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Hold Back the Night – Chapter 11

Chapter 11

St. Agatha’s

The Blessed Mother’s pure light continued to radiate from within Jonatha as she floated effortlessly several inches above the chapel’s stone floor.  The young girl felt a soothing warmth spread throughout her entire body.  She was no longer looking at the Blessed Mother’s loving blue eyes, but through them, into another time and place.  She knew that what her eyes were witnessing was sacred and alluring.  She wanted to go within those eyes and immerse herself in their kindness and compassion and as bewildered as she was, she knew she was looking into heaven.  Unfortunately, the rest of the group didn’t share her opinion.

Huddled in one corner was Winter, who alternated between crying and screaming, and knew Jonatha’s airborne trick was somehow connected to the raven-haired woman who was often in control of her.  It was a correct assumption and one that would become clearer to her sooner than she thought.  In the meantime, however, Winter assumed Jonatha was in danger and not in the grip of a powerful love.

In another corner, Llewellyn was trying to subdue Dashiell, but was failing.  The only time Llewellyn ever dominated Dashiell was when they were in bed and Dashiell was feeling submissive, so now that the half-man half-vampire was half-crazed from being on holy ground in the midst of a miracle, Llewellyn simply had to settle for watching his lover lose control.  Therefore, he wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

With one shake of his arm Dashiell broke free of Llewellyn’s ineffective grasp and ran towards the statue of the Blessed Mother.  With the preternatural strength Dashiell already possessed, he easily ripped the stone structure from its base and rose it above his head.  While high above Dashiell’s head, the Blessed Mother turned her loving gaze away from Jonatha and towards Dashiell and looked into his eyes.  Dashiell didn’t see heaven in her blue eyes, but only eternal emptiness.  A roar filled with a mixture of vengeance and exquisite pain bellowed from Dashiell’s still-intact soul as he threw the statue to the ground.  But before it reached the stone floor, Jonatha intervened.

Although she was no longer the subject of the Blessed Mother’s gaze, she was still levitating and wrapped with the white light.  As the statue was about to crash to the floor, she turned her head towards it and willed it to stop.  Obeying Jonatha’s psychic command, the statue rested at her feet and floated along with her.  For a few brief seconds the young girl and the virgin mother were floating on the same plane.  Jonatha lifted her head and looked toward the empty column, which was the Blessed Mother’s resting place, and the statue rose and moved toward the column until once again it graced its perch.  When it was securely in place, the Blessed Mother, now dry-eyed, smiled at Jonatha, then resumed her static pose.

Winter ran from the room and didn’t see Jonatha float back down to the ground and the light disappear from around her.  Nor did she see Dashiell fall to the floor, exhausted by fear, to be attended to by Llewellyn.  The cold air and the normal surroundings were both refreshing to Winter and she stood for a moment letting reality reclaim her.  At the corner of the street she saw her Uncle Anthony and immediately called out to him.

“Uncle Anthony!” Winter screamed.  “Come quick!  All hell’s broken loose inside the chapel!”

 

Nightwind

Several voices were speaking simultaneously inside Perry’s semi-conscious head.  The first voice belonged to his wife, Madeline, and was filled with polite concern.  The second voice was Ondine’s, and was questioning, but tinged with a hint of unmistakable amusement.  The third was also Ondine’s, but from 1956, and was hysterical and accusatory.  And the fourth was his own voice, astounded and dismay.

When he opened his eyes he saw Ondine and Madeline inches from his face.  Madeline sighed with relief and Ondine’s pursed lips formed a smirk.

“Perry” Madeline said.  “Can you hear me?

“Yes,” Perry mumbled.

“Can you try to stand up?” Madeline asked.

Once again Perry mumbled “yes” and the women grabbed him under either arm helping him to his feet and then a kitchen chair.  As he looked from his wife to his former mistress he wasn’t completely sure what decade he was in or if he was still alive for he had believed since that memorable Christmas Eve that Ondine was dead, and thanks to him, several feet below the earth.  After blinking his eyes several times and convinced that his heart was still beating, he realized he obviously didn’t make a very efficient ditchdigger.

“Ondine,” Perry said, then paused to choose his words very carefully.  “I never thought I’d see you again.”

