When Darkness Falls


Page 54







"I should wait for Lucian-and Rick."


"Lucian will find us."


"All right," Jade said. She hesitated, studying Maggie.


"Maggie, you do admire him, don't you? And you think that he can-that he can make this right?" Maggie paused, answering her slowly. "Make it right? Lucian . . . yes, Lucian has an incredible inner power. He rose to become a power with which anyone must reckon. And yet ..."


"What?"


"Lucian taught me a great deal. But not everything. Long before Sean, I was in love with a young Frenchman. He made me a vampire, believing that the commitment could set us both free. He was killed.


My father killed him, seeking to save me. I don't think that Lucian really believed such a force could work-until Sean and I came together. Lucian is cynical and hard. Will he beat Sophia in the end? Yes. I think so. Unless he somehow falters."


"Because of me?"


"I didn't say that."


"You were thinking it."


"At the moment he needs to remain very hard and cynical-and maintain the power to best Sophia. Yes, I admire him. He attracted me when I hated him. He became a good friend when I needed his power the most. That's all you need to know."


It wasn't all that she needed to know, but it was all that Maggie intended to say.


An hour later Sean took her into the hospital. Her father was beside himself, terrified that whatever disease had taken Rick was now going to take Liz. Liz, on the other hand, was doing very well. She told Jade how sorry she was about Rick, and how horrified that his body had been stolen. "I know how badly this must hurt you, Jade," Liz told her. "And I'm not going to try to tell you it will just be okay. You already know what it's like to lose someone you love. It will hurt for a long, long time. But we're here for you. We love you." She flashed a smile to Maggie, who stood behind Jade. "Like you all were here for me and the twins. I'm so grateful."


"They're thinking about discharging her from the hospital!" Peter said, dismayed, runing his fingers through his hair.


"That's great!" Shanna said.


"What if-" He broke off, not wanting to speak in front of his wife.


"Your father is worried. Rick Beaudreaux was doing so much better-then he died. Your father is afraid that will happen with me."


"You shouldn't be alone, of course," Maggie said. "And it's difficult to recover with little ones roaming about the house ... I know. You should let them discharge you, and you should come out and stay with Sean and me."


"Oh, we couldn't!" Liz protested.


"Seriously, you should. My housekeeper is incredible. She's there with the kids now, and they adore her. And the girls will stay on a while, too."


"Maggie, can I talk to you in the hall for just a minute?" Jade inquired.


"Sure."


They stepped out into the hall.


"Maggie, this is crazy! If you bring my dad and Liz out to your place, they'll eventually realize that... that Lucian is ..."


"Lucian hasn't been coming to the house," Maggie said. "I've made it really uncomfortable there for his kind."


"But-" Jade broke off, spinning around. There was a man she had never seen before standing guard in front of Liz's room. He was even taller than Lucian, maybe six-foot-four. His eyes were powder blue, his shoulders were bigger than those of a linebacker, and he had white-blond hair that streaked down his shoulders. He was wearing a polo shirt and jeans, and still...


She turned back to Maggie. "Who is that?"


"Ragnor. He's an old friend of Lucian's. A very old friend." Jade turned around and stared at the man. She tried not to gape. He smiled suddenly. He had a slow, easy, confident smile. "It's all right," he assured her. "I will not chew you up into little pieces. Nor take one big hunk out of your throat, for that matter."


She smiled weakly. "Thanks."


"No one will get to your mother," he promised.


She smiled again. She didn't correct him and tell him that Liz was her stepmother. "Thank you very much."


He was studying her still.


"You are a lot like her," he said softly.


"Like who?"


"Igrainia."


"But I'm not-"


He lifted a hand, impatient with her denial. "No one will get to your family." She thanked him again, then looked at Maggie. "Where is Lucian?"


"I don't know. We're to meet in the chapel at midnight."


Time seemed to crawl, but it was finally midnight, and she went to the chapel. Sean was there, and Jack.


She, Maggie, and Shanna joined them.


She looked at Sean.


"Where's Lucian?"


