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Past Regret

by Hannurdock

Rating: R/SLASH


Disclaimers: The characters from the Chronicles belong to Anne Rice.

These stories are purely for pleasure and 'What if's'. 

Nothing is meant to infringe upon the author's rights.

I am doing this for fun and I love sharing my stories with others.

This story was written when I was a part of a vampire chronicle forum, with actual members in the story.

Summary: Although this is essentially a dedication to a forum that I was a member of for a long time, the writing is particularly good. Takes place in first-person, Lestat's POV. There are several chapters. Please read and review.

Alternative pseudonym; Katrina Alexandre.







Part One: Irony

Midnight.

It was a calm and clear night in Rockery Lane, Los Angeles. The only sound for miles was the distant sound of a police siren, fading by the second.

Then, a young man appeared, his face drenched with sweat as he ran down the Lane, his movements frantic and wild. Seconds later a car sped behind him. A dark Ferrari, without a number plate, drew perilously close to his fleeing body as it bumped him viciously and sent him flying into trash cans aligning the right hand side of the road.

His body twisted as he fell, and his ankle snapped. A desperate scream escaped his lips as the car stopped only metres from his fallen and injured body, and the door to the Ferrari opened wide revealing his tormentor.

“Please ... Please .... Don’t kill me” The young man was sobbing violently, his thoughts flashing to his friends and his loved ones, all of whom would be mourning his death the next day.

There was no escape. He was doomed.

A tall figure towered over him. In the slender hands lay a small revolver, glinting in the streetlight, the instrument of his demise. The tormentor aimed the weapon at the injured man without any expression of regret or horror in the cold blue eyes.

“You shouldn’t have left us, Jack” A soft voice whispered.

Jack squinted at the figure towering above him. “Stacia, I’m sorry! I had no idea the police were waiting for me in that alley. They told me I either helped them get evidence or they’d kill me.”

“What did you think I was going to do? Let you run to them with proof of my business? No! I’m not an idiot. You were flirting with death when you betrayed me” Stacia clicked off the safety, and Jack's lip quivered in horror.

He could see Stacia in the streetlight, her brilliant blonde hair illuminated not only by the artificial light but the soft and calming light of the moon. In all his life, with all the crimes and murders he himself had committed, he had never seen such a ruthless killer. She was as cold as the colour of her eyes, her height only magnifying her seeming evil. Her voice was distant and unnerving.

“I promise no more betrayal! Stacia, just give me another chance, another day to prove to you I mean what I say” Jack was stumbling for words, his fear paramount to the now coldly smiling female standing above him, reveling in the power she had over him. She was brutal, without any remorse for the crime she was about to commit. She enjoyed his fear, his paralyzing fear.

Should I take her now?

I had been following her for months. Jack was no less of a criminal, but even his vicious crimes were nothing in comparison to the evil I saw within this girl. Yes, a young girl. I could perhaps feast on them both if I intervened before she destroyed him.

However, my body failed to move. I kept to the shadows, watching her from afar. My vicious killer, my terrible beauty. My victim I had been following for so long and had fallen in love with for her complexity. The nature of her kills resembled my own. She reveled in paralyzing them with fear. My sister, born of evil. The side of my nature I restrained from the mortals I have come to love and cherish.

That’s why I loved her now. Sickly fascinated by the whole affair, I watched her pull the trigger and move away from the dead body. She was laughing quietly, her shoulders shaking with her evil, her joy for the murder she had just committed. So alike, she and I. She moved within the world of the living murdering her brothers and sisters without a second thought. I moved among the world killing those that brought death to others, killing those mortals I deemed to be Evil Doers.

Jack wasn’t dead. She had shot him, inconveniently for him below the throat. He would be dead by morning, but he was going to suffer horrifically before death came for him. I watched her, filled with tension, the tension that always grips me before I close in upon my victim. She stepped lightly back over to her car, and got inside rather delicately. Like me, a wolf within a sheep’s clothing. How evil she was. I could smell death all over her. Blood stained her hands in numbers similar to the atrocities I had committed over my two hundred years. I smiled to myself. What a feast she was going to provide. Willful, young and strong and evil. So evil it almost made me pale beside her.

Almost. Not quite.

I grinned, allowing my fangs freedom for an instant as she drove into the night. Her sleek, black Ferrari winding it’s way into the heart of the night. No doubt going to claim yet another victim.

Stepping out from my vantage point behind a shrub, I watched Jack as he breathed hoarsely, his eyes dilating with his pain. I walked over to him and his breath quickened with fear.

“I am not the one you fear” I whispered, bending down close to him, so he could see my facial features more clearly in the lamplight. “Although I am one you should fear more on account of what I am.”

His thoughts were running wild.

So similar. He could be her twin.

I smiled viciously. “You have no idea how correct you are, my friend.”

With that statement, I allowed myself to become the savage beast inside, the vampire I kept mostly restrained from those around me. I ravaged his throat, tearing into the deepest part of him, drinking his soul and essence into my own body. I crushed him to me. I felt his bones snap, felt the spine crack as I embraced him to me. Blood was trickling from his lips as his eyes rolled back helplessly into his head.

I licked at the wound like a cat licking her newborn, tenderly, and watched his life slip away quietly. It was always interesting to witness the end of a life, to see the final moment when the soul slipped away into the dark abyss, the oblivion I have witnessed
thousands of times before.

It was a much nicer end for him than what my Victim had planned. He had died in pleasure, his mind surrendering to the power of my own and he had relived the memories before his life had been committed to crime. Even as his body was breaking in my powerful arms, his spirit was at peace. He was no longer fearful.

Of course, I had no intention of being so kind to my Victim. My Victim. The girl I had hunted almost exclusively for the last couple of months. Apart from Jack, I had fed from no-one, saving myself for the grand feast, the main course so to speak. I had little desire to feed from anyone else. The dance was to be with her. I was saving myself until the big night.

Then I wouldn’t allow her to slip into the swoon and die a gentle death. Oh no, the passion play would not end so mercifully. I desired nothing better than a grand fight, and I knew she would not die easily. She was a powerful woman, nothing as powerful as me of course, but she was almost exclusive among her kind. All the killers and murders I had hunted before her paled in comparison to her wickedness, her unrestrained evil.

Ah, she was delightful.

Soon she would be dancing in my arms, her evil overwhelming me, her crimes flooding my brain as her blood flooded my body. She would be a grand partner in those final moments, her strength and fragility combining to ensure the vicious paradox I loved so much would be sated.

That she looked like me added an extra dimension to the thought of killing her. When I looked upon her countenance when she was sleeping late at night, I saw an almost perfect reflection of myself. Except there was no love within her vicious soul. She was the monster and the monster alone. It were as if the Devil had created her to become my bride for one fateful evening.

Lestat!

I looked around myself. I was horrified to discover I had remained near to the corpse of Jack, now in the early stages of death, stiffening. I added a few droplets of my blood to the puncture marks upon his throat and then stood up, looking around myself in an attempt to find the voice that had called me. A woman’s voice. It sounded very familiar to me suddenly, and I tried to remember where I had heard that voice before.

I scanned the night thoroughly.

Nothing.

Just the whispers of a slight breeze, the scent of rain that was hanging on the early morning breeze, yet to come. Closing my eyes, I concentrated on finding the source of the voice but was disappointed to find nothing at all.

It wasn’t the first time the voice had interrupted my train of thought. Something or someone was trying to communicate with me, and I didn’t know who. It was very frustrating and intoxicating, this unknown voice.

Taking to the air, I flew back to my hotel, determined to lock myself in a room for the rest of the night and try and summon this voice again, find who was responsible for calling me and disturbing me. A wicked smile played upon my lips as I contemplated what I would do to this person, once they were within my grasp.

However, I had barely walked into the lobby when I saw him waiting for me on one of the comfortable armchairs. He was sitting by the fire, gazing at his hands and he was unaware that I had entered the lobby at all.

I walked towards him, startling him a little, as he rose graciously to greet me. He held out his hand politely and I looked at him blankly.

“What the hell do you want?” I asked. It sounded much more angry than I had intended. I immediately felt a pang of remorse for saying those words.

He retracted his hand at once and looked uncomfortable.

“Good to see you Lestat.” His words had a soft hint of malice in them.

I felt a sudden anger leaping within me. Damn him! “I would say the same but you’d know that I was lying, wouldn’t you?.”

He flinched a little. “You made me. I cannot read your mind, Lestat.”

I smiled maliciously “Ah, yes! I made you. But your little psychic gifts still enable you to read my moods, don’t they? What’s wrong David? Have you lost the skill a little since you crossed over?” I literally spat the last words at my fledgling. He was beyond flinching, he was actually cowering at my feet. I felt suddenly ashamed.

“I’m sorry to have disturbed you” David whispered apologetically, stunned by my anger, and immediately walked over to the door.

I reached the door first, of course, regretting my hostility. I hadn’t seen him in years, and I didn’t wish for our relationship to continue this way. I barred his path and watched him look at me, fascinated by the sudden hint of fear in his eyes.

“Go on then” David said bravely, squaring his shoulders. “Do it! See if you can burn me to a crisp with one of your miserable little thoughts. I would like you to do it. Can you do it? Kill me with your powerful blood pumping inside of me? I would really like to know.” His voice had become desperate, pleading. “I know how you want to do it, since you think I betrayed you all so very much. I can see the fire dancing in your eyes.”

I sighed, heavily. “That fire will never touch you, David” I vowed softly.

His expression softened when he heard the tenderness in my voice. His whole expression became confused, vulnerable. I could see the hint of red in his eyes.

“Why are you here?” I asked more softly, my curiosity to know obliterating the initial anger. Also, I sought to change the subject before I had a weeping fledgling on my hands. Try explaining that to the lobby clerks.  

David sniffed and looked away. I allowed him a few moments to regain his composure and then gently prompted him once more. “I have this terrible feeling something bad is going to happen to you.”

I laughed bitterly “What else is new?”

The tears were blurring his vision, and I quickly reached into my pocket for one of my silken handkerchiefs. I handed this to David, and watched him wipe his eyes with quick and furious gestures. He hated for me to see the more vulnerable side of himself.

“It was an awful feeling, Lestat. It was as if all of this is coming to an end. The whole world seemed to be winding down. I had the feeling that something monumental was going to happen to you, something that was going to destroy you completely.” David was becoming more upset.

I gestured for him to follow me to my penthouse suite. We silently rode the elevator together, glancing at each other every now and again, then I opened the door to my room and gestured for him to come inside.

David warily edged into the massive room, still dabbing at his eyes with my handkerchief, his face flushed with humiliation. I closed the door firmly, locked it quickly and then turned to face him. I opened my arms.

It had been a long while since we had seen each other. He was responsible for a lot of past misdeeds, but then again, I wasn’t the perfect Devil myself. I still loved him, did I not? I still wanted his eternal companionship. I had brought him across for that very
reason, so he could never leave the world, my life, for good. No matter what was thrown into our path or what sides we eventually ended up taking, we were bound.

David seemed reluctant to enter my embrace at first, but after a slight hesitation, he rushed into my arms. We hugged silently, clinging to each other a little fiercely, and I could feel his shoulders shaking with silent sobs. I closed my eyes and allowed his scent to overwhelm me. The scent of his blood tears was amazingly seductive as I allowed myself to remember times before the past misfortunes had driven us apart. I reached out and stroked his hair gently, lovingly. Then I drew back and held onto his shoulders firmly. I looked into his eyes.

“Maybe we should sit down and talk this through” I advised, the master / fledgling aspect of our relationship coming to the fore with It’s own mentorly instincts. David nodded and allowed me to lead him to a comfy sofa. I sat close to him and wrapped one of his hands in the both of mine. He put the stained handkerchief down upon a small coffee table and gazed at me.

We remained this way for a few moments. Simply looking at each other. Conversation with someone who knows me so well is never easy. It was almost hurting me to see him in so much obvious pain, so much distress.

Finally, David began to speak again. His voice was trembling and unsure. I longed to take him in my arms again, but I could not do that. The intimacy was too much, too soon. We had a lot of hurt between us now that needed to be healed before I could allow myself liberties with him again. “The whole world, Lestat! The whole world seems to be winding down.”

I laughed nervously. “I have not noticed anything of such importance. True, crime has increased. There have been more disasters in the world lately. But these things have always been here. It doesn’t mean the world is going to blow up or anything.”

David looked at me wide-eyed “Something terrible is going to happen to you. Something profound and irreversible. I know this! I can feel it in my soul.”

I smiled reassuringly at him, and decided to put all of our misunderstandings behind me for the moment. He was so obviously suffering, almost to the point of driving him to insanity. I closed the distance between us, and gently wrapped my arm around his shoulder, drawing him into a tight embrace. His head flopped onto my breast and he just sat there, eyes closed, scenting me in silence.

“What is happening lately, Lestat? Why do I have these awful feelings? Are you up to anything?” David breathed against my breast, his eyes still closed.

I kissed his forehead and laughed a little “Nothing much. The forums are still going strong. Daniel is now a member, a full member, of the forum and is dating one of the members. Armand has taken off with two members of the forum to places unknown. Marius and Louis have run off to get married and I have decided to embark upon a space mission. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

The sarcastic humour and references toward the mortal FanFiction worked, and I felt him chuckle against me. “Is it still going well, then? How is Daniel doing, coping with so many mortals at once?”

I smiled “The members are as devoted as they were back then in my brief days as a rock star. Ah, and the fledglings that have come out of this experiment are among the strongest I have ever known. They all started to get feelings like you at one point. Nothing happened then. Nothing will happen now. As for Daniel, Marius is encouraged by his progress. He seems to have taken an avid interest in all of the mortals and their lives.”

“How about you?” David pressed.

I was impressed with his persistence as always. “I am hunting a new Victim. An interesting Victim. I spend most of my days either tracking her or playing with my mortals on the forums.”

“Her?” David looked at me curiously.

“Yes, a girl called Stacia.  She has no surname, no mortal records or memories as such. Her earliest memories are of an orphanage in LA. She never knew her mother. She and I are very similar, with both looks and nature.”

“Your falling in love again” David commented “This sounds like a Memnoch the Devil re-run.”

