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Soulmate (Chapter 8)

Hannah sat up in bed, gasping.

For several moments she didn't know where she was. Through a gap in her curtains she could see the

gray light of dawn-just like Hana's gray dawn-and she thought she still might be in the nightmare. But

then, slowly, objects in the room became clear. Her bookshelves, crammed with books and crowned

with one near-perfect trilobite fossil on a stand. Her dresser, its top piled with things that belonged in

other places. Her posters of Velociraptor and T. Rex.

I'm me. I remember me.

She had never been so happy to be herself, or to be awake.

But that dream she'd just had-that had happened to her. A long time ago, sure, but nothing like so long

ago as, say, when the T. Rex had been alive. Not to mention the trilobite. A few thousand years was

yesterday to Mother Earth.

And it was all real, she knew that now. She accepted it. She had fallen asleep and her subconscious had

pulled back the veil of the past and allowed her to see more of Hana's story.

Thierry, she thought. The people of Hana's clan tortured him. God knows for how long-I'm just glad I

didn't have to watch more.

But it puts sort of a different twist on things, doesn't it?

She still didn't know how the story ended. She wasn't sure she wanted to know. But it was hard to

blame him for whatever had happened afterward.

An awful feeling was settling in Hannah's stomach. All those things I said to him-terrible things, she

thought. Why did I say all that? I was so angry-I lost control completely. I hated him and all I cared

about was hurting him. I really thought he must be evil, pure evil.

I told him to go away forever. How could I have done that? He's my soulmate. There was a strange

emptiness inside her, as if she'd been hollowed out like a tree struck by lightning.

Inside the emptiness, a voice like a cool dark wind whispered, But you told Paul that he kept killing you

over and over. Is that justifiable? He's a vampire, a predator, and that makes him evil by nature. Maybe

he can't help being what he is, but there's no reason for you to be destroyed again because of it. Are you

going to let him kill you in this life, too?

She was torn between pity for him and the deep instinct that he was dangerous. The cool wind voice

seemed to be the voice of reason.

Go ahead and feel sorry for him, it said. Just keep him far away from you.

She felt better having come to a decision, even if it was a decision that left her heart numb. She glanced

around the room, focused on the clock by her bedside, and blinked.

Oh, my God-school.

It was quarter to seven and it was a Friday. Sacaja-wea High seemed light-years away, like someplace

she'd visited in a past life.

But it's not. It's your life, now, the only one that counts. You have to forget all that other stuff about

reincarnation and vampires and the Night World. You have to forget about him.

You sent him away and he's gone. So let's get on with living in the normal world.

Just thinking this way made her feel braced and icy, as if she'd had a cold shower. She took a real

shower, dressed in jeans and a denim shirt, and she had breakfast with her mother, who cast her several

thoughtful glances but didn't ask any questions until they were almost finished.

Then she said, "Did everything go all right at Dr. Winfield's yesterday evening?"

Had it only been yesterday evening? It seemed like a week ago. Hannah chewed a bite of cornflakes

and finally said, "Uh, why?"

"Because he called while you were in the shower. He seemed…" Her mother stopped and searched

for a word. "Anxious. Worse than worried but not as bad as hysterical."

Hannah looked at her mother's face, which was narrow, intelligent, and tanned by the Montana sun.

Her eyes were more blue than Hannah's gray, but they were direct and discerning.

She wanted to tell her mother the whole story- but when she had time to do it, and after she'd had . time

to think it out. There was no urgency. It was all behind her now, and it wasn't as if she needed advice.

"Paul's anxious a lot," she said judiciously, sticking to the clean edge of truth. "I think that's why he

became a psychologist. He tried a sort of hypnosis thing on me yesterday and it didn't exactly work out."

"Hypnosis?" Her mother's eyebrows lifted. "Hannah, I don't know if you should be getting into that-"

"Don't worry; I'm not. It's over. We're not going to try it again."

"I see. Well, he said for you to call him to set up another appointment. I think he wants to see you soon."

She reached over suddenly and took Hannah's hand. "Honey, are you feeling any better? Are you still

having bad dreams?"

Hannah looked away. "Actually-I sort of had one last night. But I think I understand them better now.

They don't scare me as much." She squeezed her mother's hand. "Don't worry, I'm going to be fine."

