A/N: This is the sequel to "Devils and Angels", so if you haven't read that, you might want to, otherwise this might not make as much sense as it would normally. hehe
CH 1: O Magnum Mysterium
Sullenly nursing his drink, Willie hunched his shoulders and continued to stare at the woman who should've been dead…at the woman who'd haunted his dreams for many a restless night. He had grieved for her memory, and yet there he was, drinking and partaking in a surprise birthday party thrown for the formerly deceased.
Truth to be told, Maggie had been reintroduced to society about a year ago, but Willie still couldn't grasp how she had managed to forget everything, let alone survive. He knew Dr. Julia Hoffman had been seeing an awful lot of his master because of treatments, but he didn't want to believe that a woman of her caliber would intentionally destroy Maggie's memory. Maggie trusted her…hell, he trusted her, so to think that she'd stoop to such an unthinkable low made his blood curdle.
Watching Maggie from across the room, Willie found himself fascinated by the amiable manner in which she so effortlessly reeled in her guests. He longed to go talk to her as well, but she was currently conversing with Carolyn Stoddard and Victoria Winters, both of whom Barnabas considered his social superiors. Talking to those women would be a catastrophe (or so Barnabas had said), and the last thing Willie wanted to do was incur his master's wrath. Surprisingly, though, Julia's treatments had caused Barnabas to undergo not only an immense physical, but emotional change. He was far kinder and patient, which were two attributes the vampire had been in dire need of.
Smiling to himself due to the promising outlook of the future, Willie barely even noticed the almost predatory blonde coming his way before it was too late. With a shriek, Willie recoiled from the fingers that had promptly pinched his rump, his cheeks burning with indignation as he hissed, "What the hell're ya doin', uh? That hurt, Bethany!"
Giggling, the bar maid purred, "Why, I'm playin' pin the tail on the donkey, silly! Now hold still so I can give ya a hug!"
Frowning, Willie evaded her embrace before lying, "I-I didn't get ta say happy birthday ta Maggie yet, s-so I'd better get over there before she thinks I'm rude, or somethin'."
"Oh, shuzbuckets!" Bethany returned with a wave of the hand. "Just look over there, darlin'…she doesn't need any company with Haskell on her arm!"
Following Bethany's gaze, Willie felt his heart clench at the sight of Maggie and Joe all alone in the far corner, his eyes narrowing as he tried to suppress his bitter resentment. Willie had never liked Joe, so the sight of someone as pure and sweet as Maggie Evans with the likes of Joe Haskell sent him well over the edge. She needed someone who would love her like she deserved, someone more like…
Willie bowed his head before the thought could even be put to completion. Who was he kidding? Sure, he had an income now that he worked for Barnabas, but did he have a home? The proper means to raise a family?
Before Willie could even negate these inner queries, a chorus of shrill shrieks sounded from the front of the cottage, the servant raising his head just in time to see Joe envelope Maggie in an enraptured embrace. Turning to Bethany with fearful eyes, he squeaked, "W-what's goin' on, uh? Why's everybody makin' such a fuss?"
"Well didn'tcha hear that whole spiel a while back?" she asked as if it were obvious. "Joe finally got up the nerve an' asked Maggie ta marry him, so she said yes! An' on her birthday, too…how terribly romantic!"
Feeling violently ill, Willie mumbled a curt "'scuse me" as he made his way toward the back of the room. Furiously chucking his drink into the trash, he ran a hand across his upper lip before feeling the sudden need to retch, his eyes stinging with tears as he gave the happy couple one last fleeting glance. If anything, he had been the one to love and protect Maggie more than Joe ever did, but by this point Willie was far too accustomed with not getting recognition for his unsung deeds. Leaning his head back against the wall, he closed his eyes and wished for the floor to open up and swallow him whole.
Thoroughly having enjoyed the evening's festivities, Barnabas sat leafing through a traveler's brochure that Julia had bought him for his own perusal. With a broad smile on his face, he decided that once he was fully cured he'd fly to Europe and sunbathe with the natives. In 1795 he would have deemed such activities as frivolous, but now that he had gone without sunlight for so long, he found it to be an investment worth pursuing.
