Claire opened her eyes and looked out at the crowd. She
could feel his eyes on her, see his look of
pride. Rising to accept the applause of their audience, she and
the other members of the chamber
group filed silently from the stage. She could still feel the force
of the music running through her.
She had always loved the cello and shortly after her marriage to James, she had
been forced to
give it up. Lucien had presented her with this magnificent Montagnana and her
love of music had
been reborn. After the first faltering notes, she had managed to recapture the
joy she had always felt as
she drew the bow gently across its strings. Now, a year later, here she was,
part of a chamber society,
playing her beloved instrument for the enjoyment of others.
She had become fast friends with the others in her group, much to the disdain
of Lucien, who
preferred to remain aloof and distant. None of them knew her secret and no
one would. She could not
expose them to the wrath of the enforcers. Making her usual excuses, she hurried
to join Lucien as he
waited for her by the stage door.
Claire" a voice called out behind her, "Can I talk to you for a minute?
I need a huge favor, if you
Claire turned around to find her friend Rachel hurrying towards her.
I hate to ask you this." Rachel said, "But I really have nowhere
else to turn."
Claire looked over her shoulder to where Lucien stood impatiently. Willing
him to wait a moment
longer, she turned her attention back to her worried friend.They had been friends
for many years. She
and Rachel had been inseparable until Claire's marriage to James, and the death
of Rachel's parent
had forced them apart. It was only when Claire had returned to Toronto after
James' tragic "accident"
that they had found each other again.
What is it you need?" she asked. "I'll help in whatever way I can."
Lucien stood staring as his wife and her friend spoke in hushed tones. He could
smile at this mortal. It was a smile he knew all to well. It meant she was
planning something that
would cost him, not in money perhaps, but in other ways. Claire was still as
human as the day he had
brought her across, and he loved that in her, yet while it was amusing, it
could also be a bit annoying.
The two women parted and Claire walked to where her husband waited. She smiled
up at him, her
eyes sparkling. Reaching out, she took his hand.
Lucien." she giggled softly, "We are going to have a baby."
Lucien stood looking down at her. Not knowing whether to laugh or be angry,
nothing as she continued.
It's only for a couple weeks while Rachel and her husband are out of town.
She says that Amy,
that's the baby's name, is a sweet child. Hardly cries at all. She really
needs me to do this. She and David
have no family to turn to and I told her I would do this for her. Lucien,
she's my oldest and dearest
The initial shock of her announcement, having worn off, was replaced by a
feeling of utter
I will not have my life or my house, disrupted by a mortal child." he
said, anger flashing
in his eyes. "No Claire, this time you will do as I say. Now you go
back and tell her you cannot do it."
I won't do any such thing." Claire said, crossing her arms over her
chest and looking up at
him defiantly. "Its my house too, and I told her I would take care of
Amy until they returned. Surely
one small child can't be that much of a problem."
Lucien stood scowling at her.
Children." he said, angrily, "are always a problem, no matter what
their size. It's simply out of
But she has no one else to look after Amy, and its their honeymoon. Rachel
and David have
been planning this for two years, ever since they married. Its taken them
that long to save for it, and
I'm not going to spoil it for them, and neither are you." she told him.
Spinning on her heel, she walked
away, leaving him staring at her back. "Now, lets go home." she
called out to him as she hurried out the
She knew he was angry with her, she could feel it, but she wasn't about change
her mind and
give him the satisfaction of having his way yet again. It was true, he was
her master, but he was
wrong about this. She had made a promise and she would not let him talk her
out of it.
They flew home in silence. Claire tried to reach his mind, only to be shut
out by a veil Lucien
had put there to stop her. If she could just reach him across the bond that
joined them, she knew she could make him change his mind.
is," she said to herself, " he knows it too, that's why he was
shielding himself from me."
When they arrived home, Claire set about making preparations for the baby's
worked early into the next morning cleaning out the empty room that adjoined
their bedroom, giving the
walls a fresh coat of paint, and hanging heavy curtains on the windows. Stepping
back she scanned
the room for any minute details she might have missed. She would call and
have a crib and some
other furniture delivered in the morning. David would not be here until the
afternoon to drop off the
baby's things and Rachel would bring Amy later in the evening. Claire, satisfied
with what she had
accomplished, headed off for a shower and a well deserved rest.
Lucien had been watching as she scurried around the room. Still agitated
at having his wishes
ignored, he did nothing to help her.
If she is determined to do this
against my will." he thought, " she will do it without my assistance.
It was she, and not I that made that ridiculous promise."
quickly, he made his way into the Raven and consoled himself with a bottle
of his finest vintage.
Claire awakened to what
sounded like someone knocking down a wall. Opening her eyes
slowly, she reached out for Lucien only to find his side of the bed empty.
The banging continued and
Claire reluctantly rose from the bed and grabbed her robe.
Making her way toward the sound, she realized it was someone knocking
at the rear delivery
door and hurried to answer it. Opening the door and bracing herself against
the brightness of the day, she
saw David standing there, holding what appeared to be a baby bed.
I'm sorry, I must have overslept." she told him.
Overslept?" he asked. "Its 3 in the afternoon. Didn't Rachel tell
you I was coming?"
Yes, of course." she mumbled, " I must have forgotten the time. Come
in, come in." she said,
motioning for him to enter.
Claire wanted to close the door quickly, the sun was beginning to become uncomfortably
and she was still quite tired.
Can you manage with that?" she asked him. "My husband is not at home
or I'm sure he would be only to happy to help you. " she lied.
she knew where Lucien was, he could have at least opened the door.
Claire led the way to the empty room that the baby would occupy during her
stay with them.
David struggled with the bed as he hurried to follow her.
Amy is a bit fussy about sleeping in a strange bed." he said. "Rachel
thought it would be easier for all of you if I brought her bed along."
