When Darkness Falls

Page 49

"Hey," he said suddenly. "Does that cop remind you of anyone?" She shook her head slowly. "No one I know."

"But you do believe ... in people coming back," he said, stooping down by her chair.

She smiled. "You know that I'm convinced I knew Sean before. But I should warn you, Jade was very upset. She told me in no uncertain terms that she wasn't a fi-" Maggie broke off, determined to spare his feelings. "She told me she wasn't Igrainia."

"How does she know about Igrainia?"

"I might have mentioned her," Maggie murmured.

He rose. "I'll go talk to her. I was afraid Rick wouldn't tell me what I wanted to know if she was standing there.''

Maggie arched a brow. He shook his head. "Sophia isn't wearing the talisman, but I know she has it.

She's going back to it for her strength; she's using it to heal Darian when he's wounded. I have to find it somehow."

"Is it in New Orleans?"

"I don't know."

"Jade is in the cafeteria," Maggie said.

Lucian shook his head after a moment. "No... not anymore. She's gone to the chapel, thinking I won't be able to follow."

The chapel was modern and universal. The floors were white; the pews were brown. There was an abstract stained-glass window, and a simple altar. Jade was half sitting, half kneeling in the first pew, staring at the altar. She had prayed-for Liz, for Rick.

And for herself.

Or she had tried to. She had lost track of her prayer; her mind had just gone in circle after circle.

She was startled when Lucian sat down beside her.

"I didn't think you could come here."

He shrugged. "Some can."

She nodded after a moment. "Oh, I see. You're a good vampire, right?" He shook his head. "No, I'm not a good vampire. I've told you-I've had my moments of extreme violence and ... cruelty."

"But you're in here."

"Maybe because I do believe in God," he said simply.

"There should be someplace you can't come."

"I can't go inside anyone's home or life without being invited."

"I invited you?" she queried.

"Loudly," he assured her.

She looked away from him. "What happens if Liz or Rick dies?" she demanded.

He hesitated. "Both are doing well."

"But they have been attacked, right? I mean, obviously I wasn't sure I believed all this stuff at first, but...

that is why you checked them both out-for fang marks, right?"

"Yes," he said flatly. "If that's the way you want to put it."

"If they do die," she demanded harshly, "do they become raving, maniacal killers?"

"No. If they die, we sever their head," he returned, his voice as hard as hers.

She was shaking suddenly. "I hate you. I hate that you walked into my life. I hate what you've done to everyone around me." She looked at him. "And I want you to just go away." He was very still. "I can't," he said simply.

"Yes, you can. You walk out of here and you go wherever you've been for the past centuries."

"Jade, I can't change what you mean to me."

"Surely you can! You're going to tell me that there haven't been dozens, maybe hundreds, of women in your very long life-or death? What makes me any different? I am not your wife, in the flesh, in a dream, in reincarnation-out of the sea. I'm not her. You loved her, you lost her. But there have been others, obviously. The woman from the de Brus story, Maggie Canady. They're all part of your past. Let me be the past as well. Just go. Walk away."

"Jade, I can't risk your life."

"My life isn't yours to risk! It's my own," she told him. She was suddenly close to tears, overtired and overwrought, worried. About Liz.

About Rick.

About the future.

She had invited him in. Loudly. Yes. Something had happened that night in Edinburgh between them.

Since he had touched her, she couldn't stand being away from him. She needed him. Needed the way his dark eyes touched her. Needed to lean against him when he stood tall and rocklike beside her. She loved his laugh, his strength, the tone of his voice....

And he lived in a tomb.

"You can have your life back," he said, a very cool tone to his voice, "when I can be sure that you're going to have a life to live."

She didn't reply. She lowered her head.

He stood up and reached down a hand to her. "Come on," he said huskily.

"Where?" she whispered.

"To tell your folks we'll be back later."

"And then?"

"You're going to stay with your friends and see if the pen-or the Internet-is mightier than the sword.

Under no circumstances should you invite anyone else into your apartment. Not the cable man, the electric man, the phone woman-no one. Understand? And you don't leave until I get there."

"Where will you be?"

