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The Web Respun by Sophie
This story is a sequel to "Black Widow" the Season 2 episode of Poltergesist the Legacy.


There wasn't much salvage in this part of the bay. It was late, and the captain of the Sweet Sally was on his way home when his dredging hook caught on something. It was heavy and the iron was stuck fast in whatever the waters held. The man wasn't in any hurry, there was no one to go home to anymore, not now Nora was gone, so he stopped the engines and anchored the vessels. He might as well raise whatever it was, it would give him a chance to free the hook and there was always a chance it would be worth something.

Half an hour later, the lonely man was staring at a sizeable chunk of concrete and a length of chain into which his dredging machinery had been caught. The other end of the metal linkage was still in the water, but he wasn't planning on checking it. It was a disappointment, but that was the chance you always took with salvage, so the man freed his own equipment and prepared to drop the load back into the inky waters. He reached down to the pin which secured the false prize to his boat and pulled; it was stuck, this one was always stuck, he'd been meaning to fix it, but he hadn't had the energy or compunction since his wife's death. So, he pulled a little harder instead.

The pin was wet with salty water, and the captain yanked too freely - swearing, he tumbled backwards onto the slippery deck where his hold on the vertical gave up completely. He stared hard at the offending object as it glinted at him in the dirty light of the shore not too far away. A few years ago he'd have dealt with that no problem, now he was past fifty and he was beginning to see the end of his days alone on this boat. He'd been getting lazy the last few months, taking less work, and it showed, his muscles were weakening, turning to fat, softened by hours of moody contemplation. Why did everything always come back to Nora? Always her smiling face filled his thoughts, then it haggard before his mind's eye just as she had withered with the cancer. It made him angry, and he pushed the thought away, beginning to right his position.

The captain was on his hands and knees, puffing his way to his bulky feet when something caught his eye. Something pale contrasted strongly with the dark rust of the securing pin, he wasn't sure what it was at first, his eyes were tired - there were just four pale shapes, and then a fifth and they came together. The man squinted at the pin, trying to focus, and then he saw the hand - it was a delicate, translucent flower, strained by the desperate grasp on the bulbous metal. If it had been the day, thought might have been more logical, but in the loneliness of the night, the sailor stayed still, stunned by superstition his father had taught him. He watched the fairy white hand as it became an arm, wrapped in tatters of cloth and then a dark head appeared over the edge of the boat. The body that followed was slender and lithe, and barely hidden in the broken pieces of what had once been clothing, but the face remained hidden in the tangle of beautiful hair. `Nora had hair that colour when she was young,', the captain caught himself thinking, and his mind turned to better memories. It was a strange time to be thinking about a dead wife, but the man couldn't help himself, as he gazed at the struggling creature before him, she held him petrified; he knew she wasn't natural, he felt it in his bones, but still her willowy form inspired the picture of his beloved.

The perfect figure collapsed onto the deck boards, exhausted by the exertion of pulling herself onto the boat. Her wrists were manacled where they lay out in front of her, and the sailor was appalled by the large hunks of iron which trapped such delicate bones. Fear began to turn to pity of the trembling form, but not so fast that he moved from his half kneeling position.

"George," a soft voice mewed, a tone he recognised, "George, help me."

It couldn't be, the man denied the association as soon as it was made - it was impossible for him to be hearing his wife's voice. He'd buried her only a few months ago.

"George, please," the familiar timbre cut by fear came again.

George gasped and his jaw dropped as the head was lifted and a face gazed weekly at him. It was Nora, the woman he had married thirty years ago, slender, elegant, beautiful. Her blue eyes gazed into his, helpless and exhausted, and she held out one of those willowy arms to him. The weak stare pleaded for aid, calling to every part of his being, and as the soft tone came again, "Help me," he moved this time. Age didn't matter any more, he was a young man, brawny the way she'd always liked him, and he scooped the frail body into his arms, unwrapping the chain on her ankles as he did so.

"Gently, my love," he cooed in the tender voice he saved just for her, "you're safe now."

Lookin' good, feelin' good - Nick grinned to himself as he descended the stairs into the lobby. It was a beautiful, fresh morning outside, and he was looking forward to just heading out into it. Derek was making his way across the open room where most paths met as the young man jogged down the final few steps, and his colleague's mood seemed to catch attention.

"You're very bright today," the older man observed, stopping to start a conversation.

"And why not," the youth beamed even wider and patted him lightly on the arm, "it's a lovely day, and you told me take a day off, so I'm doing it!"

"Good, good," Derek seemed pleased that the sometimes workaholic member of his team was taking some time out.

If truth be told, the whole team had a tendency to bury themselves in whatever case was in hand, and the Precept had taken the opportunity of a slack few days to suggest that everyone relax.

"May I ask where you're going?" the superior enquired easily.

"Sure," Nick breathed with an instinctive laugh, "but I wouldn't be able to tell you, because I don't know. Just out of the city for a drive."

"Well, have fun," his friend nodded and continued on his way with a wave.

Nick jogged out to his car, he was feeling fit and buoyant for some reason he couldn't and didn't feel the need to fathom. It wasn't just the clear sky and fresh air, it was a mood into which he'd woken. He couldn't remember what he'd been dreaming about that night, unusual but not worryingly so, but he'd decided it must have been something good to have left him feeling so great. Julia was in his thoughts, but then she was never far away, and he'd begun to come to terms with the events which had led to her death. In a way, Karen had helped there, despite what she had been. Karen, now why was he thinking about her? It had been months since the succubus had been necessarily imprisoned in a watery grave. The young man pushed the thought aside as he roared the engine into life and drove off to catch the ferry.

Still, both Julia and Karen were still floating in the front of the driver's mind by the time he'd left San Francisco behind. Thoughts of the two women didn't always go hand in hand, but he'd gotten used to the association. Yet, the memories were becoming uncomfortable as he dwelt on them, and after such a good start to the morning, Nick felt the first touches of frustration. The two faces merged in his mind's eye, becoming a difficult mixture of both women, prickling the painful confrontation between his feelings for each of them which had occurred first in sleepy Crestridge. He had never been able to reconcile the passion which Karen had inspired in him with the deep love he felt for Julia - they were two very different levels of emotion, but it had partly been the demon's ability to wear both faces which had held him in her thrall. He had desired the sensual creature that had been Karen, but it had been the mixture of that persona and the facade of Julia which had kept him so mesmerised. The arousal of that potent pathos was not something the young man needed to ruin the otherwise perfect day, and his inability to clear his mind of their nagging presence made him angry.

The hurt and frustration came out in the ex-SEAL's driving, and the mustang sped along the twisting mountain roads at a dangerous speed. The road ahead was in his mind, but he was working on automatic when it came to the steering, his thoughts focused on the images and emotions he was trying to dissipate. The more the young man tried to push them away, the clearer his feelings became, and the faster he drove.

The world darted past, grey now compared with the internal turmoil. Yet, suddenly it daggered back into focus with the blaring of a vehicle horn. Nick swerved away from the truck that was coming at him head on - he'd been so far gone that he'd failed to notice that he'd switched sides of the road. The youth slammed on the brakes, now fully aware of the break neck speed he'd reached as he fought with the steering wheel to keep the vehicle on the tarmac. He skidded and headed for more than one tree, but the man's road handling skills just about kept him out of an accident. He came to a jolting halt with the smell of burning rubber in his nose and the remnants of the screech of brakes in his ears. The truck had carried on its way, so he just sat in the car, motionless, but holding onto the wheel with a grip of iron. He stared through the windshield and let the ringing in his ears die away and the peace of the open country drift back into place.

Everything was suddenly so still and silent, as shock even dispersed the images in his mind. Yet, slowly, as the impact of the near collision wore off, so thought began again and Nick closed his eyes in pain as the same mixture of pictures and feelings came back. What had suddenly turned the beautiful day into a nightmare? The beleaguered figure bent his head onto the steering wheel and breathed out hard.

The young man tried to let the peace around him soothe the ache in his spirit, and it helped a little, but he couldn't reach it properly. Nick respected the power of nature and found a little strength just listening to it run by him, but slowly he realised that he wanted to be closer to it. His intention that morning had not been to set off into the wilds, but on an instinct that pulled him from his vehicle, Nick managed to park the car on the side of the road, but then he quit it as fast as possible. He wasn't dressed for physical exertion, jeans were restrictive to the power in his legs as they began to pump, but still he ran. He was not being practical, he took nothing with him, no compass, no water, no food, just the shirt and jeans in which he was dressed, but that didn't matter in the pique of his emotions. His memories wouldn't leave him alone, and he was determined to run them into the ground, even if that meant exhaustion first.

As sure-footed as a goat, the ex-SEAL charged into the wilderness, the rush of his own steady breathing in his ears and nature close about him. Again he went into automatic, navigating by the skin of his teeth, relying on instinct to stop him from charging through brambles or slipping on moss underfoot, and in general, it worked. Yet, his shirt was torn and his hands became covered in grime from a few near misses as he pelted on further from real life and into his own mind.

Nick ran faster, chased by his thoughts, by Julia, by Karen. His heart pounded in his chest, and his lungs complained as the measured stride of training gave way to a desperate flight that could not be won. The battle could not rage forever, and it defeated him very suddenly. The smooth soles of his boots were no match for slippery lichen, and as he hit a patch of rocky ground, the fleeing youth's feet slipped and he crashed to the hard stone. His whole body jarred against the fall; he groaned, but did not try to get up from the crumpled position into which he fell. The young man growled, beaten by his own emotions and now in physical pain as well. His eyes closed against the out-of-focus view of yellow-green mosses inches from his nose and he bit his tongue against the urge to turn his hurt into a whimper.

The sound of footsteps on the stone cut through the only sound of wind in the trees, but Nick kept his eyes closed. He felt a shadow fall across him, and a body close to his, a form he recognised despite not having used his sight. The young man realised he'd half expected the feeling of recognition which crept over him and his emotions began to make sense. The form was stood beside him, motionless, waiting for acknowledgement. Slowly, the exhausted youth pushed himself off the rocky floor and onto his knees. He was dazed, confused, but certain of one thing as his eyes first moved over the ground to a pair of smart court shoes. They were out of place in the wild surroundings, but that didn't matter to Nick, everything was beginning to make sense now, and whether he liked it or not, he understood what was happening. The young man felt almost surreal as, with emotions muted by the moment, he ran his gaze up the elegant pair of legs, past the pristine mini dress to the lovely face which was gazing down on him. She hadn't changed, her hair fell in a slightly longer style around her delicate features, but the light in her eyes was the same, the curl of her lips seemed almost welcoming, pleased to see him.

"Karen," the subdued man murmured in full recognition of the female before him.

As the word escaped his lips, his companion's face clouded; her eyes flashed nastily, and her teeth showed in an animalistic grimace. Nick cringed away as she lifted a hand, shock only now beginning to dissipate enough for the reality of his situation to begin to dawn.

"You bastard!" the yell of pure rage daggered into his hearing before a strike contacted with his body and the young man flew helplessly backwards.

Nick heard the crack of his skull on stone, and then the brightness in front of his eyes disappeared very quickly.

His head hurt, that is what woke Nick from his stupor. His skull was pounding from the impact it had received and the youth groaned. He opened his eyes as his expression of discomfort was hampered by the fact that his lips were being forced closed by a tightness over his mouth. The world then came back rather more quickly as alarm fuelled consciousness and the young man remembered what had happened. He shifted, trying to sit up, but he slammed back onto a mattress as his arms refused to move under him for support. His shoulders wrenched in their sockets as his urgent movement was stopped by rope holding his wrists against the two bed posts which were either side of his head. It didn't make the prisoner any more comfortable to find out that he was also naked and lying in a lavish four-poster bed. The curtains were pulled around the berth, rich, red velvet, but their extravagance gave the young man no more than a feeling of claustrophobia.