"All right, but-" Before her mother could finish the sentence a horn honked outside.

"That's Chess. I'd better run." Hannah gulped down the dregs of her orange juice and dashed into her

bedroom to grab her backpack. She hesitated a split second by the wastebasket, then shook her head.

No. There was no reason to take the black rose ring with her. It was his, and she didn't want to be

reminded of him.

She slung the backpack over her shoulder, yelled goodbye to her mother, and hurried outside.

Chess's car was parked in the driveway. As Hannah started toward it she had an odd impression. She

seemed to see a figure standing behind the car-a tall figure, face turned toward her. But her eyes were

dazzled by the sun and at that instant she involuntarily blinked. When she could see again, there was

nothing in that spot except a little swirl of dust.

"You're late," Chess said when Hannah got in the car. Chess, whose real name was Catherine Clovis,

was petite and pretty, with dark hair cut in a cap to frame her face. But just now her slanted green cat

eyes and Mona Lisa smile reminded Hannah too much of Ket. It was disconcerting; she had to glance

down to make sure Chess wasn't wearing a deerskin outfit.

"You okay?" Now Chess was looking at her with concern.

"Yeah." Hannah sank back against the upholstery, blinking. "I think I need to get my eyes checked,

though." She glanced at the spot where the phantom figure had been-nothing. And Chess was just Chess:

smart, savvy, and faintly exotic, like an orchid blooming in the badlands.

"Well, you can do it when we go shopping this weekend," Chess said. She slanted Hannah a glance.

"We must go shopping. Next week's your birthday and I need something new to wear."

Hannah grinned in spite of herself. "Maybe a new necklace," she muttered.

"What?"

"Nothing." I wonder what happened to Ket, she thought. Even if Hana died young, at least Ket must

have grown up. I wonder if she married Ran, the guy who wanted to "mate" her?

"Are you sure you're okay?" Chess said.

"Yeah. Sorry; I'm a little brain-dead. I didn't sleep well last night." Her plan for Chess was exactly the

same as for her mother. Tell her everything-in a little while. When she was less upset about it.

Chess was putting an arm around her, steering skillfully with the other. "Hey, we've got to get you in

shape, kid. I mean, first it's your birthday, then graduation. Isn't that psychologist doing anything to help?"

Hannah muttered, "Maybe too much."

That night, she was restless again. The school day had passed uneventfully. Hannah and her mother had

had dinner peacefully. But after her mother went out to a meeting with some local rockhounds, Hannah

found herself wandering around the house, too wound up to read or watch TV, too distracted to go

anywhere.

Maybe I need some air, she thought-and then she caught herself and gave a self-mocking grin.

Sure. Air. When what you're really thinking is that he just might be out there. Admit it.

She admitted it. Not that she thought Thierry was very likely to be hanging around her backyard,

considering what she'd said to him.

And why should you want to talk to him? she demanded of herself. He may not be completely and

totally and pointlessly evil, but he's still no boy scout.

But she couldn't shake a vague feeling of wanting

to go outside. At last she went out on the porch, telling herself that she'd spend five minutes here and

then go back inside.

It was another beautiful night, but Hannah couldn't enjoy it. Everything reminded her too much of him.

She could feel herself softening toward him, weakening. He had looked so stricken, so devastated, when

she told him to go away….

"Am I interrupting?"

Hannah started. She wheeled toward the voice.

Standing on the other side of the porch was a tall girl. She looked a year or so older than Hannah, and

she had long hair, very long hair, so black that it seemed to reflect moonlight like a raven's wing. She was

extraordinarily beautiful-and Hannah recognized her.

She's the one from my vision. That flash of a girl telling me that Thierry was cunning. She's the one who

warned me about him.

And she's the figure I saw behind Chess's car this morning. She must have been watching me then.

"I'm sorry if I scared you," the girl said now, smiling. "You looked so far away, and I didn't mean to

startle you. But I'd really like to talk to you if you have a few minutes."

"I…" Hannah felt strangely tongue-tied. Something about the girl made her uncomfortable, in a way that

went beyond the dreamlike weirdness of recognizing somebody she'd never seen in her present life.

But she's your friend, she told herself. She's helped you in the past; she probably wants to help you again

now. You should be grateful to her.

