Power (Sequel to A New Life)
Time: 3 years after Jonathan was born
The warehouse stank of old coffee and dirt. The furniture was Spartan,
and the light dim. In the back along the far wall at the table, sat an
old woman in her late 50's with white hair and shaggy clothes.
Although she appeared destitute, she was clean as she sat quietly
wrapping her fingers around a chipped coffee mug.
Racine sat at her makeshift table and drank the last of her Colombian
coffee and simply stared at the rose in the center of the table. She
had been watching it closely for several days as the clear crystal
petals began to glow pink and hum with a low pitch sound audible only
to her ears. She had given the matching sweetheart rose to Dr. Lambert
well over 4 years ago.
The roses were a gift from Racine's mother before she died. With her
last words she told Racine that they were magic and forever linked to
their world. What did it mean? Racine was, and had been, alone most of
her life. Dr. Lambert was the only truly kind person she'd ever met
who didn't judge her for her lifestyle.
She'd made many a wrong choice in her lifetime because of what she
was, but she had no regrets until now. In her efforts to help Dr.
Lambert with her doubts and fears, she had inadvertently given Natalie
the one thing that could lead Racine's long forgotten world to their
long sought after prize....power. Maybe there was time. She said a
silent prayer as she left the warehouse with the rose humming softly in
Tracy sat at her desk looking over the latest file that dropped onto
the computer screen. It was the 7th murder in under 6 months and the
latest happened yesterday over in Castle Rock. Tom Jerguson called her
yesterday for some insight. The reputation she and Nick had for solving bizarre
cult-type cases was becoming widespread knowledge....and this was definitely
bizarre. She had just pulled the autopsy results up, when Nick tossed his jacket
on the back of his chair.
"Hi Trace! What's up?" Nick walked around behind her to peer at the
screen. He quickly scanned the autopsy report stopping at the age of
the victim almost at the same time Tracy did.
"My God, Nick he was only 5 years old! How could someone do that?"
"Vetter! In my office now!" Reese stood waiting at his office door.
Nick and Trace turned simultaneously and started to question him but
thought better of it after seeing his face.
Trace looked at Nick and scowled, anticipating his involvement as she
"Don't look at me, Trace. I haven't a clue. I've been good....Scout's
honor." He held his hand up in the boy scout hand signal as he smiled
"We'll see, Detective. If this is your doing, I'm going over your head
to Natalie...and we know what that means." Trace smirked, smiled wickedly
and turned to head into the Captain's office.
Nick turned his attention back the computer screen and sat down at
Trace's desk to look closer.
Tracy closed the door behind her and finally noticed Daniel and his
partner Miller sitting in the chairs opposite the Captain.
"Come in, Trace." The Captain had calmed a little, yet, seemed really
uptight as he motioned her to the only vacant chair in the room.
"I'm assigning Trent and Miller here to Castle Rock for the next couple
of weeks and they are going to need some input from you and possibly
Nick if you can get it without being obvious." Captain Reese pushed the
file toward the corner of his desk in her direction.
Tracy picked it up and started thumbing through the file. It was the
case report she had on her computer screen only moments before. "Why
all the secrecy, Captain?"
"Read it closer, Trace!" Daniel caught her eyes momentarily as his
Trace read it closer. "It a serial cult case involving children. That
much is obvious." She continued reading. "It was Stein and his son
that were killed? Jeez! He was a good cop, but I don't understand why
you want Daniel and Miller to help them instead of Nick and...."
Reese placed the photograph of the murder in front of her. In it a
blonde haired 5 year old child lay staked to the ground inside a
pentagram and what appeared to be a blood circle. The next picture was
of Stein bound to a cross with a stake implanted through his heart less
than 3 feet from his son. Charred burnt material encircled the cross as
if a fire had been used to contain him within its boundaries.
Tracy stared at the pictures and then Daniel. She turned to look
through the glass in the door at Nick sitting at her desk using the
computer. As she watched, a blonde curly headed 3 year old bounced
into the room and flew toward Nick.
Reese followed her gaze as he watched Nick swoop Jonathan into his arms
and tickle him furiously. "That's why Trace!"
"Cap, Nick's reading that file right now. That's what I was reading
when you called me in. He'll already know about it. You won't be able
to keep him out of it, and he's much better at this cult stuff than
either Daniel or myself. He can handle it." Trace wasn't sure why the
Captain thought Nick couldn't handle the death of a child any better
than the rest of them.
"You didn't read it close enough Tracy. The last 5 sets of victims have
been father and child combinations. All white, blonde, age 35-40 with
children under the age of 6. The last 3 have been policemen. This
nutball is looking for someone and he's a cop with a young child. Nick
fits that profile. Instead of having Nick help us solve this case, I
think we need to put him and Jonathan into protective custody. In case
you hadn't noticed, your partner happens to fit the exact profile this
killer is looking for.
Jonathan swept into the room, a ball of energy, as he spied his dad
sitting at the computer. He was a blonde haired, blue eyed bright
bundle of energy that loved the precinct. With his mom and dad both
working for the police department, he had spent numerous hours
entertaining everyone. He had a whole precinct full of aunts and uncles
that would take him at an instant's notice. Jonathan loved them all.
Every trip to his dad's office precipitated another new toy or something
special bought specifically for Jonathan. He was the precinct mascot
and he ate it up.
Nat smiled as she trailed behind Jonathan and watched him sail into his
father's arms. Since his birth, Nat had cut back to working only
3 days a week for the city and 1 day a week at the clinic. Nick
always took time for lunch with them on her nights off, so the family
could be together as much as time permitted. She had promised Jonathan
the new Disney movie tonight and when they passed the station, he cried
until she stopped. As much as she hated to admit it, she didn't think
she could have passed by without stopping anyway. In the past 3 years,
she and Nick had become even closer. The changes occurring in their body
chemistry was only part of it. With the birth of Jonathan, they had finally
become what they both thought never possible....a family. Each day was a
treasure and each night a fantasy come true. They were
happy....all three of them.
Even LaCroix seemed to come around to the idea of accepting Nick as he was
instead of trying to control him. Everything was subject to change and
apparently LaCroix had softened with a little help from Theressa. Life was
good. She only prayed for it to continue.
Jonathan giggled furiously as his father tickled him and finally tossed
him over his shoulder laughing the whole time. Finally he spied Officer
Jackson in the corner and stopped giggling for his dad. When Nick
noticed he'd stopped squirming, he followed his son's line of vision and
placed him on the floor. Jonathan hugged his dad one last time and then
ran straight for Loraine Jackson who stood watching them closely with a
giant smile on her face.
As Jonathan ran to his favorite adopted aunt in the precinct, he skidded
to a stop as she held up her hand and presented him with a present. He
squealed in delight and screamed " For me?" as he snatched the bright
package out of her hand.
Nat smiled and mouthed 'Thank You' to Loraine as she walked over to
Nick gently put his arms around Nat's waist and then placed a soft kiss on her
forehead before he spoke. "You guys miss me?" His blue eyes twinkled with
mischief and Nat punched his softly in the stomach for his efforts.
"I was just humoring Jonathan about seeing his father. He seems to
think Dad can't do his job without a visit from his son. Kids, go
figure!" She smiled as the love in her eyes beamed her happiness around
"There's a problem with that?" Nick feigned innocence at her remark.
"You're hopeless, Nick, and Jonathan is just like you." Nat's eyes
wandered around the room to Jonathan and Lorraine as her son was
mesmerized by his new toy. "The precinct is going to have to stop
doing that, though, or Jonathan will never stay at home." She laughed
softly knowing that it would be useless even to try to change the whole
Nick followed her gaze and then caught sight of Trace and the Captain
through the glass in the door as they both blatantly stared at him.
Nat sensed a change in Nick and followed his gaze to Trace and the
Captain. "What's up, Nick?"
Nick quickly went back to the computer and sat down while Nat followed
him. He was all business now and so was she. "It's something to do
with this case if I'm guessing. Read this autopsy report and tell me
what it means when all the electrolytes are missing." Nick flipped the
screen back to the autopsy report for Nat to read.
She calmly reached over and scanned the next 3 sheets. Her expression
went from confusion, to anger and then disbelief as she read the final
sheet to the report. A picture of the small child and his father staked
to the ground on a wood cross spread across the screen. Natalie gasped
in recognition and horror as her legs weakened. Nick caught her before
she collapsed and sat her in his own chair.
He quickly scanned the earlier section of the report and then let his
eyes lock with Natalie's. "They're looking for me and Jonathan."
Nat sat almost deathly still and then automatically searched the room
for Jonathan. Fear was written in her eyes as she faced her husband
across the two desks.
Reese, Daniel, Tracy and Miller marched up to their desks. "Nick, we
need to talk." Reese said a little more forcefully than he intended.
He recognized the fear in Natalie and watched her gaze across the room
to her son. They knew. Damn! This wasn't what he had planned at all.
Knight was too quick and to valuable to lock away, but right now that
seemed like their only alternative until this mad man or persons were
Nick went around to his side of the desks and helped Natalie stand. She
was shaking as he put his arms around her to steady her.
"Nick, we're are going to put you into protective custody....you and
Jonathan." He looked at Natalie with sympathetic eyes. "You too, I'm
afraid, Natalie. I know you think I'm overreacting but since I know you
have both been reading the file, you realize Nick and Jonathan fit the
profile these scumbags are attacking. I don't want to risk losing any
of you. So as of right now, you both are under protective custody
when you're off duty and with someone at all times when you are on
shift. I don't think they will make a run at you here at the precinct, but even
that may change. " Reese turned expecting Nick to object vigorously.
"I agree Captain, but only at our place. It's got better security than
any place we use as a safe house. It's equipped with safety shutters for
my sun allergy which will insure a little more security all around, but
neither one of us are walking away from this. We'll agree to extra
security inside the house and out, but only specific people. I don't
want some gun happy, nervous cadet inside my house...and Nat and I stay on
the case." Nick waited for his Captain to object. He would protect his family at
all costs. This was not the time or place for pride or
"Agreed, Nick. We'll rotate Daniel, Tracy, and Miller inside with you so they
can keep you up to date with this precinct and Castle Rock. We'll station
people outside your loft and a unit will circle the block
until these loonies are caught. You two are not to go anywhere without
escort or prior notification. Is that understood?" Reese didn't expect
an answer, just acceptance on Nick and Natalie's part. "It's going to be a long
week, people, with lots of overtime. So lets get to it. Natalie, you and Jonathan
are to wait right here till I get the first shift figured out, and Nick, you go over
that file and tell me just what kind of cult freak we have here. We need a
Three dark cloaked figures appeared at the end of the alley as Racine
stepped into the center of the street. Her sharp eyes caught the
movement instantly. She turned to run in the opposite direction only
to be slammed hard up against the nearest wall. Racine hit the wall
hard enough to knock the wind out of her and see stars, as her legs began to
give way. Strong hands held her up against the wall as another set of cool
fingers searched her body and then reached for the knapsack on her back.
"No!" She screamed as they jerked it away from her, but the strong arms
held her solidly against the wall.
Cool white fingers rummaged through the knapsack and smiled when her
fingers touched the petals of the crystal rose and withdrew it from the
dark confines of the ratty old material it had been wrapped in. The hum
had grown louder and the petals darker pink since Racine had wrapped
them carefully before leaving the warehouse. The woman who held the
rose in the palm of her hand smiled evilly as her eyes turned almost
pure green with cold fire.
"It's true, my friends. The power is within our grasp. The rose proves
it." She held the rose above her head for the others to see. The ones
we seek are here in Toronto. With the help of the elders and the magic we
possess, the world will be our playground when their power becomes ours.
