The Wished Away Child

By

PaislseyRose

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Disclaimer:

You know the drill, I don't own it, Brian does…

One of these days' he'll open his eyes…

Or Auntie Paisley will open them for him!

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Prologue

London 1886

Jeremy Eden sat forlorn in his meager little room, a bottle of cheap liquor in his hand. He tipped the bottle to his sensuous sumptuous lips and drank of the dark liquid deeply. If he was fortuitous he could get good and stinking drunk before he was tossed out into the cold night air. He raised the bottle, silently mockingly toasting the powers that be that had brought him to this lowly state.

The surroundings were not what he had been born to, far from it. He had in fact been born the son of a landed gentleman a Baronet, the second son of a gentleman, much to his misfortune. His father had been a favorite among the peerage, and had high hopes for both his sons. Jeremy had been raised privileged and now barely existing in squalor. He was comforted his father had not lived to see this day, nor his mother. It was ghastly enough he was once more going to have to be dependant on his brother Phillip for aid, had his parents had to witness that it would have been dreadful. Phillip the eldest had turned out to be a dyed in the wool man of the peerage, if somewhat snooty. It seemed to give him great pleasure to lord it over his younger bother that he had all the success, even if it had not been earned. He also took great pleasure in the fact that he had a hand in making Jeremy fail. Phillip was a sadistic tyrant with it came to handling his brother. There had never been any love lost there.

He swallowed the vile swill in his mouth, and pretended it was a bottle of fine brandy from his brother's cellar. The very cellar that had belonged to their father, and where both boys had gotten their first tastes of fine spirits and wines and learned of love and life at the knee of a doting father. Jeremy placed the bottle on the rough sawn table that was his only piece of furniture in the room with the exception of the bed and his chair. He moved off the one chair and walked rather unsteadily over to the window sill where his one glass sat. He could not remember why he'd placed the glass on the sill, and at this moment didn't even care what the reason was anymore. Returning to his chair, he poured two fingers of the liquid from the bottle into the glass and sipped it as his father had taught him. He mused that he was a far better actor than he'd been credited with. After all, he was pretending to actually enjoy this swill….

Jeremy frowned when the last few amber drops in the bottle landed into the glass. He placed the empty bottle flat on the table. "That is so sad a sight," he mused aloud. Lifting the remains of his liquor to his lips, he toasted the darkness and the creatures of the night who dwelled therein; "To the Keeper of the night!" He stood up and walked to the window, throwing it wide open. Remembering a tale his nurse had told him when he was but a tot, he shouted out the window. "I wish you'd take me, right now…"

The wind rushed up the alleyway, and the dust of the street rose into the air like a hurricane spinning round and round. There was the cry of a night bird, a bird of prey and Jeremy stood blinking at the wind and sound. He stepped back into the dark room away from the window and held up his hands to protect his face, the only thing he still had that was worth something to him. The bird came into the window, wings beating violently on the air. A Owl, crying out and angry it appeared. It seemed to fly directly at the young man, and then there was silence…

Jeremy lowered his arms and gazed at the man standing before him where the bird of prey had been beating its wings at him. "You're him… aren't you? You're the Keeper of the Night the taker of souls." He was perhaps the most beautiful man he'd ever seen except for his own reflection. He was about the same height as Jeremy, and same build. But his hair was pale gold almost white in spots and seemed to float effortlessly on the least amount of air. His face was chiseled and shone like fine alabaster. He took Jeremy's breath away, and the young man stood in the dingy room with his mouth agape staring at this night creature. He was dressed in garments that were dark and yet looked slightly like armor, with strange emblems upon them and he wore an amulet that was compelling.

The man in the dark garments and flowing cape smiled indulgently, amused by the words spoken by the young man in dire straights. "Some call me that, others have other names for me. All that matters is that I am called." His voice was cultured and refined. He walked over to the table, lifted the empty bottle and gave it a sniff. He turned to give Jeremy a look of pity. "May I be so bold as to ask you what it is you are trying to forget? No man drinks like this unless he's trying to forget."

Jeremy sat down on his bed, dejected. "I've made a mess of everything in my life…I am dependant on my elder brother for everything… in a few hours they will come to cast me into the streets as I can no longer even afford this room." He looked ready to weep. "And once more my elder brother Phillip will have to come to my rescue… and once more I'll hear of what a waste I've made of my life…. How I've squandered everything, including my talent. How I should have taken up his offer and worked for him…"

The handsome man in the dark garments moved forward, placed a hand beneath the chin of the man and tipped it forward. "I would have thought that with a face as handsome as this you'd have been a grand success no matter what you'd undertaken upon yourself."