David set the bed down and Claire knelt on the floor and began reassembling
I think I can handle this if you want to go get the rest of Amy's thing." Claire
This is awfully heavy, maybe I should do it. " David said. "My car
is just out back. You can
bring in the things from the car while I put the bed back together."
Claire looked at him. Not wanting to make excuses about the sun and allergies,
she managed to
persuade" him that it would a much better idea for him to retrieve the
baby's things while she assembled
On second thought, " he told her, looking a bit glassy eyed, "That
trunk lid does stick a bit.
Perhaps it would be better if I got the things out of the car. The bed is really
rather simple to put
together, and if you need help, I won't be but a few minutes." , he said
, repeating what she had told
Claire smiled as he hurried from the room.
Picking up the pieces of the bed, she began fitting them together as David
scurried in and out, carrying
in box after box of toys and clothing. Claire brought in a rocking chair from
her bedroom and sent David
into one of the adjoining rooms for the small dresser she had seen stored there.
Together they worked arranging and rearranging the furniture until David was
satisfied that Amy would be happy with the new surroundings. Claire was becoming
increasingly nervous, she hadn't fed yet and could feel her hunger rising.
Silently she reached out to Lucien, pleading with him to come and help her.
She needed to feed and soon. She had tried to hurry things along, but David
had insisted that things be just so. She struggled to keep herself under control.
Hearing a slight noise, she looked up to find Lucien standing in the doorway,
a full wineglass in
hand, smiling at her. She could smell the contents of the glass and it became
more difficult to control the
hunger gnawing at her. Turning to David, she said sweetly.
David, you remember my husband, Lucien, don't you? Perhaps the two of you
could finish with
the furniture. I really would like to get dressed before Rachel arrives with
David had been too busy to notice that Claire was still dressed in a nightgown
Turning a pale shade of red, he stammered, " Uh, of course. I *am* sorry.
Please, I'm sure we can finish
Claire walked to where Lucien stood. Her back turned to David, she glared at
Where have you been." she hissed at him through clenched teeth. "I'm
starving." Taking the glass
from his hand, she hurried down the hall as she emptied its contents. Taking
a detour into the club,
she snatched a bottle from the bar and headed to her bedroom. Once inside,
she closed the door and
refilled her glass. She hadn't been this hungry in a long time. She continued
draining the bottle, a glass
full at a time, until its contents were nearly gone.
Satiated, she sat on the edge of the bed and thought about the baby. How nice
it would have been
to have one of her own. She could imagine it as surely as if it were a tangible
thing. The child, a little
girl of course, would have her mother's dark curls and her father's pale blue
eyes. Her father....Claire
wondered what kind of father Lucien would have made. She knew he had loved
Divia, yet.... Claire
shook herself out of her daydream. That wouldn't happen now, no matter how
she wished for it.
Sadly, Claire stood up and walked to the wardrobe. Taking out a few things,
threw on some jeans and a sweater. Picking up the near empty bottle, she lifted
it to her lips and drained
it of its last remaining contents, then left the room to return the bottle
to its place at the bar.
Humming softly, she walked back to where she had left David and Lucien. She
walked over to
her husband and gently laid her hand on his arm. Smiling up at him, she asked, "Have
you two been
having fun while I was gone?"
I'm afraid your husband has some rather old-fashioned ideas about raising daughters,
Someone should remind him this is the 90's, we don't "train" our
children anymore." David said,
Claire could feel Lucien stiffen. She knew he did not like David and would
not tolerate much
more of his tone. Smiling, she laid her cheek against Lucien's shoulder.
is of the "old school" I'm afraid." she said to David, "But
he means well. Amy will be fine in our care, I assure you."
I certainly hope so. This was Rachel's idea, not mine. I would just as soon
have taken Amy with
us." he said quickly. "Now if you will excuse me, I have other things
to attend to before we leave
tomorrow. I'll show myself out."
David walked from the room, down the hall, and disappeared out of the rear
door, slamming it behind
" Imagine this mortal, " Lucien spat, " Telling ME how to raise children, as if he were the
expert. He as much as told me himself, he's still new to this experience." His
eyes were ringed in gold. "I,
on the other hand, have been a father for centuries. I could tell him much
about fatherhood that would
soon change his mind."
Lucien, " Claire said quietly, taking his face in her hands. "Do
this for me, please? I'll not ask for a favor again."
She looked up at him, her eyes a warm, golden brown. Claire put her
arms around his neck and drew his face down to hers.
Its only for two weeks. What is two weeks out of eternity?"
He looked down at his wife. She was right of course. In view of the centuries
they would spend
together, two weeks was merely the blink of an eye. Drawing her into
his arms, he kissed her and held
her to him.
" Alright." he said, "but only for these two weeks.
I am not running a child care center. And YOU are responsible for her
care. Do not come to me if it doesn't go as easily as you've planned." he
said, holding her close to him.
Claire smiled and tightened her arms around him. Standing on her toes,
she gave him a quick kiss and hurried off to answer the front door.
That will be Rachel and Amy. " she said happily as she exited the
room. Lucien stood looking after her.
His thoughts turned to his own child, "If Claire had been Divia's mother..........."
Claire opened the
door and admitted Rachel. The baby, wrapped up tightly to guard
against the chill night air, was barely visible.
" She's fallen asleep." her friend whispered, "
Poor dear, car rides always tire her out."
Claire motioned quietly for Rachel to follow and led her to the room
that she and David had
prepared. Turning on the lamp, she pointed to the bed, which had been set up
well away from the
window. Rachel walked quietly across the room and gently laid Amy in the crib.
Moving swiftly and with
an efficiency borne of experience, she unwrapped the baby and removed her coat.
Amy merely sighed, and
Claire watched as Rachel went about the room caring for her child. A stab of
envy shot through her and she turned away momentarily. Steeling herself against
such notions, she walked across to where the baby slept and looked into the
crib. Rachel was just covering her with a blanket
when the child stirred and opened her eyes.
