Lucien woke with a start. Reaching out, it took him a moment to realize that
he was alone.
" Claire," he called out, only to be greeted
A small noise, like that of a whimpering child, caught
his attention. Rising quickly, he made his way to the door.
" Claire." He said
once again, opening the door. In an instant a blinding light caught him and
knocked him back into the room. "Claire!" he shouted, slamming
the door shut.
" Lucien?" a voice asked from beyond the door, "Is
Claire looked suspiciously at the door and paused a moment.
Wrapping her child securely in her arms, she rose from her seat in the
corner and made her way to the window. Reaching up she drew closed the
and walked to the door. "Lucien?" she called out.
The door opened
and he burst into the room and looked down at his wife. "That dream
again?" he asked her, seeing the look of terror in her eyes.
not a dream." She said flatly, "It's real, he was here, he
was trying to take the baby."
She hugged the sleeping child tightly to her. "Look
around you, " her husband told her, taking hold of her shoulders." Listen
to me! There is no one here, no one is trying to take our daughter. It's
only a dream, a nightmare. It will pass." "But..." she began. "It
is NOT real. There is no one else here," he said, taking the child
Cradling Laura carefully in his arms, Lucien walked across the
and laid the child in her crib. The small figure stirred momentarily,
placed her thumb in her mouth and settled back into a peaceful sleep.
and walked back to where Claire was standing. Taking her in his arms,
he pulled her toward him. "She is safe here, as are you. No one can
harm you and no one will take our daughter. Now come back to bed, you need
said forcefully, leading her back through the door to the adjoining
you should talk to your doctor friend, maybe she can help you find
out what's causing these nightmares, or give you something to help
you will not believe me."
"Perhaps," she said wearily,
climbing into bed. Closing her eyes, she sighed. Lucien held her against
she drifted off to sleep. Hearing her deep, even breathing, he closed
and drifted into a dreamless sleep.
"Lucien is sure it's only a nightmare." Claire told her friend, "But
I know different, I KNOW it's not. I can't explain how, I just KNOW."
could be right, dreams are sometimes very real and very vivid. Our minds have
a way of..." she began. "No, it's not like that." Claire said
firmly, "This is real. I can hear him breathing, I see his eyes, they
are golden, a vampire's eyes. I feel his hatred for me. I know he's real
and he means
But who? Who would dare threaten you or LaCroix's child
? He'd have to be out of his mind." Nat said.
" I don't know who." Claire
said sadly, "And until I find out, Lucien won't believe it's not a
would think that a vampire of his age would know when another of his kind is
around." Nat said, puzzled.
" I don't understand it myself, but it's
true. I know he's there, but Lucien senses nothing." Claire said. Sighing,
she walked across the room. "Maybe you are both right, maybe it is
just a nightmare. Perhaps I'm just overtired and worrying needlessly. He
that maybe you could give me something to help me sleep, you know, keep
away the nightmares so I can get some rest?"
" I don't know, drugs aren't
always the answer, a mild sedative perhaps, but only for a few days. It would
be too easy to become dependent on them." Nat said, crossing the room
to a locked cabinet.
" Anything you can do."Claire said, "I'm just
so tired. I stay awake all night, keeping watch, then sleep in a fully
sunlit room during the day, IF I can sleep at all. I just can't seem to
shake this feeling."
handed her a small bottle. "Take one of these before going to bed,
it should help. There are only four there, that should be enough. And
Claire? Try not to
worry, I'm sure it's just an overactive, overtired imagination."
said, hugging Nat, "I'm sure you're right. A little rest and this
will all be forgotten. I should get back now, Laura can be a handful
and Lucien has a
club to run."