"Sure," Hannah said. "We can talk." She added somewhat awkwardly, "I remember you."

"Wonderful. Do you really? That makes everything so much easier."

Hannah nodded. And told herself again that this girl was her friend, and nobody to be hostile to or wary

of.

"Well…" The girl glanced around the porch, where there was dearly no place to sit. "Ah…"

Hannah was embarrassed, as if the girl had asked, "Do you entertain all your visitors outside?" She

turned around and opened the back door. "Come on in. We can sit down." "Thank you," the girl said and

smiled. In the bright fluorescent lights of the kitchen, she was even more beautiful. Hauntingly beautiful.

Exquisite features, skin like silk. Lips that made Hannah think of adjectives like full and ripe. And eyes

that were like nothing Hannah had ever seen before.

They were large, almond-shaped, heavy-lashed, and luminous. But it wasn't just that. Every time Hannah

looked, they seemed to be a different color. They changed from honey to mahogany to jungle-leaf green

to larkspur purple to misty blue. It was amazing.

"If you remember me, then you must know what I'm here about," the girl said. She rested an elbow on

the kitchen table and propped her chin on her fist. Hannah said one word. "Thierry." "Yes, From the way

you say that, maybe you don't need my advice after all." The girl had an extraordinary voice as well; low

and pleasant, with a faint husky throb in it. Hannah lifted her shoulders. "Well, there's still a lot I don't

know about him-but I don't need anybody to tell me that he's dangerous. And I've already told him to go

away."

"Have you really? How remarkably brave of you."

Hannah blinked. She hadn't thought of it as being so brave.

"I mean, you do realize how powerful he is? He's a Lord of the Night World, the head of all the made

vampires. He could"-the girl snapped her fingers- "call out a hundred little vampires and werewolves. Not

to mention his connection with the witches in Las Vegas."

"What are you trying to say? That I shouldn't have told him to go away? I don't care how many monsters

he can call out," Hannah said sharply.

"No. Of course you don't. Like I said, you're brave." The girl regarded her with eyes the deep purple of

bittersweet nightshade. "I just want you to realize what he's capable of. He could have this whole county

wiped out. He can be very cruel and very childish-if he doesn't get what he wants he'll simply go into a

rage."

"And does he do that a lot-go into rages?"

"All the time, unfortunately."

I don't believe you.

The thought came to Hannah suddenly. She didn't know where it came from, but she couldn't ignore it.

There was something about this girl that bothered her, something that felt like a greasy stone held

between the fingers. That felt like a lie.

"Who are you?" she said directly. When the girl's eyes-now burnt sienna-lifted to hers this time, she held

them. "I mean, why are you so interested in

me? Why are you even here, in Montana, where I am? Is it just a coincidence?"

"Of course not. I came because I knew that he was about to find you again. I'm interested in you*

because-well, I've known Thierry since his childhood, before he became a vampire, and I feel a certain

obligation to stop him." She smiled, meeting Hannah's steady gaze easily. "And my name … is Maya."

She said the last words slowly, and she seemed to be watching Hannah for a reaction. But the name

didn't mean anything to Hannah. And Hannah simply couldn't figure out whether this girl called Maya was

lying or not.

"I know you've warned me about Thierry before," she said, trying to gather her thoughts. "But I don't

remember anything about it except you telling me. I don't even know what you are-I mean, are you

somebody who's been reincarnated like me? Or are you… ?" She left the question open-ended. As a

matter of fact, she knew Maya wasn't human; no human was so eerily beautiful or supernaturally graceful.

If Maya claimed she was, Hannah would know for sure it was a deception.

"I'm a vampire," Maya said calmly and without hesitation. "I lived with Thierry's tribe in the days when

you lived with the Three Rivers clan. In fact, I'm the one who actually made him into a vampire. I

shouldn't have done it; I should have realized he was one of those people who couldn't handle it. But I

didn't know he'd go crazy and become… what he is." She looked off into the distance. "I suppose that's

why I feel responsible for him," she finished

softly. Then she looked back at Hannah. "Any other questions?"

"Hundreds," Hannah said. "About the Night World, and about what's happened to me in past lives-"

"And I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to answer most of them. There are rules against talking about

the Night World-and anyway, it's safer for you not to know. As for your past lives, well, you don't really

want to know what he's done to you each time, do you? It's too gruesome." She leaned forward, looking

at Hannah earnestly. "What you should do now is put the past behind you and forget about all this. Try to

have a happy future."

