Sleep, My Little One, Sleep, My Pretty One, Sleep
by Eva Robinson
circa September 1997

Natalie started the incision just below the jaw line. As she dragged the
scalpel into the trachea, she began her narrative.

"Subject is female. 25-30 years of age. Indo-Canadian. Height five foot,
three inches. Weight one hundred and twenty pounds. Bruising of the neck
area is visibly apparent, with deep finger indentations just below the jaw
on both the left and right side. Subject ......" the phone rang interrupting
her work. With a scowl she turned off the recorder, stripped off one glove
and picked up the ringing intrusion.

"Coroner's Office. Lambert speaking." she said curtly.

"Catch you with a live one this time?" said a friendly voice.

"Margo? Margo Newman? What are you doing in town? Where are you?" Natalie
stripped off her other glove and sat on the desk edge. Margo Newman had been
Natalie's roomie in university. They had become close friends up until
almost six years ago when Margo left Canada to become the head of pathology
for a police department in Brussels. They had kept in touch by mail, but
over the years that had slowed to cards at Christmas and birthdays.

"I'm here for a well deserved two weeks vacation, and I believe your parting
words to me six years ago were: 'Margo, when you come home call me. No
matter what I'm doing, I'll drop it and take you out for drinks.' So, I'm
here and thirsty. What do say, Nat?" Natalie sat there with a foolish grin
on her face.

"I've got a client on the slab right now, but I'll be done in an hour. Tell
me where to meet you."

"Two hours, kiddo. I don't want any formaldehyde smelling up my rental. And
I'll come by to pick you up. I think after six years we deserve a Girls
Night Out, don't you?"

"I'll be here!" Natalie chimed as she hung up the phone. Pulling on fresh
gloves, Nat returned to her 'client' and finished the autopsy in record
time. She had showered and was just closing up shop when Nick came in.

"Nat, are you busy?" he asked, noticing that she smelled of rose soap and
had changed clothes since his visit earlier in the evening. The 'client' had
been his case: domestic abuse gone over the edge. Natalie smiled at him.

"As a matter of fact Nick, yes I am." she answered smiling at him. "A very
old friend from my university days has come home and I still owe her a
night out and drinks. So we are going out for the evening."
Just then the door opened and a tall, red-haired hurricane blew in.



The hurricane rushed over and embraced Nat.

"Margo, meet my... friend Nick Knight. Nick, my old room mate and companion
in mischief, Margo Newman." Margo extended her hand while giving Nick a
thorough once over. Nick felt like he was meat being graded. 'I hope I make
Canada Grade A', he thought as he took her hand.

"Nice to meet you. I hear you and Nat go back to university days." he said
trying to keep his voice neutral, but Natalie heard the suggestion and shot
him a dark look.

Margo laughed.

"Yep, we convinced more than one professor that tenure just wasn't worth the
hassle. We had some real wild times, didn't we Nat.?" Margo answered with an
open smile. "And now, it's Ladies Night Out." With that Margo ushered Nat
out the door. Nat looked over her shoulder and gave a 'what can I do? She
one of my oldest and dearest friends' look.

"See you later Nick. The autopsy is finished, Grace has the paper work."
Natalie called to him as Margo pulled her along the corridor, passing
Schanke on the way.

"What's up, partner?" Schanke asked as Nick came out of the examination
room. "You look like you ate some sovlaki that was off. And who was that
with Natalie? I felt like I should be avoiding a run away train when I saw
her coming down the hall."

Nick sighed.

"Her name is Margo. She's an old friend of Nat's just come home for a visit.
They're going on a Ladies Night Out." he replied unhappily. Schanke looked
down the now empty corridor and whistled.

"Ladies Night Out, eh? I hate it when Myra goes on those. Even though she
denies it, I know they go to Remingtons' to watch the strippers. When she
comes home and looks at me, I can't help but feel she's measuring me up to
some twenty year old Adonis who probably spends all day working out in the
gym before he spends his evenings peeling off his clothes for money. It's
disgusting. I feel like a piece of cheap meat."

Nick looked at Schanke.

"Myra went.....? Never mind. Natalie's a big girl. She can take care of
herself and I don't think a stripper will be able to ......" He stopped in
mid-sentence. Schanke smiled.

