One week later
Duncan Tyler’s Apartment, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Pearl’s ex-husband was throwing clothes into a suitcase. After he coaxed Pearl’s former boss into revealing that Pearl had called her the night before explaining she was stuck in Haven due to a pregnancy scare, he had announced to his boss that he was leaving work to reunite with Pearl. “Fire me!” he yelled out to him as he hurriedly left the building.
He was able to secure a flight from Philadelphia to Portland, Maine. From there he would rent a car and hotel room before making the drive to Haven. He hoped he would persuade Pearl to join him in returning back to Lancaster.
The phone on his bedside table rang. He saw the name and phone on the ID screen. It was his former lover, Bridget Walsh. He thought about not answering but decided to.
“Hello Bridget,” he said casually.
“Hello Duncan. Are you still planning on trying to get back your ex-wife?” she wanted to know.
“As a matter of fact, I’m leaving for the airport now.”
“No Bridget, we’ve been through this before. I made a dreadful mistake leaving Pearl and our unborn child. Now I have to rectify it. You and I are over. So just leave me alone. I’ve moved on and it’s time you do too. Goodbye.” He hung up before she could reply. He had more important things—or specifically—a more important person on his mind. Nothing—or nobody—was going to stop him from patching things up with Pearl.
He had no idea the tempest he was about to walk into.
The Lawrence Farm, same time
Pearl Tyler sat on the porch swing in the front of the farmhouse, gazing out at the lonely country road. Gene, Iva and Sadie had left for Bigelow to take part in the weekend farmer’s market. She was alone.
She patted her slightly swollen belly. The baby had been a lot calmer ever since Pearl had made her announcement last week that she wasn’t going to hide from Quinn Nightshade anymore. The Lawrences, along with Damien Collins and his family, were still aghast at the idea but she had to keep some sense of sanity for herself and her unborn daughter. She couldn’t be living in fear. It wasn’t healthy.
The road was not empty anymore. She recognized Quinn’s black Corvette, which was heading towards the front driveway. Instead of being filled with dread, Pearl sat there peacefully.
The car came to a stop and Quinn got out. He wasn’t wearing his signature black leather jacket, just a plain white T-shirt and blue jeans as today’s weather was unusually warm for late October in Maine. He also had on dark sunglasses that covered his eyes.
Pearl also noticed he was carrying a bouquet of flowers. She was somewhat taken aback at how normal Quinn looked. She almost forgot he was part vampire for a second.
Quinn hustled towards the porch and up the steps. Taking off his sunglasses and placing them on top of his head, he smiled when he saw Pearl. “Good morning,” he said cheerfully. He handed her the flowers. “I got these just for you at the farmer’s market this morning.”
Pearl took the flowers. They were a mixture of fall blooms—Gerber daisies, mums and marigolds in bright shades of orange, gold and white which gave off a pleasant odor. She placed the flowers next to her. “Thank you,” she replied.
“How are you doing?” he inquired.
“I’m fine,” was her clipped answer.
“She’s fine too.” Pearl patted her stomach again. “This weather has been nice lately.”
Quinn moved the flowers and sat down next to her. “Let’s ease up on the small talk Pearl.” He took her hand and looked at her intensely, which made her a bit uncomfortable. She knew he was frustrated at her unwillingness to allow him to be more intimate.
“There’s something I have to tell you and it’s very important,” he began.
The uncomfortable feeling increased for Pearl, but she didn’t snatch her hand away. “Yes?” she spoke, trying to remain nonchalant.
“Last week, something happened, after our encounter in the barn. It’s why I haven’t been around to see you like I want.”
Now it was Pearl’s turn to look at him intensely. “It’s not your brother is it?”
Quinn shook his head. “No, it’s not Jude.” He looked down at his lap. “I saw something that night.”
Pearl snorted. “In this town, it could be anything.”
“I’m serious.” He squeezed her hand a little harder. “It was Megan. Or rather her ghost.”
Pearl’s eyes widened. It was as if a light bulb had been turned on inside her brain. She suddenly remembered the glowing woman in white that floated outside her window last week—the same night as the encounter in the stable.
Quinn studied her face. “Pearl, are you all right sweetheart? Talk to me.”
She was silent a moment before she replied. “Was she wearing a long white gown?”