Jeremy looked up into eyes that were like stormy sea jewels. One pupil being larger than the other gave them the look of being different hues. Blue the color of the stormy sea, and rings of gold that seemed to flash out of the centers. The eyes were mockingly cruel, while his mouth was speaking words that were sympathetic. Jeremy knew there was no mercy in the being standing before him, but he no longer cared about mercy what he wanted was something less civil. "What good is a handsome face if no one sees it?" He swallowed hard the lump gathering in his throat. "My father had a letter of introduction for me; he gave it to my brother for save keeping whilst I was still away at school. My father died just before I finished my studies … my brother refused to give the letter to me. He insisted that he should make my choices for me and I should bow to him as he is now the head of the family. Now he sits in power, and I … here until they come to toss me into the cruel streets of the night. London is not a forgiving mistress… she is hard and cruel and harsh."

The Master of the Night stroked the face, the kidd leather fingertips felt like a lovers caress as they moved over the smooth skin under them. "And what would you do with power that could match or outweigh his?"

"I'd live!" Jeremy vowed with a vengeance. "I'd live fully with no regrets; the world would be mine…I would show him that I am every bit as good as he is! I'd have women, his women! And I'd take his friends… I'd live!"

"And what would you give for that power?" The beautiful man with the gloved hand stroking the mortal man asked. Fire danced in the heart of the jeweled eyes.

"I'd give my soul…." Jeremy whispered reverently wondering if he were about to make a bargain with the devil. He found it impossible to look away from the fiery gaze and he now craved this stranger's attention.

The glove tightened on the slender throat under it, "That is already mine… no you must offer me something else, think carefully." His words were a hushed threat.

Jeremy found his lips curling in the same cruel manner as the man holding his throat. "I would give you what ever you wished, man, woman, or child…Master." The title came as natural as breathing from him. He found he rather enjoyed the cruel grip at his tender throat.

The jeweled eyes danced with hideous delight. "I will make you a bargain, my handsome young friend," he crooned to the dejected mortal. "I will give you one hundred years of fame and fortune and youth… At the end of one hundred years you must give me a mortal soul… either yours or someone else's…" His face was only inches from that of the man who was renting the dingy room.

"How?" Jeremy longed to hear the voice speak to him and to feel the breath upon his face.

The man with eyes like stormy seas smirked, he knew of his affect on the young man. "Magic my boy… I can command magic…. I shall put into your hands the letter your brother has kept from you. I shall be your benefactor… and you my willing slave; you will be my eyes and ears in this realm. You will do as I bid you, and I shall protect you and allow you to live fully the life that has been denied you. I shall give you… your dreams."

"And all I have to do is give you a mortal at the end of one hundred years?" He asked guardedly, however his eyes never left the lips speaking. He looked with longing at the mouth, and began to crave the words spoken to him.

The tip of the Keeper's tongue, soft and pink, licked his lips suggestively. "The life you give me, if not your own, must be one that is innocent and unknowing… a child…"

Jeremy pulled back horrified that he had even listened to such a suggestion. "That's monstrous! I could never do that…." Guilt racked him for he was already thinking how easy it would be to do just that.

"But you have already offered me just that," warned the Keeper becoming impatient with the young mortal man. "Your own words! You said you'd give me man, woman or child…."

"It's not to be taken literally! It's merely a turn of phrase." Jeremy began to panic. The man was correct, he had not only offered his own soul but he had precisely offered the Keeper anything he wished, man woman or child.

"Your own words are your bargain…." He waved his hand and a crystal formed in the gloved fingers. "Here, look in this crystal, and see what your future could and should be…See your dreams Jeremy Eden."

Hearing his name filled the young man with fear; Jeremy didn't want to look but could not help himself. He saw himself on stage bowing to accolades and applause. He was more celebrated than he'd ever dreamed. Women adored him, and men listened to him, the orb showed him the power he not only needed but craved… HE reached for the orb and it was pulled back. He looked up at the man, "I will give you what ever you want." He said in desperation.

"A child?" Taunted the Keeper.

"Yes, Master." Jeremy said as he opened his hands to accept the orb. "Do you want a boy or a girl?"