"Will be able to make a move on your girl? Really Nick, why don't you just
come right out and say it?" Nick snorted and stalked away. "Nick? Nick! Hey
Knight! Wait for me!" Schanke hollered after him.

Margo had rented a sports car. Natalie was more than impressed.
"Just how much do they pay you over there?" she asked laughing as the two
women pulled away from the curb.

"Not nearly enough, but when you don't go anywhere for six years you tend to
accumulate some savings. Food and lodgings are cheap, compared to here. And
when I sold the condo before leaving I had plenty to buy another with over

Natalie leaned back, enjoying the ride.

"Well, just where are we going? The Strip is pretty dead now, I hear the
best watering holes are along Queen Street." Nat said.

"Queen Street it is!" Margo replied with a smile, and soon they were
cruising Queen looking for a parking space. Since the evening was young,
finding one wasn't too much of a problem, and before long the two old
friends were walking along Queen , talking about old times.
They stopped for coffee and cake at the coffee shop on the south side of
John street. Margo groaned and moaned at the delicious slice of Chocolate
Suicide the young waiter placed before her. Natalie was trying very, very
hard not to rip into her piece of Butterscotch Crunch. The coffees were just
as delicious.

"Well, I'll tell you," Margo said after cleaning the last bit of fudge icing
from her plate, "even with all the cafes and dessert shops in Brussels, I
haven't had something this decadent in years! Remind me to get one to go
before we leave." With her mouth full of biscot and cream, Natalie could
only smile and nod her head. Margo motioned for the waiter and ordered two
more coffees. "Now, tell me about this very handsome Nick Knight, Detective
and obvious heart throb of the Coroner. I want to hear everything about him,
all the sordid details right down to the issue of boxers or briefs. And
don't leave anything out!" Margo leaned over the coffee with a wicked grin.
All Natalie could do was laugh.

"Well..." she began, "what can I say? We met six years ago, not long after
you left. Nick and I have become good 'friends': he helps me and I help him.
We watch movies together.... and some times we hang out together." Natalie
sipped at her coffee and gave Margo that 'really, that's it' look she
practised so often on Grace.

Margo wasn't buying.

"Nice try, kiddo! But when you introduced us, your 'friend' reacted like I
was going to introduce you to entire Varsity Blues football team! Ok, ok, if
you don't want to come clean yet ...... and I can see that there is
something very special your holding back on me ..... then I won't push it.
Yet. But, be warned Natalie," Margo waggled her finger at her, "I will
uncover all, and I do mean all, the sordid details before I leave for
Brussels next week!!!' With that, Margo downed the rest of her coffee and

"On to an evening of drinking and debauchery!!!" for all to hear. Natalie
was laughing too hard to be embarrassed.

By midnight they had visited almost every bar between Spadina Road and
Niagara Street, on both sides of Queen. But neither woman was drunk; their
camaraderie kept them sober. As did the quick realisation that two
unaccompanied woman on a Saturday night were considered free game in this
part of town. The vow to take care of each other that they had made in
university still held. But now, it was getting late and the wind was coming
up colder. On their way back to the parking lot, they passed a sign
advertising a Mystic Seer. Madam LaDuc, Seer of the Past, Present and
Future. Reader of the Tarot, Palm and Tea Leaves. Revealler of Past Lives.
All for $10.00. Margo stopped and grabbed at Nat's arm.

"Let's go in." she said. Natalie looked at her watch: it was almost 12:30,
and shook her head.

"Madame LaDuc is probably tucked away in her comfortable bed, dreaming up
schemes for unsuspecting tourists and New Agers." she replied. "Besides, you
don't really believe in all this stuff, do you Margo? You never used to."
Margo grinned.

"Well," she began. " about a year ago I had this re-occurring dream. I was
in a big, beautiful house. It was at least four stories tall, and had a
porch that ran completely around the second floor. In my dream I am sitting
on the porch drinking tea, served by this incredibly tall handsome man
dressed in dark colours. One day, just after work, I passed a fortune teller
on a street corner. On a whim I asked her my future. She told me about my
dream, and about how I would meet this man soon. That was just a few months


"So? Let's go in! What have you got to loose? If your getting stuffy for ten
bucks Nat, I'll spring for it." Margo said smiling.

