Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 13:55:43 EDT
Subject: No Regrets part1/4
This is not a followup to my story "Puzzles". It is just a little
tale I couldn't seem to get out of my head.
I'm still really new at this so please be kind.
Nick & Co. belong to J.P. &Co. I am only borrowing them.
by Kathy Whelton
Natalie Lambert-Rhys looked about the room and noticed that the
crowd was finally beginning to thin out. As much as she
appreciated everyone's kindness, it had been a long day. She
would be glad for a little privacy and quiet.
There had been a good turnout for the funeral this morning. So many
of Phillip's students, some from years ago, had attended.
He would have been pleased. Phillip was such a good man, but in a quiet
way. It made her happy to know that he had touched so
many lives in such a positive way.
They had had a good 28 years together. Three fine children, now
grown, well almost. Her youngest was 18, a surprise change of
life baby. She wished he had had a little more time with his father.
Two grandchildren and one more on the way.
Natalie had met Phillip almost 30 years ago now. She had gone back
to school, looking for something to fill her now empty hours.
Phillip was a professor teaching a graduate course in English Lit at
the University. He had just been through a difficult divorce,
neither of them had been looking for any involvements, and somehow
they found each other.
Natalie looked about her living room. Yes they had done well
together. They had a nice home, soon this house would be
too big for her, once her youngest went off to college. She had managed
to keep up her career,even through those hectic years
when the kids were small. She had only taken a leave of absence in
the last 6 months when Phillip had become so ill with cancer
that she needed to be home with him most of the time. Natalie had
not yet decided whether she would go back to the coroners office.
Maybe it was time to think about retiring, maybe do a little teaching.
That is what Phillip had always wanted her to do. He had
never quite gotten used to her job, she smiled at the memory.
Even after all their years together, Phillip had no interest in bodies or
crime scenes, none at all. Still there was one or two things from
the old days she just couldn't give up.
Natalie surveyed the small knot of mourners that remained. Out of
the corner of her eye she noticed that someone had come in
that she had not seen before. Probably a friend of one of her children
or an old student of Phillip's. She did not wish to appear
rude but she was really not up to meeting anyone else.
Natalie gathered up a few stray glasses and headed for the kitchen.
She would catch hell from the kids for cleaning up, but
she found over the past few days it helped to keep her hands busy.
Natalie began rinsing off the dishes in the sink. Yes, she could say that
she had no regrets. The past year had been a long and
difficult one, but even the last year had its hidden rewards. She and
Phillip had grown even closer, if that was possible, knowing
that the time they had remaining was brief. When Phillip died he passed
away peacefully in his sleep, they had had a chance to
say their goodbyes.
Lost in her thoughts she had not heard the sound of the kitchen door opening.
That voice. She spun around. The glass she had been washing crashed
to the floor and shattered.
The sound of the glass breaking had brought Natalie's children
from the other room.
"Mom, are you all right?" they hovered over her. "Here sit, you don't
look so good Mom."
The stranger standing across the room had gone unnoticed.
"I'm fine. I just dropped a glass, my hands were all wet
and it slipped. Stop fussing, I'm fine."
Natalie stood up. "Kids, this is an old friend of mine, Nick..er.."
Nick stepped forward, his hand extended. "Nicholas de Brabant, I think I startled
your Mother. We used to work together."
The young woman stepped forward and shook Nick's hand. "Nice to meet
you Mr. de Brabant. My name is Laurel, these are my
brothers Richard and Nicholas." The two young men stepped
forward in turn to shake Nick's hand.
"Always nice to meet a fellow Nicholas." the younger of the two commented.
"OK, the three of you out, back to the other guests. Let me clean up in here
and give me a chance to talk to Nick." Natalie shooed
her children toward the door.
"I'm flattered." Nick stated with a nod of his head to the departing figures.
Nick and Natalie bent over to pick up the pieces of broken glass at
the same moment. Natalie looked up and into those blue eyes,
those eyes she had tried for so long to forget.
"Please let me get that." Nick started. "Sit down, can I get you something?"
Natalie slid back into the chair. "Actually there is a bottle of Scotch in that
cabinet. You can pour me a drink."
Nick handed Natalie the glass. "Nat, I'm so sorry about your husband."
"How did you know?"
"I still pick up the Toronto papers from time to time. I noticed his obituary
two days ago. I've been sort of keeping tabs on you
over the years, your wedding, your children. I hope you don't mind."
Nick ventured with some wariness in his voice.
Natalie wasn't sure whether she minded or not.
Nick wrapped his cool hands around hers. Natalie pulled back suddenly.
Nick was startled and withdrew, his face crestfallen. "I'm sorry."