I dropped another quick kiss upon his forehead and laughed good-naturedly. “Not at all. I don’t love her that much, David. Besides, how many fledglings do I have now? Marius will drain me dry to prevent me making any others if I don’t kill her. Of course I’m going to kill her. I’ve been waiting for this feast for months. It’s going to be very satisfying.” I realised I was defending my reasons to kill her. How bizarre. I suddenly felt a subtle feeling of dread settle over me and I decided to push it away. After all, David’s own emotions were probably getting to me a little.

“How are the latest additions to the Coven of the Articulate?” David asked me, with a hint of bitterness in his words.

“Quinn has left New Orleans” I explained “I think he’s going to explore a little, and maybe bring across that one from the forum that captured his attention so. He thinks I have no idea what he has in mind, but of course I do. Little scamp.”

David pondered this for a moment “Hmmm, Lestat, why don’t you stop him?”

I shrugged “Why should I? It’s up to him. What Quinn wants, Quinn get’s anyway.”

David laughed “Sounds like someone else I know.”

“The others are settling in fine. Louis has had his hands full of course, but I think he’s secretly enjoying all the attention he’s getting from his gushing preternatural admirers. He seems to be quite an attraction. There is not a single day that goes by without a reference to Louis’ beauty coming from all directions. I think he’s developing an ego.”

“Louis? Never!” David said, grinning up at me. “But if he did, It’s about time”

I laughed. “Armand has been to see us lately with his creations. All those visitors at the Night Island have been brought across, much to Marius’ disdain. He practically has his own little Coven of Armand Worshippers now. They help him sweep ebay and collect his artworks. I think he’d be lost without them now. Not a day goes by without him talking about this one, or that one, or the other one, or that one reading in the corner. His emails are flooded with the things they get up to. They even play practical jokes on him! Mind you, I’ve never seen him so happy.”

“The experiment was a resounding success then, for all parties involved” David surmised, his hand pressing my own affectionately.

“Yes, I think It’s opened a lot of opportunities” I said quietly, returning the pressure and squeezing David’s hand in my own. “It’s almost dawn, David. Are you staying here or have you somewhere near?”

David shook his head “I came straight here. I was anxious.”

“Very well, then stay in this suite with me. It’s very well guarded and the bedroom is protected fully from light.”

David nodded. He seemed worried still, but the little conversation had relieved him of his anxiety, at least a little bit.

I led him to the room, and helped him into bed. Then I moved throughout the suite, ensuring everything was locked securely for the day. I checked my answer machine, but saw at least thirty messages waiting for me, and decided to wait until the next evening to return the phone calls from all of the fledglings I knew had left them.

Finally, I flopped back into the sofa and reached out for my silken handkerchief. I inhaled the scent of David’s blood tears in pleasure, closing my eyes to make the most of the sensation, and then finally I went over to the bedroom to join David.







Part Two: A Friend In Need ...

I awoke bright and early the next evening pressed against David. At first, I was confused as to the reason he was right next to me, his nose literally squashed against my own. Then, with a heavy sigh, I remembered the evening before.

I de-squashed myself from David, and untangled our limbs. I stretched extravagantly, and then leapt energetically out of the bed and into the shower. I was in a surprisingly good mood as I soaped myself all over. I wanted to smell nice and fresh for David.

Our bodies do not exude mortal smells, but it is a tremendously satisfying feeling to be completely squeaky clean, and a vampire always feels so awake after showering. I’ve tried to impress this upon Louis and the recent additions to our household, but all of them are the same sweet and dusty beings. They follow Louis’ example with a devotion akin to a lemming. If I hadn’t caught Katrina trying to suck the life from a rat I would have thought it was a healthy obsession. Slapping the rat from her fingers, I shoved her at the first mortal I saw.

“But Louis didn’t get to where he is now by being too murderous in the early stages of vampirism” Kat snapped back smartly.

“Yes, but I am the teacher and you are going to do this right!” I said, stamping my feet, and wondering why on earth she had to be so similar to me.

“If you keep doing that you’ll wear a hole in the tarmac” Kat said, crossing her arms, and looking very much like a stubborn child who will not do as it’s told because it annoys others.

“Eat! Now!” I pointed at the mortal and bared my fangs at her.

She grumbled something, to her credit beyond my hearing, and latched onto the mortal. She had to watch me with disdain throughout the entire experience, and finally let the body thud with a nasty fall. She never took her eyes off me once.

I started feeling as if I were a worm on a hook. “Would you quit staring at me?”

“I thought you liked to be watched.”

“Not like I was your dessert, I don’t” I was literally hopping from one foot to another. I’d start shaking her by the shoulders if she wasn’t careful.

“Seal the wounds” I ordered grumpily.

“No!”

Good grief! Even Claudia was never this bad!

“Louis will be wondering where you are” I said, employing a tactic which never failed.

“Ah, Louis” Her eyes brightened as she applied a few drops of blood to the mortal’s throat and together we had walked home in silence.

Ah, I digress! Back to the present! I finished my shower and dressed myself handsomely in a nice crisp shirt and suit. I always like to look my best. Those strangely pale and dusty beings that occupy the same household as I do tend to startle me frequently now. I cannot understand their reluctance to dress to their best.

I walked over to my answering machine and pressed a button.

“Lestat, It’s Armand. It’s just become dark here and I need you to come and see me. Urgently. Tonight, if possible”

Oh, dear. That was yesterday.

“Lestat, It’s Armand. Where the devil are you? Do you realise how bad you are at returning my phone calls? Please get back to me tonight”

Hmmm. I could sense Armand was quite annoyed in that last message, and I could only imagine what was in the next twenty-eight messages flashing away at me. I let a small laugh of delight escape me as I played the next message in glee.

“Lestat! This is absolutely ridiculous! Where on earth are you? Are you still living?”

Armand was grumpy and obviously expected my world to revolve around waiting for telephone messages from him. I grinned as I played the next message. This reminded me suddenly just how bad I was at answering messages generally, especially my emails.

“Lestat, I am really pissed off! Give me a call or I’ll send one of my damned Coven to terrorize you!”

Uh oh. He was serious.

“Lestat! I am coming to Los Angeles if you don’t answer this message right now!”

“Lestat! I mean it! I’m going to come and shake some sense into you!”

“Please Lestat, this is important”

“Okay, don’t bother! I’ll sort this out myself!”

“I didn’t mean what I said before. I’m just ... I don’t know ... I’m in over my head here. There are so many of them. I know you will probably say I shouldn’t have been thinking with my fangs, but you have no idea what’s happening here. I can’t go to Marius. He’ll be furious when he finds out how many there are here.”

I grinned viciously. Yes, Armand had decided to make all of his fans into vampires, if that was what they wished. Of course, they all did. Every damned one of them.  It was no wonder he had his hands full. He didn’t seem to have much luck in the teacher/student department either.

“Lestat, It’s Kat. I forgot to tell you if your heading to LA, could you drop by the old book shop and see if that copy of Life beyond Compromise is available? Louis mentioned reading it once, and I thought it would be nice if you could dig it up.”

Louis, Louis, Louis. Always Louis. What am I? A hunchback in comparison? I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I am one hell of a dish. No, a hunk. Dishes bring to mind that damned topic that sends me into fIt’s of laughter every time I think about it. But It’s not an egg, It’s a dish. Too late, the laughing fit had started.

“Lestat, It’s Ioanna. Just wondered if you were alright. Are you still tracking that girl? Have you done the deed yet? We are missing you.”

I smiled. I loved her. She was always so charming and had a wonderful way of making me feel welcome and loved. One of my favourites of course. I can’t deny she has always held a special place in my heart.

I had become bored of my messages now, and decided to leave the rest and concentrate on deciding whether to go ahead and assist Armand, or whether I should just concentrate on my Victim.

Unfortunately, family does come first with me, whether I admit to it or not.

David had awoke, and was busily showering himself. I listened to the sound of his voice as he hummed to himself. David has a wonderful voice, and It’s very soothing to listen to.  I let myself imagine him showering, the purposeful soapy swipes of the sponge along his fine, masculine arms.  I sighed.

Finally he emerged, slightly damp, drying his hair with a towel. He smiled when he saw me. “Good evening, Lestat. Why the long face?”

I sat on the edge of the bed and looked at him, mesmerized by the way his naked arms looked in the artificial light of the hotel room. “It’s Armand. Something is up at the Night Island.”

David seemed worried for a moment, his face fell. I felt a pang of jealousy, for both David and Armand seemed once to be quite intimate. “Is that so? What could be wrong?”

“Why not ask me?” Armand said, standing by the bedroom door, watching the both of us with a disdainful expression stamped upon his face. He was dressed casually, in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. His hair was swept back into a loose pony tale, and his posture was relaxed. His arms were folded and he was leaning against the door frame. He looked like a boy, standing there, a boy up to mischief.

“Well?” I asked, in no mood for Armand’s habit of answering questions with questions.

“Why don’t you tell me?” Armand walked into the room, slouching a little. He sat in a chair by the window, drew his hand to his mouth, and stared at the darkened street in deep thought.

“Shouldn’t you be at the Night Island?” I asked, sliding on a pair of my favourite boots. They were black, smelled of expensive leather and were extremely comfortable. “Where are the mass of fledglings you have so recently created to spite Marius?”

“They were not made to spite Marius” Armand said distantly, still gazing outside the window. “I couldn’t just make the one. I wanted them all. Once one was made, then I couldn’t stop. I was like a fledgling-making machine for a couple of weeks. I’d never felt so drained in my whole undead life.”

“So why aren’t you there with your children?” My voice had a disapproving edge to it. That’s right! Forsake the horde like you did Daniel!

“I did not forsake Daniel” Armand confirmed, reading my thoughts like the Devil he was “Daniel left me to go with Marius.” He finally stopped gazing out of the window, and turned to me. His face was a complete shock. He looked worn and tired. He seemed very distressed. “This isn’t about Daniel or Marius.”

“I know” I sighed. “I didn’t hear your messages until this evening. What’s up?”

Armand sighed. He seemed so very tired. “I’m in over my head.”

I felt shock course through me. Armand had never admitted such a thing to me before. He must genuinely need my help to be so honest, when I could easily say I told you so.

Armand nodded. “That’s right. I cannot cope.” He pointed to a red stain on his shirt “Do you see this? Fledgling blood! He was sick all over me, and there is nothing I can do to get him to keep his victim’s blood down. It just comes up time and time again!.”

“Have you tried feeding him a little at a time?” I asked, walking over to Armand’s chair and, without even thinking about it, started to massage his shoulders. Armand leant into the massage with a gurgle of appreciation deep within his throat.

“No. I had no idea what to do. First Jon starts ‘chucking up’ all over me during his lesson about killing, then Mel runs off ‘doing a Daniel’. I just found her before dawn! She was asleep on a bench, right where the sun was going to shine down upon her! I have no idea what to do! Amy and Dre are trying to help as much as they can, but some are not as strong as the others. Some are complete handfuls.”

I decided to keep silent about my Victim. I had the feeling Armand didn’t need to know how he was interrupting my hunt, and how close I was to killing her. He needed help.

David had finished toweling his hair dry. “I can come with you if you wish? Try and help where I can?”

Armand looked warily at David. The whole coven had kept clear of my ex-Talamascan fledgling since he had betrayed us all to the organisation that had almost been our downfall. However, his expression softened as he realised David was completely sincere, and he nodded a little.

“I need to make a phone call before we leave” I said, gesturing to the hotel’s telephone. “I won’t be a moment.”

I quickly dialed home.  At first, there was no answer. Then, a sleepy female voice answered. Ioanna.

“Is Louis there?” I asked instantly.

“Ah, Lestat!” Ioanna brightened at once. “He’s not in at the moment. He’s taking a walk by the river. Can I take a message?”

I smiled into the telephone. “Yes! Tell him I am going to be an extra few days. I have something to take care of before I come home. Oh, and tell Kat I’ll get that book for Louis when I return. She was fretting about it on my answer machine earlier.”

“I think that was just an excuse to call you and leave a message” Ioanna said cryptically.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Don’t you know?” Ioanna said, and then quickly changed the subject “Ah, you must promise to be back soon! I’m missing you. Things aren’t the same here without you.”

“I promise. I’ll be back soon. Take care of yourself. Take care of the others.” I didn’t wait for a goodbye, I just put the receiver back onto It’s little hook. I find good-bye’s and farewell’s a little strange for immortals to say. After all, we’d all see each other again soon. We have forever to do so.

As Armand was weakened from his fledgling related duties, I flew both David and Armand to the Night Island, where all hell was breaking loose.

I had no idea of the extent of the problem, until I saw the state of Armand’s luscious apartment and the broken windows.


****


Armand’s house.

Adjacent to the luxurious shopping complex known as The Night Island, was Armand’s private villa. It had every conceivable luxury, including air conditioning and wide screen televisions. Armand is a lover of modern gadgets and collects them all when they first hit the markets. He has an impressive selection of gizmo’s that really do amaze me at times. From the lighting that comes on when you enter a room, to the remote controlled blinds that shut out any light within five seconds.

Armand was the first to try 3D viewing on television. I remember him watching one of the Jaws movies, that one they did in 3D, with his little colorful 3D spectacles. His mouth was slightly ajar, and he seemed like an anorak. Finally he took them off with a sigh of impatience and literally threw them at me.

“What do you think?”

I put them on and looked at the movie. After about five minutes I scratched my head. “I don’t get it. What are they supposed to do? All it gives me is a weird coloring effect.”

“It’s our preternatural sight” Armand groaned. “I hate it when this happens. I really wanted to see something jump out on me.” He placed his head in his hands and started to weep dramatically.

Grinning mischievously, I snuck upon the little imp, and did an impressive boo that would have shaken most immortals to the foundations of their being. Armand jumped a little, and then started to laugh. The sadness was immediately replaced by surprised laughter.

“What on earth are you doing, Lestat?” Armand had said affectionately, stroking my hair back from my face as I continued to grin stupidly at him.

“Jumping out on you of course” I answered smartly.

Armand gave an almighty howl of laughter, and collapsed into his seat. He was shaking uncontrollably. Armand is generally very difficult when it comes to jokes, he rarely finds anything funny at all. However, his laughter is so very precious, that upon the rare occasions you do have him shaking uncontrollably, It’s best to make the most of them.