"Margo, the place must be closed! It's...." As Natalie was arguing, the door
opened by a girl of no more than ten. She looked up at the two friends and

"Please come in! My Aunt keeps late hours to serve the people of the
street." The girl opened the door wide and ushered Margo and Nat into a
sitting room.

Natalie looked around in surprise. The room was filled with comfortable
chairs. loveseats and small couches. In the background, Schubert played
softly. A fruity scent flavoured the air from a large bowl of potpourri on
the side-board. No black velvet, incense, heavy curtains or enlarged
pictures of Tarot cards anywhere. Across from them was another door. It was
like any simple oak door you would find in any well restored early 1900's
row housing. Natalie felt comfortable, almost at ease in the room. Margo had
already claimed a cosy looking lowbacked rattan chair.

The young girl returned.

"Madame LaDuc will be with you shortly. Would you care for tea?" As she
spoke, she subtly held out her hand. Both woman paid without comment. Then
the girl left, to return only moments later with a tray holding two cups on
saucers and a large tea pot. She poured tea for both Nat and Margo, then,
after handing them their cups, she left.
Margo took a sip.

"Hummm..... Nat, it's mint tea. Just like we used to have in college.
Remember? All those nights cramming before finals?"
Natalie smiled and sipped her tea. Yes, the mint tea brought back many
memories. Including a memory of a night six years ago, when a blond man
entered her life. Grace had brought her a cup of mint tea just before she
prepared to do the autopsy.

"So many memories over a cup of tea." said a soft voice with a slight
European accent. Both women looked up and saw an elderly lady standing at
the oak door. Neither had heard the door open. 'She must have come in from
another way.' Nat thought to herself, 'That's why I didn't hear her.' Madame
LaDuc was dressed in black from head to foot. Only, when she moved, the
black of her dress came alive with glints of silver, gold and blue. It was
like watching an iridescent rainbow, but not being able to focus on one
colour. She motioned them into the room beyond the oak door. "Please, bring
your tea and the pot. It would be a shame to waist what Aubringa has made."
A moment later, both friends were sitting around a simple round table
covered with a dark blue felt cloth. A deck of Tarot cards were to one side,
with six candles: four white, one blue, one red. A small bowl filled with
water sat in the middle. 'That's better,' Natalie thought, ' cards, candles
and a scrying bowl. Yep, it's all here.' She fought hard to keep from smiling.
Madame LaDuc motioned to Margo and took her hand.

"You will be first." she said. She looked at Margo's hand, then stroked her
face."You have had dreams. Many dreams that are the same. Dreams that make
you happy, but make you long for someone not near you. Fear not, the one you
search for is near. Very near. Before the next Saint's Day, you will meet
him." Margo sat back in her seat, beaming. She gave Natalie and 'I told this
stuff was for real!' glance. Then Madame LaDuc took Natalie's hand and
stroked her face.

"You are not happy. This life is only one of many that you have been unhappy
in. And yet, the same reason for your unhappiness follows you across time."
Madame LaDuc gave a sigh and shook her head. "You must find a way to break
the spell of unhappiness or you will never be happy in this life."
Natalie was stunned! Weren't fortune tellers supposed to tell you you would
meet a rich, handsome man and live happily ever after?

"What do you mean?" Natalie asked.

"You have been pursued. You have also pursued. The same pattern repeats it's
self across the millennia. Your are both the hunter and the hunted. You both
hunt and are hunted by him who brings you unhappiness! You must find a way
to break it! You must!!!" Madame LaDuc let go of Natalies hand. "It is all I
can tell you. You must find your own answers." Then she got up and left the
room by a second door partially hidden by a curtain.
The oak door opened and Aubringa came in.

"Thank you for coming. May the Virgin bless you both" she said as she
escorted the two women out. "Safe journey."

On the street, Margo turned to Natalie.

"Sweet God-Knows-What! but that was certainly strange!" She said.
Natalie only smiled.

"Margo, it's late and I just really realised how tired I am. Take me home,
oh Romeo!!" With that, the two friends made their way to Margo's car, but
Natalie couldn't help but look over her shoulder at the house of Madame
LaDuc. She felt a chill come over her; like someone was walking over her
grave. Then she realised that Margo was talking.

