A Mother Always Knows
Rosemary Beard 1999
Sequel to: "Nothing is Impossible"
Standard Disclaimers Apply.
Special thanks to Eric McCann and Felicia Olivier, my beta readers.
A Mother Always Knows
Lucien woke with a start. Reaching out, it took him a moment to realize that he was alone. "Claire," he called out, only to be greeted with silence. A small noise, like that of a whimpering child, caught his attention. Rising quickly, he made his way to the door. "Claire." He said once again, opening the door. In an instant a blinding light caught him and knocked him back into the room. "Claire!" he shouted, slamming the door shut. "Lucien?" a voice asked from beyond the door, "Is that you?" Claire looked suspiciously at the door and paused a moment. Wrapping her child securely in her arms, she rose from her seat in the corner and made her way to the window. Reaching up she drew closed the heavy draperies and walked to the door. "Lucien?" she called out. The door opened and he burst into the room and looked down at his wife. "That dream again?" he asked her, seeing the look of terror in her eyes. "It's not a dream." She said flatly, "It's real, he was here, he was trying to take the baby." She hugged the sleeping child tightly to her. "Look around you, " her husband told her, taking hold of her shoulders." Listen to me! There is no one here, no one is trying to take our daughter. It's only a dream, a nightmare. It will pass." "But..." she began. "It is NOT real. There is no one else here, "he said, taking the child from her. Cradling Laura carefully in his arms, Lucien walked across the room and laid the child in her crib. The small figure stirred momentarily, placed her thumb in her mouth and settled back into a peaceful sleep. Lucien smiled and walked back to where Claire was standing. Taking her in his arms, he pulled her toward him. "She is safe here, as are you. No one can harm you and no one will take our daughter. Now come back to bed, you need rest, "he said forcefully, leading her back through the door to the adjoining room. "Perhaps you should talk to your doctor friend, maybe she can help you find out what's causing these nightmares, or give you something to help you sleep, since you will not believe me." "Perhaps," she said wearily, climbing into bed. Closing her eyes, she sighed. Lucien held her against him as she drifted off to sleep. Hearing her deep, even breathing, he closed his eyes and drifted into a dreamless sleep.
"Lucien is sure it's only a nightmare." Claire told her friend, "But I know different, I KNOW it's not. I can't explain how, I just KNOW." "He could be right, dreams are sometimes very real and very vivid. Our minds have a way of..." she began. "No, it's not like that." Claire said firmly, "This is real. I can hear him breathing, I see his eyes, they are golden, a vampire's eyes. I feel his hatred for me. I know he's real and he means us harm." "But who? Who would dare threaten you or LaCroix's child ? He'd have to be out of his mind." Nat said. "I don't know who." Claire said sadly, "And until I find out, Lucien won't believe it's not a dream." "I would think that a vampire of his age would know when another of his kind is around." Nat said, puzzled. "I don't understand it myself, but it's true. I know he's there, but Lucien senses nothing." Claire said. Sighing, she walked across the room. "Maybe you are both right, maybe it is just a nightmare. Perhaps I'm just overtired and worrying needlessly. He suggested that maybe you could give me something to help me sleep, you know, keep away the nightmares so I can get some rest?" " I don't know, drugs aren't always the answer, a mild sedative perhaps, but only for a few days. It would be too easy to become dependent on them." Nat said, crossing the room to a locked cabinet. "Anything you can do." Claire said, "I'm just so tired. I stay awake all night, keeping watch, then sleep in a fully sunlit room during the day, IF I can sleep at all. I just can't seem to shake this feeling." Nat handed her a small bottle. "Take one of these before going to bed, it should help. There are only four there, that should be enough. And Claire? Try not to worry, I'm sure it's just an overactive, overtired imagination." "Thanks." Claire said, hugging Nat, "I'm sure you're right. A little rest and this will all be forgotten. I should get back now, Laura can be a handful and Lucien has a club to run." Claire walked to the door. Turning, she waved. "Thanks again," she called out as she disappeared through the door. Claire made her way out onto the street and hailed a cab. Just as she was reaching out to open its door, the feeling hit her again, she was being watched. A cold chill crept down her spine as she looked around. Seeing nothing, she shrugged to herself and climbed into the cab. She leaned forward and gave the driver directions, then sat back, her eyes taking in the moving scenery, turning several times to look behind them, sure she saw a flash of something. Once they arrived at their destination, she climbed out, paid the cabby and hurried into the safety of the Raven. Claire made her way over to where Lucien stood. Smiling, she kissed his cheek and showed him the bottle Nat had given her. "Now, perhaps we will have no more nightmares?" he said, looking down at her. "The baby is asleep, I put her in her crib an hour ago." Drawing her into his arms, he said quietly, "We have a little while before the club opens, and we haven't had much time together lately." Claire smiled. "Just what did you have in mind sir?" She entwined her arms around his neck, and drew him closer to her. "Perhaps you could show me?" Lucien lowered his head and kissed her. Sweeping her up into his arms, he carried her down the hallway, into the room they shared and closed the door behind them.
