at his face. She curtsied gracefully to her partner as it ended and hoped to thank him, but he disappeared into the crowd. She felt a hand on her shoulder. "Miss, miss, would you...."
"Are you OK?" A short woman in a loud shirt was gently shaking her. "You seemed to be off in space there for a minute."
"I'm fine, thank you. Just a little dizzy" she answered as soon as she regained her composure. Turning quickly, she headed for the gardens, losing herself in the heady scent of the flowers. She spent hours marveling at their grandeur. Avoiding the palace, she headed back to the train station feeling slightly unbalanced, like something was affecting her equilibrium. Of course, losing one's mind was apt to cause a few problems, she thought to herself, smiling at the thought. She was asleep before the train pulled out of the station.
"Did you enjoy our dance?"
"Yes, but you left before I had the chance to thank you."
He pulled her into his arms. "I'm here now." She kissed him softly. "That is all the thanks I need. Go back to sleep, I'll be here when you wake up." He left her dreams and she slept peacefully.
"And what did the brainiac do yesterday? A museum maybe, another historic cathedral, perhaps Versailles again?" Carmen had started the minute she walked into the room. She took the papers out of her briefcase and started working. "God, she's like a robot, isn't she? No wonder you hired her Nicky, I guess she is good for something after all." She couldn't stop the look of scorn she gave Carmen. "Oh look, I've gotten under her skin. My dear, are you going to cry?"
If she had a knife she would have cut Carmen's heart out and eaten it. As it stood, her best defense was to remain silent.
"She asked you a question, answer it" Nick commanded.
"No, I'm not going to cry. Why in the world would I let a woman of no consequence bother me." Carmen opened her mouth to say something, but was cut off. "Nick, why don't you put your cock in her mouth and shut her up. I have money to make for you and she's bothering me." No one spoke another word to her for the rest of the day.
This time the dream was violent. A man, a different man, was chasing her. She kept just out of his reach, but she could tell it was because he was toying with her, like a cat playing with a mouse before it kills. Through streets, between parked cars, through alleys she ran from him. Finally, he grabbed the back of her dress, yanking fiercely, cutting off her air momentarily before throwing her to the ground. She raked her fingernails down his face before he could secure her hands. His blood dripped onto her neck and she shuddered as he licked it from her. Tearing at her clothes, he bruised her flesh as he ripped them from her body. "Please, I need your help!!!" Her screams were silenced as the man held a knife to her throat, slicing the skin just enough to start her blood flowing. He bent again to lick it from her, but he was torn from her body before he could. She gathered her wits and began to ran again, his screams echoing in her ears. The man, the good man was waiting for her at the end of the alley, arms reaching for her. She flung her naked body into them, shaking in terror. He wrapped her in his coat and suddenly they were back in her room. He washed her body from head to toe, removing the dirt and dried blood from her bruised skin. Laying her in her bed, he kissed her forehead and stroked her hair. "I have to keep you safe, beloved. Our child's future depends on it."
"I have no child" she answered, confusion in her voice. He only smiled and kissed her gently.
"Sleep........" he whispered and faded from her dreams.
She examined every inch of herself the next morning and found no evidence of any attack. The dress she had been wearing in the dream was still hanging in closet. She wasn't sure what was real and what was imagined anymore. Dressing quickly, she grabbed her purse and a book and headed for a nearby park. She needed to be in the open, to feel the sunlight on her face, to hear the normal everyday sounds of human existence. She needed to escape from her existence.
The morning passed quickly. She could lose herself in a book as easily as she could in a museum. The sun was high overhead when she headed back. She almost felt normal again, it was like the mist that had clouded her vision for so long had lifted. She knew she had to quit this job before she lost her mind. She had no intentions of going back to the States, instead she planned to settle in Venice. There was something about it, some sort of unseen pull that she couldn't explain. She just knew that it was to be her home. Tomorrow night was the final show of the European leg, she would tell them then. She knew that they would hire a new accountant to audit what she had done. She also knew no one would be smart enough to find the millions she had stashed away, commissions on the investments she had made for them. Once they saw what they were worth, they would stop scrutinizing what she had done, her portion was a mere fraction of what they had.
She would never know what made her stop on the way back to the hotel. She was now sitting in her bathroom pondering her future. Luckily she had bought two, because she didn't believe the first one. One could be defective, another one, a totally different brand giving her the same results, was a different story. The sound of water running in the bathroom next door made her jump, her hand instinctively covered her stomach, protecting her unborn baby.