“I’m sure you didn’t,” Ondine demurred.  “Nightfall and all its residents thought I’d simply vanished off the face of the earth.  Or below it.”

“We were just reminiscing Perry,” Madeline interrupted.  “I’ll explain it all later.”

“No!” Perry shouted.  “Tell me now.”

Perry’s command was all Madeline needed to hear to know that her husband had healed from his faint.  She would try to discover why he fainted after she escorted Ondine from her home.

“Oh Perry,” Ondine said.  “You’re just as feisty now as you were all those years ago.  Madeline, you are such a lucky woman to call such a passionate man your husband.”

“I wasn’t aware that you knew so much about my husband’s passion,” Madeline replied.

“Would someone please explain what is going on here?” Perry asked.

“I’m visiting an old friend Perry,” Ondine began.  “I think you know Vincent Savage.”

Ondine relished Perry’s audible gasp at the mention of the vampire’s name, then continued.

“We’re very close friends, paramours you might say, and when I discovered he had settled in this quaint village, I raced down memory lane on my private jet to return to the town I once called home.”

Perry didn’t hear a word Ondine said, he just stared at her moving red-lipsticked mouth.  How could she still be alive, Perry thought.  He reached back into his memory with fierce determination and pulled up roots of images of he and Ondine driving in a car, snow falling all around them, loud, angry voices, blood on Ondine’s forehead, swerving off the road.  He shut off this mental video tape just as he saw himself burying Ondine in the ground and looked at the same woman who was sitting in his kitchen chattering about how much she missed this town and all its people.

“Well I should let you rest Perry,” Ondine said.  “You really do look like you’ve seen a ghost.  Which I guess is what I must seem like.”

“Thank you for stopping by Ondine,” Madeline said.  “And we will see you next week.”

“Why?” Perry demanded.  “What’s next week?”

“Madeline’s 60th birthday party,” Ondine said.  “Your wife has been kind enough to extend an invitation to me.  And she bears no hard feelings against me for leaving Nightfall so abruptly all those years ago, so I hope you can find some forgiveness in your heart to offer me as well.”

Before Perry could respond the phone rang.  And before he could announce that he would answer it, Madeline greedily took this as a chance for her to leave the room.  She was uncomfortable being in Ondine and Perry’s presence and assumed it was simply because she disliked them both.  When Madeline left the room Ondine lunged toward Perry and kissed him hungrily.  Her red stained lips smeared themselves all over Perry’s petrified mouth.  When she was finished she pulled back and smiled.  And when she spoke again it was in a different voice, that of a spurned lover who thought of revenge as a deadly serious ambition.

“Are you happy to see me again?” she asked.

“I thought you were dead,” Perry said.  “That night . . . in the car . . . you weren’t breathing.”

“Thank you for taking on the duty of gravedigger,” Ondine said.  “It was very thoughtful, a bit premature, but thoughtful nonetheless.”

“I had no idea,” Perry said.

“Oh yes you did,” Ondine replied.  “You knew exactly what you were doing.  You were getting rid of the inconvenience, you were destroying the evidence, you were tidying up the dirty little corners of your life.  But you failed, Perry, like you’ve failed in most everything you have attempted to achieve in your life.”

“I don’t have to listen to this,” Perry said.

“Oh yes you do, and furthermore, you will,” said Ondine, as she leaned in even closer to Perry so he could smell the hatred that enveloped her.  “Your colleagues tolerate you, your children do nothing more than acknowledge that you share a biological connection, your wife is apathetic where you’re concerned, and I, your ex-lover, has ignored you all these years, patiently waiting for the right moment to strike back and make you pay for what you did to me.  I have returned to Nightfall for one reason, and one reason alone, Perry.  To destroy you.”

 

Joe Lassiter

To a voyeur the Lassiter house appeared empty.  The lights were off, the mail protruded from its box on the front porch, and there were no cars in the driveway, but even still, someone was home.  Joe was sitting in his living room too exhausted not only to move, but to block out the thoughts that were invading his mind ever since Madeline pronounced that evil had returned to Nightfall.  Madeline was not prone to hyperbole, if anything, she was a cynical woman who did not give in to emotional outbursts.  This time, however, her outpouring of emotion was justified.  Joe knew evil had returned to Nightfall, but he had no idea where to look for it or how to defeat it once it was found.