"Ashes to ashes," he said softly. "I'm going where my strength is greatest, and I'm going to sleep-perchance to dream ."

Renate had been very busy. She'd left the boys in Jade's apartment, working there, and returned to her own place to work at her own speed. She'd tapped into every source she could think of-Greek and Roman mythology, Norse mythology, Syran stories, the tale of the Golgotha, biblical stories, medieval witchcraft, the modern wicca, and Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Finally she found what she was looking for.

"Eureka!" she cried.

Just as she was about to leave her apartment and shoot down the hall to Jade's, the bell rang from the ground-floor entry. She hit the button impatiently. "Yes?"

"Ms. Renate DeMarsh?"


"I have a delivery of books from a store. A bookstore, a place in St. Louis called Coffee and Crime." Had she ordered books? She couldn't remember. Probably. She buzzed to open the ground-level door.

"Just put the books in the entry down there. Thanks."

She hurried out of her apartment and over to Jade's.

Shade, darkness, coolness, settled around him. Mist rose, swirled, settled. He allowed the mist and the sweet ebony feel of the dark to enwrap him, and he gave over to it. In his mind's eye he saw the talisman. The gold chain, the creature carved into the gold. The cat with eyes of ebony ...

The way to catch a cat...

As a wolf.

There was a great lake of mist, woods, trees, shrubs ... a forest by night. The wolf, eyes as red as a dying sun, loped through the darkness, following the trail. He slowed, paused, stood still, his muzzle lifted, smelling the air.

Eyes of fire ...

The animal began to run again, racing along the trail in the woods. There, ahead, the moon cast down strange gold beams upon edifices carved in stone. The graveyard.

The cat lay ahead-he could see it, feel it; the ebony eyes were like a beacon.. ..

A pulse beating. Like a heart pumping.

There were moans, shrieks in the wind. The cries of those who had left unfinished business, the tears of those who had betrayed others ...

The ghosts of the graveyard. Creating a banshee howl that rose in the night, that was part of the world of the shape-shifter, the wolf who came, who sought....

A marble angel suddenly stood upon the roof of a mausoleum. The wings spread out; the white marble of the angle faded to black. The wings were a great sweeping cloak. Hidden beneath a hood of black, the face of the being turned to the wolf.

Where do the dead hide their treasures, wolf? Think, feel, smell the air, see it in your mind's eyes, you are chasing a cat, wolf, a clever, nimble cat. . . . Where do the dead keep their treasures, where, where, where. . . . ?

He felt his muscles moving beneath him as he ran, felt their power, and the power was good. He felt the cool air of the night, and the soft embrace of the moon above him. Running, yes, he had to keep running, because he could see it, feel it....

Where do the dead keep their treasures . . . ?

He awoke in the darkness, aware that something had changed.

Day was gone; the sun had fallen. In fact, it was closing in on midnight.

The midnight hour . . .

And there was definite disturbance in the ebony of the night.

* * *

Jack Delaney had come to spell Maggie at about five. Maggie had quizzed him, making certain he was prepared for any strange visitors who might appear.

"Maggie, that Sprite bottle is full of holy water, I promise." She nodded. She sometimes wondered if, even being Sean's partner and having seen everything he had seen, Jack really understood. It scared her a little to leave, but it scared her worse to be away from her own home too long.

"Throw it first, ask questions later!" she told him.

"Yeah, I can just see my future. Stripped down to beat cop again for throwing water at doctors in the hospital!" he teased.

"Just do it," Maggie warned him.

"Yes, ma'am," he said with a grin. She loved Jack; he was a great friend to them both. "Get going," he told her.

Shanna was tired when she returned to the hospital.

Her twin brothers were a handful.

Maggie's housekeeper, Peggy-a little old lady with white hair and a tremendous energy that belied her appearance of age-had come in the afternoon, and the kids had settled down for a nap. Shanna loved kids, and wanted several of her own-even if she never found a decent guy and bought the dad's genes from a sperm bank-but it seemed that she hadn't had sleep in forever.

When Maggie came back to the mansion to spell her, she was grateful.

And she was grateful to have the twins where they were. Jamie had scared her, really scared her, more than anything she had seen or been told, when he stared at the television and told her, "I like their TV.

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