".....just like the fortune teller at home! What did I tell you - there are
more things Horatio..." Margo laughed.
Natalie didn't.

An hour later Natalie was in bed, sound asleep.

The first dream began: she was running over sand. The moon was high,
lighting cliffs and canyons. In the distant was a river. A seemingly thin
ribbon of farm land separated the river from the sand. A desert, she
realised. She was running through a desert at night. Why? Behind her,
Natalie heard laughter. Cruel laughter. Then she tripped over a rock, but
before she could get up and start running again, a hand grabbed her and
pulled her roughly to her feet. A voice, a man's voice, spoke in a language
she didn't understand. But she understood the message of the strong hands
dragging her towards a temple in the sand. She struggled and screamed in an
effort to escape. The man struck her. Out of the corner of her eye, she
caught sight of a lock of blond hair. Then the man forced her down by the
temple wall and put his hands around her throat.

Gasping for breath, Natalie woke with a silent scream. Sidney jumped off the
bed, hissing, as Natalie stumbled to the bathroom and splashed cold water on
her face.

She looked at herself in the mirror.

"It was only a dream! A stupid dream!" she said over and over again to the
reflection. "It was caused by that old woman and her nonsense, combined with
too much drinking and an over developed imagination!"

Then she went to the kitchen and made herself a coffee.

By the time she stopped trembling, it was almost dawn. Her phone rang.

"Nat?" It was Nick. "I didn't wake you up, did I?" He sounded concerned and

"No, I was up." Natalie replied.

"Are you all right? You sound upset? Do you want me to come over?" Nick's
voice sounded like....

"No! No, I just had too much to drink. I'm going to finish my coffee and
sleep the day out. I'll see you tonight." Natalie tried to force a smile
into her voice, but she couldn't help but notice that the murderer in her
dreams had Nick's voice. She hung up the phone and went back to bed.

She didn't dream this time.

Nick hung up and stared at the window. It was almost dawn, but he could
still make it to Natalie's if he hurried.

But she told him not to, and Nick knew how much Natalie jealously protected
her privacy and freedom.

'You're being an idiot, Knight!' he told himself. 'You'll see her this
evening, then she'll tell you all about it.' With that, Nick closed the
blinds and got up to go to bed for the day. When he turned, he saw Lacroix
standing there.

"Ah, Nicholas!" his mentor said with a droll smile, "you were in such revere
that you didn't hear me come in! Tell me, what could take your mind from
your own fathers' presence? Let me guess... the good doctor, perhaps? A
problem between you? How terribly unfortunate, but you know how mortals are.
Every fleeting incident means so much to them. To their miserable, little

Nick clenched his fists, but didn't move.

"What do you want, Lacroix? Have you no manners? You couldn't knock and wait
to be invited in?" Nick snapped.

"Invited into the home of my own child? I think not!" Lacroix replied with a
laugh at seeing Nick angry and yet unable to do anything about his anger.

"Tell me what bothers you? Then, maybe I'll leave and knock the next time I
come visiting." Lacroix sunk down on the couch, making himself completely at
home. Nick sat on the chair opposite. He knew he had no choice, he had to
tell Lacroix, or Lacroix would never leave.

"Natalie was upset by some dreams she had. She went out with an old friend
who is visiting from overseas. She over indulged."

Lacroix threw his head back and barked a laugh.

"Is that all? The good doctor has a simple bad dream and she has you upset?
Oh, my, my, my, Nicholas! Such power this fragile mortal has over you. Don't
you feel the least bit stupid?" Lacroix stood. "You know something, I am
almost tempted to stay here and hold your hand, but I can't stand the
thought of you fretting over Natalie Lambert's bad dream all day. How boring
you would be! Come to the Raven tomorrow. Janette will be back from Paris,
and you know how much she will love to hear about you and the good doctor."
With a parting laugh, Lacroix flew up through the skylight. leaving Nick to

A brassy blast shook Natalie awake with a sudden start. For a wild moment
she didn't know who she was or where she was. Then Sidney meowed and the
pieces fell back together. By that time her answering machine was just
clicking on.