As his mind turned from the immediate situation to what had caused it, Nick resisted the urge to panic. The image of that beautiful face twisted by such anger made him wonder why he was still alive. Confusion became the dominant emotion, dampening any initial struggles he made against his confines - bewilderment not only about his captor's motives, but also his own. Why wasn't he afraid, this was a demon who held him helpless? Why wasn't he angry? What did Karen want? What did he want? The young man couldn't help himself, as he explored his emotions he could raise none of the natural instincts of a trapped being, he had no compunction to fight the bonds which held him, instead, he lay passive in the place she'd left him, shifting only occasionally to relieve tingling in his hands. From time to time as the captive mulled over his predicament, a pique of excitement would push through the mist of subdued quandary, but he lay still through it, listening to his heart race and his breathing quicken, the reasons behind it lost in the confusion that had descended into his being. He couldn't define what started the fits or what cooled them, a thought whipped away by denial before it was recognised, which he didn't follow into the mixed-up psyche that Karen had inspired.

Time passed, Nick wasn't sure how long, the curtain cut out most of the light from the outside world and all his sheltered little space did was turn from dimness to blackness. The prisoner had slipped into a doze when the muffled world outside the enclosure was disturbed. The young man's senses snapped back into action as he heard a door open and electric light forced its way into the space above him where the drapes didn't quite meet the bed's canopy. For the first time, with a presence so immediate, the youth felt true alarm as reality hit. He tensed, alert to everything his senses could tell him, waiting for whatever was to come.

Nick heard female laughter, light and beautiful, but he was taken aback when a soft tenor tone joined the first. Foot steps on floor boards came into what had to be quite a large room, and then the sounds became words.

"Nice place, like the bed, sugar," the heated man's voice drooled.

The murmured sounds of female pleasure accompanied the brush of cloth with the floor, and then Karen's silky words disclosed, "I thought we'd start on the chair."

The ignorant victim seemed to like that idea from the chuckle in his throat. The only one who fought against it was Nick. He heard the activity and knew the imminent result and the idea appalled him. If his own predicament had not stirred his emotions, than the unknowing male's out there did. The youth tried to yell a warning, but only managed a muffled squeak, and he struggled against his bonds with renewed fervour. Yet, his sounds were hidden behind thick drapes and Karen began a constant murmur of covering moans as she heard his complaint even if her victim didn't. The images in his mind were sickening, as the helpless captive recalled the results of the succubus' last feeding spree, and he strained at the ties, desperate to stop the murder.

Soon there were sounds of sexual pleasure coming from both parties involved in the meeting of bodies - the demon didn't waste time and her sighs of titillation sent shudders through Nick's being. He screamed again, frantic with horror at the deed he was powerless to stop, but his noise made little impact on the ensnared victim. It was too late, and the prisoner wrenched in hatred of the bonds which held him as he recognised the man's pleasure turn to fear and pain. The succubus was almost howling out her satisfaction as sounds of the man's struggle joined her in horrible chorus and light, brighter than the yellow electric glow, a piercing white cut at Nick's eyes.

Then it was gone, a few moments of intense revulsion and suddenly silence. The bound man collapsed back onto the bed, drained by the quiet after the tumult, shocked by his proximity to the terrible kill. His chest rose and fell in irregular rhythm, and he trembled away the fight he had left as his helplessness ensnared him like a second rope. He listened to the stillness, recognising a tiny feminine sigh of gratification.

She moved, the body discarded as her bare feet padded on the polished wood. The steps came nearer the bed, and Nick started as the drapes on that side were pulled rapidly back. Karen smiled at the ashen horror on his face, an absurdly gentle gesture that was all woman. The creature was absolutely naked, and she was making no effort to hide the condition of her body. Her skin glistened in the light of the table lamp she had used to illuminate the expensive bedroom, and she knew just how to stand to catch it perfectly. The dampness on her flesh accentuated the curves of her toned figure, and her pert breasts stood proud from her recent arousal. The woman was still excited, and was pleased by the heat she brought to her captive's countenance. Nick turned his face away, disgusted by his own instincts - this demon had killed a man only feet away from him and she could still turn him on.

"Hello, Nick," the woman breathed, her voice husky and seductive.

Her prisoner tried to ignore her as she lowered herself gracefully onto the edge of the bed beside him, but she reached out a hand to his chest. He gasped as her other fingers suddenly ripped away the tape from his mouth and tried to shift away from the sensuous touch as much as he could. Yet, he couldn't go very far, and her palm rubbed over his pecs and her fingers began to brush one of his nipples. Nick shuddered, confused as to whether it was revulsion or pleasure which caused it. Yet, he knew that whichever it had been, he needed to fight his situation. The young man drew in a deep breath, and, trying to control the mixture of emotions in his voice, asked, "Karen, don't."

The only response he received was an increase in her attentions as the seductress moved in closer and began to run her hand under the sheet which covered him. As her fingers played over his firm stomach, Nick could put up with the conflict in his being no more. He shifted again, more violently this time and met the intense gaze which was levelled on him.

"Please," he begged, hiding nothing from his captor.

There had been a hard, teasing edge to the woman's intentions, but as she met the honest struggle of emotion, her stare softened. She reached across to touch his face, tenderness in her action, and he couldn't find the compulsion to dislike the gentle palm.

"Oh Nick," she murmured, her eyes glistening with water, "I wanted to hurt you, I wanted to make you suffer the way you made me, but I can't do it."

The beauty moved in closer, and her prisoner didn't attempt to back off this time. He remained stationary as her face neared his own, lost in her eyes. Her admission of pain was more affective than any charm she could have used on him, and as her nipples brushed his chest and her dampened lips touched his, Nick let one half of his compulsions win over the other. The young man pushed back, parting his mouth and letting her taste him once more. She was warm and powerful as they pressed close, and the more he breathed her in, the less reality mattered. The curtain fell back around the bed as the lithe creature climbed fully onto the mattress, and the rest of the world disappeared.

The caress brought passion to the surface which Nick had thought buried forever, and he strained to be close to the sweet flesh above him as his partner broke the embrace and leant across his face. His tongue tantalised the smooth flesh of her stomach, tasting the salty glaze which had heightened his feelings in the first place. She gasped at the touch, and shifted to make his task easier as she continued with hers. The lover's hand slipped out of the loosened loops of cord and immediately was moved to touch the supple torso. He explored first her back and then ran his fingers under her outstretched arm to fondle her breasts. Karen murmured in pleasure and hurried to untangle his second wrist. As his arms came free, Nick pulled the body down to him, and they resumed the kiss, wrapped close, only the thin sheet between them.

Half on top of her lover, the woman rubbed her inner thigh against his abdomen, the cotton doing nothing to deny how aroused she was making him. He moaned his passion and pushed at her body to try to put her on her back. Yet, the creature reminded him how strong she was as she resisted the request with no more than a shrug and pinned him down while she kissed his chest. Nick wasn't used to submission, but he had little choice as supernatural strength forced him to lie still, and since he didn't find the brushes of her tongue at all unpleasant, his complaint was merely a grumble which turned into a rapid groan of delight as teeth titillated his torso.

The powerful demon was most definitely in charge as she pushed the sheet off the rest of her ensnared lover's body and shifted above him. Still she held herself away from his arousal, gazing down at his captivated return, and instead took his hands and placed them on her thighs. Nick didn't need telling what she wanted, and his fingers ran up her inner legs, feeling the heat that they were creating. Then he touched her softness and she moaned, trembling as her core came alive. He tantalised her body skilfully, and when her pleasure had built there was no stopping the creature when she wanted to take her lover inside her body. The young man gasped and reared to meet her almost savage demand. They moved in union building the fire still further, striving for the climax. He came first, exploding into her and initiating her orgasm, and she held onto him with a strength that was terrifying. His own pleasure should have died, but instead, the lover felt a second stirring in his being. It wasn't purely physical, it was from another source, and Nick was powerless to stop it. He cried out, half in ecstasy, half in agony, as his succubus looked down at him and power erupted from her being. His cry died, choked by the experience as the stream of energy passed into his body, lost as weakness coursed through him.

Nick had relaxed against the onslaught long before it finished, dazed and exhausted by the sharing of demon power. As the energy and his partner released him, he sunk into the pillows, his mind and body almost wiped out by the preternatural act. He barely felt the closeness of Karen's form as she leant down to him and kissed his slack lips, and her words were far away as she disclosed, "Nick, I want you to understand my hunger. Now you have part of me, a gift to make you Immortal if you choose to use it. You will feel my need and when you follow it, we will be together forever."

The afflicted young man made no response, merely closed his already heavy eyelids and gave in to blackness.

Derek walked into the music room and sat down in one of the deep chairs. Alex put down her book as he took his place and smiled a greeting.

"Good evening," the man responded to her acknowledgement of him. "This place is very empty tonight."

"Well you did tell everyone to take the evening off, and Philip's at the seminary all week, so that just leaves you, me and Nick, and I haven't seen Nick all day," his companion observed dryly.

The Precept glanced at his watch, it was ten thirty - there wasn't a curfew in the Legacy House, but everyone usually phoned if they were planning on staying out late, so the door could be locked.

"Nick went out early this morning, he was just going out for a drive," Derek informed his colleague and then voiced a vaguely anxious, "Has he called?"

"No," Alex answered, and then met his concern with, "Don't worry Derek, he's a big boy, he probably just met someone he knew."

The sensitive shrugged, his friend was probably right, he didn't usually worry about the adventurous young man staying out for the night. Yet, there was something nagging at him, nothing definite, no visions, just a prickle of unfounded anxiety that wasn't usually there whenever he thought about the grinning form he'd sent on his way that morning.

A hefty foot kicked open the bedroom door and was shortly followed by the barrel of Sheriff Greebo's gun. His eyes traced the path of the weapon as he scanned the room for any signs of disturbance. There'd been nothing in the rest of Doc Hilliard's house, not even Doc Hilliard, the place was neat as a new pin and apparently unlived in since the doctor had phoned in sick to his surgery five days earlier. That had been unusual, the man had never missed a day in twenty years of general practice, and it had been what had made the Sheriff believe the phone call which had said something strange was going on in the lonely house just outside the little town of Lockfort. He and his deputy had driven over as soon as the call had been put through at six that morning.

The door had been left wide open, and the two men had rapidly begun their search, Deputy Furs taking the down stairs while his superior ascended to the second floor. As he laid eyes on the sight before him, only fifteen years of the job as a police officer kept Greebo from turning around and leaving the room.

"Bob, get up here," the man called to his comrade, before he lowered his gun and proceeded into the chamber towards the large leather chair which was sat in the corner. There was a naked figure slouched in its recess, very obviously dead, but what was worse was the eyes - they stared at him, pure jet black. The Sheriff had seen dead bodies before, it had been part of his job for ten years back on homicide, but even his gut wrenched at the new aspect to this one. There wasn't even the remnant of life in the poor creature crumpled in the arm chair, only the blood dried on the face attested to the fact that this had been a human being and not some grotesque puppet. Greebo couldn't bring himself to even check for a pulse, the body was so obviously dead, and he was glad for the exclamation from behind him that told him he had company.

"Looks like the tip off was right," he observed unnecessarily, but wanting to fill the silence of the room with something. "Call it in, Bob, we're gonna be wanting the coroner."

The young deputy was ashen white as he nodded and then disappeared as quickly as he had arrived. To be honest, the Sheriff didn't want to remain in the room any longer than he had to either, and he was headed towards the door when a small sound disturbed his exit. It was only a vague touch of cloth moving over cloth, and the policeman wouldn't have heard it if the atmosphere wasn't making him so jumpy. Yet, in the company of the corpse, he heard it as if it were the blast of a rifle. The man spun on the spot, raising his gun once more, in the direction of the curtained bed. There was another noise, this time a low, almost inaudible moan, and he recognised life.