Claire held her breath. Amy's small head was covered with a riot of dark curls,
found herself looking into a pair of pale blue eyes. Claire stood there staring.
so beautiful." Claire said, looking up at her friend.
The child, as if aware that she was the object of their discussion, smiled
up at Claire and
made a cooing sound.
May I?" Claire asked her friend, motioning towards the baby.
She really should be sleeping now." Rachel answered, looking into Claire's
pleading eyes, " oh,
go ahead, I'm sure she won't mind."
Claire flashed her friend a radiant smile and reached down to pick up the baby,
and cradled her
gently. Smiling, Amy reached out and touched Claire's face. Instinctively,
Claire gently kissed the
tiny fingers. The feel of the small, warm hand against her cold lips and the
soft, sweet smell of the
baby in her arms flooded Claire with emotions, anger at James for having robbed
her of this most
precious gift, regret that she would not know the feeling of a child growing
inside her. Had she been
able to remain mortal only a short while longer, perhaps she could have given
Lucien a child. Claire
fought to hold back the tears that had formed in her eyes.
Rachel smiled. "Amy always seems to have that effect on people." She
said, looking down at her
daughter. "She really should be sleeping."
Drawing the child closer to her, Claire began softly humming as she walked
across the room
and seated herself in the well worn rocking chair. Laying the baby on her shoulder,
she began to gently
stroke Amy's back as she continued humming. Soon the child was sleeping peacefully.
She really is worn out, poor dear." Claire looked up at her friend and
Slowly rising from the chair, she carried the sleeping child across the room
and put her back into the crib.
Rachel covered Amy with a light blanket and snapped off the light. Quietly
the two women made
their way out of the room.
David was worried about leaving Amy with you. He doesn't like Lucien I'm afraid,
but I told him everything would be fine. I guess first time fathers are always
this way." Rachel said, as they
walked back toward the club.
Rachel reached out and put her hand on Claire's arm. "I can't thank you
enough for doing this for us."
Claire smiled at her friend. "It's no problem." she said, " I'm
glad I could help, now relax and enjoy your trip."
The two women chatted as they walked toward the entrance.
I really must be getting back." Rachel said, looking at her watch. " I
still have packing to do."
Claire opened the door and stood watching as her friend made her way to the
cab. A quick wave and
Rachel was on her way. Claire shut the door and hurried back to the room where
Amy was sleeping.
She walked quietly across the room and stood looking into the crib, listening
to the baby's
slow, steady breathing. Reaching down, Claire gently touched the small hand
that curled lazily
above Amy's head. She could not forget the feelings this child had stirred
in her. Wiping the tears from
her eyes, Claire turned and hurried from the room.
This is just silly." She said to herself as she walked down the hall. " I
will never have a child of
my own and the sooner I accept that the better."
She slowly made her way into the Raven and across to the booth were Lucien
was recording his show.
Claire pasted a smile on her face as she reached for the doorknob.
The baby is sleeping peacefully." She told him, as she entered the room. "I
told you she would
be no problem."
Claire walked over and stood behind him. Leaning down she kissed the
top of his head
and gave him a quick hug.
"I really need to get about learning the new
piece we are playing next month. Now where did I put it?"
a show of rummaging around through the papers on a nearby table.
it is." she called out happily, holding up a packet of sheet music. "If
you need me, I will be in the back."
Claire sailed from the room before Lucien could respond. Shutting the
door behind her, she
closed her eyes and leaned against the door. Taking a deep breath she
opened her eyes and walked away.
Lucien sat staring at the door. Claire had entered and left so quickly
he wondered what she was about. Her mood had been too happy, too pleasant.
Stretching his mind out to her, he met with resistance. A puzzled look
crossed his face. Reaching across the console in front of him, he went
the recording he was making, his mind not on his work, but on Claire
Claire sat staring at the music in front of her. Picking up her bow,
she began to play. She knew this piece by heart, Mozart had always been
her favorite. Lovingly she ran her fingers up and down the strings as
the room filled with music. She poured her emotions, her rage, her regret,
into this piece, letting the music cleanse and comfort her. Her mind
raced as each emotion flooded through her, she
could see herself as she had been, alive, mortal, human. She thought
back to the night that had all changed and rage filled her as she remembered
how quickly that life had left her. She relived the rage she
had felt towards James as she had repaid him in kind by draining the
last drop of his life. Only regret
remained, regret that he had robbed her of the chance of having her own
Perhaps Lucien had been right, perhaps she should have suggested that
Rachel find someone else to care for Amy. This feeling of regret was
new to her, she hadn't considered the effect this would have on her.
She never imagined that she was still capable of such feelings. Claire
gently lifted her bow and placed it on the table in front of her. The
walls in the room seemed to be closing in on her. She had to go out for
a while, try to clear her head and shake off these feelings. She needed
to talk to someone about what
she was feeling, but who? Lucien? No, he would tell her she was being
foolish, clinging to a life that no
longer existed. Nick? No, she knew he would tell her that it was only
her natural longings to be human
again. But she didn't want to be human if it meant only a short life
with Lucien. She wanted an eternity
of nights with him.
Claire jumped up from her chair.
Of course!" she said to herself.
Carefully placing her cello back into its case, she rested it against
the chair and hurried off to find Lucien. Opening the door to his booth,
she discovered it empty. She heard the sounds of voices and music and
realized that he would be in the club. Moving quickly, she made her
way into the Raven and over to where Lucien stood. Claire stood on her
tiptoes and kissed his cheek.
I'm going out for a little while. Listen for the baby will you? She's
sleeping peacefully and I'm
sure she will be for the whole time I'm gone. I'll be back as soon as I can." She
said quickly, smiling up
Lucien shot her a look.
We agreed that YOU would look after the child. . . ." he started angrily.