Visions of dead bodies flashed in front of him and when he shut his eyes tightly they appeared in even more detail.  Aimee and David’s ravaged bodies floated in front of him, blood trickling from their necks, their faces wearing masks of fear.  Shaking his head violently, Joe got up and paced the room trying to dislodge the images from his eyes.  His attempts were futile and in fact only made the images become clearer and more lifelike in their lifelessness.  Joe knew that they, and the other victims that would surely follow, would haunt him until he uncovered the source of the evil or until he became a victim himself.

His pacing grew more frenetic and soon he knocked over a picture.  He didn’t see where it fell, but he heard the glass smash on the hardwood floor.  He turned on a light and saw that it was a photograph of Edwina and him on their wedding day.  They both looked beautiful, but neither of them were smiling.  Joe calmly tried to remember a time when he and Edwina did share a smile, but he couldn’t and was forced to admit, there on his knees amid pieces of shared glass, that their marriage was truly a sham that needed to be put to rest.  He prayed that his daughter, Jonatha, would be able to understand that her parents loved her tremendously, but were just complicated and human and therefore possessed many personal faults and demons that led to the untethering of their marriage.

Filled with that odd mixture of sorrow and relief that comes when painful decisions are made, he gently placed the photograph on an endtable and started to go to his bedroom to begin packing his things.  It would be unfair to his wife and daughter if he remained under this roof one more night so the Collins Inn would have to make room for another lost soul.  As he turned to enter the bedroom he heard a knock at the front door and when he opened it he couldn’t deny or repress his joy.  It was Amanda.

 

Father and Son

The last ray of the sun fell below the horizon and with perfect timing both caskets in the Savage household opened simultaneously.  Vincent and Adam walked silently up from the inner depths of their temporary residence until they reached the main sitting hall.  Vincent noticed Adam was already restless now that he was a week away from his complete transformation to the Golden Life.  That meant his son would need even more support to survive the physical changes he would soon face.  That also meant that Vincent would have to push Perry even harder to finish their experiment.  The timing was crucial for if Perry and his scientific team produced the serum one second after Adam’s crossing over was complete, it would be useless to him.  Perry’s entire family would also be killed, but that was a byproduct Vincent would have to live with.  The most important factor was giving Adam the most magnificent eternity anyone could ever hope for.

“Father, I’m hungry,” Adam said.

“Then let us hunt,” Vincent replied.

“Why is my appetite getting stronger every day?” Adam asked.  “It’s almost uncontrollable.”

“You’re getting closer to the day of crossing over,” Vincent explained, “and so your voraciousness is to be expected.”

“Will I gain control once the transformation is complete?” Adam asked.

“Yes, but until then you must be careful not to make any mistakes.”

“What kind of mistakes?” Adam queried.

“Be sure not to rise too early before the darkness,” Vincent said.  “Do not hunt down a pack since you are still too young and not strong enough to defeat a group of frightened, and perhaps resourceful, humans.  And do not overindulge in your prey.  Even vampires need to watch out for overkill.”

Adam heard his father’s words, but didn’t take a moment to process their meaning, he was more involved in gazing out the window trying to spy a lone traveler.  His eyes widened when, far off in the distance, he saw an older man walking along the beach with his dog.

“Father I think I’ve found my first meal of the night,” Adam declared and raced out the door.

Vincent sighed with paternal resignation and joined his son to feed on another unsuspecting victim.

 

St. Agatha’s

Winter knew that she would not be able to find the words to describe what had just taken place so she simply grabbed her Uncle Anthony’s arm and dragged him into the chapel.  But when they arrived everything looked normal except for the three teenagers lying on the chapel floor, of course.

“What happened?” Winter asked.  “A minute ago the statue was moving, and Dashiell was freaking out, and Jonatha was, she was, well she was suspended in mid air for like ten minutes!”

Anthony’s eyes moved from the statue of the Blessed Mother to Jonatha to the two young men huddled together in one corner of the chapel and he couldn’t see anything different with the church.  But since he had already witnessed Jonatha perform one miracle he was convinced Winter had just witnessed another.

“Jonatha,” Anthony said as he approached his niece.  “Are you alright?”

