Part 3

They have both decided that for the safety of the child and for the protection of their marriage, she was not to go to the old house again. Yet the drive that propelled her into her small car, the force that led her hands to steer to the old gravel path, was beyond any of her control. Chloe found herself to be directed by a trance-like state where she only heard words that she had read before, in Chloe Sheridan's hand. The dead woman whispered into her ear, "I fear that without him, I will no longer be able to live. I do not need to breathe."

Chloe tried to tightly shut her eyes, but an intangible hand forced her chin up, until she was straight right at the only uncovered window at the third floor. If she were in control, she might have decided to still go up. She would not allow a phantom to ruin her perfect life. She had a husband who adored her and a child on the way. A woman who took her own life because the man she loved did not return her affections and abandoned her was sympathetic, but not when she threatened the Luthor family's happiness.

She raised her hand to reach for the knocker. Again, the breeze teased her ears. Chloe turned the knob and easily swung the door open. She took a deep breath and looked up at the glossy clean steps of the stairs. She looked around the empty path. There was no evidence of change on the first floor. The change began at the first step of the stairs, mocking her, calling her to come up.

Silently, she made her way up. With each step she took, the colder she became. She shivered by the time she was halfway up, when she rounded the bend at the second floor. Although having come here only once before, the way to the bedroom where Lex found her only yesterday was already etched in her mind.

"Chloe," she called down the corridor. She was no longer surprised when the door she remembered stepping into creaked. Beyond that memory from yesterday, she did not recall anything after until she woke in Lex's arms, sated, bruised. "Please, Chloe," she whispered as she walked into the room, "leave my mind alone."

Her eyes widened when she heard a sniffling sound, and then a pathetic racking sob. Chloe's eyes darted around the room, expecting to see the ghost standing right behind her. Her skin crawled. She was alone in the room.

The moment she smelled strawberries, she closed her eyes. It was a familiar sensation, to have the fragrance soothe your rattled brain. Chloe swallowed heavily, feeling again his angry hands ripping at her clothes, gripping her wrists tightly over her head so she would not be able to push him off. While he moved inside her quickly, and bit at the pulse in her throat, the scent of strawberries filled her.

At the back of her mind, the image of a man sitting beside her as they rested under a large shady tree, in a field of corn, handed her a small box wrapped in thin Chinese paper. "Alexander, you shouldn't have bothered," she found herself mouthing into the still air.

"I never gave you a present. I do not have money like Clark, and I am sure that his gift is far better. But I will not allow that to deter me from giving you a remembrance of me."

Chloe saw herself tearing at the wrapped and unveiling a small bottle. She had raised it up and sniffed the liquid. "It's wonderful. I love it. It is far better than Clark's gift."

"It's bath oil," he had informed her with a glint in his eye. "It will not compare to those earrings, Chloe."

Her hands had flown to her ears, where the tiny diamonds shone. They were gifts from Clark's parents, family heirloom meant to be passed from bride to bride. She had not wanted to wear them but her mother had insisted on the courtesy of showing appreciation. "You've seen me wear his gifts. He will never see me wear yours, wearing only yours."

"He will come back to me. Do you not see how much he loved me? He will come back. I know that he will!"

Chloe's eyes flew open at the sound of that voice. She found herself looking into the mirror, at a young woman who bore an amazing resemblance to her. "Chloe Sheridan" she whispered.

The woman in the mirror looked at her, pleading. She extended her hand, trying to reach outside. "Please help me," the woman begged.

"Chloe, you have to forget about him. It's long past and you need your rest."

"He left me," the ghost said. "But he loved me. How could he leave me?"

Chloe saw the woman rest her palm on the mirror. She stepped closer and reached for the reflection. "Please rest." She laid her palm against the cold surface of hers.


He had been eager to come home to his wife to show her all that he had researched about the old house. Lex had spent the night and the entire afternoon looking up old pictures, writings, talking to historians, doing everything so that he would find out all there was about the threat to their life. But when he arrived home, he was told by the maid that Mrs Luthor had left in her car earlier, seeming disturbed and ignoring everyone who tried to talk to her.

He had known where his wife would head. Again, breaking all the promises he made himself that he would never speed again, Lex tore through the town and stopped in front of the cursed house within minutes. He did not bother to knock. He kicked open the door and headed for the stairs.

"Where are you going?" the old man demanded, rushing out to meet him.

"I am getting my wife and we are leaving this place forever."

The old man appeared agitated. He shook his head. "Your wife headed up to Miss Chloe's room. Miss Chloe has her now. You must leave and save yourself from her wrath."

"I will not be leaving without my wife. This house should be torn down." Lex moved to climb the stairs, but the man gripped his arm.

