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Hold Back the Night – Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Winter

Winter stared into the mirror and directly into the eyes of the raven-haired woman not because she was interested, but because she was paralyzed.  The moment she made eye contact with the mysterious woman, Winter could feel pangs of fear creep into her body making her heart pound and her breath hard to catch.  She begged God to give her the strength to look away from this stranger, but was not surprised when her plea went unanswered.  She had never been a faithful servant of the Lord which she knew made Him unhappy, but it was an act that filled the raven-haired woman with joy.

Deep within the recesses of Winter’s bruised soul, she could not prevent something bad from washing over her.  With the part of her brain that she still controlled, Winter wondered if she was being punished.

“No, my child,” said the raven-haired woman.  “You are being rewarded.”

 

Edwina

Edwina stared into the pieces of mirror that still clung to the frame and fifteen self-images bombarded her at once, which in Edwina’s drunken state was fifteen too many.

“Stop looking at me like that!” Edwina screamed at herself.

After spending the entire day alone, unable to contact her husband, Edwina was anxious and, as usual, she allowed her self-indulgence to override her rational thought.  On her short walk to her front door she lost her footing twice before disregarding her coat and her logic by grabbing her car keys to search for Joe.

 

Perry

Perry stared at his own reflection in the mirror and spoke to the other person in the room.

“How have you been, Vincent?”

“Very well,” replied the vampire.  “I had forgotten how much I enjoyed life on the East coast.”

Unable to turn around and face his visitor, Perry remained focused on the mirror.  He felt the beads of sweat accumulate at the back of his neck and slowly slide down his spine.  Regardless of how many times he was in Vincent’s presence, each time felt like he was  in a cage with an exotic, wild animal; you just never knew when the animal would strike, but you knew at some point it would.

“Perry, where are your manners?” Vincent said.  “Please turn around so I can see you.”

Slowly, Perry turned and winced upon seeing Vincent in the flesh.  The creature looked the same as the last time they had secretly met: stylishly dressed, distinguished, and physically striking.  But over the years Perry had learned to look beyond the basic outline of this being.  He could see that Vincent’s skin was a bit too smooth, and his fingers a bit too long.  Perry noticed the vampire’s jagged teeth creasing the flesh around its lip and Perry’s heart lurched as he wondered if he was becoming better at noticing Vincent’s differences, or if the vampire was toying with him.

“You said it was important that we meet,” Perry said.  “What was it that you wanted to discuss?”

“Such the businessman.  Are you not at all interested in the well-being of your  grandson?”

Perry swallowed hard before he replied: “I think we should stick to business.”

“Very well then.”

Vincent brushed up against Perry as he went to sit in the older man’s desk chair.  Vincent could smell Perry’s fear and couldn’t help but laugh at the man.  They had known each other when Vincent was still mortal and now with a vampire’s heightened senses he understood the man so much better.  This better understanding made Vincent’s disgust for Perry grow for Perry had no morals.  Vincent may have been a killer of men, but he had his own code of ethics that he steadfastly upheld.  Sometimes he faltered by misunderstanding the importance of mortal life and wound up killing innocent people who deserved a better fate, but Vincent was, after all, of a higher species.  Perry, on the other hand, had no ethical code.  He simply lived to protect himself, and since Perry had countless secrets to protect his was a very full life.

Vincent’s size 13 black leather Kenneth Cole boots made a loud thump when he draped his feet on Perry’s desk, causing several files to fall to the floor.  Neither man moved to pick up the scattered papers, they just watched them waft to the floor.  Vincent kept staring at Perry’s face, while Perry remained focused on Vincent’s boots.  The vampire realized he held less compassion and sympathy for Perry than he did for his victims.

“I understand the research in Oslo is proceeding nicely,” Vincent started.  “The first set of test results was extremely promising.”

“Yes.  I organized a brilliant team of scientists.”

“Yes, Ms. Hallström is leading an intelligent group.  But Adam crosses over on October 20th, the day after your dear Madeline’s sixtieth birthday.”

“Don’t mention her name,” Perry bristled.