"You've reached Dr. Lambert. I am unable to take you call, please leave a
message. BEEP!" Natalie was about to ignore the phone when she heard
Margo's voice.

"Nat? Nat, if your there pick up." Natalie grabbed the phone.

"Margo.." before she could get any farther Margo interrupted her.

"Nat, are you ok? I called twice before, but there was no answer. I call the
morgue, but Grace said you were taking the day off. Is everything all
right?" Natalie was suddenly taken by the concern in her friends' voice.

"Well, if you really want to know: I had a bad dream. " Natalie smiled.

"Now, before you get yourself all up in arms over this Madam LaWhatEver from
last night, I'm putting it down to drinking above and beyond the call of
duty, caffeine over consumption and excessive sugar overload. So don't even
mention the Tarot Lady, ok?" Margo was laughing.

"Ok, I'll be over in half an hour for tea, and I promise that I won't
mention last night." She hung up before Natalie could protest.

"Damn you Margo! You're doing it again!" Natalie raged at the phone when she
realised that Margo had not given her the number she was staying at.

Thirty minutes later, Margo was knocking on the door.

"I come bearing gifts!" She announced brandishing a large bag of mint tea.

When she left, three hours later, Natalie had gotten her number and a
promise of a more sedate evening out in two days time. Natalie was smiling
and humming to herself as she dressed for work.She was looking forward
to seeing Nick. He would be such a calming influence after an afternoon with
the Mighty Margo.

Nick didn't even bother going into the precinct. He called Schanke and told
him to meet him at the morgue after shift began.

"Sure partner. And what shall I tell our esteemed captain Cohen? That you've
got a hot tip on a cold slab?" Schanke had snapped before hanging up. Nick
grimaced. Shift tonight was going to be one long evening.

Still, Nick thought, seeing Natalie and satisfying himself that she was all
right would be worth it. He pushed open the double door and spotted Grace
performing a strange ritual with the computer monitor.

"Evening Grace. Exorcising some programming demons?" He asked.

"Oh, you don't know the half of it, Detective. Our system crashed at 7:00
a.m. this morning, and it still isn't working! I'm telling you, our Help
Desk is absolutely useless!" Grace said shaking her head. "Natalie is inside
doing the paper work the old-fashioned way: by putting pen to paper." Nick,
sensing a dismissal from the ever vigilant Grace, sketched a bow and pushed
open the swing door into the lab.

Natalie was absorbed in her work, so she didn't notice him enter. Nick
thought he would give her a surprise, so he quietly moved up behind her and
placed his hand on her shoulder.

"Miss." he said in his most authoritative, police officer voice.

Natalie let loose with a scream of absolute terror and jerked herself away
from Nick's had and was half way across the room before she turned around.
Grace came bolting through the door.

"Natalie?.." she began.

"Nat, I'm sorry!" Nick approached her slowly with his hands outstretched. "I
was only trying to surprise you!"

"Surprise me! You almost gave me a heart attack! What the hell were you
thinking?" she snarled back at him.

Grace looked at the two, and quietly left.

Nick listened to Nat's heart and waited until it had slowed down before he

"Natalie, I am so sorry. Please believe me! I came here before shift to make
sure you were all right. Is everything ok?"

Natalie sunk against the filing cabinet. His hand, his voice, that damned dream!
"Oh, Nick, I'm so sorry! I was busy writing, and I had a real bad dream. I
guess the combination of my being pre-occupied and you sneaking up on me was
just too much." Nick took her by the hand a led her back to her chair. After
he sat her down he began to knead her tense shoulder muscles. Something was
really bothering her, he realise.

"Tell me about the dream." he said gently as his hands worked the muscles
around her neck.

"It took place in the dessert." she began.

By the time Schanke arrive, Nick was concerned. Natalie was visibly upset by
a dream and it seemed to include him!

"Shall we hit the streets, partner?" Schanke asked.
Nick tossed him the keys to the caddy.

"You drive tonight, Schank. Let's cruise Queen first. There is something I
want to check."

Schanke whistled appreciatively as he clutched the keys in his hand. A
chance to drive Nick's caddy was worth Cohen's anger. He would add that
favour to the rest Nick owed him and keep it for another day.
Twenty minutes later, Nick told Schanke to stop the car. He got out and
walked up and down the row of stores between Spadina and Peter.
There was no fortune teller's sign anywhere. And the address Natalie had
told him.