"It matters not," The Keeper of the Night smiled cruelly, "Walk with me this night." He held a hand out to the young man who took it hesitantly. "I will now give you that which you crave." He pulled the young man into a close embrace. He could see the pleasure that young Eden was taking from the unexpected encounter. He mused that at this moment Eden would offer him the world, and would perhaps even try to deliver it.

The dingy room dissolved and they were now standing before a fashionable townhouse in the finest section of London. The garments that Jeremy wore were no longer rags; rather he was dressed in fashionable style as he had been when he was a boy. He was led up the steps to the townhouse. The door opened and a butler bowed to him, welcoming him home and addressing him as Sir. An attractive little housemaid rushed forward to take his top coat and his hat she looked up at him though dark lashes veiling her lovely doe like eyes. He found himself wanting to give her nicely rounded rump a good hard pat as he past her.

They acted as if he were the most important being in the world. Jeremy looked at the Keeper who walked silently past the servants. Jeremy knew the Keeper was invisible to the others and he told the servants he was going to sit for a bit in his study. He just knew there was a fine study in this fashionable townhouse. Just as he knew there was a fine wine cellar and a billiard's table in a room designed for men to congregate in.

The Keeper of the Night looked at him with a smirk, "Is it as you wished?"

"Very much so, but you already know that." Jeremy stated taking a seat behind his desk. The desk, the chair, the very room felt fitted to him. He loosened his suit jacket and leaned back, feeling like he belonged to the room as much as it belonged to him.

The Keeper waved his hand and produced a sealed letter, he handed it over to the young man. "Your letter of introduction… use it wisely. It will open doors for you, but you must prove yourself once the door is open."

"Thank you." He put the letter on the desk, looked up at the being before him. "I will not fail you, Master."

"See that you don't," Warned the handsome dark clad man. "Now, live a full and happy life… but don't marry… that is part of the price you pay… you may love as many women as you wish, that little housemaid for one seems rather obliging … but you may never give them your name…This house will remain yours… and you shall have servants… All the fame that you wished for will be yours… Enjoy your one hundred years, during this time you will hardly age at all and your face will remain beautiful. I have granted you a bit of magic to help you along… use it wisely." The man began to vanish, but his voice seemed to remain and echo. "Pity your father cannot see you now..."

Jeremy smiled a cruel smile, "One hundred years for the price of a child… a bargain!" He poured a brandy and toasted himself and the Keeper of the Night. It should be easy enough to find some child to turn over to him. He began to think of a way to go about trapping a child. He began to think of as story that would entice a child.

A tapping at the door drew his attention, "Enter." He said softly.

The little maid came in and curtseyed to him, "Is there anything you require, sir?" she asked sweetly.

"Yes…" an inner voice told him that the girl was called Nan, he smiled. "I require you Nan." He motioned for her to lock the door and come to him.

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Chapter and reactions

Jeremy bowed to the audience and then turning to the wing held out his hand. Linda Williams joined him in the center of the stage and curtseyed as he bowed. He held her hand tightly and then before the audience he turned to her and raised the hand, gallantly kissing it then stepped aside for her to be in the center stage and he joined the audience in applauding her. Linda looked breathless as she smiled at him. In one hundred years she was the first woman he'd truly cared for, as much as he cared for anyone. She had become his lover a few years earlier, and had even left her husband and young daughter for him. Linda was the first and only woman that he'd regretted not being able to offer marriage to. Together they had taken the stage world by storm. The heavy curtain closed, Jeremy tucked her arm in his and they strolled off the stage calmly as if strolling in a park. Life was good, he had power, fame and fortune and he had Linda and didn't have to share her too often with her daughter. The play had run its course; tonight it had ended its run. The next play would not begin rehearsals for at least a month. Jeremy planned on a nice vacation for them on the Riviera.

Entering his dressing room, he allowed his dresser to help him out of the period costume. He smirked at being free of the garments that were so much like ones he'd worn when he began his theater career. He put on the long silk dressing gown and sent the dresser away with the costumes so he could take off his greasepaint in peace. He looked in the mirror, in one hundred years he had aged but only a few years. He was more handsome than he'd been as a callow youth and even more soul hungry. Once the makeup was off he tossed the tissues with the cakey makeup into the trash and stood up to stretch. He mused that by now Linda's unknowing daughter had used the book he'd given her during her summer visit, and most likely that child her father had had with his second wife was in the arms of the Keeper of the Night the taker of Souls. He had felt it when the book had been used the day before. He smirked at the mirror and whispered, "Paid in full."

"Really?" A voice behind him asked coolly, "how is that?"