“My God, she came to you too?” Quinn asked, becoming a little scared. Megan’s ghost had promised to protect Pearl from him and it seemed she was making good on her promise.
The Collins home, same time
Damien was out in the back of the house, chopping up firewood. He was covered in sweat and seething with anger. It had been a long, frustrating week. He still couldn’t believe Pearl had decided to allow Quinn to visit her. It was like she was inviting in the Devil himself.
Harder and harder, he brought down the ax, and his grunting after each chop began to sound like guttural growls. His mother Rhiannon had been watching him from the kitchen window, growing concerned with the change in his personality. This wasn’t like him at all.
She walked out of the kitchen and onto the front porch. “I think you need a rest,” she called out to him.
He stopped, ax in midair. “I’m fine Mum,” he replied through gritted teeth. He brought the ax down, effortlessly splitting the wood into chunks, continuing to growl.
Rhiannon rushed to him. “No you’re not fine. Now put the ax down. I want to talk to you.”
Damien dropped the ax, wiped the sweat from his face and stood staring at his mother, hands on hips. “Well, have at it.”
“You’ve changed, and I don’t like it. Not one bit,” Rhiannon told him sternly. “Ever since last week when you found Pearl with Quinn in the Lawrence’s stable, you’ve become cross and distant. You have to pull yourself together before you lose control.”
Damien covered his face with his hands and let out a cry of exasperation. “I can’t stop thinking about Pearl Mum. It makes me physically sick to think Quinn Nightshade is going to be around her, talking to her, trying to charm her, touching her—“
“She has her reasons Damien,” Rhiannon reminded him. “Now I don’t like it either and neither do your father or your sister, but Pearl is a grown woman and we have to respect her wishes. She’s only trying to do what’s best for her baby. She almost lost her once, remember.”
Damien sighed heavily. “I know Mum, I know, I know, I know!” He picked up a chunk of wood and hurled it toward the woods. “But I can’t help it. I just have this—this—this need to protect her. Ever since I found her in the woods, I was drawn to her. I can’t explain it.”
Rhiannon shook her head in disbelief. “Are you trying to tell me you’re in love with Pearl? You’ve only known her a week!”
Damien ran a hand through his dark sweaty hair. “I guess that’s what I’m saying Mum. Yes, I’m falling in love with Pearl and I want her here with me instead of out there on the farm where Quinn can get to her anytime without interference.” He groaned and sat down on the ground. “Why does this have to be so complicated? Why can’t Quinn find another woman and leave Pearl alone?”
Rhiannon joined him and put a motherly arm around him. “Welcome to life Damien. It will never be easy, especially with us, knowing what we are. And love is the most complicated part of life.” She gave him a half-hug. “Look on the bright side though—Pearl isn’t in love with Quinn. There’s a chance she’ll come around.”
“I hope so,” Damien murmured. “Quinn is still too hung up on Megan to give her any kind of real affection.”
The Lawerence farm
“So Megan didn’t say anything, just smiled and disappeared?” Quinn asked Pearl after she told him of seeing her apparition at the bedroom window.
Pearl shook her head. “No. It was very strange to say the least.” She got off the swing and leaned against one of the porch columns, staring into the bright morning sky. “This whole town is strange. I will never be able to tell anyone else about this place after I leave here. Werewolves, half-human vampires, ghosts—and I just found out from Sadie this morning that she and Iva have psychic powers and practice witchcraft too.”
She looked back at Quinn. “As a matter of fact, Iva had a vision about what happened last week. If only she had told me, maybe I could have done something so you would have never found me. I’m not exactly keen on being trapped here, especially with a child on the way.”
Quinn jumped up from his seat and headed towards Pearl. He reached out and attempted to touch her face in a gesture of comfort, but she backed away.
“Now don’t do this Pearl. I told you I wouldn’t hurt you or your child and I’ve done exactly as I promised haven’t I?” He gently cupped her chin and turned her back to face him. “There’s something very special about you, you know that?”
“Special? You’ve got to be kidding,” Pearl replied incredulously. “Look at me Quinn! I’m almost five months pregnant. The father of my baby wants nothing to do with her. My family is non-existent and I have to rely on the kindness of strangers who could have easily tossed me aside. I’m plain and boring. I’m certainly not like your Megan, who even in ghost form is extremely gorgeous. Surely there’s someone else out there for you. If you and your brother exist, then there has to be others like you around.”
