BEWARE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FOREVER KNIGHT EPISODE, "LAST KNIGHT". The Characters of Forever Knight (LaCroix, Natalie, Nick Knight, and Jodi Fraser, etc… even Perry) are not mine. This story was written strictly for fun and not for profit. No infringement upon the proper copyrights is intended. However, the character Madison Grant is my own creation and may not be used in any fashion without my permission.

I have written it to take place over Last Knight. In this story, I have written it to take place approximately one year after the episode of Final Knight. This story is not about how love conquers all, but that with faith and love all things are possible. Yes, the story is not over. This story explores the possibilities of Life after Death and what love will endure.

06/08/2001
Denigoddess@aol.com mailto:Denigoddess@aol.com

Disclaimer: Forever Knight does not belong to me. It belongs to some great Canadian Company up north. I have not written this for profit. I wrote this because I love the show. So, please DO NOT SUE.


Knight in Shining Amour
By Denigoddess2001

April 1997

Madison Grant was in definite need of a change. Since her car wreck, Madison had been recovering from her most serious injuries. The car wreck had taken so much from her. It had taken her fiancé', his daughter, and the full use of her right leg. It had killed her spirit and mercilessly left her body quite healthy except for her limp. It had ripped from her psyche the faith she needed in herself to keep on living. The wreck, she blamed, for her loss. Perhaps, it was because she had been driving the car.

It had been close to a year since all that had came to pass. Somehow, Madison had gathered the broken shards of her existence and put them back together in a distorted imitation of life. For the first time in months,
She felt that she was ready to resume her professional life. The change of country and scenery, she thought, would do her a world of good. So, she packed up her belongings, trekked halfway across the North American continent to the land of the North and set up shop in Toronto to write her next book.

She now had an office in her home to do her work. She had been living in Kessel apartments for several months. The unusual occurrences that happened there were not helping Madison's focus on her next novel. Even as a child she had experienced strange episodes, but since her life and death experience caused by the car wreck, Madison felt too susceptible to continue living in Kessel apartments. The surrealistic dreams of long dead relatives visiting her bedside distracted her from completing her latest novel. She thought the manifestations to be the consequence of an overactive imagination and an extremely heavy workload. Never had the dreams and visions been so vivid and so real. It had almost driven her into frenzy.

To fill up the void of excess time, Madison had made herself familiar with the library in her neighborhood. She thought that it would be a wonderful project to research the history of the local area. Elementary research concluded that an old bed and breakfast had once stood upon the lot where the apartment complex was located. It had been owned by a family that had met tragedy. Upon further research with her real estate agent, Jodi Fraser, Madison had discovered that the apartments were built upon the grounds of an old house that had once been thought to be haunted. It had been thought that these hauntings had brought the family early death. After six months of visions of dead loved ones and mysteriously moving furniture, Madison decided that a new residence was certainly in order.

To her dismay, the Toronto rental market was rather abysmal. She had looked at apartments all over the city, but to no avail. Nothing captured Madison Grant's eccentric and eclectic tastes. Most places characterized the uninspired architecture of the last twenty years. Madison longed for something unique and different, something extraordinary, and perhaps, just a tad bit cosmopolitan. She was tired of the mundane beige walls and brown shag carpeting. She yearned for a place that would encourage the demons within her to be docile.

Madison and her Siamese cat, Evander, sat comfortably snuggled into the cushions of an oversized rocking chair. She reveled a heavy workload. Yet, she couldn't deny how good it felt to relax with a good book, a warm quilt, and a steaming mug of spiced apple cider. The shrill beeping of the phone startled Madison from her peaceful repose. She felt lazy and let the answering machine earn its keep. Her real estate agent, Jody Fraser, left a message on her machine that lifted Madison's depressed spirits.

"Madison, I think that we've found what you've been looking for. I know that you had your heart set on an apartment. How about a loft, dear? We have a one bedroom loft listed for a steal! It's renting for only $600 monthly. Two thousand square feet at this price won't last long. Call me at 555-6622. Leave a message…oh, by the way, I think that I should tell you that the place is h-" At that point, Jodi's message was interrupted by her dog's barking and the message ended with an abrupt, shrill beep.

She quickly dialed Jodi's number. Her fingers flew over the buttons as she saw the ghost of her fiancé staring at her from across the room. The dial tone rang incessantly as Madison's deceased cousin strummed his guitar on her sofa. She finally heard Jodi's voice on the other end of the line as she watched the spirit of her fiancé's daughter play with her dolls in the middle of the living room.

"Hello, Fraser Realty." Come the professional voice across the wire.