“Does her name conjure up bad memories?” Vincent asked, knowing full well the loveless nature of the marriage of the first couple of Nightfall.

“I’ll inform Ms. Hallström of the situation,” Perry replied, ignoring Vincent’s remark.

With the speed of a jaguar and the elegance of a python, Vincent rose and moved to stand in front of Perry.  “When you speak to Ms. Hallström,” Vincent whispered, “convey to her the need to accelerate our project.”

“They’re working as fast as they can,” Perry stammered.  “They’re already ahead of schedule.”

“And if they finish after the 20th when Adam has crossed over to the Golden Life completely, then all is for naught.”

“I told you this might not work!”

Perry clenched his fists and slammed them against the innocent air like a petulant child who had been denied a toy.  With amused eyes Vincent drank in the man’s red cheeks and sweaty brow, and paused before responding to his childish outburst.

“Do I have to remind you what is at stake here?”  Vincent asked.  “If our plan fails, if you do not help Adam retain some of his human characteristics, then your life, as you know it, is over.”

“But . . . it’s not my fault!” Perry protested.

“Oh but it is, Perry.  All of this.  Is your fault.”

 

Amanda and Joe

The only light that shone in the underground tunnel was Joe’s small flashlight, which was part of a Swiss army knife he always carried with him.  He hadn’t seen Amanda enter the tunnel, but he knew that when she wanted to be alone this is where she sought refuge.  But he didn’t care if she wanted to be alone; he needed her now and he knew in his heart that she would never turn away from him.

When the first flickers of light illuminated Amanda, Joe could see that she was crouched in a corner weeping.  The sight left Joe unable to breathe and he felt as if an eager hand was clutching his throat.  Choking back his own tears he moved toward her, placed the flashlight on the ground, and held the woman he loved.  Amanda didn’t pull away.  Instead, she held onto him until her tears subsided.

“Why, Joe?” Amanda asked.  “Why would my father want to hurt me?”

“Maybe he wants to protect you.”

“Protect me?”

“From false hope,” Joe said as he brushed away her tears. “From thinking that some day we will be reunited with our son.”

“Even if we didn’t get that last note, even if I had no idea if I would ever see Joey again, I would never declare him dead.  He’s my child.”

“I know, Amanda, I know,” Joe said as he held Amanda close to him.  “He’s my child too, and I won’t rest until I see him again.”  After he caught his breath, Joe  continued: “I’ve screwed up so many times in my life . . .”

“Joe, don’t.”

“No, I have.  I ruined us, I ruined my marriage to Edwina, it’s a miracle my daughters still talk to me.”

“You’re a good man, Joe. You are.  And I . . .” Amanda suddenly lost her voice.

“What, Amanda?” Joe whispered.  “What were you going to say?”

“And I love you so much.”

Their arms intertwined and soon Amanda found herself laying on the cold stone floor as Joe, straddling her, was quickly unbuttoning her blouse, and then her belt.  Her desire would not yield to the doubt that was creeping up within her.  She understood this newfound bliss she had found with Joe might not last, and she also knew that the longer she allowed it to continue, the more painful it would be for her when it finally had to end.  But for now she allowed Joe to shower her with kisses, and she let his tongue caress

her neck and his rough hands stroke her breasts.  She was simply too weak to resist.

 

Edwina

The stop sign was nothing more than a red blur to Edwina so she drove right through it.  She had the top of her fire engine red BMW convertible down and felt the night hair mingle with her hair as she raced down the streets of Nightfall.  Speeding past the countryside on a quest to find her husband, Edwina was plagued by images of him wrapped in the arms of another woman whom she knew intimately.

Ever since she was a toddler, Edwina had been compared to her older sister, Amanda.  She was constantly reminded that she didn’t walk as early as Amanda, she didn’t talk as well as Amanda, and she wasn’t as smart as Amanda.  It didn’t matter that Amanda never criticized her sister or flaunted her accomplishments, it only mattered that Amanda was the reason Edwina would never be anything more than secondary.  In her parents’ eyes, and in the eyes of all the inhabitants of Nightfall—most of whom Edwina felt were meddling and ignorant—Amanda was the special one and Edwina, the prodigal daughter.  Naturally, it didn’t help that Edwina was irresponsible, manipulative, and self-centered, but to Edwina, those were tactics and not traits.