Greebo wasn't taking any chances, he stalked towards the hidden occupant of the bed, gun out and aimed at whatever lay behind the scarlet drapes. Heart in his throat, wondering what horror he might find this time, the officer yanked back the heavy cloth. For a moment, the Sheriff looked at the pale face and wondered if he was dealing with another dead man; yet, he quickly recalled the exhale and noted the shallow rise and fall of the sheet over the naked body. Professionalism took over once more, and the man checked for the strength of a pulse. The youth reacted to the touch, shifting in a delirium, his eyes opened, but saw nothing, and closed once more. His discoverer chose the response as positive and tried a firmer approach, he shook the bare shoulder. The body groaned again, louder this time and Greebo shook harder. He was relieved when bleary eyes opened once more and looked up at him even if they weren't all that well focused.

"Who are you?" the officer questioned, "What happened here?"

The gaze disappeared as lids closed in dazed concentration and a frown creased the young brow. The muddy eyes just about unclosed, but the distant form seemed to be drifting away from the world again as a whisper admitted, "Don't know."

The Sheriff tried to shake his only witness awake again, but there was no response this time. Anxious over the stranger's uncertain health, the policeman charged over to the window, opened it and leant out to his colleague in the car below.

"Bob, call for an ambulance, we've got a live one," he yelled urgently.

Alex joined her Precept for breakfast, but found him a little grey around the eyes. The man had been staring out of the window, but turned his attention to her as she sat down. He greeted her Good Morning cordially, but did not seem to be very awake.

"Not sleep well?" she enquired.

"No," Derek replied with a sigh, putting down an untouched piece of toast he'd apparently been holding for sometime. "It's Nick, he didn't come home last night, and I just have this uneasiness about his whereabouts."

"Anything positive," the young woman continued, understanding the vagueness of their sometimes confusing extra senses.

"Nothing," the psychic shrugged discontentedly, "just the feeling."

"Is there anything I can do?" Alex suggested, sometimes two heads were better than one.

Yet, Rayne quickly gave her the negative, and sat back in his seat, a frown marking his dramatic features.

"I phoned Rachel before breakfast to see if she had heard from Nick, but came up empty," he admitted, "she's coming in as soon as she's finished with an appointment she has this morning."

"It's that bad?" now the woman was concerned as well, Derek didn't usually act on his instincts unless he was sure.

"Yes, I'm possitive something is very wrong, I can't place it yet, but it's been getting stronger since last evening and it has something to do with Nick, of that I'm sure," the Precept disclosed, his tone becoming more definite as he voiced his concern.

A form charging into the room interrupted the conversation, and both residents were focused on Rachel as she came to an agitated halt.

"Rachel, I thought you had a patient this morning," Derek's surprise was not pleasant.

"I cancelled," the psychologist replied sharply, "I thought you'd all better see this as soon as possible."

The woman slammed down a report onto the table, a photograph uppermost. The picture was of a man in his fifties, obviously dead, but the important point was the glassy blackness of the eyeballs.

"A friend in pathology showed me this when I got to the hospital this morning, because he remembered me talking to him about Crestridge," the blond woman informed them agitatedly. "He was washed up yesterday, but he's been dead a couple of days at least."

"Oh God," Alex mumbled as Derek's instinct became a very stark probability.

The observation window looked into a motionless figure sat up in a hospital bed, staring blankly at a plate of cooling breakfast. To the Sheriff who watched him, his gaze was almost as chilling as that of the corpse.

"Does he really remember nothing, or is he taking us for a ride?" the officer turned to the doctor beside him.

"Oh, he's very definitely in shock," the white-coated man responded with a nod, "and I think that could have caused his amnesia. At least he's remembered a few things, for instance a woman calling his Nick, but not much else makes any sense, just delirium."

"Considering the state of the corpse I have in the morgue, Doc, I'll take delirium right now," Greebo sighed in disbelief of the case that had suddenly been dumped on his doorstep. "What can you tell about what happened in that house from his condition?"

"Well, there are significant bruises on his wrists, so I'd say he was tied up at some point for quite some time," the man began.

"There was rope on the bed posts," the Sheriff agreed, gazing back at the dazed figure that should have been a healthy, apparently active man in his twenties.

The purple marks were obvious on his wrists, which sat limply in the covers, once they'd been noted.

"Not voluntary in your opinion?" he asked plainly as he followed one possible lead that this was kinky sex gone very wrong.

"Oh no," was the certain answer, "he got those marks by struggling quite forcefully, there's some tearing of the skin in places. That young man definitely didn't want to be tied up. He also mentioned something about not being able to fight her."

"Her - he's suggesting a woman did this?" Greebo was incredulous.

"That's one thing he's sure about," his companion nodded once more. "She's the one he remembers calling him, Nick, and he remembers a woman making love to him and he thinks also to the dead man. Any ID on the corpse yet."

"Nothing on either of them," the officer shrugged, "no wallets, driver's licences, anything that could identify either of them, only their clothes. Dead guy's were strewn across the room, his were folded up beside the bed. Shirt's torn to shreds. The MO on each of them is different, seemed our John Doe was a willing victim at least up till the very end, where as this guy's the other way round. He made love to the woman who was holding him captive?"

"Yes, and he mentioned some feelings for her," the doctor agreed.

"But he doesn't know her name, or why he was in that house," the Sheriff sighed, today was turning out very badly.

"Everything's very confused in his mind at the moment," the carer tried to explain as way of some solace, "as I said, he's in deep shock, things should come clearer as he relaxes."

"How long can you keep him here?" Greebo decided to move onto another issue, one which might yield some better answers.

He knew he was going to be disappointed as soon as his associate made a discontented face.

"Apart from the bruising and a small cut to his head, there's nothing physically wrong with him," the man shrugged, and offered plaintively, "I can try and convince him to stay for treatment on the amnesia, but I can't force him into it."

"Try your damnedest, Doc," the policeman urged as he gazed at the cool statue through the glass, "I don't want him walking out of here if he suddenly remembers who he is and gets bashful. He's all I have in this case at the moment, and I'll arrest him if it's the only way I can get him to stay. Clear?"

Greebo didn't usually get riled, he was a calm man, who took life as it came, but this case was unpleasant in the extreme and his urgency in wanting a solution came through the tart orders. The hospital employee nodded an affirmative, and, put off by the hostile attitude, remarked, "Well, I have rounds to make, if you'll excuse me," before heading rapidly off without waiting for his leave.

The Sheriff didn't push the matter, he knew he'd chased his colleague away and just chose to focus on the apparently oblivious patient in the private room. There wasn't even the vague, delirious attention in the passive young face as there had been earlier that morning - his only witness was almost catatonic in the way he stared down at the mushy food. He hadn't touched the offering, and apparently wasn't going to in the near future, but the bright yellow egg yolk seemed to have captured his attention completely. Unhappily, Greebo wondered how he was going to make a case out of a missing doctor, a very strange corpse and a traumatised amnesiac.

The San Francisco Legacy House was a hive of activity as its members made enquiries as to their friend's whereabouts with an urgency borne of serious concern. Rachel had begun to find out more about the case of the dead sailor, and the information received had only gone to spurring their search. Alex had begun ringing round Nick's friends, and then acquaintances, and then even places she knew he frequented - no one had been able to tell her anything. Now she'd moved onto hospital records of any accident victims, in a forlorn hope of finding that their comrade's lack of care on the road was the reason for his absence. Derek was sat at his desk, pulling in a lot of favours as he tried to get an APB put out on their missing comrade.

The Precept hit the loud speaker button on the phone and slammed the receiver down as tinny music drifted into the room. It was the third time he'd been put on hold that hour, and it was not doing anything to curb his frustration. That feeling still sat in the back of his mind, and it was the worse for being given form. He sighed and stood up, choosing pacing over the urge to destroy the phone. He shoved his hands deep in his pockets and strode across the room, trying to think of an avenue he hadn't yet pursued.

Frustration was an effective barrier to concentration and Derek found his mind wandering over the terrible possibilities that could have befallen his friend rather than a solution to them. His thoughts were in turmoil, the angst scattering his ideas before they were properly formed. This was unusual for the level-headed Dr Rayne, and it only fed the confusion. His annoyance built with the tuneless music which filled his ears as he paced, and he was headed for his fourth arrival at the office wall when the noise suddenly stopped. Derek froze, the hairs on the back of his neck prickling, as the fact registered, and then he spun round. His gaze met that of the very creature who plagued his mind.

The succubus stared directly at him, her visage revealing nothing, the detached cord of the phone in her hand. Her stillness held the man on his own spot. Not a sound disturbed the statuesque atmosphere as adversary viewed adversary. Then, as immediately as she'd arrived, the creature moved across the room. In the blink of an eye, she was close to him and he slammed in to the wall as the lily-white hand which defied its own power, took him by the throat and shoved him backwards. Her body pushed into his, holding him motionless, and Derek choked at the restriction on his neck.

"Derek," the woman murmured, her tone almost loving as she brought her beautiful face close to his, "so nice to see you again."

The man merely gagged once more, his hands struggling with the wrist of iron which blocked his airway.

"We have to talk," Karen finished her demonstration and released her captive.

The woman waltzed away from the form which crumpled to the ground, gasping for air, her demeanour defying the demon which lay beneath the surface. Karen was dressed more like a businesswoman than a hellion, her appearance smart and unruffled. She turned back to the recovering man, and smiled, the kind of look a bank manager gives when he's about to deal with a difficult customer. Derek still said nothing, he chose to remain where he was, and merely wait for her to continue.

"You know I have Nick," she breathed glibly, dropping a collection of items onto the desk beside her; Nick's SEAL ring glinted in the sunlight, "and I want you to know that I'm not going to hurt him. I don't want to hurt you either, Derek, Nick cares about you, and the others in this house, but I will if I have to. Stop trying to find him, he's with me now."

"He doesn't want to be with you," the Precept found his voice once more, and climbed to his feet.

The demon's eyes flashed dangerously, but she merely straightened her shoulders and countered, "He will, he's part of me now, and soon he'll follow my path. You can't stop it, I've already changed him, he only has to make the final step himself."

"And what is that? To kill like you do?" Rayne was angry at the thought of his friend in such a position and his words came out in a hiss.

The succubus didn't answer his enquiry, the inference was already made. She warned once more, "Don't fight me, Derek. I will win."

The tone came out harshly, but then her face softened and her voice became husky as she admitted, "I love him, Derek, like never before. We will be together forever."

"With you as the master and he as the slave?!" the head of house spat, his face grave.

"No!" Karen almost screeched, and her fist slammed into the table. "He will accept the way we must live, all he needs is time. Just leave him alone."

"You know what choice he made last time," Derek risked his life as he argued, but wanted to find out anything he could from the impromptu meeting.

"That was you!" the woman screamed as she recalled the watery prison, "Alone, he would have come to me, we would have been together."

"You really believe that?" the man pushed again, trying to draw any information possible out of the creature.

"Yes, and now he's far enough away from here, you can't interfere," Karen yelled, her tones cut by a mixture of anger and need to convince her opponent.

"He'll come back to us," the Precept countered yet again.

"No, he doesn't remember you, or this place, he won't till it's too late!" came the vehement answer.

The screaming had not gone unnoticed by the rest of the house, and the two women came running. As they came through the door, Karen's patience with the discussion came to an end.

"Leave us be!" she screeched one last time, before she blurred into a form which was gone through the window in a moment.

Nick -, the pause was strange in the young man's head as for the umpteenth time he failed to remember what went after his first name.