Before he could finish what he was saying, Claire raced from the room and was
out of the door, leaving Lucien standing at the bar looking after her.
Claire's feet touched down lightly on the pavement outside the coroner's
building. Moving at vampire speed, she managed to slip inside and make
her way to Nat's office unnoticed. Grasping the
doorknob, she pushed the door open as she tapped lightly with her free hand.
Nat?" she called out, "Are you busy? It's me, Claire. I really
need to talk to you."
Claire?" Nat answered. "No, I'm not too busy, its been a slow night,
thank goodness. I was just finishing up some paperwork. Never seems to be
enough time for it, everything around here is a rush job. Come in." she
said, looking at her visitor." What's wrong?"
Everything and nothing, I suppose." Claire sighed. "I just needed
another woman to talk to I guess." She said, as she walked to an empty
stool and brought it over to sit beside the desk.
Seating herself, she looked over at her friend. "Have you ever regretted
children?" she asked.
Yes, sometimes I suppose, but what brought this on? You seem so happy with
your life the way it is."
I was." Claire answered sadly, "until tonight."
Nat reached out and touched Claire's arm. "What happened to change that." She
asked, a touch of concern in her voice.Claire sat staring at the wall as she
told Nat about the events of the last two days. Tears came to her eyes as she
described the feelings of anger and rage she felt.
If it were only possible
to have a child of my own." Claire said wistfully, "but I know that
will never happen now and I have James to thank for that."
Does LaCroix know what you are feeling?" Nat asked, wondering what he
would say about Claire's urges toward motherhood.
How can I tell him? He doesn't understand why I can't let go of my mortal emotions.
You know what happened with his child. Do you honestly think he could forget
No, I don't imagine he could." Nat said, " But its not like you will
ever have to worry about that, you can't have children, not as you are now."
Claire stood and began pacing the room. "I know that." she said,
regret filling her voice, "Why can't I just let these feelings go?"
Because they are natural, at least in a mortal woman, but you are not mortal.
You have to accept that. I've been working with Nick towards a cure, but its
not something that appears to be close. We've had a few moments of success,
but more setbacks than any real progress." Nat said, thinking back to
the drug that had allowed Nick to experience the sunlight for the first time
I don't want to be mortal again, not if it means I have to give up Lucien.
I want all the time eternity has to offer with him." Claire said. "I'm
not like Nick, mortality doesn't hold anything but pain for me."
Perhaps you could "adopt" a child?" Nat suggested.
I thought of that. Can you imagine an agency allowing US to adopt. Just think
what the background check would uncover. No, that isn't an option for us. I'll
just have to accept that.", Claire said sadly.
I remember a case Nick worked on once. An old "acquaintance" of his,
a female vampire. She
had the same feelings you are experiencing." Nat said, half talking to
" OH?" Claire asked, her interest peaked. " What did she do about it?"
There was some old legend that said something about a full moon and a special
mortal. She believed that if she became pregnant she would also regain her
mortality. She killed her mortal lover
when it failed. She left Toronto, as far as we know."
" What legend?" Claire asked excitedly.
Now wait, its only a legend. It wasn't true. A man died proving it. Surely
YOU don't believe..." Nat started.
Claire bolted across the room and took hold of Nat's hand. "Legends are,
more often than not, based in
fact. Suppose it WAS possible?" Claire eyes sparkled at the thought. "Just
think of it, it might even lead to
a way to cure Nick."
Nat stood there looking at Claire. Surely she didn't believe this, it was just
a story, yet...... She had
never actually done any tests on any vampire other than Nick, perhaps there
was a difference with
female vampires, something in their physical makeup.
I'd have to run some tests, some not very pleasant." She told Claire, "AND
there is no
guarantee I would find anything different than I have found with Nick."
Claire looked at her beaming. Rolling up her sleeve, she offered her arm to
Nat. "Test away
Doc. I have lots of time.
his fingers impatiently on the bar.
"What mischief is she up to now?" he asked himself.
out across the link that joined them, all he could sense was her presence
in the city, she was blocking everything else from him. He could almost
hear her giggling as he tried to reach her.
Damn!" he said outloud, slamming his fist on the bar. "What
is she playing at?"
Alma, standing close by, sensed his anger and heard his outburst. Smiling
to herself, she walked to where he stood.
" Trouble?" she asked, coyly.
Nothing that need concern you." he told her icily.
He didn't like
having anyone pry into his personal life.
" Go back to your friends.
I have things to do."
Lucien stood, walked across to the radio booth and opened the door. A
small sound caught his attention. It was a baby's cry. Looking back at
Alma, he knew she heard it too.
Smiling, she turned and walked back to where her friends stood. Soon they were
Anger rose in him. Turning sharply, he charged to the back of the building
and opened the room where Amy, had only moments before, been sleeping
" Where is Claire?" he asked, " This is HER responsibility, not mine."
He walked over and peered into the crib. The child was crying loudly
now, as if she were in great distress. His anger faded as he looked at
this small, innocent face, wet with tears. Reaching clumsily into the
crib,he was unable to find the cause of this outburst. Amy looked up,
her bright blue eyes still glistening with tears. Unsure of what he should
do, he picked her up carefully,
What is this noise about?" he asked her, as if he expected her to
Amy smiled at him and reached out to touch his face. His first reaction
was to pull away
from her touch. The baby looked at him, puzzled, her lower lip quivering as if
she were about to cry
again. Lucien stood there looking at her. He hadn't had much experience with
babies and wasn't quite
sure what to do next. His mind flashed back to Divia's infancy. Her mother had
always handled this. He saw very little of her when she was this young. Divia
had been raised almost alone, as he was often away with his army.
Lucien walked across the room, cradling the baby as if he were afraid she would
break, and seated
himself in the rocking chair. Amy yawned and looked up at him expectantly.
little one. " he said, "what do we do now?"