"Jody, this is Madison Grant." She stepped out of the way as the ghost of the family dog chased the ghost of the family cat into the kitchen. "Can you tell me more about the loft?"

She thought that she heard sigh come from Jodi on the other end. "It's a beautiful loft with two thousand square feet, a full kitchen, a fireplace, and is fully furnished. It has some other great amenities such as remote control window blinds, electronic garage door opener, and a full security system."

"That sounds wonderful. Who owns it?"

"Not a who, but, a what. It's managed by the De Brabant Foundation." Jodi's enthusiasm came through easily over the wire. "It's been vacant for a year and the Foundation is eager to rent it."

"Never heard of them."

"Charity foundation." Madison heard Jodi's dog, Perry, barking in the background. "Perry, sit boy!"

Madison groaned inwardly as she watched her great-grandfather scratch himself in private places as he flipped through the cable channels. Anything had to be better than hauntings at Kessel Apartments. "Tell them I'll take it."

Part II

Within two days, Madison and Evander had everything packed for moving. Jodi had been right; the place was an absolute steal. By the end of the second day, all of Madison's belongings were finding niches in their new home. Yet, she noticed how cool and quiet the loft seemed as she unpacked one of her boxes. Indeed it was spacious and very modern. At the price the Foundation was asking for monthly rent, Madison felt that it would not be wise to argue her good fortune at finding such luxurious housing.

She walked through the loft allowing her senses to become accustomed to the environment. She opened her eyes and felt something almost boring into her back. For a moment, she thought that she was no longer alone. She turned around to make sure that she had locked the door. She went from level to level and room to room, but found only herself in the loft. Yet, she couldn't rid herself of the feeling that she was being watched.

That night, she went to put her food in the fridge. She had given the place a good cleaning. She found a strange green bottle in the refrigerator. Madison took it out and gave it close inspection. She noticed a dark fluid inside the bottle that she took to be wine. Jodi must have left it here as a housewarming gift. That was thoughtful of her. Madison smiled at the thought of her friend's considerate action.

She searched through wrappings and boxes until she found two crystal wine goblets. One she filled with gourmet cat food for Evander; the other she filled with the dark red wine that she had found in the refrigerator. She poured herself a glass and gratefully sipped her wine.

Madison spit out the vile substance the instant it assaulted her taste buds. The liquid had an acidic, salty taste that she recognized to be blood. Madison knew this to be so because she tasted her blood when she had suffered severe injury in a car wreak only a year before. She threw the bottle against the wall and watched it shattered into a thousand pieces.

"What a sick idea of a joke and in extremely poor taste." She growled. She knew Jodi was not the kind of person to pull such a tasteless stunt. It could have been the movers. The previous tenant could have left it there. She limped over to the pantry where she had stored the pail and the mop. She cleaned up the bloody mess without a sound. Evander stared at his human wondering whatever possessed her to be so messy.

Moving in had been an arduous process. Madison had spent several days giving the loft a good cleaning. Dust had gathered like unwanted relatives all over the place. Since she had few possessions, she had kept most of the loft furniture, especially the black baby grand. When she found the time, she would tickle the ivories on it until they fell off.

On the third night of her living in the loft the dreams began. At first, they were harmless little scenes of people throughout history. Some of the dreams were in the present. Some were thoughts and memories that were not her own. Some were so violent that Madison often awoke in the middle of the night drenched in perspiration. Sleeping pills became her best defense against warding away her inner demons. Since her car wreck, Madison had seen apparitions, visions, and other unexplainable phenomena.

She tried to sleep that night, but the dreams were horrific nightmares that seemed to be without end. Blood washed over the floor and cascaded down the walls. Her sheets were soaked in the thick substance. The taste of blood filled her mouth. A tall, figure stood across the bedroom shrouded in shadows. Even shrouded in darkness, Madison could clearly make out his eyes. They were gold like those of a cat; almost glowing as the moonlight shone through the window and reflected off them. The glint of a passing car's headlights cut brightly through the dark shadows across the figure's face. Madison swore that he had fangs. That snarl that he let forth sounded so feral and inhuman. She screamed as she tried to back away from the fearsome creature lurking in the darkness.

He moved forward, but she heard no footsteps. Somehow the shadows moved as he did to keep his face hidden from view. The air chilled to a frigid temperature in mere seconds. She stepped toward the shadow, but it held it hand out to ward her away.

"Who are you?" Her voice barely managed above a whisper.

"This is my eternal damnation. This is an endless darkness. She loved me and had faith in me and I condemned her to death." The voice came from the darkness. "I thought that it would be a beginning from an end. Instead it is an eternity without her."

