Haven Lake, Saturday afternoon
Pearl Tyler stared at her reflection in the lake, hand on her stomach. Damien Collins stood behind her with his arms wrapped around her.
“You were going to tell me about the white flash,” he said. “You called it ‘her.’
Pearl turned around to face him. “It’s going to be hard to believe—“
“Pearl, you do realize you’re talking to a werewolf. If I can change when the moon turns full, then I can believe just about anything,” he gently reminded her.
She smiled. “You’re right. Okay, here it goes.” She cleared her throat. “That flash of white was the ghost of Megan.”
Damien’s face was total shock. “Megan? Quinn’s Megan?”
Pearl nodded. “She came to me last week, after all that nasty business in the stable. She was standing outside my bedroom window, smiling at me. It was only for a few seconds and then she disappeared. I was startled to say the least.”
“But why would she come back, and why visit you of all people? Surely she’d come to Quinn,” Damien replied thoughtfully.
“Well she did Damien. She visited him the same night,” Pearl said. “He was really spooked.”
Damien snorted. “Good. That’ll teach him. Maybe with her ghost scaring him silly, he’ll leave you alone.”
Pearl’s eyes slightly widened. “Wait Damien—that could be it. Maybe she’s come back to scare him—to get revenge on him for turning her into a half-vampire thing.” She frowned. “But why seek me out? Unless—“
“She’s trying to protect you,” Damien offered. “She’s scaring Quinn away from you.” He wrapped his arms around her again and held her tightly. “And boy, do I hope it works.”
The Nightshade residence, same time
“Quinn, I’m heading up to the hospital to visit Mother,” Jude Nightshade told his older brother. “I’ll be back this evening.”
Quinn didn’t respond. He was staring out the living room window with a dreamy look on his face.
“Quinn,” Jude called again. “Earth to Quinn. Quinn Christopher Nightshade, are you there?”
Quinn turned to face his brother. “Did you say something?”
Jude shook his head. “Yes. I said I’m going to visit Mother and I’ll be back this evening.”
“Oh. Well have a nice time.” Quinn looked out at the window again.
“You’ve been acting weird ever since you got back from seeing Pearl,” Jude said. “I can’t believe she has that much of an effect on you.”
A big grin broke out on his brother’s face. “She’s so different from any woman I’ve met.”
“Well, she’s pregnant for starters. You know, most people consider men who have a thing for pregnant ladies weirdos,” Jude teased.
“There’s more to her than that,” Quinn gently retorted. “She has this mixture of toughness and vulnerability that appeal to me.”
“Megan had that too,” Jude pointed out matter-of-factly.
“Don’t remind me,” Quinn said harshly. “I’m trying to forget she ever existed.”
A look of surprise came over Jude’s face. “Good Lord, Pearl has done a number on you. You’ve only known her for a week and already the memory of Megan means nothing to you. I can’t forget how furious you were after Sadie admitted to messing around with her grave–“
“I thought you would be happy to see me get over Megan,” Quinn countered. “You said I was too obsessed.”
“Yes, but you can’t replace your obsession with Megan with an obsession with Pearl,” Jude sensibly replied. There’s a lot more going on with Pearl. Not only is she going to have a baby, Gene, Iva, Sadie and the Collins family are hellbent on making sure you don’t choose her as your next mate. You didn’t have that objection with Megan. Pearl isn’t going to be so free and clear for you like you think, and I doubt she’ll want to have her baby around the two of us, now that she knows what we are.”
“As opposed to a bunch of wolves?” Quinn argued. “Damien Collins will not get his disgusting claws into her, I can promise you that.”
Jude sighed. “So that’s what this is all about. You’re just trying to best Damien and Pearl is nothing more than a toy in your game of domination.”
Quinn shook his head vehemently. “No Jude. Pearl is extremely special to me.” He stared out the window again. “I think I could have a chance at a normal life with her around.”
“A normal life? Now that’s different coming from you. I thought you wanted to be just like Father, roaming around, feeding on anything that crossed your path and racking up female conquests,” Jude responded, taken aback a little. “Now you see Pearl and suddenly after one week, everything has changed?”
“Well, like I said, there’s something different about Pearl. I don’t have the desire to feed on her. Not because she’s pregnant, but because I think she would be more interesting staying human. She fascinates me.” Quinn sat down on the sofa and leaned back, closing his eyes, the dreamy look returning to his face.
“I think that’s my cue to leave,” Jude said. “I’ll see you later. Behave yourself.”
Quinn chuckled. “You don’t have to worry about me little brother. I’m going to be a good little vampire for Pearl. Say hi to Mum for me.”
Jude left the house, leaving Quinn alone with his thoughts of Pearl.
The Lawrence farm
“Well, here we are, home sweet home,” Damien told Pearl as they pulled into the driveway of the farmhouse. “I enjoyed being with you today.”
“I did too,” Pearl said.
There was an awkward silence between them and then Damien reached over and impulsively kissed Pearl on the cheek. She turned to look at him. Damien expected her to be angry, but was pleasantly surprised when he saw her smiling.
“Thank you for a lovely time,” she finally said. She reached down and patted his right hand. “Give my love to Astrid and your parents and tell them I’ll be over to visit them soon.”
She got out of the car and headed to the front porch. Damien began to drive away and Pearl waved to him. As he began to head for home, he wished that Pearl would give her love to him too.
Meanwhile, Gene and Iva were in the den. Iva was knitting and Gene was reading the newspaper. It was a typical Saturday afternoon for the couple. Sadie Todd, their niece, had driven to Bigelow to go to the movies with friends who lived in the town.