Tracy drove across town as Nat held Jonathan on her lap. She continued
to run her fingers through his soft curly hair as they drove, completely
lost in thought. Jonathan, in tune to his mother's emotions, cuddled
quietly in her arms and let his little arms wrap around her in an effort
to comfort her. Tracy watched them intermittently as she drove. She
could only imagine what was going through Natalie's mind after seeing
those pictures. Knowing what she did about Nick and Natalie's
relationship as well as the changes they were both undergoing over the
past three years, she was certain both Nick and Natalie were well aware
who the killer was looking for. That was probably why Nick had agreed
to extra protection. He was willing to sacrifice everything, even his
existence as a vampire, to keep them safe.
The more she was around the two of them, the more she admired their
strength and conviction. They had taken on Nick's vampirism, the
community, LaCroix, the Tribunal, the Enforcers and a hundred other
obstacles to be together and had succeeded. She and Daniel were just
touching the surface of the problems but they had an edge...they had Nick and
Nat there for help. The problem was who was there for them when they needed
help. Tracy was going to make certain that this time it would not just be Nick
and Natalie. She and Daniel would be there for them no matter what
Tracy, Nat and Jonathan entered the loft solemnly as Jonathan flipped on
the light switch and dashed for the grand piano. His dad had been
teaching him to play and he was extremely gifted. Nat smiled as he
lifted the heavy piano keys cover and started playing. It was 'Claire de la
Lune'. It always made his mother smile and he was not disappointed. He
finished and Nat and Tracy both clapped loudly and whistled which caused
Jonathan to jump down and bow in acceptance of the praise.
"Great job, young man, but it's past your bed time." Natalie switched to
'mother mode' which made Jonathan happy.
He ran happily to her and kissed her on the cheek. "Nite, Mommy!" He
then went to Trace and made her lean over for a kiss. "Nite, Auntie
"You need help young man or can you get in your pjs yourself tonight?"
Natalie raised one eyebrow in a question.
Jonathan placed a hand on his hips and quickly turned with a wicked
glare practiced for hours in front of the mirror. "I not a baby, Mommy!"
Nat smiled and tried to keep from chuckling. "Okay, upstairs with you
and don't forget your teeth. I'll be up in a few minutes to tuck you in, and don't
cheat on those teeth. I'll know if you didn't brush them good enough." She
smiled as he ran up the stairs.
"I can't get over how old he talks and acts, Nat. It's like he's 5 or 6
years old. He's so articulate and mature." Tracy stared at the
stairwell as the blonde head disappeared into the new upstairs bathroom
they had just finished.
Natalie dropped some of the false bravado she was displaying for her son
and let the fear creep into her eyes. "It scares me sometimes. He's
growing so fast and his blood chemistry keeps changing right along with
it. Sometime when I tuck him in, I think he's taking care of me instead
of the other way around. Yet when he touches me there is such peace,
such warmth that radiates from him that I know everything will be
all right in time. Does that make any sense, Trace?" Nat looked hopefully at
"Yeah, Nat. It does. Jonathan is loved and he knows it. That makes him
special in this day and age."
"I'm going to fix some tea and a sandwich. You want one?" Nat headed
for the kitchen not waiting for an answer.
"I'll help and maybe we can sort through this mess and come up with some
ideas. You brought your laptop with you, didn't you?"
"On the table, Trace. The modem hookup is called 'bodycount
connection'." Nat smiled when she saw Trace's expression as she shook her
head in disbelief.
Nick spent several hours going over the interviews with the neighbors of
the victims as well as the pictures. There was something nagging at the
back of his mind. Something, he wasn't remembering or seeing. His
mortal blood was starting to affect his memory. Things that happened
over 500 years ago were starting to get fuzzy, but there was something
here. He just couldn't put his finger on it. Natalie was do back in
the morgue in a couple of hours to go over the forensic reports and they
would put their heads together. She just had to make sure Jonathan was
safe and in bed. Tracy was with them and Natalie wouldn't leave with
Miller until Daniel showed up. Surely with Trace and Daniel inside,
Uniform officers outside and patrol cars circling his block on an
intermittent schedule Jonathan would be safe. Besides, they needed them
together. That much Nick knew. For some reason, this person or persons
needed both father and son in one place at the same time to carry out
the ritual, whatever it was.
Daniel rang the buzzer at the loft and Tracy let he and Miller
upstairs. Miller's eyes took in everything in the apartment from the
electronic shutters to Nick's grand piano. The paintings were a little
out of his realm of assessment, but he recognized expensive stuff when
he saw it. Knight and Lambert had done well for themselves. Who would
have guessed that there was this kind of stuff in an old warehouse.
Natalie grabbed his arm as he stared and pulled him back to the lift.
"Come on, Alex, I need to get at those reports tonight. You can get the guided
tour later." Her blue eyes smiled as well as her face.
Miller had a soft spot for the Doc and always had. If she and Knight
hadn't been an item, he would have chased her mercilessly, but the Doc
only had eyes for Nick. To be perfectly honest, Alex Miller sort of
admired the guy even though he scared the Hell out of him some of the
"See ya, Trace...Daniel. You watch Jonathan closely." Nat waved to them not
expecting an answer as the lift door closed.
"Can I fix you something?" Trace headed for the kitchen for a refill on
Daniel grabbed her arm as she passed. His eyes were filled with worry
and a pain Tracy couldn't explain.
She touched his face gently and let her eyes lock with his. "What is it
Daniel? What's wrong?"
Daniel gently wrapped his hand around hers before he spoke. "There's
been another one. Johnson and his son over at South were found less
than 30 minutes ago. Nick's on his way. They won't send Nat because
Nick requested it." His eyes showed the turmoil within. "This one's
different. They killed Johnson's wife as well. We don't know if it's
part of the ritual or she just got in the way. Johnson was drained
this time before he was staked. They think it's his blood circling the
child. Nick called it a 'power circle'. He said witches used it in the
late 16th century to keep the power within contained or to keep
something out." Daniel pulled Trace into his arms suddenly and wrapped
his arms around her. "They're witches, Trace! Nick's sure of it and they are
looking for Nick and Jonathan.
South and Castle Rock are freaking out. First they bad mouthed the idea and
then lots of them started calling in sick. We have every blonde haired officer
with a child under protective custody and off duty except Nick. He said he
couldn't go into hiding or more would die. He's planning something and we
have to help him. He's blaming himself for this whole mess."
Tracy pulled Daniel to the couch and sat him down. "It's different this
time Daniel....we're here. Nick and Nat aren't alone in this. What
ever Nick has in mind, then we're here to back him up. That's what
partners do." Trace glanced up the stairwell to Jonathan's room. "Nick
trusts us to protect Jonathan and that's just what we are going to do.
I'm going up to the bedroom and sleep in Jonathan's room. You take the
couch. If you hear anything, hit your intercom button. I'll get
Jonathan out before anything happens. Agreed?"
She held Daniel's hands in hers, and probably her heart if she would finally
admit it and let go of Vachon.
Daniel reached over and kissed her softly and let his fingertips trace
gently down the side of her face. "Agreed! Only no chances okay.
You're not bulletproof and neither am I....and I want to live long enough to find
out what it really feels like to be with someone who cares for me just as I am."
He smiled and released her as she stood.
"Same goes for you. No chances. We don't do spells, but you can fly....so use
"Yes, Master!" Daniel saluted her with a smile as she headed for the
Natalie sat in front of the microscope looking at the slide for at least
the tenth time as Nick paced the floor in front of her. "If you don't
stop pacing, Nick, I may never get this figured out."
He stopped in front of the scope and sat down running his fingers
through his hair in an effort to control her nerves as he waited.
"I still don't know how they could do this. All the electrolytes are
missing from the child's blood. The blood from the circle is Johnson's,
that much is a fact but what fluids that are left from the child are
missing all the electrolytes. It's like he has been electrocuted but
with no other signs or symptoms of it. There's no charring, no
muscular deterioration, no exceedingly high levels of adrenaline, or
endorphins as you see in electrocution victims. What I'm seeing here,
Nick, is impossible. It's like someone has removed all the chemicals in
the body that conducts electrical current. Like the child was drained
of his own power. Is that possible?" Nat stared at her husband with
more questions than answers. She watched his face as recognition of
something important registered in his eyes. "You know what this is?"
Nick pushed off the chair so hard that it flew across the room. Anger
radiated from him in the instant it takes to breathe and his eye flared
gold as they returned his wife gaze. "LaCroix! He has known all along!"
Nick virtually seethed in anger as he headed for the door.
Natalie using her vampire speed stepped in front of him before he left.
"Not without me, Nick!" She placed both her hands on his chest in an
effort to calm him down and get the answers she needed.
His golden eyes met hers and then he collapsed to his knees as he
screamed....."No!!!!!!......and grabbed his head in agony.
Theressa paced the floor of the Raven as she waited for Lucien's
return. He was agitated and she could feel it. Although she had not
let him take any more of her blood since that time three years ago, their
link still existed. Whether by his choice or by hers, she didn't know.
It should have worn off by now, but for some reason when he was angry or
hurt, the link sizzled with fire in her veins.
She had been trying to understand him for the last few years and
at times she was sure there was hope for a real relationship. She was
certain, however, that she did not want to die, nor did she want to
become a vampire. She wanted what Nick and Natalie had. A union of
both body and spirit where both traits were present and love was the
controlling factor. She recognized true love when she saw it, and maybe
she was just being foolish to think that it was possible for LaCroix to
learn to love again, but she had to try for her own sanity. There was
something about him that he hid from the world, a vulnerability, a
sadness based on true loneliness that drew her to him. She had always
been a sucker for a challenge and Lucien LaCroix was a definite
She'd watched the changes in the community and LaCroix over the past few
years and was amazed at his willingness to accept the inevitable. His
relationship with Nick had improved as they both struggled to accept
each other as friends instead of master and slave. She realized Nick
would always be his son in his eyes, but finally Lucien had decided to
let go and move on to other things. He busied himself with the
community, his business, his conquest of her and his grandson. Yes,
maybe there was hope after all for everyone in the community if LaCroix
could change. Theressa smiled as she remembered his struggle to push
the vampire back into submission when they were together. He knew how
she felt about him as well as her feelings on becoming one of his kind,
and somehow that struggle made him more patient and appreciative of
*************2 weeks prior*******
He had set the table with fine china and Peking Duck along with his
finest bottle of champagne. They had attended the opening of "Phantom
of the Opera" and Theressa had agreed to dine with him at home after.
She had been very careful since her indulgence into the dark side out of
curiosity and need. She had not set foot into LaCroix private quarters
in the Raven since. It had been three long years and LaCroix was
determined to convince her of her error. After all, he was a 2000 year
old gentlemen and seduction in any form was an art he had mastered
centuries ago. She was just like any other woman he had met over the
centuries, just simply more charming and breathtakingly beautiful. The
fact that she was attracted to him and was willing to accept his so
called peculiar eating habits only made her more alluring. He would
have her by his side as his daughter, his lover, his companion, which ever she
chose. Yet, as the smile crossed his lips at the thought, something in the back
mind and his cold heart disagreed. He simply pushed the feeling away and
continued pouring the champagne.
Theressa walked into the room quietly as the soft carpet masked the
sound of her heels on the floor. After the play, she stopped at the museum to
answer an emergency page from the curator. She told
Lucien she would simply meet him at the Raven in less than an hour.
True to her word, she stood quietly watching him expertly pour the
champagne . She admired his figure in the black on black suit that fit
him so well.