Time passed quickly, it was a night like all the other nights. Claire sat at the bar, sipping from a small glass of Lucien's special vintage, wondering if she'd ever return to what she had been. She hated being trapped in the middle, neither mortal nor immortal. Perhaps when Laura got a little older, Claire would go to him and ask Lucien to bring her across again. She wondered if her condition was the cause of the nightmares, her doubt that she would return to being a vampire overwhelming her, planting in her the fear she could not protect her child from the others. Claire yawned. Looking around she could see that the crowd was beginning to thin out. "It must be close to dawn." she thought to herself. Rising from her seat, she made her way across to Lucien's booth. She gave him a little wave and hurried down the hallway to Laura's room. Quietly she opened the door and slipped in. She walked softly over to the crib and looked down at the sleeping infant, a smile crossing her features. Claire reached out and gently stroked the soft, dark hair. Laura stirred and opened her eyes. She smiled up at her mother and began making cooing noises, her hands opening and closing as her small arms reached out. Claire picked up the child and kissed her head. "Someone needs a change, don't they?" She murmured quietly to the baby. Laura smiled back at her, seemingly in agreement. Claire busied herself with her daughter's needs, talking to her as she worked quickly. "Are we hungry?" she asked, picking up a bottle from the warmer and making her way out into the club, the baby in her arms. "Would you like to see Daddy?" Claire tapped gently at the door to the booth. Lucien looked up, smiled and motioned for her to enter. "Here we are." She cooed at the child, "Here's our daddy." Placing her into his arms she asked, "Hold her for me for a few minutes, I'm going to feed her." Lucien looked down at his daughter, her bright blue eyes focused on his face. He began stroking her cheek with his finger. "And how are we today?" he asked. Laura smiled up at him and grasped his finger. She drew it to her mouth and began sucking on it. Claire giggled. "She has an appetite like her father's, only her aim needs improvement." Lucien flashed her a look and went back to watching his daughter happily sucking on his finger. How like her mother this child was, with her dark curls and sweet face. He would do whatever it took see that she grew to be someone of whom he could be proud. Claire pulled up a chair beside him, threw a blanket over her shoulder and tested the bottle's temperature. Taking the child from him, she began feeding her. Claire was aware that Lucien was watching her. She met his gaze and smiled He leaned forward and kissed her, then turned to give his last monologue for the night. As soon as he'd finished, he snapped off the switches and began clearing away the night's work. He'd be closing down the club soon too, and then perhaps he could get Claire to rest for the day. He began gathering up the tapes and CDs that were scattered around the console. Placing them back in their racks, he turned to Claire who had finished feeding the baby and was preparing her for bed. "It will be dawn soon, you really should get some rest." "I have a few things to take care of, your daughter for one, before I can rest." Claire told him, and hurried from the room. How could she explain to him that she was afraid to close her eyes? Reaching Laura's nursery, she busied herself with settling the child down for sleep. She hesitated to put the child in her bed right away, choosing instead to rock the baby to sleep, anything to delay having to close her eyes. Lucien popped his head around the corner and stood watching his family. Laura was fast asleep, her head resting on Claire's shoulder, a contented look on her face. "Don't you think she'd be more comfortable in her bed?" he asked. Claire reluctantly stood and walked over to the crib. Lying the baby down, she covered her with a light blanket and turned to her husband. "I have a few more things to do." She lied, "I'll be right