When Darkness Falls

Page 36

She looked at Rick. His coloring was much better. He was breathing smoothly. His eyes were still closed; he slept

"You should go home and get some rest," Wainwright told her.

"You really think he's going to be okay?"

"What do you think?"

"I think he looks much better."

"His blood pressure is good, breathing is regular, and the blood is pumping through him right as rain."

"Maybe I should stay a little longer."

"Miss MacGregor, I don't want another patient in here."

"Do I look that bad?" she asked with a laugh.

"You look gorgeous, young lady. The red in your eyes makes them a fascinating turquoise color, and those dark shadows underneath certainly do enhance it."

She smiled. "I think I was sleeping."

"This is no place to really rest. Go home. Come back tomorrow. He should be much better by then."

"All right. Thank you." She hesitated, moving up by Rick's head, touching his forehead. He was so much cooler. His pasty white color had gone; he was a far healthier-looking pink now.

She kissed his forehead. "Keep getting better!" she whispered.

He didn't respond. She glanced at Wainwright. "Don't worry," he told her. "He's not unconscious anymore; it's just a good, healthy sleep."


"Get going!"

She smiled at him again, then turned and left the hospital room. She yawned as she walked, barely noticing the nurse who was briskly moving along the hall with a tray of medicines.

"Good evening," she murmured.

"Evening," the nurse said.

Jade kept going. She turned back. The nurse was gone. Had she entered Rick's room? The doctor was still there, of course. Rick was much, much better. It was okay to go home.

She started down the elevator, thinking that she needed to leave by the emergency exit; the main doors would be closed and locked by now.

Shanna wouldn't still be waiting-would she?

Knowing her sister, maybe.

She headed toward the cafeteria, which was, of course, closed. But there was an area of machines for the night crew at the entrance to the main cafeteria, and she went there, worried that her sister might have waited for her.

She had.

And to Jade's surprise she wasn't alone. She was sitting there, her head slumped against the shoulder of Lieutenant Sean Canady.


She had forgotten all about him.

"Lieutenant!" she murmured, hurrying forward.

Shanna woke up, startled. "Jade . . . Oh, my God, is he-"

"Better," she said quickly.

"Definitely better?" Canady queried.

"Definitely. Really, truly," she said, smiling. "The doctor just more or less ordered me to go home.

Lieutenant, I have to tell you, I am so sorry. I completely forgot about you until seeing you this very moment, I'm sorry to admit. When Gavin called me about Rick-"

"It's all right. I understand."

"You've been waiting here all this time as well?" she asked.


"You think I'm in that much danger?"

"Yes," he said flatly.


"I'm going upstairs for a minute; I'd like to take a quick look at Rick myself. Don't go anywhere without me right now, understand?"

"All right."

"I mean it now. You wait here."

She lifted her hands. "Of course. You waited all day."

He still looked at her suspiciously, as if she might run out the second he left her. She looked worriedly at Shanna.

Shanna shrugged.

"I'll be right back," he said.

"I'll be right here, I swear," Jade promised. "I'm just going to get some coffee out of the machine." He left them, looking back every few feet until he reached the elevator.

Jade bought coffee, then sat down beside her sister. "Do you know what's up with him?" Shanna arched a brow at her. "I know he's okay at gin, and a whiz at chess. He likes his coffee black.

He adores his wife and kid."

"But... he's so worried. I mean, what a great cop."

"Yeah, well, let's not knock him. This isn't looking real good. Jade, it's really scary, what's happening."

"I know," Jade murmured, sipping her coffee. She squeezed her sister's hand. "Thanks! Thanks for waiting, too. You're a doll."

Shanna eyed her sister carefully. "Rick's a great guy."

"I know."

They sat together then in silence and waited.

When Sean entered Rick's hospital room, the doctor was gone.

There was a dark-haired nurse, her back to Sean, fiddling with Rick's IV.

"Hey!" Sean said sharply.

She turned. She was an extremely attractive woman, but something about her made Sean uneasy.

"What are you doing to him?" he asked her.

She smiled with no humor. "Blood transfusion. Who are you?"

