When Darkness Falls

Page 55

They walked down the hall to Renate's, tapping on the door. She didn't answer. "Renate?" Danny pounded then. He stared at Matt. "Renate!"

Matt started to pound on the door.

It was flung open.

Renate was there. Her hair was smoothed back, she had just showered, and she was in a terry robe, brushing her hair. "What?" she demanded sharply.

"We were worried about you," Danny said.

"Oh, now you're worried about me," she snapped. She yawned. "I'm just really, really tired. I need some more sleep."

"Renate," Matt commented, looking into her elegant apartment. "Your iron is on, flat on that shirt-and it's burning. Big-time."

He strode past her into the apartment, quickly pulling the plug on the iron. He tried to lift it from the shirt.

They were fused together.

The entire ironing board moved. "Renate, you're going to burn yourself down here!"

"Well, thank you, thank you," she said, walking over to Matt. "Now I'll thank you to get out. Out! I'm tired. And you call that meddling busybody Jenny Dansen and tell her to mind her own business!" She put a hand on Matt's chest and pushed him out of the room. Danny had followed in behind him. She turned and gave him an evil glare. "I'm going, I'm going!" he said.

They were out in the hall.

The door slammed. "Well," Matt said.

"Something is up, bad," Danny said.

"Why? How do you know?"

"I went and read what she was doing on her computer."

"What was she doing?"

"Checking airline schedules."

He looked at Matt. "Jade is on a flight for Scotland leaving out of New Orleans and connecting through Shannon, Ireland, in less than two hours."

Jade made it out of the house easily; she had gotten up, showered, dressed, and bothered with nothing more than a jacket and her handbag. Luckily she carried her passport, and it was in good order. She checked in for her flight, then bought coffee.

And waited.

She was insane. She was going off to find a man in a cemetery where she had almost been killed a year ago.


She was going off to meet a vampire in a cemetery where she had almost been killed a year ago. But she had to find him. It seemed incredibly important that he know what there was to know about the strange cat goddess so evil that they had tried to delete her from history.

She glanced at her watch, anxious to board.

Then, before they gave the call, she bit into her lip with dismay.

She'd been found. Maggie, Shanna, Sean, Jack, and all three little boys were heading toward her from across the airport.

She stood up. Before they had even reached her she started talking. "Look, I'm going. Please, please, don't try to stop me. I'll scream. I'll pitch such a fit you won't be able to believe it. Even if you're police officers-"

"Jade," Maggie said. "It's all right."

"It's all right?"

"We realize we can't stop you. We'd like to stop you, though," Sean said.

"But maybe we shouldn't," Maggie said softly.

"I don't understand."

Jack grinned suddenly. "You've got company. Shanna and I are coming with you."

"No, no. Shanna isn't coming-"

"You can't stop me either, Jade. And Jack and I have tickets."

"How did you know what plane to get the tickets for?" she asked suspiciously.

"Danny and Matt," Shanna supplied.

"How did they know?"

"Renate had been tinkering with her computer," Shanna said. "They saw that she had somehow drawn up your flight information."

"But I'm still confused. It doesn't make any sense-"

"Renate is good with that thing. And apparently she was upset with Danny and Matt, and didn't want to share information with them anymore. They had gone over because Jenny had called her and gotten a wrong number. She's certain she did call Renate, but some guy answered. Or maybe Renate is trying to keep her dates a secret, I don't know."

Over the loudspeaker, the flight number was called.

"Shanna, you shouldn't come with me. And Jack, you don't have to do this either. Aren't you going to be missing some kind of therapy for having illusions in the hospital?"

"I'm on paid leave until they find the missing body," Jack said.

"Um. Didn't they tell you not to leave town?"

"If they did, I wasn't listening. Look, Maggie and Sean are staying here. Your folks will be with them.

Ragnor will be keeping an eye on things here. Matt and Danny called us, insisting that we not let you go alone. We've talked this all out. I mean, what are you going to do, walk around a cemetery alone?"

"I was hoping not to be alone too long. I have to find Lucian."

"Well, it will be far better for you to look for him with eyes on each side of you, right? And now that I know what I'm up against, I'll bet I can wield a pretty good stake ."