The page was really a blessing when it came. To be perfectly honest, she
was nervous. She wanted to be with him in every way. She found him
attractive, sensual, humorous and a fountain of archeological history that
mesmerized her for hours....but there was more. She wanted to know the real
Lucien LaCroix, the one that he hid from everyone, the one she saw only
glimpses of when his guard was down. She stared at him and knew
he could not sense her presence, like other mortals. That fact irritated him and
he had no explanation for it.
She slowly entered the room and laid her hands gently on his arm as he
finished pouring the champagne. Cool as ever, he turned to greet her
with a smile and not a hint of the annoyance that fluttered through his mind
because she could sneak up on him. He'd spent hours researching the archives
and could find no explanation for this curious power of hers. She was immune
to him if she chose and it bothered him more than he cared to admit.
"Well, young one, you look more radiant than ever. I trust your little
foray into the dusty archives of the museum was only a trivial matter."
He let his question hang in the air to see if she would endeavor to give
him details of her so called emergency but none came.
"You have such a way with words Lucien. Why don't you just ask me what
it was about. I would be more than willing to tell you if that's what
you're really interested in." She stepped closer to him undaunted by
his height and tense shoulders. He was as nervous as she was, and it
pleased her to no end. There was a mortal man lurking somewhere below
this ancient vampire and she would ferret him out if it took a
Slowly she ran her hand up the lapel of his jacket and stepped closer
into his space. She let her other hand trace a light pattern down his
smooth cheek as she felt him tense even more under her touch. She
opened her lips in an small invitation and smiled as his lips
automatically sought hers.
As his lips grazed her gently at first, she released the breath she had
unknowingly held and he chuckled. "You will turn blue young one, if you
forget to breathe." His lips captured hers forcefully now and he pulled
her full into his embrace as her hand encircled his neck and she opened
her mouth to his tongue. With her body hard against his, he let his
hands roam freely over her back as his tongue fenced with hers. The
moan that escaped his lips as her hands gripped his buttock and pulled
him harder against her, thrilled her as she continued her exploration of
Thrilled with this unexpected behavior from his little quest, LaCroix
gave into the warmth and sensations she brought forth from him. Running
his hands through her hair as he caressed her mouth with his lips and
tongue, he felt her heart pound within her chest. Yes, he affected her
in the same way she affected him and it both excited and thrilled him.
He feathered kisses down her neck and licked the pulsing vein in her
neck as her heart and blood beckoned to him. His hand had found their
way to her breasts as he caressed and rubbed them until she gasped with
pleasure in his ear. He picked her up and headed for the bedroom. All
pretense aside he laid her down on his big four poster bed and lay on top of her
smothering her in kisses as his lips continued their magic down to her breasts.
She arched to meet him as her blood became a siren call and he returned to her
In ragged breaths his fangs dropped and he pulled himself regretfully
away from her neck to meet her lustfilled eyes. "Come with me, young
one. Be one with me and stop this charade that we play." He let his
hand splay across her flat abdomen and rub gently as she reveled in his
attention. She wanted him as much as he did her, but she had to consent
or he would lose her as he lost Nicholas. He captured her kiss-swollen
lips again and nicked her lip, sucking the droplets away quickly. The
fire and lust in her blood instantly pushed the beast to the forefront.
Their link was intensified in that moment by even that small amount of
blood and he felt her fear. It burned through him like a hot poker
creating a pain he was at loss to explain. Fear was not what he wanted
from her. He wanted, no needed more, and he pushed himself off her
As he stood, Theressa watched the pain touch his eyes and quickly
disappear behind his well-schooled face. She reached for his face and
he stopped her hand in mid air, turned it gently, and kissed the palm.
He was once again the master and not the seduced. He closed himself off
to her in the instant it takes to breathe, yet, she did not want to let
go. There was more she had to learn, more she had to accept if she ever
hoped to handle the fear that radiated through her when he tasted her
blood. The fire, the energy, the brief images terrified her and he knew
it. He could have forced it, but he hadn't.
"Why hide, Lucien?"
He looked at her quizzically as he returned to the table and held the
chair out for her.
"You chose to hide instead of feel. It's not becoming in of one of your
age." Theressa gracefully sat down at the table. She quickly grabbed
his hand as he moved to the other side of the table stopping him as
effectively as a brick wall.
Their eyes locked again as she spoke the words that would haunt him for
many nights to come. "There will come a time, Lucien, when feeling is
all that you will ever want from me."
LaCroix stepped into the Raven nearly an hour later as she continued to
pace and check the clock. His agitation was at a fevered pitch and her
blood burned with unanswered questions. He should have known she would
be there. They were becoming closer than he had ever planned, all beyond his
"What is wrong, Lucien?" She grasped his arms and made him face her.
He broke eye contact with her and quickly went behind the bar in search
of nourishment. "It's nothing, Theressa. I just had an old debt that
needed to be settled."
"How old, Lucien?" As she spoke the words, he dropped the glass in his
hand and staggered.
"Nicholas!" He looked at the shattered glass and the spilt blood in
dismay and forced himself to remain calm. Yet the urgency was laced
throughout his normal sensual voice.
"I must go young one. Nicholas is in need of my assistance." He
stepped around the bar and she flew into his arms.
"Not without me...not this time." She jumped into his arms and did not
wait for his approval. Acceptance or denial required time which he did
not have so they disappeared together into the night.
"Nick!" Natalie sat in front of him and grabbed his hands.
Nick blues eyes locked with hers as he jerked them both to their feet.
"They're at the loft. Jonathan's terrified."
"Go, Nick! Get out of here. You can fly faster without me." Fear
radiated through every pore of her being.
Nick clasped her hands in his. "Wait for Miller and bring a squad car.
Don't come alone, Nat....promise me." He waited for her to agree.
She shook her head in acceptance.
"I love you, Nat!" He whispered and was gone.
Daniel had stretched out on the couch with the quilt Tracy gave him
earlier. He listened and waited. A sweet cloying mist began to swirl
around the legs of the coffee table and in the center of the room. As
the mist became thicker, the smell was almost sickening. As it hit the
top of the arm of the couch, Daniel pushed the intercom button on his
walkie talkie. He jumped over the couch and free of the mist as it
engulfed the couch. He drew his gun and prepared for the worst.
Tracy saw the light blink and grabbed Jonathan from his bed within
seconds. Quickly, she placed her hand over his mouth and motioned
toward the secret panel in the hallway when she was certain he was fully
awake. Jonathan placed his tiny hand in hers as she pulled her gun with
the other. She could hear nothing but the sweet smell radiated up the
stairwell. Trace pushed the hidden button and the panel slide silently
aside. Tracy jumped into the escape chute and pulled Jonathan on her
lap covering him with her body. She hit the inside close button and
debated on whether to hit the lock as well. Deciding Daniel may need
it, she opted to simply let it close. She leaned back and she and
Jonathan slid silently down the tube toward the back alley. As she
neared the street level, she kicked the door open with her feet and they
both landed in the street. Tracy quickly picked up Jonathan and ran for
cover behind the dumpster in the alley.
Within seconds Nick landed beside them. Jonathan lunged at his father
when he saw him land. Nick scooped Jonathan into his arms with a sigh
of relief. Trace stepped out keeping a close eye on the alley and the
escape chute. Daniel had to make it. She'd heard nothing from the very
start, yet the cloying scent that radiated through the loft still had a
mesmerizing affect on her.
"Trace, you okay?" Nick held Jonathan and searched for Daniel. "Where's
Daniel?" He placed Jonathan on the ground and held his hand fearing the
"He's still inside, Nick. We split up to protect Jonathan. We were
upstairs when Daniel set off the silent intercom key. We came
immediately down the escape chute.
Nick squatted down in front of his son. "Jonathan, you go with Aunt
Trace. I'm going to get Uncle Daniel out. Be really quiet and you two
hide for me." Nick looked to Trace to find her staring at the loft
window in fear.
Nick picked Jonathan and then placed him in her arms. "Trace, I'm going
to get Daniel. You hide Jonathan and come out for no one except me or
"Take them to the Raven." Came the quiet words spoken by LaCroix as he
landed holding Theressa in his arms. He placed her feet on the ground
and met his son's angry glare eye to eye.
The gold in Nick's eyes flared brighter as he fought to control his
anger. "Are you here to help me or THEM?"
A scream filled with terror and agony ripped through the upper floors
of the loft.
"Daniel!!!" Tracy screamed as Nick took to the air.
"Take Jonathan to the Raven, young one. I'll bring Nicholas and Daniel there."
LaCroix flew after his son.
Natalie pulled around the corner to see Theressa and Trace running
toward the end of the alley. She pulled up beside them and virtually
flew out of the car. Miller, unnerved by Natalie's driving, bolted out
of the car behind her.
"Jonathan!" Natalie screamed causing the other two women to stop their
"Mommy!" Jonathan fought to break the strangle hold Aunt Theressa had
on him while they ran. Theressa finally put him on the ground and he
flew to his mother as fast as his little feet would carry him.
Natalie scooped up her son and released the tears she'd fought to
control. She showered him with kisses as she held him close and then
began searching the area for Nick. Tracy and Theressa quickly grabbed
Nat and turned her back to the car.
"We have to get Jonathan out of here." Trace pushed Nat and Jonathan
into the car as Miller followed behind them with his weapon drawn.
"Where's Nick, Trace?" Natalie held Jonathan close as she sat in the
back seat. Theressa slid over behind the wheel. Trace started to slam
the door when Natalie grabbed her arm..
"Nick went after Daniel. I'm going back in there, Nat!" Trace pulled
her arm free.
"You can't, Trace. Not this time. They're not human, they're not
anything we can understand. You won't stand a chance with
something not of this world, and it will only make it harder on Nick and
Daniel. They'll use you. As much as I hate to admit it, we could get them
killed. Get in the car. We'll help them the only way we can." Nat pleaded
with Trace not only with her words, but with her eyes as well. "Please, Trace."
Trace stared at the woman before her and knew she had as much at stake
as herself. She quickly glanced at Miller sitting in the seat beside
Nat and wondered just what was going through his mind. There was no
time for arguments, and Trace knew deep down Nat was right, so she ran
around to the passenger's side and climbed in.
"Let's go, Theressa. The Raven may be the only place in town we'll be
safe. " Theressa hit the gas and the car shot south toward the Raven.
Nick entered the loft through the skylight and landed softly in the
middle of his own living room. The thick, sweet mist enveloped him, yet
had no affect on his senses. He searched for Daniel's familiar
heartbeat. LaCroix landed beside his son only to be greeted with a
skeptical stare. He remembered a similar evening in late fall in the
early 16th century. Odd, he could not remember the details, but then
again if his father had determined it beneficial for himself, he would
have erased Nick's memory of it. Nick only knew that LaCroix had caused
a great many deaths that night by his willingness to go along with these
creatures. Knowing that the study of witchcraft could be both good or evil,
he had changed his mind about them being witches. He could not accept these
beings as anything but creatures of the devil and this latest fiasco had
LaCroix's name written all over it.
Nick heard a faint heartbeat and a moan from the kitchen area and moved
swiftly through the mist toward it. LaCroix grabbed his arm to restrain
him but was rebuffed by his son as he pulled away. Reaching Daniel's
side, Nick lifted him out of the mist to find a stake implanted just
slightly above his heart. As Nick reached to pull it out, white gnarled
fingers gripped his arm, snapped the bone and threw him backwards across
Angered now and driven by the need to help Daniel quickly, Nick launched
himself at the figure swirling in the mist. As he reached the cloaked
figure, a cackle of laughter reverberated around the room. The sound
echoed and returned over and over again as if the room was a long
deserted hall. The voice hit him like a stone wall and pushed fire into
his mind and body causing him to collapse to the floor. Daniel moaned
softly as Nick finally managed to rise from the floor still cradling his
slowly mending arm. Nick took the pain and the anger and channeled it
into one thought.....Daniel. Once again he pushed forward to Daniel's side
and grabbed hold of the stake. The fire inside his mind increased and
flames broke out near him as he screamed in agony from the onslaught to
his senses, but would not give in to it. He pulled the stake free from
Daniel and pushed hard on the hole in his chest with his good arm to
stop the flow of blood. Without thinking, he slashed his wrist and
placed it over Daniel's mouth. Only then did he return his eyes to the
figure that swirled in the mist in front of him.
