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Soulmate (Chapter 6)

Hannah opened her eyes.

"Oh, thank God," Paul said. He seemed to be almost crying. "Oh, thank God. Do you see me? Do you

know who you are?"

"I'm wet," Hannah said slowly, feeling dazed. She touched her face. Her hair was dripping. Paul was

holding a water glass. "Why am I wet?"

"I had to wake you up." Paul sagged to the floor beside the couch. "What's your name? What year is it?"

"My name is Hannah Snow," Hannah said, still feeling dazed and bodiless. "And it's-" Suddenly memory

rushed out of the fog at her. She sat bolt upright, tears starting to stream from her eyes. "What was all

that?"

"I don't know," Paul whispered. He leaned his head against the couch, then looked up. "You just kept

talking-you were telling that story as if you

were there. It was really happening to you. And nothing I could do would break the trance. I tried

everything-I thought you were never going to come out of it. And then you started sobbing and I couldn't

make you stop."

"I felt as if it were happening to me," Hannah said. Her head ached; her whole body felt bruised with

tension. And she was reeling with memories that were perfectly real and perfectly hers… and

impossible.

"That was like no past life regression I've ever read about," Paul said, his voice agitated. "The detail…

you knew everything. Have you ever studied-is there any way you could have known those kinds of

things?"

"No." Hannah was just as agitated, "I've never studied humans in the Stone Age-and this was real. It

wasn't something I was making up as I was going along."

They were both talking at once. "That guy," Paul was saying. "He's the one you're afraid of, isn't he? But,

look, you know, regression is one thing… past lives is another thing… but this is crazy."

"I don't believe in vampires," Hannah was saying at the same time. "Because that's what that guy was

supposed to be, wasn't it? Of course it was. Caveman vampire. He was probably the first one. And I

don't believe in reincarnation."

"Just plain crazy. This is crazy."

"I agree."

They both took a breath, looking at each other. There was a long silence.

Hannah put a hand to her forehead. "I'm … really tired."

"Yeah. Yeah, I can understand that." Paul looked around the room, nodded twice, then got up. "Well,

we'd better get you home. We can talk about all this later, figure out what it really means. Some kind of

subconscious fixation… archetypical symbolism… something." He ran out of air and shook his head.

"Now, you feel all right, don't you? And you're not going to worry about this? Because there's nothing to

worry about."

"I know. I know."

"At least we know we don't have to worry about vampires attacking you." He laughed. The laugh was

strained.

Hannah couldn't manage even a smile.

There was a brief silence, then Paul said, "You know, I think I'll drive you home. That would be good.

That would be a good idea."

"That would be fine," Hannah whispered.

He held out a hand to help her off the couch. "By the way, I'm really sorry I had to get you all wet."

"No. It was good you did. I was feeling so awful- and there were worse things about to happen."

Paul blinked. "I'm sorry?"

Hannah looked at him helplessly, then away. "There were worse things about to happen. Terrible things.

Really, really awful things."

"How do you know that?"

"I don't know. But there were."

Paul walked her to her doorstep. And Hannah was glad of it.

Once inside the house, she went straight down the hall to her mother's study. It was a cluttered

comfortable room with books piled on the floor and the tools

of a paleontologist scattered around. Her mother was at her desk, bending over a microscope.

"Is that you, Hannah?" she asked without looking up. "I've got some marvelous sections of haversian

canals in duckbill bones. Want to see?"

"Oh… not now. Maybe later," Hannah said. She wanted very much to tell her mother about what had

happened, but something was stopping her. Her mother was so sensible, so practical and intelligent….

She'll think I'm crazy. And she'll be right. And then she'll be appalled, wondering how she could have

given birth to an insane daughter.

That was an exaggeration, and Hannah knew it, but somehow she still couldn't bring herself to tell. Since

her father had died five years ago, she and her mother had been almost like friends-but that didn't mean

she didn't want her mother's approval. She did. She desperately wanted her mother to be proud of her,

and to realize that she could handle things on her own.

It had been the same with the notes-she'd never told about finding them. For all her mom knew,

Hannah's only problem was bad dreams.

"So how did it go tonight?" her mother asked now, eye still to the microscope. "That Dr. Winfield is so

young-I hope he's not too inexperienced."

Last chance. Take it or lose it. "Uh, it went fine," Hannah said weakly.

"That's good. There's chicken in the crockpot. I'll be out in a little while; I just want to finish this."

"Okay. Great. Thanks." Hannah turned and stumbled out, completely frustrated with herself.

You know Mom won't really be awful, she scolded

herself as she fished a piece of chicken out of the crockpot. So tell her. Or call Chess and tell her.

They'll make things better. They'll tell you how impossible all this stuff about vampires and past lives is. …

Yes, and that's the problem. Hannah sat frozen, holding a fork with a bite of chicken on it motionless in

front of her.