“You little imp!” I smiled, tickling him under the arms and watched as he exploded into another laughing fit. His armpit’s are preternaturally ticklish. It’s always fun to play with him when he is in the mood to be toyed with. I lifted the laughing vampire into my strong arms and danced with him like a madman around the room.

He was clinging to me, his laughter so strong it shattered a couple of his luxury windows.

“Uh oh, now you’ve done it” I exclaimed with mock worry as I set him down and walked over to the shattered window.

“Leave it. I’ll have my mortal slaves fix it tomorrow” Armand said, languidly arranging his limbs upon the couch once more and looking at me with a dopey and smiling expression that literally caught the breath in my throat.

“Slaves? Don’t you mean employee’s?” I corrected. Armand had a particularly bad habit of breaking new centuries in. He still saw everything as it was four hundred years ago, and of course, the times and rights of the mortals had changed dramatically.

I reached the window, my shoes crunching broken glass. Armand sat up, intrigued. He watched as I reached down for a piece of glass and walked back to him. I sat beside him on the couch. “You should be careful. You could cut yourself with these shards.”

Armand smiled wickedly at me. “Is that an invitation?”

I shrugged. Why not? He had once blamed me for not letting him drink from him before he had tried to kill himself in the sun. The little rascal drank from me all the time. He forgets to mention how I let him drink from me every time I visit him.

I ran the sharp piece of glass over my wrist, not cutting the flesh. Tempting him. He leant forward and tried to take the glass from my hand, licking his lips. I pulled away. “Who said you get the glass?”

“But, Lestat! You are tempting me beyond endurance here” Armand moaned, his voice raspy and thick with need.

“Have you fed tonight?” I shot back at him, looking at his pale face sternly.

Armand shrugged. “I don’t feed every night, Lestat. There is no need”

“If you want to start sucking me, I want you not to be thirsting. Remember that time you almost drained me dry?” I remembered back to my own Chronicle, The Vampire Lestat, when Armand had tried to destroy me whilst feeding from me. It was centuries later that I discovered he had not been trying to kill me at all. He just hadn’t fed before the event and it had been too overwhelming to stop the assault.

Armand groaned and slapped his head viciously. I caught his hand gently, and massaged the flesh between his thumb and fingers. He looked miserable suddenly, and I realised that the mood had been spoilt somewhat by my insistence on his feeding. Blood play is a rare event between vampires, and the mood can be easily broken if one is not careful.

I lifted him easily into my arms and carried him over to an unbroken window. He lay his head helplessly against me, sighing against me as I crossed the room and stood watching the night sky beyond. I let him down, and we stood together, watching the play of the moon upon the water. I reached out and gathered his loose hand into my own and together we watched the night until the early morning light caused us to separate and head off to our own special rooms hidden deeply within the earth.

Back to the present, I remembered this time with a slight smile.  He had seemed so fragile on the trip over, his head against my breast, his eyes closed. I set both him and David down, already noting a large spray painted sign upon Armand’s front door which read ‘Miami Coven of Armand Worshippers’.

I sighed. “Tactful, aren’t they?”

“A nightmare, Lestat” Armand sighed. “Truly a nightmare.”

I walked into Armand’s luscious home to find something incredibly different than I’d last seen. Armand’s house was beautiful and elegant. It betrayed modern luxury and elegant style right down to the carpets and the choice of lighting. I had always been impressed with Armand’s taste in decor.

Until now.

“What the hell happened here?” I asked sharply. Armand took my hand, a little sheepishly, and shrugged.

The main hallway of the villa was now painted black, and had many miniature bats hanging from the ceiling. There was a large neon sign over the door that led to Armand’s spacious living room with the words “Death Walks This Way.” A few pictures of
vampires from famous films adorned the walls. The floor was littered with fake insects and fake blood. A half opened bottle of tomato ketchup lay poised, a single droplet becoming a gooey mess upon it’s lid. The ketchup on the floor smelt revolting.

I turned to Armand in amazement.

“That would be the problem I need help with” Armand answered after a small moment. “I had no idea what they had in mind when they sent me away for a weekend with Amy and Dre. When I returned, I was horrified. They turned this place into a house of horrors. You haven’t seen anything yet, come into the livingroom.” Armand led me to the livingroom.

As soon as I reached the infernal room, I burst into a helpless fit of laughter. Armand turned to me angrily, his face worn with weariness.

They had spray painted the walls with ‘Bite Me’ and ‘Eat My Flesh’! The words were written in deep red, and the walls were again painted a hideous black. The lights were all broken, and the lamps were smothered in tomato ketchup. Several coffins had replaced Armand’s beautiful coffee tables, and they were covered with rags that looked more suitable for washing the windows than for adorning the coffee tables. A beautiful portrait of Armand, painted by Marius less than a year ago, was covered in paint and had a mustache on it! Yes, there was even a little beard on the image, and under the portrait were the words ‘God’.

Armand walked over to the portrait and fingered the image, or what was left of it, sadly “Marius painted this a year ago for me. He sent it to me as a gift, to show me he does always think of me. I felt so sad when they destroyed this. This above all.”

I felt a surge of anger erupt inside of me “Why on earth didn’t you come and seek my help sooner?” I raged. I walked towards him and shook his shoulders.

He crumbled against me, his shoulders shaking with his sobbing.

“There, there. You know I am only mad because they’ve hurt you. Why didn’t you stop making them all when you got those two you get on with, you know, Amy and Dre?.” I asked, truly wishing to understand.

“It just wasn’t possible. They were too precious to me” Armand cried against my shoulder.

Okay Lestat, time for a plan.

My Victim would have to wait. I had some emergency training I had to give to some very unruly fledglings.

“David ....?” I turned to my beautiful fledgling and he smiled at me “I want you to take Armand to our home in New Orleans for the next couple of weeks. See he’s looked after by you, Louis and our creations.”

David nodded gently, taking Armand by the shoulders and leading him from the chaotic room. “and you Lestat? What do you plan to do?” David called.

I chuckled evilly “I plan to calm them all down, one way or another.”


****


As soon as Armand and David were safely on a private jet, heading back to my home, I went in search of Armand’s many fledglings.

This was no small task. Armand had created so many it was difficult to tell their chaotic thoughts apart.

Jon, Dre and Amy were being good and waiting for Armand in one of the bedroom’s. I could tell from their thoughts that events had become far worse since Armand had left to find me. Mel had finally gone into the sun, and they had been powerless to stop it. The next day, they found a pile of ashes and some burnt clothes.

That was the end of Mel.

Now to contend with David, Michael, Sara, Marlin, Stacey, Robert, Peter, Fleur, Tom and Larry.

“Hello you three” I said cheerily as I entered the bedroom. Amy and Dre rose respectfully. Jon sat, clutching Mel’s burnt clothes in his hands, blood streaks streaming down his face.

“Hi Lestat. Where’s Armand?” Amy asked as I breezed about them, and checked them all mentally to ensure they were sound of mind. These three were relatively strong. They would follow any plan I set in the hopes of helping their Maker.

“Armand is staying with Louis. Temporarily of course” I said smiling. “I am resident teacher for a few days.”

“God help you” Dre said, sniffing. “It’s like living with a pack of wolves.”

I cuddled Dre onto my lap, and gestured for Amy and Jon to sit on either side of me. I snuggled against the three of them, loving scenting them, and sighed. “I’m going to sort this entire problem out. I want you, all three of you, to do exactly what I say for as long as it takes. Do you agree to this?”

All three nodded their agreement to assist me in whatever way they could.

“Good, because I think we need to do something a little drastic to get their attention and realise we are not going to put up with their crap any more” I snuggled more against them, loving the feel of their fledgling-soft skin. “But first, I have a very important telephone call to make. Please excuse me.”

I left all three feeling faintly excited and curious, shut the bedroom door, and walked over to Armand’s ruined portrait. I gently removed the large picture of Armand from the wall, and dialed Marius’ number on one of Armand’s numerous telephones.

“Yes?”

I allowed silence to reign. I love teasing the ancients, It’s always so amusing.

“Who is this? How did you get my number?”

“Relax, Marius. It’s me” I laughed into the phone.

“Ah, Lestat” Marius breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s almost dawn here! Why are you calling me so late?”

“I have a slight problem” I confessed, trying not to give too much away.

“Which is?”

“I’m at Armand’s place, and I’ve found his portrait in the wall. You know, the one you did for him last year? Well, it looks like a naughty fledgling has taken a brush and some paint to it. They’ve really done something rotten to it. I just don’t want Armand to see it before he get’s back from feeding. He’ll be crushed.”

Marius gasped in horror. “They took a brush to the painting? Why? What possessed them?”

I smirked as I saw ‘God’ written below the image. The mustache. The beard. If it wasn’t such a personal and valuable artwork, I would have laughed outright. “I’ve punished them” I lied “I just need it seen to before Armand comes back”

“Do you know how long it took me to paint that?” Marius moaned. “I have never taken so long in painting something so very personal. It will take me weeks to get things sorted out!.”

I sighed. Time to come clean. “It’s a little more serious than that Marius.”

Marius was suddenly silent on the telephone.

“They’ve wrecked Armand’s apartment, driven him to breaking point. He’s actually come to seek help from me! Very unlike him you know.” I said, feeling a huge release from letting Marius know the score.

“He shouldn’t have made so many” Marius scolded. “I felt every one of them spark into our immortal life. As if I wouldn’t notice fourteen new fledglings appear as if from no-where.”

“No time for scolding” I said seriously “He needs help.”

“Very well. Daniel and I will be in Miami tomorrow evening. I will re-paint that portrait, and we will start to train that unruly bunch of fledglings.”

I sighed with gratitude. Marius was an excellent teacher. He’d have them all in order soon enough. “Okay.”

I placed the telephone receiver back into its position, and left the portrait by the sofa. I walked back into the bedroom, and snuggled next to my three new charges. “I need to go and drain a few fledglings. Will you be okay until I get back?”

They nodded bravely, and watched me leave. I blew them a deep kiss.

Then I took to the air, found each one in turn, drained them to the point they couldn’t stand any longer, and then sealed them in their coffins ready for tomorrow evening.

I was powerfully excited. This was going to be fun. Marius was going to be here also, another reason I was literally jumping around the room uncontrollably.

Before the night ended, I let Jon drink of me. He was exceptionally weak, physically. It was little wonder he could not feed efficiently. I took care to ensure they were snuggled into their coffins, before stretching out beside them, like a powerful cat guarding his precious cubs.







Part Three: An Unruly Lot

The next evening I awoke bright and early. I collected all of the weakened fledglings from their coffins and arranged them artfully on Armand’s massive bed. In fact, it was a pity they were going to wake up at all when I had finished my masterpiece. They really did look stunning, all their little white faces with their eyes squeezed shut. Little pouting faces. Mischievous smiles and half sighs coming from their fledgling mouths.

I decided to place Amy, Dre and Jon in the livingroom, away from this unruly lot. I didn’t want their annoying rule breaking to spread to the rest of the coven.

Then, I found myself a chair and waited for them to awaken.

They awoke late of course, later than my little roost, and gazed at me suspiciously from the bed. They didn’t attempt to move. They knew instantly who I was. The last image that had stuck in their minds before they had been almost drained dry was me swooping down upon them and sinking my fangs into their tender throats. Not the best way to make my introduction, true, but I had other pressing matters of more importance.

“Good evening” I said cheerily. I rose to my feet. Instantly, they backed away to the edge of the bed and cuddled together, terrified. “About last night, I was kinda thirsty. I guess I got carried away ....” I nodded to the decor, grimacing “... Just like you did when you altered Armand’s precious home here.”

A slight gasp of fear rose from the naughty little bundles before me. They were panicking, afraid.

I rose to my feet and walked towards them, whistling, as they tried to stay as far away from me as possible. I walked briskly to the edge of the bed, watching them quiver delightedly, and then stuck out my hand out very suddenly, just to make them jump “The name’s Lestat. Ah, but of course you know me very intimately by now ... what with last night’s performance. I’m sure you’ve read all of my books and are aware of the special relationship I have with your maker.”

A selection of little faces nodded in unison.

“Well then! That’s good” I couldn’t help but smile. “Do you know why I’m here? Did you glitch that information from my mind when I fed from you last night?”

Sara, the weakest fledgling Armand had made, yet the bravest in spirit piped up immediately “Yes! Your here to take charge of us and make us into well behaved fledglings.”

I nodded, and to reward Sara, I patted my lap in an invitation. She immediately jumped onto my lap and nuzzled her little face into my mane of golden hair. She was almost purring in satisfaction. As I stroked her shoulders, I addressed the others before me. “Hear me well! I will take no nonsense from you. You are going to be as good as gold by the time Armand returns or I’ll .... I’ll ... I’ll make roasted fledgling out of the lot of you!”

Suddenly, a high pitched laugh erupted from the group of fledglings before me. I was flabbergasted as they suddenly attacked me with everything from pillows to lamp shades, and I sat stunned upon the bed as they took off. I had a lamp shade on my head, some lipstick on my cheek, a duvet wrapped around my shoulders and a mobile forced into my mouth.

“Lestat ...?”

It had to be Marius.

It would have to be him!

Why now?

He looked at me in amazement. I was still sitting, stunned, upon the bed. The mobile phone was sitting in my mouth as comfortably as if I were smoking a cigarette.

Then he erupted into a howl of laughter.

I spat out the mobile phone and glared at him. “This is no time for laughter!”

“What was that ...?” Daniel asked as he appeared by Marius’ side, and gazed at me uncomprehendingly, until he too became a laughing thing, rolling around helplessly on the floor. I had never seen two vampires so utterly amused. I was absolutely humiliated that it was moi they were laughing at!

I struggled out of my humiliating bonds and walked over to Marius and Daniel, fury erupting in me as I walked straight into the living room ... and saw ...and saw .... all of them, sitting like little angels on the couch. Staring at me wide eyed. The little devils! Oooooo! I was mad!

“I caught them trying to escape” Marius explained as he put a restraining arm upon my shoulder. I was literally shaking with anger. Damn them all!

“Let me just have the little one” I seethed, trying to get my traitorous Sara.