Quinn softly placed his hands on her arms and began to rub them. “Mmm, you make a very convincing argument my dear, but it isn’t going to work. You’re stuck with me sweetheart. Besides, I doubt there’s anyone else like my brother and me. Vampires can be very choosy when it comes to selecting mates sometimes.” He smiled at her and pulled her closer. “And I’ve chosen you.”
Just then, the baby inside Pearl kicked hard. Pearl broke away from Quinn and rubbed her stomach. “Well, you may have chosen, but my daughter thinks differently. I don’t think she wants a half-breed bloodsucker for a father.”
Pearl started for the porch swing and out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of white and red from behind a tree. Megan thinks differently as well, she thought to herself.
Megan’s ghost watched Quinn and Pearl from behind the bushy tree, not liking what she was seeing. Don’t give into him Pearl, she silently warned. If you do, you’ll regret it. But don’t worry… I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Philadelphia International Airport, a little later that afternoon
Duncan Tyler was boarding his plane to Portland. It wouldn’t be very long that he would be reunited with Pearl and their unborn child. He knew she would be angry and would refuse to come back to him at first, but he could be very persuasive when he wanted to. He didn’t think Pearl would want to stay in a small hick town. She probably had to be lonely. How wrong he was. He was blissfully unaware he would be the third man in a very unusual love triangle.
The Collins home, same time
Damien had taken a long cool shower to calm down and he was sitting on the back porch, eating a ham sandwich for lunch. He still couldn’t get Pearl out of his mind. He decided after his meal he would go out to the Lawrence’s farm to visit her and try and talk some sense into her. Maybe he could persuade her to come and stay with him and his family, because there was no way in hell he was going to let her be an easy target for Quinn Nightshade’s depraved advances. He would do whatever it took to protect her. He would soon learn another had the same idea.
The Lawrence farm
Quinn had finally left. Although he didn’t want to, Pearl had convinced him it would be best if he left before if Gene, Iva and Sadie returned from their day at the farmer’s market. He vowed to come back tomorrow while the three were out attending church. He was going to be a difficult one to keep away from but Pearl realized this is what she had to live with. It was her choice not to hide. At least he wasn’t grabbing her and saying obscene things. Pearl took a little bit of comfort in that fact.
“Well little one, let’s get something to eat,” Pearl told her baby. “Gene and Iva and Sadie should be back soon. Hopefully Iva has some of that pear pie left.” She opened the front door and headed inside.
Quinn was driving back home, humming happily to himself when Megan suddenly appeared in the passenger seat beside him. Startled, he crossed the center line of the road but quickly managed to regain control of his car. Luckily there wasn’t anyone else on the road.
“You could have killed me,” Quinn hissed at her. “Or is that your plan all along, to have me join you in the afterlife. Weeks ago, I would have gladly done so but not anymore thanks to Pearl. You’re not going to ruin this for me.”
Megan chuckled. “Oh Quinn, you’re so dramatic. That’s what attracted you to me—at first.” She glanced at him coolly. “No honey, I don’t want you to join me. I quite like it without you.”
“Then what do you want?” Quinn demanded.
“Simple. Stay away from Pearl and her baby. She doesn’t want anything to do with you.”
Now it was Quinn’s turn to chuckle. “That’s where you’re wrong love. She wants me around, and it won’t be long before we’ll be together and you will be a distant memory.”
“Why on earth are you so obsessed with her Quinn?” Megan wanted to know. “She’s pregnant. Hardly the sort of woman you would chase after. If it weren’t for her red hair, you would have killed her.” She grinned demonically. “Maybe I’ll visit her tonight and tell her to dye her hair—oh wait—she can’t because she’s pregnant. I know! I’ll tell her to get a wig.” She laughed, which made Quinn shiver. Megan was never this vindictive, even when she was alive.
“Nothing you will say or do will stop me Megan. So you can go back to your grave and leave me alone. You’re dead, and Pearl is all I want now.” Quinn challenged.
“I’ll go—for now. But you just wait loverboy…when everyone in Haven finds out about what really went down the night I died, even slugs won’t want to be around you.” And just as quickly as she appeared, she vanished, leaving Quinn to wonder what she meant by her last remark.
Coming up next:
- Duncan begins the journey to Haven.
- Damien takes Pearl on an outing to Haven Lake, where Megan makes her presence known once again.