"Jade, he's gone back to Scotland. He thinks he knows where the locket is. He intends to get it."


"But having the locket won't help him! He has to see that Sophia is somehow burned!" Jade exploded.


"I don't believe you! He couldn't have just left! Left... me! Without saying anything, anything at all-"


"Jade, you were rather angry with him last night," Jack commented.


"But... but..." She spun on Jack. "That's just it Rick... Did you all lie to me? Where's Rick?"


"With Lucian."


"That's not funny!" Jade cried.


"It wasn't meant to be," Sean told her, smoothing back his hair impatiently. He looked to his wife for help.


Maggie shrugged.


"Jade, you told him you wanted him out of your life. It was his fault Rick was dead. And he is worried about you and your family. He knows you'll be safe from Sophia and Darian, because as soon as they realize he's gone and what he's doing, they'll go after him. And... you're to stay with us. You and your family. Ragnor can watch over Liz where Jack failed because he was human. It was the best way for Lucian to do things, Jade."


She stared at Sean, feeling helpless, furious, impotent- and afraid and ashamed. She couldn't let Lucian go alone. She had to be with him.


"I'm going to Scotland," she said.


"Jade, that's ridiculous," Maggie told her.


"You're not going," Sean said firmly.


She lowered her head. Fine. She wasn't going to argue with them. She'd just agree with them-and then do it on her own. If they knew what she was up to, they'd have good old Ragnor guarding the door and she'd be nowhere.


"All right." She let the tears she was feeling well into her eyes. "All right. We'll all go to your place, Maggie. My family will be safe with you."


She left them in the chapel.


She walked out into the hallway, and they let her go.


She left them with her shoulders slumped, her head bowed. As soon as she was out of their line of vision, she started running down the hall to the pay phones.


Within a few minutes she was booked to London on British Airways, and then onward to Edinburgh.


Chapter Eighteen


Jade's phone rang. Matt reached over and picked it up without thinking. "Hello?"


"Hello?"


"Hello?" he repeated.


"Who's this?"


"Who's this?" he demanded.


"You tell me? Who's this on Jade MacGregor's phone?"


Matt stared at the phone, remembering where he was. "It's Matt Durante. Now who is this?"


"It's Jenny."


"Jenny?" he said blankly.


"Jenny Dansen, your writing friend. Remember me, slice of life, Erma Bombeck for the new millennium?"


"Oh, Jenny, what's up?" he said with a sigh.


"You tell me. What are you doing at Jade's?"


"Long story. Um, Rick got sick-"


"And died and disappeared, so I read. I hope Renate wasn't guilty of murder, desperate to get a feasible plot line."


"Jenny!"


"Well, that's why I called. The woman is acting so weird. I called her to ask her if she knew anything about a memorial, or how Jade was doing, and a man answered her phone. And then he hung up, and I called back, and she denied that anyone else had ever answered the phone."


"Maybe you dialed the wrong number."


"Maybe-but I didn't."


"How do you know?"


"My phone keeps track of the number that was dialed. It spits out a report every so many calls. I definitely called the right number."


"Well, then, she's seeing some guy, and she doesn't want us to know."


"She's seeing some guy, and she may not want to be seeing him. Go check on her, Matt, please. She's just down the hall, since you are at Jade's. Why are you still there? Where is Jade? Why hasn't she come home?"


"She's with some friends, she's doing very well, and we're just here because-"


"We're? Who is we?"


"Danny is with me."


"Why does she need both of you in her apartment?"


"We're just here in case she needs us, Jenny. Oh, and by the way, I'm fine, thanks for asking." Jenny sniffed. "I'm fine, too. I had a flat tire last night, and Bonnie broke her third toe. The dry cleaner lost my mother's best lace tablecloth, and a migraine is setting in. Thanks for asking."


"Bye, Jenny. I'll go check on Renate."


Danny was in the kitchen, starting coffee.


"Jenny seems to think that some guy is holding Renate hostage." Matt told him. "If Renate got lucky with some guy, she is not going to appreciate it when we barge in."


"But I guess we should go," Danny said.







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