Before him stood a creature draped in a black flowing robe and hood.
The eyes that stared back were blood red, yet not that of a vampire.
She pulled back the hood with gnarled white fingers covered in silver
and gold rings. These rings were beset with numerous stones which blinked
in the light that radiated around her. Her features were haggard and ancient
with a face that was human, yet not. When her lips parted, stark white teeth
glowed almost iridescently, creating an erie glow to her whole face. She
radiated with such power and magic that the mist surrounding her began to
vibrate into a low hum as the scent increased in its intensity. She stared back at
him as two similarly clad features rose out of the mist to stand by her side and
then she laughed again.
"He has great power, Lucien." She spoke to LaCroix who materialized by
his son's side as he sat feeding his life's force to Daniel on the
floor. "The gift you pledged will repay your debt. It is as the
ancient scrolls have decreed. The one of the light and the dark shall
possess the ultimate power.....and it shall be mine as WE agreed." Her
eyes locked with LaCroix's as she let her laughter and power wash over
the three of them. "Bring them both to me by tomorrow night and the
killings will stop. Dishonor our agreement and the next death will be
yours... and your son's." She raised her arms toward the skylight in
homage to the moon shining through it and then she and her entourage
melted back into the mist. As the last remnants of cloth disappeared, the mist
snaked out the skylight into the night leaving only the sweet scent of
Daniel had stopped sucking blood from Nick's open wrist and lay quietly
in his lap. LaCroix reached over and pulled his limp form into his
arms. "Can you stand, Nicholas?" LaCroix watched Nick struggle to his
feet still favoring one arm.
Once he had managed to stand, he had to grip a kitchen chair to steady
himself. He looked at his father with contempt. "What have you done,
"Now is not the time. Your friend here needs nourishment of more than
your blood, and you wife and son need your assistance." LaCroix went
straight up through the skylight and headed for the Raven. Struggling
to remain steady, Nick followed.
Tracy paced the floor watching the door constantly. Not as if she
really expected them to use the door, but at least it was something to
do as she waited. She should have been with them. She stopped and
checked her gun again for the tenth time in the last 30 minutes. Miller
stood guard outside in the dark overhang across the street. Natalie and
Theressa were readying a room for Daniel in case he was injured.
Jonathan stayed close by his mother's side. They were almost inseparable.
If Trace hadn't known better, she would have thought it was more for his
mother's benefit than his own.
Without noticing, Jonathan had returned to the main bar area and watched
Tracy pace feverishly for the past few minutes. As she stopped to check her gun
again, Jonathan walked over and clasped his arms around her leg. She stopped
suddenly as warmth spread throughout her at his touch. It was so peaceful.
The stress and worry about Daniel hadn't diminished, yet they were easier to
accept now. It was Jonathan's touch that did it. What was it about his
touch that created peace and warmth?
She shoved her gun back in its holster and reached down to pick him up.
She smiled as he wrapped his arms around her neck and giggled softly in
"Thanks, Jonathan. You ever going to tell me how you do that?" She
pulled him gently away from her shoulder and watched the merriment danced
across his childlike features.
He simply shrugged his shoulders, hugged her fiercely, and then he
began to squirm for her to put him down. When his feet hit the floor,
he headed back toward the bedroom and his mother.
LaCroix appeared suddenly without a sound, gracefully carrying Daniel's still
unconscious form in his arms. Trace tried to read his face but LaCroix's stoic
mask was in place.
"In there......Nat and Theresa have made a place to take care of him."
Trace motioned toward the living quarters in the back and down the
LaCroix swiftly walked down the hall, deposited Daniel on the bed, and finally
locked eyes with Natalie. She looked past him only to see Tracy. Fear as
black as night rose in her throat. "Where's Nick?"
No sooner than the words had left her lips, her husband stepped
into the room. There was blood on his clothing but he seemed perfectly
okay. His eyes met hers and she rose to greet him. With open arms he
enveloped her as Tracy rushed to Daniel's side.
Nick kissed the top of his wife's head as he held her close, soaking up
the love and warmth that she offered. Jonathan appeared around the
corner of the bed and latched onto his father's leg. Nick broke his
embrace long enough to pick Jonathan up into one arm. With his broken
arm now healed, he held his wife with one and his son in the other.
LaCroix disappeared, returning with several bottles of his
special reserve. He thrust one into Tracy's hand and the other he
offered to Nick. Jonathan took the bottle from his grandfather's hand
as Nick glared angrily at him.
Nat watched the reactions between the two men and felt her husband's
anger, however, Daniel needed her help. She removed herself from her
husband and took Jonathan. The two older vampires sparked with the
energy as the rage passed between them.
Tracy broke the silence and the electricity in the room. "What
Nick brought his attention back to her as he recognized the raw need in
her eyes. "He's okay, Trace. He took a stake above the heart. Just feed him
blood slowly down his throat and keep him quiet. He'll be okay in a few
Nick brought his attention back to LaCroix. "Let's take this in the
other room." Nick noticed Theressa standing next to Daniel's bed as
Tracy and Natalie fussed over him. "Theressa, you take Jonathan and put
him to bed for me. Okay? LaCroix and I need to have a little chat."
The last words were almost a growl as the anger returned to his voice
when LaCroix's name crossed his lips.
Nick walked back into the main bar, drinking directly from the bottle as
he walked. Not looking back to see if his father was following, he
stopped when he reached the bar. Having drained the bottle, he reached
over the bar for a second. He downed the second in one gulp and turned
golden angry eyes to his father.
LaCroix drained the bottle still left in his hands and met his son's
angry gaze straight on. "You are overreacting again, Nicholas." His
blue eyes sparked slightly but did not turn. Control was much easier
when you weren't angry.
Nick flew at his father and threw him across the room where he landed
with a hard thump against the wall. LaCroix shook his head to clear it as
his son grabbed him and pulled him to his feet.
"Tell me, LaCroix, just what was so important that you would make a deal
with that creature, 'Yenshi'? Tell me just exactly how your debt involves
the life of my son?" Nick growled as he slammed LaCroix hard up against
the wall with all his strength. "Tell me what possible excuse you have
for doing anything with that evil creature of the devil. Tell me!" He
screamed at his father and threw him completely across the room crashing
into a table and splintering it into a hundred pieces.
One piece of the table leg had splintered and protruded through
LaCroix's back and out his stomach in the front. Although not a fatal
wound, it was at least painful. Nick eyed the wooden stake covered in blood.
LaCroix struggled with removing the stake as his angry son virtually
stalked across the room. He felt the anger washing over his son and
knew the final outcome if Nick ever lost complete control.
Theressa and Natalie had appeared at the doorway to the bar when the
first crash sounded. Theressa started to Lucien as she saw him struggle
with the stake. She had watched the fight from a distance as she
recognized the feel of despair and resignation humming through him via
their link. Lucien was letting his son vent his anger without fighting
back. Why? Natalie grabbed her sister's arm and forced her to remain
still while Nick and LaCroix finished what they had started.
Nick jerked LaCroix to his feet using the stake as lever causing LaCroix
to scream in agony as the stake tore through his flesh. Now face to
face with his father in full vampire mode, Nick growled his question
again. "Tell me LaCroix! TELL ME!! WHAT IS WORTH THE LIFE OF
LaCroix whispered through clenched teeth, with pain and regret. "The life of
The anger instantly turned into disbelief as Nick's eyes turned from
gold to blue as he stared at his father. He pulled the stake out of
LaCroix's stomach and caught him as he started to collapse on the floor.
LaCroix clutched his abdomen to staunch the bleeding and let his
metabolism take over the healing process. Within seconds, Theressa was
by his side shoving a bottle of his reserve into his hand, which he
gladly accepted and drained in a matter of seconds. Theressa helped him
to a chair and steadied him while his body healed.
Nick turned away from his father in disbelief and forced the anger he
felt for LaCroix's betrayal aside. Natalie simply walked over and
wrapped her arms around her husband's waist and held him. Her warmth
and love calmed him to a more rational state and then he returned his
eyes to his father's for answers.
LaCroix's body was almost healed and he stood to face his son's accusing
glare face to face.
"Explain it to me, LaCroix. Tell me why I can't remember anything but
you and Yenshi together destroying a whole village. Tell me how that
saved my life and will cost me my son's life." Nick's voice was much
calmer than he felt as he struggled to keep the pain of LaCroix betrayal out of
"The villagers were hunting innocents Nicholas, and you got in the way.
You tried to save a few of them and they staked you for it. The stakes
where dipped in holy water. When I found you, you where almost dead. I
removed the stake and fed you my blood as well as the blood of one of
the mortals that lay dying beside you....but you did not respond
quickly. When you finally did, you were in agony. The holy water was
destroying you from within. Yenshi and her followers were the reasons
for all the hunting by the villagers. She and her group were raiding the village
for children in search of the 'Child of Light'. A group of the villagers caught
them and started burning members of her group out of fear for their children.
Yenshi's powers were weaker then, and she had not found what she sought."
"Child of Light?" Natalie questioned as she held Nick. His body tensed
noticeably as LaCroix spoke. He was remembering or was it more?
Nick stared at his father and answered Nat's question. "The 'Child of
Light' is a myth handed down in the ancient scrolls that the Tribunal held as
their sacred bible. In the scroll, it is said a child born of two worlds would
enter in a time of great need and possess great power. This power could be
channeled into whoever controlled the child. With the use of magic, the power
that passed between them would grant the receiver eternal life and the ability to
control all around them forever. The world would be his slave for all eternity.
In essence....ultimate power over all mankind."
Nat stared and Nick and then LaCroix. "She thinks Jonathan is that
child. That's why she's been killing all the fathers and sons."
LaCroix stared at Nicholas. "Yes."
"There's more...." Nick waited, but not patiently, as Nat felt his body
tense even more as LaCroix continued.
"She found me caring for you as you lay dying in my arms. She offered
me your life for the life of your unborn son and my aid in destroying
those who attacked her. I agreed. There was nothing more that I could
do for you. She used her magic and absorbed the holy water from your
body. You recovered and I helped her destroy the village as agreed."
LaCroix completely healed walked closer to his once again angry son.
"The rest of the debt was NEVER meant to be repaid. Vampires DON'T have
children, Nicholas." He turned and walked back behind the bar and
pulled out another bottle of his special reserve. Slowly he poured 2
glasses and sat them on the bar. "I erased your memory of that night
because of the bargain. It was part of the deal. That's why you don't
remember much of it."
Anger simmered through Nick as he listened to LaCroix's explanation, yet
the father in him understood the choice he made long ago. Nick slowly
walked to the bar and grasped the second glass sitting there. He
understood but he would not accept sacrificing his son as the only
alternative to LaCroix's debt. He downed the blood in one gulp and
stared at his father. "You need time to think about the alternatives,
and I need to check on Daniel." Nick turned abruptly and walked toward
Nat stared at her husband's back and then followed. When she reached
the door she hesitated and turned back to LaCroix still standing at the
bar. "I've never really understood you until now, LaCroix....Be
careful.....you may be more human than you think." Nat followed her
husband into Daniel's room.
Nick walked into Daniel's room, silently brooding over what he learned.
Tracy sat beside his bed with the tears flowing freely down her cheeks.