It wasn't nothing that filled the space where the designation should have been, but a mess of emotion and ideas that didn't make any sense. Strong, heady feelings touched his mind, bringing a quickness to his breathing and pulse when he challenged the confusion, some were pleasant, a remembered exhilaration, a deep joy, but others spat fear and horror into his being. All were mixed together with half-seen images of mostly a woman. She was beautiful, incredibly sensual, and the memory of her naked body so close to him brought a hotness to the young man's cheeks and sometimes more. Yet he knew instinctively that she was capable of the death about which the doctor had spoken carefully to him. He felt warm and satisfied with the vague recollection of her touch, but then in another thought, he trembled in sickness at what she had done. His brain was a bomb site with everything tumbled into the wrong places, broken and indecipherable.

Not only his mind felt strange, however, and Nick sat back from the cold food that still lay on the tray in front of him, his appetite nowhere to be found. Something told him that he would usually have eaten, Hungry or not, you never know when the next meal will appear, he recalled his own reasoning, but had no basis for the conclusion. It was just another shortfall to add to the pile of other unfounded thoughts. Now he focused on his body, the lack of hunger in his belly - it wasn't that he felt full, he knew his stomach to be empty, he hadn't eaten in some time, but he could not find the usual human need to fill the hole that was left.

Maybe it was all due to shock, like the doctor said. He'd been through a lot, the tenderness of his wrists testified to that. Yet, somehow, the anxious patient didn't think so. There was more stirring in his spirit than reaction to the events of the past night. Nick didn't want to face those other piques in his being, they suggested something his conscious mind wasn't ready to accept and that subliminal dread kept the healing of his memory from truly beginning. Occasionally, things clarified in his brain, but they were not actively sought. Instead, the young man chose the distance from the world which held the barriers in place that much longer.

The young man blinked slowly and lifted his head to gaze at the door as it opened. It was his only acknowledgement of the body that appeared round the frame, his expression still cold and blank. That wasn't what he was feeling inside, he recognised this man from earlier that morning, he had stood over him, waking him from the stupor in which she'd left him. Yet, the effort required to greet the face, which tried to smile in a friendly way, caused the currents in his soul to churn a little further, and so he held back from the active expression. He merely watched as the uniformed man closed the door and took the seat next to the bed.

"Nick?" the newcomer enquired, awkward with the stony silence.

The youth nodded, and looked down, away from the curious stare which asked too much of his memory. Still the crisp white sheet onto which his eyes settled was little better - he wasn't naked now, he wore a hospital gown, but he still felt the same helplessness he recalled when covered by a similar item. He snapped out of the momentary musing as his companion drew his attention again.

"Nick," the man repeated more definitely, "I'm Sheriff Greebo. I and my deputy found you this morning."

"I remember," Nick found his voice, dry and wispy though it was.

"Good," the policeman smiled encouragingly, but without much conviction, "at least that's a start."

His face straightened once more as the bleak attention was returned to him. He took in a deep breath, and the distaste in his face could not be hidden. The man was serious as he requested, "Look, I have to be honest with you, Nick, you're the only lead I have in this case at the moment. If you can remember something, anything that could help us..."

The young man sighed and closed his eyes. He didn't want to contemplate the tangle that he found in his head, and he shuddered against what he found. Yet, there had been a desperation in the Sheriff's sound that made him push at the jumble. A frown creased his brow and he gasped in a breath as the enquiry hurt him on a mental level. He retreated from the verge of discovery, afraid very suddenly. His eyes were wild and scared as he glanced at Greebo. One word escaped his lips, and it was said with such dread that it froze both of them - in a whisper he managed, "Succubus."

The officer recovered first, and he just echoed the statement as an incredulous question, "Succubus?"

Nick just nodded once more, that one word having cost him his power of speech. Now emotion had reached the surface, he couldn't hide the horror that the notion inspired him. That was what she was, and she'd done something to him. Yet, he had only a nasty feeling about how the sexual demon had affected him, and he hung back from expressing that to his companion. Greebo obviously wasn't sure how to take the sincere admission - he had understood the term, but fixing it with a real event was not something he appeared prepared to do. The young man was almost as scared of the disbelief he saw in the man's face as he was of the declaration. He knew instinctively that the distrust of his disclosure was dangerous - it would lead to no good. Yet, the mute invalid could do no more to convince his companion. Instead, he retreated, curling his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around them and bowing his head into them.

Shortly his observer rose from his seat and the door closing signalled that the beleaguered young man was once more alone.

Bruises, large purple welts had begun to appear on Derek's neck where the grip had almost suffocated him. His throat was sore and he started as Rachel applied a small pressure to one of the developing marks. The woman stood back with, "Sorry - well, there's no permanent damage, but it'll be tender for a good while."

"She could have killed me, Rachel," the Precept launched into an analysis of the events leading to the bruising, "but she didn't. She was almost desperate to warn me off finding Nick."

"Maybe that means what she's done to him isn't as permanent as she claims," the doctor suggested hopefully. "If she's that bothered by us finding him, maybe it isn't too late."

"The final step she mentioned," the man agreed with a nod, but then chose to be the devil's advocate as he countered, "but I've never read anything in the succubus legends about this kind of conversion."

"Could be new to her as well," Rachel was determined to see the bright side, "she may not be sure about how it works either."

Derek's look was doubtful; this was a creature who counted her life in centuries, could she be that ignorant of her own powers.

"Look," the blond woman argued logically, "you said she told you she loved Nick like no one else. It could be the first time she's ever wanted to pass on her immortality."

"We have to be prepared for the worst, Rachel," the man took his friend's hand as he met the desperate hope in her eyes. "We must be ready to deal with whatever condition we find Nick in."

"You mean to destroy him if we have to," the doctor pulled away from the stark truth her companion posed, and there were tears in her eyes as she turned her back on him.

"Yes," the man could offer no comfort, even as his own heart ached at the thought of such a terrible possibility.

The cold prospect settled them both into silence, caught in their own worlds of regret and loathing. That was how Alex found her two colleagues. She paused for a moment at the icy gap between the close couple, but her face was bright, hopeful and she did not hold back the news she was carrying for long.

"The police have found Nick's car," she breathed excitedly.

Four hours later, enquiries were being made in every small town within twenty miles of where the mustang had been found abandoned. The police were working on a mixture of half-truths, the MO of black-eyed bodies and descriptions of both Karen and Nick, but no mention of the supernatural capabilities of the creature for which they were searching. Alex had gone to liase with the officers on the case, while her colleagues began focusing their own resources into the immediate area of the find. They were monitoring local police reports, hospital admissions, even radio stations for unusual news bulletins, anything in the locale that could suggest the succubus' hiding place.

He shifted, half waking as the cooler air of the room touched his legs, but he didn't open his eyes until he felt the brush of soft fingers on his stomach and a weight settled onto his abdomen. Nick gazed up at the exquisite visage in a dreamlike state - she wouldn't let him wake properly, he'd have panicked. Instead, he breathed in pleasurably as her arms pushed his gown off his body and palms rubbed his chest. She was so close to him, kneeling intimately round his lower torso, arousing him without even trying, but his stupor held him back from consummating the union. The young man was passive as his visitor leant down to kiss him. The tenderness of her lips on his caused another contented sigh and his libido woke a little. He pushed back for a moment, but she drew away again, too soon for him. He was pouting like a peeved child when she sat up and smiled down on him.

"I had to see how you were," she murmured, continuing to stroke his flesh in the most delightful manner. "I meant to leave you until you took a life- force yourself, but I couldn't stay away. I wanted to be near you."

Nick reached up to her naked breast and the warm touch of her body around him urged him to respond. He squeezed the soft flesh under his fingers, and moaned as she refused to settle her centre close enough to him to satisfy the need in his body. He was hungry, he wanted her to surrender to his wishes, but despite the pleasure in her own movements as he touched her, the woman would not concede.

"You feel it," her voice was soft, dusky, even as her words revealed the worst, "if I let you take me, I would feed you. Now we can both resist, but your need will grow until you won't be able to hold it back, then I won't be here, then you will attract a mortal woman, then you will kill."

The young man closed his eyes and tried to push up into his lover, the call of his body exquisite in its mixture of need and wont. Yet, she lifted herself away once more and he complained in a growl of frustration. His grip on her tightened. The woman gasped in pain at his vicious grasp, and the sound was horrible. Nick recoiled from the hurt he was inflicting before he forced himself on his partner, releasing her in shock of what he had been about to do. He whined at the loss he felt in his being as she scrambled off him, anxiety in her eyes. He curled over onto his side, cold and wasted by the withdrawal. Horrified by what had so nearly been, his mind wandered back into the safe haze that protected it; yet the confusion could not make itself so complete this time, and the hopeless youth vocalised the pain in his being into one quiet sob.

Greebo charged into the small hospital, his face set in a thin-lipped grimace. He'd been up all night, the redness in his eyes and the shadow around his chin testifying to his dedication to a case that was revealing very little. It was still early, the clock behind the nurse's station flashed 8 am, but recent developments had urged him to turn back to his one witness in the hope of moving the investigation on as fast as possible - Doc Hilliard's naked, black-eyed body had been found in the woods a little way out of town. One dead John Doe was a problem, but a well-known member of the local community turning up dead made the matter a whole lot worse.

The nurse dashed out from behind her desk, placing her absurdly smaller form in the path of the frustrated Sheriff as he headed towards the private rooms. The man liked to think chivalry wasn't dead, and despite his urgency, his habits stopped him from crashing past the diminutive woman who stood her ground as his bulk descended on her.

"Morning Helen," he breathed, his tone short, "I need to see Mr X."

"Not unless Dr Lewis gives his permission," was the stern response.

"I don't have time for this," the officer warned, his pot beginning to boil.

Greebo attempted to side-step the determined blockade, but the woman matched him pace for pace. The policeman really wasn't in the mood for petty bureaucracy and pushed forward. Helen Farmer wasn't the type of woman to back down, however, and he knew it - she was like a terrier with a bone when it came to her job, and she complained, shoving back. The shock on her face was obvious, and made the officer pause, giving ground back to the nurse, but the commotion had already been heard, and someone else stepped in.

"Sheriff," Lewis' cool tone greeted him, as the doctor came out of another patient's room. "It's a little early for visiting."

"This is no social call," the officer moved round the nurse who backed down as her superior appeared. "I need to talk to your patient."

Lewis frowned, his duty to the health of his patient and the urgency in his colleague's manner apparent in the decision. After a short pause he answered, "Alright."

Immediately, the policeman flew down the corridor, the doctor falling in beside him.

"How is the patient this morning?" Greebo enquired tartly.

"He was withdrawn first thing this morning, and is still refusing to eat, but he seems more lucid today," Lewis explained quickly.

"Good," the testy Sheriff hissed, and he thrust open the door to his witness' room.

Nick lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling, focused on nothing in particular and trying to stay that way. Karen's visit was hazy in his thoughts, almost like a dream, but he knew it had happened. They'd found him curled up at one end of the bed that morning where she'd left him, but he hadn't explained what had happened. Something inside told him not to mention the incident, the reaction would only be bad, and it had been a very intimate situation. He was confused by the significance of it, as his mind had protected itself once more, but the instinct that he was different hung heavier in his consciousness. Things were coming back to him, small bits of information, mainly useless trivia, but Dr Lewis had been optimistic about his improvement, and there were bits of feelings and memories from the recent past which, although uncomfortable, the young man was beginning to face.

The patient's mind settled on the events in hand as the door to his room swung in with some force and his attention snapped over to the visitor. Greebo halted rapidly in the doorway as the youth's startled gaze settled on his dishevelled form. Nick recognised a vague guilt in his eyes, this was a caring man strained by circumstances and he regretted the uncomfortable alertness he inspired in his witness. Lewis was hovering behind the large man, and the youth chose to turn his focus on him rather than hold the awkward stare with the officer.

"Are you alright with this?" the doctor asked his patient.

Nick nodded, and began to sit up, he felt perfectly fine physically at least, and it was time to start treating the world like it existed again.