to the door. Turning, she waved. "Thanks
again," she called out as she disappeared through the door. Claire
made her way out onto the street and hailed a cab. Just as she was reaching
open its door, the feeling hit her again, she was being watched. A cold
chill crept down her spine as she looked around. Seeing nothing, she
shrugged to herself
and climbed into the cab. She leaned forward and gave the driver directions,
then sat back, her eyes taking in the moving scenery, turning several
times to look behind them, sure she saw a flash of something. Once they
arrived at their
destination, she climbed out, paid the cabby and hurried into the safety
of the Raven. Claire made her way over to where Lucien stood.
kissed his cheek and showed him the bottle Nat had given her. "Now, perhaps we will
have no more nightmares?" he said, looking down at her. "The baby is
asleep, I put her in her crib an hour ago." Drawing her into his arms, he
said quietly, "We have a little while before the club opens, and
we haven't had much time together lately."
Claire smiled. "Just what did you have
in mind sir?" She entwined her arms around his neck, and drew him closer
to her. "Perhaps you could show me?"
Lucien lowered his head and
kissed her. Sweeping her up into his arms, he carried her down the hallway,
room they shared and closed the door behind them.
Time passed quickly, it was a night like all the other nights. Claire
sat at the bar, sipping from a small glass of Lucien's special vintage,
if she'd ever return to what she had been. She hated being trapped in
neither mortal nor immortal. Perhaps when Laura got a little older, Claire
go to him and ask Lucien to bring her across again. She wondered if her
condition was the cause of the nightmares, her doubt that she would return
a vampire overwhelming her, planting in her the fear she could not protect
Looking around she could see that the crowd was beginning to thin out. "It must be close to dawn." she
thought to herself. Rising from her seat, she made her way across to
Lucien's booth. She gave him a little
wave and hurried down the hallway to Laura's room. Quietly she opened
the door and slipped in. She walked softly over to the crib and looked
down at the sleeping
infant, a smile crossing her features. Claire reached out and gently
stroked the soft, dark hair. Laura stirred and opened her eyes. She
smiled up at her
mother and began making cooing noises, her hands opening and closing
as her small arms reached out.
up the child and kissed her head. "Someone
needs a change, don't they?" She murmured quietly to the baby. Laura smiled
back at her, seemingly in agreement. Claire busied herself with her daughter's
needs, talking to her as she worked quickly. "Are we hungry?" she
asked, picking up a bottle from the warmer and making her way out into
the club, the
baby in her arms.
"Would you like to see Daddy?" Claire tapped gently
at the door to the booth. Lucien looked up, smiled and motioned for her to enter. "Here
we are." She cooed at the child, "Here's our daddy." Placing her
into his arms she asked, "Hold her for me for a few minutes, I'm going to
feed her." Lucien looked down at his daughter, her bright blue eyes focused
on his face. He began stroking her cheek with his finger. "And how are we
today?" he asked. Laura smiled up at him and grasped his finger.
She drew it to her mouth and began sucking on it.
Claire giggled. "She has an appetite
like her father's, only her aim needs improvement." Lucien flashed
her a look and went back to watching his daughter happily sucking on
his finger. How
like her mother this child was, with her dark curls and sweet face. He
would do whatever it took see that she grew to be someone of whom he
could be proud.
Claire pulled up a chair beside him, threw a blanket over
her shoulder and tested the bottle's temperature. Taking the child from
him, she began feeding her. Claire
was aware that Lucien was watching her. She met his gaze and smiled He
leaned forward and kissed her, then turned to give his last monologue
for the night.
As soon as he'd finished, he snapped off the switches and began clearing
away the night's work. He'd be closing down the club soon too, and then
could get Claire to rest for the day.
He began gathering
up the tapes and CDs that were scattered around the console. Placing
them back in
their racks, he
turned to Claire who had finished feeding the baby and was preparing
her for bed. "It will be dawn soon, you really should get some rest." "I
have a few things to take care of, your daughter for one, before I can rest." Claire
told him, and hurried from the room. How could she explain to him that
she was afraid to close her eyes?
nursery, she busied herself with settling the child down for sleep.