She sat in the bathroom for hours as the afternoon passed and the sun started to set. Her mind couldn't fathom it. She hadn't been with a man for over two years, there was no way she could be pregnant, yet she knew in her heart that she was. The how of being pregnant was quickly pushed aside by the what-will-I-do-now. Panic clouded her every thought. She had to get away, now. It was one thing when her safety was compromised, it was another when it was her child's. Packing her things quickly, she grabbed her briefcase and headed downstairs. The concierge hailed her a cab and soon she was speeding through the dark streets of Paris to the arena. She knew in her soul that she was either headed to her destiny or her doom.
The show was over, the arena, empty. She made her way through the dark maze of corridors from memory, the only light was coming from the red exit signs. There was no one was in the common room. Afraid to turn on the lights, she opened her briefcase and unloaded the reports and ledgers. There was light and noise coming from the dressing rooms next door, but she didn't investigate. She wanted her exit to be unnoticed until it was too late and she was long gone. She started scribbling a note on the cover of one of the reports, but the sound of laughter stopped her. Her head turned sharply at the sounds coming from the next room. She clutched the edge of the table as she recognized it, her heart fluttering in her chest as she realized it was a sound she had only heard in her dreams. Dear god it was his laugh coming through the cracks in the door. He was real.
She had to know. She wanted to run as far away as possible, but she couldn't. Hands shaking, she pushed the doors open. They were all there, the group, their inner circle, a variety of hangers-on. They all turned at the sound of the doors, their eyes first wide with surprise, then closed in laughter. She closed her eyes and listened, his laughter wasn't there anymore. Opening them, she scanned the room and found the one person who wasn't laughing. The recognition was instant as their eyes met. The face in her dreams, the one she could never bring into focus, was staring back at her.
"Well, well, well, it looks as though the brainiac has stumbled on to our little secret." Carmen was sitting on Nick's lap. "What happens now? Do we drink first and then kill her?"
"No my pet, we kill her as we drink. You have such a hard time remembering that." Nick shook his head and kissed her affectionately. The rest of the room laughed at her silliness.
"It really is too bad she isn't more, oh I don't know, attractive. She does seem to be very smart, we could use someone like her." AJ was nibbling delicately on the shoulder of a young girl. "But I guess we don't want to ruin the quality of our lineage with someone who is soooo far below standards. Howie, why don't you take the honors."
"Hey, I'd like some too" Nick protested. "I'll bet blood that stubborn tastes very sweet."
She ignored their taunts and their threats. There was no fear in her eyes as she crossed the room towards the leader. Crouching next to his chair, taking his hand in hers, she whispered to him, "Make me one of you. I want to see the world. I want to see what it will be hundreds of years from now. I want to see what civilization becomes. I want to be a part of it. I want my child to be a part of it."
The expression on his face didn't change. He gave her no response for he couldn't speak. She didn't beg for her life, she didn't beg for her child's life, she had no fear of him and what he was. He was amazed at her strength.
The room burst into laughter as they heard her request. "Oh that's absurd" "She wants to be one of us? Ridiculous!" "Someone is feeling very self-confident this evening." "I suppose we could put a bag over her head."
Neither one of them heard a thing. She took his silence as rejection. Pulling herself to her feet, she stood before him, unafraid. "I will not beg you. I only ask that you do it quickly, if not for my sake, then for the child's." She closed her eyes and threw her head back, waiting for the inevitable.
He stood and cupped her face in his hands, forcing her to look into his eyes. "Our child" he whispered, a smile on his lips. "Are you sure, my love?" He found the answer in her smile, in her eyes, in the touch of her hands on his waist. Tilting her head to the side, he sunk his teeth into her neck. His mind spoke to her as their connection was made. "I've been waiting so long for you, my love. You will rule with me."
"I know" she whispered in reply.
The room is silent as they watch him drain her. He finally stops. She is weak, barely conscious. He continued to hold her face as she looks into his eyes. It is there that she sees his history...the horrors of the Black Death, losing his wife and children to it, the terror of becoming what he is now, the years of being bricked up in a tower, the wonder of watching the world evolve, the overpowering loneliness of experiencing all of this by himself. She couldn't contain her tears and kissed him gently with the last of her strength, hoping to ease a little of his pain.