"No." Natalie inserted quickly. "I'm sorry, I had forgotten what that
felt like, its been so long. She threw her arms around
his neck and embraced him. "It* is* good to see you."
They held eachother for a moment in silence.
"Do you know, Nicholas Knight, that there isn't a day in the last 30 years
that I haven't thought about you? Somedays, I admit,
I decided that you had been an hallucination brought on by too much
formaldehyde." They both smiled at her statement.
"You have never been out of my thoughts either." Nick returned.
The voices from the next room brought the back to reality.
"We need to talk." stated Natalie. "But not here or now."
"I'll give you a few days to let things settle down a bit, then I'll come back.
That is if you want me to come back."
"Of course I want to see you. How can I reach you? Where are you
saying?" Natalie questioned.
"I'll come to you."
"Sorry, I don't mean to sound mysterious." he grinned. "Force of
habit. My current address is somewhat temporary in
nature. An empty warehouse by the lake. Here is my cellphone
number if you should need to reach me." He hugged her again.
"Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself. I'll be in
touch." He slipped out the back door and into the night.
Four nights later Natalie answered the doorbell to find a slightly
disheveled Nick standing on her doorstep.
"Come in Nick."
" I'm afraid I have a favor to ask," he grinned "but don't worry it is
an easy one. I' m afraid my accommodations are a
little on the primitive side. Do you mind if I use your shower?"
"Of course not," was her reply "top of the stairs on the right."
Natalie busied herself with straightening the room. Nick soon emerged.
Dressed, stylishly as ever, in black he descended the
stairs. God, she thought, he is a handsome man. Is it possible that
he looked even younger than she remembered? She quickly
ran a hand up to her hair. The last thing she had been thinking of
lately was getting her hair colored and it was mostly grey.
Her face must have betrayed her thoughts, Nick stepped quickly
to her side.
"Nat, you look great."
"I look exactly like what I am, an old lady."
"You look as beautiful to me as you did the night we met." He put
his hand under her chin and tilted it upward. "I still like
the whole package, just the way it is." He kissed her gently on
Nick surveyed the room, examining the many photographs
on the mantle and the walls.
"You have a lovely home and family, Natalie. Is it three children?"
" Yes," Natalie replied with an obvious pride in her voice."And
two grandchildren, with a third on the way."
They sat down next to one another on the sofa. Their hands met
across the back of the couch and their fingers intertwined.
The two sat in silence for a while, the years seemed to melt
away between them.
"Have you been happy Nat?"
Natalie sighed thoughtfully. "Phillip was a wonderful husband and
father. He filled a great void in my life after you left. We came to love
each other very much. Yes, in answer to your question, I have been very
happy. We have had a great life together, I'm going to miss him very much."
Natalie felt the tears well up and spill down her cheeks. She brushed them away
impatiently. "I'm sorry," she started "I didn't think I had any tears left."
Nick slid over to her side and wrapped his arm around her.
"There is nothing to be sorry about. Let the tears come.You have had
an enormous loss, you need to give yourself permission to grieve. None
of this being strong stuff." He held her tightly as she wept.
Nick waited until the tears had passed. "Tell me about your children."
Natalie sat back and smiled. "Well, lets see, Laurel is the oldest, she is
27 now. She, her husband and their two kids live about an hour away.
Close enough but not too close."
"Next is Richard, he just graduated from law school this past spring.
He and his wife are expecting their first child around Christmas.
And then there is Nicholas. Nicholas is 18
and headed for Penn State in the fall." Natalie laughed. "My
son Nicholas was the second biggest surprise of my life, hence
the name. I was 43 when he came along. I thought we were done having kids, but
he has been a real joy."
"Did you ever tell Phillip about me?" Nick asked quietly.
"No, I never did. Not that I didn't want to. In fact it nearly drove me crazy
at first." she smiled. "But I didn't feel like
getting hauled away one day by the little men in white coats."
Natalie turned serious. "I also wasn't sure how closely or for how long I might
be watched. I was afraid that if Phillp's reading material got a little
unorthodox all of a sudden, it might
"You were probably wise to be cautious. Although I think by
the time we left the Community in Toronto had pretty much
Nick's mind floated back to May 1996.
"I'm leaving here tonight."
"Not without me."
"I'm leaving because of you. You don't want my love,
it will destroy you."
"I'm not afraid. I love you. I trust you."
"I will not live a life of eternal pain. I will not. I am leaving."
Nick's mind came back to the present.
"Was I wrong, wrong to make that decision for the both
of us?" Nick wondered aloud.
"I don't know the answer to that question Nick." Natalie
answered. "I resented it for a long time, but now I don't know
if it was the right choice."
A thoughtful silence fell between them.
Natalie started. "You haven't said a word about yourself.