"Who are you?" Madison asked again. "Whom did you condemn?"

"She had faith in something beyond. I took away her greatest gift."

"Who are you? Who did you condemn?" Madison felt her fear overwhelmed by all-consuming sorrow.

"I am Nicholas De Brabant, Nicholas Chevalier, Nicholas Knight, what does it matter?"

"Madison Grant." This apparition she did not recognize. His hair appeared to be golden; seemingly touched by the sun. His eyes were a striking shade of summer sky blue. His voice was soft and gentle, with a rhythmical cadence that hinted European origin.

"Leave this place, Madison Grant, for the darkness will consume you as well."

"I can't. I have no where to go and nothing to life for. All that I know is lost. All those I've loved are dead. I am alone."

"You are alive and that is the greatest gift you have." He snarled and eyes blazing in gold fury. She shrieked as the shadow lunged forward at her. She heard a snarl as she raised her arms to shield herself from his onslaught.
Then all was silent. She slowly lowered her arms and found herself alone.

She bolted upright in her bed. Madison instinctively brought her hand to her neck. It was tender, but she felt nothing. She glanced into the mirror across the room. As she walked closer to it, she stared at here reflection. It had all been a terrible dream. She mentally thanked the Powers That Be that it had been only a dream.

She turned to return to bed. Upon her pillow lay a single white rose. Upon on the rose was a single drop of red. She instinctively placed her hand to the side of her neck. She felt nothing unusual other than the warmth of her hand against her skin. She rose from the bed to the mirror across the room. Tilting her head for a better view, she looked for anything suspicious on the side of her neck.

"Crazy dreams." She muttered aloud. She silently chided herself for being so frightened by one nightmare. She laughed at her reaction as she walked back to bed. She quit laughing when she saw that the white rose still lay on the pillow.

Part III

"I really need to find out what's going on." She muttered to herself the next morning as she poured herself a cup of black coffee. "I think that I'm going to lose my mind."

She called Jodi to find out more information on the house. She went through several stored boxes in the upper levels. She found interesting documents and letters, all addressed to Nicholas. However, some were to Nicholas De Brabant, some to Nick Chevalier, and even some were to Nick Corrigan. How odd, she thought, that so many different documents could be addressed with so many different names. She knew that these names matched the ones given to her by the apparition in her dream. She shivered at the thought that she might well be dealing with a dangerous spirit. The others had been family members from her past, but this one was beyond her realm of experience.

Who had packed up these belongings? Why had they never been removed from the premises. It seemed as if the previous tenant had been in the process of moving and then suddenly just left everything behind. Some of the letters were address to Nicholas Knight, 101 Gateway Lane, Toronto, Ontario; Canada. The most recent letter was dated January 1996. He must have been the last tenant to live here.

In one box at the furthest part of the top level of the loft, Madison found a box filled with documents unlike the others. She took them down to the main living area and scrutinized them over another cup of coffee. These were dated 1991 through 1996. Upon further closer inspection, she surmised that they were all copies of police reports. One thing was evident; the officer who had filled out all the reports was none other than Detective Nick Knight, badge number 8072. He had been a detective for Toronto Metro Homicide.

"Well, what do you know?" She felt as though she had found the mother lode. "Nick Knight was a cop."

At the bottom of the stack of office work there laid a single piece of crisp white stationery. As Madison picked it up from the bottom of the box, it fell through her fingers and fluttered to the floor. The faint scent of roses and strawberries tickled her nostrils. She bent over to pick up the letter and almost fell over another cardboard box with a lid on it. She sat on the floor as best she could. She read the ornate penmanship that graced the paper.

February 14, 1996

My Darling Natalie,

This is a letter that I dared to write a thousand times We both know of the cherished moments we've shared and the special times that have brought us joy. Yet, I could never find the bravery to tell you the three words that I've carried for you in my heart for so long. It is the man that pens this letter, but is the vampire that keeps us apart.

In the eight hundred years that I have walked this earth, you have been the only one, vampire or mortal, to touch my heart and to have faith in me. God only knows the joy and faith that you have brought to my life. You have restored my hope to dream things that I thought I would never know again. For that alone, I love you.

Yes, this is what I am, Natalie. This is the creature that adores you. This is the beast that cherishes every breath you take. This is the fiend that treasures your merest caress. This is the vampire that hungers for you. This is the man that loves you.

Someday, I will be a man worthy of your love instead of the creature that lurks in the shadows afraid of the sun. I would never condemn you, Natalie, to this eternal darkness. When I am rid of the vampire within me; I will come to you and beg for you to love me at last as you have longed to do. I will
welcome it.