Without hesitation, he sliced open his throat and pressed her to him. Drinking from him, his life, his power flows into her. Every drop makes her stronger. He pulled her away when she has had enough, both of their wounds healing instantly. Her eyes are greener, her lips fuller and he cannot resist them. Bending his head he kissed her as she melted into his arms.
"Kevin, what have you done?" Nick roared from his chair. The kiss stopped and they turned towards the rest of the group.
"You fool, why her?" Carmen squealed her agreement. "She's noth....." Carmen was dead before she could finish her sentence.
She turned towards her mate. "May I Kevin?" He nodded his ascent. The rest are dead within seconds. The remaining four are stunned to have their playmates gone. "I never figured out why you surrounded yourself with idiots. You will find that you are happier without them." They look at her and laugh. One look from her silences them instantly. They know she is more powerful than all of them combined.
She turned back around in her mate's arms. "Why didn't you let me see your face" she asked, tears in her eyes.
The second she was out of his vision was the second he could no longer feel her in his soul. The intense connection they had shared since the day she walked into the interview was gone. He felt like a part of him had been amputated. Slumping into his chair, he surveyed the carnage she left behind. Bodies were strewn everywhere, some of them savagely dismembered. Her vengeance had been swift and complete.
It was a few minutes before any of them could speak. "Where did she get that kind of power Kevin? She killed a room full of us in seconds" whispered a shaking Nick. "She was just made. She should be cowering in the corner right now, afraid of what she is."
"I don't know. I've heard rumors of ones that instinctively have powers that it takes the rest of us a lifetime to acquire." His eyes misted over at the thought of her. "She will keep the child from me too. Our child."
"How do we know she won't turn on us. If she can do this, what's to stop her." AJ was pale, his eyes focusing on anything but the horrors around him. Hours before he had killed indiscriminately, certain of his immortality. Now he felt vulnerable for the first time in hundreds of years.
"You can't know that Kevin."
"I know her. She won't" he snarled, his eyes flashing. AJ retreated, knowing it would be senseless to argue.
"We've got to get out of here before someone comes. What about the bod...." Before Howie could finish speaking, the corpses disintegrated into dust, a swift gust of wind blew away all traces of them. Kevin's tears flowed freely as a gentle breeze lingered around him, caressing his face. It smelled of her, her skin, her perfume. Even in her anger she was protecting him. It was the last glimpse he'd have of her for six months.
He spent the first few months after her disappearance looking for her. His network of contacts was vast, worldwide, stretching to every remote corner of the globe. There was no sign of her. Nothing. Her reputation had preceded her, some acquaintances refused to even take his call. Kevin was powerful, she was lethal.
"NO" he roared, his voice shattering the mirror in the room. He had heard a rumor that a woman fitting her description had been seen the previous week entering St. Mark's in Venice. It was one of the places his loyal contacts had kept watch over. They had followed her back to a small apartment and confirmed that she was indeed pregnant. Kevin had come immediately only to find the apartment empty, no trace of her existed. "Why can't I feel her? I don't even know if she was here." He sank to the floor and sobbed.
"If we ever find that woman I will tear her limb from limb!" Against his better judgement, Howie had come with Kevin. He knew they wouldn't find her here. She would never allow herself to be followed unless she wanted to be found. She was toying with Kevin, torturing him, using his love for her as her weapon. "Are you so blind that you can't see what she is doing to you? She will never allow herself to be found."
"I know. I just want to know if she is safe, if our child if safe. I just want to feel her be a part of me again."
"She'll never allow that either." Rising to his feet, his frame bent in defeat, Kevin headed out of the room.
"Please come back to me" he whispered, knowing in his heart she was near.
She was in the apartment above him, sitting in a rocking chair, her hands caressing her belly. Taking a calculated risk, she had gone to the basilica the week before to see his face, his real face. She had allowed herself to be followed, knowing Kevin would be summoned. It was cruel, but she wanted to punish him, to make him feel some of the torment she felt. She felt his anguish as he sobbed below her, but could not bring herself to comfort him. She had received no comfort, no aid from him except in her dreams and she still wasn't sure what parts of them were real. The child kicked against her hands, bringing a smile to her face for the first time in months. Her smile faded as she heard his plea.
"Someday..." she whispered back. She closed her eyes and saw him pause as he walked down the stairs. She had allowed him to hear her words. Feeling him reach out to her, she shut herself off from him once again. "Someday." This time she was speaking to the child within her.