As the image of Joe and Amanda having sex (even drunk, Edwina couldn’t imagine that they made love) grew clearer in her mind, Edwina tried to counteract it by remembering intimate moments that she shared with her husband.  She focused on the happier times in her marriage, and soon her mind was occupied with mental pictures of Joe and Edwina frolicking on the beach in Mykonos.  When she closed her eyes and surrendered to the memory, she could still taste the salt water and feel Joe’s sand-covered hands exploring her body, but before she got to the moment when Joe made love to her in the dunes, she was jolted back to reality by another car’s horn.

Her eyes opened immediately and she saw that she was driving in the wrong lane.  She moved the steering wheel to the right, swerving out of the way of the oncoming car seconds before impact.  She slammed the brakes, causing the car to skid off to the shoulder of the road.  When she realized she was still alive, she peered into the rear view mirror and saw the other car drive off into the blackness.  Once again, she was a survivor and the thought of it made her tingle euphorically.  When she pushed down hard on the gas pedal she couldn’t decide if she felt glorious because of the adrenaline rush or the alcohol, but then she decided she really didn’t care.

 

St. Agatha’s College

No matter how many times Jonatha walked through the Square, she couldn’t help but smile at the college’s Old World appearance.  She longed for the day when she would become a full-time college student instead of an eager high schooler taking evening classes, for then she could immerse herself into a world of education like she always wanted.  Unlike many of her friends, and especially her sister, Jonatha enjoyed school and went to class each day, thrilled at the prospect of learning something new.  Some day, she told herself, she would be like her Uncle Anthony and would teach other students about history or perhaps religion.  Until then, she’d study and absorb as much information as her mind would hold.

Jonatha walked between Adam and Anthony, her boot heels clicking on the cobblestones in a carefree, teen-aged rhythm.  She had offered to drive both men home and they had agreed.  Anthony had stopped driving ever since he began having his visions again, and Adam was delighted to spend some more time with Jonatha, whom he found quite intriguing.

During their walk from the classroom to Jonatha’s car, Adam was quiet for although he was enchanted by Jonatha’s beauty and charm, he had realized early on in his life that if you ask someone too many questions, inevitably they will start asking questions about you.  His father had warned him that they were not yet ready to answer any questions about themselves or their reason for relocating to Nightfall.

“Adam,” Jonatha asked, “why are you only taking evening classes?”

“Well, my father and I made the decision to transfer to Nightfall quite late in the year,” he replied.  “So all the classes I wanted to take were only available at night.”

“If it weren’t for your father, you wouldn’t have gotten into my class at all,” Anthony interjected.

“I know.  I’m grateful he was able to pull some strings.”

“Is your father someone important?” Jonatha asked.

Anthony explained that Vincent Savage was the new head of the Ancient History department as well as a leading authority in Egyptology.  To himself, Adam added that was because Vincent currently knew some vampires who lived during Queen Cleopatra’s reign and had gotten first hand knowledge of life during their time period.

“Well Mr. Savage sounds very exciting.  I hope to meet him soon to discuss ancient lands,” Jonatha remarked.  “I love that stuff.”

“Perhaps you’ll get the opportunity,” Anthony said.  “Vincent and Adam live on the estate, in the old servant’s quarters.”

“Really?” Jonatha said.  “Well then I do expect an invitation, Adam, and very soon.”

Adam couldn’t tell if Jonatha was being flirtatious or sincere.  All he knew for certain was that he was mesmerized by her aura, a pure white glow that emanated from her . . . an aura that both entranced and frightened him.  This was a young woman he desperately wanted to get to know, but he knew she was also someone he felt could expose him for the fraud he was.