Someday, the journey will end and the life will begin for us. With that, I am willing to forfeit eternity if I can have a lifetime with you.

Take my love into your heart, Nat, and keep it alive. It is the only gift that I have to offer you.

All my love,

-Nick


The overwhelming flow of emotion threatened to erupt as a ragged sob from Madison's throat. The onslaught of pain and heartache loomed over her heart like a black cloud. It was the same feeling that came over her when De Brabant had appeared to her. She thought she heard the same voice almost speaking the words. Then, she abruptly returned to reality. Whoever had penned this letter had engraved his heart and soul into the paper.

It is the man that pens this letter, but is the vampire that keeps us apart.…In the eight hundred years that I have walked this earth…

What a strange line indeed, Madison thought as she scanned the letter again. What did Nick mean by "vampire?" What or who in his life would be referred to as the undead bloodsucking creature of legend? He spoke of himself as if he was two people. Could vampire mean his life as a cop?


Yes, this is what I am, Natalie. This is the creature that adores you.
This is the beast that cherishes every breath you take. This is the fiend that treasures your merest caress. This is the vampire that hungers for you. This is the man that loves you.

When she reread that particular passage, she knew that Nick hadn't meant his chosen profession. Slowly, all the clues closed in on her psyche; the remote-controlled window blinds, the bottles of blood in the refrigerator, and the horrible dreams that she had experienced the previous night. Difficult to believe, Madison realized that the previous tenant must have been a vampire.

She had heard of such things, but didn't realize that truly existed. Then again, I've had visions of my great-grandfather's ghost scratching his privates while watching television. Anything is possible. Madison chuckled at the thought of Great-Grandpa Albert sitting in front of the television in his red long johns. She almost missed her old apartment.

Who was Natalie and did she know about Nick's unusual condition? She pondered that question as she walked to the refrigerator and drew out a bottle of white wine chilling on the bottom shelf. As she sipped the beverage, she knew that her sensitivity to paranormal activity made it possible for her to feel the resonant energy left behind by one angst-ridden, very dead Nicholas Knight. Not even her fiancé had felt about her the way Nick had felt about Natalie. In a way she envied the woman that had so completely captured the man's heart.

Part IV

Madison resigned herself to the fact that she wasn't going to sleep that night. She knew that her curiosity about Nick Knight had been peaked. She would find no rest until she found out more about the unusual detective that had live in the loft just a year before. What were his belongings left boxed yet, not removed from the loft?

As she rummaged through several boxes, Madison came across some cassette tapes labeled "CERK-Nightcrawler broadcasts."

"Mmm….CERK…that's a radio station here in town. Let's see what Nick listened to." As Madison reached to pull a tape from the box, Evander hissed and raced furiously across the room. He landed on the overstuffed leather sofa with his back arched and hissing at nothing. She looked over to the corner of the room that had caught the Siamese's attention.

The moonlight shown through the narrow slits of the semi-open blinds. When she looked more closely, she thought that she saw someone standing there watching her. Her heart leapt into her throat. A wave of fear left her paralyzed. A cold draft of air slipped past her causing her skin to crawl. Then, as quickly as it had happened, the silhouette disappeared when she blinked and the air was warm.

Madison went to the refrigerator and stared at its aging contents. She had grown accustomed to keep wine chilled. It was something that she had started recently. She removed the cork with her teeth and grabbed a wine goblet from the cupboard. A chilled glass of wine was her favorite remedy for bouts of insomnia. This night was no different. "A toast, Evander, to Life, Death, and what is yet unseen." She held her goblet high and then took a rather large sip to calm her twitching nerves.

"Evander, what in blazes are you so upset about?" She turned to see what had her cat worked up into such frenzy. "What am I so upset about? I'm afraid of a trick of the moonlight and a cold air draft. I think Kessel apartments damaged my common sense." Madison muttered to herself. "Nick, is that you?'

A resounding crash on the floor caused her to let loose a high- pitched shriek. Whirling back around, she found the box containing the tapes on the ground and the cassettes scattered all over the floor. Along with it were some more ancient-looking documents. What caught her eye the most was the photograph a striking man.

He was tall and slender with short brown hair and a high forehead. His prominent ice-blue eyes were framed by starkly penciled brows. Dressed in black, he was an imposing figure in the photograph. Madison wondered if this Night Crawler was the way in real life. She noticed the well-crafted penmanship at the bottom of the photograph. "To Nicholas, to the many times we have spent together. Best wishes, The Nightcrawler."