Her time was drawing close. She was living in an apartment in London. Though she would have preferred someplace smaller, it was easier for her to find food here for she wasn't moving quite as fast anymore. Her swollen stomach impeaded her every movement. She had hired a midwife to help with the delivery. Going to a hospital was out of the question. Everything was ready, in a few days time, her child would be resting in her arms.
She knew the others feared her. Sometimes she would see them on the streets, fear glazing their eyes. She could hear their whispers in the dark, tales spread from one to another, her powers multiplied with every new person who passed it along. She was an mystery, an entity to them, just a thing. A thing to be feared, a thing to avoid.
The loneliness filled her every waking moment. Her own kind feared her. She couldn't befriend a human, what she was would eventually drive them apart. Most nights were spent sitting in the dark, waiting, watching, listening. Sometimes she would sing to the child, songs from her past, songs that made her remember him. She did love him, that much she had figured out, she just wasn't sure she was ready to forgive him. Some nights she watched him. The only time he came alive was on stage. Most times he was alone too, his temper drove off everyone else. Sometimes he would cry, sometimes he would lay in bed, lost in thought. She could feel him try to reach her, frustrated when he couldn't. So many times she wanted to hold him, to comfort him, but the anger would hold her back. She never imagined her heart could be filled with so much rage.
The birth was quick, easy almost. The midwife had barely walked in the door when the child arrived. The baby cried lustily as the midwife cleaned her up before handing her to her mother. Calmed by the familiar feel of her mother's heartbeat, she latched onto her breast, sucking hungrily. Dark hair covered her head, green eyes peeped out from a fringe of dark lashes, her cupid's bow mouth was even redder against the paleness of her mother's skin.
In all her travels, she had never seen anything more beautiful. The smooth skin of her daughter felt like silk under her fingertips. This should be the happiest moment of her life, but her soul was still troubled. He needed to know. Closing her eyes, she opened herself up to Kevin. "This is your daughter, Quinn......"
Bolting upright from a deep sleep, his heart pounded, his eyes looked nervously around the room. It was a dream, just another foolish dream where he heard her voice. He flopped onto his back, a fine sheen of sweat covering his skin. Before he could drift back into sleep, he heard her again, this time clearly. This time he knew he wasn't dreaming.
She was radiant as she sat in the bed, their daughter at her breast. He longed to touch her, to feel her, to hold her in his arms as she fed their daughter. Their daughter. Quinn. She held more magic for him than her mother. "Please let me see you. Please...." He could see her resolve fading as she weighed her decision. The hope that only hours before was beginning to fade, surged within him again.
A resigned look crossed her face. "I can make no promises, but I cannot keep her from you."
As she faded from his vision, the part of him that was missing returned. She was part of his soul again. Picking up the phone, he quickly arranged a flight to London. His packing was interrupted by a knock at the door. Howie walked into the room, astounded at what was taking place in front of his eyes.
"Are you mad? Don't you see, she's just leading you on another wild chase. She will be gone when you get there." Howie grabbed Kevin by the shoulders, trying to shake some reason into him. "Don't waste your time."
"My daughter has been born. Nothing is going to stop me from going to her, to them." Howie was blocking the door. "Get out of my way."
"If it takes the four of us, we will stop you." Nick and the rest soon stood behind Howie. Before any of them could react, an unseen force threw them to the floor, holding them there.
"Will you four never learn. This is his decision, not yours." Her voice echoed in their ears. "If he chooses not to come, it will be of his own free will, not because of your threats." She released her hold on them. "Do not stand in his way."
They slowly struggled to their feet, afraid of what might come next. "So now she fights your battles too. Don't expect us to be here to pick up the pieces Kevin."
He walked out the door without saying a word, suitcase in hand. Nothing could have stopped him.
He stood on her doorstep, heart pounding like a schoolboys. Taking a deep breath, he prepared to knock, only to find the door already open. She was standing in front of him.
"Where is she?"
"Hello to you too. Quinn is sleeping. Please come in." He entered her sparse apartment, his eyes darting around the room, searching for his daughter. Hearing her laugh, he turned to find her smiling at him, eyes sparkling. "Don't worry, she's in the bedroom. This way." She took his hand in hers and led him to the small room. He closed his eyes and savored the feeling of her hand. They stopped beside a small bassinet.
