When Darkness Falls


Page 39









"My God!" she said softly, staring at Lucian, jerking away from him. "You made me come here!" she accused him.


"No, Jade, no, I didn't-"


"You bastard!" She spun around. The mist she had imagined had faded away.


The angels standing sentinel over the dead were all still.


No voices beckoned to her.


She squared her shoulders and started walking away.


"Jade!" His voice was sharp. She kept walking. She rounded a corner, then started shaking. She thought she was at the exit. She knew this damned cemetery, dangerous as it was; she had played here as a kid.


Her parents had never known, of course. But she knew where the crypt with the Egyptian symbols was, and where to find the one with the piano keys carved into stone.


She was walking through a cemetery in the middle of the night in a dangerous section of town. She felt again as if tiny hairs were lifting on her neck, as if something ...


She started to run.


Footsteps followed. Lucian was behind her.


"Jade!"


She heard his voice.


No!


Lucian was before her!


Did she dare trust him, after what had happened tonight?


Did she dare not?


Whatever it was-cold, evil, a nightmare-it was right behind her.


"Lucian!" she cried his name. She was racing forward, fester, and faster. Now there was a dark figure before her. The Grim Reaper? Death, waiting to sweep her into his arms? Or... something darker, a creature worse than death ... ?


She was flying forward, too late to stop ...


"Jade!" It was Lucian, emerging from the mist and shadows. He caught her as she flew against him, lifted her into his arms, and started to carry her from that place of death.


"You called to me!" she accused him softly again.


"No."


"Then-"


"I have enemies."


Shivering, she lay in his arms.


"It wasn't you; it was never you?"


"No."


"He touched me," she said with horror. "He called, and I came, and ... he touched me." The cemetery wasn't so awful. It was just as it had always been. They were already at the gate, exiting to the street.


"You're lucky you weren't shot by a drug pusher, or picked up by a pimp," he said angrily.


She struggled against his hold. "I can walk just fine," she said indignantly.


He set her down. She winced, grabbing his arm as her tender, torn flesh came down upon pebbles. Her feet were killing her. He steadied her.


The moon had risen very high. He seemed larger than ever; his features very sharp and striking-and powerful.


"All right, so I can't walk very well at the moment," she whispered. She looked back at the cemetery walls.


"It was the guide from Scotland, wasn't it?"


"Yes."


She stared at him long and hard. "The guide from Scotland. He killed those people, then went to New York and butchered a group there. He came after Tom Marlow here, in New Orleans. Then he went to Massachusetts and ripped up the people there."


"Yes, so I believe. He's not alone, of course."


"Of course-the woman who came out of the tomb and ripped open Jeff Dean's throat is with him, right?"


"Yes."


"They must be chalking up some major airline miles!" she murmured, staring at him.


He started walking. Limping, she followed behind him.


"Lucian!"


He stopped, looking back.


"You're going to have to trust me," he told her.


"Trust you? I don't know what you are. I don't dare believe what... what it seems your friends are!"


"They're evil-leave it at that."


"Are you?"


He was quiet a moment. "I'm not much better," he said. "But I didn't kill any of those people, and I am trying to save your life."


"Why?" she whispered. "Why are you so willing to fight-for me?" she asked.


"The color of your eyes," he said simply, and started walking again. She stood still behind him, watching him go. This time he stopped and turned back.


"Come on, we've got to get back."


"Back?"


"There's a cop in your apartment who is probably going insane by now. Your sister is worried sick, and your father has been calling."


"My father-"


"Your stepmother is sick."


"My God, is she bad?"


"She can pull through."


Can pull through!


The tone of his voice angered her.


"How the hell do you know all this?" she demanded. She shook her head, forgetting the pain in her feet, and striding on by him. Then she stopped, spinning around into him. "Why am I asking? You knew I'd be out in the middle of the night, running around the cemetery. You know what my entire family is up to.


You know there's a cop sleeping in my living room, and that my sister is there.''