What have you been up to?"
"Well there really isn't much to tell."
"Why do I find that a little hard to believe?" Natalie prodded.
"When I left here I went to Europe, traveled around quite
a bit. Finally we settled in Paris for a while." Nick took a deep
breath and continued. "Janette was living there. She wasn't too
happy to see me at first, but eventually she became an important
part of my life again."
Natalie listened without comment for a while. She tried to
ignore the little twinges of jealousy she was feeling.
"I'm living in Boston. Teaching some courses at B.U.,
Western Civ and World History," he shrugged. "not much of
"I'm almost afraid to ask." Natalie ventured.
"LaCroix? Yes he is in Boston too. We had sorted a lot of things out before
we left Toronto. I'm sure you never thought you would hear me say this, but it
really hasn't been so bad."
Natalie was saddened as she listened to Nick. He seemed so
resigned to his life as a vampire. He had apparently given up everything that
they had once dreamed about, his quest for
mortality, freedom from Lacroix. She realized how high a price
he had paid that night he left. It was something she had not
considered in all these years.
They were interrupted by the sounds of Nicholas Rhys
and several friends entering through the front door. They
stopped briefly before heading upstairs.
"This house is going to seem awfully empty when he leaves
for college in a few weeks." Natalie reflected. "That is going to
take a lot of getting used to."
"Maybe it doesn't have to be so empty. Nat, what would
you say if I told you I was thinking of coming back to Toronto?"
Natalie sat in stunned silence.
"Of course I don't mean literally into your house," he grinned. "Nat, I've
missed you. I've missed our friendship
more than you could know. I would like for us to try and get
that back if possible."
"Don't you mean *we* Nick? What about Janette and LaCroix? I'm not
interested in the family plan Nick. I can't afford to have LaCroix showing up
on my doorstep, or my kids doorsteps."
"That's just not going to happen Nat. Janette and I
are no longer together. As far as LaCroix goes I guess you just
have to believe me that he won't interfere. Look I have sprung
this on you quickly, probably too quickly. I'm sorry I was just
hoping that I could be here for you right now. At least think about it. I don't
want to pressure you into anything."
Nick stood to take his leave. "I'm heading back to Boston
tonight. Give my idea some thought, I'll be in touch." Nick reached over and
embraced Natalie. "Whatever you decide, I
hope that we can still be friends."
He was gone before she could reply. Natalie sat down and
looked around at the memories of her life. She had a lot to think
Nick stood on the balcony of his Back Bay townhouse. He
looked out over the Charles River and beyond to the lights of
MIT and the city of Cambridge. Life had been good here. He
was settled with a studio for his painting. He enjoyed teaching
again. So why was he moving back to Toronto? There was risk
involved, there were still people around who would remember
Nick Knight and his unexplained departure from the police force and the city.
The incredible advances in technology over the past decade or so was making the
anonymity the vampire community depended on more and more difficult to achieve.
Was it possible for him to recapture what he had left behind 30 years ago?
Should he even try?
Behind him he felt a displacement of air and the vibrations
that only accompanied the presence of his master. Nick spoke
without turning around.
"I'm going back. Back to Toronto."
"Do you think that is wise Nicholas?"
"I don't know, probably not. I just feel like something is
missing and has been for awhile. I want to at least try and get
it back." Nick turned and faced LaCroix before continuing.
"What I need from you is your assurance that you won't
"Nicholas, I told you a long time ago that you were free to do as you like
in regards to the good doctor. It was your decision to move on."
" I felt that she deserved a chance for a life that I could
never give her." Nick stated.
" Things have changed for her. Her husband has died, her
children have grown. Maybe there is a place for me in her life again.."
"Do in this as you will Nicholas. I have all the time in the world for you
to come back to me. Dr. Lambert, I fear, does not."
He was gone as suddenly as he had come.
Natalie Lambert-Rhys arrived home to find her living room
in an uproar. Nick was on the floor roughhousing with her
two young grandsons while her daughter looked on from the
sidelines. Daniel, aged 5, was perched on Nick's back while
Michael,3, prodded at him with the handle of a broomstick.
"Roar like a dragon again." Daniel yelled. "Roar like a dragon."
"Yes, by all means Nick," Natalie chuckled. "Roar like a dragon."
"Okay guys, " Nick said grinning sheepishly. "I guess that's
about enough of slay the dragon. Let's go check out the cookies
and milk in the kitchen. I think your mother and grandmother
want to talk."
"Will you tell us another story Nick?"
"Sure I have lots of stories to tell you guys."
"The Disney version, Nick." Natalie called out at the
After the boys had left Laurel began. "Mother, I just can't
believe this. Dad has barely been gone a month and this Nick
person seems to be here all the time."