“Calm down” Marius said seriously, and pointed to the chair furthest away. Disgruntled, I sat down heavily and glared at the smirking fledglings. “It seems we have a problem in this coven. I am sure you all know who I am. This is my charge, Daniel Malloy.”

“Gee, now I’m a charge” Daniel muttered, still trying not to smile at me “Wonder when he’ll go to Armand for payment!”

The fledglings were acting as good as gold! This was beyond a joke! No-one trusses The Vampire Lestat like a christmas tree! No-one!

Marius sighed and turned to me. “Be quiet, Lestat. They are laughing at you.”

“Are they ...” I seethed, my fangs prominent “They won’t for long when my fire ....”

“As I was saying” Marius continued, cutting me off with a harsh stare “There will be no more practical jokes in this place. I refuse to condone such action, even if it did make me laugh so helplessly.”

I growled. A warning. Marius tried not to laugh, he really did try. But his shoulders were shaking! The more he tried not to laugh, the worse the shaking became. Mon Dieu! I had never seen him like this, so utterly helpless! All because of me, the embarrassment to The Vampire Lestat! Eventually, he couldn’t help himself. He collapsed and began to laugh in a ridiculous manner, totally helpless to his emotions. Daniel was collapsing also, he was trying so hard to maintain a straight face. However, upon seeing his Guardian rolling around absolutely helplessly on the floor, it became too much. He also fell to the floor,
groaning with laughter.

“For fuck’s sake” I yelled, getting to my feet and leaving the Villa promptly. I was in no mood to be humiliated. I was going home.

As I was just about to take to the air, Marius’ arm caught my shoulder. He gently turned me around.

“We need you here” Marius said soberly, trying to stop the laughter from infecting his features. It was hopeless. Every so often, he would snort and then shake his head, trying to regain his composure.

“I cannot stand this” I yelled, stamping my feet.

Unfortunately, my little display of brattiness did little except to reinforce the humour in his expression. That was it. Screw this coven. Marius and Daniel could handle it well, better obviously than I could.

Within a second I had taken to the air.

“Lestat .... Wait!” Marius called to me, but I was having none of it.

I missed my coven.

I missed my own children.

To hell with the rest.


****


I allowed myself to drift gently on the breeze. I was allowing my mind to track the progress of my Victim. Stacia had committed several murders since I had last seen her. She was glorying in her evil youth, the power she had over those around her. I had never felt so free as when I was looking at the world through her eyes. Watching her kill was profoundly satisfying.

“Like you, she kills because she likes it. Not because she needs it.”

I almost plummeted to the ground in surprise.

“Who are you?” I shouted angrily into the dark sky, wondering why this voice always assaulted me at bizarre moments.

Surprise, Surprise. No answer.

I was furious. This voice was becoming a nuisance. My flight pattern had been disrupted by this voice, and now I had no idea of how far away this thing was or why the voice seemed so familiar to me. It was aggravating me.

I decided to try and track the voice back to It’s source. I followed the source, a tiny residue left, akin to a scent left by a mortal except entirely psychic to a small forest outside Los Angeles. I landed by an old and withered tree, and smiled as I remembered a time that I had visited this forest before. The memories assaulted me, nothing bad, just a time I had come here to be alone. This forest held no real special meaning, it was merely a place.

“Are you truly happy?”

I spun around and bared my fangs into the empty darkness of the forest “Spirit! Demon! Whatever you are! Come on out! I am not afraid of you!”

“Oh, yes you are. I can feel your fear. It’s making you angry, isn’t it?”

I snarled and spun around in a circle. “Why do you continue to haunt me? Who are you?”

“Don’t you already know? Or are you afraid to admit who I am.”

I felt desperate “I don’t know who you are! Do you think I’d be talking like this if I knew your identity ...?”

Silence.

“Hello ....?” I shouted to the darkness.

Nothing. Nothing but the slight scurrying of forest vermin and the occasional hoot of a night owl piercing the darkness.

Then suddenly, she appeared.

Stacia was out of breath, obviously running from something or someone. She had a big, metal gun in her right hand. “You!”

I pointed at myself in disbelief. “Who are you?” I stumbled, trying to find some smart words to set her mind at rest. “Is someone after you, can I help you?”

However, she knew me. I saw it plainly in her mind. She knew of the name Lestat de Lioncourt. She knew I was a vampire. She knew about my coven! I was suddenly aware of the danger she posed to them, and started forward. I wasn’t expecting her reaction at all. She lifted the heavy gun and fired a single shot, right into my head.

I was slammed backwards, and fell on my back. Blood was trickling down from my head, and I sought to close my eyes against the blinding pain. It was as if someone had driven a screwdriver into my brain, and I could only lay there for what seemed like an eternity whilst she towered over me.

“She said you’d be here” Stacia murmured. “She told me you’d been following me. That you were a vampire. She told me everything. That pretty Louis of yours, is he still weak? Maybe I should try frying him in the sun. Curiosity and all that.”

I growled and rose to my feet before she had a chance to react. I blinked the blood from my eyes and shoved her roughly away. She fell heavily, her ankle twisting as she let our a surprised yelp of pain.

My head was still spinning as I reached for the gun and checked the chamber. I emptied all of the bullets, lest she try something stupid again and waited for a moment until my body had healed itself. The healing process of my body is very fast. Already, the wound was beginning to close, pushing the bullet from inside my brain back out. Eventually, it fell at my feet.

I glared at Stacia. The moment of our dance had come. Threaten me by all means, but threaten Louis and I’ll rip every bone from your cursed little body! I walked towards her, set in my intent.

She screamed as she scrambled to her feet, and sought to flee. However, her ankle prevented her any chance of escape. Not that she could have escaped from me anyway. I pulled her into my arms, not caring to be gentle, as she fought me. Her fists pummeled my chest, and I enjoyed this moment. The moment before I tore into her fragile little throat. Little murderer. I was going to enjoy tearing her apart, limb from limb.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

I held on to Stacia as the figure finally emerged. A spirit of course, and I received a shock when I saw the face of who had been haunting me.

Words flooded to me, the last words I had ever spoken to her; Sell it if you like, cherie. He wanted you to have it for whatever purpose you wish. But tell me one thing. Did you conceive a child?

The Body Thief had switched mine with a sick body, one that required food. There was no money, for he had stolen the lot. I took my dog, now dead, Mojo with me to the nearest cafe and that was where I had met her.

The first words I had ever spoken to this woman, now the spirit before me, had been because I was suffering. She had been kind and given me food, even though I had no way to pay for my meal. At the end of her shift, she had taken me back to her apartment. A crude little place with cat litter which smelt awful, and I had ended up raping her.

“That’s it, you remember me now” Her little pale face seemed to glimmer in the distant moonlight. She seemed fragile and worn. “Did you really expect me to tell the truth to a complete stranger? Of course, I didn’t know it was you.”

“What do you mean?” I stammered, letting Stacia fall to the ground and turning to face the spirit. I was afraid. I loathed the feeling.

“That the child I bore wore no resemblance to the man who raped me ....”

It suddenly hit me.

Stacia! I turned to her and watched her scramble away in amazement. In horror. I was so utterly confused and lost that I did not stop her. She finally disappeared from my sight, and I turned back to the spirit before me.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I growled, the blood tears streaming from my eyes.

“I knew you were responsible when you gave me that necklace. I knew it was you that had been responsible for the pain of my child birth. For the grief of a daughter born of rape and humiliation. She resembled you, not the one they call David. After that moment, I hated her. I beat her. I hurt her. In an attempt to exact my vengeance on the man who destroyed my life”

I backed away in fright. I was shivering in horror, my arms circling my waist as I sought to embrace myself. To keep away this evil vision, this sudden interruption of my life. Suddenly, I understood the source of Stacia’s evil. She was my mortal daughter, born of rape and entered into a life of crime. To spite me.

“It cannot be” I muttered, my voice almost a whisper.

Her smile was bitter, as she faded from my sight  “It’s over. My vengeance has been fulfilled, and now you will face your most heartbreaking decision. She knows about your Louis, but she is your mortal daughter. What will you do?”

I collapsed on the ground, my sobbing uncontrollable as I sought to get myself under control. However, I was beyond control. My crying would not cease and I suddenly realised how foolish I was. This child was my own. She didn’t resemble David because she was the mortal daughter of The Vampire Lestat! Chances are, she’d try and take out my Beautiful One at the first chance she got. Louis was smart, he’d crush her before she could lay a hand on him. My mind was spinning. I was falling into an abyss. An abyss of despair, and I did not know what to do. My thoughts became erratic and wild, and I suddenly screamed. Screamed so loudly it shattered a few nearby windows.

The spirit had faded completely from my sight, leaving me to my own misery. Stacia or Louis? How could I choose between them? How could I even contemplate such a thing?

Suddenly, a strong arm drew me to my feet.

I was too shaken and upset to do anything but allow the person to carry me away with them into the night. I was sobbing onto their shoulder in my sadness. Yet, an overwhelming relief suddenly coursed through me. Someone had found me. I was not alone. I felt the shoulder of the being who was carrying me swiftly towards my own nearby hotel and scented him briefly before collapsing into another fit of crying.

I was dying of misery, but the being held me close to his heart. I could hear the soft drumming of his heart. The reassurance was literally spilling from his soul, to comfort me in any way he possibly could.

I tried to thank him for his kindness, but the words became stuck in my throat. The tears continued to stream like a river from my eyes, and finally he set me down in my own bed at the hotel. I could still smell the soft musky scent of David, where he had lain beside me that one evening.

My tears were uncontrollable as the being stroked my shoulder. His soft reassurances did not help me, I was sinking. Sinking into a well of despar. I tried to choke out that Louis was in danger, that Louis needed to be protected, but then the vision of my daughter assaulted me. I envisioned her, crushed, at Louis’ feet. Dear Lord! What was I going to do.

“Tell me what happened, Lestat? Was it Marius? I heard what happened in Miami. Did they upset you this much? I’ll kill every one of them if they did this to you.”

The words hardly penetrated the darkness I was tumbling into. I suddenly grasped the shoulders of the vampire holding me and looked deeply into his brown eyes. Brown eyes filled with compassion and torture at seeing me so upset, so hurt. Auburn hair torn by the wind that had assaulted him as he had carried me here so gently.

“Louis” I gasped. My eyes were terrified and wide open.

“Louis?” Armand frowned as he continued to hold me close. “What about Louis? Did he say something to upset you? Were you arguing?”

I started to weep uncontrollably again. He patted my shoulder encouragingly, his chest so strong and easy to fall and sink into. He wound his arms around me and again asked me what was wrong.

I couldn’t form speech. I was beyond thought.

I finally passed out from sheer exhaustion, as I heard Armand’s voice far away. Calling to me. Trying to get me to come back. Shaking my shoulders.

But I didn’t want to come back.

Not to the decision that awaited me.







Part Four: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

I awoke some time after night had fallen. I scented the evening breeze. Jasmine. New Orleans scents. I tried to move to one side, but I had two warm fledgling bodies pressed against me.

I smiled.

Ioanna was on my right side, her breathing faint in her deathly sleep. Katrina was on my left side, a leg flung over my own protectively. I breathed both of their scents, and found myself light headed for a moment.

I was home.

Then I remembered Stacia, and the danger she was posing to Louis, and all of my coven. I sat up suddenly. Katrina rolled off me and fell with a plonk on the wooden floor. She continued dozing, a small bruise appearing on her soft white cheek. I gathered her up into my arms, licking at the bruise protectively, and then I placed her next to Ioanna.

Two sweet and welcoming faces in the midst of so much turbulence. I was naked, and I dressed quickly. A nice and comfortable cotton shirt and some stretchy trousers. Nothing fancy. Louis must have picked them out for me and left them by the bed.

I left the two fledglings asleep as I wandered out of my bedroom, and into the livingroom. The night was still young and none of the other occupants of the house had awoken. I did myself a coffee, not to drink but just to scent and hold, and sat by the television. I sat there, watching the blank screen until Armand emerged.

He smelt as fresh as summer rain! His wonderful smell literally took my breath away, and he sat beside me instantly. He ran his hands through my hair.

“How are you feeling, Lestat?” Armand asked gently. It was unlike Armand to walk on eggshells around me and I felt a terrible foreboding come over me.

“Get to the point” I snapped viciously. Armand shrank away, hurt.

Feeling like a complete jerk, I enfolded him into my arms and held him in silence. He was scenting me, a slight sniff every now and again to ensure I was still there, still with him. Then I realised the sniff had to do with the blood tears running down his delicate cheeks. I felt even worse. Armand had literally saved me, and I had spoken in anger to him.

Some things never change between us.

“Lestat ...?” Armand was looking up at me. I licked away his blood tears, feeling a small thrill at taking some of his blood into myself.  “What happened?”

“Is Louis okay?” I asked instantly. I felt a pang of jealousy from Armand. I lowered my voice and forced myself to be more gentle.  “He is in danger, Armand. Have you seen
him?”

Armand nodded. “Yes, he’s in his room. Go and see if you don’t believe me. Ever since you looked at me in terror three nights ago and said Louis was in trouble, well, I’ve been keeping a close eye on your whole coven ever since.”

“Three nights” It was amazing I had slept so long. “Did you miss me, you little imp?”

Armand smiled a little “Of course. Go check on your Louis” With that, he shoved me roughly off him and pointed to the stairs! I gave him one of my I’ll get you later looks and took off quickly back up the stairs and watched from the door Louis’ chest rise and fall with the easiness of his death sleep.

So beautiful. His mouth was slightly open against the pillow. A slight snoring noise could be heard and his slender shoulders were hunched together. His eyes were tightly closed and as I walked towards him and sat beside him, he sighed. His nose twitched as he subconsciously scented his maker near to him. Then his arm rose and I clasped his hand to my heart.

I have done this so often with Louis. He senses me close and raises one arm for me to enfold gently. When he has allowed me the liberty of sleeping close to him, his body automatically entwines with my own. Much in the manner that Kat’s leg was thrown over my thigh, Louis’ body seems to wind around my own until we are almost one being. It’s a classic response to the subconscious sense that your maker is very near to your own body, a subtle craving to protect or be protected and to slip into anothers arms. Of course, Louis was completely unaware of his actions and would be mortified if he caught me pressing his soft hand to my heart.