"Canady. Lieutenant Canady. Homicide."

"They're bringing in Homicide detectives on the flu now, eh?"

"Is it the flu?" Sean asked .

She gave him a strange look, then suddenly lowered herself over the patient.

She's going to bite his neck! he told himself.

He quickly pulled out the vial of holy water he'd kept in his pocket all day. He threw it at the woman.

She rose, shaking herself off, staring at him. "What the hell are you doing? Homicide cop or not, buddy, you're going to have to get out of here."

She wasn't a vampire, he decided, feeling like a fool. She had just been leaning close to get a good look at her patient.

"Sorry, sorry! Really, un . . . we're working under a lot of pressure these days."

"So are we, Lieutenant, so are we," she told him wearily.

"I'm so sorry. Honestly."

"Well, you can't arrest any flu bugs, Lieutenant. And you can't drown them, either." She smiled again suddenly, this time a real smile, a warm smile. "He's doing so much better, really. He's going to be okay.

You go on home, Lieutenant, and get some sleep. And quit squirting water at people!"

"Yeah, sure, thanks. Uh, good night."

Sean exited the hospital room and started back downstairs, barely noticing the women at the nurses'

station as he left.

One of them, however, watched him depart.

Her eyes followed him until he reached the elevator.

She then turned and started toward Beaudreaux's room.

He arrived too late.

Lucian knew it the minute he came to the handsome house in the Garden District. He could feel that Darian was gone.

He entered the house, instinctively heading directly for the room where Liz MacGregor lay on the floor.

Her hair was short and blond, and billowed out beneath her head.

He placed his fingers at her throat, seeking a pulse.

He covered her with an afghan from the sofa.

Then he picked up the phone extension and dialed 911. As he listened to the wail of sirens, he went upstairs. The twins were whimpering, but they seemed uninjured. He didn't try to reassure them; help was coming. He could hear it.

He walked out on the porch. He held very still and listened. Darian couldn't be far.

He concentrated again, hard. Sophia might still elude him; after all, she had been his creator. But Darian


At last he sensed the man. A form, near, not far, close ...

He followed. He ran down the street, trying for physical impressions.

Blood ...

The scent of blood.

It would be rich on Darian now.

He didn't know how far he ran, but he suddenly realized that he was coming back to the cemetery. He burst into it and stood still.

Silence. The sound of silence.

Blood. The smell of blood.

He started to move again, past praying angels and marble crosses, through the murky light of moonbeams and the shadows cast by moss-laden oaks. Broken stones littered his path. Grand mausoleums rose before him. Steps, urns. A marble child with a bowed head over a grave, an angel with its wings spread wide, the figure of Christ high upon a cross.

Remember what it is to pray! he mocked himself.

And suddenly a figure leaped out at him. There was a flash in the moonlight, and something struck him hard in the arm. He felt a surge of pain. A whistle of the wind told him Darian was returning, knife in hand.

The steel of the blade made a noise as it sliced through air. Lucian ducked and rolled, coming up behind Darian.

Darian flew at him again.

He leaped high, reaching for a broken iron rail that should have enclosed a tomb with the name Fontville etched upon it. The bar broke free in his hand. Darian sailed above him. He struck out hard with the iron, hoping that Darian would plow straight into him and impale himself upon the bar.

Darian nearly did so, but he saw the weapon and Lucian's intent just in time. He veered, screaming as the rusted edge of the iron bar tore across his chest, tearing cloth and flesh.

"You foolish bastard!" Darian raged, "She won't just destroy you. She'll make you watch every one of these fool innocents expire by slow death and torture, and then she'll bring you down!"

"You leave these people alone, Darian. Or when it's time for you, I'll pin you with a stake and cut off every one of your extremities before slicing off your head."

"Mad about the MacGregor bitch, eh? And that one was only the mother-the stepmother. But she was good, Lucian. So good. Have you forgotten how good? You, the so-called king of the vampires! Eater of gerbils! Have you forgotten what a woman tastes like? She was good, Lucian, really good. She gets it frequently, you could tell. She wanted me; she was like a gusher the minute my fangs touched her throat-"

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