She hesitated to put the child in her bed right
away, choosing instead to rock the baby to sleep, anything to delay having
her eyes. Lucien popped his head around the corner and stood watching
his family. Laura was fast asleep, her head resting on Claire's shoulder,
a contented look
on her face. "Don't you think she'd be more comfortable in her bed?" he
stood and walked over to the crib. Lying the baby down, she covered
her with a light blanket and turned to her
husband. "I have
a few more things to do." She lied, "I'll be right there." "Nothing
that can't wait, I'm sure." He told her. Taking her by the hand he led her
from the room and closed the door behind her. "Have you taken the
medication your doctor friend gave you?"
"No, not yet. I was hoping I wouldn't
need it." Claire sighed. Lucien looked down at her and she could see the
concern on his face. "Oh all right, I'll get it." She said and walked
to the bar. Slowly she opened the bottle and took one of the capsules. Washing
it down with a glass of water, she looked at her husband. "Happy now?" she
asked him sarcastically. "If it keeps the nightmare away, I'll be
ecstatic. Now, let's get some sleep shall we?"
and followed him down the hallway. She knew she would have to face
it sooner or later. If she
could only find out why it was happening and do something to stop it,
but this way
she was only delaying the inevitable. She undressed quickly and pulled
her nightgown over her head. Putting on a weak smile, she climbed into
bed and kissed Lucien. "Goodnight",
she whispered. Closing her eyes, she settled herself in and drifted off
Claire opened her eyes. The room was in complete darkness and she was
alone. Throwing off the blankets, she rose from the bed. "I must
have slept all day." She said to herself as she reached for her
robe. "Lucien is already
up." Tying the belt of her robe securely around her waist, she walked
over and opened the door to the adjoining room. This room too was in
She could hear Laura crying and walked toward crib. "Mommy's coming,
I'm right here Sweetheart." she said as she reached for her daughter's
Pulling it back
she gasped. The baby was gone! "Lucien
must have her." She
told herself, and walked out into the hallway that led to the club. She
could hear the baby's cry taking on a more urgent tone. "Poor dear,
she must be hungry." Claire said, "Mommy's on her way." She
called out and quickened her pace. Suddenly she heard laughter coming
from all around her, a
deep sinister laugh. Claire felt a chill race up her spine. She ran toward
the sound of her child's cry.
"Lucien!" she called out. Silence
greeted her. "Laura! Where are you?" Claire stepped out into
the dimly lit club. "Where is everyone? What's going on?" She
was frightened now, this was not right. "Lucien!" she screamed, "Lucien!" She
heard breathing and turned in the direction of the sound, only to be
greeted by a pair of golden eyes, staring at her from out of the darkness. "Who
are you?" she pleaded, "and where is my baby?" Fear gripped
her like a vice as she watched the eyes come closer. "Who ARE you?" she
"You don't remember me? Oh, I AM hurt." The voice
answered her. " All that we meant to each other, and all that we
shared, and you don't remember me. I am wounded, deeply."
playing games and answer my question." Claire said, becoming increasingly
more fearful. She tried to take a step backward, hoping to escape from
this intruder. A strangled cry
escaped her lips as she found herself unable to move, the eyes coming
closer and still closer. She could feel the evil emanating from those
eyes, yet she
could not look away, could not move, could not escape.
whispered, tears running down her cheeks, "And what do you want
with me and my baby?"
"With that "child", nothing.
I want nothing to do with that half mortal being you have created, my
purpose is with YOU. The
child was just a way to get to you." the voice growled, "and
I will have my revenge."
figure stepped out into the light. Claire stood staring at him, her
with terror. "YOU" she
"Dead? I believe that is the word you are searching
for. You were sloppy my dear, you left the job undone, and I have returned
to say 'Thank you'. "
Claire wanted to run, but she was rooted to
the spot. "Lucien!
Lucien!!" she screamed. "Help me!!"
The figure reached
out and took hold of her shoulders, drawing her to him. She could see
his golden eyes,
hear his low, sadistic laughter as he bared his fangs and sunk them into
her soft flesh.