He was afraid to move, afraid to breath, afraid that it would all disappear if he did. She bent and picked up their daughter, placing her in his arms. The site of Quinn, the feel of her, her sweet smell, mesmerized him. He found his way to the rocking chair, drinking her in. Her armor cracked a little watching him with Quinn. His fingertips trailed down her little cheeks, causing her to stir in his arms. Quinn's little fingers wrapped around his, her intense green eyes gazing into his. She shut the door behind her, leaving father and daughter alone.
He found her standing on the balcony, staring into the darkness, tension coming off of her in waves. She jumped as he slid his arms around her waist. "Didn't you feel me coming?" he asked, amazed that he had frightened her.
"Can you hear them?" She was close to panic, her eyes bright with fear. He closed his eyes and listened. The voices were everywhere, whispering, plotting. She was too powerful, she would expose them, she had to be destroyed before she destroyed them all, the child, the child, the child........ "I need you to promise me something. Promise me you'll protect her. Promise me she'll know who I am." Her voice was choked as she struggled for control.
"You're both coming with me. I can't leave you alon......"
"No" she hissed. "You have to protect Quinn. It's me they want, not her or you. She will not grow up in fear and on the run. If I'm with you we all are in danger."
His hands cupped her face as tears glistened in his eyes. "I just found you. I cannot lose you again."
Her arms tightened around his waist as her lips grazed his. "Make love to me Kevin" she whispered "I want to remember this time. I need a memory to take with me."
He took her under the stars on the balcony. No inch of her skin was untouched by his lips. Her legs wrapped around his waist as he slid into her. Their passionate cries filled the night air as her calm reserve finally broke. He sucked on the soft skin of her neck, biting into her as he came. Her teeth found his neck as she shuddered with pleasure, his blood flowing freely into her.
They held each other long into the night, neither wanted to waste a minute of the little time they had together. Not a word was spoken for there were no words to express what they were feeling. The voices were still present, far away but gaining strength. They were still wrapped in each other's arms when Quinn awoke at daybreak, her hungry cries stirring them.
She went to her daughter, lifting her to her breast, feeding her for the final time. She memorized every feature, every curve, every nuance. She bathed and dressed Quinn, rubbing lotion into her soft skin, the scent imprinted into her memory. Wrapping her in a blanket, she placed her in Kevin's arms. "I love you both. Don't ever forget that."
"Is she one of us? Have you been able to tell yet?"
"I made sure the day she was born. She will be stronger than both of us." She smiled at her sleeping daughter, smoothing Quinn's dark hair with her fingers.
"I will not fail you. I will keep her safe." His lips met hers briefly before he walked out the door.
She stood in the room, listening to his footsteps walking away, feeling her heart break as each one took them farther away from her. When he reached the street, she closed his connection to her, the danger to him was too great. He blew her a kiss and stepped into the waiting car, speeding down the street to safety.
Her screams shattered every window on the block.
Once again she was alone. Once again she was an outcast, different from the rest of her kind. Once again she was threatened by those who wanted to hurt her. This time, however, she would fight back.
Her legend was growing. She heard stories daily about how gruesomely she had killed. There had been no confrontations yet, but she felt them moving closer, growing bolder. She wasn't sure where the stories were coming from, but they were keeping her safe. It wasn't even that she feared them for she was more powerful than all of them, it was the threat posed to her loved ones that kept her on guard. The farther away she stayed from them, the safer they were.
She had made her way through Europe, never staying too long in one place. The hunter was now the hunted. The voices grew more threatening, pushing her to run farther and faster. There were sympathetic voices in the din that assaulted her senses every night. They told her where to go next and she instinctively trusted them. Sometimes when she was walking down the street, her eyes would find a pair of kind eyes and it was that kindness that would sustain her.
The thought of Kevin and Quinn also sustained her. Many nights she would forgo sleep and would spend hours remembering every detail of them, Quinn's smell, the feel of Kevin's arms around her. It would have been so easy for her to find them and see how they were doing, but she was afraid to risk it. For now, her memories were enough.
It was a beautiful day in Sydney. She had taken refuge here a year ago and found a peace that she had lost long ago. Quinn would be five now and she longed to know her. Thoughts of returning had been with her for some time now. In all her years of running, she had never been confronted, never been assaulted, nothing. It was as though they just wanted her to run.
"I see you've finally figured it out." A voice stopped her as she passed a small cafe. An older gentleman, one of her kind, was sipping a cup of tea and beckoned her to join him. "Don't worry dear, you only did what you thought was right."
