Chapter 1 – Welcome home Barnabas Collins

"Children… get away from that man…" rang out a firm, distinctly feminine voice from behind Barnabas.

He turned towards the voice. Walking down the stairs was one of the most beautiful creatures he had ever seen.

A heart shaped face surrounded by long blonde curls, skin like porcelain and large bright blue eyes, currently narrowed in hostility and suspicion.

"He says his name is Barnabas Collins…" piped David behind him. "And I'm pretty sure he called me a hooker…" added Carolyn.

A sheepish look came over his face. His eyes flicked briefly toward the children, but were quickly drawn back to the blonde woman. He stared at her as she approached. "That will do Carolyn…" she said in a firm but gentle voice as she got close to him.

She was older than his first impression of her, but the faint lines on her face did nothing to diminish her beauty. And the figure under the conservative black dress she was wearing was slender and shapely. His eyes flicked down to the neckline of her dress before flicking back up to her face.
"A word please…" she said in a rather chilly voice

Elizabeth pushed the door of the drawing room firmly shut behind them. She didn't know what this handsome but oddly dressed stranger was after but she wasn't having any of it. Too many people had tried to take advantage of her family.
"If this is some kind of joke… consider it played. If it's money you are after… you've been misinformed" she said firmly. "But whoever you are you're not to look at those children again… am I clear?" she finished as she walked towards him.
She watched as he looked around the room. She couldn't believe how strongly he resembled the portrait over the mantelpiece. The portrait of Barnabas Collins. It was unnerving and uncanny.
"Your devotion to family… is admirable madam… and your suspicion understand" he said, touching a game of Operation and making it buzz. "A stranger arrives… claiming to be a distant relation. The question of motive is to be expected…" he added.
"As a Collins…" he said, looking at the photos on the table. She jumped slightly as he turned around. "Surely you are aware of the darkness that has long plagued family…" he said, slowly walking towards her"
His voice was like velvet, and he had the most piercing gaze she had ever seen. She felt like she could lose herself in those dark, almost hypnotic eyes… if she looked at them for too long.

"You mean our curse?" she said dryly as he walked around her, that unnerving gaze fixed on her. "Witches, ghosts, vampires…" she said as he walked away. "Myths…" she added dismissively.

She turned around, discreetly palming a letter knife from a nearby table. "And like so many before you… I suppose you are here to rid us of them… for a price of course…" she said, fixing him with a challenging stare.

Barnabas turned to the fireplace, sliding fingers over the woodwork.
"I can prove that I'm different…" he said persuasively. "Oh?" she said skeptically as he continued to examine the fireplace.
"Firstly I do not come seeking money… but rather to provide it…" he said in that velvety aristocratic voice. "Secondly… I know the body of this mansion as well I know my own…"
"Every nook… every corner… every secret!" he said, pressing a secret catch on the fireplace. A hidden door sprang open, revealing an array of colorful knitting. Liz's eyes widened slightly. How the hell did he know that?
"That's where I keep my macramé…" she said, managing to keep the surprise out of her voice. He couldn't be who he said he was… that was impossible… wasn't it?
"A disgraceful misuse…" he said as he turned to face her. Her expression was still suspicious but slightly less so. H
"Impressive… " she said crisply, walking towards him. "But there are plenty of old houses with hidden doors… I hope you have a thirdly" she said as she walked past him.

"Indeed" he said, looking at the fireplace again. "Tell me… what do you know of Barnabas Collins?" he asked.

"Just legends really…" she said, voice softening and becoming less frosty as she spoke of her ancestor. "He was confident and strong…" He looked around at her.

"Admired by all" she continued. "But he believed our family was cursed… and when his parents were killed he went mad. Went around insisting a witch had turned him into a vampire…" she said as he walked up behind her. He was standing so close it distracted for her for a moment.
"And what is known of his death?" he asked, looking at her over her shoulder.

"Nothing… not that I can think of…" she said, wondering why this stranger made her feel so nervous… so uneasy. She had dealt with many of his like. But this one was different…
"That… madam…is because he never died" he said, turning back to the fireplace. The ended of his cane went in a hole in the floor and he twisted it sharply. She watched as the clouds and sea in the design moved, and the wooden wolves howled. The fireplace slid back to reveal a set of stairs.
"I am Barnabas Collins" he said, firmly and with utter conviction. Her eyes widened in shock and she stared at him. She couldn't believe it. The man she had always was here… here… in her drawing room.
Which mean he had never been mad at all. "That means you're…" she said, still staring at him.

"A vampire madam… yes… and most regrettably so" he said softly, voice full of sadness. Her grip tightened on the knife behind her back. He was family yes… and undeniably handsome… but he was dangerous. Very dangerous. She had sensed it the moment she saw him.
"But more importantly I am a Collins" he pointed out persuasively. "And I give you my word of honor… neither you… nor any under this roof… need fear my cursed nature."

She looked into those dark eyes. He was either a very, very good liar… or he meant what he said. And somehow she couldn't help believe him. But she still didn't put down the knife.

"Family is the only real wealth, he would often remark. But clearly he was not opposed to other kinds" Barnabas said as he unlocked the door to the vault and led Elizabeth inside.
He was surprised how well she was taking this. He had half expected her to call him crazy and throw him out of the house… or faint. But not only had she kept her composure… she seemed to actually believe him.

That… along with her obvious devotion to her family… had definitely impressed him. And he was undeniably flattered by her response to him asking if she knew of Barnabas Collins.

"Oh my god…" she said as she got a good look at the contents of the vault. "We've been sitting on top of a fortune… all these years"

He put on a ruby pendant that was a particular favorite of his and turned to face her.
"Know this…" he said, eyes meeting hers as he started to walk forward. "I mean to stay. I mean to be part of this family again."
"On one condition" she said firmly. "Yes…" he said, wondering what she would ask of him.
"Promise me that this… all of this… will remain our secret" she said in a crisp, no nonsense voice. He could tell she meant it. She clearly wasn't a woman to mess around with. He felt his respect for her go up even more.

"So be it…" he said, holding out a hand. "Partners?" he asked, a slight smile curving his lips. She looked from his hand to his face, hesitating a moment before slowly taking his hand.
A smile spread over her face. "Welcome home Barnabas Collins…"