As his eyes fluttered open, I hastily moved away from him. I sat at one edge of the bed, watching him disoriented at first. My heart swelled. Protectiveness. I had the sudden urge to go to him and kiss away the confusion. I gripped the bedsheets roughly, feeling them tear beneath my hands. Then he focused upon my form and smiled at me.

“Welcome back, my beloved” Louis said softly. His eyes seemed to brighten with every second.

He held out his hand.

For a second, I was confused. He only did that in his deathly sleep, yet, he was inviting me nearer to him. His hand was delicately folding to initiate the invitation, and I moved closer to him. Edged nearer. I didn’t want to startle him, to see him gaze at me with mistrust and warily. That would kill me.

However, his delicate hand kept folding in the most beautiful way. Closer. Closer.

I was right next to his chest now, and I watched as his hand felt my shirt, not daring to believe he was being so intimate with me. I suddenly realised I was holding my breath. I exhaled, watching Louis press firmly against my chest, a slight smile lighting up his expression. How I wanted to hold him! How I wanted to clasp him closely and never let him go!

I moved my arms gently under him and lifted him into a sitting position. He flopped against my chest, His eyes closing in the sweetest manner. He had obviously missed me, and now I was home he was busily scenting me. His nose was twitching tenderly against the skin of my arm as he drew in as much of my scent as he possibly could.

“Louis” I breathed “We have a situation. I need to talk to all of you, all of my beloved’s” I stroked his dark hair and felt him quiver with the sensation of my touch.

“Very well” Louis sighed. “We’ll meet downstairs when everyone is awake.”


****


A sleepy Kat poured herself and Ioanna a coffee.

“Anyone else want a coffee?” Kat asked cheerily, passing Ioanna her own cup.

I looked at her in disbelief. “You are not seriously going to attempt drinking that, are you?”

Kat raised an eyebrow and smirked “Hardly. I like to hold the cup. It’s really warm and it smells wonderful.”

I smiled and nodded to the small coffee machine that I had never seen before tonight. Kat’s new toy. She was getting as bad as Armand. However, instead of feeding shredder’s whole packs of cigarettes, she lit them first and fed them through. She said she enjoyed watching the shredder snuff the lighted cigarette out. In fact, once or twice she has set the fire alarms off with her little experiments.

I smiled affectionately as she passed me a cup of hot coffee. The smell was wonderful, and I wrapped both hands around the cup, feeling the heat surround me and fill me with a giddy warmth.

Now I had asked for a cup, it seemed everyone had become eager to have a cup to hold. The things fledglings do to retain a normal semblance of life is incredible. I waited for the coffee requests to calm down and then decided to address them all.

My own brood.

Sitting in their respective chairs and sofa’s and some on the floor. Watching me. Waiting patiently.

Trickster sat by Louis on the three-piece sofa. Armand sat on the other side of Louis, his arm slung casually around Louis’ shoulders.  

I was sitting in my favourite chair, Ioanna and Kat  were sitting on the floor, each hogging one of my leg’s. Brushing their faces against my trousers and scenting me happily. Glad I was home.

Eirini was sitting on the windowsill, gazing out into the night and the row of townhouses opposite the road. Her gaze was far, distant, but she was happy that I was home.  

Armand’s fledgling, Maxwell, was sitting between the imp’s leg’s. He was allowing Armand to move his finger’s through his hair and closed his eyes in pleasure.

David had designated a nice old chair for himself directly across from my own chair and was watching me intently, waiting.

Mortisha, Wild Rose and Mystic Sage had started a game of monopoly on the floor together. Every so often, a piece would move as one of them used their mental gifts to push the piece along. It was almost disturbing, watching the pieces move. Watching the old boot seemingly dance along to It’s new position.

“Who’s the boot?” I asked suddenly, leaning forward.

“Me!” Mystic Sage answered, his voice extremely welcome to me. “I’m the boot.”

“Ah” I leaned back again. “I like the way you make it move like a real boot”

“Yeah?” Mystic Sage smiled knowingly “Just wait until you see what Wild Rose can do with her little ship!”

As if on cue, the ship began to dip and rise as if on a transparent ocean. I laughed delightedly. They were learning so quickly! I was having such fun discovering their powers with them!

Just to quickly explain the circumstances surrounding my new brood, I want to let the readers of this story know that they are not all my fledglings. Louis has had a hand in making a couple himself.

Mystic Sage was the first fledgling I brought across. I was delighted with his intelligence and his use of the powers I had given him. He fitted into our little coven immediately, around about the time Armand’s older fledgling Maxwell had decided to come and live with us. Then I had brought Mortisha Blade across shortly afterwards, followed by Ioanna. Eventually, I crossed the oceans to England and brought across my two little English Rose’s. Kat was the youngest in vampiric years. She liked to be pampered and looked after. Even though we both knew she was perfectly able of taking care of herself. Little imp! Makes Armand look like a Saint at times.

Louis had brought across Eirini and Trickster during this time. His selection had been a slow and almost painful process, based mainly on his love for the two he had chosen. I had been requested by him to attend their initiation, as he called it. It was imperative he not kill them accidentally. They had to survive. They had to become his companions.

Marius had been fuming with us of course. With me, mainly.

“How many can you make in a few years?” He had scolded gently as Kat attempted to knock the phone from my grasp one evening.

“As many as I want” I said back, slapping away Kat’s eager and playful hand. She looked at me with wide eyes, hurt. “Leave the phone alone, Kat!” I whispered as she looked downcast and miserable. “You’ll end up murdering it by mistake.”

“But don’t you really think you’ve got enough by now? You could start a small army” Marius said, determined to make me see reason.

“Kat, would you like to speak to Uncle Marius?” I asked, smirking into the receiver.

“No, Lestat .... don’t you dare .....” That was the last few words I heard from Marius.

The phone was grabbed from my hand and Kat was eagerly chatting into the receiver within seconds. Indeed, the conversation lasted most of the night, much to Marius’ despair. I kept an eye on my eager fledgling as she spoke in hushed tones to ‘the ancient and revered one’.

Finally, just before dawn I went to pick her up from the floor where she was curled up with the phone still within her small hand, a dead ringing-tone coming from the earpiece. I replaced the receiver on It’s hook, and took her to bed instantly before the light would harm her. I snuggled close to her that morning, watching the delighted little smile on her lips. She loved talking to Marius. Just a quick note here to explain that Marius had been in the United States at the time, doing something with Armand. We were in the same timezone briefly.

Back to the present, I smiled at both Kat and Ioanna as they snuggled by my legs. In fact, Kat was attempting to unlace one of my boots to tickle my foot. I gently caught her playful hand and smiled into her eyes.

“What is going on, Lestat?” Louis asked finally.

“We have a problem” I said, blowing a raspberry at Kat. Unfortunately, she took that as a sign that she could continue to unlace my boot and finally wiggled the boot off and started tickling my foot. I sighed in pleasure and leaned back right into the chair.

“Lestat .... ?” Armand prompted.

I suddenly realised that this was a meeting, of sorts, and was not the place for a rampant foot tickle. I picked up both Kat and Ioanna from the floor and sat them on a leg each. That way, Kat would not be able to reach my foot.

“The Victim I’ve been hunting might come here at any time.” I said suddenly, nuzzling against Ioanna. She laughed delightedly.

Armand gasped in horror. “What do you mean? Why isn’t your Victim dead?”

I smiled sadly at Armand “It’s not that simple” I confessed, trying to ignore the sensation of Kat tickling my earlobe with her tongue. I kissed Ioanna on the forehead and felt her bury her head into my neck. This was too much! Their gentle ministrations were becoming too tender for vampire fledglings!

I growled at Ioanna suddenly, startling her, and bounced her on my knee. She was giggling delightedly, her arms winding around my shoulders for support.

“What do you mean? Why isn’t the situation simple?” Louis asked me, his voice full of pain. He knew my expression. He knew that something was causing me heartache.

“The Victim is my daughter, my mortal daughter” I said without a pause, hoping the pain wouldn’t shock me again like the last time. “When I swapped bodies with the Body Thief, now David’s beautiful form, I raped a mortal woman. She conceived a child, unknown to myself.”

Armand gasped. His eyes suddenly became reddened and a small droplet of blood tear squeezed out of the corner of an eye. Louis patted his leg, affectionately.

“Does your daughter know of her special heritage?” Louis asked softly.

“Yes” I gulped.

“What does she make of you?” Armand asked.

“She wants to hurt me” I said shakily “By destroying my brood, my family ... my Louis.”

Armand gasped “She mentioned Louis by name? And you let her live?”

Louis patted Armand’s leg again, this time a request for silence. Armand immediately quietened. “Lestat has done the right thing.”

“But she could come here during the day and seek to destroy you” Armand cried in disbelief.

“She is a mere mortal” Louis said softly, deeply contemplative “My form is more powerful than some of the ancients. She cannot destroy me. It is obvious to me that she is seeking to injure Lestat in some way, by threatening those that he loves. This must be stopped. However, death is not an option for her. She is bound to Lestat through the process of human child-making, and this must be carefully treasured.  Does she have any grievances with you, Lestat?”

I nodded, unable to stop the tears flowing. Louis always had such a powerful effect on me with his gentleness and his thoughtfulness. Truly the best one of us all. “Apart from the fact I raped her mother? Her mother abused her awfully, introduced her to a life of crime. She enjoys killing .....” I couldn’t continue. I was too shaken. The two rapt fledglings sitting upon my lap were sensing my pain and were becoming tearful. I held them close to my heart.

Louis put a hand to his chin, and stroked the white flesh thoughtfully. “The young ones must be guarded like the most precious jewels.”

I nodded.

“It’s good that Armand is here at this time” Louis said, thankfully nodding to the auburn haired creature sitting next to him “He will be most useful in helping us watch over our little flock.”

I nodded and sent Armand a little telepathic thank you. He dismissed this instantly. Armand is not one to be thanked. He likes to get a job done and forget about it.

“She will come here” I said sadly “I know, because I can understand her pain and suffering. She wants revenge.”

“Perhaps ....” came a voice from the door “But there is always something that can be done.”

“Marius!” I breathed in delight. Armand rose and embraced his maker.

“The coven in Miami are under control” Marius confirmed “They are currently helping Daniel redecorate Armand’s villa.”

“Thank you” Armand said softly. “Your assistance in this matter was very much appreciated, Master.”

Marius smiled gently “It was a pleasure to help you.”

Louis rose politely, and so did David. They walked up to Marius and shook his hand in a most formative manner that almost made me laugh.

“Yo, Marius!” Kat yelled from my lap, making me jump in sudden alarm.

Marius waved at Kat, and then sat amongst us. He seemed deadly serious. “I am aware of the situation between Stacia and Lestat. We will have to be most cautious until she makes her move.”

“Two fledglings to every elder” Armand calculated. “It will work. Lestat can take the two who seem so drawn to his legs. I will take charge of both Maxwell and Mystic Sage. Louis can look after his two fledglings. Marius, would you mind guarding Mortisha and Wild Rose?”

Marius shook his head instantly. “A pleasure indeed to look out for them.”

“Will Daniel be all right at the Night Island by himself?” Armand asked, his voice concerned.

Marius smiled “You should see him now, Armand. A tower of strength. He’s practically emanating with it. He’ll be just fine. So will your other fledglings.”

Armand sighed, relieved.

Marius seemed extremely happy suddenly “Ah, and I can concentrate on my art for a short while also. I have been so busy lately. I have some pressing artworks that need to be completed.”

I laughed. “A certain portrait, maybe?”

Marius winked at me, the gesture not escaping the eagle eyes of his fledgling imp, Armand. He gazed at us, wondering what Marius was plotting, completely unaware of the portrait Marius was re-doing on his behalf.

“Is that it then?” I asked, rubbing my hands. Wanting to take my two precious bundles to my bedroom immediately where I could be alone with them.

“No. Sleeping arrangements need to be made” Louis said instantly.

I groaned. “An elder to every two. I thought that was already sorted out?”

“In bed, also?” Marius asked, frowning. “Won’t it be rather crowded? We may end up pushing each other off the mattress.”

“Only if some people hog all the space” I accused, glaring at the elder. Marius was renowned for his bed hogging. No fledgling had attempted to sleep next to him in many, many years. He simply rolled them off subconsciously.

“We’ll try it then” Marius said, sheepishly. “But I can make no promises to who might awake on the floor in the morning.”

I leapt up delightedly, and carried my two fledglings into my own bedroom instantly. Ioanna and Kat gazed at me as I checked the windows were securely fastened. When I was sure they were well protected from any intrusion, I sat beside them and allowed them to nuzzle against me. They liked to scent me. I believe it’s one of their favourite pastimes generally. They nuzzled their little noses into my clothes, drinking up the scent of me and making little moaning noises of pleasure.

Then they rubbed their heads against my own, allowing our hair to mix. I sighed and lay back upon the bed, closing my eyes.

Suddenly, the noise of a buckle being undone made me open my eyes with alarm. I slapped Kat’s hand rather aggressively. She was trying to unbuckle my trousers!

“What are you doing that for?” I asked sharply.

“I want to see it” Kat said, attempting to unbuckle my trousers once again.

“Why?” I asked in amazement “We can’t do anything with it. It’s a useless thing, it really is. Why do you want to look at something that won’t respond to you?”

Kat shrugged “It’s a girl thing.”

Ioanna was licking her lips suggestively. “Don’t get any ideas!” I warned as they started to undress me. My trousers rolled down my hips and they both stared at my lifeless organ for what seemed like an eternity.

“So?” I asked, feeling the nerves creep in. I have a decent sized phallus, but their silence was unnerving me.

“It’s sticking up” Kat said in awe.

I laughed “It’s merely hard for eternity. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Look at the way it trembles as his body moves” Ioanna said softly. Suddenly, she leant forward and breathed on it! I gasped and yelped in surprise!

“Don’t do that! It’s sensitive!” I said, trying to reach out for my pants.

No such luck! Kat kicked them away delightedly.

“I knew it” Kat squealed excitedly “Sensitive. Look at this ....” She surrounded my manhood with her fingers and I gasped as she ran her hand up and down the organ, trying to get a response.