She had sliced her wrist and stared first at the blood pooling slowly and then
back to Daniel. Indecision and love was written on her face.
She stroked Daniel's hair as he lay quietly on the bed barely breathing.
"Trace?" Nick spoke softly and stepped further into the room.
Her teary bloodshot eyes met Nick's. There was so much more there than
just pain. Nick rushed to her side, clamped her wrist in his grasp to
stop the blood flow and knelt down in front of her.
"I love him, Nick. I never got to tell him that and I don't want to be
too late this time. I never had a chance to tell Vachon, and he's dead.
I was afraid of letting myself feel anything for Daniel, but it happened
anyway. I want him to know how I feel....my fears, and my love for him.
If I give him this, there will be no more secrets. Right?" She stared
at the blood dripping down her arm around Nick's fingers and then back
to his eyes. "The time for secrets is over. He has to know that I
killed Vachon because I loved him, and if he can live with that then we
have a chance. I tried telling him and I couldn't. Every time we start
to get close, I see Vachon and the stake sticking out of his chest. How
could I have killed someone that I loved." Tears flowed steadily down
her face as the guilt washed over her.
Nick could understand guilt. It had been with him most of his life. He
pulled her to her feet and into his arms. She sobbed freely into his
shoulder as he tried to comfort her. Guilt was so destructive. He knew
that better than anyone, and he also knew that love was the only cure
for it. Nat had taught him that. If you can finally forgive yourself,
then others will too. Loving someone beyond all else was the cure. It
was the only cure that would last and the only hope there was for
himself and those like him, both mortal and immortal. Vachon knew that
when he died. He knew that Tracy loved him and that she was the only
one he would trust with his immortal soul and so he finished it. He
finished his immortal life and immortal pain with the one he loved. She
had saved him, only Tracy didn't see it that way.
"Trace?" Nick pulled her away from him slightly and sat her back in the
chair as he knelt down in front of her. "Vachon knew you loved
him. That's why in the end you were the one he came to end his pain.
You were the one that was strong enough and that loved him enough to let
him go. Don't feel guilty about it or doubt your ability to love."
Nick pulled her bleeding wrist up before them both for her to see.
"Know this, Trace. Once you do this, Daniel will know all your secrets, your
passions, your pain, your hopes and your love....but it will make it harder for
him to be around you and not take it. Once you are in his blood and his mind,
he knows all that you are. If he loves you, he won't ever let you go. Be sure
before you do this that this is what you both want. There will be no turning
back unless he dies or you do. Think this through, because you will no longer
be two but one." Nick gently ran his palm down her tear streaked face.
"Like you and Nat?" She whispered softly.
Natalie had listened to the exchange between them silently at the door.
She walked over and squatted down beside her husband with the love that
she felt for him glowing in her eyes. "Like Nick and I, Trace. We are
one in body and soul bound not only by love, but our blood. If this is
what you truly want then give yourself to him, but if there is any doubt
in your mind....wait. It wouldn.t be fair to Daniel....or you." Nat
touched her friend.s arm in support. "We are with you, no matter what
you decide." Nat rose and Nick followed her.
Trace followed their progress to the door and said a silent prayer for
them being together. They were exactly where and what they wanted to
be....together in everything. They were one. Could she and Daniel ever
be like that? Did she want them to be like that? Did he? If she did
this without his consent, would he forgive her if she was wrong? So many
questions went unanswered as she stared at the blood still dripping from the
wound on her wrist. She used her other hand to apply pressure to it and her
decision was made when she turned to her friends now waiting at the door.
"Nick...Natalie....You always make me look at the whole picture instead
of just one part. Thanks!" She turned her attention back to Daniel as Nick
and Natalie pulled the door closed.
Nick pulled Natalie into his arms and buried his face in her hair. If
he lived forever, he would never tire of the feel and smell of her in
his arms. He whispered in her ear. "Tell me you have no regrets."
She pulled away slightly and gently ran her fingers down his beautiful
face resting them gently on his lips. She smiled and then replaced
them with her lips which he gladly accepted. When she came up for air
happiness shown in her eyes. "As long as we are together, Nick, I shall
never have any regrets."
Nat turned her eyes back to the closed door. "Do you think she
Nick pulled her back into his embrace and whispered into her hair. "I
don't know, but we will be here for them either way."
Nick placed his arm around his wife's waist and guided her down the
hall. Theressa and LaCroix were still in the main bar talking.
Peeking into the room where Theressa and Natalie had placed Jonathan,
they were both satisfied that their son was safe at least for now. Sunrise was
near and exhaustion was written on both their faces when they closed
Jonathan's door. As the door clicked shut, Natalie changed
her mind and reached over to push it open slightly.
"Just in case he needs us." She looked to Nick for understanding. "My
ears aren't quite up to yours yet."
He smiled and dropped a light kiss to her lips. "It makes me feel
better too." He whispered as he released her reluctantly. Finally
taking a look at his clothes he winced in disgust. "I think I need a
shower and a change before we call it a night."
"I'll go see if I can find some clothes that will fit while you shower." She
touched his arm reassuringly and then went in search of clean clothing for the
both of them.
Nick finished his shower and slipped on his old jeans, commando style, as he
waited for Natalie's return. Nick stood staring out the window as
the last vestige of night gave way to dawn. A tight knot of fear felt
permanently lodged in his stomach. What were their alternatives?
Yenshi was way to powerful now and he would not give up his son
willingly, but something was bothering him. According to legend, only
the child contained the power, so why were they killing the fathers
throughout this nightmare. The autopsy reports stated the fathers
had been killed first. What was the connection? There was an answer
here, he just wasn't seeing it. He was tired, too tired to think.
Nat watched him from the door as she entered. The pain and worry were
etched across his face like a road map. Her heart ached just to watch
him. She could feel his anguish and stress, as well as the fear slowly cascading
in waves across their link.
Over the past several years, she finally learned how to control the emotions that
came through their link, with the exception of those from physical pain. At
times they still took her breath away, yet the knowledge that he could feel hers
in return somehow comforted her. She used it, as did he, to help them get
through the tough times. They were no longer two, but one. With each passing
day and each exchange of blood, they were becoming forever linked through
their love and their blood.
She thought at times that she should have felt smothered by such intense
passion, but oddly enough it was more a comfort than anything else. For
the first time in her life, she was not alone. There was someone who
loved her, and was there for her no matter what....and every fiber of her being
She dropped the clean clothes on the bed, placed her arms around her
husband's waist and laid her cheek softly on his back as he stared out
He placed his hands over hers as she stood holding him. Her love for
him poured through their link and he let himself go to it. It caressed
him, washed over him like a warm shower and he needed it. He needed
her. Slowly he turned, placing her arms around his neck and pulling her
next to him.
"Make love to me, Natalie. I need to be one with you. I need your
warmth, your strength, your love." He kissed her softly and then sucked
gently on her lower lip before returning again, only to kiss her harder this
time. His hands lifted her blouse enough to let them have free access to her
skin. She offered him her open mouth and he plunged his tongue into the
warm recess and dueled with hers.
She ran her hands down his naked chest and let them knead softly the
flat of his stomach above his jeans. Slowly she undid the top button of
his jeans and then the zipper. She pushed them over his hips revealing
his naked body underneath. A groan escaped his lips as she ran her
fingers over his tight ass and pushed his jeans free from his hips to a
pile at his feet.
He undid her bra and let his hand rub her nipples until they were hard,
as his mouth continued to worship her lips and face with kisses. As he
sucked ,licked and kissed his way down her neck, her hands found his
erection. She stroked him lightly at first and then grasped him hard in
her hand. His body burned for her as his eyes turned golden and his
fangs began to ache with need.
"Nat!" He broke the kiss off as she stroked him harder and he grew even
larger in her hand.
She stepped away and the loss of her warmth created a void he
couldn't stand. He reached for her, causing her to smile as the
gold began to appear in her own eyes. She simply pointed at the jeans
pooled at his feet. "Take them off, Nick, and lie down."
Nick stepped out of the jeans and flipped them across the room with one
foot. He reached for her and she stepped back once more.
"On the bed, Nick." She motioned to the big four poster bed in the
center of the room.
Nick offered her his hand, never letting his eyes leave hers as he
backed toward the bed. When he reached it, he sat down and tried to
pull her to him, but she simply pushed him flat on his back. Slowly she
ran her fingertips lightly down his flat stomach resting them just above
his blonde pubic hair, then she kissed his stomach letting her tongue
run inside his navel in tiny circles. A low growl emanated from his
chest as he reached for her, yet she still backed away.
"Natalie!" came out of his lips in a frustrated gasp causing her to
"Tonight, Nick, let me make love to you. Let me take the pain away."
She pushed him back flat on his back and stood beside the bed. When he
slowed his breathing and agreed, she went to the foot of the bed.
Slowly she pulled her blouse over her head taking her already loose bra
with it in one languid motion. She reached for the ceiling and inhaled
deeply making her breasts rise to peaks before his lustfilled eyes. She
brought them down slowly, rubbing her fingertips across her chest and
caressing her nipples before him until they hardened. When they were
tight buds she ran her fingertips down across her own stomach and then
loosened the button and zipper to her own jeans. With lust in her eyes,
she wiggled out of her tight jeans, enticing him with each movement of her
fingers over her own body.
Slowly she crawled onto the bed dragging her tongue up his leg to his
inner thigh. She let her breasts follow her tongue and then she began
to feather light kisses where she licked, blowing a warm breath after
each kiss onto his cool skin.
Nick reached for her in complete need. His erection was so hard she
gasped as he drug her across it. She let her lips meet his. Her tongue
plunged deep within his mouth as his hands caressed and kneaded her ass
while she rubbed her mound against his hard cock. He reached to touch her
wet core and she stopped his hand once again and placed them on her
hips. She rose over him and positioned herself over his hard shaft. He
thrust upward as she pushed onto him, engulfing his now throbbing cock
inside her warm wet core.
"Natalie, sweet Natalie." He pushed her full onto him as she ground her
hips to take him full into her. His eyes met hers as she leaned forward
pulling herself off him slightly then plunging back down again. With
each stroke, she ground deeper onto his shaft until her body screamed
for release. Both their fangs dropped as they searched for the union of blood
and soul. His lips found hers again and his tongue matched his hips until her
body gave into her need and started to contract around him. "Come with me,
Nick! Feel my love for you.....all of you."
Nick thrust harder and deeper as she began to come and offered his neck
to her. When her fangs sank into his neck and their connection
complete, he released himself within her and let it flood through their
link. Desire, love, warmth, strength, all that they were together was
heightened as he pumped his seed within her loins and she wrapped
herself tightly around him. He needed all of her and gave into the
beast. Carefully he sank his fangs into her shoulder and drank in her
essence and love as she fed off him.
The beauty and serenity that they found in each other's blood each time
they made love strengthened them. They were once again whole. Once
again they would find their answers together.
Theressa sat watching LaCroix as he nursed the last bottle in his hands.
He become silent and deathly still as his mind ventured elsewhere. He was in
another place, another time. His body was here but not his mind. She watched
the emotions cross his face unguarded as he visited this other place.
There was sadness, pain, joy and lust all written within his eyes. He
breathed slowly, closed his eyes and pushed into the feeling. He wanted
to feel this, needed to feel it beyond anything else tonight, when Jonathan
appeared at his side.
Theressa had not heard him enter but she supposed she had been to
caught up in watching Lucien give into unguarded emotion. Jonathan
simply lay his hand on his grandfather knee and LaCroix came back to the
present. He looked at Jonathan in dismay and then glanced at Nick and
"Mommy is taking Daddy's pain away. She loves Daddy and he loves her."