It may be a few days, possibly a week, before I know what we have to
work with." Nat told
Claire. "I have to do this on my own time or risk being discovered."
Claire finished buttoning her shirt and walked across the room to where her
Putting her arms around her, she hugged Nat tightly.
Thanks for listening." she said, "and thanks especially for trying
There are no guarantees." Nat said seriously, "This may just be another
setback, another dead end. You do understand that, don't you?"
Yes, I understand, and if turns out that way, then I'll accept it, but for
now, at least I have
hope." Claire's eyes filled with tears. "At least I will know for
sure, one way or another."
Nat looked at her, she wanted this to work not only for her friend's sake,
but for Nick as well. Claire had
been right, this could lead to a cure for him, or it could lead to nothing,
but it was a new direction, a
new lead to follow.
Claire looked at the clock on the office wall.
Oh my!" she said, "Lucien! He's gonna be furious with me. I've been
gone so long,"
Waving to Nat, she made for the door and hurried out onto the street.
flight, she made her way back to the Raven and what she thought would be
akin to judgment day.
Standing outside the door to the club, she pulled herself up to her full
height, and walked in smiling. Looking around the room she didn't see Lucien
anywhere. Closing her eyes, she sensed him in another part of the building.
baby's room." she said under her breath, and hurried off to find him.
As she walked quickly across the club, she heard his voice faintly, he
was speaking in French. A puzzled look crossed her face. She recognized
a few of the words, but what on earth was he talking about, and to who?
Claire turned the corner and started down the hall toward Amy's room, she
stopped. Of course she recognized the words! It was "Goldilocks" only
in French! Making her way quietly to the doorway, she leaned against the
frame, smiling. Sitting in the rocking chair, was Lucien. Amy was cradled
securely in his arms, her eyes on his face, as he stumbled through the
fairy tale he was telling her.
Claire backed up and raced off down the hall. She didn't want to disturb
this scene. This, combined with the hope Nat had given her, made her still
heart sing. She made her way back into the club, walked to the bar, and
ordered a glass of Lucien's finest vintage. Seating herself on a stool
at the corner of the bar, she settled back, sipping from the glass, and
waited for him to appear. Moments later, Lucien made his way into the club
and walked to where Claire was seated.
Looking down at her, he took the glass from her hand. His eyes met her
and he said quietly.
We will not discuss this. The child was in distress and you were not here
to see to her needs. This changes nothing."
Raising the glass to his lips, he took a long drink, turned and walked
The next week
went by slowly. Claire listened anxiously for the phone, hoping each
time it rang that Nat would be on the other end with good news. Amy had
settled into a routine and Lucien, although he went out of his way to
avoid her, seemed to mind Amy's presence less as each new day passed.
Rachel and David would be back in a few days, and the baby would be on
her way out of their lives.
Claire fed and bathed the child and had just put her down to sleep when
the phone rang.
It's probably someone wanting to sell Lucien aluminum siding for the
club." she told herself as she covered Amy with a light blanket.
Not wanting to get her hopes up, she moved slowly as she gave Amy a favorite
toy and snapped out the
light. Slipping out of the room, she closed the door and made her way
to Lucien's office.
Ah. Dr. Lambert, to what do I owe this honor?" she heard Lucien
croon into the phone as
she neared the door. "Yes, she's here." he said, looking up
at Claire as she entered the room.
Lucien gave her a suspicious look and handed her the phone.
Nat? Hi, how are you?" she asked, wishing that she were alone.
pleasantries, she gave Lucien a pleading look. He sat there smiling at
her, yet making no attempt to provide her with the privacy she wanted.
No, I'm not busy." she said, flashing a pasted smile at her husband. "Sure,
I'll be right there. See you in a few minutes. Bye." she quickly
replaced the receiver and turned to leave.
You are NOT going out and leaving me with the child again." he said
Claire walked over to stand by his chair. Smiling sweetly at him, she
bent down and kissed him.
Its important." she said, as she settled herself in his lap. "Besides",
she said, planting light kisses slowly up and down the side of his neck. " Amy
is sleeping, I won't be gone long, and I think she likes you."
Claire could feel him stiffen at the thought of being alone with the
child. She reached out and
unbuttoned his shirt. Leaning forward, she kissed the base of his throat, her
hands moving up and down
his bare chest.
Lucien put his arms around her and drew her to him. Lifting her chin with his
hand, he looked into her eyes. Claire could see the gold rimming his eyes.
Leaning down, he kissed her. Claire could feel the passion running through
her. She loved him so much. If this worked, she would be able to give him a
Putting her arms around his neck, she whispered in his ear. " I'll make it up to you when I get back."
Lucien sighed and released her from his arms.
You're determined to go out, no matter what I say?"
" Yes" she said, looking into his eyes.
Then go, but I WILL hold you to your promise." he said.
Please do." she giggled, as she stood up and planted a kiss on his forehead. "I'll
be as quick
as I can."
Claire touched down lightly outside the coroner's building, and made
her way to Nat's office. Tapping lightly on the door, she entered the
room and found both Nick and Nat there.
" Nick!" Claire exclaimed, "How are you?"
She moved quickly across the room to wrap her arms around him.
been ages! What are you doing here? Nat didn't tell me you were here."
Claire released him and made her way to a chair. Seating herself comfortably,
she looked at Nat.
Well? " she asked, her heart racing as she waited for a response. "Since
Nick is here, I imagine
its good news?"
Nat looked at Nick and then back at Claire.
" Claire......." she started.
Claire's heart sank. She could tell by the look on her friends face that the
tests hadn't turned out as she
expected. Tears began to gather in her eyes.
Tell me." she said softly. "I have to know for sure."
Nat walked to where Claire was seated. Nick stood behind her.
Claire," Nat began again. "I can't help you. The tests showed that
you don't need my help. You
are already pregnant."
Claire looked up at her. Had she heard correctly?