It was a boarded up building.

Between 2 gang related shootings and a LAN system that was the joke of the
office, the night flew by. Before they realised it, Nick was coming into the
morgue to ask Nat if she wanted a ride home.

"Sure", she said. She was physically and mentally exhausted. "I'm beat. Who
ever thought that the simple task of writing was easy has never spent 10
hours writing up medical reports, coroner reports and editing police
reports! You guys should learn spelling, punctuation and sentence context -
some of those reports were God-awful!"

Nick laughed and slipped his arm around Nat's shoulder. 'My Nat is back!' he
thought to himself, smiling.

For her part, Natalie felt a sudden security and warmth from the protection
of Nicks' arm. 'I could really get to like this,' she thought, 'Especially
if he follows through with a ....' Her revere was broken by the sound of Don
Schanke arguing with some unfortunate.

"Look man, I don't care if the Queen herself wants the file! I'm telling
you, me and my partner are off duty! You can wait till we decide to honour
the office with our presence tonight. Then I'll get you the file." Nick
glanced at Natalie and, with some reluctance, took his arm off her shoulder
just as they rounded the corner.

Sure enough, there was Schanke, bristling like an angry bantam rooster,
berating a younger uniform.

"What's up Schanke?" Nick asked, sliding between his partner and his
partner's annoyance.

"This 'cadet' want's the Cooper files. Says that Supt. Earlstein, in Drugs,
needs the info for a tango at the Court House. I told him all the info is in
the computer, that all he has to do is tap, tap, tap the magic keys and,
voila! there are the facts in black and white!"

"Schank," Nick began, "the computer system has been down all day. We'll have
to go back and find the damn files!" He looked at Natalie. "Sorry Nat, I
guess this means I can't drive you home this morning." He gave her a
mournful, lopsided half grin.

Natalie smile back.

"That's ok. My car is here. I'll call you later." She said and gave his hand
a squeeze.

As Schanke started up his tirade against the unfairness of life, the
unreasonable demands of those of rank, and the general undependability of
computers, Nick watched Natalie walk down the corridor towards the parking
lot. Suddenly he felt empty, and the urge to tell Schanke to search for the
files himself was almost overwhelming. But he couldn't, Schanke was his
partner, his friend. He would give him the few hours that would have been
Nat's. And considering how they began their shift, it was the least he could
do for him.

"Come on, partner," Nick said with a sigh, "Let's go make the big poobahs
happy by finding their toys for them."

When Natalie finally turned the key in her lock, all she wanted was a nice
warm bed. She missed Nicks' arm, but she reminded herself that this evening
she could have more than just his arm.

"MEOW!!!" Sidney curled around her feet, demanding a fuss and a feeding.
Natalie leaned down and picked her room mate up.

"Well Sidney, do you think you would like living in a real big apartment? It
has two levels and all sorts of cubby holes for mice and other beasties and
baddies. Just perfect for an overweight, lazy walking rug like you." She
gave him a hug and feed him before she checked her answering machine.
Between messages from the cable company (trying to sell her some more
channels), and a roofing company offering a one-time-only-deal on shingles,
was a message from Margo. Natalie deleted everything but Margo's message.
"Nat! I found him! The man from my dreams, I've found him! I know you just
got home form work, so I'll come over later on this afternoon and tell you
all about it. I'm so excited!" Natalie smiled. Just like Margo - fall into
a pile of horse manure and come up with a ruby!

She gave an exhausted yawn and decided to forgo her shower in favour of her bed.
She didn't dream.

This time Natalie was up well before Margo made her entrance. The kettle was
boiled and a pot of tea was waiting.

Margo was walking on clouds.

"I met him last night! I decided to walk around and found myself following a
bunch of weirdo's into this club just south of Queen. You know what I've
always said: Weirdo's Find The Most Interesting Places to Party!" Margo
sipped at her mug. Natalie looked a bit concerned at her friend.

"Marg, it's not a good idea to 'follow the weirdo's" here. I've had too many
'followers' as clients lately.... so please be careful!" Margo reached over
and gave her hand a squeeze.