Jonatha opened the passenger door of her silver Volvo, and allowed both men to enter. When Adam bent down to enter the backseat, he glanced upon Jonatha’s gold crucifix necklace.  He shut his eyes tight but could still feel a burning sting as he stumbled into his seat.

“Are you alright?” Jonatha asked.

“Yes,” Adam answered.  “I just have something in my eye.”

“I told you to watch that power of yours, Jonatha,” Anthony said playfully.  “No mortal man can resist.”

“Get in priest-man,” Jonatha joked and slammed the door shut.

Walking around to her side of the car, Jonatha had to admit she was beginning to realize men were noticing her more and not just her physical appearance, they seemed drawn to something deep within her.  She would have to think about this further, but for now she had her favorite uncle in her front seat and a cute stranger in the back and she was more than content.

 

London

The two red leather suitcases and matching carry-on bag were all Dashiell and Llewellyn were planning to take with them on their trip to Nightfall.  They weren’t sure how long they would be staying, but they had booked a room at the Collins Inn for two weeks, and told a woman named Inez, that they may stay longer.  She told them that considering it  was the start of the off-season, she would be able to accommodate an extension.

Llewellyn was sitting in a cub chair, with his legs draped over one arm.  He watched Dashiell nervously pace the room.  He had made no secret to Dashiell that he did not want to go to Maine, but as always Dash convinced him it was something they had to do.

“We have to do this for my mum,” Dashiell had explained.  “In order to help her we must make contact with Jonatha.”

“We already did,” Llewellyn protested.  “Why do we have to traipse to America to snuggle up to the girl?”

“We need to find out just how powerful she is and if mum truly needs to fear her.”

“Even when Mum isn’t meddling, she manages to get in between us.”

“You’re the one who’s getting in between us, Llewellyn!  I want to prove to her that I can help her, can’t you see that?”

“Can’t you see that you’ll never be anything more in your mum’s eyes than her bastard son?”

During the silence that followed this comment Dashiell felt suspended between ‘hate’ and ‘love’ and closed his eyes tightly to avoid seeing Llewellyn.  Whenever the two men spoke of Dashiell’s mother, an argument ensued because Dashiell desperately wanted his mother’s respect and Llewellyn knew it was something she would never dispense.  Llewellyn knew better than to try and apologize or rationalize with his lover during these blow-ups, but he also knew that when it came to Dash’s mother, he was right.

Ondine Chauvelin was a beautiful, domineering woman with an old world elegance that made people feel like genuflecting before her when they came into her presence.  She expected no less from her son.

From the day he was born, Dashiell, was her trophy.  No one knew who his father was, and wise enough to know that curiosity brought fame, Ondine refused to reveal the man’s name.  Her enemies circulated rumors that Dashiell’s father was a cruel, third world dictator, her male admirers that it was them.  Before Dashiell cut his first tooth almost one hundred men had admitted to being his father, but Ondine would not confirm or deny any of their boasts.

As far as she was concerned Dashiell’s father had never existed, which meant that Dashiell was hers and hers alone.  And as his only guardian, Ondine felt it her responsibility to shower him with exquisite gifts to ensure that he felt loved.  For, as Ondine believed, the best, most enduring love, could only be measured in a price tag.  He had the best toys, the most expensive clothes, and when he got older, the best education money could buy.  Before she gave birth to him, she knew she wanted her child to cross over into the Golden Life, for she wanted to sire an immortal, and her plan was currently

working.  Her connections and money had allowed Dashiell to be welcomed into a preternatural world that typically shunned mortal wannabes.   She always laughed at how movies and books exploited the world of vampires making it seem as if any vampire could create another just for companionship or to alleviate the boredom of traveling the world alone for an eternity.  Vampires had a moral code that they to had to follow, her friend Vincent had taught her that, and before one immortal being could create another they needed to be given permission by the council.  If they didn’t, the consequences could be grave.  For a young vampire, Vincent had a great deal of power with the council, and he had convinced them to allow Dashiell to receive the gift of the Golden Life.