What?" she murmured, not quite sure how to react.
Nat was smiling.
I don't know how it happened, but you are pregnant. As far as I can tell, the
baby is due in seven months."
But, you said it was impossible. You said...." Claire stammered, looking
from Nat to Nick
and back again.
I know what I said, but I ran the tests several times to be sure. Its true.
I can't explain it, but it is true. The tests also show that your blood is
changing. The "virus", if you will, that made you a vampire is mutating,
you are becoming human again."
NO!" Claire said, jumping up from her chair. "I don't WANT to be
Claire began pacing the room.
How is this possible? I only wanted a child, Lucien's child. I never wanted
to be mortal again. I want to stay with Lucien. If I become mortal again, I
can't do that."
You aren't completely mortal." Nick said, putting his arm around her shoulders.
No, that's true. You may never be completely mortal, we just don't know." Nat
said, looking at Claire's distressed face. "But this should be a happy
time for you. You've gotten what you wanted. You're going to have a baby."
But not like this!" Claire sobbed, putting her head on Nick's shoulder. "How
did this happen?"
Nick led Claire to a chair and sat her down.
There is something I think I should tell you." he said. "It might
help to explain some of this."
Claire turned her tear-stained face up to Nick. She sat quietly as he told
her of Janette and her "cure".
So, you think that's what happened to me? That it was my love for Lucien and
his for me, that made this possible?" she asked.
I don't know." Nick said solemnly, "but I don't have any other explanation
Claire looked at Nat. "So what do we do now?" she asked quietly.
Claire stood looking down at herself. She didn't see any changes, but
she knew they would come. Picking up a pillow, she put it in front of
her and tried to imagine what she would look like in a few months time.
Would Lucien still love her when she grew larger?
Lucien!" she whispered. "How am I ever gonna tell him?"
Claire tossed the pillow back on the bed and walked over to sit down.
He had noticed a difference in her
right away. It was becoming harder to shield herself from him so she had filled
her mind with thoughts of
Amy. She'd have to tell him though, and soon. Rachel and David came and took
Amy home last night.There was nothing left now to fill her mind against his
probing. When she was a little girl, she had always imagined how she would
tell her husband that they would have a child, but this was certainly not the
way she imagined it would happen.
She was so lost in her own thoughts that she didn't hear him enter the room.
Claire?" he said softly, crossing the room to where she sat.
Claire looked up at him with a start. Smiling, she stood and walked to the
window. Pulling back the curtain, she gazed out into the night.
I'm sorry Lucien, I was thinking of Amy." she lied.
Lucien walked to her and put his arms around her. She stiffened, and pulled
away slightly. A concerned
look crossed his face as he turned her to look at him.
Have I done something to make you angry with me?" he asked, lifting her
face to him. "It's
because I didn't want Amy here, isn't it?"
No," she said quietly, wrapping her arms around her neck, and pulling
him close to her.
Then what is it? Things have changed between us, and I want to know why."
Claire took a deep breath and looked up at him. Gathering up her courage, she
are going to have a baby."
Lucien stood looking at her in stunned silence. "Not again." he said
coldly, "You promised me you would
not ask again. I will NOT be seduced into looking after another of your friends
He pulled her arms from around his neck and paced across the room.
agreed that Amy would be the last. You assured me that you would not allow
yourself to be talked into such a scheme again. Am I constantly to be bombarded
with a parade of small children?" He raged at her.
Claire stood quietly as his anger spent itself.
You don't understand." she said sadly, "Its not someone else's child."
herself on the edge of the bed, she put her hands to her face and whispered.
Lucien stood looking at his wife.
"That's impossible." he said simply, "You're a vampire."
Not anymore, at least not completely." she said, looking up at him
Claire told him about the visit to Natalie and the tests she had run.
She explained the results of those tests to him.
I know about Janette and her cure too." she told him. "Nick
told me. Its possible that it worked for me also, but I never wanted
to be mortal. I only wanted to have your child. Nat thinks that it is
possible that my desire for a child, combined with our love has brought
this about. I wanted you to be happy, but I've failed, you don't want
this child." Claire sobbed softly.
Lucien looked down at her. He could feel her pain. He wanted to take
her in his arms and make that pain stop, but he wasn't sure how he felt
about all of this.
Turning sharply on his heel, he left the room and closed the door behind
Lucien walked by the lake thinking about the events of the past. His
life had been so settled before Claire entered it. She had brought something
into it that added an excitement to each day. He loved her as he had
loved only once before, but a child was not something he had expected
even in his wildest dreams. True, he had always thought of Nicholas as
his son, but now he was to have a child of his own.
A child of his own. Those words haunted him. Was it Divia's memory that
kept him from accepting the news with anything more than a feeling of
dread? And Claire? What of her? She was becoming mortal again, would
she be willing to give that up for him again? She had been willing once,
but he couldn't be sure that motherhood wouldn't change that.
It didn't matter. Suddenly he realized it just didn't matter. Claire
was part of his life now and he wanted her to continue to be, no matter
what the future held. He was going to be a father, a REAL father this
time. This child would not be a repeat of Divia. This child would have
a father who would be there for all the events of its life. This child
would have two parents that loved it and each other.
Taking flight, he returned to the Raven.
Claire sat sobbing as if her heart would break. If this is what it meant
to be mortal, she wanted no part of it. She had pushed Lucien from her
with her wild schemes. He had been right all the time. She had accepted
what she had become and should have shed the mortal feelings she had
so desperately clung to.
And now she was going to have a baby, a baby he didn't want. How could
she bring this child into a world that had just fallen apart around her?
The baby, she had to think of the baby now. What happened to her was
no longer important she had to
take care of the child.
Drying her tears, she hurried to the wardrobe and began throwing clothes
onto the bed. She'd get away for a while, put some distance between Lucien
and herself. Then when the child was born, he wouldn't have to deal with
She had thought of leaving once before, when James was after her. It
had been for his protection, before she knew what Lucien was, now it
was for his own good. He didn't want this child and she loved him too
much to be a burden on him.