"Come in, Sheriff," the young man invited, centring his attention on shifting his pillows rather than the policeman; when he was finally sat up and gazing at his visitor once more, the investigator had taken the same seat as yesterday. Nick just waited for the man to address the subject which had brought him into the room in such a hurry.

Greebo was apparently in no mood for pleasantries as he launched directly to the point.

"We found Doc Hilliard, the owner of the house you were held in," the Sheriff explained, "he was murdered like the other man."

"I'm sorry, I can't tell you much more than yesterday," Nick lamented, his lack of memory beginning to frustrate.

"You called her a succubus," the officer began his enquiry proper, "what did you mean?"

"That's what she -," the young man paused as he realised what he was about to say; he held back from it as he considered the man's possible reaction, and corrected himself, "thinks she is."

"So she finds men, has sex with them and kills them," the Sheriff was nothing if he wasn't blunt.

Nick frowned at the stark description of what the woman he remembered did; he was having difficulty reconciling the tender beauty with the cold killer that she so obviously was, and his feelings for her were uncomfortably mixed. The youth did not share his emotions with the investigator, but he was forced to face them himself as the question was presented, "Why didn't she kill you?"

"She likes me," the young man's tone was sharp, angry, and his eyes blazed as he glared at Greebo; the feelings were just a reaction to the confusion in his soul, and he settled guiltily. Then something occurred to him out of the tangle of partial memories, something that could help, a peace offering for his snarl. His face grimaced in concentration as he tried to pull more than just the brief instinct from the soup in his brain, and he disclosed, "I know her, we've been together before. She's done this before."

"Where? How long ago?" the Sheriff's voice was hopeful at the piece of new information.

Silence - tense as one man waited for the other who searched his memory. Nick delved into the confusion, trying to piece together the bits of recollection associated with his succubus. Yet all he saw was her face, sometimes calm and smiling, sometimes revelling in pleasure at his touch, and all he remembered was the smell of her body close to his. The young man growled and slammed a fist into the bed clothes as his mind refused to give up its secrets.

"I don't know," he complained at his own bafflement, his volume building as he vented his feelings. "I can't remember. I can't remember anything!"

Nurse Farmers dashed into the room at the sound of her patient's yells, her manner concerned, but also holding a disapproval, which she aimed at the Sheriff. Nick bowed his head into his hands trying to force some inkling of useful memory into his conscious mind, wordless noises of effort and frustration escaping his lips. He barely registered the carer hustling his interviewer out of the room as he lost himself in the attempt to make sense out of his thoughts.

Greebo put down the cup of very strong coffee and stared more intently at his computer screen. After the tumultuous interview with his witness, he'd decided to check out murders in the last year to try and throw some light of his own case. He'd been at the desk two hours, scanning reports from all over the state and now, finally light appeared at the end of the tunnel. The photograph of a dead man sat on his screen, a deputy from a small town called Crestridge about two hour's drive away. What attracted the Sheriff's attention was the inky holes which sufficed for his eyes. The man very quickly began to scan the file more completely.

As the beeper went off, Rachel started violently, she was on edge and it showed. The woman was tired, it had been a long night of searching and dead ends with no further leads to the whereabouts of their missing comrade. The doctor snapped the gadget off her belt with annoyance more at her own reaction than the interruption, which in truth was quite welcome. Her spirits were low, and there had been no word from Alex for at least two hours; her face showed the drain the situation was having on her spirits as she glanced up at Derek.

"It's the hospital," she told him, "they've sent me a number to phone and it's urgent."

"Take the call," the Precept gave her leave to turn her attentions to the other half of her life.

Rachel was reluctant to leave the search she had begun, but life still had to be lived, and she had responsibilities outside the Legacy. With a sigh, she stood up from the computer and walked across to the nearest phone. Her fingers were heavy as she typed in the number, and she rubbed the bridge of her nose in an effort to alleviate her strained eyes as she lifted the receiver to her ear.

"Greebo," a strained voice on the other end of the line began as the call went through.

"Er, hello," the woman began, "my name is Rachel Corrigan, you left your number with my service?"

"Dr Corrigan," the tone softened somewhat, almost sounding relieved, "I'm Thomas Greebo, I'm Sheriff of Lockfort, we're a small town about a hundred miles west of you. I called your office because I was hoping you could help us in a case."

"Go on," Rachel resisted the urge to dismiss the man out of hand, as she considered that she had better things to do.

"You worked on a case last year dealing with a sexually motivated serial killer, up in Crestridge," the voice continued.

"Crestridge?!" the psychologist almost yelled her response down the phone as she glanced rapidly across to Derek.

The Precept was out of his seat and by her side in seconds.

"Is something wrong?" the tone on the other end was concerned.

"No, no, Sheriff," Rachel tried to contain the mixture of hope and alarm that filled her. "Please, go on."

"Well," came the explanation, "I have two bodies like the ones documented in the murder reports from Crestridge, and one witness whose only memory is that his name is Nick."

"Nick Boyle?" the woman couldn't hold back the joy in her voice as the chance that their friend was within reach displayed itself.

"He doesn't remember," came back the response.

"Short brown hair, dark eyes, average height?" Rachel threw the description at the officer.

"That's him," the man on the other end of the line began to sound hopeful, "who is he?"

"A colleague of mine who went missing two days ago," the doctor breathed excitedly, "Where did you say you were?"

"Lockfort," the answer was heard by Derek as well, and he went to check a map.

"She had us looking in completely the wrong place," the Precept observed as he brought up the map of local counties.

"We'll be with you...." Rachel continued the conversation with the policeman, but looked to her companion for help on the time frame.

"Within the hour," the man assessed the distances and tasks to be completed first.

The psychologist repeated the disclosure and then made a hasty goodbye. She turned to Derek, and his manner echoed her excitement.

"We'll take the helicopter and pick up Alex on the way," he told her, and they headed rapidly out of the room.

The hospital room was beginning to feel a little small to Nick; as the shock wore off, he was paying more attention to the world around him and was recognising that his body at least did not require much more healing. He'd asked for his clothes back, only to be told that the police still had them and offered a robe. He'd taken a quick wander down the corridor to the bathroom, to stretch his legs and answer the call of nature, but the nurses had been keeping a close eye on him. The young man wondered if they thought he was going to bolt. He'd considered walking around a bit further, but the idea seemed to make the staff nervous and with two of them hovering round him he'd allowed himself to be led back to him room without much resistance. They provided him with a couple of magazines, so he'd sat down in the chair and tried to concentrate on reading.

Half an hour later, and the glossy pictures were out of focus on the young man's lap as he stared inward. Karen's visit was coming clearer the more he thought about it, and the message she had delivered wasn't one he wanted to hear. The impact of what she was and what she had done to him were becoming greater in his spirit, and he could no longer deny the stirring of supernatural forces within. Other memories were still distant, but he dwelt on the influence of the seductive creature as the energy currents in his body became fascinating. He recalled the exquisite pleasure his lover has inspired in him and the pain that had replaced it when she denied his wont. He felt that need again, and it was growing stronger, a base, animalistic force that possessed his whole being, slowly pushing aside any other considerations in his mind. He wanted a body close to him, a life- force he could reach out and touch and from which he could draw. The slowly developing creature instinctively knew how he could tap into the strength of a living being and the idea was enlivening, quickening his pulse as only the touch of his succubus could do otherwise. His mind did not consider the cost of such an action, only the intense reward that would be gained.

Suddenly the possibility in the would-be demon was given vent; it was lunch time at the hospital, and a lovely young nurse walked in with his tray, but Nick attention couldn't have been further from the covered food. He smiled at her bright persona, a winning gaze which inspired a like return from the pretty woman.

"Good afternoon," she greeted warmly, placing the irrelevant platter onto the bed, "and how are we feeling now?"

"Much better, thank you," the young man returned, his tone hauntingly silky.

The bonnie young thing noticed his intense gaze on her, and giggled, she was obviously used to male libido finding her attractive and seemed to take his interest as a sign of his return to health.

"If my Paul caught you looking at me that way, he'd take you outside, invalid or not," she laughed, as yet still amused by his attention.

"Paul?" the new creature hooked onto something he felt from the woman as he concentrated on her.

Nick could feel her life-force, even apart from her, and it was telling him things. He felt the boyfriend she spoke of, her love for him, her desire; there was a large sexual element to the relationship and it fired the need in the half-made being.

"He's a mechanic at the only gas station in town," the woman disclosed casually as she began to uncover the food on the tray ready for eating; she was doing far more to prepare herself for sustenance.

The man personified in her affections as she recalled him and the stalker stood smoothly letting her will touch him. Nick felt his body change, he hadn't done it consciously, but as he recognised it, he knew how it was done. He smiled hungrily and whispered in a voice not his own, "Sweetstuffs."

The nurse turned round and the fork she was holding fell from her fingers and her mouth went slack as she saw her Paul standing in front of her where the strange young man had been. The youth drank in her heated shock, his stare flashing with the strength her sudden attraction gave him. It spurred on the creature and his being oozed his wont. He stood still for a moment, letting her take in the transformation, allowing her disbelief to drift away with every deep rise and fall of her breast.

"Pauly?" she murmured, not quite trusting her own eyes.

Yet she put faith in her feelings, and it was obvious that the young woman recognised the electricity that had sprung up between the two bodies.

"You always said it'd be fun to do it at work," he rumoured as he picked up on the urge in the other body.

She laughed nervously, a hand going to her chest as her heart fluttered at the passion in his voice. Her long lashes batted as she felt her temperature flush, her mind wandering to places she usually kept for the privacy of the bedroom. She started as he took a step smoothly towards her; Nick stopped, waiting for her emotions to settle a little, and he smiled sensuously, cocking his head to one side. His eyes glistened with the fire in his body, the call was building as she responded to his call - it was easy, and what was more, it was exhilarating. The half-demon was enjoying the seduction. Slowly he raised an arm towards her, asking her to step into his fatal embrace.

Derek flew into the entrance hall of the cottage hospital, Alex and Rachel close on his tail. The dark young woman couldn't hide the hope in her eyes as she picked out the tall, uniformed Sheriff from the staff. He was standing at the nurses station, waiting for the break in his case where Rachel had agreed to meet him, and he had no difficulty in spotting the strangers entrance.

"Dr Corrigan," the man gazed at the two women.

"I'm Rachel Corrigan," Alex hung back as her friend held out a hand.

"Tom Greebo," the other nodded, taking the offered palm.

"These are my colleagues, Dr Derek Rayne and Alex Morreau," the psychologist introduced.

The man shook hands with his guests, and then began, "Your friend was found in a house just outside town along with one dead man - the owner of the house was found this morning in the woods that surround the town."

"How is he?" Alex enquired, her concern paramount.

"As I said on the phone, he doesn't remember anything much, he doesn't even know his own last name," the officer disclosed directly. "I haven't talked to him about you yet, I thought seeing you cold might jog his memory."

"Has he been acting strangely?" Derek was the only one of his team willing to address the issues Karen had revealed.

The Sheriff shrugged and began to explain his observation of Nick. Meanwhile, the younger woman drew away from the conversation a little, something attracting her attention on another level. She stared down the corridor, as her psychic instincts piqued on an emanation from that direction. The emotion that washed over her was hot, passionate, sexual. Very suddenly, from the mere feeling, the experience visualised in her head. She saw Nick, but there was something strange about him, his face was indistinct, shifting and she felt danger, then her vision encompassed the young nurse.

"Oh God!" she exclaimed, and then she ran.

She was almost his, her resistance in disbelief was melting away as she drowned in his eyes. The creature revelled in his power, drinking in the fire from his victim's desire. His smile deepened as she took a pace towards his arm; he could almost touch her with his fingertips, but he resisted the urge to grasp her too quickly, the anticipation was better as he let her come to him freely. Her breath was short in her throat, tiny gasps which raised her ample chest against the restrictive uniform. The devil merely watched and waited as gradually her hands reached out to him.

