Episode 3-2: Cold Comfort

Previously:

  • Pearl’s gut feeling led she and Sadie to the hotel Duncan was staying at—where they learned he was nearly murdered.
  • Damien returned home from a spontaneous trip and shocked his family with his purchase of an engagement ring for Pearl.
  • Rhiannon, Caleb and Astrid attempted to dissuade Damien’s wedding plans.
  • Quinn also returned home after an argument with Megan’s ghost prompted him to leave town to collect his thoughts.
  • Jude was shocked to learn his mother’s memory of him, Quinn—and Christoph—had resurfaced.

The Lawrence Farm

Pearl Tyler stood in front of the living room windows. She saw Quinn Nightshade’s black Corvette coming down the road and a mixture of both apprehension and giddily anticipation flooded her body. She had a feeling Quinn hadn’t forgotten what she said to him last night, about allowing him to stay the night if Micah Johnson hadn’t been in the house.

Walking slowly and methodically towards the front door, she took a deep breath and opened the door, stepping out onto the front porch. Quinn’s sportscar pulled into the driveway. He opened the door and got out, looking towards the large farmhouse. He smiled brightly when he saw Pearl and waved to her. Pearl waved back.

As he approached the porch, a slight chill ran through Pearl. She had to admit to herself he looked extremely handsome. He wore a black jacket, not his signature leather one, but one that resembled tweed, over a white button-down shirt and black jeans. Stop acting like a schoolgirl, Pearl scolded herself. You shouldn’t be even having this reaction. You’ve got to be rational.

 Quinn was now on the porch. “Hello darling,” he said huskily, his arms open as he walked towards her.

“You look very nice today,” she replied casually.

He took her into his arms and held her very tightly, burying his face in her long red hair. Pearl could smell a musky pleasant odor as he embraced her. “I missed you so much,” he said, almost whispering.

Pearl gently nudged him so he could look at her. “It’s only been a day and a half since you last saw me.” She chuckled, but her smile quickly faded when Quinn’s expression turned serious. “Something happened after you left me last night, didn’t it?”

He nodded. “Do you want to talk about it?” she quietly asked him. He responded by gently pressing his lips to hers. When he was done, he reached up with his right hand and stroked her hair. “Let’s go inside. It’s getting a bit chilly out here.”

As Pearl turned to head back inside, a glimpse of white by the trees caught her eye. She realized it was the ghost of Megan Manning, an icy stare fixed on her pretty face.

“Quinn, I have a feeling what happened to you last night is standing down by the pine trees,” she murmured.

His head snapped around and when he saw Megan, he began to get angry. He could feel himself getting hot and his eyes narrowed into tiny slits. “Leave us alone you vindictive shrew!” he yelled. “You’re not going to take Pearl from me!” He raised his left fist in fury and shook it at her.

**********************************

Harmony Hills Mental Hospital

Jude Nightshade and his mother Josephine Grant were now alone in her room. The older woman was sitting on the side of her bed, looking terrified. Jude was beside her in a chair, holding her hand and squeezing it every now and then.

“Okay Mother, I want you to tell me, if you can, how you suddenly remembered Quinn and I.” He struggled to remain calm but deep down inside he wanted to cry out in joy. After years of blocking out the fact she had two sons, she had finally remembered them—as well as their father, Christoph Nightshade.

“I had a nightmare. It was so awful.” Josephine shivered, and Jude squeezed her hand again.

“Was Father in this nightmare?” Jude wondered. He knew the answer was yes, but he wanted his mother to confirm it for him.

She slowly nodded. “He was chasing me. He was laughing at me and taunting me—you know how he would get this snotty tone to his voice when he taunted you. He said that he was going to take you and Quinn away from me and I would never see you both again.” A tear ran down her cheek.

Jude took both of her hands in his, trying to comfort her. “But Mother, you know that’s not going to happen. Quinn and I are grown now. Father is gone. You took us and fled to Maine, where we ended up in Haven. We haven’t seen him since we were young teenagers. We’re safe.”

“You are never safe from Christoph Nightshade Jude. If he wants to find you, he will.”

Jude smiled wanly. “Well he hasn’t yet and I doubt he will. It’s been a long time since Quinn and I have seen him. Do you remember? I was twelve and Quinn was fourteen. We’re now in our late thirties and he hasn’t been back.”