Jeremy spun around to face the Keeper. "Master… what are you doing here?"

The annoyed Keeper looked at the handsome actor and grimaced, "I'm here to collect my soul…"

"I gave you a child." Jeremy said quickly. "An unknowing innocent child… just as you demanded."

"I have no child in hand," mismatched darkened with foreboding and with malice as they looked at the man. "Just how did you procure this child you say you've given me?"

Pointing to the adjoining wall, Jeremy spoke clearly, without emotions. "The woman I am with, her daughter has a cruel and spiteful heart toward her baby brother, a child of one year of age… and that has to be as innocent as they come… it was the perfect set up… with the magic you granted me I created a little storybook for the girl, she lives for fantasy and loves fairytales and is ripe for the romance of the Fae realms. In it gave her instructions on how to wish away her baby brother… I put magic on the book so I would know when it was used, I felt the magic used…the child should be in your hands right now."

A gloved hand clenched into a fist and then relaxed. "You created that book? Where did you get the story?"

Jeremy picked up a book of folklore, handed it to his Master. "Most of it came from here… tales of goblins and their master…It belonged to the girls mother, and I used it for the basis of my tale…"

Jareth, the Goblin King pursed his lips as he read the text. "So this is how she knew of me…." He looked a Jeremy. "The boy is not in my hands…"

"But I was sure she'd wished him away…" Jeremy stated somewhat shocked.

"She did," Jareth growled, "But she also demanded the right to win him back."

"Impossible." Jeremy sneered. "That girl cares only for herself, thanks to her mother's callous need to be loved and adored… and her father's indifference! She would never come to the aid of that boy… never, she sees him as a rival."

"Alas she did." Jareth dropped the old book on the dressing table. "Seems the girl knew more of the old tales than you credited her with knowing, and I am out a child. Since our bargain states I get one soul it would seem Jeremy you are it."

Jeremy faced the master, "Why should I have to pay for your mistake?"

"Pardon?" Jareth raised a brow; incredulous at being spoken to in this manner by a minion.

The actor stood up to his master with a confidence he'd never known before. "I paid the price… you let it slip though your fingers…"

A gloved hand shot out and gripped the actor's throat. "Speak to me in that manner again and I shall forget how fond I am of you!" He lightened his grip. "And since we are both at fault here," his jeweled eyes warned the actor not to argue. "We shall work together to rectify this mess…"

"You want me to wish the boy away to you?" the uncomfortable actor asked trying to keep from choking.

The man in the dark garments paused, thought then smiled with an evil smile. "No… much as I want the boy… I would prefer you find a way to give me the girl….I have a score to settle with her." Evil thoughts danced in the light of the jeweled eyes.

Jeremy frowned; he had more or less planned on taking the girl himself later on when her mother was used up. "Sarah is but a child…" he hedged.

The Keeper of the Night, the Goblin King smiled as the tip of his tongue traced his lips. "I believe that was the price we set… a child, unknowing and innocent… Well she's not nearly as innocent as she once was, now that she's seen my realm and run the Labyrinth, but she is untried…. And she is what I demand… unless you care to take her place." He sneered at the actor; he released the throat in his gloved hand. "And to show how… generous I can be, I shall grant you one more year in which to procure for me… Sarah Williams."

Placing a hand to his aching throat, Jeremy nodded, "I'll do as you ask…."

"Of course you will, Eden. You know who is master, and who is not." Reading the reluctance and knowing the plans the actor had made, Jareth raised a hand in warning. "I want her as she is now, actor! I want her pure and untried…if you take so much as take a taste of her, I shall add fifty years to your life and ruin you." He sneered thinking his evil thoughts. "I shall make that room I found you in seem like Buckingham Palace."

Jeremy looked at the mirror and envisioned himself with wrinkles, "She'll be as she is now… I swear I will not touch her." The thought of being returned to squalor didn't bother him as much as the thought of not having his face.

"Good." Jareth turned to leave.

"Master, a moment…" Jeremy moved to take hold of the Keeper's arm. "I've a favor to ask…"

Jareth looked at the hand on his sleeve and it was quickly removed. "What favor?"

"Procuring this girl goes above and beyond our original agreement…." He said carefully. "And I grow tired of this life I live." Jareth simpered, "I would like to ask of you this…if I find a way to get the girl for you…I would request, respectfully that you allow me to live out the rest of my life… to age… to be a husband, and father….that I may at long last marry…"

Jareth walked around the man and regarded him carefully. "You grow tired of your life of fame, of fortune and of being a pretty thing?"