"What do you mean?" The answer to her question was swirling around her head, just out of focus.
"You thought you had to protect the child and the only way to protect her was to leave. They know you are more powerful so they found your one vulnerability and used it against you." Her eyes closed as the answer became clear. "It's not too late. Go to them." She kissed his cheek as she departed.
The room had an aura of romance. Shadows danced on the walls from candles lit throughout the room, the sheer canopy billowed from a gentle breeze coming through the open window, the subtle scent of incense wafted through the room. The beauty of it all was in sharp contrast to the horrors that had recently occurred. The corpse of a young girl was thrown carelessly on the floor, drained of all blood. Nick and his newest creation lounged on the bed, drowsy from their latest meal.
"Mmmmm" he whispered as he nuzzled her warm neck. "So what do you think, my pet? Young blood is the sweetest."
"It was good Nicky. Can we try a boy next time?" She draped her leg around his hip, pulling him closer. "I've heard they're very yummy too. Did you hear that?"
"I heard nothing. Now, let me show you something else." He rolled her onto her back, burying his head in her neck.
She hovered outside the window, just out of site, grimacing as she watched Nick ravage his lover's body. Slipping back into the shadows, she faded into the night.
"No, no, no! Do it again." Howie closed his eyes in frustration. His latest protege was trying desperately to learn some new choreography. They had been at this for hours with little progress. His head dropped to his hands as the complex steps were missed again. "Stop" he roared, grabbing the young man by the throat and lifting him off the floor. "If you want to live to see tomorrow, you'd better start concentrating. There are many others who could take your place. Now do it again and do it right." He dropped the gasping young man to his feet, ignoring the terror in his eyes.
"I-I-I don't think this is going to work out Mr. Dorough. Maybe I should go."
"Perhaps you should." The young man grabbed a towel and started for the door. He was dead before he could take two steps. His lifeless body slumped to the floor as Howie wiped the blood from his lips. He never saw the shape within the shadows.
He flirted shamelessly. Women were gathered around him, hoping against hope that he would notice one of them. He chose his victim as carefully as a wolf culls a sheep from a flock. She was a little homely, a little shy, someone who blended into the woodwork. He flashed his smile and knew in an instant he had her. She was flattered, overwhelmed that he had chosen her. She would be dead within the hour. No one would even notice she was gone. He didn't notice the stranger sitting at the bar, nursing a gin and tonic.
She stalked them like a cat, shadowing their every movement. Weaving her way through their haunts, she learned all their patterns, their habits. Sometimes she was close enough to touch them, her lips hungry for their blood, but she held back. Their deaths would be slow, painful, they would feel every bit of her pain. Her rage consumed her every thought, propelling her further into the madness of her revenge. They had taken everything from her. They would pay.
She still heard the voices, threatening Quinn and Kevin. Kevin. She missed him so much she ached. She longed to be reuinted with them, her family. They would go someplace quiet and live out the rest of their lives, perhaps have another child. Sighing at the beauty of her fantasy world, she drifted towards Kevin's house, hoping to catch a glimpse of them. Quinn was playing in the backyard as she watched. Her beautiful daughter was so big now. She had lost so much time and missed so much. She just hoped Quinn would understand why she did what she had done. "Of course I understand Mommy." She jumped as Quinn whispered, not even looking up from her toys. "I'll be here when you're ready for me. Don't worry, I won't tell Daddy." She crept away, tears in her eyes. It was just a matter of time before she would be reunited with her daughter.
She found Kevin in his studio, sitting at his piano, working on a song with the rest of the group. His fingers danced over the keys as they had danced over her body. She longed to reveal herself to him, her beloved. Settling close to him, she listened.
"Should Quinn be in the backyard all by herself?" asked Howie as he watched her through the window.
"Quinn is more powerful than all of us combined. She will be fine."
"I would be more worried about her mother coming back." Nick fiddled with his microphone. "Our contacts haven't seen her in weeks, it's like she's just disappeared. Do you want us to keep sending her those threats?"
"Of course I do" Kevin replied indignantly. "It's kept here running and frightened all this time. I can't have her coming back now. Though it wouldn't really matter. Quinn hates her mother, I've made sure of that."
It couldn't be, he couldn't have done this. Her head was spinning with the realization that everything, his love, his passion, his promises, everything had been a lie. He had planned this from the moment he met her. None of it had been real. It took all her power not to kill them all on the spot. Her revenge could come later, right now she had to get her daughter away from this monster.