Claire busied herself finding suitcases and trunks and packing her things.
Lucien touched down outside the Raven and hurried inside. He had to
talk to Claire, tell her what was in his mind. Opening the door, he caught
sight of her half filled suitcases and the look of determination on her
What do you think you are doing?" he asked her, a touch of agitation
in his voice.
Leaving." she said simply. "You don't want this child and I
won't burden you with it."
You are not taking MY child anywhere." he said, moving toward her,
his eyes becoming
She looked up at him, puzzled. "but, you said......." she started.
Forget what I said." he told her, taking her in his arms. "The
child is mine and I will NOT give up another of my children, nor will
I let you walk out of my life. I love you Claire, you belong to me."
Claire looked up at him, her eyes shining.
" Oh, Lucien. I love you too."
Claire woke the next day as waves of nausea swept over her. Pulling herself
up to a sitting position, she looked around. The bed beside her contained
only the impression of her missing husband.
Lucien!" she called out, as she got out of bed.
Fighting the feeling
of sickness that threatened to engulf her, she made her way unsteadily
the room and opened the door.
" Lucien!" she called again.
Hearing no reply, she walked slowly down the hall and into the club.
It too was empty. Claire felt as if her insides were at war. Slowly,
she walked to the bar and leaned against a stool.
I just need to feed." she told herself, and made her way to the
small fridge that was kept stocked with Lucien's special vintage.
Taking out a bottle and placing it on the bar, she turned to retrieve
a glass.A small bowl of pretzels caught her eye, so she picked it up
and placed it, along with the glass, on the bar. She remembered hearing
somewhere that crackers or pretzels were often used by mortal women to
combat morning sickness and she was willing to try anything to relieve
the uneasy feeling in her stomach.
Gingerly, using her thumb and forefinger, she picked up a pretzel and
brought it to her mouth. The salty taste on her tongue did nothing to
alleviate the rocking in her stomach. Reaching for her bottle, she poured
the red liquid into the glass and downed its contents in one long swallow.
This only made her nausea worse and Claire jumped up from the stool and
dashed to the bathroom, as quickly as her feet would carry her.
Half way down the hall, she encountered her husband. Holding her hand
tightly over her mouth, she looked at him pleadingly and resumed her
race. Moments later, she walked back into the club, a cold cloth pressed
to her forehead. Wearily she seated herself on a stool and leaned over
the bar. Lucien walked over to stand behind her.
Are you alright?" he asked, a concerned look on his face.
I'm just fine." she said sarcastically, looking up at him."I
always do the hundred yard dash first thing after waking up. That's how
I keep my trim figure."
Claire absent-mindedly picked up a pretzel and dipped it into the glass
before her. Popping the pretzel into her mouth, she smiled. Grabbing
a handful of the small snacks, she dropped them into the glass. She sat
there grinning as she watched them float to the top.
Reaching into the glass with her fingers, she popped them one at a time
into her mouth. Lucien shuddered.
Such a waste of a fine vintange." he thought.
Claire sat there happily spearing the soggy pretzels as the nausea passed
and she once again felt like her
old self. Looking up at him, she held out the glass.
" Want one?", she asked.
Uh, no thank you." he said, looking a bit ill himself.
Shrugging, she went back to dropping pretzels into the glass. "You don't
know what you're missing." she
said, munching happily. "Tastes rather good really."
Sighing loudly, Lucien turned and left the club. He had the feeling the next
few months would
be interesting, to say the least.
"I keep having these strange cravings." Claire told Nat, as she pushed
herself out of the chair.
Most pregnant woman crave things they wouldn't eat otherwise." Nat said,
writing on a small pad in front of her.
But raw liver covered in chocolate ice cream?" Claire asked. "Lucien
refuses to even sit with me during dinner." she giggled, picturing his
look of horror at her cuisine.
Nat looked at her friend.
Well, I agree that is a bit extreme, but in your case....." she started.
What's going to happen when the baby comes? Will it be mortal? Will I? " Claire
worried look crossing her features.
That I can't say. I just don't know. As far as I can determine, the child is
mortal, but you, on the other hand are neither." Nat flipped through some
papers on the desk in front of her. "Your latest
blood tests show that the mutation has remained constant since you passed the
4th month, but there is
no way to tell, we just have to wait. In the mean time I suggest you keep taking
your vitamins and eating
as sensibly as possible."
Uh, about the vitamins." Claire said, wrinkling her nose. "I keep
forgetting to take them."
Nat looked at Claire and smiled.
You and Nick." she thought. "You still have 4 months, have you started
looking for a name for the baby yet?"
No, we can't seem to agree whether it will be a boy or girl." she said. "Lucien
is sure it will be a son. We haven't even gotten around to shopping for the
baby yet. Lucien wants to order everything by phone." she sighed.
Tell him your doctor ordered you to go out and get some exercise." she
told her, "If he doesn't agree, you send him to see me."
I'll be sure to tell him that." she said, imagining Natalie and Lucien
nose to nose. "Thanks. If you and Nick aren't busy, could you join us
for dinner some evening?"
I'd like that." Nat said, then remembered the liver and ice cream. "But
I'll have to talk to Nick first." she added quickly.
Claire walked over and hugged Nat.
I really should get back now, its getting late, and I'm sure you have work
to do. I can't thank you enough for your help, I don't know what I'd do without
I can't very well recomend another doctor, now can I? I'm afraid I don't know
any who are prepared to deal with cases like yours." Nat said, smiling. "I'll
see you in a month, and don't forget your vitamins!"
Yes ma'am." Claire said, as she slipped out of the door.
"Stop here!" Claire said excitedly, pointing to the small
shop on the corner ahead. "Oh Lucien,
isn't it sweet."
