He had tried to come into Maggie's house. Somehow, by the grace of God, she'd managed not to let him.
But he was here now!
She stood up. "Jack, he's here. We've got to get to Jade. Fast." Jade had stared at the news without seeing it for a very long time.
She was exhausted, but couldn't sleep. She stared at the phone now and then. Lucian, where are you?
Where are you?
When the knock came at the door, she nearly leaped out of her skin. She jumped from the bed and rushed toward it, then stopped dead. Would Lucian knock? Would he need to? No, she had invited him in long ago.
She peeked through the peephole.
Renate was standing just outside her door.
"Renate!" She threw the door open.
"Yes, it's me. Aren't you going to ask me in?"
"Of course. Come in! What are you doing over here? I paid attention to everything you said; I intend to relay it all to Lucian. It's dangerous, what you're doing-" She broke off because someone standing behind Renate pushed her on into the room. "Invite me in," he said harshly to her.
"Come in," Renate said mechanically, her eyes never leaving Jade's.
Jade backed away, wondering what possible weapon she had on hand as she watched the man who entered behind Renate.
"Darian." It was the tour guide from last year.
He smiled. "So you know me now, Miss MacGregor. And look at the way you're looking at me! As if I were Satan himself.'' He smiled. His voice was light, the accent smooth and cultured. His features remained appealing, though he appeared somewhat pockmarked at the moment. Injured.
"What have you done to Renate?" Jade demanded.
"Not half of what I'm going to do to you," he told her. "You were the best. Definitely the best. I knew it from the moment I saw you with that group of kids at Edinburgh Castle. And you were so intrigued with everything. You really loved history, and Scotland. You were so ready to learn, eager to talk to people, eager to embrace the world. I watched your hair in the light. Watched your eyes, watched you smile.
Sophia, of course, was the one who saw the resemblance to Igrainia."
"I'm not Igrainia," she said.
"Who knows? That cop sure is-was-a lot like Wulfgar."
"What cop? And who is Wulfgar?"
"Ah! There go your eyes, darting to the clock! Playing ignorant, stalling for time, hoping for help? Help can't come fast enough. Lucian's a fool. He should have taken your blood right away and given you this gift. But then, that's the pity. There's good old Lucian, king of the vampires, a monster with a conscience, refusing to damn people, as he sees it. Well, I just see the grave. Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. There are the powerful, such as we-and the cattle. Such as you, dear. Although you are finest filet. There's hunger, and there's lust, and you've inspired both."
He started walking toward her, and she threw a pillow at him.
Naturally he laughed.
It fell to the floor, causing no harm. Obviously, she mocked herself. He kept coming. Renate stood inside the room, seeming to see neither of them.
"Renate, help me! Do something!" Jade shouted. Darian had almost reached her. She leaped up on the bed, bolting to the other side.
"Run!" he told her, his smile this time betraying the length of his fangs. "Run. I just love it when humans run. It makes the heart beat more strongly. The blood rushes with passion through your veins." She grabbed a vial of shampoo from the counter and aimed it at him.
"Get away. It's holy water. And I know what it can do."
He came to a halt. "Get it from her, Renate."
Renate came at Jade, grabbed for her arm, and slugged her hard, hitting her first in the jaw, then in the stomach. Jade doubled over before responding, amazed. Then she straightened, still in pain. She struck back, catching Renate's jaw.
Renate crumpled and staggered back.
But not before the vial of shampoo had gone flying. It crashed on the floor. Darian jumped back, fearing the touch of the liquid.
But then he saw the thickness of the solution spilling onto the floor, and he shook his head, grinning ruefully, as if she'd played a marvelously good joke on him.
"Jade, Jade, Jade! You've nothing at hand. Nothing at all. Lucian, the great protector, is off chasing windmills! And your companions have deserted you on their quest to find weapons-leaving you empty-handed. All alone. Waiting. Ripe."
"Lucian is here, you know," she bluffed. "He won't let you do this."
"Lucian can't keep up with Sophia and me, my dear. Go ahead, run. Get that blood pumping. And while you run, tell me more about Lucian. About the way he's suddenly going to rescue you."
"He knows that I'm here."
"No. I don't think so."