Yet the moment was not to be; as the helpless woman brushed his hip with her fingers, the door crashed open and broke the spell. The nurse gasped and took several steps backwards, confused as the mists of seduction left her mind. The seducer was enraged as his work was thwarted, and his harsh stare turned impossibly fast to the intruder.

"Nick?!" Alex breathed in horror.

Then reality came daggering back. Nick blinked as the impact of what he was doing hit him and the facade of Paul disappeared.

"Alex," he muttered as everything started to come back with the sudden catalyst.

The young man was sickened by his actions, and he pushed the instincts of the demon away. The punishment for his denial was immediate. He put a hand to his head as the world spun and his being went weak. He staggered backwards with a moan and fell awkwardly into the chair as the back of his knees contacted with it. Nick's eyes rolled in his head as consciousness flipped out for a second - it returned almost instantly, but he had missed the time it took for Alex to cover the distance between the door and him. He tried to focus on her concerned face, but his gaze kept drifting in and out. His guilt was the only thing in his being which was strong enough to cut through the wave of disorientation, and, his words quiet, but painfully sincere, he whimpered, "I'm sorry."

The horror was gone from his companion as she recognised the helpless self- loathing that wracked his being. There were no words between them, Alex chose action. Gently, the woman pulled him forward and wrapped him in a hug. Slowly Nick reached back, the need drowned for now by his human emotions, and he took the comfort in the platonic way it was intended. Weak and hurting, the young man rested his head on his friend's shoulder and leant on her strength.

An hour later, a silent, subdued man was bundled into the helicopter by his companions, much to the chagrin of the Sheriff, but there was nothing the officer could do; Derek had pulled his usual strings and the authorities had decided to agree with him that the best place for the recovering kidnap victim was at home in the care of the skilled Dr Corrigan. With a promise to pass on any relevant information to the investigation, the Legacy team took their own back to familiar territory.

The sight of home did not make Nick feel any better - he knew what was in his body now, he'd felt it's call and what frightened him the most was that he had enjoyed it. He stayed back from physical expression of his emotions, afraid it would inspire another hunger pang, and just followed Derek into the house as a passive shell. He hung his head, the shame of what had so nearly been still close to his core, and the sympathy around him just made it worse. When all four came to a pause in the hall, the young man shrugged off Alex's touch as she tried to reach inside his hurt and offer comfort, now he didn't trust himself. The woman didn't need telling twice as she caught the anxious glance he gave her and felt a little of the hunger that dwelt within him; she tried to hide the aversion to his instincts, but she never had been able to fool him and he saw it all in her face. It was easier to look at the floor.

Rachel chose professionalism over the personal emotions that she had, and her words were those of the doctor as she ordered, "Let's go somewhere and talk, Nick."

The young man glanced around at his comrades, all three of them gazed back silently, providing their compassion without words. At that moment he was acutely aware of the danger they faced bringing him back into the house. Yet, he was glad to be here, at least even if his instincts were not familiar, then the surroundings were. Even so, he had to protect them from the threat he perceived.

"My room," he chose the location for the dialogue, "it has a lock on the door."

It was a chilling moment when no one denied his reasoning. Rachel looked professional, even if she wasn't feeling it, Alex seemed sad, Derek merely nodded, his sentiment lost in the strange gaze he wore in tense situations. Needing to take control of something in his life, Nick led the way up the stairs.

Nick had sat himself down on his bed in a cross-legged position when Rachel followed him into the room. He was contemplating his hands, a lost look in his eyes and the woman was suddenly struck by how young he looked. This was a man, possibly a dangerous creature, but at that moment he seemed like a small boy. As he looked up, despite the attempt at a faraway smile, that child asked desperately for help. Yet the boy had another side, and as the gaze rested on her, the psychologist felt a pang of fear at the intensity she found there. Nick turned his face away with a sad little laugh as he registered her concern.

"When even you see it, I know it's bad," the young man observed, the humour draining from his manner as he said it, and there was horror in his tone as he admitted, "I would have killed that girl if Alex hadn't come along."

There was no answer to that declaration, it was the simple truth; instead Rachel chose another tack.

"What happened, Nick?" she asked calmly, wanting to draw out at least the human emotion from him.

"I was fine, it was a good day, and then she was in my head," the weary youth sighed, waving an arm in frustration, "she pulled my strings so easily, I ran right to her. Then she killed some poor loser while I was in the same room, and I still wanted her. I heard him scream as he died, but nothing mattered when she touched me. I gave in to her and she changed me."

There was shame and hurt in the young man's demeanour as he confessed to his friend and he refused to meet her eye.

"You feel guilty for letting that man die?" the doctor addressed one of the key issues.

"No," Nick surprised her at his surety in that statement, but then he continued, "I was tied to the bed, I couldn't do a damn thing. I'm ashamed that she came to me after she'd killed him and I took her. I didn't fight then, I wanted her. She didn't even need Julia, I wanted her, Karen, and nothing else mattered."

"You love her," Rachel clarified as he fell guiltily silent.

"Yes," came the answer, his voice small and worried.

"Even after what she's done to you?" the psychologist pressed.

"I enjoyed seducing that nurse," Nick spat back, and he met her gaze once more.

He was aiming to shock, and despite her years of training, the doctor showed that he had succeeded.

"I would have enjoyed killing her," he whispered coldly, the ice in his tone not quite reaching his eyes.

It was the pain that remained in his stare which gave Rachel hope, and she fought back against his defeatism.

"Not all of you Nick, I can see that much in the way you're acting now," she countered genuinely. "Do you think she feels guilty about what she does? No, that's the difference between what she is and what she's done to you. There was part of you which fought what you were doing - that's why she made you forget, your past, your beliefs, your morals, they stopped you from going all the way."

"Then, maybe," the young man warned, "but Karen said the hunger will grow, and it has, even during the flight here. Yeah, sure, part of me's thinking, get it off your chest, talk to Rachel, talk to Derek, they'll help, but do you know really want to know what another part of me is working on - it's thinking, her husband's dead, she's still vulnerable about that, work on it, use it, take her."

Nick yelled the last few words, and the horror on his companion's face was undeniable. He knew his friend, and he went for the jugular with his admission - he needed to frighten her, to make her see how dangerous he really was. It worked. Yet, the young man could not hold the hard stare which accompanied the out burst, and he hung his head once more.

"Please, leave me alone," he requested.

The woman nodded slowly, her concern fighting a losing battle with her common sense. She turned, wordless still after his vicious attack, and headed out of the room.

"Rachel," his calmer, apologetic tone stopped her retreat, and she looked back over her shoulder at his anxious face; he finished, "Lock the door behind you."

Rachel nodded, and she bit her lip, demonstrating that she was resisting an urge to begin the conversation again - they both knew that now was not the time for either of them. Nick flopped down onto the bed and closed his eyes as he listened to the key turn in the lock. Morbidly he wondered how much of a defence the portal would really be against whatever he was becoming - it wasn't a pleasant thought.

Derek and Alex looked up from their relative positions either side of the kitchen table as Rachel joined them; their conversation had been held in a low murmur, their mood subdued by the condition in which they'd found their comrade. The Precept took one look at his colleague's white features and knew something was wrong.

"What happened?" he enquired, pulling out a seat by him for the gaunt-faced woman.

Rachel was almost shaking as she sat down, and accepted a mug of coffee Alex passed to her as almost an anchor for her hands. She remained silent for a moment, obviously composing herself, and Derek gave his younger female companion a glance which told her to hold off any questions she had for the moment. So the trio sat in tense silence. In the company of her calmer friends, the woman recovered herself and she sighed. Instead of answering her comrade's question directly, she gave an evaluation of their affected colleague.

"Well, Nick's depressed, angry, frightened," the woman disclosed disconsolately, but then added as some kind of consolation, "but at least he's feeling guilt over what he tried to do, it shows our Nick is still there."

"But for how long?" Alex surprised her Precept by addressing the harsh reality so directly.

The psychologist looked uncomfortable, and stared down at her coffee as she assessed, "I don't know. He admitted part of him was thinking out how to seduce me. He seemed disgusted by the idea then, but he said the hunger, as he put it, was growing."

"Then neither of you are going to be alone with him again," Derek decided firmly. "I'll be present at all meetings, at least his hunger won't be directed at me."

"That's fine for the moment," Alex complained with sudden fervour, her eyes blazing with the concern for her comrade, "but how do we turn this around?"

"We have to talk to Karen again," the man voiced the thoughts he had been musing since discovering Nick's condition, "she may be his only hope. She says she loves him, maybe she will release him. She will come here when she discovers that we've found him, and then we have to try and reason with her."

No one looked too hopeful at that prospect - the succubus was a dangerous uncertainty at best and they all knew it. The looks they gave each other were helpless. Derek recognised the despair that was close by, and he fought against it. Playing a waiting game was not what they needed, and so he decided, "Alex, check all our records for anything on the nature of a succubus. This can't be the first time this has happened, there must be folklore which covers it, there may be another solution there. Rachel, you and I are going to have another talk with Nick, and I think we must start looking at some kind of tranquilliser to pacify him before his need gets much stronger."

Something to do seemed to brighten his youngest companion's countenance a little, and she dashed off with purpose in her movements. That left Rachel, and her face was white at the prospect of confronting Nick again. The concern Derek showed her was recognised and she faced her emotion by explaining, "Nick frightened me. I have dealt with murderers, the criminally insane, but when he looked at me none of my training mattered. It was Shamus and Patrick all over again. I just couldn't handle it; he ran me out of the room with it."

"Are you okay to go back up there with me?" the man asked gently, reaching to take her trembling hand.

Slowly, the woman nodded.

Nick sat on the edge of the bed and stared down at the gun in his hand. It was a good weight, felt right resting in his palm, clean, well-kept, ready for use. His fingers closed round the butt as his felt the energies in his body push at the human that was left. There was still part of him capable of resisting the supernatural call, but it was growing weaker; his mind kept drifting and always now it came to rest on the hunger of the beast within. Was it time to stop this before matters moved out of his control? He'd picked up the weapon from the drawer after Rachel's footsteps had died away down the corridor - she'd almost be trotting to leave him as far behind as possible. The young man hated what he'd done, but as he talked to her, he'd realised that he couldn't trust himself in her company. Soon he wouldn't care, and that was frightening.

The young man breathed in deeply, holding back the emotion he was feeling, trying, for a small moment, to think straight. He centred his mind on the pistol, his ally in many a confrontation, now, possibly the source of release. Did he really want death, or was that the possibility which scared him most, the fact that he liked what he was becoming?

"Karen," he murmured, tired of the internal battle which was becoming steadily more definite. "I love you."

His grip tightened on the gun, but he couldn't find the compulsion to lift the weapon from his lap. The muscles in his arm tensed, but the power in them merely transferred to a shaking of his usually steady hand. Indecision held the young man immobile, the quandary absorbing his whole attention, so much so that he did not hear the door unlock. Only as two bodies entered and froze at his situation did the young man look up. Derek's face was horrified as he took in the loaded pistol and Nick's intentions became clear. Rachel hung back, so the youth ignored her, focusing on his mentor and friend, and he showed him the confusion in his soul.

"What do I do, Derek?" he asked plaintively. "I can't stop this thing."

"Hang in there, Nick," the man responded as calmly as he could, "we've only just got you back, give us time to work this out."

"I don't have time," the young man hissed through gritted teeth.

"Give me the gun, Nick," Derek held out his hand, and his tone was firm.

They were statues for a few moments, one man so sure, the other lost in despair. Yet, Derek Rayne was strong, and his leadership abilities came into play. Slowly, the hopeless creature reacted to his command. Nick looked down at the gun and it seemed less friendly. Then he took it in his left hand, barrel first and offered it blindly to his comrade. He let the object slip easily from his fingers as the older man took it gently from him, and then he returned his hand to his lap. A laugh escaped his lips, a small, pathetic sound.