Two weeks ago, Ondine had watched with eager, rapturous eyes as Vincent seduced her son and sucked the blood from his neck, slowly at first, and then with ravenous delight.  For hours Ondine gazed at Vincent as he took life from Dashiell’s veins, then let it flood back in, creating a mixture of vampire-human blood that would flow in Dashiell’s veins for several weeks before he could cross over completely.  Soon he would have to hide from the sun and feast only on red ambrosia, and then Ondine would let Vincent teach her son the ways of the night.  Unaware that Vincent had other plans, Ondine counted the days until the final transformation would take place and her son would join the select ranks of immortals, who walked this earth.  But until then Dashiell was still just a man.

“You always act like a child when we speak of Ondine,” Llewellyn said quietly.  “That’s one of the reasons I love you.”

“Don’t try to play ‘kiss and make-up.'”

“You can never resist.  I don’t really know why you try.”

“I need to focus, Llewellyn.  I need to be the one to save my mum.”

“Then let’s just tell Ondine about this trip and how we’re going to reveal what secret powers lie within the heart of the mysterious Jonatha Lassiter.”

“No!” Dashiell cried.  “I need to do this without her help.”

Llewellyn knew Dashiell well enough to be sure that this line of conversation would only aggravate him further and make him completely incapable of any rational thought.  So he changed the subject.

“What about Jonatha’s annoyingly American sister, Winter?” asked Llewellyn.

“Now she might be a problem.”

 

Winter

The raven-haired woman’s voice was gentle and soothing and made Winter feel almost calm.  She was still trying to comprehend what was happening to her, but she  realized that when she didn’t resist the woman’s grasp, the paralyzing fear lessened and she could breathe more easily.  Winter still could not look away from the mirror and the longer she stared at the woman the more she noticed how little she resembled a woman and more like a porcelain sculpture she was.

“Winter,” the woman said, “from now on you are in my control.  Do you understand?”

“Yes,” was the only response Winter could utter.

“You will be my eyes and ears.  Through you I will learn all I need to know.”

“Use me as you see fit,” Winter replied, still unable to move more than her lips.

“Very good,” she said with a smile.  “I can see you will be a worthy subject.”

The raven-haired woman continued to speak and told Winter that even when she gave Winter control of her body once again, their spirits would be joined and the woman would be aware of everything Winter said and did.

“Now, child, lead me to them.”

 

Joe and Amanda

Exhausted, Joe lay on top of Amanda for several moments before reclaiming his strength and pulling himself off of her.  The two dressed quickly and silently acknowledged the awkwardness that cut through the dimly lit air.  Neither was sure how many times two people could succumb to their passion before they were forced to confront reality, but they would soon have to talk with words instead of kisses.

 

Luckily their introspection was interrupted by the ringing of Joe’s cell phone. He glanced at the number and since it was work and not his wife, he shrugged apologetically at Amanda and answered the call.

“Lassiter.”

“Captain, this is Anderson,” said David.

“What is it?”

“We’ve found another body, sir.”

“Where?”

“Near Serenity Pond.”

Joe didn’t repeat the name of the location out loud.  Serenity Pond was only three miles west of Nightwind, and he didn’t want to alarm Amanda.

“Do you know who it is?” asked Joe.

“Yes.  Aimee Pomeroy, the Love family’s maid.”

Joe hoped Amanda didn’t see him wince at the mention of the Love’s trusted servant.  Aimee was much more than a domestic, she was Madeline’s friend and her death would greatly wound her.

“I’ll be right there,” Joe replied.

“Is something wrong?” Amanda asked.

“They found another body.”

“Oh no.  What’s happening, Joe?”

“I don’t know, Amanda,” Joe replied honestly.  “Let me walk you back to the house.”

“No.  I need to stay here and collect myself.  I’ll be fine.”

“You make sure you take the passageway back the same way you came.  Don’t go out to the beach.”

“I won’t,” Amanda said, then quickly added: “You be careful.”

“I will.”

