- Despite Gene and Iva’s protests, Pearl went with Quinn to his home to meet Jude—and their father—who took an instant liking to her.
- Christoph admitted to Pearl he killed Bridget.
- Christoph told Pearl he wanted her to be Quinn’s mate.
- Jude left to take a walk and ended up at the Collins home.
The Nightshade home, evening
Pearl Tyler was sitting at the kitchen table, munching on a roast beef sandwich and thinking about the events of the evening so far. She had just met Christoph Nightshade, and while on the outside he appeared to be friendly and charming, she could tell if you crossed him, you would live to regret it…just like Bridget Walsh had last night.
She happened to glance up by the fridge and she noticed a brown round wall clock mounted beside it. The time read six-thirty. She promised she would call Gene and Iva Lawrence to let them know she was okay.
She put her sandwich back down on its plate, wiped her hands on a napkin and took her cell phone out of one of the pockets of her dress. Before she could dial a number, Quinn Nightshade stepped into the kitchen. He saw her cell phone and frowned.
“You’re not going to call Gene and Iva are you?” he asked with a pout.
“I promised I would to let them know I’m fine,” she replied. “It’ll only take a minute.”
“I hope you’re not ready to go home yet. I thought we might take a ride down to the lake. It’s a gorgeous night,” Quinn suggested to her.
“I would like to talk to Jude some more when he gets back, if you don’t mind,” Pearl said.
Quinn pouted again. “I think you’re more fascinated by my brother and my father than you are with me.”
Pearl couldn’t help but laugh. “You sound just like a jealous little boy. I’ve spent a lot of time with you already and now it’s time to meet the rest of your family. This is what you wanted, so if I were you, I would stop pouting.” She stood up, put her cell phone back in her pocket and stretched.
Quinn walked over to her and placed his arms around her waist. “How about this my dear. If Jude doesn’t get back in the next fifteen minutes, you and I are heading to Haven Lake, and you can come over another time and talk to my brother. Does that sound like a plan?”
“That’s fine by me,” Pearl agreed.
“Good.” He leaned in for a kiss, but was interrupted by his father, who entered the kitchen. “I’m going out for the night,” he announced, a bit dramatically.
Quinn and Pearl looked at him. “I’ll see you tomorrow evening Father,” Quinn said to him.
Christoph took another opportunity to take Pearl’s hand and kiss the top of it. “It was a pleasure meeting you Pearl. I hope to see you again soon.” He grinned, showing off his fangs yet again. Unlike last time, Pearl wasn’t afraid.
“Goodbye Christoph,” she said plainly. She didn’t want to think about him prowling around in the night, searching for necks to sink his teeth into.
With a smile and a wave, the elder Nightshade was gone, eagerly anticipating the taste of warm blood.
Pearl glanced at Quinn. She could see a trace of longing on his face. “Quinn, are you thinking about joining your father?” she asked nervously. She knew despite him being half human, he was eager to display his vampire side.
Quinn turned to look at Pearl. He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close. “For one second, I did think about it. But I don’t want to leave you alone. And you do have to get home sometime tonight, unfortunately.”
Pearl chuckled. “I don’t think Gene and Iva would have liked it if I had to walk home alone in the dark.”
Quinn replied with a snort. “I don’t want to talk about those two.” His face then softened a little. “Speaking of walking alone in the dark, I wonder what my baby brother is up to.”
The Collins home
“Thank you for the coffee Rhiannon,” Jude Nightshade said happily as he sat inside the kitchen with Rhiannon Collins. He blew on the top of the dark rich liquid and took a swig. The hot brew traveled down his throat and he instantly felt relaxed. “That was delicious. Even better than the coffee I make.”
Rhiannon sat across from him with a cup in her hand, which she sat down on the table. She stared pointedly at her guest. “Do you want to talk about your father?”
Jude sighed deeply. “So you know he’s in Haven.”
Rhiannon nodded. “Iva sensed he was here. In the normal world, I would never take stock of anything a psychic would say but as you and I both know, we are not living in the normal world, and she bats a thousand when it comes to her sensations.”
Jude sighed again. “I never thought he would seek Quinn and I out, after all these years. I was wrong wasn’t I?”
Rhiannon took a sip of coffee and leaned back in her chair. “Now that he’s here, what are you going to do?”
“If it was up to me, he’d be in the ground,” Jude coldly spat. “He ruined my mother’s life and nearly ruined mine and Quinn’s. But my brother is so happy to have him here, and the two of us have gotten closer again in the last three weeks.” He put his head down, fighting back tears.
“And you’re torn because if you get rid of your father, than you and Quinn will be at odds again,” Rhiannon surmised.