"That's my Nat! Always concerned. But don't worry .... I've learned to take
precautions." she smiled. "Anyway, it was in this club that I met him! He's
the owner, and he's a DJ. His name is Lucien. And ..... HE'S NOT MARRIED!"
Natalie froze, her cup in mid-air.

"Margo, what is the name of the Club?" she asked cautiously.

"Oh, it's called the Raven."

Natalie's mug fell from her hands and crashed to the floor. Margo almost
dropped hers' in alarm.

"Nat! What's the matter? What's wrong?" But before Nat could answer, the
phone rang. It was work: a gang war had broken out and she was needed RIGHT
NOW! Natalie knew she had to go, but Margo.....

"Margo, please listen to me. The Raven is a dangerous place. And if that
Lucien is who I think he is, he is very, very dangerous! Please, don't go
back there and forget Lucien! I think you're wrong - I think the man you're
looking for has yet to appear. Please, as your friend - your dearest friend
- I'm begging you: don't go back to the Ravven."

Margo sat there stunned. "Nat, what is with you?" she demanded. "I meet the
man of my dreams and you tell me to forget him? Come off it girl: I'm not a
child! Just because you're the victim of unrequited love doesn't give you
the right to throw a brick wall up in front of MY happiness!" And with that
she stormed out of the apartment.

Nat felt like crying.

The day was total hell: fifteen gang members with various gun shot wounds,
stab wounds and various other sundry ways to kill a person, littered the
morgue. The computers were still down and the three new morgue attendants
left after two hours claiming to be sick from the stench of blood. Nick and
Schanke were assigned to the case, but weren't able to stop by the morgue.
Natalie and Grace were exhausted mentally and physically by shift end. Nat
hoped that Nick would show up and offer to drive her home.

He didn't.

Resigned reality, Nat drove home to an apartment with a broken cup and cold
tea littering the floor. The debris reminded Nat of her day: broken and
soiled. As she cleaned up the mess, she checked her messages. Nothing from
Margo. Nat made herself a cup of tea and tried to phone her friend. All she
got was the answering machine. "Margo, it's Nat. Look, I'm sorry about what
I said. Please call me, we really have to talk."

But Margo didn't call.

Natalie called Nick. "Nick, I think my friend Margo is in danger. I think
Lacroix has hexed her into believing he is her one true love. I know it's
late, but would you do me a favour and check the Raven? Please! See if Margo
is there and do what you can to stop this before she gets hurt? Thanks."
Then, since neither Margo or Nick returned her calls, Natalie went to bed.
The dream started almost immediately.

She was on horseback. The stars shone brightly in the sky as she rode with a
group of people into the night. They were hunting something. The others in
the group called to each other in a language Nat couldn't understand ...
again. She felt something in her hands and looked down. A crossbow was
balanced before her on the saddle. Why? she thought.

Suddenly, the leader of the group shouted a warning. Ahead, a small group of
riders broke from the trees and entered a farmers field. With cries and
curses, the group charged after them. Natalie was in the middle. One of the
pursed horses stumbled, throwing it's rider to the ground. As the rider
stood, one of Natalies' companions raised his crossbow and fired directly at
him. A hit, straight through the heart. The man fell to the ground, but not
before his hood fell partly back, revealing long dark hair.

Natalie and the group galloped on. The leader shot the horse one of the
pursed in the flank. The animal stumbled but the rider held on. But they
were not match for the pursuers. Soon, surrounded by the hunters, the rider
desperately tried to ride through the ring. He charged directly at Nat, who
now held the crossbow up, aimed at the centre of his chest. As he came
closer, the moon came out from behind some clouds and light his face.
Natalie screamed as the leader yelled at her, ordering her to shoot. As her
finger tightened on the trigger, the man galloping towards her screamed NOOOOOO!

She fired.

And screamed.

And woke up shaking and crying.

She had killed Nick.

Natalie stumbled out of bed but, tangled in the sheets, she fell and hit her
head against her dresser.

As everything went dark, Natalie heard her phone ringing.