A few moments later, Pearl popped into the den. “I’m back,” she announced.
Gene and Iva looked up. “How was your date?” Iva asked.
“Well, I’d hardly call it a date, but it was nice. The lake is gorgeous,” Pearl replied. “I thought I would tell you I got back. I’m heading downstairs to get that nap I missed.”
“Have a good rest,” Iva said, going back to her knitting.
“Thanks. Maybe I’ll finish this day with no interruptions. First Quinn, then Damien, and now Megan,” Pearl replied, laughing. At the mention of Megan’s name, both Iva and Gene’s heads snapped up. But Pearl had already left.
Gene turned to look at his wife. “Did she say Megan? As in Megan Manning? She must have been joking.”
Iva didn’t reply. Gene began to press her for details. “Iva, is there something you’re not telling me?”
“Not telling you?” she asked innocently.
“Yes, not telling me,” Gene chided.
Iva put down her knitting and stood up, going by the window. She looked out at the darkening sky. Gene followed her and placed his hands on her shoulders. “Iva, he said quietly but firmly, “was Pearl joking when she mentioned Megan’s name?”
Iva whirled around to face her husband. “Why are you automatically assuming that I know something about Megan?”
“Because you didn’t have an answer for me when I asked the first time.” He stared into her eyes and she looked away. He always knew when she was hiding something from him.
“Come on love, tell me. It can’t be that bad, now can it?” Gene continued.
Iva turned back to face him. “It depends on your definition of bad.”
Gene frowned. “What exactly is going on?”
Iva turned back to the window. “Last week—the day that you and Quinn got into that terrible fight—Sadie and I went out to the empty stable that night and well, we, I mean I—“
“Good Lord woman, spit it out!” Gene interrupted, exasperated.
She faced him again, an expression of defiance on her face. “We brought Megan back, okay?”
Gene was still puzzled. “What do you mean, ‘brought Megan back?’
Iva sighed. “I recited a spell and we resurrected her ghost.”
Gene was floored. “You what?” What the hell for?”
Iva put a finger to her lips. “Keep your voice down, or you’ll wake Pearl!” she whispered heatedly.
“Does she know what you and Sadie did?” Gene wanted to know, lowering his voice.
Iva shook her head no. “We did it for her—and for us. After Quinn tried to bite you and I forced him off the farm, I got angry. Sadie saw the whole thing from her bedroom window and she was angry too. She was the one who came up with the idea to raise Megan from the dead, to get revenge on Quinn. I didn’t want to do it, because of what happened to her parents. But I was desperate and I was mad. She’s here to protect Pearl from Quinn Gene.”
“Well, obviously, your little dabble with black magic didn’t work because Quinn is still coming onto our property to see Pearl,” Gene pointed out.
“Has he demanded any blood from us?” Iva argued back. “Has he tried to kidnap Pearl again?”
She had him there. “No,” he answered contritely.
“Well all right then. So there’s no need to get upset.” Iva gave him a cheeky grin. “With Megan back, we don’t need to do anything. She’ll keep Quinn in line and Pearl will be safe.”
“I pray you’re right,” Gene told her.
The Nightshade home
Quinn couldn’t stand it anymore. He told Pearl he would see her tomorrow but he couldn’t wait. He decided he was going to see her right now and if that meant fighting with Gene and Iva, so be it. Pearl had made her choice and they had to live with it.
He grabbed his car keys that were lying on the kitchen table and picked up his black leather jacket which was draped on one of the chairs. As he was heading into the living room for the front door, Megan suddenly appeared in front of him, her arms folded across her chest.
“Oh no you don’t,” she scolded. “You’re going to stay right here. There will be no bothering Pearl.”
“What are you going to do about it?” he sneered. “You’re dead. You can’t stop me from going.” He proceeded to walk right past her, but then a sudden blast of bone-chilling air knocked him onto the floor, dazing him for a moment.
“How’s that for stopping you?” Megan sneered back.
Quinn rose to his feet, picking up his keys and his jacket. “That little distraction isn’t good enough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to visit someone very special.” With a smirk, he walked to the front door. As he was putting his hand on the door handle, Megan spoke up again. “Okay Quinn, go and see Pearl. Ask her how her afternoon with Damien Collins was.”
Startled at her words, he spun around. “What do you mean?” he demanded, his brown eyes flashing with ire.
Megan chuckled evilly. “Pearl was out at Haven Lake with Damien today. They were very cozy. He had his arms around her down by the water. They make such a cute couple, I think. He was always such a sweetheart you know. I think he’ll be good for her.”
Quinn fought to keep his composure. “I’m sure Pearl was only there to appease him.”
This time Megan laughed heartily. “That’s funny. You go on fooling yourself into thinking that. The only one Pearl is appeasing is you Quinn.”
Quinn had enough. “I’m not going to stand here and listen to a dead woman mock me. And as for Damien, I’ll deal with him myself. You two are not going to keep Pearl away from me. She is mine you hear me? Mine.” He threw her a murderous gaze, then left, slamming the door behind him.
“We’ll see what Pearl has to say about that,” Megan murmured, before fading away.
Coming up next:
- Quinn pays a surprise nighttime visit to Pearl, who begins to tell him about her ex-husband.
- Megan reveals herself to Damien and asks him to help her protect Pearl from Quinn.
- Duncan’s car trouble leads to a chance meeting with Jude.