Jude raised his head to look at Rhiannon. “Exactly. I can’t stand it when Quinn and I are at each other’s throats. But I don’t want my father in my life. I want him to go back to England or wherever he was before he set foot in Haven, and to stay there. But he’s certain he, Quinn and I are going to be one happy family.” He leaned in towards Rhiannon. “He wants to turn us into full vampires.”
“Of course you don’t want that,” Rhiannon said with some force in her voice.
Jude emphatically shook his head. “No I don’t. Quinn may embrace his vampire side all he wants, but I have kept mine dormant ever since I learned my father was one.” He shuddered a little. “I can’t even begin to comprehend why my mother thought settling down and trying to have a normal family life with a monster like that was a good idea.”
“Because she was in love Jude, and when you’re in love, you do things that aren’t rational to human nature.” Rhiannon smiled. “I’m a perfect example. I fell in love with Caleb, even though I knew he was a werewolf. I chose to become like him, I chose to have his children, knowing full well I could never go back, knowing the risks that come with being the creature I became.”
“It was different with you Rhiannon,” Jude gently argued. “You were escaping a bad home life. My mother had a job she loved and a family that adored her, and she abandoned both for my father, and what she did get out of it? Losing her mind and losing all her memories of myself and Quinn, who hates her and refuses to see her.” He stared hard at Rhiannon. “Her cousins died trying to prevent my father from taking us out of the States and back to England.”
“I know it was different for me and I know that I’m lucky in that Caleb would rather fix cars than kill people. He’s managed to control the beast within him. Your father needs to do the same thing if he wants a relationship with you,” Rhiannon pointed out.
Jude snorted angrily. “He’ll never have a relationship with me. He’s lucky I don’t drive a stake into his heart.” After speaking those last words, he cried out and placed his hands over his face in torment. A worried Rhiannon got up and went to him, placing comforting hands on his shoulders. “I’m so sorry you have to go through this Jude.”
Jude moved his hands away and placed them flat on the table. “I did attack my father earlier this morning. He was taunting me and I lost control. I lashed out and gouged the side of his face. Of course it healed in a matter of seconds, but the fact is, I lost control. I can’t ever do that again, or I’ll be just like him.”
Seconds later, both Jude and Rhiannon heard the front door slam. “That’s Caleb and Damien. Why don’t we go into the living room,” Rhiannon said.
“I better head back home. Thanks for being so supportive,” Jude replied. “I do feel a bit better, having someone to talk to that isn’t my father or my brother.” A small smile escaped from his lips.
Jude turned to head for the back door, but heard Caleb and Damien enter. “Jude, is that you?” Caleb Collins asked.
He turned around and smiled sheepishly at the two men. “Hi Caleb. Hi Damien.”
“What are you doing here?” Caleb asked. “I mean, it’s good to see you, but you’re not known for your social calls.”
“I took a walk and ended up here so I decided to see if anyone was home,” Jude explained.
“He needed some moral support,” Rhiannon said, patting him on the shoulder.
Damien shot him a knowing glance. “Let me guess—your father,” he deduced. “I would leave the house too.”
“And now it’s time for me to get back home,” Jude told the trio. “Thanks for your hospitality.”
“What’s the rush son?” Caleb inquired, puzzled. “I thought you needed to be away for a bit.”
“Well, it’s a bit complicated,” Jude answered, trying to stay nonchalant.
“Complicated, how?” Caleb continued, still puzzled.
Jude didn’t answer. He knew what would be the reaction if they all found out Pearl Tyler was at his house. They didn’t want her anywhere near his brother and certainly not his father either.
“What’s the matter Jude?” Rhiannon asked him. “Is something going on you should tell us about?”
Jude sighed. “Look, I don’t want you all to get upset—”
Damien moved towards him. He knew exactly why he didn’t want to say anything. “Pearl’s at your house isn’t she? With Christoph.” His brown eyes started to flash with fury.
Rhiannon and Caleb were surprised and looked at Jude. “Is Damien right? Is Pearl there right now?” Caleb wanted to know.
Jude knew he couldn’t stay silent any longer. “Yes, she’s there.” He placed his right hand on his forehead and began to rub it roughly. “Quinn asked her to come and meet my father and myself and she agreed.” He gazed up at them in defiance. “I didn’t want her to come. I didn’t think it was the right time.”
Damien exploded. “Your father is dangerous Jude!” he shouted. “He killed Bridget Walsh…he kills anything that comes into his path! You bloody well know how he is! So what does that jerk of your brother do? He forces her into seeing him knowing she’s in a vulnerable condition!” His face was red and he was hot with ire. “I’m going over to your house right now to get Pearl and bring her back here.”
Jude looked him straight in the eye. “Damien, I think you need to leave things as they are. I know my father is dangerous, but he was a downright gentleman to Pearl tonight. I sincerely doubt now he’s going to hurt her. Quinn would never forgive him if he did, and you know how much he worships our father.”