“Oh Uncle Anthony,” the young girl beamed.  “I’m perfectly fine.”

Jonatha looked toward the Blessed Mother and Anthony followed her gaze.

“She spoke to me,” Jonatha said.  “Not with words, but with love.  I know it sounds weird and I don’t expect you to believe me.”

“I do believe you,” Anthony said.  “Did the statue’s eyes come to life?”

“Yes!” Jonatha shrieked.  “You’ve seen them too!”

“No,” Anthony replied.  “I haven’t been that blessed, but I’ve heard stories.”

“Uncle Anthony,” Jonatha continued.  “I felt her purity wash over me, it was wonderful.”

“Excuse me,” Winter said.  “But what did I miss?”

“Winter,” Jonatha said.  “You mustn’t be frightened.  I know I probably looked a little Supergirl-ish floating in the air.”

“A little?!” Winter shouted.

“Well okay a lot,” Jonatha said, laughing at her sister.  “But trust me it was . . . it was heavenly.”

As Winter stared at her cousin with inquisitive eyes a strange thing happened, a blackness seeped in and started to cover her vision.  Winter blinked once but the blackness remained and she thought that this was the onset of the raven-haired woman’s return.  But after several more blinks the blackness retreated and she could see clearly once again and the raven-haired woman’s presence was nowhere near.  At that moment all Winter wanted to do was get out of that church, be free of the roaming eyes of the Blessed Mother, and be on her couch flipping mindlessly from cable channel to cable channel.

“Whatever you say Supergirl?” Winter said.  “Can we just all leave now?”

But Jonatha was still adrift on a ride she had just taken with the Blessed Mother and wasn’t yet finished talking about it.

“And when the tears fell from her eyes,” Jonatha said.  “It was so beautiful.”

“She cried?” Anthony asked.

“Yes,” Jonatha replied, “when she looked over at Dashiell.”

Anthony looked over at the two men who were now standing and were as anxious to leave as Winter was.  Dashiell took this pause as the perfect opportunity to speak.

“I guess that means my welcome pass to heaven has been rescinded?”

 

Nightwind

Recoiling in fear from Ondine, whose face now looked like it was molded by an evil hand, Perry tried to push the chair he was sitting in back a few inches, but it slammed into the wall.  Although Perry was not the type of man to face up to his past or his misguided deeds, he couldn’t turn away from Ondine.

“It was an accident,” Perry whispered loudly.

“Nothing you have ever done in your entire life has been an accident,” Ondine replied.  “Remember that Vincent and I have made conversation as well as love.”

Tiny beads of sweat clustered on Perry’s forward and his right hand began to shake slightly forcing him to grab the arm of his chair for support.

“Look at you,” Ondine laughed.  “You really are the cowardly man everyone thinks you are.”

Suddenly Ondine’s face became very soft and when she spoke again it was with the voice of the emotionally wounded: “I don’t know how I was ever able to love you.”

“Please don’t harm my family,” Perry said quietly.

Once again Ondine abruptly shifted emotions and she was back to being a woman hell-bent on vindication.

“Well you should have thought of that when you were dragging me from your Cadillac and dug me a tiny grave and shoved me into the ground and covered me up with dirt and snow and left me to rot while you went home to have a hot tottie, and the next morning open up Christmas presents with your precious, Madeline,” Ondine said.  “Did she give you anything as special as I did, Perry?  Did she ever give you love?”

“I think you should leave my house now,” Perry said.  “You’ve said what you needed to say.”

Ondine stared at Perry with an expression of disdain and disappointment.  She gathered her mink and began to leave the room but turned to face Perry once more.

“Mark my words Perry Love, I will destroy your life like you tried to destroy mine.  And, unlike you, when I attempt anything, especially revenge,” Ondine declared, “I triumph.”

 

Amanda and Joe

The lovers embraced on the doorstep and Amanda wasted no time before sprinkling unexpected kisses on Joe’s cheeks, eyes, nose, and mouth.  Joe wasn’t sure why he was the recipient of such an arduous welcome, but he didn’t question it, he was too busy returning Amanda’s kisses.

“I’ve been looking all over town for you,” Amanda said in between kissing Joe’s ear and his chin.

“I’m sorry, my cellphone’s dead,” Joe said trying to suppress a giggle.