Slipping away to the backyard, she approached Quinn. "Are you ready beautiful?"
"Yes Mommy. You won't make me come back here, will you? Daddy tells me lies about you. I know what he did."
She made herself visible to Quinn knowing it would be seconds before they saw her too. "Don't worry baby, I'll make sure he doesn't hurt us ever again. Do you like the beach? I think that's where we'll go."
"Get away from her!" Kevin commanded as he barreled out the door. The group was right behind him, their bodies poised to spring. Without a word, she gathered Quinn in her arms and disappeared, his screams echoing in her ears.
Quinn was nestled against her as she slept. Days had passed and she still couldn't believe that she was able to hold her daughter in her arms. Kevin had kept them apart for years, but the bond between them had never been broken. Quinn had cried as she told her mother all the lies Kevin had told her. She had cried harder when she told her mother about life with her father. It was a fluke that she had been playing outside that day for she was seldom allowed to play. Her life was an unending cycle of school, training and sleep. She was taught to hate without thought and was forced to watch as her father paraded a new "mother" into the house every few months. She had never received an ounce of love, not from any of them. Kevin only wanted her to continue his bloodline. She cradled her daughter as she poured out her grief, stroking her hair to calm her. Quinn was strong by nature but being in her mother's arms finally allowed her to be a little girl. Love would break down the rest of her walls.
She hid Quinn away from the world with one of the few people she trusted. She would be spending her time playing in the sun and the sand until her mother returned. Crouching down, she held her daughter in her arms. "Be good for Aunt Lara baby, I'll be back as soon as I can."
"You promise you'll come back for me?" Quinn's green eyes were clouded with worry and doubt, breaking her mother's heart.
"You have mommy's word. You remember all the things I taught you?" Quinn nodded. "I love you honey, be safe." She left the room before her daughter could see her tears. Soon they would be able to live their lives in peace. Soon there would be no more danger from Kevin at all. The hunt had begun.
Nick and his mate had just fed and were resting on the couch. Yet another young corpse laid at their feet. "Well, I see I missed dinner." They were stunned at her appearance in their home.
"Who are you? Nicky who is this? What....." A smile crept to her lips as the woman clawed at her throat, gasping for air. Slowly, deliberately, the life was squeezed out of her. Nick ran for the door, panic sweeping through his body.
A wave of her hand stopped him, leaving him unable to move. She walked towards him, a smirk on her face. "You should be frightened Nick, your death will be much slower. Very painful" Her eyes glazed over as she reached him, sinking her fangs into his neck. She left the house an hour later leaving no trace of herself behind. Nick's dismembered body was scattered throughout the living room, blood covered every surface. This time the corpses remained.
The housekeeper summoned the police the next morning. Kevin and the rest arrived at the scene not long after, all of them ashen-faced as they glimpsed the carnage. The officer in charge filled them in....no fingerprints, no sign of forced entrance, unable to determine a weapon, not a single clue. They could hear her laughter echoing in their ears......
The remaining members of the group prepared for the end. Each of them expected to be next, each lived in fear. It wasn't long before they all moved into a large estate, feeling safer when they were together. The security systems they installed were state of the art. Armed guards and dogs roamed the grounds day and night. They felt comfortable and safe in their fortress.
Weeks and months passed without a sign of her. Their lives began to take on an air of normalcy as they began to relax and it wasn't long until they had reverted back to their old habits. New playmates soon filled the house and every night more and more people came hoping to become of part of them. Security became lax as decadence once again consumed their lives.
She stalked them for weeks, barely able to contain her rage as she watched them. She waited until the day that she barely crossed their minds. Waiting until the festivities were in full swing, she slipped into his bedroom, cringing at the sound of raucous laughter coming from downstairs. Peeling off her clothes, she crawled on to his bed, relaxing onto his pillows. He certainly didn't skimp on luxury. It wasn't long before she fell into a deep sleep, not even the noise of the crowd could keep her awake.
"Why are you here" he hissed, his hard body pressed against hers, trapping her hands above her head. She was instantly awake, every nerve ending was ready.
"Don't you remember that day in my room" she purred. "We were rudely interrupted Howie....." She pressed her body against his, savoring the fear and confusion that radiated from him.
"You came here for revenge, not this." She slid her bare leg up to his him, caressing his leg with her foot.