Damien shook his head in disbelief. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. You’ve always been the sensible one Jude. You’ve always tried to keep Quinn on the straight and narrow. But now you’re making excuses for him and now your father.”
Jude defiantly stared Damien down. “I may not like how Quinn and our father behave most of the time but even I have to give credit to them when they act like normal human beings, and coming from them, that’s a lot. Besides Damien, my brother has changed since he met Pearl—changed for the better. I’m not going to stop that just because you don’t approve knowing you want Pearl for yourself. And Pearl chooses to be with my brother. I’m not going to start telling her how she should think and feel.”
“All right you two, let’s nip this argument in the bud,” Rhiannon warned. “What’s done is done. Jude is going home and Damien, I think you need to calm down. Why don’t you give Pearl a call later and see how she’s doing?”
“No Mum, I’m going to see her now and get her out of that house of horrors,” Damien retorted, glaring at Jude.
Jude could feel his anger rising but he fought to control it. He didn’t want to lash out again. He knew Damien was upset because he was in love with Pearl too and wanted to protect her. “Damien, if you want to barge into my home and play the white knight, be my guest. But if Pearl doesn’t want to leave, you have to respect her choice. Quite frankly, I wish you would just stay away. The last thing I need is some love triangle playing out in my living room like a tired old soap opera.”
He looked towards Caleb and Rhiannon. “Thank you again for your kindness. I wish I could say the same for your son.” He briskly walked out of the kitchen into the living room. He couldn’t get out of this place fast enough. But as soon as he had his hand on the doorknob, he could hear Rhiannon and Caleb yelling at Damien. He quickly felt a hard, painful grasp on his shoulder. He whirled around to see Damien, nostrils flaring.
“Please take your hand off me. I just want to leave,” Jude told him nicely.
“Not until you promise me that you’ll keep your brother in line and make sure he stays away from Pearl,” Damien demanded.
Jude vehemently shook his head. “I will do no such thing. I’m done playing brother’s keeper. What happens between Quinn and Pearl is their business. It’s not mine and it’s certainly not yours. Now, release me.” The anger he quelled earlier was slowly beginning to come to the surface again.
Damien only tightened his grip. “Quinn doesn’t deserve Pearl. You know first hand how he treated Megan,” he hissed, reminding Jude of Quinn’s ex-lover.
“I’m well aware of my brother’s relationship with Megan, but Pearl is different. He’s not the same person he was a year ago. The sooner you realize that, the better. Now, I’ve asked you twice, let go of me.” His eyes narrowed into tiny pools of blue.
“Damien, please let go of Jude. He wants to go home,” Rhiannon firmly instructed her son.
“He’s your friend son,” Caleb reminded him.
“He won’t be for much longer,” Damien threatened.
Jude finally had enough. He vowed he wasn’t going to become violent but he felt like he had no choice. He placed his hand on Damien’s chest and, unleashing his supernatural vampire strength, pushed him so hard that Damien flew into the air. Caleb and Rhiannon yelled out and scrambled to get out of the way. Damien slammed into the wall, which caused the entire house to shake as if an earthquake had hit. He slid down to the floor, extremely dazed and in pain but miraculously, still conscious.
A horrified Caleb and Rhiannon gawked at Jude, who stood in the center of the living room, huffing and puffing ferociously. They had never seen him like this before. They could only watch in utter shock as Jude stormed towards Damien, who by this time was standing and leaning against the wall, breathing heavily. He gazed at Jude and he could see the rage. He said nothing. He was completely stunned at the change in his friend’s personality.
Jude opened his mouth, revealing his fangs. He grabbed Damien by his shirt cuff and raised him off the floor. He hissed demonically at him. “I’m warning you, stop interfering in my brother’s life. Quinn is happy. He’s in love. And I’m not going to let you ruin it because of your self-righteousness. Pearl wants to be with Quinn. Deal with it. I told my father I had no qualms killing him…the same can easily happen to you if you don’t back off.”
Damien’s eyes widened in terror at Jude’s threat. “My God—Jude—I’m sorry,” was all he could manage to say.
The front door opened and Astrid Collins breezed in. “Hi everyone I’m home!” she cheerfully greeted. Then she stopped in her tracks upon seeing her brother. “Damien!” she hollered.
Jude let go of Damien and dropped him to the floor. He spun around and saw Astrid, who was startled by what she had just seen. “Jude! What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” she cried.
His eyes moved from Astrid to Rhiannon to Caleb. Finally the realization of what he had done begun to sink in, and he collapsed to the floor in a heap of tears. “Oh my God, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! Please forgive me!”
Damien picked himself off the floor, straightening his white button-down shirt and blue jeans. He wrapped his hand around his throat and took deep breaths. Rhiannon and Caleb rushed to him. “Damien, are you okay?” his mother asked, grabbing his shoulders with both hands.