Amanda ended her kissing assault and gave Joe the note that was in her hand.  It was now crumbled and damp from being held by Amanda’s sweaty palms, but its message was still readable.  As she watched his expression change from confusion to gratefulness she was thankful that she was able to deliver the message in person, and when she saw the first tears drop from his eyes, she knew that he shared her happiness.

“I can’t believe . . . after all these years . . . our son . . . ” Joe stammered.

“Is coming home,” Amanda said, finishing his sentence, “to his parents.”

“Yes to both of us,” Joe said.

Joe felt a change in his spirit as he held Amanda in his arms and the letter in his trembling hand.  It was the same sensation he always felt when in Amanda’s presence.  For years he ignored it, but ever since they gave into their passion and made love he was more aware of it than ever before.  Their connection was undeniable.

He led her into the house and closed the door behind them.  The confusion he was feeling earlier had completely left him and he was overcome by a clarity that he wasn’t quite used to, but honored to behold.  He brought Amanda to the couch and they both sat down.

“Are you alright Joe?” Amanda asked.

“I’m perfect,” he replied.  “I’m here with the only woman I have ever loved, I’m about to reunited with the son who was taken from me, and you’re carrying my child.”

“Joe,” Amanda said softly.  “I told you there’s no way that I’m pregnant, not this far along.”

Joe just smiled at Amanda like a guy who had just witnessed beauty for the first time.

“Don’t fight it Amanda,” he said.  “We’re having another baby and the only thing that could make me happier is if you would become my wife.”

“What?!” Amanda said.

“Well that’s not exactly the response I was hoping for,” Joe said, laughing at Amanda’s shock.

“Joe, so much is going on . . .”

“So much is always going on,” he interrupted.  “I love you, I don’t love Edwina and I never have.  We both know that.  With this new baby on the way it’s made me realize that I will only be happy if you are my wife.”

Amanda was about to declare her opposition to what she felt was a crazy idea, but then she looked at Joe’s face.  She saw the innocent boy she met when she was only fifteen, alternately teasing her at school and carrying her books on the long walk home.  She looked deeper and saw the young man who gently knelt before her and promised to love and obey her for eternity.

She even saw the wounded face of the man who betrayed her with her sister.  And she saw the man who stood before her now, the man who’s child she could be carrying and she knew what her heart had known since that first day she laid eyes on Joe Lassiter, that he was the only man for her.

“Yes, Joe,” Amanda said, her voice clear and sure, “I will marry you.”

 

Father and Son

Basking in the glow of his father’s approval, Adam wiped the last drops of blood from his lips and fangs and looked at his latest victim with dispassionate eyes.  He felt nothing for the middle-aged man with the soft gut and pale skin, who lay dead at his feet, he only felt satisfied and alive.

“I think I should go back home and study,” Adam announced.  “I have mid-terms exams next week in history and theology and I would like to do well.”

“I’m glad you’re taking an interest in your studies,” Vincent said.  “The study of mortal past can be quite beneficial.”

Adam started to walk along the beach back to their home, but noticed Vincent wasn’t alongside him.

“Aren’t you coming with me?” Adam asked.

“No, I have business to attend to.”

“Then I will see you later Father.”

Adam continued along the beach and when Vincent called out to him he didn’t turn around, but merely digested his words with a son’s impatience.

 

“And don’t feed again without me.”

 

Amanda and Joe

Joe couldn’t remember the last time he had so much fun in his bed.  He and Amanda tossed, turned, and got tangled up in each other as they made love over and over again.  There was nothing subtle or quiet about their lovemaking, it was bold, loud, and passionate.  It was a confirmation of their love and their renewed commitment to each other.

In between exploring each other’s bodies, they made plans.  Plans to go to another doctor and find out the truth about the baby Amanda was carrying, plans to tell their entire family about the return of their first born, and plans for Joe to move back into Nightwind.  And of course a plan as to how they should deal with Edwina.

“So how do you think we should handle your sister?”

“Frankly, I don’t care,” Amanda said.  “She doesn’t think about anyone else’s feelings, so it’s about time someone disregarded hers.”

“I understand how you feel, but I don’t want to hurt her, if for nothing else than for Jonatha’s sake.”