Of course, it stayed the way it was. No lengthening or hardening apart from the state it was captured in for eternity.

“Hey, look at this” Kat giggled to Ioanna as she flicked my organ with a fingernail! It flipped to one side, and then back! Dear Lord! They were little devils, they really were!

Ioanna leant forward and kissed the organ reverently “It’s hard, but It’s soft too.”

I was drumming my fingers impatiently against the bedsheets as they continued playing with me. Marius walked by the door, took a double take, and watched in amazement as the two girl fledglings continued to experiment with me. He began to chuckle as he leant against the door frame.

“Having fun, girls?” Marius asked, his voice full of humour.

“It bounces around if you flick it” Kat announced, flicking my organ once more with her fingernail to demonstrate the point to Marius.

“That’s about all it can do” Marius said. “The phallus is a useless instrument to a vampire. All of our physical sensations are rooted in the blood and the heightened senses that affect the entire body.”

“Interesting” Ioanna breathed as she continued to study the organ. I moved the organ to one side. Two sets of eyes followed it. I moved it to the other side and their gaze followed. Like kittens following a ball of string, they watched as I started playing a small game with them.

Marius stood there, frowning. “What on earth are you trying to accomplish, Lestat?”

I laughed “I’m entertaining them, Marius. They like looking at it.”

“They are easily pleased” Marius said dryly, moving out of the room and disappearing from my sight.

“It’s interesting” Ioanna said, studying the organ still “You know what these mean to women. It’s a great source of pleasure for mortal women. That’s why we are interested still, because we grew up with an appreciation for it.”

“Yes” Kat agreed “We appreciate it immensely. I like it. A lot. Have you ever thought of piercing it?”

Enough. I fished around for my trousers and quickly put them on. “No.”

Suddenly, Louis appeared at my door. He looked flushed and worried.

“What’s wrong?” I asked him gently.

“Stacia is at the door” He said worriedly. “She wants to talk to you.”







Part Five: The Thing on the Doorstep

I pushed past my flustered Louis, walked briskly down the stairs and found Marius guarding Stacia at the door.

I slowed my step as soon as I saw her, the breath catching in my throat. She was beautiful, her hair long and wild and free over her shoulders. The evil glint in her bright blue eyes startled me a little. She was human, or was she? Did some magic from my vampirism give her this startling and uneasy presence?

She smiled at me grimly when I stopped.

“Let me in” Stacia demanded roughly.

“Not a chance” I breathed, and felt the air momentarily leave my lungs. I could hear the slight step of Louis behind me as he gracefully walked down the staircase to my side.

“Why not? I’m one of your children” Stacia said, folding her arms defiantly.

“Not technically” I whispered, grimacing; trying to be brave in front of our children. In truth, I was shaking in my soul.

“Ah” Stacia seemed more distant, musing “I remember some of the stories my mother told me. Before I was born, she’d take a knife to her stomach, and wonder whether to stab the life inside of her, to kill what you infected her with.”

“Stacia ....” I winced.  But Stacia drove on, relentless.

“She would spend hours musing on what would hurt you more. Killing the child or letting the child become a killer. I have to admit, I prefer option two.”

I held out my arm, my other hand flew to my heart as I sank to my knees. I was trembling, and I was unconcerned whether the whole world was watching me right now. Stacia was my only concern. Her anger and hatred were like a weapon, with the safety removed.

“Stacia ...” Marius addressed her respectfully, moving protectively in front of me. I was sunken to my knees, Louis was saying something to me but I was concentrating on what Marius said to her. I caught Louis hand when he offered it to me, determined to keep him near at any cost.

“Stacia, I know where your anger originates ... but Lestat has never hurt you. He would correct the mistake he made with your mother if he could, and with you” Marius walked forward, unafraid, to confront Stacia eye-to-eye.

Stacia laughed and stepped back. Not because she was afraid, but because he was crowding her. She turned her back fearlessly on him and started to walk away. Marius turned to me, his expression full of pain and heartache.

The next moment was a blur of activity. I cannot recall exactly what took place as Stacia walked away, and Marius turned to me.

I was watching the expression on Marius’ face, when Stacia suddenly turned and threw something into the upper rooms of the townhouse.

“Bomb!” David yelled, bringing the youngsters together, and charging with them out of the townhouse.

“Katrina! Ioanna!” I yelled, as I sought to run up the stairs into the room they were snuggled together, oblivious of the imminent danger.

Louis clasped my arm tightly and drug me out of the house. “Marius is sorting it out, we have to get out of here! Now!”

I whirled around, looking for Stacia. Of course she was gone. Louis, meanwhile, was dragging me behind his own vehicle, an imported Jaguar. We huddled at the back, whilst Armand and David ushered the other fledglings out of the courtyard completely.

“Where is Marius?” I hissed as I attempted to get up once more and head back into the house.

“He’ll be here. Trust him” Louis breathed, as we waited.

I heard the sound of an urgent footstep and caught sight of Marius emerging with both fledglings held under an arm each.

At that moment, the townhouse exploded.

Louis grabbed me, his body literally enfolding against my own as I struggled to free myself and help Marius. I felt a slight wind against my face, and coughed as I realised a cloud of dust was rising from the spot where my luscious townhouse used to be. I pushed Louis off me, and found to my surprise and dismay, his body was limp.

Indeed, he had seen something flying towards us, and had hurled himself .... body and soul ... over my own. I lay him down gently, examining his bruised head. A nasty gash had knocked him unconscious. I licked at his wound, watching the blood flow less and less, and then cut my wrist and let my own more potent blood flow over his wound. His eyes fluttered. He knocked my wrist away suddenly in a blind panic, as he sought to sit up. I caught him, sat him up and waited impatiently for him to awaken.

“Lestat ....?” Louis said softly, his voice beautifully soft and trembling.

“You fool” I said chuckling, even though the tears were streaming down my cheeks. “What were you trying to do?”

Louis smiled, his eyes rolling back a little. He was still shaken up, but he was recovering fast. I left him by the tire of his vehicle and walked back over to the spot I had seen Marius. Nothing. Nothing but a cold wind, dust, debris still landing here and there. Then I saw him, buried beneath a mountain of rubble. I immediately moved to his side, and freed him. He was injured, his clothes were dreadfully torn and his face was battered and bruised. But underneath him, both fledglings were fine. They were watching me with their burning preternatural eyes barely visible under the rubble, not understanding what had truly happened. All they knew was something bad had happened. Marius had tried to save them.

Ioanna pulled herself free of the rubble, and reached down for a stunned Kat who was not saying anything. Miracles do happen, I thought wryly as I examined Marius.

Suddenly a sob came from Kat, a deep and mournful sob. “Marius ... he saved us ... and he hurt himself ... is he okay? Will he be okay?”

“There, there my jewel” I said gently, tapping Kat’s trembling hand. “He’ll be just fine. He decided to act on his heroism instincts, like Louis.”

“Louis?” Ioanna gasped fearfully “He’s hurt?”

I shook my head “Not now, just a little disoriented. He’s over by the Jag. Why don’t you both go and give him a little cuddle? I think he needs one.”

Ioanna gently took Kat’s hand, and led her away from the scene. I watched them approach Louis, and he tried to rise to greet them, but fell back instantly. In a moment they were all over him, hugs and kisses everywhere on his bruised flesh. I think I heard him laugh out loud and say something like “Hey, that tickles.”

I turned back to Marius. He was in an awful state. I had never seen him so bruised and beaten. His eyes were fluttering as he attempted to regain consciousness, but to no avail.

“Marius?” I murmured, gently cupping the back of his head in my right hand.

“Lestat ...” Marius gasped a little, his mouth barely forming my name.

I felt a sudden urge overtake me, and I bent close to the injured vampire and brushed his lips with my own. His blood stained my lip, and I licked them slightly. Taking in the essence of my old teacher, my old friend and companion. Blood like fire. Nothing like my own, not as strong .... but like fire and wisdom. Engulfing, his blood. The sudden flare of my senses as I touched his soul momentarily with my own.

“Marius” I moaned as I brought my wrist to my mouth and slashed the main artery without a second’s hesitation. I placed the wound firmly on his bloodied lips, allowing the intoxicating liquid to fill his mouth and trickle down his throat. For a long while he merely lay there, eyelids fluttering, moaning a little. Then, his lips gently pushed themselves against the skin of my wrist, and he began to suck a little harder. His gentleness was overwhelming. No fledgling could have restrained themselves when drinking from me, the hurt and pain of them clamping upon me was something I expected even from Marius. But, he was being gentle. Restrained. His strength returning as he sat up, and wound his arms around my waist. He looked into my eyes.

“Take what you need” I said softly, encouraging him “I implore you!”

Marius smiled affectionately, and then he dipped his head to my neck and entered me as if I were a victim helpless in his arms. I moaned as I sank to the ground, and Marius came with me. His slight sucking almost unbearably pleasurable. I could see his shoulder, saw the wounds healing before me as if they had only been illusions.  He was mending, both internally and externally. I was dying of pleasure in his arms.

Finally, he let me go.

He stood up and shook his head to clear the dust and fragments that had attached themselves to his blonde mane. He gazed down at me, his eyes glazed.

I seriously did not want to move. Now I knew what his victims felt when he took them. There was only one word to describe his utter skill .... amazing. Two thousand years in perfecting the ultimate technique, and here I was, putty at his feet!

“Are you all right Lestat?” Marius asked, concerned. He was frowning, and he reached down and picked me up off the ground.

“Yes, I’m fine” I said humiliated, brushing myself down. Marius smiled casually, as if my response to his style was completely expected, and helped me brush my jacket free of dust and bits of brick and wood.

We walked over to where Louis had his hands full with a couple of nuzzling fledglings.  I gestured for him to get up, which he did instantly, bringing the two fledglings to their feet also.

“Marius!” Kat cried, and threw herself into his arms.

Again, he didn’t look surprised by her reaction. He enfolded her against him, and stroked her hair with a tender hand.

I felt a pang of jealousy course through me. I took Ioanna by the hand, and stalked off, leaving Marius and Katrina to their own devices.

The other vampires and fledglings were anxiously waiting for us beyond the wall of dust that had once been our beloved home. I looked back at the wreckage and dust and debris, and sighed. Kids. Stacia was going to get a real spanking when I caught hold of her.

In silence, I led all of the brood to Townhouse Number Two, a perfect replica of the first. We had many buildings scattered throughout New Orleans, and most of the furnishings and interior designs were very similar to each other. Townhouse Two was a retreat from the Talamasca, normally used after I had chased intruders down the road. Or, if Louis or I sensed a threat or a presence and needed another refuge.

Most of the fledglings were utterly exhausted, and as soon as the majority were tucked up in bed, I sat down on my favourite chair and brooded about what had happened.

Kat and Marius had not yet returned.

However, everyone was completely safe and sound. The only loss had been material, and I was thankful for that. I could rebuild the house immediately, that was no problem. But the loss of a fledgling would have been devastating.

David was lingering near my chair, he seemed to be waiting respectfully for me to look up and address him. Finally, I did so. Raising my eyes and regarding him in silence.

“I’m sorry you lost the house, Lestat” David said, his voice trembling.

“The house means nothing. Everyone is safe” I said dully. I reached out for a remote control, and switched on the television. Local news. Lots of police and firemen at the first townhouse. Bomb. Deliberate. No deaths.

The news camera panned to include footage of the wreckage. I felt tears in my eyes as I saw my beloved home, shattered.

Then I leapt out of the chair and walked up to the television in amazement.

For there, as large as life, stood Marius and Katrina ..... kissing! Full on mouth contact!

David coughed and turned away, out of respect.

“What the hell???!!!!” I roared, moving to the front door immediately and swinging it open with a large bang. I stalked back to the wreckage, but found no trace of the fledgling or the elder.

I walked hastily back to Townhouse Two. I checked every room thoroughly. Ioanna was in my bed, snuggled beneath the covers and waiting for me to join her. Louis, Trickster and Eirini were wrapped up in bed, Louis reading a book to them. They were merely lying there, absorbing his voice and the story like sponges. Mortisha and Wild Rose were asleep already, and I knew David would join them shortly in the room. Armand was playing some sort of bizarre mind reading game with Mystic Sage whilst Maxwell was lying happily on the bed, watching his maker with devoted eyes.

No Marius or Katrina.

Where the devil had they gone?

I left Townhouse Two, again, much to David’s surprise and searched for a long while, carefully checking every shadow and every alleyway.  Nothing. No-one. A stray alley cat mewed at me pitifully. Kat.  I took the cat into my arms, stroking its sleek fur. It was purring at me, its eyes closed as it allowed the contact. Suddenly, it yawned! Such a charming sight. Poor little lost animal. I wondered whether to take the cat home with me, but decided against it finally. Louis was against pet’s in the house. He said they died too quickly. That it caused heartache to go through the pain of losing them. I noted, suddenly, a collar around its throat, and I read the address with a sigh of relief.

Before I went home, I would drop the cat with its owners.  I walked casually to the house, and rang the doorbell. A young woman answered and I smiled at her.

“Thank you! I thought my cat was never going to return” She smiled brightly, and I stood there, confused for a moment. I knew this woman-child. She was a forum member.

“Anne Marie?” I ventured.

Anne Marie smiled brightly at me “Yes, Lestat.”

“What are you doing here? In New Orleans?” I asked softly, smiling.

Anne Marie shrugged in a charming way. Then she reached out and took the cat from my arms. “Thanks again.”

“Your welcome” I said softly, as I bent forward and lightly kissed her on the lips.

Her eyes closed, and we remained for a moment connected, until I drew back. “Good night, sweet Anne Marie” I said lovingly, before moving away from the house.

That was a surprise indeed. I briskly walked back to Townhouse Two, feeling a light relief from meeting one of my beloved forum members.

As I walked through the door, I saw both Katrina and Marius sitting together on the sofa, watching a news report together. David was sitting on a chair, his head in his hands, falling asleep now and then.

The anger came back with full force and I stalked over to the naughty pair of vampires and demanded an explanation. “Well? What’s going on between you?”

Marius looked stunned. Katrina cowered under his arm.

“What are you saying, Lestat?” Marius asked gently, trying to calm me down.

