I wrote this story for a very special friend of mine, who has been there, time and again for me when I needed someone to wrap their arms around me and to listen and to care. I just wanted to say thank you.
One more Knight (01/01) Rosemary Beard ©1997
She stood staring blindly out of the window at the gray November day so common in this part of the country. Rain gently skittered down the pane and danced in the street, but its beauty escaped her. Her mind was far away focused on a day that seemed a forever ago. She could feel his arms around her, hear his words of love being whispered in her ear. A single tear ran slowly down her face as she turned from the window.
"He's gone, Sydney." she said to the cat curled up lazily on the couch. "I'll never see him again."
Her heart felt like lead in her chest , as she walked over and picked up the sleeping feline. Stroking its soft fur, she went over the events of the last few days in her mind. Tracy's shooting and death had taken quite a toll on Nick. Nat knew he blamed himself, yet could not convince him of his innocence. He had threatened to leave once before after the death of a friend, yet she hadn't really believed he would do it, until now.
The investigation that followed had cleared him, yet he remained convinced that he had been the cause of the tragedy. LaCroix ,too, had vanished. Nat was sure that they had moved on together, but was puzzled as to why Nick would rejoin his master in a life that only caused him pain. She had done all she could in her search for a cure, yet it remained beyond her ability to bring about Nick's return to mortality.
"Why didn't he at least say good-bye." she asked the cat, half expecting a reply. "If I could just have said good-bye."
Tears were now flowing freely down her face as she set the cat back on the couch and watched it settle into a dreamless sleep. As she walked across the room a flash of silver caught her eye. Reaching down she picked up the silver pillbox she had given him. Opening the lid, she read the inscription inside.
Nat closed her eyes and hugged the box to her chest. He had told her of his love, held her in his arms, even kissed her. She stood there reliving it. Nick had attempted to wipe away her memories of that night, to protect her, yet the memories had returned. They were all that remained besides the empty feeling inside her. He had become her world and now that world had vanished.
She wondered what it was like to die. Just slip out of this world quietly with no one to mourn her passing. Death didn't frighten her, she saw it everyday in her work. It seemed so easy to just lay it down as her friend Laura had done and move on to whatever came next. She knew that this life was not all there was, that something else waited beyond. Another lifetime perhaps? Maybe one in which she could be with Nick.
Everyone she cared about was gone. Schanke, Tracy, Laura, her brother Richard and now Nick. What more did life hold for her? She had vainly hung on to the hope that one day she and Nick could be together, and now that hope had vanished. There was nothing left in this life for her, why not just do as Nick had done and move on? Nat walked to the window and glanced out into the street. The rain was falling heavier now and the sun would be setting soon. Turning around, she leaned on the window sill and looked around the empty room. She felt a sudden need to go somewhere, anywhere, the walls seemed to close in around her. She moved quickly across the room and got her coat. Shoving her arms in the sleeves, she rushed out of the door and closed it quietly behind her.
Nat walked for hours, looking on the world with unseeing eyes. She had gone to the loft , hoping to find that this was all just a bad dream from which she would soon awaken. Yet the loft was empty, stripped of all furnishings, all traces of Nick and his life here. It was as if he had never been. The emptiness of the rooms echoed the emptiness in her heart. This was all that was left to her, to spend her remaining days in a prison of loneliness from which there was but one escape.
Nat walked on, the rain soaking her coat. She felt the evening air on her face, a feeling of cold engulfing her, chilling her to the very core of her being. Emptiness and a feeling of unending loneliness were her only companions and the thought of a lifetime spent in their company was more than she could bear. She knew what she would do, and with a determination borne of her conviction that this was the only way left to her, she turned and began the long walk home.
Nat stood staring at the small bottle in her hand. In a little while it would all be over, she would be free from a life that no longer held any hope for her. Grasping the bottle she slowly removed the lid and emptied its contents. The small capsules cascaded out across the table in front of her. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as she reached out and picked some up . Tears formed in her eyes.
"Good-bye Nick." she whispered.
Taking a deep breath, she popped a few of the capsules in her mouth and swallowed them. They caught in her throat and she reached for the glass of water standing nearby. Her hands were shaking as she brought it to her mouth and took a long drink. Her tears ran slowly down her face as she looked at the remaining capsules in her hand. Natalie closed her eyes and brought them up to her lips.
"Nat." a voice whispered from somewhere behind her.
She opened her eyes and turned in the direction of the voice. Her eyes grew wide with disbelief.
"Nick?" she asked, "Nick, is that you?" Stepping out of the shadows he smiled at her and held out his arms. "Nick!" she repeated and stood up so quickly she knocked over the table, sending the capsules flying to the floor.
Natalie ran to where he stood and threw herself into his arms.
"Nick." she sobbed, burying her face in his shoulder, "I thought you were gone for good. I thought I'd never see you again."
Nick stood holding her to him, his cheek against her hair.
"Shhh. I 'm here." he said, "I've come back."
Gently he took her tear stained face in his hands and brought it up to his.
"I love you Nat." he whispered as his lips met hers.
Natalie clung to him, still not sure this was real. Nick released her lips and looked into her eyes.
"I couldn't leave you." he told her, "I tried, but I couldn't stay away. Nat, come with me. We can start the search for a cure again. I can't go on without you. I need you with me. Please, please say you'll come."
Nat looked up at him. She loved him more than life itself, how could she refuse such an offer. Placing her arms around his neck and pulling him down to her, she whispered as their lips met again,
"I'll get my coat."