Jeremy shook his head, "I am most grateful to you for all you did for me, Master…for giving me the power I needed to ruin my bother…"

The Goblin King, amused leaned closer, and whispered in his ear, "Admit how sweet it was taking your brother's wife from him, and then discarding her like a tissue, not to mention his mistresses."

"I admit I had my revenge." Jeremy sighed. "And I owe that to you."

Jareth placed his finger tips under Jeremy's chin. "I have kept you pretty, have I not?"

"Yes, Master, you have." The actor felt his skin thrill at the master's touch.

Jareth moved to the man's ear again. "I have given you many fine playthings, you still find Nan of use, do you not?"

Jeremy nodded, "But I want but one…one person to grow old with… and since you are hell bent on taking Sarah, allow me to have her mother…"

The Goblin King pulled his hand away, as if it were burning. "You want me to allow you to marry the mother of the girl you are about to betray? That is a perversion worthy of my considerations!"

"Linda completes me…" He said reluctantly. "She is my other half."

"Pity for her," Jareth mocked. "Well far be it for me to stand in the way of love, or lust or what ever it is you are afflicted with. Fine, you may by all means marry this woman, and you may even breed with her…if you care to…but you and she and what ever off spring you bear will belong to me." The Goblin King chuckled softly, as he pulled Jeremy's face to his. "Shall we seal this new bargain with a kiss?" He asked.

Jeremy gulped, "If that's what you want…"

Jareth released the actor. "It's not…" He said coldly, "I wanted to be sure you were willing to obey…" He securitized the man before him, "See to it that Sarah is handed over to me as I've stipulated…you have one year…you'd best start planning." He turned and walked toward the wall where he vanished.

Jeremy frowned, "Pity," he mused to himself. "Sarah would have made a tasty treat." The gentle tapping at the door told him Linda was seeking entry. "Come in…love." He said softly.

Linda Williams entered, still slightly mesmerized as she was after each performance. "I missed you." She cooed. Six years and she was still so susceptible to the magical effects that were now part of Jeremy Eden.

Jeremy sat on the cot provided by the management for his rest. "Come show me how much." He watched as she slipped out of the dressing gown and stood before him nude and wanting. She was beautiful, and he took delight in enjoying her.

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Sarah felt the warmth of the sun as it caressed her face. She sat up in her room and remembered all of it, the wish, the Labyrinth, the creatures…and him… most of all him and the hurt and despair on his face in those final moments. She leapt from the bed and pulling on her robe raced down to her parents' room when she heard the first of Toby's cries. She looked in and saw that her father and his wife were still asleep. Quietly she padded on bare feet to the crib and lifted the boy out. She held him close and whispered softly to him.

A sleepy voice behind her alerted her. "Sarah…is something wrong?" her stepmother asked.

Sarah turned with the boy in her arms, "No, Toby is awake… I'll take care of him, you get some more sleep."

"Thank you," the woman said lying back down and closing her eyes. She curled into the body of her husband and drifted back to sleep even before the girl had left the room.

Sarah carried the boy out of the room and down the hall to the nursery where his changing table stood. She cleaned him up, changed his diaper and put him in a fresh set of clothes. She then carried him down the stairs to the kitchen where she gave him his breakfast. She was bowled over by the differences in her in just twenty four short little hours. Today she was a different person. Gone were the feelings of jealousy toward this baby, replaced by an overwhelming need to protect him. She smiled at Toby and he cooed back at her.

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Jareth smiled as he watched the girl in the crystal. He sat, lounging in his throne while dozens of minions danced about the throne room wildly. "So you think it's over do you? Think you've won and that nothing can touch you like that again?" He crooned softly. "Think again my sweet… soon you shall be delivered over to me….my Judas is in place… ready to strike. Enjoy this bit of freedom, it won't last." He tossed the crystal into the air as he laughed cruelly. He looked at the dancing goblins and rose to join them.

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Sarah was dressed and preparing breakfast for her parents when her stepmother joined her in the kitchen. "Good morning," she greeted the woman handing her a mug of fresh coffee. "Did you sleep well?" Her voice was more respectful and congenial then it had ever been.

The woman looked at her, blinked and whispered softly; "Am I still asleep?"

The teen girl shook her head, "Nope, you're not dreaming…"

Karen sipped her coffee, "I had no idea you knew how to make coffee." She mused

"This is good."