there." "Nothing that can't wait, I'm sure." He told her. Taking her by the hand he led her from the room and closed the door behind her. "Have you taken the medication your doctor friend gave you?" "No, not yet. I was hoping I wouldn't need it." Claire sighed. Lucien looked down at her and she could see the concern on his face. "Oh all right, I'll get it." She said and walked to the bar. Slowly she opened the bottle and took one of the capsules. Washing it down with a glass of water, she looked at her husband. "Happy now?" she asked him sarcastically. "If it keeps the nightmare away, I'll be ecstatic. Now, let's get some sleep shall we?" Claire shrugged and followed him down the hallway. She knew she would have to face it sooner or later. If she could only find out why it was happening and do something to stop it, but this way she was only delaying the inevitable. She undressed quickly and pulled her nightgown over her head. Putting on a weak smile, she climbed into bed and kissed Lucien. "Goodnight", she whispered. Closing her eyes, she settled herself in and drifted off to sleep.
Claire opened her eyes. The room was in complete darkness and she was alone. Throwing off the blankets, she rose from the bed. "I must have slept all day." She said to herself as she reached for her robe. "Lucien is already up." Tying the belt of her robe securely around her waist, she walked over and opened the door to the adjoining room. This room too was in total darkness. She could hear Laura crying and walked toward crib. "Mommy's coming, I'm right here Sweetheart." She said as she reached for her daughter's blanket. Pulling it back she gasped. The baby was gone! "Lucien must have her." She told herself, and walked out into the hallway that led to the club. She could hear the baby's cry taking on a more urgent tone. "Poor dear, she must be hungry." Claire said, "Mommy's on her way." She called out and quickened her pace. Suddenly she heard laughter coming from all around her, a deep sinister laugh. Claire felt a chill race up her spine. She ran toward the sound of her child's cry. "Lucien!" she called out. Silence greeted her. "Laura! Where are you?" Claire stepped out into the dimly lit club. "Where is everyone? What's going on?" She was frightened now, this was not right. "Lucien!" she screamed, "Lucien!" She heard breathing and turned in the direction of the sound, only to be greeted by a pair of golden eyes, staring at her from out of the darkness. "Who are you?" she pleaded, "and where is my baby?" Fear gripped her like a vice as she watched the eyes come closer. "Who ARE you?" she asked again. "You don't remember me? Oh, I AM hurt." The voice answered her. " All that we meant to each other, and all that we shared, and you don't remember me. I am wounded, deeply." "Stop playing games and answer my question." Claire said, becoming increasingly more fearful. She tried to take a step backward, hoping to escape from this intruder. A strangled cry escaped her lips as she found herself unable to move, the eyes coming closer and still closer. She could feel the evil emanating from those eyes, yet she could not look away, could not move, could not escape. "Who are you?" she whispered, tears running down her cheeks, "And what do you want with me and my baby?" "With that "child", nothing. I want nothing to do with that half mortal being you have created, my purpose is with YOU. The child was just a way to get to you." the voice growled, "and I will have my revenge." The shadowy figure stepped out into the light. Claire stood staring at him, her eyes wide with terror. "YOU" she whispered, "but how? You're..." "Dead? I believe that is the word you are searching for. You were sloppy my dear, you left the job undone, and I have returned to say 'Thank you'. " Claire wanted to run, but she was rooted to the spot. "Lucien! Lucien!!" she screamed. "Help me!!" The figure reached out and took hold of her shoulders, drawing her to him. She could see his golden eyes, hear his low, sadistic laughter as he bared his fangs and sunk them into her soft flesh. "Lucien!!!" she cried.