"Interesting, very interesting." She murmured as she gathered the tapes and placed them gently back in the box. She grabbed the one closest to her and looked at the writing. There was nothing on it but CERK-Night Crawler. Madison placed the tape in her stereo and pushed play.

"A Ghost is a hallucination of some famous regret, no more. Ghosts are mistakes that we've made. They come not from beyond the pale, but rise up from our gravest doubts about ourselves…"

"Here, Here, Night Crawler!" Madison raised her glass in agreement to the wisdom of the speaker.

"….Each ill-considered thing that we have done is a ghost that haunts us, if we let it. Regret is for the foolish, the weak, the tormented. Kill it before it bleeds you dry."

She shuttered in pure dread. That particular monologue was far too close and too personal for Madison's taste. Fate had a way of drudging up the past when it was least expected or appreciated. She replaced the tape with another that she silently hoped would be more cheerful.

"…..Bensoir, mes amis. C'est moi, the Night Crawler is with you, soothing your confusion, keeping your company until the sun rises. Tonight's meditation is on lost friends, lost from each other, lost from themselves. And the simple fact is the way back for one is the way back for the other. For we must never forget what we are oh whom we came from…."

Madison had the distinct feeling that Nick and the Night Crawler were more than just casual acquaintances. What kind of life had Nick Knight led as a cop and in his personal time? What relationships had he held dear to his heart while he had been alive?

It was too much for Madison to ponder on with so little sleep. The first bright rays of morning were pouring through the semi-closed blinds. The dreams haunted her psyche like unwanted memories. The room was black but she swore she heard the voice of the Night Crawler across the sleeping dream.

"After eight hundred years, Nicholas, be done with her. Time heals all. Nicholas, you can not deny what you are." In her state of waking dreams, Madison tried to use the voice as a guide to lead her through the desolate blackness. She felt nothing beneath her feet. It was as if she were in a bottomless void with nothing to grasp for comfort. The voice faded as she made her way through the darkness towards its source. When she stopped, she thought she heard the beating of a heart in steady rhythm? Was it her own?
…And so, in your eyes, I am the devil."

"No, not the devil, LaCroix." She turned her head to see a handsome man with wavy blonde hair standing across from the man that she had see in the picture. His eyes threatened to spill unshed tears

She walked toward the man dressed in dark apparel with his penciled brows. " You're voice is that of the Night Crawler. Are you LaCroix?"

Neither reacted to her question. It was as if she were there.

"No, not the devil, LaCroix." Replied the handsome blonde with the summer blue eyes.

"That answers that question. Can either of you hear me?" Madison asked. The two men ignored her and continued their conversation.

"What then?" The man LaCroix posed the question toward Nicholas.

"You are my closest friend….."

Part V

Sleep evaded Madison for the next week. What had began as a mild curiosity had become an obsessive crusade to reconstruct and resurrect the life of Nicholas Knight. She knew that the dreams and other clues she had found rummaging amongst Nick's belongings were pieces of a puzzle that were meant to be put together. She cursed the Powers-That-Be for giving her the abilities to sense that beyond the mortal realm. In a way, she was also grateful. Nick Knight's life had given Madison the redirection and focus needed to start living again.

She had called CERK and had found that Lucien LaCroix had, indeed, been the Night Crawler. He had also owned a club called the Raven. Almost a year to the day, he had simply vanished. There was no clue or cause for his departure. He had disappeared as if he had never existed. Through listening to many of the tapes of the Night Crawler, Madison discerned that LaCroix had a unique concept of history. He had also mentioned Nicholas by name in several of his broadcasts, as if they had been meant only for his ears.

She compiled a list of known facts that she had discovered throughout the week.

1. Nick Knight was a cop.
2. Nick Knight had a close relationship with a woman named Natalie.
2. Nick Knight was a close friend of a local radio personality.
4. Same radio personality owned a nightclub called The Raven.
5. Nick was a vampire.
6. Based upon the documents and relics found in Nick's apartment, he was at least 700 years old.


Madison had felt no presence in the loft for almost a week. She had rummaged through most of the boxes. Little else provided clues except for a few photographs labeled as LaCroix, Nicholas, and Janette in Paris. What had been the most shocking was that the dates on the backs had been 1920 or earlier. Janette had shown up in quite a few of these photos. Upon making a few calls, Madison had discovered that a Janette DuCharme had once owned the Raven. Instinct told her that it was the same Janette as the one in the photographs. It also was a grave realization to know that if these people had been friend's of Nick, they were also probably of the undead persuasion.

"I think the Raven is where I'll go next." She told herself as she grabbed her purse and coat.