The two lovers stared at each other, the only light being the flashlight and the fire within their eyes.  Each knew they stood on the threshold of a shift in their personal lives, but both were afraid and too tired to examine it just yet.  Joe’s lips brushed against Amanda’s cheek and he pushed open the secret passageway that led to the beach above.  They were both unaware that a few yards away Winter was watching them.

 

Perry and Vincent

“How dare you tell me that this is my fault?!” Perry exclaimed.

Perry often made Vincent laugh, especially when the mortal tried to act innocent.  As Perry’s fists clenched tighter and the veins in his neck threatened to burst through the collar of his hand-made Italian shirt, Vincent roared with laughter, infuriating Perry.

“I will not recite the litany of events that you both created and orchestrated which have brought us to our current situation,” Vincent said, pausing in an unsuccessful attempt to stifle his laughter.  “We both know the truth.  It seems I alone, however, wish to accept it.”

“You evil creature!”

“I could say the same of you,” Vincent replied, and howled in a greater burst of laughter.

“I have had enough of this meeting,” Perry declared.  “I’m going home.”

Before Perry could get his hand on the doorknob, Vincent sprang from his seat, leaping halfway across the room to stand between Perry and the door.

“Do not be a fool, Perry.  Remember what you are dealing with.  Now sit down in your chair and use that intercom to buzz for an assistant,” Vincent said calmly.  “Suddenly, hunger overwhelms me.”

Intimidating was not what Vincent was trying to be, but when you are a very tall and handsome vampire and you state you are hungry that is what you become.  Perry was stunned for he was being asked to supply Vincent with a meal, to be an accessory to murder, and he knew that if he didn’t respond accordingly, he could very well be Vincent’s next victim.

“Do not test me, Perry!”

The vampire’s cry jostled Perry so that his fingers hit the intercom button before he even knew he had done so.

“Yes, Mr. Love,” said Noelle Parker, Perry’s assistant.

“Noelle,” Perry said, “you’re still here.”

“Yes, I was just about to leave,” she replied.  “Can I get something for you or Mr. Savage before I go?”

Perry gave Vincent a pleading glance, but the vampire just smiled and bared his fangs.

“Please come in here right now.”

Perry shut off the intercom before Noelle could respond, and seconds later the young blonde-haired woman entered the room.  As Vincent pulled her nubile body close to him, Perry remembered how grateful Noelle was earlier in the week when the office celebrated her recent engagement with a surprise cake.  Unable to look away, Perry watched as Vincent feasted on Noelle’s neck.  He watched Vincent’s face distort and resemble something that resembled an extinct animal as his fangs pierced into the young, succulent flesh over and over again.  He watched Noelle’s eyes flutter and heard her throat moan softly as if she were in the middle of ecstasy.  Just when Perry felt he could no longer repress the scream that welled up within him, Vincent let Noelle drop to the floor and then wiped the traces of blood from his lips with an eager, practiced tongue.

“Now let’s get back to business,” Vincent said ignoring the girl at his feet.

“But, but . . .” Perry stammered.

“Oh Perry, you are a worrywart,” Vincent chided.  “I only took enough to satisfy my craving, she will wake up in a few hours and think she dozed off at her desk.”

“But her neck,” Perry shouted, “it’s, it’s. . . . been ravaged.”

Vincent sighed melodramatically and bent over so his mouth was once again poised over Noelle’s neck.  Instead of piercing her flesh with his fangs, however, he ran his tongue over her wounds.  Seconds later Vincent and an amazed Perry watched as Noelle’s wounds healed, leaving only the slightest puncture mark that would be covered by the young girl’s long hair.

“I can’t do this any more,” Perry begged.  “Please we must end this . . . this . . .”

“This partnership will end when I say it ends,” Vincent replied.  “If you think this is a game, you are a very stupid man.  You will inform your lady scientist that Adam will be ready for his first injection by week’s end.”

Vincent rose and moving so fast that Perry could not see his actions with mortal eyes, picked up Noelle and sat her in a chair where she would awaken later.  Just as Vincent placed his hand on the doorknob, he heard Perry calling after him.

“I’ll do my best, but I can’t guarantee that we can make that deadline.”

“I understand,” Vincent replied.

