Laura sat in a trancelike state, her eyes wide and her chest heaving. Harry was feeling more than a bit nervous, not to mention, well... he was gazing at her flushed cheeks and bleary eyes. He was also feeling more than a bit aroused. "Laura?" He touched her arm. "Laura?" "Huh?" She stared at him, her face once again showing the confusion of youth. Laura wrinkled her nose in quizzical confusion. "What were you saying?" "Darling, I haven't said a thing. You've been loopy for the past few minutes." Laura opened her mouth to speak, but Harry interrupted her. "You looked like you had a few secrets up y'sleeve all of a sudden. What were you thinking about?" "I...don't...that is...I don't know." /Nick./ She had seen-no *felt* Nick. Laura blushed to her hairline as the daydream came racing back to her. Harry chuckled, laughing louder as she glared at him. "Luv, if you blushed any deeper, your cheeks would look like apples." He took her hand. "Obviously, whatever you were thinking about ought not to be bandied about in public." /I know the face of a lover when I see it./ Throwing his napkin down, he offered her a hand. Laura smiled as she looked up into twinkling sapphire eyes. Gorgeous didn't even begin to cover it! An aristocratic face replaced Harry's. An angelic face, with glacial eyes and a shock of golden curls. A face which drew her to him. Laura leaned forward, head tilted back, lips parted, half-closed eyes, blush of lust on her youthful cheeks. Harry almost jumped to high heaven as her arm snaked around his neck. He became aware of the other diners' stares. He bent towards her. Laura, the half-grown girl he had seen on the stone bridge, disappeared as this young woman with the infinite eyes and Audrey Hepburn face...this beautiful, bewitching girl...moved to press her lips to his. People around them disappeared as Harry gave into the feeling. As their lips started to touch, Harry heard Laura snarl? He pulled back quickly, grabbing her buy the shoulders to study her. "Good God Laura! What's happening to you?" To her credit, Laura looked as confused as he felt. "Wha--I feel... Harry what's wrong with me?!" Her voice pitched higher in terror. He cupped her face to calm her. "You look--I don't know, beautiful but not real." Laura backed away. "Um...I'll--I-have...um--I have to use the bathroom." She fled. Harry looked around and felt his cheeks warm as he noticed everyone staring at him, enjoying this little drama he and Laura had just created. /I swear I heard her growl. SHe had me so stiff I was ready to jump her bones right here./ His hand went to his neck. He could also swear she had tried to bite him. He looked towards the women's loo. Why did Nicholas de Brebant keep her around? /If what she did to me is any indication, I know exactly why he keeps her around./ *** Laura splashed water onto her face, trying to cool the burning heat within her body. /What's the matter with me?!/ She had felt a presence. Laura could almost swear she had felt Nick standing next to her. And what the hell had she been thinking with Harry? Laura had felt a rush of desire go through her faster than an LA earthquake. /But it wasn't normal!/ There had been something...evil, for lack of a better word, in her aroused state. Laura looked up into the mirror. She bit back a scream. /OMIGOD! WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME?/ *** Nick sat cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed, chanting the ancient Sanskrit prayers. He could feel light burning away the darkness within him. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he heard the screams of Laura's soul. *** Harry stood by the exit waiting for Laura to emerge from the restroom. What did they do in there that took them so long? *** Laura stared at her reflection, entranced and repulsed. Her normally golden skin, the result of summers spent on the California beaches, had acquired a stark paleness and luminescent glow. Her long, thick hair shone like silk, falling around her face in seductive waves. Her full mouth was rich red---blood red. She trembled as her reflection gazed back at her. Her dark eyes were glowing amber. Laura opened her mouth. Two perfectly enlarged fangs stood out where her canines had once been. She had never been a pretty girl, but now...Laura touched her reflection. She was beautiful and exotic. A darkness pushed on her soul, leaving her in tormented hell and ecstasy. Laura was afraid...of herself.