“I don’t want to deliberately hurt her either, but I won’t let her interfere with my happiness any longer.”

“Them sounds like fightin’ words,” Joe said.

“Them are honest words,” Amanda replied.  “I love you and nothing from this day forward will separate me from you.  Not even the wrath of Edwina.”

Standing outside her bedroom door Edwina had heard every word.  And with her hand on the doorknob and one eyebrow raised, Edwina wondered how her sister would react if she entered the room so Amanda could experience her wrath firsthand.

 

Oslo, Norway

A black eagle soared high above Love Laboratories cutting through the frigid Norwegian air like a missile.  The isolated building was protected by man-made security fences and the natural denseness of the forest that surrounded it for miles.  It was built on this desolate land as per Perry Love’s orders for Perry thought it best to work in the shadows.

The eagle landed on a balcony on the top floor and looked through the glass door into the main laboratory where Astrid Hallström was working on the experimental serum.  Inch by inch the eagle grew until it was over six feet tall.  Its wings retracted and grew out again in the shape of a man’s arms and its talons became legs.  No trace of the eagle was left as Vincent Savage slid open the glass door and entered the lab.

His superior preternatural vision took in the entire room in a split second and he saw chemicals bubbling, dangerous viruses dancing in petri dishes, and a beautiful woman slumped over a microscope.  Without looking up, Astrid spoke.

“You must be Vincent Savage.”

“And you must be Astrid Hallström, ravishing lady scientist.”

Astrid looked up at Vincent and they were both struck with each other’s beauty.  Vincent enjoyed Astrid’s resemblance to Amanda and felt a touch of regret that he had yet to spend more time with the woman with whom he shared a child, but he knew their reunion was only a week away.  And Astrid was surprised that for once Perry had told the truth, Vincent was a remarkable creature and possessed an intriguing physical quality.

“What brings you to my lair, Mr. Savage?” Astrid asked.

“Time is beginning to run out for us Ms. Hallström,” Vincent replied.  “I need the serum within one week’s time.”

“We are working as quickly as humanly possible,” Astrid replied.

“Human restrictions don’t concern me,” Vincent said.  “Though I must say I am delighted to find you at work in the middle of such a cold, unforgiving night.  Alone.”

“Norway is filled with such nights, this is nothing exceptional,” Astrid said.  “And I sent the rest of the team home to rest.”

“How convenient.”

Astrid was more alarmed at how close Vincent had gotten to her than by his comment.  Faster than the second hand of the clock could progress a notch, he was right next to her.  Ever since she was a young girl she had heard inappropriate comments from men.  It was as if her lustrous blonde hair, high cheekbones, and toned body had given men license to verbally abuse her.  She considered it her greatest gift that she was a lesbian and could therefore deny every man who shouted derogatorily to her or slurred innuendo as he passed her way the chance to experience what they so obviously craved.

In response to Vincent’s unexpected movement, Astrid got up from her chair and moved to another part of the lab.  She began sorting through vials of blood that were being used to create their new serum.  There were about twenty test tubes filled with blood on a large mirrored-glass tray.

 

“I’m really quite busy Mr. Savage,” Astrid said trying to sound calm.  “And if you want us to reach our deadline you shouldn’t distract me from my work.”

“I understand and I haven’t come to steer you away from completing your work,” Vincent said.  “I only wanted to make sure you understood the importance of this project.  I am aware that Perry doesn’t possess the authority he thinks he does.”

The blood from the vials Astrid was working with was from healthy newborns and their rich, pungent aroma filled Vincent’s senses like a hallucinogen.  He couldn’t resist getting closer to Astrid to breathe in their scent completely.  But as he did Astrid’s spine stiffened and she became quite afraid, she knew she had to make Vincent leave.

“Mr. Love signs my checks,” Astrid said.  “That’s all the authority he needs for me.  Now Mr. Savage I really must ask you to leave.”

With all his strength Vincent ignored the lure of newborn blood and met Astrid’s curious glare, thus causing the frightened woman to concentrate on the vials of blood before her.  Leaning close to her ear he bid the woman farewell before he slipped out of the glass doors and back into the form of an eagle to fly back to Nightfall.

“I will leave you to your work Ms. Hallström, but remember that I will return.  And when I do I expect you to have completed your mission.  If not it will be the last one you ever undertake.”