"No, no. The mistress has taken your wife. You cannot get her back. Miss Chloe will not rest until Master Alexander returns to her."

"A dead man cannot return."

"But you can," the man told him cryptically. "Her hatred has grown over the time her spirit waited here. Do not put yourself on the path of destruction. She will want to take her revenge on you because you are too much like Master Alexander."

Lex shook the man's hand off angrily. He ran up the stairs and towards the bedroom. He steeled himself for what he would see. When he opened the door, he found the same kept and feminine room that had been there before. Chloe sat at the center of the bed, with her journal in hand, writing. She perked when she saw him enter. "Alexander! You came back."

"I am not Alexander," he said slowly. That was his wife lying there. "Chloe, please let my wife go."

The bright eyes suddenly turned to steal. Her lip curled in hatred. "Do not lie to me just because you do not love me anymore. If you needed to leave me, you could have told me. But you made me wait for you," she spat out. "It was cold and dark and I abhor you with every fiber of my being."

Calculating his movements, Lex walked in and sat beside her on the bed. He reached out and rested his hand on her stomach, sighing in relief when he felt their child kicking inside her, unaffected by the horror affecting its mother. "You do not hate Alexander," he told her slowly. "If you did, you would have left this house long ago. You're tired, Chloe. If you hated him, you would not be waiting here."

"You know nothing," she said quietly. "Do not pretend that you know how it feels to lose your heart."

He nodded in understanding. "I do know. Every second that you keep my wife from me, Chloe, I lose a piece of my heart. Please give her back. It hurts that what you had with Alexander ended in tragedy, but you had your chance to live your life. Will you let us live ours?"

Chloe shook her head. Lex's heart fell. He tried to think of ways to forcefully drive the spirit out. "I cannot. I swore that I would not leave until I know how I was fooled, why Alexander never returned like he promised. I cannot rest until I know exactly what it was that I did wrong."

Lex closed his hand around hers. "Chloe, Alexander returned. But you've closed yourself off to the world that you're supposed to be in, focusing instead here, that you never saw him."

Her tears glittered in her eyes. She stared up at him in confusion. "What are you saying? I have been looking out that window for two hundred years. Alexander did not return."

He nodded towards the mirror across from them. Chloe looked up and furrowed her brows. His hand tightened around hers. "Look closer."

Her lips parted when images formed in the mirror. Her tears fell unheeded down her cheeks. "Alex," she whispered. Lex tightened his jaw when the body of his wife stumbled out of the bed and rushed in front of the mirror. He saw himself, although in antiquated clothes and with thick black hair. Alexander smiled softly from his place there and he held up a tiny bundle in his arms. "Baby!" Her hands rose to the swell of her stomach.

Even though she would probably be wrapped up in her own world, he decided to explain what he had found out. "When you informed Clark that you would not go through with the wedding, and Alexander resigned from his post, Clark put two and two together. He had his plant manager killed on his way here."

Alexander laid his palm on the mirror, urging her to come with him. "I have been waiting here for you since that night. I have been beside you all the time, love. But you never saw me. You were too wrapped up in that world. But the one where we should be is lovelier, Chloe. I have not been anywhere else I would rather be, except in your arms."

Chloe turned to Lex. "I'm sorry." Lex nodded. She laid her palm on his and the images in the mirror vanished. Lex rushed forward the moment Chloe's body went slack. He caught her up in his arms and walked over to the bed to lie her down. Suddenly, the entire room returned to its dilapidated and empty state.

He walked down the stairs with his wife in his arms. A few feet away from the door, she stirred and fluttered her lashes. "Chloe."

"Lex, I couldn't stop myself. I'm so sorry."

"Shhh. It's okay. I know." He looked around one last time at the Sheridan house. "I'll tell you what. I will hire hundreds of men to build us a palace, but you have to promise that we will never step foot or even lay eyes on this place again. This is Alexander's and Chloe's heaven. We'll build our own somewhere else."

He stepped out into the light and headed for the car. He would have someone else pick up Chloe's convertible later. Lex deposited her into the passenger seat and briskly walked over to get into the driver's. He smiled gently at her and allowed her to pull him for a slow, lingering kiss. "Is this destiny?" she asked softly.

Lex started the engine. And then, Chloe and Lex heard the cooing of a baby and male laughter, followed by a feminine giggle, coming from the upper levels of the house. For the last time, Chloe peered out her window and looked up. There she saw the shadowed figures of the couple watching them leave their home.

"I don't know about destiny," Lex told her as he maneuvered the car out the driveway and onto the main room. "But if you ask me about love, I know all about it now."