“Thank you,” Perry said, visibly relieved.

“And you will understand that if you fail I will kill you and your entire family,” Vincent said casually, but before he shut the door he added:  “And that way you will never be reunited with your grandson.”

 

A Late Night Meeting

The dulcet tones of Celine Dion singing My Heart Will Go On drifted from Edwina’s car radio and pushed the inebriated woman deeper into her own little world.   Absentmindedly, she sang along with Celine and pounded her heart with her first imitating the French-Canadian singer’s campy choreography as she once again started to veer into the wrong lane.

“Joe Lassiter, where the hell are you?!” Edwina screamed over Celine’s vocal gymnastics.

Assuming the worst, Edwina was headed to the center of Nightfall, where she expected to find her husband and her sister in a romantic embrace at the Collins Inn or some other nightspot.  Luckily, for Edwina, the town wasn’t a hotbed for adult entertainment so her search wouldn’t take long.

Jonatha drove through the center of town feeling very much like a full-fledged grown-up.  Both Anthony and Jonatha filled Adam in on more of the town’s history and Jonatha talked about her recent trip to London, but carefully left out the part that included her impending visitors so as not to give Adam the wrong idea about her, while Celine Dion’s lush voice on the radio underscored their conversation.

From the back seat, Adam had a clear view of Jonatha’s throat and try as he might he couldn’t peel his eyes away.  It was nearing his feeding time and he knew he had to escape Jonatha’s company soon or else he would not be able to resist temptation.  As a fledgling vampire he was still unable to curb his cravings so he forced himself to look out at the countryside as a diversion and decided not to partake in any more conversation.

Interpreting Jonatha’s rambling and Adam’s silence as teen-aged tension, Anthony tried to steer the conversation to neutral territory: his class.  Anthony told Adam that he was very intrigued with the comments he made after class about the myth of Jesus and would like to continue the talk over coffee.

“Adam,” Anthony asked, “does that appeal to you?”

But Adam was concentrating so hard on ignoring Jonatha that he didn’t hear the priest’s question.

“Earth to Adam Savage,” Jonatha said.

Jonatha looked in the rear view mirror to see why Adam wasn’t responding.  At first she couldn’t see him so she adjusted the mirror to get a view of the entire back seat, but even then she still couldn’t see him.  Perplexed, she turned around.

“Adam!”

A few feet ahead on the other side of the road, Edwina was driving towards them.  She was thinking back to the first time she lured Joe away from Amanda.  It was a few months after Joey’s disappearance and Amanda was in Boston looking through yet another book of mug shots in a desperate attempt to recognize someone who might be Joey’s kidnapper.  The police at that time thought the Love’s, being a wealthy and prominent family, might have enemies who would kidnap an heir.   Before she left,

Joe and Amanda had gotten into a terrible fight because Joe blamed the incident on the “stupid Love tradition” of making a wish in the ocean on your fourth birthday.  Amanda interpreted Joe’s anger to mean that he didn’t think their tradition was stupid, but that she was stupid for losing sight of their son.  She left in tears vowing not to stay married to a man who could accuse her of causing such heartache.  For his part Joe accepted an assignment to track down a con man in Mykonos, which just happened to be one of Edwina’s most favorite places on earth.

As Celine’s rapturous high notes swirled around Edwina’s intoxicated head, she remembered feeling Joe’s wet flesh on that beach in Greece where adultery came in as many shapes as sand particles.  Despite the chilly wind, she could feel Mykonos’s hot sun burn through her loins as her mind’s eye saw Joe’s bathing suit get pushed down around his ankles.  Then she saw her bikini top get tossed somewhere between the dunes.  But as Celine continued to sing, Edwina’s mind went blank.  She couldn’t push her memory any further to relive the moment when Joe and Edwina first made love and created their daughter Jonatha.  She closed her eyes and tried to see them making love; she could see the beach, the waves, but nothing more.  Her inability to conjure up this memory infuriated her because it seemed that the only link that remained to connect her to her husband was being ripped away from her.  She didn’t dare think that the many glasses of wine she consumed earlier in the evening distorted her memory, so she did what she always did in times of stress.  She blamed her sister.