Looking in the direction she was pointing, he shuddered. In the shop
window was a small, frilly,
pink baby dress.
Wouldn't our daughter look so cute in that?" Claire squealed.
Our SON would look a little out of place, don't you think." he said
Claire ignored him and opened the car door.
Lets go inside." she said, taking hold of his hand.
Lucien sighed and
got out of the car. Walking around to the other side, he helped Claire
exit the vehicle. Leaning back into the car, he told the chauffer, "Wait
here, we won't be long."
Claire, hearing this, stuck her tongue out at him and shook her head.
we will." she said to herself.
Taking hold of his hand, she pulled
him toward the shop.
Once inside they were greeted by a saleswoman who, seeing the expensive
car from which they exited, smelled a big sale.
" Can I help you?" she gushed.
We'd like to see your selection of infants wear." Claire said, looking
around the brightly lit
Is this your first?" the woman asked, looking at Claire's abundant waistline.
" Yes." Claire said proudly.
" No." Lucien said, "I have a son."
Oh, second marriage, I understand." she said, putting her arm around
Claire's shoulder. "And
how old is your son?" she asked, looking back at Lucien.
Eight hundred, give or take a year." he said, smiling at her shocked
Claire flashed him a look.
"He's such a joker." she told the saleswoman. "His son
"Ah, starting a second family. Isn't that nice? Well, then you'll
need a complete wardrobe for the child won't you? We have some really
nice things." she said, leading them across the shop.
Several hours later, they exited the shop carrying several large bags
and boxes. Lucien motioned for the chauffer, who opened the car door
and helped Claire inside, then turned to help Lucien stow the packages.
I'll see to the furniture delivery myself." the saleswoman assured
LaCroix. "It should arrive late tomorrow afternoon."
at Claire and returned to the shop smiling.
figure made even the simplest movements difficult. Standing from a seated
position became an ordeal, lying down was impossible. Tossing and turning
in bed, she found it difficult to sleep. The child was due in two days,
but Claire was growing impatient. Lucien slept peacefully beside her,
oblivious to her discomfort.
Struggling to turn over in bed, she soon managed to shift her weight
only to find herself looking at the
back of Lucien's head. Sighing, she laid her hand on her swollen belly just
as the baby began to kick.
It's not fair." she said to herself, "He sleeps like the dead while
I'm awake all day."
Grinning wickedly, an idea came to her mind. Shifting her weight slowly, she
pressed her belly against Lucien's back. The baby kicked. A soft growl came
from Lucien's side of the bed. The baby kicked again. Claire giggled as Lucien
mumbled something unintelligible. This time the baby kicked harder as it turned
inside her, trying to make itself more comfortable.
" What?" Lucien growled.
It wasn't me." Claire said innocently, "Its your child. She just
wants to make her presence known."
HE will be interrupting my sleep soon enough." Lucien said, turning to
Taking her in his arms, he kissed her forehead and held her until she finally
fell into a much needed sleep.
Lucien lay there looking down at her. He marveled at the new life growing inside
her. Soon he would be a father again, after all these centuries it was so hard
to imagine, yet here it was. Closing his eyes, he fell
into a dreamless sleep.
Day turned into evening and he was awakened by Claire, shaking him. Opening
his eyes, he saw tears streaming down her face, a grimace of pain distorting
Lucien!" she said loudly, shaking him as hard as she could. "Call
Nat, its time! The baby is coming!"
Lucien paced back and forth in the dimly lit hallway. Nick sat quietly looking
at his father.
She'll be fine." he said, trying to reassure him. "Nat is taking
good care of her."
" I want to see her!" he growled.
Everything will be fine, don't worry." Nick told him softly.
I WILL see her!" he said, his eyes turning golden, as he walked toward
" LaCroix, sit down." Nick growled, "
Everything is under control."
Lucien turned to face him, but before either could utter another word, the
door swung open and
Natalie, dressed in scrubs and carrying something with her, entered the room.
Throwing the clothing,
at LaCroix, she looked up at him.
" Put these on and come with me." she said, "
Your child is about to make its entrance into this
Lucien looked from Nat to Nick and back again.
" Do what you're told." Nat barked.
Growling quietly, Lucien made his way to the men's room and hurriedly changed
into the scrubs provided
him. Some minutes later, he returned to where Nat was waiting. The two disappeared
through the door
as Nick watched, shocked but amused at LaCroix's compliance.
" Push!" Nat told her, "I can see the head."
Claire was covered in sweat, and she was so tired. Reaching up, she took
hold of Lucien's hand and squeezed it. Another contraction hit her and
" Push!" Nat repeated.
Claire did as she was told and was rewarded with the loud cry of her
child entering the world. Collapsing
back onto the delivery table, she looked up at Nat.
" Is the baby alright? Can I see it?"
Nat looked at Lucien and then at Claire. Smiling, she told them, "She's
your daughter, I don't see why
A girl? Oh, Lucien, its a girl!" she said excitedly, looking up at her
Lucien leaned down and kissed Claire.
" A daughter." he told himself.
He had been given a chance to correct the mistakes he had made so long ago.
Claire lay there exhausted, tears streaming down her face. Nat handed the
child to its mother and stood back, wiping a tear from her eye as she looked
at the new family. Claire stroked the child's face as it cried mournfully.
Lucien," she said, smiling brightly, "I'd like you to meet Miss
Laura Natalie LaCroix, your daughter."
Lucien reached down and touched Claire's cheek. His heart had long ago ceased
to be cold and empty. She had filled it and given him a most precious gift,
the warmth of her love, and now, this child. Nothing in his past had prepared
him for this, doubts surfaced, only to be tucked away in his mind. Cautiously
he reached out to touch the child, and found his finger encircled in a small,
warm hand. The path his life had taken would be a difficult one, but with
Claire in his life, it would not be an uneventful one, of that he was sure.