I would have none of it.

“You heard me! What’s going on! Tell me right now! I saw you both, plain as day, kissing each other on the evening news!”

Marius glanced at Katrina, and let out an amazingly loud laugh. Katrina burst out laughing also, unable to control herself and her emotions as she rolled onto the floor.

“What’s so damned funny?” I seethed, picking up Kat and shaking her violently.

Marius immediately grabbed her away from me. “Easy Lestat, you are letting your anger overcome your judgment.” He placed her on the couch where she sat, stunned for a moment, and then burst out crying.

“What’s going on!” I growled, attempting to shake Marius by the shoulders. He grabbed my hands, and sat me beside him.

“You need to calm down. Then I will explain” Marius said softly, refusing to be riled.

“You were swallowing my fledgling’s tongue!” I yelled at Marius, glaring at Katrina who had stopped crying, but was sniffling.

“You saw nothing of the sort” Marius corrected. “You saw our lips connected momentarily.”

“What the hell are you saying?” I growled, hopping from one foot to the other.

“Katrina saw some of your blood on my lip. She asked if she could taste it, that was all. So I bent down and let her lick it off” Marius explained.

I was calming considerably. I looked at Katrina, who immediately looked away. Uh oh.

She was hurt.

“Marius ..... I didn’t mean ...” I breathed, looking at his disappointed expression.

“She’s tired. She will be asleep soon” Marius said softly, gesturing to the ceiling. I took Kat’s hand, and gestured for David. We all walked up the stairs in silence together.

I undressed the trembling Kat gently, and pushed her into bed. Then I lay in the middle, between sleeping Ioanna and hurt Katrina. I finally felt her loosen beside me as she fell into the death sleep, and for once, I was glad of it.


****


I awoke early the next evening.

I gazed at Katrina for the better part of an hour, wondering what I was going to say when she awoke. Then I dressed quickly, and headed downstairs.

Marius was already up and about. He had a brush in one hand, and his other hand was on his chin. He was gazing thoughtfully at the canvas before him, placed so carefully upon the easel, the replacement Armand Portrait he had started work on this evening.

I looked at the image, already taking shape and form. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

Marius smiled at me. “I hope so. There is no real replacement for the art that was lost. Every piece of art is original and priceless.  There will of course be differences, but this will be better than the other portrait. I owe that to Amadeo.”

I smiled at him, at his relaxed posture. He was such an elegant painter. The brush would move almost effortlessly over the canvas. His strokes were sure and perfect. Just as everything he did was sure and perfect.

“Armand will love it, I’m sure” I breathed, watching an eye take form. A brown eye, full of despair and love and hope.

“I hope so” Marius said. “Portraits are such personal artworks.”

I sat on the chair behind him, watching the image take shape. It was impressive, the speed at which Marius worked. His preternatural abilities really making the artwork simply enchanting.

Armand emerged, rubbing at his eyes.

“Good evening, Amadeo” Marius said softly, covering the canvas before his child could see the image.  “You are well this evening?”

“Not really. I have something in my eye. Probably dust from yesterday” Armand grumbled.

Marius walked towards him and looked carefully into his eye, finally spotting the culprit and swiping it out of Armand’s eye with a careful movement. It turned out it was a rogue eyelash.

“What are you going to do this evening?” Marius asked, as he sat down on the sofa.

I shrugged. “I think I’m going to have to make things up with Kat.”

Marius sighed. “You did almost shake her head from her shoulders, Lestat.”

“I know, I know” I sighed.

Marius gazed at me, one eyebrow lifted.

“All right! I’ll go up there and wait until she awakens” I said, grumbling.

Armand laughed.

I trudged up the stairs slowly, determined to take my time. After all, I had no idea what I was going to say. I am the world’s worst at apologies.







Part Six: Making Amends

I lay in-between my purring fledglings. I liked to watch Ioanna and Katrina sleep, their eyes flickering slightly as they fought to rise from the death sleep. Little growls were escaping their lips as they sought to awaken, and every so often, their hands would rise to grasp something, and close around the invisible object and bring it down to their side. I lay on one side, a slight smile forming on my lips.

Every maker knows how truly comforting it is to watch a fledgling sleep. Each tiny movement brings a tightening of the heart, a fierce protectiveness from deep within the core of the master. Ioanna’s hand rose into mid air, and I grasped the hand, kissing it gently and licked a straight line from wrist to elbow.

Ioanna quivered. She was trying to awaken, her eyes fluttering as she sensed her maker playing with her, seducing her in sleep. A little moan escaped her lips, and she rolled into my chest, winding her arms around my chest.

“Well?” Marius popped his head around the door.

“She’s not awake yet” I grumbled, sitting up, and dragging the sleeping Ioanna with me. She was pressed tightly against me, as if we were one being.

“Why do your fledglings take so long to wake up?” Marius pondered, more to himself than to me.

“Because Lestat made so many of them” Armand piped up. He put his head around the door and smiled at me gently.

“What are you both doing here?” I growled.

“Waiting for the apology. Its not often we get to hear Lestat apologise” Armand laughed.

I growled again. “I don’t feel like an audience!”

“Just pretend we are not here” Armand laughed, backing against the wall so I couldn’t see his grinning countenance.

Katrina was stirring, a slight moan coming from her lips. She moved to the left and suddenly punched out at thin air. I laughed.

“Dear lord. She is vicious in bed” Marius said. “I may roll fledglings out of bed, but at least I don’t give them a black eye”.

“She’s not normally this vicious” I confirmed “Probably dreaming about yesterday, and thinking that fist was connecting with my face!”

Marius laughed.

Suddenly her eyes shot open. She glared at me.

“Hello my jewel” I said softly, brushing her face with my right hand.

Marius came forward and sat on the edge of our bed. He held out his arms for my enchanted one, and I allowed him to take my sleepy Ioanna, who was just awakening from the death sleep herself.

“I dreamt I gave you a black eye” Kat said softly, her hand moving to my face, circling my eye.

“I nestled into her hand. I ran her fingers over my face and kissed the tips of them gently. I then put one of the long and delicate digits into my mouth and tried to swallow it. Kat laughed. I smiled.

“About yesterday, I jumped to conclusions” I confessed softly. “I’m sorry, my jewel”.

“I know” Kat sighed as I continued to try and swallow her middle finger. She was shivering slightly, but not because she was cold. The slight pressure of my mouth on her finger was sensual for her. She closed her eyes and concentrated upon the sensation, her mouth forming a small smile.

“Am I forgiven?” I asked softly.

“No” Kat said, equally as soft.

I laughed.

“Please?” I said, smiling as she smiled back at me.

“No” Kat said again, her mouth forming a grin she could not control. In fact, she was laughing now, a small chuckle of delight escaping her mouth.

“I’ll give you a ride in the Porsche?” I conceded.

Kat sniffed. “That’s not worth all the pain I suffered yesterday, at your expense!”

I laughed again. “All right, how about I take you to feed for the next several nights?”

Kat shook her head.

“God, you are a devil to bargain with!” I grinned. I closed the distance between us and planted a kiss upon her eager lips. “How about we take a holiday, sometime soon? The two of us?”

Kat grinned. “No thanks. I’d miss Louis”.

“What would make you feel better then?” I asked desperately.

Kat shrugged. Then she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She walked to her dresser, neatly placed next to my own drawers, and retrieved a selection of newspaper articles. She placed them in my hands.

“The Grinning Gunman?” I asked in disbelief. “You collect articles on the Grinning Gunman??”

“Hey, this guy has evaded capture for three months now. He’s taken out two families, but mainly he concentrates on targeting single women. I think he feels a sense of power when he pulls the trigger and kills them”. Kat explained.

“What do you want me to do? Kill him?” I asked.

“We” Katrina corrected.

I pricked up my ears. “We?”

“I want to share a hunt with you. A real hunt” Katrina said, flicking through the various articles that were now located on my lap.

“Ah” I finally understood “Where was his last kill?”

“Boston” Katrina confirmed. To be truthful, I already knew this information. I had been following a selection of serial killers for some time now. The Serial Sniper had been a favourite for a while, until one night he became a rather fine meal. Stacia was supposed to have been my latest hunt, but now that was off, I saw no reason to decline Katrina’s offer of a shared hunt.

“Very well” I said, smiling gently. “A shared hunt it is. However, don’t expect me to make a routine of this. I like to hunt by myself, mainly”.

Katrina shook her head “Oh no, I just want to see how its done”.

“Fair enough” I grinned suddenly “So am I forgiven?”

Katrina snarled at me, and then laughed affectionately. “I think so. Although don’t go shaking me like that again, else I will shake you right on back!”

“Before you go on a hunt together...” Marius said, sitting on the bed with a now wide awake Ioanna in his arms. “...what are you going to do about Stacia?”

“I’m going to finish this” I vowed “Once and for all”.

Marius nodded, his eyes full of sadness. “I didn’t want it to come to this, you understand?”

I nodded “I understand. But, I have to protect my beloved’s. My little troop. I cannot let her cause one of their death’s”.

“How are you going to stop her?” Ioanna asked, her voice slightly muffled as she rocked back and forth in Marius’ arms.

“I’m going to go to her. And I will end this. I promise”.

I quickly kissed Katrina on the lips, and waved affectionately to Ioanna. Then I took flight from them both, and went to find my naughty mortal daughter.


****


Stacia was sitting by a fireplace, looking absolutely miserable when I suddenly appeared in front of her. She gave a little start, and smiled at me maliciously.

“Why so sad?” I asked, my voice a snarl.

“None of your pathetic children were killed” Stacia said, looking at me with hatred.

“I think its time we really talked” I said with a sigh.

“Why? Aren’t you going to finish me off? Kill me?” Stacia mocked.

“Yes” I said with another sigh. “I intend to end things tonight, to kill you. I cannot let you injure or kill any of my immortal children. I won’t allow it. The fact you bombed the townhouse proves you are a threat that must be removed”.

Stacia looked uninterested. I didn’t really think she believed me for one moment. “Go on then, do it! You gutless vampire!”

I laughed. But the laugh was mirthless. There was no humour, only sadness. Her little comment didn’t wound me in the slightest. “First, we need to talk”.

Stacia seemed about to say something vile, but thought it best to hold her tongue for a while “Go on then. Talk”.

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my thoughts. It was hard, her mind was full of violence and hatred. “I made a mistake, Stacia”.

“Don’t bother asking for my forgiveness” Stacia scoffed.

“Wouldn’t dream of it” I shrugged. “I should have killed you that night. With or without the knowledge of our connection. You see, I’ve allowed you to become a threat. A threat that must be removed at all cost”.

“Aren’t we going to have the tears now?” Stacia mocked.

“No” I said firmly “No tears. To be quite honest, its going to be quite a pleasure to kill your vicious little soul. I suddenly realised this evening what mattered to me. You may have a little of me inside of you, but you are nothing but a selfish, revolting little girl”.

Stacia rose, the blood rising in her cheeks. She was infuriated. “What the fuck would you know about me?”

I waved my hand disinterestedly. She sat down, and for the first time I sensed fear. Fear in her evil little heart.  “I know everything about you. Believe me, now I think about it, there’s not much I care about. You are a feast, a meal. Nothing more. The link between us is broken forever”.

Stacia rose in fear. She was sweating, her eyes filling with tears. I rose also, and I walked towards her, enclosing her gently in my arms. I smiled cruelly at her.

“You are absolutely worthless. A worthless thing. I will take from you what I take from all mortal trash. Your life”.  I looked deeply into her eyes. I had wounded her.

Her thoughts were in chaos. She had never truly believed that I would kill her. She had always thought that her special heritage would protect her from my thirst. Not so.

“Do you think I would allow you to threaten Louis?” I said, tenderly sinking with her on a nice, large couch. “Or Katrina? Or Marius? Or any of the other beloved’s that I protect? What are you to me, but a danger that needs to be stamped out. A flame that needs to be extinguished?”

Stacia moaned and tried to utter a word to her defense. But the words couldn’t come. The thrall had her now, and she was trying desperately to regain her body to flee me. No good, my girl. No-one can escape me in the thrall.

“A bug” I said thoughtfully, after a moment “A single bug, a human being with the soul of a devil. A bug that needs to be squashed under a heavy boot”.

I moved closer to her face, kissed her damp forehead. I left a small trail of kisses as I descended to her throat and lay my lips against her flesh.

“A pest. Nothing but a pest. Do you see how little you mean to me?” I sank my teeth purposely into her hot neck, and drew a long and painful draught of blood. She screamed, and arched against me. Again, I took another swallow of her blood, a smaller amount, and continued the process. Her blood mixing with my own, becoming fire in my veins. Her memories and evil were delightful. A perfect kill. I was shuddering with pleasure as she weakened in my arms. Then I pulled back.

I suddenly realised what I had done.

She was not dead. However, her heart was beating furiously in her chest. She was not far from death, her eyes fluttering in pain and discomfort.

Backing away from her, I watched as she tried to keep alive. Her body fighting, her will strong. But, she was too near the edge and her breathing was shallow. I tried not to sob, but I could still smell her blood! Her essence was inside me, my own mortal child. She was dying before me, and I could not move!

In a blinding flash of irrationality, I imagined rushing towards her and giving her my blood. But that was a fantasy. I could not do such a thing. A mortal wanting vengeance was one thing. But a vampire wanting vengeance was a terrible force. I could not risk my other children suffering on account of the evil Stacia possessed.

She was gasping, her eyes trying to find me. Her heart was slowing rapidly, death near. I watched in mute horror as her breast moved up and down more slowly, and finally, she gave one final sigh ... and her breathing stopped.

I gave a single sob. Then I rushed to her side and enfolded her within my arms. I cut into the vein of my left wrist, knowing it was too late, but still having to try. I lay the wound against her dead mouth and sobbed at her, telling her to drink. Of course, nothing happened. I drew her to me fully, her body against my own, and her head on my shoulder, and wept violent tears.

“Forgive me” I murmured against her hair as I stroked the blonde mane of the dead girl. My words could hardly form in my desperate agony. Pain. Blinding pain. My daughter, my mortal daughter ... was dead.