"Let me go Howie, let me show you what you missed." Her lips grazed his as her bare breasts pressed against his naked chest. She could feel his hardness pressing against her hip as she ground herself against him. He released her hands and attacked her nipples with his mouth as she let his hair down, losing herself in the feel of it. They pleasured each other through the night, their passionate cries drowned out by the booming music coming from downstairs.
There was a smirk on her face as she walked down the stairs. She wasn't even noticed until she walked through the living room, a collective gasp was soon the only noise in the room. The image of their surprised faces would be one that she treasured for eternity. "Enjoy your evening gentlemen" she said as she wiped a drop of blood from her mouth. She disappeared as they grabbed for her.
Howie's head was found on his nightstand.......
"How can we find her!" Kevin raged. "Quinn is just as good as her mother at hiding. Besides, she'll kill us all before we even get close." Kevin, AJ, and Brian were standing in the living room, shaken to the core over Howie's death in his own bed. They were all close to snapping.
Brian stood and began to berate Kevin, jabbing his finger into Kevin's chest. "This is all your fault. You just had to have her. Any woman would have done but you had to have her. And then, then you just had to make her one of us! You just couldn't......." Kevin grabbed Brian by the throat, cutting off his air briefly before dropping him to the floor. "You can do what you want to me, but this has to be said. We are all going to die because of you and your silly games. You didn't have to torment her, you didn't have to drive her mad, you didn't have to do any of it. You could have just taken Quinn and disappeared."
"I wanted her too, god help me I swear I did." Kevin collapsed into a chair, cradling his head in his hands. He jumped at the sound of her voice and the site of her suddenly in the room.
"You wanted to posess me Kevin, to overpower me and you did. You took everything from me, my humanity, my love, my daughter. Everything." She once again stood before them without fear, secure with her power.
"I love you" he said as tears glittered in his eyes. "Please let me prove it to you." He walked towards her, cupping her face in his hands. Her heart pounded at the touch of his hand and her lips met his palm.
She could feel AJ and Brian preparing to strike. "It would be in your best interest to stop right now. I will not hesitate to kill you." Her eyes never left Kevin's as her threat was made. AJ dropped the knife he was holding, but Brian lunged for her. He was dead before he could take a step. "You silly boys never learn that my threats are not hollow. Leave us AJ." He followed her orders and left the room. Kevin's arms slipped around her waist and he began to nuzzle her neck. Her fingers soon tangled in his hair.
"Please don't leave me again. I love you, I want to be with you and Quinn." Her body began to shake with laughter.
"You want to be with us" she said in amazement. "You could have been with us years ago, but you chose to keep me from Quinn. Sweet words and kisses aren't going to change things now. I have exacted all the revenge I care to, my soul has been cleaned of all the anger it harbored. Don't look so surprised Kevin, that's right, you and AJ get to live. I'm feeling generous today, don't push me."
"Will you let me see Quinn?" She began to laugh again.
"So you thought that just because I'm letting you live that you wouldn't be punished? Quinn and I will haunt you Kevin, your every thought. You could have had us, both of us, but you lost. I won. I won everything. I've got Quinn, I've got a new life growing in me as we speak, you've got nothing." She walked to the window and looked out at the beautiful view of the ocean. "You know, after all of this, I do believe that somewhere in that black heart of yours, you do love me, and I guess there will always be a part of mine that loves you too." She turned and met his gaze with a sad smile. "I guess we all lost a little bit, some more than others. Goodbye Kevin." With that, she disappeared, leaving him alone, just as she had promised.
She watched as her son and daughter played in the sand, both of them brown and strong. Jack was the spitting image of his father with his dark hair and brown eyes. Quinn was so different now. The quiet, brooding little girl had been replaced with a smiling, cheerful, happy girl. She understood what she was and understood the power she had. Using that power would come later, for now she was just a kid, just as her mother had dreamed. Closing her eyes, she opened herself to Kevin.
"She looks happy." He smiled at the vision of his daughter.
"She is, Kevin, I promise."
"Are you happy?" He could see her too, laying on the beach with her eyes closed. She was brown and strong and still so damn beautiful too. He knew exactly where they were, but knew it would be a waste of time to find them. She would leave before he ever arrived.
"I love you." He was afraid to hear her answer, afraid she would shut him out again.
"I love you too Kevin. Maybe someday....." She was gone before she finished.
"Someday......" That was enough.
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