Author's Note: This will be the final chapter of the story. I'm glad everyone enjoyed it. There will be more installments in the future.
Despite her exhaustion, Vicki looked good. . . real good. Her face was flushed pink and I could smell the sweet scent of blood just under the skin. I remembered how hungry I was and that I hadn't had the opportunity to feed before this night's events had begun. I pushed the need away as I saw Detective Celucci stiffen in response to Vicki swaying on her feet. I quickly put my arm around her to steady her and began walking in the direction of my spare bedroom. She followed without complaint until we were almost there. Suddenly she stopped dead and whipped her head to look over her shoulder.
"What is it Vicki?"
She turned back towards me with a puzzled expression on her face.
"I thought I saw something. The same thing happened in the bathroom too."
"You're so tired I'm not surprised that you're seeing things. You need some rest."
We started moving again and this time made it to the goal. The covers were already pulled back on the bed and she easily slid between them. Leaning over, I pressed a kiss to her forehead with all intention of leaving her to rest. However, her hand suddenly wrapped around my wrist and I could read the need on her face. She didn't want to be alone, but she wasn't going to be able to say it. Knowing that Cellucci was in the other room, I decided not to get into the bed with her, though that was where I would have liked to be. Instead I gently pulled my arm from Vicki's grasp and walked over to get a chair to pull closer to the bed. I positioned the chair so that I could easily run my fingers over her hair but so that my back was against the same wall as the headboard. I felt that she would rest better if she didn't think I was reading her expressions. It was only about five minutes later when I realized she was already deeply asleep. I made the decision to leave her with the Detective so that I could feed. I wouldn't be of much help if my hunger began to override my common sense.
I breathed a sigh of relief when Fitzroy left to run an errand. Ha! I knew what he was really doing. The way he had looked at Vicki when she left the bathroom was a dead giveaway. I'd seen mortal men give women a hungry look but his hungry looks were a whole different thing. Walking across the room, I found myself staring into the bedroom where Vicki was resting. She had curled up into a small ball on the very edge of the bed. If she moved any further she would be on the floor.
"What am I going to do with you?" I whispered aloud.
At one time I had thought Vicki and I had found the real thing together. I had thought we would marry, have children, and grow old together. But it had all fallen apart. Then this last year those same feelings began to stir and I thought maybe we'd been given a second chance. Unfortunately, all the supernatural stuff seemed to be getting in the way. And let's not forget Fitzroy, he was purposely trying to get in the way. I didn't know what he thought was going to happen. That he would be able to convince Vicki to become like him? I highly doubted that. I knew the way Vicki thought and there was no way she would believe that type of sacrifice would work out. She would think about what would happen if she and Henry grew tired of each other. She would still be a vampire. Did she really want to live for generations alone? Watch her friends and family die?
I was distracted from these depressing thoughts by the sound of a whimper and then her voice calling out for Coreen. I couldn't watch her suffer when I could hopefully stop it. I knew she was probably relieving the moment of Coreen's death. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up with PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, from the whole experience.
I approached the bed and decided I really didn't want to wake her if I could avoid it. She was still exhausted. However, I needed to get her mind on a different track. Walking around the bed, I slid on top of the covers and moved up behind her. As I had hoped, I didn't even need to touch her. She scooted back against me so that we were spooning. She had gravitated to my warmth even though I wasn't under the covers. My name was whispered and a small smile curved her lips. I had clearly accomplished my mission. Her mind had moved on.
I woke to the warmth of Mike's body behind me. That was reassuring. The tears on my face were not. Coreen's death rushed back over me.
I glanced at the clock and realized only three hours had passed since Henry had brought me here. I was exhausted but sleep was obviously going to be elusive.
I looked around the dimly lit room and saw that same blur of color out of the corner of my eye that I had seen twice before. I tried focusing on it. I wished I had my glasses because I was certain they would help me make sense of what I was seeing. The colors almost made a figure. I quietly left the bed and walked in that direction. It wasn't long before I stopped dead in my tracks. Apparently, I was still sleeping. I looked over my shoulder expecting to see myself in the bed, but I wasn't. I took a deep breath and turned my head back to the front. The vision in front of me was a blurry picture of Coreen. But not the Coreen I had seen just this past night, in fact, not a Coreen I had ever seen. She was wearing a light blue dress, non-Goth make up, and had a smile on her face that I had never seen before.
"Coreen," I said aloud.
"Vicki, you won't believe all the things that have happened. It's so incredible."
Her voice wasn't heard aloud but I could hear it in my head. In one of my more pessimistic moments, I would say that I was just making up this whole experience. But I knew that I wouldn't have imagined this particular picture of Coreen. I would have imagined her looking like her usual self.
"Vicki, can you hear me? I've been working hard on making this connection. It's one of the cool things I've been told I can do."
"Yes, I can hear you," I said with tears streaming down my face. My knees weakened and I found myself kneeling on the floor. I tried to choke out an apology for what her involvement in my life had cost her but her chattering enthusiasm interrupted me.
"Vicki, thank you for everything you did for me. I don't think you had any idea about just how dark my life was before I met you. You gave me a purpose and you never looked down on me as if I were crazy. In fact, I lived more in the time I was with you than I had in all the time before that. I don't regret a thing. . . neither should you. Things worked out the way they were meant to work out. There are things I can't tell you but I can tell you that I'm happier now than I have ever been in my whole life. Can you feel it?"
On the heels of her question, I was bathed in a warm, giddy feeling. All of the things I normally worried or obsessed about were suddenly gone. I felt like I was safe and had completed my task successfully. The feeling was short lived and gradually faded away but I continued to feel a sense of peace. I was startled as warm hands wrapped around my shoulders from behind.
"Are you okay?," Mike's voice whispered in my ear as I continued to watch Coreen's image.
I managed to nod my head as Coreen's voice filled it again,
"You have a lot to do before you can join me, Vicki. Remember that I will be watching over you. As will Mike and Henry. You have a destiny to fulfill and they will both play a key part in it. Try very hard not to screw things up."
She gave me another smile and this one I was familiar with. It was the one she used whenever she thought she knew more than me about a particular topic.
"Get some sleep, you'll need it."
Those were the last words I heard before she turned and faded away. Even though her final words weren't particularly reassuring, I felt as though a million pounds had been lifted from my shoulders. I had actually imagined her trapped in some hell type dimension being punished for my stupidity. The fact that she was happy and in an entirely different place removed some of the guilt. That wasn't to say that I wouldn't trade my life to get her's back, but knowing she wasn't suffering made all of the difference.
I turned in Mike's arms and took in his worried expression. I gave him a ghost of a smile.
"I'm going to be fine Mike. It's going to take some time but everything will work out in the end the way it was meant to."
From the expression on Mike's face, he clearly thought I was rambling in exhaustion. He gave me a patronizing smile before helping me to my feet and tucking me back under the covers. Normally I would have smacked him for the expression he was wearing but I let him get away with it this time. Later, I would tell both Henry and Mike about my conversation with Coreen, but for now, I would just hold it close to my heart and take the reassurance it had provided.