"NO. DON'T GO, MADISON." Came a strong, emphatic voice from behind her. The young woman whirled around to see a transparent form standing a few feet away way from her. She felt her heart beating a thousand miles per hour. Fright cursed through her veins.

"Don't sneak up on me like that. Okay, who are you?" She managed to stammer in a soft, breathy voice.

"NATALIE.'" Came the response of the young woman standing across from her. She was a radiant woman, but, not exceptionally beautiful. She had chestnut hair and green eyes that held sadness in them. Madison felt the sadness as if it were her own. What she noticed however were the two perfect puncture wounds on the left side of her neck.

"Are you the Natalie that Nick spoke of in his letter?"

"LETTER?" Natalie's brow furrowed in confusion.

"Yes!" She exclaimed. "You must be." She reached for the letter in the drawer near the sofa never taking her eyes off the specter. She cleared her throat.

"My Darling Natalie,

This is a letter that I dared to write a thousand Times. We both know of the cherished moments we've shared and the special times that have brought us joy. Yet, I could never find the bravery to tell you the three words that I've carried for you in my heart for so long. It is the man that pens this letter, but is the vampire that keeps us apart. God only knows the joy and faith that you have brought to my life."

Madison thought that she saw tears welling in the specter's eyes. "Natalie, what is your full name? What are you to Nick?"

"HAVE YOU SEEN NICK?"

"I think so. A spirit appeared to me and introduced himself as Nicholas De Brabant. He was very guilt-stricken…almost insane with grief. He said that he had condemned you to darkness. You must have loved each other very much."

"WE DID." The softness of the spirit's tone made Madison feel as if she should offer her a hanky.

"Who are you?"

"I'M DOCTOR NATALIE LAMBERT."

"I feel that I have to put together the pieces of Nick's life. His life had no closure." Madison stared at the shimmering specter as it walked toward her. "Was Nick a vampire?"

"YES. THAT IS WHAT YOU MUSTN'T GO TO THE RAVEN, MADISON. TOO MANY HAVE DIED BECAUSE OF THAT FACT. YOU'RE A BRIGHT YOUNG WOMAN WITH SO MUCH TO LIVE FOR. DON'T LET WHAT HAPPENED HERE BE THE DEATH OF YOU. MOVE OUT OF THE LOFT AND GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE."

With those words, the specter walked up the staircase to the top level and headed toward the bedroom. She shimmered like midnight dew glistening in the moonlight. "Wait," Called out Madison, finally finding her voice. "Natalie, don't go." She rushed up the stairs as fast as her lame leg would carry her, but she collapsed in exhaustion midway up the staircase.

"Damn, damn, damn!" Frustration at her bum leg and onslaught of fear caused Madison to slam the brick wall. After a good rest, she hobbled up the stairs to the bedroom. She retrieved her list of facts and added additional information.

7. Natalie is Dr. Natalie Lambert
8. Nick was a vampire.
9. People died because of that fact.
10. The Raven has something to do with that fact.

"Natalie! If you can hear me, show yourself!!" Madison screamed at the four walls of the bedroom. Silence was the only response. "Natalie!"

Part VI

"….Who knows the pain of death better, he who gasps his final breath, or we who must breath the foul air of his decomposition? Who bears the greater burden, the cold bones of the dead man in his coffin or the spine of the pallbearer carrying his load? No one knows this burden better that we dear listener, we who have seen so man pass…"

Madison cruised down the Toronto boulevards that next night toward the club she had been warned against visiting. This voice only known to her as LaCroix brought a very pragmatic wisdom to her existence. He was without compassion. He seemed only to feel contempt and cynicism for the human condition. Yet, in his words prevailed truths that Madison could not deny.

In the ten days of living in Nick Knight's loft, her life had changed. There was something at work in her life unlike any other influence she had ever experienced. She felt driven to put the pieces of Nick's life back together. She only knew that it was imperative that she do so. Yet, how could she do so with so many of the pieces missing? All she had to go on was her faith and their love.

She darted through traffic with effortless grace. She felt free as the wind coursed through her honey brown hair. Her brown eyes widened in excitement as she took a sharp curve at great speed and felt her heart leap into her throat. She had entered the parking garage for the first time that night and had found a mint green 1962 Cadillac. It was like an old friend calling to her; a temptation too delicious to resist. She had found the keys in the ignition as if they had been waiting for her. Like a seasoned professional, she had backed the caddy out of the garage and had taken it on to Toronto's streets.