"Nick!" his Precept's tone was of command and the young man's gaze snapped back up to make return to the hard stare he received. "There is still time, and we will solve this problem together. Alex is researching the succubus as we speak; we are also expecting Karen to come for you, if she does, we will be waiting."

"And meanwhile?" Nick questioned, now paying slightly more attention to Rachel and the doctor's bag she was carrying.

His glance was noted and the woman brought the tools of her trade forward.

"I'm going to sedate you," she disclosed quietly, her manner still subdued from their head-to-head, "it may buy us some time."

The young man nodded, it would bring some temporary relief anyway. He stayed as still as possible while Rachel settled her bag on the bed beside him; he was aware how uncomfortable he had made her, and didn't attempt to meet her gaze. Yet, he had to make amends, this could be the last time he had a chance to speak to her on these terms and he didn't want this to be the way she remembered him.

"I'm sorry Rachel," he murmured sincerely.

He found a hand in his almost as soon as he'd said it, and the woman squeezed his palm. She smiled warmly as he gazed across at her open face, and she reassured, "I understand."

The curl of the lip he managed in return was a little bleak, but it was better than the suicidal hopelessness of seconds earlier. Derek seemed to take the moment as promising, and strode round the side of the bed into the young's man's view as Rachel continued to prepare a hypodermic. Nick met his superior's gaze as forcefully as he could, the small gesture of affection having helped enormously - it helped him face the future.

"Can you tell us exactly what Karen did to you? It might help us find a cure," the Precept once again addressed the very intimate subject.

"Instead of taking my life-force when we made love, she gave me some of hers," the young man explained plainly. "It was like a light coming from her face into mine."

"I'll pass that on to Alex, it might turn something up," Derek frowned as his mind began turning over what was being said. "Can you remember anything else significant?"

Nick shrugged, despite the return of his memory, those few minutes with Karen were still very hazy, mainly sense and emotion.

"Could you roll up your sleeve for me, please?" Rachel interrupted the dialogue and drew her patient's attention.

"What is it?" the young man indicated to the syringe as he obeyed.

"Something that should knock you out for a good few hours," she answered, clearing the instrument of air bubbles.

Nick looked away as she rubbed his arm with antiseptic and shortly afterwards he felt the entry of a needle and then fluid into his body. It was amazing how quickly the cocktail started to work, and his vision blurred almost immediately.

"Woah," he muttered, feeling himself begin to lose balance, and hands led him gently down as he relaxed backwards onto the mattress.

The young man was dozing before Derek had lifted his feet onto the bed.

Despite scouring their research texts, as the evening wore on, it became increasingly clear to the Legacy House that they were playing the waiting game. Rachel hovered over her patient, who had been put to bed, Alex swore at unenlightening databases and Derek trashed the library trying to locate anything that could be considered relevant. They were restless and mainly silent as they forced each other to pause for food and then eventually sleep. The San Francisco House descended into silence as the clock displayed 4am, but it could not have be called peaceful.

The sedative was beginning to wear off on the creature that Nick was becoming, and he shifted in the forced sleep as the power within fought to reach the world. He moaned, his tone low and menacing, his hunger bringing him close to reality when it piqued. Yet human medicine still held onto what was left of the mortal man and kept him in slumber and eyes which opened without seeing, closed quickly again, frustrated by the potent cocktail in his veins. Against his almost constant vocalisation, the sound of the door opening was a vague sound, and could not disturb the young man anymore than his own being.

Nick was unaware of the visitor who slipped into his room, silent save for the pad of her bare feet on the floor. Karen drifted gracefully over to the side of the bed and stood gazing down at his fitful sleep, her attention enwrapped. He felt her, even through the haze, and her creation calmed a little. He lay almost still, only his rapid breathing disclosing the conflict between modern potions and ancient magic. Then the woman sunk down onto the edge of the bed and reached out to touch his glistening brow. Her fingers ran over his skin and he warmed to her, even in slumber, bending his face to her palm which came to rest on his cheek. Wordlessly he mumbled his unconscious welcome.

"Hello, My Sweet," the succubus murmured, a smile playing over her lips. "Time for you to be with me."

The young man stilled completely as she leant down to him. She paused, inches from his lips, and then kissed him hard. A little more energy shuddered into the new being and he started like an animal stung. The rest of the sleeping draft in his body evaporated and his eyes snapped open. Instinctively, the man reached out to the woman as his hunger made itself plain once more. Yet, as his hand brushed the light cotton of her dress, she backed away. The pain in his face was that of a child refused a cuddle, but the look was deceptive. Karen knew her creation too well, and she recognised the calculation under the surface; he wanted sustenance and he was going to use any means to get it.

"Not me, My Love," she cooed, standing and walking towards the door, "there is another waiting for you."

Nick's thoughts were focused on one thing, the life-force of a woman, and he slid out of the bed as a hunter after prey. He was oblivious to the vague fear in Karen's eyes as she led him out of the room, he saw only the sensuous body barely hidden under the thin dress, and he wanted her. He stalked slowly, enjoying the thrill of the advance, ensnared by the pulse he sensed from her being. Yet his pace increased as they entered the corridor, he was hungry, and games could be saved for later. He reached out for his lover and grimaced nastily as she shifted rapidly out of range. He tried again, lunging for her body this time, but she backed deliberately into a door well and he stumbled into her as she opened the door.

He pushed close to her, and she was frightened, her chest rising and falling as her heart beat too fast. Yet, she met his starved gaze and then turned her head to what the portal revealed. The scent of mortal life filled his being as he too laid his attention on the chamber into which they strayed and it drew him in. The succubus stayed near the door as her creation took a few steps towards Alex's bed. The beautiful woman was curled over a book of witchcraft she had taken to bed to study, asleep in exhaustion.

The young demon padded further around the bed, but paused a little way off, captivated by the peace in his victim's face. Something stirred in his being, a short pang of an emotion which was swallowed by the need in his being before it was really recognised. Still, it caused him to turn and look to his maker for guidance.

"You want her," she whispered silkily, "think of a way to take her."

The instruction was so simple, and focusing his attention once more on the slumbering form, he remembered a way. A college boyfriend, Michael Holen, she'd once told him in a private moment of her sorrow when he'd run from her psychic abilities. The young woman still kept a picture in her wallet of the man she'd left behind in New Orleans, and his image returned to the seducer as clear as when she's shown it to him. Her life-force heady in his vicinity, Nick let his body adapt. His skin darkened to a smooth coffee colour and his build slimmed considerably. The face which gazed down at the young woman was Afro-Caribbean, and his dark eyes smiled as he drank in her aura. He felt her stronger now as he concentrated, and her ephemeral existence sung to him in tunes only he could hear; not even his succubus could sense this, her skills being trained in the opposite direction, it was he alone who shuddered with the strength he could feel so close. There was no question of drawing back this time, his hunger threw strands of compulsion between he and his victim, which would not be denied, and he strode forward.

"Alex," he called, his voice adjusting even as his prey heard it and thought more clearly of the man he mimicked.

The woman woke a little, but not enough, so the creature threw out his web and leant over the bed. He was in her mind and she stirred, her abilities feeling, but too late. He smiled as she opened her eyes and saw her Michael, and she blinked, unsure of the senses she could never trust.

"Hello, Alex," he murmured smoothly, bending closer as he felt her emotions stir, "it's me, Michael."

Alex frowned, she wasn't convinced of her own eyes, but she was too caught by the already laid spell that she lay still, gazing up at him. Despite the doubt, her heart began to pound and a colour came to her face as the closeness inspired memory.

"I'm not afraid anymore," the impostor cooed warmly, brushing her face, testing the arousing life he felt there.

"Michael," the young woman began to give in to the facade, her feelings leading her into the danger that her mind would have denied given only a moment's chance.

"I'm so sorry, My Love," he reached right for her emotional scars without remorse, wanting, feeding on the wealth of passion that he had uncovered even before he began the seduction in earnest.

Alex responded to his light caress, reaching for his hand and clasping it close to her face, wanting him to stroke her more definitely. The joy at seeing her lover again was potent, drawing him on, and he played to her wont, sitting down on the bed and leaning in.

"I missed you so much," she breathed, pain in her voice at the admission.

The demon thought he ignored it as he brushed his lips against hers, but something inside mixed with the powerful need and it was not lost so quickly this time. The woman drove back into his embrace, trapped in the pretender's snare, her body warming to his caress as his laid a hand on the thin silk of her night-dress. Nick tasted his victim once, drinking on a mortal level, enjoying the touch of her mouth over his, but something nagged within, something which spoke of the wrongness of what he was doing. There had never been anything but a platonic relationship between him and Alex, and that knowledge broke through the devil which led him. Suddenly, he pulled away, confused as two instincts clashed. He broke the spell.

Alex gasped in horror as the facade fell away and a man suddenly in pain fell across her legs. The punishment for denial was far worse than the disorientation of before, the young man's being screamed at him as he refused to fulfil the need.

A voice from the doorway urged, "Take her Nick, take her now."

"No," he groaned, his fingers clawing at the bed clothes as he fought the wont in his own body.

The mortal was stunned into immobility, still an easy target, but the ease of the kill was lost forever. She meant too much to the creature who convulsed on her bed and he could not reach back and force himself onto her.

"You must," Karen pressed, moving forward to the end of the bed, her tone anxious as she experienced the condition of her creation.

"I can't," the wracked half-monster whined in more than physical pain.

Every shard of the young man's being was in conflict; he needed a woman's surrender badly, but the thought of taking his friend was worse. He would give in to neither wont, both parts of his makeup being too strong. It must have become obvious to his succubus that this was a losing battle, because she chose not to press his fragile sanity any further. The helpless young man gave in to her as she pulled him away from the bed and she supported him as they moved out of the room at a speed too fast for its occupant to follow. Flight, retreat from the conflict between himself and his loved ones was the best option for the struggling creature, and he let his creator lead him away from the danger in which he placed his comrades.

Nick didn't know how they'd travelled off the island, let alone how they reached the expensive apartment into whose front room Karen shoved him. Her vigour was borne of urgency as her companion became weaker, and he leant blindly against the wall where she propped him as she closed the door. The need still burnt as hot as the fires of hell themselves, but the new creature kept on denying them now he had begun. His dissent from the supernatural will was tearing him apart, but the mortal that still remained now knew for certain that he could not take a life in the way his lover wanted. He loved her, and he felt guilt at having let her down.

"I couldn't kill Alex," he moaned unhappily as her attention returned to him.

The succubus moved closer to him, pressing her body against his with an urgency which spoke of her concern for his health. It took the young man a few seconds to realise her intentions, she was offering herself to him; then he backed off once more. He sunk down the wall as he refused the rise she had so quickly inspired, holding out his arms, trying to keep her away. He recalled the fear in her face as he had tried to force himself on her last time, and he knew the root of the reason - he could kill her.

"No, I won't hurt you," he rejected her advance.

Yet, the new creature was feeble with the fight, and she pushed through his arms, settling on his legs and forcing herself close to him. She kissed him and told him with heat in her voice, "You must feed."

The young man turned his face away from the touch of her tongue, but she moved to his neck instead. He tried to push her away, but his arms merely trembled, displaying less than mortal strength, no match for that of a succubus. He moaned, half in despair, half in arousal as she once again raised his temperature with the slightest brush. Her nipples stood proud through the thin dress and tantalised his own bare chest and her thighs gripped his legs as she rubbed herself up then.

"Take me, My Love, I have enough for both of us," she murmured and began to bite his ear.