Jonathan's innocent statement caught Theressa by surprise as she automatically
looked to Nick and Tasha's room.
LaCroix let his hand run down the side of his grandson's face. "Yes, Jonathan,
they will love each other....now and always."
Jonathan's little hand came to cover his grandfather's with a smile that
was filled with joy. "We are all one Grandfather....Mommy, Daddy, you
and me." Jonathan held onto his hand and reached for Theressa.
Theressa came willingly and knelt on the floor beside Jonathan as he
stood before his grandfather in the chair. Her eyes followed Lucien's in awe as
he willingly gave into this small child.
Gently Jonathan placed Theressa's hand into his grandfather's and then
kissed the top of them softly. "Aunt Theressa could take away your
pain too, Grandfather." He looked hopefully into LaCroix's face and saw
hope. Smiling broadly he stepped away from the two of them. "Mommy and
Daddy are sleepy now. I am too." Jonathan walked down the hall and
into his mother and father's room and shut the door quietly.
Theressa sat with her hand in Lucien's and finally let her eyes meet
his. They were all so connected. It frightened her and warmed her at
the same time.
"He could feel them making love?" She waited, not sure she wanted to
know the answer and....then she realized just exactly where Lucien had
Nick awoke to a small hand caressing his cheek. He opened his blue eyes
to find his son tucked gently under his arm. His bright blue eyes
stared at his father's as he caressed his face and the stubble on his
chin. Nick smiled and Jonathan stopped rubbing his face.
"I want scratchy, too." Jonathan said as he rubbed his soft fingers
across Nick's beard.
Nick simply captured his son's hand in his and then rubbed the small hand
across his tiny smooth face. "I would rather have Jonathan's smooth face, but
you will get this stubble all too soon. Don't rush it. Okay?" Nick leaned over
and kissed his forehead.
Jonathan wiggled out of his father's embrace and stood next to the bed.
"I'm hungry, Dad."
Nick smiled at his son and his demands. "Okay, my little slave driver,
but I have to get dressed." Nick stared at his son's sleep-wrinkled clothes and
raised one eyebrow before he spoke. "I don't sleep in my clothes like someone
Jonathan giggled at his dad as he spoke. "You look like grandfather."
Jonathan tried to raise one eyebrow and leave the other down and finally
gave up and pulled one up with his little hand.
Nick began to chuckle, trying not to wake Nat who slept peacefully
snuggled up against him. "Okay, you made your point, young man. Now
you go find those spare clothes your grandfather keeps for you here while I put
mine on and I will meet you in the kitchen. Do you remember where they are?"
Jonathan ran toward the door. "Grandfather's bottom drawer. He put
them low for me." Jonathan bounced out of the room and Nick slipped
quietly out of bed causing Nat to stir slightly in protest.
"Nick?" Natalie moaned as his moved away from her.
Nick pulled her hair back from her face and gently kissed her lips.
"I'm going to go feed Jonathan. You sleep a little while longer, love.
It's not quite dusk yet."
Natalie in half sleep reached for Nick and he captured her hand, kissing the
palm before he placed it back on his empty pillow. "I'll be there in just a little
bit....just 15 more minutes."
Nick chuckled. Waking up was always so hard for Nat, since they started
exchanging blood. She said it had nothing to do with it. That she just
was never a morning person or night as it turned out to be. She said
that's why man invented coffee.
Jonathan approached his grandfather's room expecting him to still be
asleep. After all, it was not dark yet. Jonathan knew his father, and
grandfather, slept during the day and a small part of him understood
why. He pushed the door open silently and stepped into the room.
LaCroix sat at his desk in the corner of the room with his head in his
hands. He hadn't slept all day. He had racked his mind for answers and
could only find one. None of this was suppose to be, yet it was. The
blood in the glass sat before him, untouched, as he sensed his grandson
enter the room.
LaCroix raised his head to find his grandson standing calmly at the
corner of his desk. He pushed the chair back and met the mirror image
of Nicholas staring into his soul. "Jonathan? What are you doing up
Jonathan came over to his side and raised his arms to be picked up.
LaCroix picked him up, sat him on his lap and without thinking hugged
the small bundle against his chest. He thought those feelings long
dead. It was almost a raw pain that coursed through him as he held
Jonathan. He had denied it with Nicholas, pushed it back when he was
around Theressa, but Jonathan had a power to make him feel....everything. It
terrified him, yet a part of him long dead craved it, welcomed it with open arms
and bathed in the emotion. For centuries, he had denied anything that could
make him feel again, yet that was what had attracted him to
Nicholas.....emotion, passion, and the ability to love. They were all things that
were not supposed to exist in a creature of the dark. They existed in Nicholas
and he was drawn to them as a moth was to a flame. Now with Jonathan, he
had no choice.
Jonathan hugged his grandfather and felt the turmoil within. It was
this way always when his father and grandfather where in the same room.
He wanted to make them happy again. He wanted to take the pain away
from them both like Mommy did for Daddy but he didn't know how. " Is
Grandfather sad?" His innocent blue eyes met his grandfather's.
LaCroix pushed his grandson away from him slightly. "Grandfather has
done something that will hurt Jonathan and your father. It was something bad,
a long time ago and I'm not sure even I can fix it. So, yes, I'm sad, Jonathan."
"You fix anything, Grandfather, cause you love Jonathan and Daddy.
That's all takes." Jonathan watched his grandfather's face for acceptance and
saw only doubt. His small hand reached for his face and ran it down his cheek
only to be captured by LaCroix strong hand. "I feel Grandfather's love. You
LaCroix stared at his grandson and held his little hand to his face and for the
first time in centuries, said a silent prayer. "I hope you're right, Jonathan. I
hope you're right."
Jonathan jumped down and ran to the bottom bureau drawer to remove his
clean clothes that grandfather always kept for him. When he had picked
out what he wanted, he smiled at his choice and turned to bid his grandfather
farewell but LaCroix was gone.
Natalie awoke, slowly adjusting to the change in the light within the room as
she tried to remember just exactly where she was. Last night's memories
assaulted her in one wave making her need to steady herself as she sat up in the
bed. Beside the bed on the nightstand stood a lamp, which she flipped on
quickly. Sitting next to the lamp was the rose Racine had given her 4 years ago.
Startled by it's presence, Natalie picked it up gently and watched the color
began to change while a gentle hum resonated through the room. She quickly
sat it down on the bed and the sound stopped and the color began to fade. When
she picked it up again, the color darkened and the sound returned. She laid the
rose gently on the bed, dressed quickly and then picked it up again. As the
sound returned and the color began to change, she went in search of Nick.
Nick checked on Daniel and Tracy as he passed their room and found them
sound asleep in each others arms. He closed the door quietly and checked on
Theressa, finding her bed empty. As he headed for the kitchen, he heard
noises coming from the little cooking area housed at the far end of the bar.
Not much food was prepared here, since most of the residents didn't require
normal cuisine, but LaCroix kept a few tidbits since Jonathan had been born
and for Theressa's infrequent visits. He had converted a storage room into a
small kitchen off the back side of the bar and the noises he heard emanated
from there. Nick stuck his head in LaCroix's bedroom looking for Jonathan.
Finding it deserted, he proceeded to the only noise in the building.
When he stepped into the kitchen, he found Theressa and Jonathan sitting
down to a plate of scrambled eggs. Theressa noticed Nick as he entered.
"There's more on the stove if you want some."
Nick grabbed a plate and dished up a large portion. He watched his son
devour his breakfast and found the sight to be something he never tired
Theressa watched Nick closely. They were in for a rough night....all of
them. She and Lucien had talked till almost noon, when he demanded she
sleep. His anger and guilt finally began to eat at him. At first, denial seemed
the easiest answer....and was, but it wasn't something she would let him live
with. He had made the decision centuries ago, and he had to correct it if there
was a way. Theressa knew LaCroix wasn't afraid of death, but she was. The
thought of losing him now, after all the progress they had made, didn't lead to
pleasant dreams. She had tossed and turned and finally given up, but found
him gone when she entered his room.
Nick ate his eggs without thinking. Normally eating eggs made him feel
better since it was one of the few foods his digestive system would accept now
that his metabolism was changing, but his thoughts where elsewhere. His
thoughts were on the fathers and sons that had already been slaughtered. The
one question kept coming to mind. Why? Why kill all those innocent people
when Yenshi knew what he looked like and his connection to LaCroix. Finding
him would have been a simple matter, but she chose to butcher repeatedly just
as she had centuries ago....and then he knew. He pushed out of his chair so
quickly it crashed on the floor behind him.
"Where's LaCroix, Theressa?" Fear and dismay edged his voice as he
locked eyes with hers. He reached for her across the table as the first
wave of pain racked his body hard enough to bring him to his knees.
"LaCroix!!!!!!!" Nick screamed as he collapsed to the floor. As the
first wave passed ,he finally caught his breath and accepted Theressa arm to
help him up. The waves of pain passed through him again as he
clutched the table for support and grasped for control. He pushed it
back and sought LaCroix's special reserve. Finding a bottle at the end
of the bar he downed it in two gulps. His control returned as he turned
to face Theressa now behind him.
"Where is he, Theressa? What has he done?" Nick struggled to breathe
as he reached for another bottle.
"He's gone to his death in place of his son." Came a quiet voice from
the center of the room.
Nick stared at Racine who stood floating above the floor engulfed in a long
flowing cape with a hood . "You have the power to save him. The power to
save them all." She floated closer to Nick as if on a cloud and finally settled to
the floor, as her feet magically appeared from under her long cloak "He is the
one she fears. She killed the others to separate him from you. His powers are
great but combined with yours, you would be unstoppable. Pure evil cannot
stand in the face of the light, but you still have the power to stop her."
Natalie walked into the room carrying the rose before her. She watched Racine
float toward her husband and son. Only then did she make her presence
known. Walking quickly to her husband's side, she placed one hand in his for
support as she watched Racine's figure shimmer in the light of the room.
"Yenshi has always had the gift of sight. When she saved you centuries
ago, she knew you were the one to bring light back into the darkness.
You alone had the strength to persevere against LaCroix's evil and make him
see the possibilities of his own humanity. You alone had the strength to fight
your nature and thus create a child of both worlds. A child of light and
darkness, created in love."
She looked at Jonathan as he now stood by his mother's side. The light of love
shown in his eyes. The hope and faith of his parents had brought him into this
world and that alone would protect him now.
Nick was trying to make the pieces fit. "She killed the fathers and sons to make
LaCroix fight her alone. He is sacrificing himself to protect us He's thinks
she'll trade his power for Jonathan's and mine?" It was more a question than a
"The one true constant about your father, Nicholas, is his love for you. It is
what has protected him against the 'great evil' that seeks to conquer the world.
His heart has been hardened for centuries but you alone have given him hope
and he has clung to that in search of his own humanity." She smiled as she
watched Nick's face accept what his heart had known all along.
"What Yenshi doesn't know is that YOU have all that you need to defeat
her. You are stronger now." Racine came closer and lifted Nick's hand
"You have love, Nicholas." Racine picked up Natalie's hand with her
other and placed it onto of Nick's. "She has faith....and together you have
created hope for both worlds and crushed the evil within you." Racine stooped
down to Jonathan's level and smiled into his bright blue eyes. "He is the 'Child
of Light'. He is the hope that both light and darkness can live as one. He is the
power she seeks."
Racine stood and pulled her rose from the folds of her cape and gently removed
the other rose from Natalie's hand. They were identical roses, both glowing
and resonating a low pitch hum. Racine stooped down to Jonathan again and
placed a rose in each of his small hands.
As they touched his small palms the sound grew louder and the roses turned
darker pink. Racine watched his face and his eyes met hers only momentarily,
when she nodded her head in approval.