Claire felt herself being shaken. She opened her eyes and looked up into the face of her husband. "Lucien!" she whispered and threw her arms around him, sobbing wildly. "Its HIM, he's here, he's found me!" "Who's here? Who's found you? Claire, you're dreaming again, there is no one here!" he told her, gathering her into his arms. "I saw him, he's come back for me. He's going to kill me!" "WHO??" Lucien asked her firmly. Claire looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. "James." She whispered. "James has returned, he's using the baby to get to me. He told me he wants revenge for what I did to him. Lucien, he's going to kill me." "James is dead. You saw him die. I disposed of the body myself." He said coldly. "He told me that I had been sloppy and didn't finish the job properly." Claire sobbed, "he's here and he's a vampire and he wants revenge!" "It was a DREAM, and nothing more. He's dead. He's no threat to you." "NO!" Claire sobbed, "It was real, he was here. I know he was, I can still feel his hands on me, his fangs buried in my flesh." Her hand went up to her neck, "See?" she showed him the blood on her fingers. "He WAS here!" "A blood sweat, nothing more, there are no marks on your neck." He told her, examining her skin carefully. Claire looked at him, "you're sure?" she asked. Without waiting for an answer, she threw back the blankets and crossed the room. Pulling a small hand mirror from the drawer, she turned her head this way and that, examining her neck carefully. "But I could FEEL it." she said, puzzled. "He was going to drain me." "The mind can do strange things." He told her quietly. "You can see for yourself, there are no marks, and James has been dead for three years. It was only a bad dream." He said, moving across the room to gather her into his arms. "You are overtired and what you are feeling is the buried guilt because of what happened. You had to do it, he robbed you of your mortality, he tried to kill you. You had no choice but to kill him first. You must let go of that guilt and move on." Claire looked up at him, tears gathering in her eyes. There was still so much she didn't understand, so much she still had to learn. She wanted to believe him, believe that it had only been a trick of an overtired mind. She just didn't know what to believe. Perhaps she was losing her mind. Sobbing she buried her face against his shoulder.
Claire busied herself with odd jobs around the club, stopping frequently to check on her child. She was so desperately tired it was all she could do to keep her eyes open, but she dared not sleep. She poured herself another cup of coffee and sat herself down on one of the bar stools. Her eyes felt heavy as she gulped the dark liquid. She hadn't slept more than a couple hours at any one time since the dreams started. Leaning her chin on her hand, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. How could she go on like this? She could feel herself drifting off to sleep. How wonderful it felt to just let go and let sleep take over, so warm and welcoming. Sighing, she let it overtake her. "Just a short nap." she told herself as she surrendered to the arms of Morpheus. Claire opened her eyes and found herself alone in the dark. She could feel the cold hatred as a pair of golden eyes stared out at her. "You're not real, this is only a dream." she said, willing herself to believe it, her breath coming in short gasps as the eyes drew closer. "I'm afraid you are wrong my dear. I'm as real as you are, and this is NOT a dream." a voice spat at her, filling the room with its presence. "I grow tired of this litttle game. You've lost and I will collect my prize." Claire tried to rise from the stool only to find herself paralyzed by the eyes that held her attention. She felt as if her limbs were made of iron. "I have to wake up." she told herself. "This is only a dream. I'm having another nightmare." Struggling ,she managed to rise to her feet and move slowly away from the form appearing before her. Laughter filled the room as her heart raced in her chest, her leaden feet refusing to carry her to safety. She knew now that this was no dream. "Help me!" she shouted "Someone please help me!" Claire closed her eyes, trying to block out the sight before her. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "Help me." she sobbed, "please, someone help me." She could feel him moving closer, his hatred engulfing her, his laughter turning her blood to ice. She was helpless against him, and he would exact his revenge. She resigned herself to her fate, knowing escape was impossible when she heard a sound. It started as a low growl and grew in intensity until it seemed to vibrate through her and fill the room, coming from everywhere at once. Opening her eyes, she saw LaCroix standing beside her, his eyes fully golden and a look of pure evil in his eyes. "You shall not have her!" he snarled, "She belongs to me!" "Lucien" she whispered, "save me."