Despite her son’s reassuring tone, Josephine was not convinced. “I just can’t shake this feeling that he will be back to claim you. He treats people as possessions. Once he thinks you’re his he won’t ever let you do.” She gave her son a direct look.

But it wasn’t his father that Jude was thinking of—it was Quinn. He was like a younger version of Christoph. He too, treated people as possessions, especially when it came to Megan Manning, and now Pearl Tyler. He claimed to love both women intensely, but he wondered if Pearl would give into Quinn so quickly like Megan had…and Megan had ended up regretting it, choosing to die instead of live out her life as a half-breed vampire with his brother. Pearl, unlike Megan, had an unborn child to think about…

***************************************

The Lawrence Farm

Pearl was sitting in the easy chair, rubbing her swollen belly. “What was that outburst about?” she asked Quinn. “Did you have a row with Megan after you left me last night?”

“Yes.” Quinn knelt down in front of her and covered her hands with his. “She appeared and we started arguing.”

“About me,” Pearl deduced.

“She said she was going to do whatever it takes to keep you away from me.” He gazed up at her with sad eyes. “She also told me that she asked Walter Eldridge to kill her.”

Pearl was confused. “Huh? I thought she was murdered. Damien told me this Eldridge person suspected her of killing his wife and he went after her for revenge.”

Quinn sighed sorrowfully. “Megan said it was a mercy killing, that she begged him to do it.”

“Why?” Pearl was still puzzled.

Quinn took a deep swallow before continuing. “She couldn’t stand being with me anymore. She hated me and the only way she could get out of the relationship was to end her life.” He clasped Pearl’s even tighter.

Pearl had a pensive look on her face, which worried Quinn. There was silence for several seconds before she spoke.

“You wouldn’t have let her go, would you?”

Quinn was honest in his answer. “No. I wouldn’t have.”

“Well, at least you’re being straight with me.” Pearl moved Quinn’s hands away so she could stand up. Quinn stood with her and he looked at her intently. “My brother is right…I’m just like my father. When I want something, I go after it with all my might. Megan first, and now you.”

He grabbed her hands again and pulled them to his chest. “I don’t want you to doubt my love for you Pearl. It’s not an obsession anymore. You have to believe me.” He tried to study her face for a reaction.

Pearl smiled weakly. “At least you haven’t turned me part vampire.”

“You don’t have to worry about that my dear. I would never do that to you. There’s something special about you.” Quinn smiled back and brought her close, taking her into his arms. “You, as well as your little girl, are extremely important to me.”

He gazed sweetly at her. “You told me on the phone that you had something to tell me. What is it?”

Pearl looked away for a moment than back at Quinn. “I really don’t want to talk about it now. I think we should focus on more positive things.”

“Positive things,” Quinn repeated. “Like the fact that we are alone together, finally.” He moved his face in closer to hers. “I think it’s time we finish what we were starting last night, don’t you?”

Before Pearl could reply, his mouth was passionately on hers in an intoxicating kiss that almost felt like her soul was being stolen right from inside her body.

***********************************

Haven Lake

Damien Collins stood beside the water, staring at the diamond ring he held between his fingers. The clear stone sparkled and danced underneath the early evening sun. He was determined to slip this on Pearl’s finger, despite the negative reactions from his family. They just didn’t understand the strong feelings he felt for her and the protective nature towards her unborn child. He knew that he was the one to love her and protect her from Quinn’s advances.

Suddenly he felt a chilling breeze behind him. He turned around to see Megan’s ghost standing before him. She had a grim look on her face.

“Megan,” he said. “You can only be here for one reason.”

“Quinn is trying to get his hooks into Pearl again and I’m afraid she’s willfully allowing him to do it. He’s at the Lawrence farm with her now and he was with her last night.”

Damien seethed with bubbling rage. “Damn him. Why can’t she see how dangerous he is?”

Megan caught a glimpse of the sparkle on his fingers. “I see that’s a ring you’re holding. Is that for Pearl?”

He nodded. “I bought it this morning. My family thinks I’ve gone off the deep end but this is the only way I can prove to Pearl I’m not kidding when I tell her I love her. I know it’s way too soon but I feel like I’m losing her.”