"I told you and your brothers Nick is an old friend and
nothing else. We enjoy each others company period. It helps me
not to be alone all the time."
"He is an old friend that none of us had ever heard of before.
Mother you are making a fool of yourself. He can't be more than 35. What could
possibly be his interest in you, except maybe your money?"
Natalie tried to keep her temper as she listened to her eldest
child's diatribe. She knew what she was hearing was grief for
her father's death and concern for her. Natalie took several slow
deep breaths before she began. "Laurel, I know you loved your
Dad and you miss him. I loved him and miss him more than you
can imagine. But I have to ask you to trust me in this. Nick
is an old friend, he is trying to help me through a very difficult
time. I hope you can understand this and accept it because I
need him right now. I don't want this to be the cause of hard
feelings between us."
Natalie put her arms around her daughter and held her tight.
The tears streamed silently down Laurel's face.
"I'm sorry Mom, I just miss Dad so much. I don't mean to
give you a hard time. I worry about you, you are so vulnerable
Natalie wiped the tears from her daughter's face. It was so hard to see the
pain in those eyes, harder to know that she was
the cause of her daughter's distress.
"Please, I know this is hard just try to believe that I know
what I am doing Laurel."
Laurel nodded her assent and went into the kitchen to collect
her children. She had to admit that Nick had a way with her kids
He had them engaged in some wild tale and she had to practically drag them out
"The kids think your great." started Natalie.
"Now if I can only win over their mother, I'll be all set. I
couldn't help but overhear. Perhaps I should send her my bank
statements." he smiled. "Nat the last thing I want to do is drive
a wedge between you and your children." He slid his arm around her shoulder.
"They are going to have to get used to you. I'm not going to
live my life according to their expectations of what their old
mother should or should not be doing. I don't want to hurt
them but I'm not going to live my life for them either."
Nick arrived at Natalie's home a few evenings later in a new,
late model sports car. "I decided to throw caution to the wind
and not worry about the trunk space this time. Nat, let's go out.
I'm worried about you. I know you haven't been eating or sleeping. Maybe a
change of scenery would do you some good.
Natalie had to admit he was right. She had little appetite
since Phillip's death, she really should be taking better care of
herself. Perhaps going out to eat would do her some good.
They drove along in a comfortable silence to a small quiet
restaurant nearby. It was one she had frequented regularly with
Phillip before he had become ill. They asked for and were seated at a secluded
table in the rear. Natalie noticed several
neighborhood acquaintances among their fellow patrons.
Natalie was finding that being out was having the opposite
effect than she had hoped for. Away from the protective
cocoon of her home she was feeling weary and uncomfortable.
"Nat, what's wrong?" Nick reached across the table and took
her hand. "I know something is not right when I am eating
more than you." They both glanced at her plate which had gone
Natalie found herself looking around the room and withdrew
her hand from his. "I'm sorry, I just can't get over the feeling
that everyone is watching us. That they are wondering who the
old broad is holding hands with that cute guy."
"Natalie," Nick sighed and leaned forward speaking to her
gently. "no one is looking at us. And what if they were? I don't
care what anyone thinks." he paused. "But I'm sorry if it bothers
you. Unfortunately this problem isn't going to go away."
Nick sat back and looked at her. He had no desire to cause her any more
pain. He had hoped that his being here would be a
support for her, a positive in her life. Perhaps he had been mistaken, the
conflicts with her children, her concerns about
the apparent discrepancy in their ages. Maybe once again the
negatives would outweigh the positives for her.
"Maybe it would be better if I left, better for you." Nick
"No." Natalie stated. He had only been back in her world a
few weeks and already she was having trouble picturing her
life without him in it. "I don't want you to go. But what I
would like, at least for tonight, is to go home maybe stop at a
video store and rent a movie like we used to."
"Sounds like a deal to me." was Nick's reply as they got up
and headed out of the restaurant.
Several hours later they sat on the couch in Natalie's living room.
"That was good, I never thought I would laugh that hard
again." confessed Natalie. "You know Nick, since you have been back you have not
said the words cure or mortality once to me. I don't want to pressure you if
it is no longer something you want, but I do think it is something we should
"I didn't want you to think that was all I was here for, Natalie, because it
is not. It is something that I have put on the back burner for a long time now,
but regaining my mortality is something that I still want very much."
"Well it is something that I have never really stopped working on." Natalie
admitted. "There have been some amazing medical
advances in the last 30 years and I have come up with several
new ideas that I think we should try."
Nick reached down and slowly kissed the back of Natalie's
hand. " When you are ready." Nick started gently. "I want you
to let me know. It seems that I have managed to learn a thing or
two in the last 30 years as well."