But Astrid didn’t hear a word of Vincent’s threat, she was trying to keep herself from screaming.  When Vincent leaned in next to her, she noticed hers was the only reflection she could see in the mirrored lab tray.

 

 

St. Agatha’s

Standing under the watchful, but now unmovable, eyes of the Blessed Mother, Dashiell confessed that his agnostic beliefs obviously irked the woman he called the virgin martyr so deeply that she retaliated with tears aimed at inducing guilt.  After introducing her uncle to her London friends, Jonatha explained why the Blessed Mother was crying.

“Dashiell first of all the Blessed Mother was shedding tears of joy,” Jonatha began.  “And second even if they weren’t she wouldn’t be trying to make you feel guilty.  She loves you regardless of your beliefs.”

“Is she right Father?” Dashiell asked.

“When dealing with miracles you can never be too sure,” Anthony replied.

“Oh come now,” Dashiell protested.  “You said yourself that you heard stories.  Have you ever heard the one where the Blessed Mother cries at the non-believers?”

Anthony stared at the young man and the same feeling of danger he got when was around Vincent Savage began to engulf him.

“Yes, actually I have heard those tales and quite frankly they don’t have happy endings,” Anthony said.

“You see,” Dashiell said, then added dramatically.  “I am destined to an eternity in hell.”

“Or worse,” Llewellyn said.

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Dashiell said turning to face Llewellyn.

Before Llewellyn could say that he felt Dashiell’s chosen fate, an eternity of roaming the earth by himself, was much worse than battling the pits of hell, Winter spoke.

“People please, can we leave these hallowed grounds already?  It’s a miracle I didn’t die of a heart attack right at Jonatha’s levitating feet, which perhaps would have given the Blessed Mother here something to do other than wrap you in white light and cry over heathens, but I am hungry okay?”

“Really Winter you shouldn’t be disrespectful in the presence of the holy virgin,” Dashiell said.

“Oh come on!  The woman’s got a sense of humor,” Jonatha said.   “She enjoys when Winter makes her laugh.”

“Jonatha, I love you,” Winter said.  “But you are so, so incredibly weird.”

Each person left the chapel a bit differently than when they entered.  They all knew they had experienced something amazing, but they didn’t realize the Blessed Mother’s tears were only a foreshadowing of more devastating events to come.

 

Father and Son

Once again Vincent completed the transformation from eagle to vampire, this time on the balcony of the servant’s quarters.  He went to Adam’s study, but the room was empty.  His schoolbooks were in a pile, unopened, his laptop was not turned on, and the room looked as orderly as it had the day before. Like any father, Vincent did not like when his son lied to him.  Vincent walked through the rest of his home calling out Adam’s name but received no response.

As he walked into the kitchen Vincent heard a cry coming from the narrow strip of beach that leads from his home to Nightwind.  The cries became louder and then stopped abruptly.  Unsure of what to make of the situation, Vincent went outside and was stunned when he saw Adam feeding on another victim.  His face was nuzzled in someone’s neck and he was thrashing the body from side to side so it looked like a rag doll.

“Adam!” Vincent cried.  “I told you to wait for me!”

Startled, Adam raised his distorted face from his victim’s neck and some excess blood gushed from his lips.  He was feasting too fast and was sucking blood so quickly from the body that he couldn’t swallow it fast enough.

“I told you to wait for me,” Vincent said as he walked toward Adam. “Children simply don’t listen!”

But when Vincent got closer to Adam his tone quickly changed for he saw that Adam’s most recent victim was Edwina.

 

Amanda and Joe

A mile away, Amanda and Joe walked along the beach hand in hand.  Amanda wore one of Joe’s old sweaters and held it tightly around her and Joe couldn’t take his eyes off the woman who would finally rescue him from years of emotional solitude.  From now on they would face the world together.

They sat near the edge of the tide, Joe behind Amanda, his strong arms wrapped around her as the wind blew ocean salt in their faces.  She held them tightly and felt safe.  But she wasn’t safe at all.  Several yards away stood a woman who had destroyed Amanda’s past and was poised to ruin her future.  The wind blew through Ondine’s luxurious white hair, lifting it into the air to reveal roots that were so black they were the color of a raven.

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