"Damn it Nat! Answer! Answer the phone!" Nick snarled before slamming down
the receiver. Natalie had been right: Margo was at the Raven, and Lacroix
was using her somehow to get to Nat. And now, Natalie Lambert (who should
have been home) was not answering her phone. Nick decided to go to her.
Lacroix was standing in his doorway.

"Knock, knock." he said with a smile. "Have I come at a bad time? I saw you
at the Raven, Nicholas, but you didn't stay long. Did you not like my new
companion? I thought you two would have had something in common." Lacroix
leaned against the door, blocking Nick's exit with a smile. "Going somewhere?"
Nick looked at Lacroix and felt an anger like no other rise in him. Keeping
control, Nick picked up his coat and walked slowly towards Lacroix.
"What have you done, Lacroix? What have you done to Natalie and to Margo?

Why?" he demanded as his approached.

"Ah, Nicholas! Always the last to see, eh? What have I done? Nothing really.
I'm just having a little fun with your mortal 'love' and her friend. A
little 'suggestion' to Margo to visit Lucrezia, a little 'something special'
in the mint tea, and the rest is up to the good doctors vivid imagination."
Nick stood there stunned.

"You set them up with Lucricia Borgia? You told me she was dead! She a
poisoner! what has she done to Natalie!"

Lacroix laughed and walked towards Nick.

"I lied. Simple, isn't it? I lied and set your 'girl friend' up with a
murderess. And Margo ... such a pretty, but stupid, girl. I met her in
Brussels about a six months ago. A quick 'taste' told me all I needed to
know. Now, she is here and doing just as I suggested. I'm the gamemaster,
Nicholas, and your Natalie is my game!" Lacroix started to laugh. "And the
best part is you can't do a thing to stop me! You're beloved mortal will go
mad believing in shadows and things that go bump in the night. Especially
since she already works with the dead, just imagine how this is going to
affect her career!"

Nick stood looking at Lacroix for a moment. Then he moved in a blur.
Lacroix didn't expect the attack. Nick grabbed him by the throat and hurled
him against the fire place. Before Lacroix could collect himself, Nick
slammed his fist into the leg of the piano, breaking it off, and shoved the
piece of wood as hard as he could into Lacroix's chest. Blood foamed from
his mouth as he tried to push Nick's hands away.

In a moment it was over. Lucien Lacroix dried up and fell into the
fireplace. Nick turned it on and watched as his 'father' was consumed by the

Suddenly, he felt ill. He had murdered his 'father', hadn't he? But then,
what Lacroix had done .... it was the last straw. He had attacked Natalie!
With a cry of anguish, Nick hurled the piano leg into the fire and bolted
out the front door. He didn't care who saw him as he took to the sky to
Natalies' home.

Natalie woke in hospital. Grace was standing on one side of her, and Schanke
on the other. She felt a bandage on her head.

"Grace, Schanke? What happened? How did I get here?" she asked. Graced
reached over and patted her hand.

"You're going to be all right. When you didn't answer your phone, Nick got
concerned. He went over and found you. The doctors said you blacked out
because of the narcotics in your blood. The mint tea was full of
hallucinogenic. A real mish-mash of them. Schanke and Nick have traced the
bag back to the place your friend bought it from and Narcotics have charged
the owners with trafficking and endangering the public. You're gonna be
fine, but you're going to have to be taken care of for a few days until you
can get back on your feet."

Natalie just lay there silently. The dreams, Margo, the tea. It all seemed
too unreal.

"Where is Nick?" she asked. Schanke smiled.

"He's gone to pick up your cat. He told the doctor he would take you to his
place to recover. Funny thing, the doctor didn't argue with him about it."
Natalie smiled, 'I bet he didn't' she thought.

Three hours later she was safely on Nicks' couch watching Sidney investigate
his temporary home. Nick had brought her some tea: just a cup of Red Rose.
He told her what had happened, and she had asked him to alter Margo's
memory. He didn't tell her he had already done that.

Now, he sunk onto the floor beside her and joined her watching Sidney chase
imaginary mice in the darkened corners.

"He likes it here." Nick said, and glanced up to Natalie. "What do you
think? Should I hire him as my regular full-time mouser?"

"Well," Nat replied, "if you want to hire him, his keeper is part of the deal."
Nick leaned back and stretched before answering.

"I don't have a problem with that. Do you?"

The End