"No, I'm not. You'd better run, Jade. Run. Because I'm coming
. Now. I've been waiting, but ah, will you look? The wait is over. Here we are, you and me .. . together at last." He licked his lips. Smiled.
His fangs glittered in the light.
She did run. She tore down the length of the hallway between the two rooms. She raced to the door, ready to streak out into the hall.
He caught her before she could open the door, spinning her around, slamming her against it. He touched her cheek. "You are a gem, you know. Something to be wanted, coveted. I loved your questions that night. I loved the way you tried to be so courteous and so polite, and yet I loved the way your eyes would roll when they would do something just incredibly stupid or rude.... You're quite entrancing. I can see the hold you've had on Lucian all these years...."
"I haven't had a hold on Lucian for years. You're not going to wage war with him again on that account.
I'm not Igrainia."
She felt the power of his weight. He was leaning against her at the door. She was held prisoner there. He brought his hand to her face again. She flinched; he smiled, rubbing his knuckles along the length of her jaw. "You know, you liked me the night of the tour."
"That was before I realized you chewed up college students," she said.
"College students. I wanted the little boy-the blood of children can be so very sweet. But thanks to old Lucian, the woman took the kids home early. Kids have the best blood." His eyes widened as he taunted her. "College students are a poor substitute. The girl was all right, though. I had intended to take my time with her. Lucian rather ruined that."
"Doesn't it bother Sophia that you go after victims in such a ..."
"Predatory manner? Or sensual manner?" he mocked. "We are creatures of... shall I say ... flesh and blood? Ah, Sophia and I are not jealous of one another. If so ... well, her obsession with Lucian would have destroyed me long, long ago. Now there's a rather sad case. She wants him almost as much as she wants to destroy him. And she will in the end. She has the talisman." He placed his hand on her chest. "Feel your heart!"
"Get your bloody hands off me!"
She shoved his hand away, pushed him, and stepped past him. Startled, and then amused, he let her go.
"You haven't tried screaming."
"I will," she promised. "I'll scream and bring every cop in Edinburgh down on you."
"No, you won't."
She didn't blink; she barely saw him move. But he was right in front of her again. Touching her. "It's time," he said.
His fingers were in her hair; he had her head wrenched aside to aim his fangs directly into her jugular vein.
She could feel her own heart.
* * *
She could feel her blood, hot, Causing her vein to throb.
She could feel his fangs, the heat, the saliva, his touch....
Suddenly she heard the sound of shattering glass.
The window had broken. Sweet, Jesus, yes, it was real. The glass had suddenly, violently shattered, and now it seemed to rain down in shimmering slow motion.
They were on the third floor.
A wolf, huge and silver, came hurtling through the glass. It landed on Darian with a thunderous force that ripped the vampire away from Jade and sent him flying against the far wall. Darian crashed hard against it. Then he rose, racing with the wolf at his heels, back down the narrow hallway.
Jade ran down the hallway between the rooms.
The wolf was gone.
Lucian stood in the center of the room, challenging Darian. But Darian had gone for the limp body of Renate, dragging her to her feet, using her as a shield.
"She's .. . she let him in!" Jade cried in warning. "She's . . ."
"Not dead yet, not his creature yet," Lucian said, keeping his eyes hard on Darian. "And if he harms her further ..."
Lucian started walking toward him, his eyes a black pit of fire, his jaw dead set.
"Lucian, keep your distance, and I'll leave you the woman," Darian said. Lucian ignored him, striding forward. But before Lucian could reach him, the door from the hall burst open. Lucian was momentarily distracted.
Renate fell to the floor.
Darian dissolved into mist.
Jack and Shanna came hurtling in, each carrying a broom with a hastily fashioned point, and a vial of water.
"Jade!" Shanna called out, running for her sister. She dropped her broom and threw her arms around her.
Jack Delaney stared at Lucian. "We didn't know where you were."
"I know," Lucian said. "I didn't think you fools would come to Scotland. You would have been safe back in the States. Sophia had to follow me here, and she knew she couldn't combat me alone. You would have been safe!"
"We came to help you!" Jade called out angrily. She was shaking. And her mind was still refusing to believe what her eyes kept seeing.