I don't believe in vampires or reincarnation. But I know what I saw. I know things about Hana . ., things

that weren't even in the story I told Paul. I know she wore a tunic and leggings of roe deer hide. I know

she ate wild cattle and wild boar and salmon and hazel nuts. I know she made tools out of elk antler and

deer bone and flint…. God, I could pick up a flint cobble and knock off a set of blades and scrapers

right now. I know I could. I can feel how to in my hands.

She put the fork down and looked at her hands. They were shaking slightly.

And I know she had a beautiful singing voice, a voice like crystal….

Like the crystal voice in my mind.

So what do I do when they tell me it's impossible? Argue with them? Then I'll really be crazy, like those

people in institutions who think they're Napoleon or Cleopatra.

God, I hope I haven't been Cleopatra.

Half laughing and half crying, she put her face in her hands.

And what about him?

The blond stranger with the bottomless eyes. The guy Hana didn't have a name for, but Hannah knew as

Thierry.

If the rest of it is real, what about him?

He's the one I'm afraid of, Hannah thought. But he didn't seem so bad. Dangerous, but not evil. So why

do I think of him as evil?

And why do I want him anyway?

Because she did want him. She remembered the feelings of Hana standing next to the stranger in the

moonlight. Confusion… fear… and attraction. That magnetism between them. The extraordinary things

that happened when he touched her hand.

He came to the Three Rivers and turned her life upside down…. The Three Rivers. Oh, God-why

didn't I think of that before? The note. One of the notes said "Remember the Three Rivers."

Okay. So I've remembered it. So what now?

She had no idea. Maybe she was supposed to understand everything now, and know what to do … but

she didn't. She was more confused than ever.

Of course, a tiny voice like a cool dark wind in her brain said, you didn't remember all of it yet. Did you?

Paul woke you up before you got to the end.

Shut up, Hannah told the voice.

But she couldn't stop thinking. All night she was restless, moving from one room to another, avoiding her

mother's questions. And even after her mother went to bed, Hannah found herself wandering aimlessly

through the house, straightening things, picking up books and putting them down again.

I've got to sleep. That's the only thing that will help me feel better, she thought. But she couldn't make

herself sit, much less lie down.

Maybe I need some air.

It was a strange thought. She'd never actually felt the need to go outside for the sole purpose of

breathing fresh air-in Montana you did that all day long.

But there was something pulling at her, drawing her to go outside. It was like a compulsion and she

couldn't resist.

I'll just go on the back porch. Of course there's nothing to be scared of out there. And if I go outside,

then I'll prove there isn't, and then I can go to sleep.

Without stopping to consider the logic of this, she opened the back door.

It was a beautiful night. The moon threw a silver glow over everything and the horizon seemed very far

away. Hannah's backyard blended into the wild bluestem and pine grass of the prairie. The wind carried

the clean pungent smell of sage.

We'll have spring flowers soon, Hannah thought. Asters and bluebells and little golden buttercups.

Everything will be green for a while. Spring's a time for life, not death.

And I was right to come out. I feel more relaxed now. I can go back inside and lie down….

It was at that moment that she realized she was being watched.

It was the same feeling she'd been having for weeks, the feeling that there were eyes in the darkness and

they were fixed on her. Chills of adrenaline ran through Hannah's body.

Don't panic, she told herself. It's just a feeling. There's probably nothing out here.

She took a slow step backward toward the door. She didn't want to move too quickly. She had the

irrational certainty that if she turned and ran, whatever was watching her would spring out and get her

before she got the door open.

At the same time she edged backward, her eyes and ears were straining so hard that she saw gray

spots and she heard a thin ringing. She was trying, desperately, to catch some sign of movement, some

sound. But everything was still and the only noises were the normal distant noises of the outdoors.

Then she saw the shadow.

Black against the lighter blackness of the night, it was moving among the bluestem grass. And it was big.

Tall. Not a cat or other small animal. Big as a person.

It was coming toward her.

Hannah thought she might faint.

Don't be ridiculous, a sharp voice in her head told her. Get inside. You're standing here in the light from

the windows; you're a perfect target. Get inside fast and lock the door.

Hannah whirled, and knew even as she did it that she wouldn't be fast enough. It was going to jump at

her exposed back. It was going to …

"Wait," came a voice out of the darkness. "Please. Wait."

A male voice. Unfamiliar. But it seemed to grab Hannah and hold her still.

"I won't hurt you. I promise."

Runrunrunrun! Hannah's mind told her.

Very slowly, one hand on the door knob, she turned around.

She watched the dark figure coming out of the shadows to her. She didn't try to get away again. She

Had a dizzying feeling that fate had caught up with her.

The ground sloped, so the light from the house windows showed her his boots first, then the legs of his

jeans. Normal walking boots like any Montanan might wear. Ordinary jeans-long legs. He was tall.

Then the light showed his shirt, which was an ordinary T-shirt, a little cold to be walking around at night

in, but nothing startling. And then his shoulders, which were nice ones.

Then, as he stepped to the base of the porch, she saw his face.

He looked better than when she had seen him last. His white-blond hair wasn't crazily messed up; it fell

neatly over his forehead. He wasn't splattered with mud and his eyes weren't wild. They were dark and

so endlessly sad that it was like a knife in the heart just to see him.