Sarah ushered her stepmother to a chair. "I'm making breakfast, so you just sit and relax…Mom."

Karen placed the mug on the table, suspicious. "Alright young lady! What is going on? I usually have to beg you to do anything around here, and now you're making breakfast without being asked? What gives?"

Sarah leaned over onto the table and looked at the woman. "I'm turning over a new leaf, it's time, don't you think?"

Karen pursed her lips, "Sarah, I know I can never replace your mother…"

The girl stood up. "No, you can't… but you shouldn't have to even try…" she frowned deeply. "I haven't been fair to you… I know that now…" Sarah sat down opposite the woman. "Last night I had…an epiphany. And…I'd like to start over…I accepted Jeremy when my mother ran off with him, and I've been nothing but nice to him….but I've not been fair to you. You didn't break up my happy home…he did…I see that now… you came into broken home and made my father happy… and you gave me a little brother… so I'd like to start over with you give you the same chance I gave Jeremy… what do you say?"

Karen looked as if tears were about to spring to her eyes. "I'd like that…Sarah."

The girl nodded. "Ok…" she rose from the seat and went to the stove, "How do you like your eggs Mom?"

"Scrambled…" Karen watched the girl and let one tear fall. She looked over at Toby, changed, dressed and fed, his face glowing with joy. "You did a nice job getting our boy cleaned up."

"Thank you, I can't believe what he can get into sleeping… he wakes up a real mess! I understand now how hard you work at keeping him presentable." Sarah put a plate of fluffy eggs on the table and heard her father coming. She poured his coffee and handed to him as he entered the room.

"Thanks honey." He said not looking at who handed the mug to him.

"You're welcome dear." Sarah teased.

Robert Williams stopped in his tracks, gazed at his wife sitting at the table, and his teen daughter working on his breakfast. He thought about saying something and then decided against it. He took a seat, sipped his coffee and read his morning paper. He would do nothing to disrupt this peace accord. From time to time he looked up from his paper, as he read he listened with half an ear to the conversation going on. When Sarah offered to take Toby out for a walk he waited until she had left the house before looking at his wife. "What is going on?"

"You're little princess is growing up, Robert…She's offered me an olive branch and I'm grabbing on with both hands." Karen told him.

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Jeremy looked at his own reflection, knowing it was an illusion and enjoying the delusion. He had mirrors everywhere in the house. For no one enjoyed their own reflection more than he did. His favorite one had to be the one he'd had installed on the ceiling of the bedroom. He mused how often Linda had awakened to it and groaned. However he found it a great pleasure to look up while they were making love. He loved seeing her backside; it brought a smile to his face.

Linda was going over the post as she entered his study, "Oh a letter from Sarah." She excitedly opened the letter and smiled, "She says things are better with her stepmother… and she's even getting along better in school…" Quietly she read on, a sweet happy smile on her face.

Jeremy smiled wickedly then toned it down when he turned to his paramour. "I think we should have Sarah come here for Christmas break!" He suggested cordially.

Linda looked up surprised at the offer; "What a wonderful idea… we're not doing a play at that time, and we can show her London in winter… oh she'd love to go skating at that little park…Oh Jeremy, do you mean it? Can I really ask her?"

Turning away, the evil gleam in his eyes becoming a flaming beacon; "Of course I mean it… It will be the best gift for her… allow me to call your ex husband and make the offer myself."

Linda rushed to his arms and hugged him the way a child would when receiving the gift they'd dreamed of. "This will be the best Christmas ever…"

Jeremy looked down at Linda's head, and smiled wickedly. "Yes, it will…" Placing his arms about her, he let himself forget for a moment that he was going to send this woman's daughter into the hell he himself was working desperately to escape. "We will be like one happy family."

Linda settled in his lap, "I always feel so guilty about leaving her behind…but really Robert was the one with a house…and taking a child on the road seemed cruel."

"Darling," He soothed her softly, "Sarah is a bright girl, I'm sure she understands you did what was best for her…" to himself he added. 'And what was best for me, as well. Who wanted a snot nosed ten year old tagging along as I shagged her mother every chance I got.' He picked up the phone, and called the overseas operator and asked to place a person to person call. He kissed his lover and thought of how easy this was, he'd have his debt paid in less than the year he'd been allotted. The phone rang, and he waited patiently for the call to be picked up. "Hello, Robert? This is Jeremy Eden… no everything is fine, Linda and I are both quiet well… Oh I'm sorry, completely forgot about the time differences… see here old man, Linda and I would be thrilled if you'd consider allowing Sarah to spend her Winter Break with us."