Just as he turned to a particularly breathtaking image of an Italian villa, a knock at the door sounded and pulled him from his wistful reverie. Curious, Barnabas rose from his chair and glided into the foyer, his curiosity only mounting when he opened the double doors and beheld his lovely cousin, Carolyn.
"Why, Carolyn" he greeted, "what are you doing here at this hour? Is there trouble at Collinwood?"
Beaming, Carolyn returned, "Why no, Barnabas, I was just asked to deliver these brochures to you as a favor from Julia. She said she'll be by later, but as of now has an errand to run in town." Glancing down at the brochures, she asked, "Are you planning an extensive vacation, or something? These are an awful lot of brochures for one man!"
Ushering the blonde inside, Barnabas closed the doors behind her before acknowledging, "Why yes, as a matter of fact I am…I miss my homeland and wish to return as soon as possible."
"Oh, I can imagine – England must be so beautiful!" Carolyn chirped. "Do you think you could show me where you plan to go?"
"Certainly." Flipping open one of the brochures, Barnabas pointed to a small island before revealing, "As a young boy I've always wanted to go to Sicily, so I've decided to treat myself to a two week vacation in Europe. I plan on spending two days in seven countries of my choice, possibly more, if the weather permits such a luxury."
"Ooh!" Clasping her hands to her heart, Carolyn slyly asked, "Do they happen to have nude beaches over there? I mean, I love bikinis and all, but I'm willing to go without!"
Appearing to be rather uncomfortable with her query, Barnabas gave a brisk "Haven't a clue" before turning to the next page, the parchment slicing through his flesh amidst his haste to change the subject. Wincing, Barnabas watched on in horror as a gentle stream of blood pulsated from the wound and trickled down his finger. More horrifying still, the recovering vampire found himself drawn toward the scent of his own blood.
'No!' Barnabas thought, 'How can this be!? Julia assured me that we were nearly finished with the treatments!'
Looking up from his injury, the vampire discovered the concerned, elfin features of his cousin peering up at him, her voice soft and gentle as she inquired, "Are you alright? You look as if you're in pain…"
Barnabas pressed his lips together and shook his head. Oh God, her pulse…it was calling to him! The slim curve of her neck was currently exposed, and the scent of her life-bearing essence was making him dizzy with longing.
Not even seeming to take notice of the warring emotions dancing across her Barnabas' face, Carolyn nodded pleasantly before acknowledging, "Very well...look, I have some things to do, but I hope your cut doesn't hurt too bad. Take care, alright?" Now standing up on her tip-toes, she reached out and embraced her cousin in a warmly fond hug.
Inwardly groaning over the torment that laid embedded deeply within him, Barnabas felt the dull ache of his fangs taking shape through the tender flesh of his gums as he continued to hold his unsuspecting cousin.
'I cannot help myself' he realized, 'It is now far too late...Carolyn should have left when she had the chance!'
No longer able to stave off the intense craving within his soul, Barnabas bared his sharp incisors and claimed the silken flesh of his petite cousin's neck.
Releasing a blood-curdling scream, Carolyn bowed into the vampire as he continued to excavate the life-sustaining plasma from her neck. Thick rivulets of scarlet dribbled down from her throat and stained the frilly lace collar of her pink blouse, her eyes growing heavy as the room began spinning about her at a maddening speed.
"Barn...a...bas" she croaked, "Barna...bas..."
Finally realizing the magnitude of what he had done, Barnabas felt Carolyn wilt within his arms like a delicate flower, her precious blood staining his lips and chin as if proclaiming to all the world his indelible transgression.
"Oh, my God..." he breathed, "What have I done?!"
A/N: Whew, I finally got to the sequel! I swear, I rewrote the beginning three different times, and I'm still not completely happy with it. ::annoyance:: But anywhos, "O Magnum Mysterium" means "O Great Mystery", which I got from this goooorgeous song that we sang in choir: h t t p / y o u t u b e . c o m / w a t c h ? v 1 J 0 O 8 w T z v I c
I'll probably be using song names or Latin phrases simply because they're cool, so we'll see what happens. The great mystery is obviously Barnabas' plight…poor Carolyn. :-P