Jonathan moved his hands together till the rose petals touched, causing a
brilliant white light to flood the room and the sound of tinkling bells to echo
throughout. Jonathan giggled as the roses became entwined together almost in
a lovers embrace and the color turned blood red.
Nick and Natalie reached for the rose and Jonathan almost in unison. As
their hands touched Jonathan's, the bright light illuminated the room in
a fiery iridescent glow that shimmered for only moments and then disappeared.
They held once again the crystal clear rose upon a single heart that winked in
the low light of the bar as they stood in silence.
Nick stared at the rose and then Racine as he whispered in awe. "With
love and faith we have created hope,....but together WE are the ultimate power!
A power that not even Yenshi can overcome."
Racine smiled and backed away from the lovely family before her. She
had chosen wisely. "Hope has always been within each of you. Now with
love and faith you can give it to others like yourselves. Know that pure evil
cannot withstand the light of love." Racine began to fade into mist as her
words echoed again throughout the room. "Love...and faith,
children....together," and she disappeared.
LaCroix landed softly outside Nick's loft. Yenshi was here. He could
feel it. Either she would take him in place of his son and grandson or
he would destroy her. He straightened his jacket, flicked some imaginary piece
of lint off the collar, then walked through the side door to the garage. He
finally felt at peace. It was something Jonathan had said. He was doing the
right thing and for the first time in his life it was for the right reason. He loved
his son and grandson. No matter what happened tonight at least his grandson
knew that there was some humanity left in his soul. Odd, he thought he had
never cared before, but tonight it was important that at least one member of his
family knew that he loved them.
LaCroix stepped into the loft through the stairwell entrance without so much as
a sound. Yenshi paced the floor in front of the fireplace as her associates stood
silently by each corner, watching and waiting. She sensed him and let her eyes
turn gold, then red when she finally brought her eyes to his.
"I see you have come alone, Lucien. Not wise, but what I expected. You are
soooo predictable." She laughed and projected her slowly building anger
within it. "You've come to exchange yourself for your son and grandson, I
presume." She floated toward him on air as her feet disappeared under the
folds of her cape. She stopped only inches away from him and let her fetid
breath cascade over his overly heightened senses.
"What makes you think that you have anything I want?" She backed away
when he did not move or react in any way to her presence. He was a cold
bastard, she would give him that but he had his one weakness.
"Nicholas has nothing you need, Yenshi. I, on the other hand, possess
shall we say, certain powers that you might want." He stood one moment
before her and in the next he was gone only to reappear again seconds
She watched him intently and then smiled "Yes, you have several things
that might interest me, but then again I can just...." A bolt of lighting fled from
her fingers into LaCroix. "....take them."
Fire burned through his veins and pushed into his mind as every nerve in
his body screamed in agony. When he recovered enough to breathe, he
found himself on the opposite side of the room in a heap on the floor.
Without thinking he used all his vampire speed and launched himself at
her across the room. She fell hard as he slashed viciously at her throat in an
effort to rip her head off. Energy shot from her eyes and sliced his wrists with
burning fire, deep enough to make the blood flow freely. Her companions
grabbed his bleeding wrists and crashed his body backwards against the
fireplace. The force knocked the wind out of him. Iron manacles magically
appeared attached to the stone in the fireplace, and encircled his wrists. He
struggled to free himself.
LaCroix looked in amazement as the chain links shortened before his very
eyes and pulled him tight against the fireplace stone. It was evil magic in it's
purest form and it enraged him. He concentrated and fought the magic as the
energy force within Yenshi shot forth again electrifying his whole body.
LaCroix screamed in agony as the magic and energy sapped his strength
and replaced his power with pain. Each breath was sheer torture, each
thought, a knife cutting pieces out of his body. Blood flowed freely from his
wrists and every orifice of his body. His eyes, ears, nose, mouth all bled in free
flowing streams. His life force was being drained with each energy bolt she
threw. She guided them relentlessly through his body until his mind begged for
Theressa had been pacing the floor since they left. She knew that Tracy
and herself would be more a hindrance than a help because of their
mortality, but it didn't make the waiting any easier. Tracy stepped out
of Daniel's room 10 minutes later.
"Where did they go, Theressa?" Tracy waited with more patience than she
"To free Lucien and send Yenshi back to where she came from." Worry
etched Theressa's face as she spoke.
"Let's go!" Tracy grabbed her jacket thrown over the back of the chair
nearest the bar.
"We can't, Tracy. Nick said she could use us against them. Racine was
here. Centuries ago her mother was one of Yenshi's followers. She said they
had everything they needed. That their bond between the three of them was
stronger than Yenshi. That their love and faith in each other together was
stronger than pure evil. That pure evil could not stand in the light of love and
survive." Theressa began pacing again, twisting the napkin in her hands in
knots as she paced.
Tracy stopped her in mid stride. "What is it that you're not telling me?"
A single tear escaped her eye as she spoke. "If their love will destroy
the evil in Yenshi what will it do to Lucien....I....mean....I know he's not all evil
but it could kill him as well, couldn't it?"
Tracy took Theressa by the arm and led her to the nearest chair and made
her sit. She pulled up the chair next to her and thought for a moment.
"Nick could never kill LaCroix. He's told me lots of time in the past
that he had tried and never succeeded. That deep down in him, no matter
what has transpired between them, that LaCroix was a part of him. If he
killed him, it would be like killing himself. I'm not sure if that's love, but it's
pretty close for two full-fledged vampires." Tracy smiled and raised Theressa's
chin to make her look at her instead of the floor.
"But that's just it, Trace. Nick isn't a full fledged vampire anymore just as
Tasha isn't fully human anymore. I just...."
"Then let's go help them." Daniel's soft voice projected to the women on the
other side of the room.
"Daniel!" Tracy jumped out of the seat to go help him.
He waved her off. "I'm fine, Trace. A little weak, but fine. Let's go
help them. The least we can do is pick up the pieces when they're done."
Theressa let the tears flow freely as raw pain engulfed her.
Daniel saw the pain and the tears. "No! Theressa, I didn't mean LaCroix's.
Damn! I don't like the guy very much, but I know Nick loves him. He could
never kill his own father....not now! He couldn't live with himself." He
touched Theressa arm in comfort. "Trust me, Theressa. It's in Nick's blood. I
know a lot more than I did before. I don't claim to understand him or LaCroix,
but I know what he feels."
Theressa sniffed slightly and Daniel pulled a hankie out of his pocket.
"Now let's go help them, okay?" Daniel offered his hand to Theressa and
his arm to Trace.
Yenshi was so absorbed in her torture she did not hear or sense Nicholas'
arrival. As she got ready to throw the last blast through his body and give
LaCroix his release, someone applauded from the corner of the room. She
looked up with rage and contempt in her eyes.
Nick stood clapping loudly and then walked forward a few steps. Natalie
stood holding Jonathan in her arms on his left simply smiled at the evil
creature before her. "Very good, Yenshi. You should finish it. LaCroix has
always been so troublesome in the past. We shall be glad to be rid of him."
Nick looked to Nat for her approval.
"Most definitely, Nick. It will be a blessing." Natalie commented dryly.
"You do not fool me, de Brabant. You came because you wish to save your
father, but you're too late. He is mine , as you shall be. It was nice of you to
bring your son as well. It will save me time." She reached toward Nicholas
only to be stopped by some invisible wall. She pushed on it and then backed
away slightly to analyze this change of events.
"What's the matter, Yenshi? Something you hadn't anticipated. Something
you're not quite sure of." Nick slowly walked to LaCroix's side. The further
away from Natalie and Jonathan he went, the weaker the bond between them
and thus the wall that protected them. He needed to be closer to LaCroix before
he pushed her.
Natalie sensed his concern as she felt the link between them weaken in the
presence of such evil. She knew what Nick had to do, what they needed to do.
"He looks rather helpless that way, Nick." Nat motioned to LaCroix manacled
to the fireplace. "You think our new found friend here would let us do the
honors and run a stake through him. I'm sure she could pull his life force out at
the same time, but it would give me immense pleasure to watch him finally
struggle and die at your hands after everything he's done to you."
Confused at the anger she felt coming from the young woman holding the
child, she began to doubt. One filled with such anger could not bear
the 'Child of Light'.
Nick sensed Natalie's change in attitude and felt her anger. He watched
Yenshi's reaction and understood. Anger masks all emotion, so he let
his have free rein. He walked toward his father and stood before him
in full vampire mode.
"What makes you think I care what happens to him, Yenshi. He is nothing
but a master that I would be free of." Nick reached over and wiped the
tip of his finger in the blood running down the corner of LaCroix's face
and brought it to his lips in obvious pleasure. LaCroix's golden eyes
were now blue as he fought the pain racking his body and he watched his
son in disbelief. Not that he didn't deserve the harsh words coming from
Nicholas, but a raw pain over his heart ached with Nicholas' final rejection.
His son wished him dead above all else.
"Come, Natalie. Watch the pain in his face. Yenshi, give her a stake,
we shall take turns."
Natalie holding Jonathan in one arm reached over a grabbed the stake from one
of Yenshi's followers and walked to Nick, standing by LaCroix.
Nick wiped his finger through LaCroix blood once again and offered it to
Natalie and then Jonathan. They each tasted and completed the blood circle.
Then Natalie handed the stake to Nick.
Nick faced his father who tried to stand erect as he awaited the final blow. Nick
brought each of his wrists to his fangs and sliced them deeply. He grabbed
Natalie's and did the same. With regret he grabbed Jonathan's outstretched
hand and placed a small slice in the palm of his hand. With that done, he
pushed the beast back where it belonged. When he turned to face Yenshi, his
eyes were the blue of bright sunny days and his fangs where gone. Nicholas de
Brabant Knight stood before her once again.
"What foolishness is this, de Brabant? You are fooling no one. Your father's
power is mine, as is yours and your son's. Your little charade at playing
mistreated son cannot stand up to pure evil. I will take what is mine." She let
the energy flow from her fingertips toward LaCroix. Nick stepped quickly in
its path. The energy hit him instead of LaCroix and he staggered with the blow
but did not scream.
Yenshi looked at the burn mark on his clothes, yet he stood before her
unharmed. It could not be. His power without his father could not be
that strong and then she saw the blood dripping from his wrists and the
woman's. His arm entwined around hers and finally clasped her hand
combining their blood as well as their strength.
"NOOOO!" She screamed in rage and took a step forward. She was once
again stopped by the invisible wall that encompassed not only them but now
LaCroix as well. The power was between the woman and de Brabant, not his
father. It wasn't possible. The power was between father and son. It was
written in the scrolls. Separate the father and son and the power was yours.
Enraged she poured her entire energy force into the next blast that she sent
Nick braced himself for the pain and the force. He staggered slightly from the
force but the pain was non-existent as he checked himself and found only
charred clothing but no injuries. Natalie's hand held tightly to his hand as their
blood mingled and created the shield.
"You are mine!" "Yenshi screamed and locked arms with her associates as
she stood channeling their power with hers.
Nick looked directly into the face of pure evil one final time. "Be gone,
Yenshi! Pure evil cannot stand in the light of love. You have no power here
but to destroy yourself and the evil within you."
Yenshi screamed in rage as she used all her power and evil magic to channel
the energy into searing bolts of energy.
As she raised her arms Jonathan raised his bleeding palm and grasped onto
Nick's outstretched wrist. The blood circle complete, a mass of twinkling lights
began to encircle them growing brighter by the second, filled with warmth and
passion. It surged through them, around them and became stronger with each
beat of their hearts.