"The situation is not open for discussion," Sean said.

"And they're calling the flight," Maggie reminded them.

Jade suddenly stooped down to her baby brothers, who, with Brent Canady, had been amazingly well behaved for toddlers as they stood there, listening to the grown-ups talk. "Hey, you two little short stuffs.

Give Shanna and me big hugs. And go home and be good little munchkins, because your mom isn't well.

And Maggie is sweet, but there are three of you now, okay?" Petey looked at her solemnly, put his arms around her neck, and hugged her tightly. She passed him on to Shanna, then hugged Jamie tightly. Then she hugged everyone else. It was time to head for the plane.

They waved.

Maggie was holding Brent. Sean Canady had picked up the twins.

They had just come past the flight attendant taking tickets and started down the runway to the plane when Jade heard Jamie crying. "He's going to be so upset," she told Shanna. "He loves me, but he loves you best."

"No, he's pointing at something . . . someone," Shanna said.

Jamie suddenly shrieked so loudly that they could hear him across the room. "Cable man, cable man, cable man . . ."

He couldn't say his b s that clearly, and it sounded like he was crying 'cave' man. "Cable man?" Jade said to Shanna.

Shanna shrugged. "Remember? The cable man came when Liz got sick. Oh! I know that guy over there! It's that Dave I told you I had met. He pops up everywhere."

"It's a public airport," Jade said, distracted, watching Jamie. He had buried his head against Sean. Sean lifted a hand to assure them that Jamie was going to be okay.

"Girls, it will fly away without us," Jack said.

Jade turned and quickly walked toward the plane, wondering why she felt so disturbed.

"Jesus!" Danny cried. He was at Maggie's computer, and had been pulling the same illegal strings to get into the airline's records that he had used earlier to check out what he had seen on Renate's screen. He had broken in.

Yes, Jack and Shanna had managed to get tickets on the same plane.

But someone else was on it as well.

"What is it?" Matt demanded.

"Renate-that's what she was doing, trying to follow Jade."

"That idiot. She's going to get herself killed."

"She'll stick with the others, I'm sure."

Matt sat down, letting out a long sigh. "This is murder, isn't it? Sitting here, waiting. Wondering.

We can't open the door to anyone; we have to be so damned careful... and just sit vigil."

"Yeah," Danny said thoughtfully. "Sitting vigil-over what? Jade is gone, Renate is gone, Shanna is gone. And Rick is ... well, we really don't know too much about Rick yet, do we? But anyway, he's gone, and ..." He stared at Matt. "We're here." Matt stared back at him.

They leaped to their feet at the same time.

* * *

In Edinburgh, Lucian and Rick checked into the Balmoral. Lucian left word at the desk that they weren't to be disturbed. He was charming when he talked to the woman at the desk, explaining they were suffering from jet lag.

He'd managed to get Rick out of Louisiana with no difficulty, having logged on to a Louisiana state government computer long enough to give him a new name- Richard Miller. There were thousands upon thousands of Millers in the States, and tracking all the numbers and information he'd filled in for Rick would be next to impossible. He now had a legal identity not his own, but pieced together from various places.

Rick looked around as he checked in.

"Fine hotel," he told Lucian. "Great city. Are we dining on rats-or chambermaids?" When Lucian gave him a glare, Rick grinned. "Just kidding. Though I admit to feeling more like Renfield than Dracula earlier. There was a fly buzzing around that was making me ravenous."

"We'll find a butcher shop later, and I assure you, once we trek out of the city for the old cemetery, you'll find plenty of rodents. Squirrels are plentiful in the area as well."

"Shouldn't we be heading out to this cemetery now?" He stumbled walking along the corridor.

He was still nearly worthless in the light. "I guess not," he admitted before Lucian could answer.

"I don't really like having you with me at all-you're too green, no offense. But I was afraid to leave you in New Orleans."

Rick smiled at him, hands on hips. "I'd never hurt her. Never in a thousand years."

"Yeah, well," Lucian murmured. "There are times when you don't intend to cause harm. And you start to feel blood, feel the heat, the pulse . . . the hunger."

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