" Lucien!!!" she cried.
Claire felt herself being shaken. She opened her eyes and looked up into
the face of her husband. "Lucien!" she whispered and threw her arms around
him, sobbing wildly. "Its HIM, he's here, he's found me!"
here? Who's found you? Claire, you're dreaming again, there is no one here!" he
told her, gathering her into his arms.
"I saw him, he's come back for me.
He's going to kill me!"
" WHO??" Lucien asked her firmly. Claire
looked up at him, tears streaming down her face.
"James." She whispered. "James
has returned, he's using the baby to get to me. He told me he wants revenge
for what I did to him. Lucien, he's going to kill me."
"James is dead.
You saw him die. I disposed of the body myself." He said coldly.
told me that I had been sloppy and didn't finish the job properly." Claire
sobbed, "he's here and he's a vampire and he wants revenge!"
was a DREAM, and nothing more. He's dead. He's no threat to you."
" NO!" Claire
sobbed, "It was real, he was here. I know he was, I can still feel his hands
on me, his fangs buried in my flesh." Her hand went up to her neck, "See?" she
showed him the blood on her fingers. "He WAS here!"
"A blood sweat,
nothing more, there are no marks on your neck." He told her, examining her
skin carefully. Claire looked at him, "you're sure?" she asked. Without
waiting for an answer, she threw back the blankets and crossed the room. Pulling
a small hand mirror from the drawer, she turned her head this way and that, examining
her neck carefully. "But I could FEEL it." she said, puzzled. "He
was going to drain me."
"The mind can do strange things." He told
her quietly. "You can see for yourself, there are no marks, and James has
been dead for three years. It was only a bad dream." He said, moving across
the room to gather her into his arms. "You are overtired and what
you are feeling is the buried guilt because of what happened. You had
to do it, he robbed
you of your mortality, he tried to kill you. You had no choice but to
kill him first. You must let go of that guilt and move on."
up at him, tears gathering in her eyes. There was still so much she didn't
much she still had to learn. She wanted to believe him, believe that
it had only been a trick of an overtired mind. She just didn't know what
she was losing her mind. Sobbing she buried her face against his shoulder.
Claire busied herself with odd jobs around the club, stopping frequently
to check on her child. She was so desperately tired it was all she could
eyes open, but she dared not sleep. She poured herself another cup of
coffee and sat herself down on one of the bar stools. Her eyes felt heavy
gulped the dark liquid. She hadn't slept more than a couple hours at
any one time
since the dreams started.
Leaning her chin on her hand, she closed her
eyes and took
a deep breath. How could she go on like this? She could feel herself
drifting off to sleep. How wonderful it felt to just let go and let sleep
so warm and welcoming. Sighing, she let it overtake her.
"Just a short nap." she
told herself as she surrendered to the arms of Morpheus. Claire opened her eyes
and found herself alone in the dark. She could feel the cold hatred as a pair
of golden eyes stared out at her. "You're not real, this is only a dream." she
said, willing herself to believe it, her breath coming in short gasps
as the eyes drew closer.
" I'm afraid you are wrong my dear. I'm as real as you
are, and this is NOT a dream." a voice spat at her, filling the room with
its presence. "I grow tired of this litttle game. You've lost and
I will collect my prize."
Claire tried to rise from the stool only to find herself
paralyzed by the eyes that held her attention. She felt as if her limbs
were made of iron.
" I have to wake up." she told herself. "This is
only a dream. I'm having another nightmare." Struggling ,she managed
to rise to her feet and move slowly away from the form appearing before
filled the room as her heart raced in her chest, her leaden feet refusing
to carry her to safety. She knew now that this was no dream.
"Help me!" she
shouted "Someone please help me!" Claire closed her eyes, trying to
block out the sight before her. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "Help me." she
sobbed, "please, someone help me." She could feel him moving
closer, his hatred engulfing her, his laughter turning her blood to ice.