“Hopefully she’ll come around Damien. She has to, or she’ll end up like me, begging for my life to end.” Megan somberly looked past him and out to the lake.

Damien didn’t understand. “What do you mean, ‘begging for your life to end?”

“You need to know the truth about the night of my death. I wasn’t murdered by Walter Eldridge like Quinn says, at least not technically. I asked him to kill me. He hesitated but after I kept insisting, he finally gave in and stabbed me through the heart.”

Damien instantly knew where she was going with her story. “You didn’t want to be with Quinn anymore and you knew he wouldn’t let you go, so you decided death was the only way out to be free of him.”

“Yes,” Megan’s ghost replied matter-of-factly. I couldn’t stand it anymore. His touch revolted me. Death was the only way out. Now I have to make sure Pearl doesn’t fall victim to him either. Not when she’s pregnant.”

“Then that settles it,” Damien told her firmly. “To hell with my family. I’m going to propose to Pearl, whether they like it or not, for her sake…and her baby girl’s.”

**********************************

The Lawrence Farm

Quinn broke off his intense kiss with Pearl and cupped her face with his hands. The look on his face both frightened and electrified her.

“Let’s go downstairs. I want to make love to you right now,” he said lustfully.

“No,” Pearl responded with a shaky voice. “I can’t.”

“Pearl, please don’t push me away. You would have last night, I know you would. If that stranger wasn’t in the house…” he started to argue.

“That was last night. Today is different,” she said quietly but sternly.

“Why?” Quinn looked like a little boy who was told he couldn’t have a puppy. “Why don’t you want me to show you how much I love you?”

“It’s the baby.”

“Pearl, you know I would never hurt your baby,” Quinn insisted.

“I know Quinn, but the doctor today gave me and the baby a clean bill of health. She told me to make sure we stay healthy, to continue to not do any strenuous activity. Lovemaking is right up there, don’t you think?” She gave him a pointed stare.

“It doesn’t have to be strenuous. We can get around that,” Quinn countered.

Pearl shook her head. “I’m sorry Quinn, but this is how it has to be right now. Please don’t be angry.”

Quinn kissed her again, this time more softly and gently before replying. “I can’t be angry with you Pearl. You mean everything in the world to me.”

“Good, I’m glad.” She reached up and mussed his light brown hair. “Why don’t we go into the kitchen and I’ll fix us some hot tea. Come on.” She took his hand and began to lead him into the kitchen. And while Quinn eagerly followed her he still wished they were going downstairs. It won’t be long though, he thought to himself. We’ll be together, just you wait and see.

**********************************

Downtown Harmony

Jude was inside a little diner, eating a BLT and sipping iced tea. His waitress, a pleasant-looking middle-aged woman of fifty, came to his table. “How’s the sandwich?” she asked cheerfully.

“It’s good, thanks.” Jude took a swig of tea. “While I was driving here I noticed a group of people gathered outside at that little hotel down the street. Did something happen there today?”

The waitress’ face turned dark like storm clouds. “One of the guests was almost killed in his room last night. Apparently someone forced their way in and bashed his head with a pipe. They  sent him straight away to St. Mary’s in Lewiston. I heard he’s in a coma and may not survive.”

“Oh good Lord, that’s awful. I can’t believe something so brutal could happen in this lovely little town,” Jude lamented.

“Well, that’s what happens sometimes when you get outsiders. They bring their own kind of trouble,” the waitress somberly remarked.

“Do they know who this man was that almost got murdered?” Jude asked.

The waitress nodded. “The clerk who was on duty during the time it happened came in here after the cops left. He told me it was a guy from Pennsylvania. He had a British accent and called himself Duncan.”

At the mention of Duncan’s name, Jude’s face turned white as a ghost. His stomach, which moments ago felt satisfied, now began to churn like a choppy sea.

The waitress took notice. “From your reaction, it seems you know this man.”

“Uh yeah, I do. I met him almost two weeks ago. He had car trouble and I stopped to try to help him.” As Jude attempted to gain his composure, a terrible thought crept into his mind—that maybe his brother Quinn didn’t go to the falls like he said—and instead came here to ensure his rival for Pearl’s affections would be eliminated…permanently.

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