But it was unmistakably the boy from her hypnosis session.

"Oh, God," Hannah said. "Oh, God." Her knees were giving out.

It's real. It's real. He's real and that means… it's all true.

"Oh, God." She was trembling violently and she had to put pressure on her knees to keep standing. The

world was changing around her, and it was the most disorienting thing she'd ever experienced. It was as if

the fabric of her universe was actually moving-pulsing and shifting to accommodate the new truths.

Nothing was ever going to be the same again.

"Are you all right?" The stranger moved toward her and Hannah recoiled instinctively.

"Don't touch me!" she gasped, and at the same moment her legs gave out. She slid to the floor of the

porch and stared at the boy whose face was now approximately level with hers.

"I'm sorry," he almost whispered. "I know what

you're going through. You're just realizing now, aren't you?"

Hannah said, whispering to herself, "It's all true."

"Yes." The dark eyes were so sad.

"It's… I've had past lives."

"Yes." He squatted on the ground, looking down as if he couldn't keep staring at her face anymore. He

picked up a pebble, examined it. Hannah noticed that his fingers were long and sensitive-looking.

"You're an Old Soul," he said quietly. "You've had lots of lives."

"I was Hana of the Three Rivers."

His fingers stopped rolling the pebble. "Yes."

"And you're Thierry. And you're a …"

He didn't look up. "Go on. Say it."

Hannah couldn't. Her voice wouldn't form the word.

The stranger-Thierry-said it for her. "Vampires are real." A glance from those unfathomable eyes. "I'm

sorry."

Hannah breathed and looked down at him. But the world had finished its reshaping. Her mind was

beginning to work again.

At least I know I'm not crazy, she thought. That's some consolation. It's the universe that's insane, not

me.

And now I have to deal with it-somehow.

She said quietly, "Are you going to kill me now?"

"God-no!" He stood up fast, uncoiling. Shock was naked on his face. "You don't understand. I would

never hurt you. I …" He broke off. "It's hard to know where to begin."

Hannah sat silently, while he looked around the porch for inspiration. She could feel her heart beating in

her throat. She'd told Paul that this boy had killed her, kept killing her. But his look of shock had been so

genuine-as if she'd hurt him terribly by even suggesting it.

"I suppose I should start by explaining exactly what I am," he said. "And what I've done. I made you

come outside tonight. I influenced you. I didn't want to do it, but I had to talk to you."

"Influenced me?"

It's a mental thing. I can also just communicate this way. It was his voice, but his lips weren't moving.

And it was the same voice she'd heard at the end of her hypnotic session, the voice that wasn't Paul's.

The one that had spoken in her head, saying, Hannah, come back. You don't have to relive this.

"You were the one who woke me up," Hannah whispered. "I wouldn't have come back except for you."

"I couldn't stand to see you hurting like that."

Can somebody with his eyes be evil?

He was obviously a different sort of creature than she was, and every move he made showed the grace

of a predator. It reminded her of how the wolves had moved-they had rippled. He did, too, his muscles

moving so lightly under his skin. He was unnatural- but beautiful.

Something struck her. "The wolves. I picked up a silver picture frame to bash them with. Silver." She

looked at him. "Werewolves are real." At the last moment her voice made it a statement instead of a

question.

"So much is real that you don't know about. Or that you haven't remembered yet. You were starting

to remember with that shrink. You said I was a Lord of the Night World."

The Night World. Just the mention of it sent prickles through Hannah. She could almost remember, but

not quite.

And she knew it was crazy to be kneeling here having this conversation. She was talking to a vampire. A

guy who drank blood for a living. A guy whose every gesture showed he was a hunter. And not only a

vampire, but the person her subconscious had been warning her about for weeks. Telling her to be afraid,

be very afraid.

So why wasn't she running? For one thing, she didn't think her legs would physically support her. And

for another-well, somehow she couldn't stop looking at him.

"One of the werewolves was mine," he was saying quietly. "She was here to find you-and protect you.

But the other one… Hannah, you have to understand. I'm not the only one looking for you."

To protect me. So I was right, Hannah thought. The gray female was on my side. She said, "Who else is

looking?"

"Another Night Person." He looked away. "Another vampire."

"Am I a Night Person?"

"No. You're a human." He said it the way he said everything, as if reminding her of terrible facts he

wished he didn't have to bring up. "Old Souls are just humans who keep coming back."

"How many times have I come back?"

"I … I'd have to think about it. Quite a few."

"And have you been with me in all of them?"

"Any of them I could manage."

"What do the rest of the notes mean?" Hannah had been gathering speed, and now she was shooting

questions at him in machine-gun fashion. She thought she was in control, and she hardly noticed the

hysterical edge to her own voice. "Why am I telling myself I'll be dead before I'm seventeen?"

"Hannah…" He reached out a hand to calm her.

Hannah's own hand moved by reflex, coming up to ward his off. And then their fingers touched, bare

skin to bare skin, and the world disappeared.

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