“Damn you, Amanda!”

And those were the last words she cried before her car crashed into Jonatha’s.

 

London

The clock in the posh apartment chimed eight times and both young men knew they had to leave for the airport.

“Do you have your passport?” Dashiell said, trying to sound like one half of a suburban couple.

“First, tell me why you think Winter Lassiter could be a problem,” Llewellyn protested.

Dashiell claimed he felt Winter had a crush on him and might therefore get in the way of them uncovering the truth about Jonatha.  Dashiell took this opportunity to remind his lover that they would have to hide their true feelings for one another while they were in Nightfall, especially since Winter would be underfoot.

“I have a bad feeling about this, Dash.”

“You worry too much,” Dashiell replied as he pulled Llewellyn into an embrace.  “I told you long ago that I would never let anything happen to you.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about.”

Llewellyn kissed Dashiell tenderly on the lips and both men felt their cheeks grow warm.  They held each other tightly until the front door flung open and they saw Ondine standing in the doorway wearing a floor-length black mink coat that made her snow white hair appear even more dramatic as usual.

“Bon soi! I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

 

An Accident

The first one to move after the two cars collided was Anthony.  He roused himself to checked Jonatha’s pulse and to his relief discovered that she was still alive, though she seemed to be unconscious.  She had a cut on her forehead, caused, most likely, by her head hitting the steering wheel.  He tried to turn around to see how Adam was, but when he moved his head completely to the left a stabbing pain shot from his neck all the way down his arm.  Instead, he undid his seatbelt and after struggling a bit with the door, he was able to open it and get out.

He saw that the front of the car had a large dent and the small rear window was shattered.  He quickly surmised that the back portion of the car must have absorbed most of the impact of the collision.  Adam was covered in tiny shards of glass, but shaking his head and obviously beginning to awaken.  As Anthony leaned over to help Adam out of the car, drops of blood from a cut above Anthony’s eye dripped onto Adam’s lip.  Instinctively, Adam licked the crimson liquid and lunged toward Anthony with lusty eyes.  With ease, Adam broke free from his seatbelt and both he and Anthony fell to the ground.

“Adam!”  Anthony cried.  “No!”

Just as Adam was about to bare his fangs and plunge deep into the priest’s throat, he caught sight of the Anthony’s familiar eyes and stumbled back.  He lay panting on the ground as Anthony stroked the back of his head urging him to be calm, and fought the urge to suck every drop of blood from Anthony’s body.  The only thought that kept him from doing just that was that his father would not be pleased if he killed one of the Loves.

When Anthony stood up he witnessed something so miraculous he wasn’t sure how he would later explain it.  In the middle of the road, Jonatha was kneeling over Edwina’s body.  Anthony realized she was the other driver and had been thrown from her car when it flipped over near the trees on the shoulder of the road.

A puddle of blood was flowing from under Edwina’s head and her legs looked oddly twisted.  She didn’t move and as Anthony got closer it didn’t look as if she were breathing.  Calm and serene, Jonatha moved her hand over her mother’s body and soon a white light enveloped Edwina.  The puddle of blood began to recede and Edwina’s legs resumed a more natural position.  Jonatha’s hand moved directly over Edwina’s heart and Anthony could see the color rush back to the ghostly pale face and her stomach start to rise and decline again in the movement of the living.  The priest moved in close to his niece just as she fainted in his arms.

 

Winter and Amanda

In the nearly pitch black darkness of the tunnel, Winter watched her mother cry.  Winter wanted to go to her mother to ease her pain, but she was under the raven-haired woman’s spell and could not move.  Her desire to comfort her mother grew as she saw Amanda fall to her knees and clutch her stomach.  Winter wondered if she was causing her mother’s pain and desperately wanted to embrace her, but each time she tried to move, the raven-haired woman tightened her hypnotic grasp.  The young girl could only watch as

Amanda screamed out in agony one last time before collapsing onto the ground.

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