Robert on the other end was silent for a moment. "That's a very kind offer…"

"Rubbish," Jeremy stated lightly. " Linda and I are not doing a play this winter, and we'd love to have her with us… after all we missed her sixteenth birthday…and Linda is missing her baby girl. You understand, don't you?"

Robert covered the phone and spoke to someone beside him. When he took his hand off the phone he said, "We think that would be fine."

"Good, I'll make arrangements and cover all the costs…" Jeremy said with self-confidence. "Good night, Robert." He turned to Linda. "All settled."

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The actor watched from the sidelight window as Linda walked briskly down the street. He loved the woman, and felt slightly guilty that he was planning on giving her daughter to the Keeper of the Night, the Taker of Souls. Still better her than himself, he told himself. He looked behind him and Nan was awaiting orders. "Is everything ready for the girl's joining us?" He asked haughtily. He'd learned long ago that Nan was soul-less and lived only to obey orders.

"Yes, Sir," she watched him with pretty doe eyes.

Jeremy had used the pretty maid often over the years, even now while he was living with and loving Linda he found that Nan came in handy. Reaching out he slid his hand into the top of her uniform. "And the dungeon is it ready to receive her?" His hand massaged her breast roughly.

"Yes Sir," she smiled, "If you'd care to inspect it…I'd be happy to help you."

Jeremy smiled as he ripped the blouse open, "Nan, you always see to my needs." He began to nuzzle her breasts with his hands and mouth. "Yes, let's make sure the dungeon is in working order. Harper," He called out, "I'm taking Nan to the dungeon, if Miss Linda returns before I'm finished, see to it she does not come looking for me."

Harper, the butler that had been with him since the day the Keeper had brought him to the house bowed and watched with a leer as the master of the house took the willing maid down to play victim in the dungeon that was the Master's play room. He removed the little mirror he kept in his vest pocket, looked in and when he saw the face of his true master he spoke, "Sire, all is in readiness. The girl will be with us during the Yuletide."

"And Eden does not suspect anything?" Jareth asked, quietly.

"No, Sire. As far as he knows, this is all according to his plan." Harper stated.

Jareth nodded, "Where is he now?"

"Making use of Nan in the dungeon, Sire," Harper informed the King.

"And luscious Linda? Where is she while our buck plays with the whore I gave him?" Jareth asked.

"Miss Williams has gone shopping, some things she wishes to present to the girl to make her stay more pleasant, Sire." It was clear Harper had feelings for the woman.

"Harper;" warned the King, "I've already promised her to Eden."

The butler frowned, "Yes Sire."

Jareth calmly spoke to his minion, "Keep an eye on things, and make sure Eden does not get found out by the mother… I don't care if you have to cover for him for now… once Sarah is my guest, he can cover his own ass… but for now…we keep his secret."

"Sire," The Butler was pensive. "What happens to Miss Linda once Sarah is your guest?"

The King sighed, "Does it matter? You will stay with Eden and the house… no matter what happens… until he is old and his body dies…You will stay there to make sure I get that soul."

"And Miss Linda…." Harper asked again.

Jareth considered, "You have served me well, Harper… if you find the opportunity to have your way with the mother of my enemy, you are most welcome to use her. She too will be collected when the time comes."

"Thank you, Sire." Harper smiled lewdly. "I shall await your arrival, sire." The image of the King vanished, and the mirror was once again pocketed by the Goblin known as Harper.

Hours later, when Linda arrived at the townhouse with packages galore, Harper helped her carry the items up to the bedroom that had been made ready for her daughter. She thanked the Butler and asked if Mr. Eden was about.

"I believe he's having a bath, ma'am." Harper answered knowing full well the man was making an effort to wash the odor of his sexual romp with the maid off before his mistress arrived home.

"Oh, thank you." She said moving down the hall to where the mater suite was.

Nan joined Harper in the hallway, "I see she's back." Her tone was none too friendly.

"Mind your tone," Warned the man who was ranked above this goblin woman. "The master expects you to behave like a servant, not a love sick twit."

Nan growled, "I know my job." She leaned toward the man. "I also know you lust after that wench yourself!"

Harper glowered at her, "I said mind your tongue!" The woman snickered at him, as she sauntered saucily down the hall and toward the stairs. Harper cast an eye toward the room where he now heard the sounds of coupling. He resigned himself to his station and left the hall as well.