Yenshi released the energy bolts. They hit the lights and bounced back
to her. As the power burned through her body it was channeled out to
her two associates. Burning agony washed through them as they exploded
into flames. Yenshi felt her power fade as the energy circled the room
and shot directly back to her. As it hit her the second time there was
no where to channel the excess. She screamed as the fire started within
her chest and engulfed her slowly in the flames of Hell. Her screams
echoed throughout the loft, finally lost in the dying embers of her
cloak as the fire consumed the final remnants of the cloth.
Nick, Nat and Jonathan collapsed to the floor still holding onto each
other as the light of power flowed through them and protected them
against Yenshi's evil. With the last of the flames and the destruction
of Yenshi, Nick released Natalie's hand and Jonathan collapsed in his
Mother's arms. The lights that encircled them faded as their blood bond
weakened along with their bodies. A peaceful darkness engulfed them and
they gave into it willingly.
Chapter 9 Finale
Theressa felt Lucien through their weak blood bond. He was not dead.
It gave her hope as they pulled up to the loft. Tracy and Daniel jumped
out of the car as the scream of death washed through the air around
Theressa bolted for the door with Tracy and Daniel right behind her.
They opened the door to the loft as Nick finally gave into the darkness
and collapsed by Natalie and Jonathan on the floor. Theressa rushed to
Lucien who lay limply against the fireplace supported only by his wrists
held tightly in place by the manacles. Trace and Daniel quickly checked Nick,
Nat and Jonathan. With a sigh of relief they felt weak pulses in each of them.
Theressa touched LaCroix and he instantly stiffened and flashed golden
eyes at hers causing her to step back in shock. Her heartbeat throbbed
into his consciousness an unleashed the beast. His body needed human
blood to recover. The vampire's sense of survival had taken over. His
eyes locked with her's along with his heartbeat.
"Come to me, Theressa. Come enjoy what your body longs for, what my body
needs." His voice echoed into her mind and pulled her toward him. Closer to
her own death and his survival.
She stepped closer again willingly. She touched his face gently with her
fingertips and let her eyes stay locked with his. The pull from his voice was so
strong. The part of her that wanted to be with him surged forward, yet it was
by her choice, not his. The vampire never had control over her, not now nor
ever. If she gave herself to him it was by her choice not his. She could feel his
pain and need and the part of her that loved him was willing. Her common
sense told her that the beast was in control and not the man. She loved the
man, not the vampire, and she would only give up her life to the man, not the
"The beast cannot control me, Lucien. You must choose what you can live
with....the man or the vampire." She leaned into him and pressed her
cheek to his giving him free access to her neck. She wrapped her arms
around his waist while he stood manacled to the fireplace. "I love the
man, Lucien." She whispered softly in his ear and waited.
Trace started to protest and Daniel silenced her as he held her arm,
forcing her back to the floor beside he and Nick, who lay unconscious on
The hunger raged within LaCroix as her scent and heartbeat pounded
gloriously in his brain. He was lost to the scent of her, the longing,
the need for human blood as she willingly offered everything he needed.
Then she had whispered the words that tore at his long dead heart.
Words that for centuries no mortal had dared say to him and their link
burned with something more than desire. His fangs aching, his body
weakened, the beast demanded satisfaction and he screamed in torment as
he threw his head back hard against the fireplace stone putting as much
distance between her neck and his mouth as possible.
"PLEASE!" He closed his eyes as the plea passed his lips almost in a
growl. He fought the beast, his breathing, the pain, the anger, the
centuries of denial of human warmth and his long suppressed emotions.
All those things he detested and thought long dead engulfed him and
pushed them back....back to where they belonged under the familiar wall of
control and indifference.
When he opened his eyes to hers they were once again ice blue. Pain surged
through him, but he would not give into it.
She watched him shut himself off to her and the world behind the wall of
ice that he used to protect himself. Theressa smiled and stepped away
from him. She ran quickly to the refrigerator and pulled out several
bottles of cows blood and returned.
Daniel had disappeared momentarily and returned carrying yet another
bottle. "Give him this first, Theressa." He stuck it in her hand, grabbing a
bottle out of one hand and replacing it. "It's Nick's hidden special bottle. It
will help him heal faster."
Theressa removed the cork and pressed it to his lips. The smell of
human blood assailed him and flecks of gold dusted his eyes once again.
He drank greedily as she held it to his mouth. He let the blood flood
his body with its healing powers while he savored the taste as it ran
smoothly down the back of his throat.
Daniel found a hammer under the sink and set to work on the stone
holding the manacles in place as Theressa continued to feed Lucien the
remaining bottles of cows blood. Although he grimaced at the taste, he
fed and let the blood heal his battered body. By the time Daniel had
freed one arm, LaCroix had sufficient strength to pull the other one
free. Freed from the stone fireplace at last, still wearing the iron
manacles around his wrists, he looked to Tracy as she continued to
monitor the three unconscious forms on the floor. His eyes met hers
with only one question.
"They're alive." She said softly. "They are weak but stable. I don't
know what to do for them."
LaCroix saw strength written on her face and finally understood why
Nicholas treasured this mortal's friendship. He walked to her side and
surveyed the room casually before he spoke. He picked up Jonathan and
placed him gently in Theressa's arms and turned back to Daniel and the
young blonde detective still seated beside his son. "Can the two of you
manage to bring the good doctor?" He knelt down to the floor and picked
up his son in his arms with little sign of the ordeal that occurred less
than a half hour before. "We'll take them to the Raven and care for
Theressa cradled her nephew in her arms and watched his small chest rise
slowly. "Are you sure, Lucien? They may need the hospital." Worry
etched her brow.
"I don't feel inclined to explain the anomalies within their blood, young one. At
least not tonight. We'll call Andrea...She's one of us and has medical
experience. It will have to do." With that, LaCroix lifted he and Nick straight
up through the skylight and out into the night.
Daniel picked up Natalie as Theressa carried Jonathan to the caddy and
they sped off to the Raven.
Several hours later:
LaCroix stood quietly looking out the window in his bedroom as the last
hours before dawn quickly slipped by. Nicholas lay quietly sleeping in
the middle of LaCroix's 4 poster bed. LaCroix periodically checked on him as
he slept. He'd given him blood off and on, both his and some of the house
special throughout the night. Nicholas' strength was returning as well as his
spirit. LaCroix could feel his son now through their link without exchanging
blood with him. It was a good sign.
Theressa walked into the room and straight to the bed to check on Nick
before she spoke. She knew Lucien heard her enter, but he had yet
to turn and acknowledge her presence. Her nursing skills were minimal
at best but even she could tell Nick's heartbeat was stronger...at least
stronger than earlier that evening. She couldn't be sure, since he
really wasn't suppose to have one as a vampire, but Tasha's blood had a
definite effect on her husband just as his had on her. She approached
him without speaking as he continued to stare out the window in deep
thought. She sensed pain, confusion and something else through their
link as she shortened the distance between them.
He felt her come down the hall. Their link seemed very much intact as
he let himself reach out to her. The good doctor was better, and she
was relieved. She was worried about Nick, but mostly what he felt was
concern over him. He let that knowledge give him some satisfaction and
the feeling of control. Why had he stopped? What made this mortal so
different than all the rest? Deep inside he knew the answer, he just
could not accept it or maybe he just wasn't ready to take the risk that
the acceptance would require of him.
"Nick is better I see. Are you?" She let the question hang between
them. It wasn't his physical health she worried about and he knew it.
LaCroix glanced at Nicholas lying on the bed and then back to her. "He
will survive as will I. If that is what you wish to know?"
Anger flamed in her eyes as she grabbed his arms in frustration. "What
I want to know, Lucien, is have you accepted what happened tonight?
Have you accepted the fact that you are NOT pure evil and that the man you
once were is still very much alive? That your son loves you in spite of all that
has happened between you and that I LOVE YOU! I love the man you are now
and the man you can be if you let yourself go to it. That the vampire is only a
part of what you are, not all that you are. That you...."
Lucien pulled her into his arms and buried her face in his chest as the
tears began to flow. He ran his fingers through her hair and breathed
in the scent that was only hers, permanently implanting it in his mind
for all eternity as he let her cry in his arms.
"I do not mean to hurt you, young one. It is not my intention." He
pulled her face away from his shoulder and cradled her face between his
strong hands. "What I feel for you, or what I'm capable of feeling have
unacceptable consequences....at least for now. Do not fool yourself into
believing I am like my son. I have not given into such trivial emotions in more
centuries than I care to count. The man you are looking for has not existed in
over 2000 years. He may have never existed for that matter." He held her head
firmly as her eyes locked with his. "What you seek from me does not exist."
She wrapped her hands around his and brought them down gently. "You
love....Lucien! You love Nick enough to trade your life for his and your
grandson's. You loved me enough to stop tonight when every fiber of you being
cried for relief. Yes, Lucien, that man exists whether you are willing to admit
it or not. Nick knows it....and so do I. The question is....how long is it going to
take to get you to accept it?" She kissed the top of his hands and smiled
warmly as she recognized doubt in his eyes.
"Everything in time, Lucien. I have the patience and the time....Now you want
to tell me about Nick?"
Resigning himself to the fact he could not change her mind at least this
night, he returned to familiar ground. "He is better and will recover with rest.
How is Natalie and Jonathan?"
"Well, this is a night of firsts. I believe that is the first time I have ever heard
you use Tasha's real name instead of 'the good doctor' or 'your sister'....and the
answer is she is going to be fine. At least according to Andrea, your local
neighborhood vampire doctor. She gave Tasha blood, of which I didn't ask
where she got it, and glucose through an IV drip. She's stable now and her
heart rate is almost back to normal. She's sleeping and Jonathan is...."
A blonde curly haired whirlwind ripped into the room and launched himself
towards his grandfather in a fit of joyous laughter. LaCroix gladly scooped the
little bundle off the floor as he reached his side.
"And Jonathan is just perfectly fine." A rare smile crossed LaCroix's
normally stoic face as Jonathan wrapped his arms around his grandfather's
neck and hugged him fiercely.
Jonathan released his neck and ran his fingers down LaCroix's cool cheek in an
effort to convince himself his grandfather had recovered. He smiled a knowing
smile. "Grandfather better now?"
"Grandfather is better now, Jonathan. Is Jonathan better?" LaCroix
raised one eyebrow with the question already knowing the answer.
Jonathan wiggled to be put down without answering. When his feet hit
the floor he pointed to the bed where his father lay. "Daddy better
faster if Mommy with him. Jonathan better with Mommy and Daddy."
LaCroix glanced at his grandson and Nick and then knelt down to the
floor. "You're right, Jonathan. Your Dad has always been better with
your Mom...and he always will be. I'll go bring her here. Okay?"
Jonathan smiled from ear to ear and went to stand by his father's bedside.
Within minutes LaCroix brought Natalie into the room and placed her in bed
beside Nick. He lay her head on Nick's shoulder and placed his son's arm
around her. Within seconds both their heartbeats were stronger. LaCroix
watched his grandson from across the bed as the warmth flooded his senses. He
stared at the couple on the bed and then his grandson. Where did that come
Theressa noticed the change in his expression and then felt the warmth
flood her through their link as well. LaCroix joined her on the other
side of the bed beside Jonathan as he gently rubbed his father's hand.
Jonathan smiled joyously. "See! Told ya! Jonathan tired now. I
sleep with Mommy, Daddy and Sissy." Jonathan tried crawling into the
big bed and couldn't quite make it. Theressa reached over and lifted
him slightly so he could get in bed with his parents..
"Jonathan, you don't have a sister." Theressa said softly to her nephew.
Jonathan smiled a knowing smile, giggled and settled down in his father's
arms. "Yes I do, Aunt Theressa! Yes, I do!"