Lucien stepped in front of Claire, sheilding her with his body as the younger vampire moved swiftly forward. "You'll not save her this time old man." James growled at him. Striking out, he caught LaCroix across the face, sending him flying across the room. Taking Claire by the arm, James drew her close to him. "You will not escape me again." he hissed. Claire struggled in his arms, trying desperately to free herself from his grip. James laughed, and prepared to claim his victory. "Claire!" Lucien shouted. He moved across the floor and threw himself against his opponent, freeing Claire and sending her sprawling across the floor. In a movement so swift it was almost unseen, Lucien picked up a stool and broke it across the bar. Circling his nemesis, he struck out repeatedly, only to miss the target. James laughed as he wrenched the make-shift stake from Lucien's grasp and threw it casually across the floor. "You can't stop me, I am far stronger than you and I shall have her. You only delay the inevitable." Grasping LaCroix by the throat, he lifted him off the floor and flung him as if he were a child's toy. Reaching down, he picked up the remains of the broken stool and moved to where Lucien lay. Raising it over his head, he brought down a shattered piece and buried it into the older vampire's chest. "NO!!!!!!!!!" screamed Claire, as she struggled to her feet. In a blind rage she flung herself into James, knocking him off balance. Summoning all her strength, she picked up a bottle and hit him repeatedly, cutting him as the bottle shattered. Stumbling backward, he fell over Lucien's semi-conscious form. Claire picked up the leg of the broken stool and lunged at him, burying it deep into his chest. James lay gasping in surprise and shock as Claire stumbled over to where Lucien lay dying. "Don't leave me, " she sobbed, frantically grasping at the wooden pieces still imbedded in his chest. "Don't die!" Ripping open his shirt, she scanned for any remaining pieces, pulling them from his bloody flesh. Stumbling to her feet, she ran to the bar and grabbed a bottle. Carrying it over to his lifeless form, she struggled to remove the cork. In a final, desperate move to save him, she broke the bottle and held it over him allowing the contents to spill into his open mouth. He moaned softly and began to stir, the blood aiding in his recovery. Claire breathed a sigh of relief and rose to her feet. Walking past the bar, she disappeared into one of the back rooms. A few minutes later she returned craddling something wrapped in cloth in her arms. With slow, deliberate movements, she walked across the room and stood over James. A look of horror crossed his face as she unwrapped the fire axe and raised it over her head. A stiffled cry escaped his lips as she brought it down with all the force she could muster, severing his head cleanly from his body.
Lucien put his arm around Claire as they stared into the bonfire. "I should have believed you. A mother always knows her own child." "How could you know?" Claire asked him, laying her head on his chest. "He was a hired killer. He easily managed to hide himself in life, it would have been a simple matter to hide himself in death." "I should have made sure, I should have done this the first time." "What was it you told me about letting go of guilt?" she asked him innocently, a gleam in her eye. Lucien pulled her closer to him and kissed the top of her head. "Point taken." he said simply, "I'll scatter his ashes and we will forget his existence." Claire looked up at him, "Lucien," she whispered. " Nat is taking care of Laura for us, and there is something I want you to do for me." "Anything my love, you know that." "Bring me across." she said, "When I almost lost you tonight I realized I don't want to remain as I am, I love you and I want to be with you forever." Lucien held her at arms length. "Are you sure? " he asked, looking into her eyes. Claire looked up at him, love shining in her eyes, without hesitation she said, "Please, bring me back across." He drew her into his arms, and holding her closely, he sank his fangs into her soft flesh making her once again his.