“I’m fine Mum.” He looked at Jude, who was still on the floor. His sister was down by his side, her right arm wrapped around him, trying to comfort him. “Jesus, I should have just kept my mouth shut.”
“I had no idea he was going to react like that,” Caleb said, his body a little shaky from the incident.
“He’s had so much to deal with—his mother in that hospital, trying to keep his brother stable, and now Christoph coming back. He’s bottled his emotions for so long, this was bound to happen,” Rhiannon mused, trying to rationalize Jude’s violent actions.
Damien went to Jude. “I’m sorry for turning on you and saying those things to you. I should have let you leave like you wanted, he apologized.”
Jude glanced at him through tear-stained eyes. “I told myself I wouldn’t lose control again, and I did.” He glanced down at his lap. “We’ve all been stressed these last few weeks.”
“Jude, are you going to be okay?” Astrid asked, very worried.
He nodded. “I just need time to cool off and get my head straight.” He got up from the floor, wiped his eyes and looked at Damien. “I hope there won’t be any hard feelings,” he began. “We’ve been friends for a long time, despite the hate you have for Quinn. I want to continue being your friend, but you must understand my brother comes first. I would expect you to have the same feelings if you were me.”
“I don’t envy you, that’s for sure,” Damien murmured. He extended his right hand towards Jude. “Truce?”
Jude attempted a half-hearted smile and took his hand, shaking it weakly. “Truce.” He turned towards Caleb and Rhiannon. “I’m sorry for what I did. I promise it won’t happen again.”
“Sometimes you just need to let it out. Carrying all that anger inside you isn’t healthy,” Rhiannon pointed out. “But next time, can you not let it out on my son?”
Jude’s face turned red. “I swear, there isn’t going to be a next time.” He nodded at Caleb. “I really have to get home. I think I’ve overstayed my welcome. Goodbye everyone.”
He turned and nearly ran towards the door to leave. Once he was gone, all three just stared at the entrance to their home.
“I’m going after him,” Astrid declared.
“No, don’t. He needs to be by himself,” Rhiannon insisted.
“I want to make sure he’s okay Mum,” Astrid countered. “I’ll be right back.” She raced out the door to meet up with Jude. She spotted him in the distance by some pine trees. “Jude!” she called out. “Wait up!”
Jude turned around after a few seconds. When he saw it was Astrid, he stopped. She ran up to him and he noticed the apprehension on her face. “What’s wrong?”
“I just want to make sure you’re okay. It’s not everyday you lose your temper.”
Jude let out a sarcastic chuckle. “Losing my temper is an understatement. “I could have killed your brother back there. I even told him I would if he didn’t stop bothering Quinn.”
“I know you’d never hurt Damien. I know he can be a real wanker sometimes,” she said, trying to lighten the mood.
Jude laughed, starting to feel better. “So can my brother, but I love him. It was just the two of us for many years. And now with my father back, I feel like I’m losing him again, and it’s so frustrating. I don’t want him to go back to what he was when he was with Megan. That’s why I’m open to this relationship with Pearl, even if it’s happening so fast. Maybe with Pearl being in the picture, things can get stable and both Quinn and my father will act normal.”
“I understand where you’re coming from, but Damien is hopelessly in love with Pearl. He even proposed marriage to her.” Astrid looked off at the trees for a moment. “We asked her to marry him you know…myself, Mum and Dad.”
Jude was a little taken aback. “When did this happen?”
“Last night. She refused of course, probably because she does have feelings for Quinn and doesn’t want to hurt Damien.” But now, I think we need to just let her sort out everything by herself and not pressure her.” She gazed pointedly at Jude. “Quinn should probably do the same.”
“I think finding a needle in a haystack would be easier,” Jude quipped.
The two laughed, and then Astrid shot a glance towards her house. “Well, I’m going to go back inside. It’s starting to get a little chilly out here, and I’m hungry.”
“Yeah, I need to eat too. Quinn is probably wondering where I’m at.” Jude smiled at Astrid. “Thank you for being so understanding. You’ve really made me feel better.”
Astrid threw her arms around him. “You’re welcome…anytime.” She released herself and playfully smacked him on the arm. “Now get going, before you decide to chuck a few pine trees at me.”
Jude laughed again. “Talk to you later.” He waved at her, and was soon on his way home. Astrid watched him for several seconds before she headed for her home. Man, it’s been a couple of crazy nights around here, and I don’t think things are going to settle down anytime soon, she thought to herself. How right she would be…
Coming up next:
- Jude tells Quinn about his visit to the Collins house and his confrontation with Damien.
- Quinn is touched at Jude’s support for him.
- Josephine’s memory is fully restored and she escapes from the hospital, intent on killing Christoph; Jude gets a phone call that his mother has escaped and he wonders if she’s on her way to Haven.