She was helpless
against him, and he would exact his revenge. She resigned herself to
her fate, knowing escape was impossible when she heard a sound. It started
as a low growl
and grew in intensity until it seemed to vibrate through her and fill
the room, coming from everywhere at once.
Opening her eyes, she saw LaCroix standing beside
her, his eyes fully golden and a look of pure evil in his eyes.
" You shall
not have her!" he snarled, "She belongs to me!"
whispered, "save me."
Lucien stepped in front of Claire, sheilding her with his body as the
younger vampire moved swiftly forward.
"You'll not save her this time old man." James
growled at him. Striking out, he caught LaCroix across the face, sending him
flying across the room. Taking Claire by the arm, James drew her close to him. "You
will not escape me again." he hissed.
Claire struggled in his arms,
trying desperately to free herself from his grip. James laughed, and
to claim his victory.
" Claire!" Lucien shouted. He moved across the floor and
threw himself against his opponent, freeing Claire and sending her sprawling
across the floor.
In a movement so swift it was almost unseen, Lucien picked
up a stool and broke it across the bar. Circling his nemesis, he struck
out repeatedly, only to miss the target. James laughed as he wrenched
the make-shift stake from
Lucien's grasp and threw it casually across the floor.
You can't stop me,
I am far stronger than you and I shall have her. You only delay the inevitable." Grasping
LaCroix by the throat, he lifted him off the floor and flung him as if
he were a child's toy. Reaching down, he picked up the remains of the
broken stool and
moved to where Lucien lay. Raising it over his head, he brought down
a shattered piece and buried it into the older vampire's chest.
" NO!!!!!!!!!" screamed
Claire, as she struggled to her feet.
In a blind rage she flung herself into
James, knocking him off balance. Summoning all her strength, she picked up a
bottle and hit him repeatedly, cutting him as the bottle shattered. Stumbling
backward, he fell over Lucien's semi-conscious form. Claire picked up the leg
of the broken stool and lunged at him, burying it deep into his chest. James
lay gasping in surprise and shock as Claire stumbled over to where Lucien lay
" Don't leave me, " she sobbed, frantically grasping at the wooden
pieces still imbedded in his chest. "Don't die!"
his shirt, she scanned for any remaining pieces, pulling them from his
to her feet, she ran to the bar and grabbed a bottle. Carrying it over
to his lifeless form, she struggled to remove the cork. In a final, desperate
to save him, she broke the bottle and held it over him allowing the contents
spill into his open mouth. He moaned softly and began to stir, the blood
aiding in his recovery. Claire breathed a sigh of relief and rose to
past the bar, she disappeared into one of the back rooms.
A few minutes
later she returned craddling something wrapped in cloth in her arms.
deliberate movements, she walked across the room and stood over James.
A look of horror
crossed his face as she unwrapped the fire axe and raised it over her
head. A stiffled cry escaped his lips as she brought it down with all
muster, severing his head cleanly from his body.
Lucien put his arm around Claire as they stared into the bonfire. "I should
have believed you. A mother always knows her own child."
you know?" Claire asked him, laying her head on his chest. "He
was a hired killer. He easily managed to hide himself in life, it would
a simple matter to hide himself in death."
"I should have made sure,
I should have done this the first time."
"What was it you told me about
letting go of guilt?" she asked him innocently, a gleam in her eye.
pulled her closer to him and kissed the top of her head. "Point taken." he
said simply, "I'll scatter his ashes and we will forget his existence."
looked up at him, "Lucien," she whispered. " Nat is taking
care of Laura for us, and there is something I want you to do for me."
my love, you know that."
"Bring me across." she said, "When
I almost lost you tonight I realized I don't want to remain as I am,
I love you and I want to be with you forever."
Lucien held her at arms length. "Are
you sure? " he asked, looking into her eyes.
Claire looked up at him, love
shining in her eyes, without hesitation she said, "Please, bring
me back across."
He drew her into his arms, and holding her closely, he
sank his fangs into her soft flesh making her once again his.