She realized that she never had looked for the address of the Raven in the telephone book; yet, Madison knew exactly where she was going. It was if she was going home. She knew that whatever was inspiring her to put Nick's life back together was the same influence that had given her a renewed faith in living. She had forgotten her self-pity over her limp and other injuries. She no longer wallowed in a chronic state of depression. For the first time in a very long time, Madison wanted to live; she felt so vibrantly alive. She heard the tape switch over to the other side in the car stereo.

"I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about the past. And you're asking yourself -how did I get…here? And when you think about it, you realize that you really had no say in the matter at all. Funny, isn't it? You've just been bobbing along on the eddies and currents of life, subject to the whims of every one -but, yourself. Bumping through history."

"I really wouldn't go there if I were you." Came a voice from the passenger seat. Madison yelped in fright and lost control of the steering wheel.

The boyishly handsome man sitting in the passenger seat next to Madison had wavy blonde hair and eyes of the bluest summer sky. He had an impish smile on his face. "The Caddie handles like she's on rails. They don't make them like this anymore."

Madison's fright quickly changed to anger when she heard that familiar voice. "Damn it! I hate it when you do that. She looked again to the comely man sitting next to her. "Nick?"

"The one and only."

"You know that you're dead."

"That's obvious." He chuckled.

"What happened between you and Natalie to make you feel so sad?" She saw his eyes lose their cheerful glow and darken. "Did she die in the loft with you?"

"Yes."

"Did you kill her?"

His eyes glowed with golden fire and his fangs snarled.

"I'll take that as a yes, Nick." Madison tried to move away from the fiend sitting in the passenger seat of the Caddy. "Is that why you two aren't together?"

Puzzlement crossed his brow. "I don't understand what you mean?"

"Well, Natalie appeared and-"

"You've seen Natalie?" Excitement replaced the casual demeanor.

"Well, her ghost appeared to me-"

"Her ghost?" She saw him bow his head and close his eyes as if to block out the pain of such horrible news. "She didn't go on to the other side?"

"What other side? She's haunting the loft just as you are.." She pulled the car over to the curb. "She warned me not to go to the Raven…that too many people had died already because of the fact that you are…were a vampire when you were alive."

"You can't go there, Madison." Nick turned to face the young woman in the driver's seat. "You might endanger yourself if you ask too many questions."

"I'll not go if you promise to answer them for me."

"My time here is short. I don't have time for idle curiosity." He snapped. "I have one chance to set things right."

"What so you mean?" Now, Madison was confused.

"I've been allowed to come back to set things right, but, I didn't know how until you showed up." His boyish blue eyes shone with excitement. "You must be the one that can help me."

"And if I don't?" She raised her eyebrows at the handsome blonde ghost sitting in the passenger seat.

"I'll be staying in a place that has no air conditioner." He replied. "But, if you help me set things right, I can have eternal peace and joy. Please, will you help me, Madison?"

"If I do, will you answer all of my questions."

"All the answers you're looking for are in those boxes at the loft. You just need a good knowledge of history." He gave her a warm smile.

"You must have truly loved Natalie to be able to reach out from beyond…the pale as your friend put it. In one of his broadcasts."

"You've been listening to LaCroix's tapes?" He asked.

"Let's just say that they have provided me with some interesting insights into my own life."

"Yeah, he has a way of really getting under my skin."

"So, what was LaCroix to you?"

"He was my master"

"Sounds rather kinky." Madison chuckled.

"He brought me across; made me a vampire." He replied sternly.

"That explains a lot. And Janette, also a vampire?"

"Yes. Enough with the questions." Nick grabbed her shoulders and stared into her eyes. "You've seen Natalie. Tel hell that I love her with all my heart."She heard Nick scream in frustration and stare at the sky. "NO!" He suddenly screamed to the skies. It seemed as if he were speaking to someone else other than Madison.

"I won't leave. Not until Nat knows how sorry I am for everything…" his blue eyes silently pleaded with Madison as his image faded from view. "Tell Nat how much I love her…how sorry I am for everything…"

He was gone. Madison sat, alone, on the side of a darkened Toronto street. It was all too much for her to comprehend. Nick had just appeared to her and told her that Natalie had died with him. Yet, he hadn't seen Natalie since the time of their deaths. They were both haunting the loft, yet neither could see or knew about the other. Then, it came to her and the answer seemed so simple. With that she turned the car around and headed back to the loft.

Part VII

Madison did her best to make her way to the freight elevator. She shoved the heavy steel door aside and headed to the east window. Now she realized that what kept Nick and Natalie apart was quite simple.

"Natalie," Madison called out to the darkness. She grabbed the letter from the chest of drawers by the front door. "Are you here?"

"I'M HERE."

"Do you know why you're here?"