"Yes," he said, walking at her side.


She was scared. She wanted to strike out at him again, beat against him. But she didn't want him to leave her. She had never been so glad to see anyone in her life as she had been to see him. Even scared as she was ...


She was secure this minute. He was with her. She had wanted to strike him....


Just so that he would hold her.


"Lucian." she murmured.


"Yes?"


"Why do you mean so much to me?" she whispered. "Why am I tolerating this? Why am I not screaming right this second, and trying to get the police here?"


He smiled suddenly, a wry half smile that curved his lips, and touched his eyes. "That I don't know," he told her, drawing her to him. He held her shoulders, looking into her eyes. Then he cupped her cheeks and gently touched her lips with his own.


Yes, he was real, so real; the dreams were over, and he was with her....


"Hey, buddy! Take it on home!" someone shouted from a passing car.


Jade opened her eyes, meeting his. She smiled.


"It's impossible, but I think I love you," she told him. "I don't even know you."


"Maybe you know enough," he told her, smoothing back a lock of her hair. "I've loved you forever." And he started walking again.


When she tripped, he swept her up into his arms.


She didn't protest. The whole picture was absurd enough already.


They were walking through one of the most dangerous sections of town in the pitch dark of the night....


But with her head against the fabric of his shirt and the wall of his chest, she wasn't afraid.


It occurred to her just how strange they must appear.


Him, extremely tall, dark, dressed in black, ignoring the darkness and the shadows of the night.


Carrying a woman in flowing white cotton, walking down the street.


And toward the dawn.


Chapter Thirteen


Peter MacGregor sat by his wife's side, holding her hand. She was back with him, trying to talk, but she was distressed and confused. She couldn't remember what had happened. Strange little snatches of visions would come to her, and she kept trying to make sense of them.


"Liz, Liz! You had a fever; you were terribly, terribly sick," he explained to her softly, trying very hard to be reassuring. "Honey!" Leaning close, he kissed her forehead. "We're lucky you're doing so well.


We're ... we're lucky you're with us."


"But the boys, Peter . . . they were in their cribs; they were all right, really?"


"Sweetheart, the twins are fine."


"Are the girls with them?"


"Um, they're with Jeannie."


"Jeannie from next door?"


"Yes, Liz, and they're fine, really. Perfectly fine. You must have gotten them into bed when you started feeling sick."


"But that's just it, Peter. I don't even remember feeling sick. I don't remember anything at all, except..." She frowned, disturbed, trying to remember. She had managed to sit up. She'd combed her hair, washed her face, and brushed her teeth. That had made her feel almost human, she had told him. She'd been so weak when she had first come back to consciousness. The transfusions she'd been given had helped tremendously.


"What, sweetheart?"


"The cable man," she told him, shrugging. "I remember the cable man."


"A cable man came out?"


"Yes .. ."


"There was something wrong with the cable?"


"No ... Peter, this is so awful. I just don't remember anything. Have you called the girls?"


"They aren't picking up yet. It's still early. I've left messages on both their answering machines."


"Peter."


"Yes?"


"If you don't get them, go to their apartments."


"I can't just leave you-"


"I don't know why, but I'm worried about them. Please, it's more important to me right now that you find out if they're okay."


"Lizzie, they didn't give you a hard time about anything yesterday, did they?"


"No!" she told him, shaking her head vigorously. "Shanna baby-sat for me. We had a great conversation. They're both sweethearts, Peter; I love your daughters very much. There's just something.


Please ..."


"Liz, Daddy!"


Peter turned, and his daughters were there.


"Liz . .."


"Jade." Liz gripped Jade's hand, searching out her eyes. Jade squeezed back, glancing at her father.


"I'm so sorry. Shanna and I were both here most of the night-my friend Rick Beaudreaux is upstairs.


He was terribly sick, but he started doing better in the middle of the night. We were actually here, Dad, when you first called."






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