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Sarah watched as the English countryside came into view of her window. The flight had been uneventful, and she knew that was a blessing. She drew a long sigh as the landing gear began to be deployed. The elderly gent sitting along side her smiled, "You're first time in London?"

She nodded; "Does it show?" She asked cordially.

The older man smiled at her politeness. "Just a bit," he pointed out the window. "You're very lucky; we've got good weather to land in, and not a gale or snow storm." He had introduced himself to her upon the beginning of the flight as Mr. James Ellery. "Miss Williams, you never said why you're visiting England over the holiday season."

"I'm going to be visiting my mother, and her…gentleman." Sarah hedged.

"Williams… Williams…. Would your mother be Linda Williams the actress?" the elderly man asked; "I know her well!" He patted her hand; "Allow me to stay with you until you are properly picked up by your mother."

Sarah felt a bit at odds, "I don't want to be a bother."

"Not in the least," he mused, chuckling to himself. "Why I'd consider it a treat… you will be met…I on the other hand have no one coming to meet me."

Sarah looked at the white haired man with dancing gray eyes. "Well I'd appreciate it then, Mr. Ellery… I hate being in a strange place all alone."

Ellery nodded, "My feelings exactly…" he mused and said softly. "Nice young girl… all alone, no telling what kind of rascal you could encounter!"

Sarah looked at him, the words were different, but only slightly, "What did you just say?"

He looked at her with a gentle smile, "I said there's no telling what kind of rascal you could encounter."

Sarah nodded again and stared at him, 'for a moment he sounded like Hoggle.' She thought. 'Oh Sarah, your imagination is working overtime! You just talked to Hoggle just before you left the house… this is just a kindly old man who is being courtly." She relaxed and looked at the airport terminal coming into view. "My that's grand looking."

Ellery chuckled, "You should see it in daylight, much more impressive!"

"I'll see it in daylight when I leave at the end of two weeks." Sarah said over her shoulder.

"Ah a fortnight in England… I'm sure your mother has many wonderful plans for you." Ellery said kindly.

One of the stewardesses came toward them, her look toward Sarah was not too kindly, but she smiled sweetly at the man. "Sir Ellery, We'll be in the terminal soon, would you care to debark first?"

He looked up at the young woman, "No, I'm going to be staying with my young friend here….I'm escorting her to her mother."

The woman's facial features changed in looking at Sarah, "I was not aware." She pretended to be more cordial toward the girl. "Did you enjoy your flight, Miss?"

"Yes, thank you." Sarah said cautiously, when the woman moved on she looked at the man. "Sir Ellery?"

He chuckled, "I never bother with titles…" He sighed as they watched the rest of the passengers rush to leave the plane. "We'll just let the crush go, and then you and I shall debark looking very much like movie stars."

Sarah giggled, and didn't care that the stewardess was frowning at her. The man at her side wrinkled his nose and made her laugh even harder. When they finally stood up to leave the plane, Sarah noticed the stewardesses all painted sweet smiles on their faces. Ellery whispered in her ear it was one of the perks of being on the board of the airlines. She laughed again.

When they entered the airport terminal off the gangplank, Sarah saw her mother looking for her anxiously. She waved to Linda and said something to the man, who looked toward Linda and smiled.

Jeremy leaned in to Linda, "Is that Sir Ellery with Sarah?" He seemed disturbed.

Linda nodded, "How nice she had someone to sit with who was…kindly." Linda was fond of Sir Ellery even if Jeremy was not. She walked forward. "Sir Ellery, I had no idea you were going to be on that flight!" She leaned toward the man and kissed both his cheeks.

Ellery smiled, "Linda, lovely to see you again. As you see I've glommed on to your lovely daughter."

Sarah embraced her mother, "Mama." She whispered. "Oh mama, I'm so glad to see you."

"No hug for me?" Teased Jeremy; with an eye on the girl and one on the older man.

Sarah smiled and hugged her mother's lover. "Hello Jeremy…Thank you for asking me to visit."

Ellery raised a brow, "You invited Linda's daughter?" He was suddenly suspicious and protective of the child. "Sarah, dear, if you need me you know how to reach me…the number I gave you will reach me no matter where I am. If you need it, use it…" He looked at Linda. "Happy holidays my dear…" He looked at Jeremy. "Eden." He moved on.

Sarah watched him go, feeling suddenly naked and exposed. She looked at her mother and hugged her. Something was wrong, and she could not shake the feeling.