"I DIED HERE. THAT ABOUT SAYS IT ALL." The tone of cynicism sounded harsh to Madison's ears.

"Maybe, so. But the truth shall set you free."

"I AM CONDEMNED TO HAUNT THIS DAMNED LOFT UNTIL I SEE NICK.'

"I've seen him. He says that he loves you very much and that he's sorry. Does that make sense to you?"

Madison showed Natalie the crisp white stationery. "I think Nick wrote this to you but never had the courage to give it to you. Listen…

My Darling Natalie,

This is a letter that I dared to write a thousand times. We both know of the cherished moments we've shared and the special times that have brought us joy. Yet, I could never find the bravery to tell you the three words that I've carried for you in my heart for so long. It is the man that pens this letter, but is the vampire that keeps us apart.

In the eight hundred years, you are the only one, vampire or mortal to truly warm my heart.

God only knows the joy and faith that you have brought to my life. You have restored my hope to dream things that I thought I would never know again. For that alone, I love you.

Yes, this is what I am, Natalie. This is the creature that adores you.
This is the beast that cherishes every breath you take. This is the fiend that treasures your merest caress. This is the vampire that hungers for you. This is the man that loves you.

Someday, I will be a man worthy of your love instead of the creature that lurks in the shadows afraid of the sun. When I am rid of the vampire within
me, I will come to you and beg for you to love me at last as you have longed to do. I will welcome it.

Someday, the journey will end and the life will begin for us. With that, I am willing to forfeit eternity if I can have a lifetime with you.

Take my love into your heart, Nat, and keep it alive. It is the only gift that I have to offer you.

All my love
-Nick


"Natalie, Nick never left you. He is still here wanting a life after death with you."

Madison saw tears spill forth on Natalie's opaque cheeks. Through her streaming tears a smile beamed across her face. "THANK-YOU."

Madison stared amazed as Nick entered from the right and embraced his one true love. They both looked at Madison with eternal gratitude and turned away from her. The sun was beginning to rise in the East, but a brighter light shown through the window. They waved happily to Madison and then turned and walked to the source of the light. Madison turned her head away because it almost blinded her. She tried to look again; both they and the light were gone.

For the first time in ten days, Madison was alone. She said nothing as she placed her favorite broadcast tape into the cassette player.

"….How dark can your existence be when compared to an eternal void. Unless, of course, you have faith that there is something beyond. What do you see from where you stand? A bright light at the end of the tunnel? Is it a ray of hope?" A glimmer of something better…

You can't answer that, can you? Because you will never know the answer until after the dead is done. Is your faith really that strong?

It's time for both of us, we have come full circle, Nicholas, don't you see? You have overstayed your welcome; the pain that you're causing your mortal friends is no longer acceptable to them…They will demand change….One way or another, Nicholas. The time has come. I will be at your loft tonight for your decision, And then I am leaving. With or without you."

"Yes, Nightcrawler," Madison drolled. "I do have faith in the beyond." For the first time in months, she slept without ghosts and without dreams.

Part VIII

Epilogue

January 1998

Madison Grant's newest novel, Shining Knight in Amour, was a smashing success. It was her first attempt at the supernatural romance genre. It was about a vampire's quest for mortality and his loss. Yet, even beyond the grave, the hero Nicholas fought to enjoy the sweetest taste of humanity; unity with his one true love. With the help of one gifted mortal, he reached out to his love and they lived happily ever after.

For the past three months, Madison's book had been at the top of the bestseller list. That particular night, she was at a well-known bookstore to promote her book and to participate in signing autographs. She could not believe the expanse of her success on her latest novel. Her life was beginning to blossom at last.

A man with striking blue eyes and short brown hair approached the signing table. Madison felt his presence and looked up immediately. He was impeccably dressed in an expertly tailored suit. On his arm was a beautiful young woman with coal black hair and striking blue eyes. She had a beautiful smile on her face and in her hand, she held a copy of the book. The man gave Madison an eerie sense of familiarity.

"Ms. Grant, I am a devoted fan of your work." Came the lightly lilting French accent. From the young woman. "I was wondering if you would tell me how you came about for the inspiration for your book?"

"A former radio personality of CERK radio pointed me in the right direction." Madison replied.

"It was wonderful. Would you sign my book?"

"And if I might impose upon your generosity to also sign my book?" Came that lilting, hypnotic baritone that she had listened to so many times in her car.

Madison looked at them both in astonishment as she scribbled Best wishes to my biggest fan… "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your names?"

The young raven-haired woman smiled pleasantly back at her. "Please make it out to Janette."

"And Lucien LaCroix; the Night Crawler."
-Fini???