I crushed her to me in my bitterness and hurt. I felt her body break in my arms, but I could not let her go. My daughter. My own mortal daughter. Gone. Taken from the world, as if she had never truly been there. Because of me. My sorrow became worse as I dragged her from the house and into the back garden. There, I dug deeply into the ground, taking her with me into the bitter, tasteless earth until we were alone. Stacia and I. Beneath the ground. Her mortal father with her in the bitter cold. I would not leave her alone in the darkness.

Three nights passed in the ground. I felt the presence of Marius nearby, and I felt Armand come and sit above, near me. I could not even rise, I didn’t want to. I was in agony. The body in my arms had begun to decay, the smell hideous to me ... but the body was of my daughter. I would hold her forever.

Forever turned out to be three nights. For Marius dragged me out of the ground and shook the body from my arms. I screamed at him to leave me alone, but he shook me violently until I came to my senses. I looked into his eyes and the pain was blinding.

“You have to come home” Marius said simply. His voice was full of pain.

“You cannot force me!” I screamed, determined to get back into the ground with my dead daughter.  

“Listen to me!” Marius shouted, his voice unusually sharp in his distress. “You must come home. Something terrible is happening!”

I began to shake and tremble. Marius enfolded me gently in his arms.

“What has happened?” I whispered.

Marius seemed to pale. He was genuinely distressed. “Something absolutely unexpected, and something absolutely awful. Its Katrina”.

“What about Katrina?” I asked sharply.

“Just come” Marius said softly, dragging me along with him.

“Tell me what has happened” I screamed, digging my feet into the ground and refusing to be pulled along.

Marius sighed and looked distraught.

“Marius?” I instantly calmed and looked uncomprehendingly into his eyes. “What’s happened? Where is my Kat?”

“She was attacked” Marius said at last, his voice catching in his throat. “None of us could prevent it. It was a vicious, terrible attack by something we could not see. All we could see was the sudden wounds appear, as if they had appeared on their own. I tried to get her down from the wall where she was pinned, screaming for you. But it was all in vain”. Marius stopped. He was upset, his words becoming inaudible.

“Is she gone?” I asked in a trembling voice.

Marius shook his head. “Not dead. But she may as well be. Terrible pain she endured during the assault. Blood was everywhere. Her blood. I eventually threw myself at her, at the blooded figure on the wall, and covered her body with my own.  The attack stopped but when I glanced down upon her face ... her eyes ....”

“What?” I grasped Marius’ face and looked deeply into his eyes. He was in so much pain. He was suffering.

“They were ... soul less. Blank. Vacant” Marius stopped. Shaken. Confused. His eyes were filled with blood tears.

“Vacant? Where has her spirit gone then?” I asked, bewildered.

“I have no idea. Then the next evening, another attack. This time, Armand was the first on the scene. Ioanna was being assaulted. This ‘spirit’ or demonic thing was attacking each of those closest to you in turn, don’t you see? He threw himself over her, and the thing continued its assault upon Armand. I’ve never seen him so badly wounded. He was in agony, but he is healing. Ioanna was fine”.

“Oh my god” I gasped, sinking to the ground. “It cannot be Stacia. It cannot be”.

“I think it is” Marius said grimly “There have been other signs, other indications her spirit is haunting us with malevolent intent. Strange writings on the windows, crockery smashing, books floating. Its unnerving everyone. We are keeping a watchful eye on the young ones, but how can we fight a force we cannot see?”

I smiled at him suddenly.

I had an idea.

“Have no fear Marius. Keep Katrina safely within your embrace. We will find her. I promise that”.

“Where are you going?” Marius asked me desperately “We need you!”

“I’m going to find a vampire that can help us” I said, winking at him.

“A vampire? Whom?” Marius asked.

“Quinn Blackwood. Only a young one, but he is powerful. He is fueled by my powerful blood and he can see ghosts and spirits. I’m afraid he may be the only one who can stop this force”.

“Do you have any idea where he is?” Marius asked.

“Actually I know exactly where he is” I said confidently. “He’s just returned to Blackwood Farm, literally a few days ago with his new fledgling.  Let me go and find Quinn. Bring him to Townhouse 2. Its our only option. Plus, he may be the only one who can find out where Katrina is”.

Marius smiled and nodded at me. “Very well. If you believe in this vampire so, then there must be a reason for it”.

“Trust me. I shall answer for Quinn” I said softly.

I took to the air and within the hour I stood outside Blackwood Farm. It had been a while since I had come here, but the memories assaulted me so completely, the adventure could have been yesterday.

Quinn was waiting for me on the doorstep. His arms around Scarlee casually. They were watching me advance.

“Lestat ...” Quinn breathed. The adoration in his eyes made my pulse quicken. He held out his hand, and I took it. Held it.

“Hello Devils Joy” I said mischievously, calling Scarlee by the nickname she had acquired on my forum.

“Hi Lestat” Scarlee said brightly, stepping forward and embracing me tenderly.

“What are you doing here?” Quinn asked me curiously. His face was full of love and I knew he would help me in a heartbeat.

“Quinn. I need your help”.







Part Seven: Spirits

Quinn listened with narrowed eyes as I explained what had happened between Stacia and myself. He listened quietly as I explained what had happened to Kat. Finally, I ran out of things to say to the man. I waited for him to respond. And waited. Finally, I became impatient.

"Well?"

"I'm thinking" Quinn responded gently, his forehead creased as if in deep thought. I could almost see steam coming from his ears, his brain was working so hard!

"Think faster!" I growled, shifting from one foot to the other. Hopping mad, I think they call it.

"Stacia had a simple agenda in life. She wanted to make life unbearable for you. In death, the simplicity of that plan was to her advantage. Spirits generally lose the majority of hatred they feel, and simply become confused. Stacia however had one goal before you .. aherm ... fed from her. She wanted to kill you, or do her damned-most to make you suffer. So in death, her spiirt refused to let go of this agenda. She carried it into the spirit world, a world that is closely linked to our own. Her hatred remained, as did her evil ..."

"Where is all of this going?" I said, impatiently.

"Well, Stacia is going to continue to make things difficult for you. She has taken Katrina's spirit hostage by coaxing her spirit out of her body during the violent attack. She has her very near, somewhere close, probably under a misleading notion that if she returns to her body ... she will die."

"How do I finish this?" I said miserably.

Quinn seemed to become thoroughly upset "I have no idea. Even an exorcism wouldn't destroy her spirit. It would return. A witch may place a spell upon her, but she could find a loop-hole and return. I've known such things happen before."

"Then I send my children away" I said, in a bitter voice "Away from the danger. I live on my own with the spirit. It is the only way to keep them safe!"

Quinn shook his head miserably, and looked at the ground. He looked as if he would weep for a moment, and I placed a hand tenderly upon his shoulder. Scarlee moved a little, she seemed to sense his despair and small tears were forming in her eyes. I gave her a small smile, and she smiled back ... her eyes bright.

Suddenly, Quinn straightened. His eyes shone, and he smiled. "There is a way!"


****


Back at the Townhouse, there was a frenzy of activity as the fledglings met Quinn and Scarlee. I waited impatiently as everyone introduced themselves, and we were all seated, then I asked Quinn what he could do to help us.

"What *you* can do" Quinn said, mischeviously.

"Me?" I said suspiciously. I had Kat's warm body in my arms. Her eyes staring forward blindly. I had fed her earlier, which was a unique experience.

I had closed in on a fresh and healthy victim, with Kat in my arms. I had slashed his neck in a jagged manner, and placed her open mouth over the wound. Her throat convulsed as the liquid flowed into her mouth, and then relaxed as her body recognised the familiar scent and taste of human blood. Instinctively, her lips had closed upon the wound, and she started to suck the blood. Her eyes had half closed.

"Hmmmm, good is it?" I said tenderly, embracing both Kat and victim closely and rubbing my face against her hair.

All of it was instinctive. Her body knew this routine, and it was second nature to her. Yet, to see her eyes close a little brought pain. It was almost as if she were there once more, and enjoying the kill with me.

Back to the present, Quinn was staring at me in the most devlish way.

"Well?" I asked. I pulled Kat even closer to my breast and kissed her forehead.

"You and David have the most experience, well, actually YOU have the most experience, Lestat. With your body switching, you learned how to fight as a spirit as you battled James Raglan from outside your body. You know how to fight as a spirit, you've done it before."

My mouth fell open.

"What?"

"You have to confront Stacia once more. In the spirit realm."

"You are joking, right?"

Quinn shrugged, "It's the only way."

"And if I don't?"

"Stacia will keep Kat's spirit and keep annoying you."

"What will happen to Kat once I destroy Stacia?"

"In all likeliness, she will float away."

"What!!!"

"You heard me. Float away. Like a balloon filled with helium. However, that is the least of our worries right now."

"The least? What the hell is the biggest worry?"

"That Stacia will overpower you. After all, she is the one here with nothing to lose."

"Hmmm" Kat groaned upon my chest. I opened my shirt and fed her a small trickle of blood to keep her quiet. The others were sitting there, fascinated.

"What?" I asked, highly irritated by the many eyes staring upon me.

"Its like watching a perverted form of breast feeding" Ioanna said, staring at the whole spectacle with eyes as wide as saucers.

"I don't know. It is kinda hot" Maxwell said, eyeing Armand in a way that suggested he would like to try it out.

"I think it would be quite pleasurable, to have someone slightly sucking you like that" Mystic Sage agreed, nodding towards Armand.

"I can take a hint" Armand rolled his eyes dramatically, a smile playing on his lips. "I don't need to be led to the water, thank you."

"Would you all just knock it off!" I growled angrily. "How do I do this effectively? How can I stop Kat from drifting off like some feather in the breeze?"

Quinn stroked his chin thoughtfully. Scarlee suddenly put a tender and shy hand in the air.

I looked towards her, indeed we all looked towards her, as if she were the Oracle.

"I have an idea." Scarlee smiled, and gently smiled at me.

I smiled back.


****


"This is a bad omen" I grumbled "Reminds me of Raglan James and that whole damned experience!"

"Good. That's a good start. You want to remember as much of that as you can." Quinn said, as he sat David at the opposite end of the table to me.

"Are the fledglings okay?" I asked, worry in my voice.

"Armand is tending to them," Marius said as he patted my shoulder gently. "I think he's doing more mind tricks with them."

I listened to the noise coming from the livingroom and laughed. "That's no mind trick! That's twister!"

"Pardon?" David asked, leaning forward. The kitchen table was large, and I smiled across the length of it.

"Its a board game. Armand is playing with them. Scarlee seems to be winning. I think she cheated and knocked Mystic off the board." I answered, grinning.

"A board game?" Marius rolled his eyes.

"They are planning on playing monopoly next. If we get Kat back early enough, they want her to be the banker."

"I see." Marius sat beside David.

The kitchen was a large room stacked with all the modern equipment that I will probably never even use. Unless I develop a penchant for torture of course. Most of the utensils, oven, freezer, microwave and crockery are completely useless for a vampire.

The table was a huge thing, set in the centre of the room. David and I were facing each other, at the head of the table. Quinn and Marius were sat beside us.

"Remember what I taught you," David said as he closed his eyes and started to concentrate.

I closed my eyes. I felt my spirit leave my body, and I looked down to see my body sitting there, rigid. I saw the spirit of David searching out Katrina and float away with her.

Where was Stacia? Suddenly, her spirit rammed me from behind. I turned around and concentrated on her. Using every psychic ability I had gained from my many years to my advantage.

"Burn" I whispered. There was no mouth to utter these words, but the words came anyway. I saw her implode before me, collapsing inward, before she disintegrated into a tiny puff of smoke.

I then returned to my body. I opened my eyes and gazed at Marius. "Its over."



****


Katrina was sitting on the couch, the banker of 'Monopoly' when I entered the lounge. She smiled at me brightly. Her eyes misted.

"Thanks Lestat" she mouthed, and then continued to the game.







Epilogue

"I feel silly" I smiled as I lay half naked on the bed.

Katrina was busy sharpening a knife above me. Ioanna was running a hand along my side.

"Look, they've told me all about it. I want to know what it feels like" Katrina said, as she knelt above me.

"You did it first" I smiled at her, as I ran my hand along her cheek.

"Yes, but I wasn't conscious at the time. How was I to know it would become the next 'in thing'. I want to know how it feels."

"Forget the knife" I took the knife out of her hands, and sat facing her. "Nails will do just fine."

I cut my chest, and Katrina watched as the blood trickled from the wound. "Well, go on then. Before it heals."

She bent towards me and licked the blood appreciatively. I wrapped my arms around her, and indicated for Ioanna to come foward. We remained, linked together - Ioanna feeding from a small gash in my neck, Katrina from my chest as I suddenly heard their thoughts.

Linked in the blood, I thought wryly as we remained in the triangle. Together.


****


Four weeks later, Marius had blindfolded Armand and was leading him into his makeshift studio. I was in awe of the portrait, and Armand was weeping hysterically when he saw it. It was one of the most beautiful and inpsiring pieces I had ever beheld.

When asked where he got his inspiration for the art, Marius looked at Armand and smiled. "Perfection."



****


Quinn left shortly before everyone else. Scarlee had been praised by just about everybody for her idea of David finding Katrina whilst I battled Stacia. It was a good plan and had worked well. I loved her for that.

Daniel rang to say The Night Island was suitable for Armand to come home again. Indeed, there were some pleasant surprises waiting for the mischevious imp. I smiled and I waved goodbye to Armand and Maxwell as they made their way to the airport, and left New Orleans to go home. Armand, clutching the portrait close to his heart as he boarded the aircraft.

We were splitting up again. Marius was due to leave in a couple of days. However, we were closely bonded, closer than we had been in a long time. It felt good to know they would come and go, but the feelings were good and misinterpretation and past regrets wouldn't separate us again.

It felt right. We were a family unit. And nothing would divide us. Not even ourselves.


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USA TODAY Posted 4/30/2008 8:50 PM   

GRINNING GUNMAN BODY DISCOVERED IN LOUSIANNA

The authorities identified the body of serial killer Adrian Mureland early last week, just outside New Orleans. Although the reason for his death remains uncertain, the body was completely drained of blood. Authorities say this will make May Day even busier knowing that another killer is off the streets. Tourist and trade have never looked healthier.

As one official said "about time someone took out the bastard."


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