It was exactly what Hannah had decided to do earlier. So why did she feel like bristling now? She

weighed different responses and finally said, "If he wants to kill me so much, why didn't he just do it last

night? Instead of talking to me."

"Oh, my dear child." The tone was slightly patronizing, but seemed genuinely pitying. "He wants you to

love him first, and then he kills you. I know, it's sick, it's twisted, but it's the way he is. He seems to think

it has to be that way, since it was that way the first time. He's obsessed."

Hannah was silent. Nothing inside her stood up to say that this was a lie. And the idea that Thierry was

obsessed certainly rang true. At last she said slowly, "Thank you for coming to warn me. I do appreciate

it."

"No, you don't," Maya said. "I wouldn't either if someone came to tell me things I didn't want to hear.

But maybe someday you will thank me." She stood. "I hope we won't have to meet again."

Hannah walked her to the back door and let her out.

On the porch, Maya turned. "He really is insane, you know!" she said. "You'll probably begin to have,

doubts again. But he's obsessive and unstable, just like any stalker; and he's really capable of anything.

Don't be fooled."

"I don't think I'm ever going to see him again," Hannah said, unreasonably annoyed. "So it's going to be

kind of hard to fool me."

Maya smiled, nodded, then did the disappearing act. Just as Thierry had, she turned and simply melted

into the night.

Hannah stared out into the darkness for a minute or so. Then she went back into the kitchen and called

Paul Winfield's number.

She got his answering machine. "Hi, this is Hannah, and I got your message about making another

appointment. I was wondering if we could maybe do it tomorrow-or anyway some time over the

weekend. And…" She hesitated, wondering if it was something she should say in person, then

shrugged. Might as well give him time to prepare. "And I'd like to do another regression. There are some

things I want to figure out."

She felt better after she hung up. One way or another, she would get at the truth.

She headed into her bedroom with a faint, grim smile.

And stopped dead on the threshold.

Thierry was sitting on her bed.

For a moment Hannah stood frozen. Then she said sharply, "What are you doing here?" At the same

time, she glanced around the room to see how he

had gotten in. The windows were shut and only opened from inside.

He must have walked in while I was in the kitchen talking with Maya.

"I had to see you," Thierry said. He looked- strange. His dark eyes seemed hot somehow, as if he were

burning inside. His face was tense and grim.

"I told you to keep away from me." Hannah kept fear out of her voice-but she was scared. There was a

sort of electricity in the air, but it wasn't a good electricity. It was purely dangerous.

"I know you did, and I tried. But I can't stay away, Hannah. I just can't. It makes me … crazy."

And with that, he stood up.

Hannah's heart seemed to jump into her throat and stay there, pounding hard. She fought to keep her

face calm.

He's fast, a little voice in her head seemed to say, and with relief she recognized the dark wind voice, the

cool voice of reason. There's no point in running from him, because he can catch you in a second.

"You have to understand," Thierry was saying. "Please try to understand. I need you. We were meant to

be together. Without you, I'm nothing."

He took a step toward her. His eyes were black and fathomless, and Hannah could almost feel their

heat. Obsessed, yes, she thought. Maya was right. He may jut on a good front, but underneath he's just

plain crazy. like any stalker.

"Say you understand," Thierry said. He reached a pleading hand toward her.

"I understand," Hannah said grimly. "And I still want you to go away."

"I can't. I have to make sure we'll be together, the way we were meant to be. And there's only one way

to do that."

There was something different about his mouth, Two delicate fangs were protruding, indenting .his lower

lip.

Hannah felt a cold fist dose over her heart.

"You have to join the Night World, Hannah. You have to become like me. I promise you, once it's over,

you'll be happy."

"Happy?" A wave of sickening revulsion swept over Hannah. "As a monster like you? I was happy

before you ever showed up. I'd be happy if you'd just keep out of my life forever. I-"

Stop talking! The cool wind voice was screaming at her, but Hannah was too overwrought to listen.

"You're disgusting. I hate you. And nothing can j ever make me love you ag-"

She didn't get to finish. In one swift movement, he was in front of her. And then he grabbed her.

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