With a lover so close and the hunger in his body, Nick had no fight left, and he gave in to the passion in his loins. As soon as he surrendered to it, the conflict died and the young man's senses reached for his partner as his body did the same. She was alive, she was warm, and she wanted him as much as he needed her. The couple were almost frantic in their touches and what little clothing stood between then did not last long. Karen's dress was lifted off with ease, and Nick's shorts were pushed down his body as he knelt up into his lover, holding her close and caressing her buttocks. The woman gave way to his embrace as his strength returned with every passionate breath they took and they sunk down onto the carpet under his direction. The man ran his hand up his partner's inner leg and touched her with a force which made her groan. Her back arched as she sank into his deep caress and her knee rubbed into his abdomen to electrify his manhood.

"Now," she ordered through an exclamation of craving.

The half-breed was not about to deny himself or her, and he thrust into her with body with a savagery which spoke for the desperation in both of them. The woman cried out and shuddered as her lover demanded the union and she opened to him. He felt the rush of mortal climax for both of them and then the immortal draw was not far behind. He strained away from her body, held up on his arms above her as power left her being under his direction. Exhilaration filled his spirit and a satisfaction so exquisite it caused him to scream. Karen writhed under him, helpless to his need, pushing around him, giving everything she had.

Body to body, supernatural to supernatural, the coupling lasted for a time neither partner could trace. Then, suddenly, it was over. His hunger met, Nick's draw stopped of its' own accord. He held the locked-arm position for a few seconds as his senses returned, and his gaze met that of his succubus. She relaxed away from him, but her hands reached up to his neck. Locking at the nape, she gave a gentle pull downwards and he followed it. The young man collapsed half on top of his lover and her fingers stroked his scalp as he wondered where his strength had gone.

The Legacy House was in turmoil. Alex had raised the alarm, but the succubus and her mate were long gone. The young woman was in shock and Rachel tended to her while Derek began the now familiar routine of searching. Dawn turned into day unheeded by the frantic group as they fought the growing feeling that their friend was finally lost to them.

The bed was soft, and Nick stretched contentedly before he opened his eyes. He and Karen had sunk into the silk sheets soon after their traumatic union, happy merely to hold each other and fall asleep. Then their attentions had been only for each other, warm and together, yet now, as he woke to the morning, the lithe creature was no longer beside him, and the young man's thoughts turned to other things. As he opened his eyes, he remembered the danger in which he had placed his love and it appalled him. He was frowning when the bewitching woman returned to his senses. He felt her on both a physical and psychical level, and he couldn't help himself, his body roused as he looked across to her naked form.

Karen smiled as she recognised his attraction, but she stayed by the door, holding a plate of toast and nibbling a slice. He made a tortured face at the tease as she displayed herself amply to him and whined helplessly. The woman laughed and continued her path back to the bed. He sat up and wrapped his arms around her supple shoulders as she perched on the edge of the mattress. She leant into him and he kissed her neck. The woman mumbled her pleasure through the crumbs of bread she continued to eat. Her attention being diverted was a little off-putting, but she apparently found it amusing as he complained, merely shifting round and offering him the plate.

"Have some toast," she proffered the food.

Nick gave his lover a dubious look, it wasn't food for which he was hungry. Karen read the insinuation in his manner and told him, "We may not need it, but we can still enjoy it."

The young man gave up the advance for the time being and took the offering. The hot buttered slice did still taste good despite his appetite being for other things, and without human hunger, he savoured the taste for its own sake.

"See," his beloved smiled as he finished the morsel, "it's not real food, but it's tasty."

Real food, then the musings the woman's presence had wiped away, and Nick frowned again. Karen picked up on it this time and asked immediately, "What's that for?"

The youth looked into those wonderful eyes and admitted, "I can't kill."

The woman pouted and broke the gaze, ad she reached hastily to brush crumbs off his chest as she tried, "You'll get used to it."

"No I won't," Nick was sure as he took her hand and held it.

The woman seemed anxious as she met his earnest stare once more. Yet, shortly, she smiled and countered, "Then I'll take enough for both of us. I can feed you."

The young man felt happy when his succubus smiled at him, and he didn't want to face any possibility that she was wrong. He let the matter drop, covering any angst that remained with his passion as she picked up another piece of toast and advanced on him with it held high almost like a weapon. He surrendered to her impetus with little resistance, lying back down and reaching for her as she aimed the crumpled slice of bread at his mouth. He nipped at the titbit as she teased him with it, laughing as he misjudged and almost choked on the food as it hit the back of his throat. They giggled together and Nick drew his love into a messy kiss.

Alex sat at the conference table staring blankly at her Precept. She couldn't express the way she was feeling; she would have done anything to get her friend back, but the creature she had experienced in her bedroom had been so far from him that she was wondering what there was to get back. Evening was drawing on, and there had been no clue as to Nick's whereabouts since he and Karen had run from them. All three companions were beginning to face the prospect that they had lost their friend, only the most stubborn parts of their souls left denying that possibility. They'd been sat here for over an hour in intermittent conversation; Derek had called the meeting supposedly to discuss the progress that had been made during the day. That was no progress at all, and so his real motives had become more obvious. The Precept of the San Francisco Legacy House was trying to face the prospect of declaring his colleague and friend a danger to humankind and an enemy of their society.

Rayne cleared his throat and Rachel looked up from the file she'd been reading for too long. Alex had seen this moment coming, she'd been watching her comrade closely for a few minutes and his resolve had been building.

"Alex, Rachel," he began slowly, his voice strained, but his face hiding the regret well, "I think it is time we faced the truth. Nick left with the succubus of his own free will last night, and he has not returned. Considering his condition when he attacked Alex, we have to assume the worst."

There was silence.

The dark woman remained focused on Derek, and his haunted eyes gazed right on back. Alex wanted to deny the statement, but there was no fight left in her. She had personally experienced the monster that her friend had become and the prospect could not be coloured. Slowly, her finger closed around an object she had kept protected under them on the table all through the meeting. She gripped Nick's SEAL ring in her clenched fist and closed her eyes before she cried. First Julia, now Nick; the Legacy's lost members, it was the nature of their calling, but two from the same house in so short a period was cruel and unfair. She wanted them back!

The sensitive's pain reached out and suddenly she received an answer to it. Alex gasped and opened her eyes as an image flashed through her mind. A view of a park from a high-rise window as the sun was going down. A child was playing on a distinctive clown's face climbing frame, and a dog ran after a Frisbee, leaping into a black-watered pond as the object glided over the surface. A flower-seller was packing up her stall for the night, `Masie's Daisies', said the sign board she pulled around the stand, and then a number, `555 DAISY'. All the contemplations of a long gaze at the area hit her in a moment and the young woman dropped the ring.

"I know where he is," she breathed in shock.

Nick walked away from the window, the beautiful view having little impact on the mood which had settled through him as soon as Karen had left about an hour ago. He knew where she'd gone - to find a victim to feed them, and the idea appalled him. The young man couldn't deny the hunger's presence, it wasn't as bad as the night before, and his lover was determined never to let it get that awful again. Meeting his need had cut her own sustenance in half, and this was a necessary act. The creature now understood the reality of his succubus' claim that she wasn't a monster; it was the hunger that inspired the beast. That knowledge did not make the prospect of being an accessory to brutal murder any better.

In another quandary, the young man sunk down onto the sofa. It was a lovely piece of furniture, luxurious, like everything else in the condo Karen had supplied for them - Nick tried not to think about what had befallen the yuppie owner. Still, there it was, and it soured his expression as he turned to the sound of the door opening.

The young man cringed at the sound of female giggles and steeled himself as Karen fell through the door with her victim. The man was high, that much was obvious from the way he lunged at the scantily clad woman who led him in. The succubus feigned inebriation of whatever sort very well, laughing at the joke that wasn't there and leaning heavily, sensuously on her guest. The man spotted Nick over Karen's shoulder, and he stilled for a moment, his wasted gaze trying to focus on an unexpected variable in this equation. The woman reacted quickly to the stonily silent occupant.

"Jimmy, this is my friend Nick," she introduced, slurring her words and stumbling a litter nearer the bedroom.

"Hi," the young man waved wildly, grinning inanely.

The seated man stayed cold, biting his tongue as he watched the efficient execution; he had an instant dislike for the man, a jealousy which was well founded, but that didn't help his conscience as he pictured what was about to happen.

"Don't mind him," Karen whispered in the way only drunks do so that half the world can hear, "he's in a mood. He'll join us later."

The pair disappeared into the bedroom without further pause and Nick curled up on the sofa, trying to deny the imminent.

Derek drove, Alex directed; she knew the park she had seen and they sped towards it using the road in a way only a 4x4 could.

Nick listened to the sounds of pleasure coming from the bedroom and he recalled the desperate fight he had put up the last time he had been so close to a similar event. He'd been trying to reconcile the necessary with this murder, but the root of his being denied the horror a place in the scheme of things. He felt the mortal close by, not his passion, he couldn't understand that in the way Karen did, but his life-force was most definitely there. The pulse was vital, enlivening, unique and it was going to be absorbed without remorse, without pity. It dawned on the young man, as he recognised these facts, that he could never accept death as a way of life, no matter what the cost. Desperation in his heart, he reacted to his disgust.

The demon-mate ran into the bedroom, taking in the scene in one quick glance. The ignorant victim was lying on the bed, gazing up in adoration at the woman who was giving him so much pleasure. The succubus sunk down around her sacrifice, drawing him on to the point where she would kill. Nick felt the man's life-force reach up to his lover as he arousal came to fruition and he knew she was about to pounce. Karen moaned, the pinned- down figure whimpered as he felt the first signs that something was wrong.

The watcher charged - he would not let this go further. Karen screamed, a long, dangerous sound as he used his supernatural strength to rip her away from the terrified victim. The man cringed away from him as he grabbed him by the shoulders. He had seen the seductress slam into the wall with the force of the powerful throw, and he knew the horror of the demon couple.

"Get your clothes and run," Nick hissed, releasing the cowering form.

Jimmy didn't need a second telling, as demon turned to face enraged demon, he grabbed his cheap suit and dashed for the door. Nick didn't care about him anymore as his attention settled on his succubus. Her face was twisted into a snarl of pure fury and she attacked him. The young man surrendered to the assault, falling back onto the bed as she screamed at him, and scratched and punched. His lack of fight became apparent as he even refused to protect himself from his lover's frenzy, and took the beating.

The 4x4 screeched to a halt off the playground and the three Legacy members tumbled out. It was not difficult to work out which apartment block the view had been from and Alex led the run towards its lobby. As they dashed in, a half-dressed, white-faced man darted out of one of the elevators. It didn't take a genius to put his appearance together with the existence of a succubus in the building, and Derek lunged at him as he headed past them. The scrawny figure screamed and shied away as his open collar was used to haul him up against a wall, and he stared at the urgency in the tall stranger who held him.

"Which apartment?" was the direct enquiry.

The man looked momentarily confused by the oddness of the question, but a shake by the desperate assailant and he blurted out, "506."

He was left, dazed and frightened as the three people dropped him like a hot brick and made use of the elevator he had just vacated.

"I can't take a life, and I won't let you do it as long as I'm near you," Nick finally admitted painfully under the assault. "I can't live like this, so take me now instead of him."

Karen's attack stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and she gazed down at her lover. There were tears in her eyes as she understood what he was saying. A look of utter pain crossed her face and then she turned rapidly away from him, denial heating her voice as she growled, "No!"

The man sat up and reached out to her back, she shrugged of his hand, angry at what he was asking.

"I'm sorry," the man meant what he said, he didn't want to hurt this woman, whatever she was, "but I can't do this, I never could."

"I can keep us both," she began the argument again.

Yet, this time her creation could not be won over by her words.

"No," he answered definitely. "I don't want to be like that, a parasite on you or any woman."

"I can't take it back," she tried the threat, but it was something Nick had already considered.

"I know," the young man accepted the statement.

Karen turned back to him, the water already flowing down her face. Her lover felt the same grief, and he reached out to her. With a sob, the woman sank into his embrace, and they clung to each other, rocking, trying to find solace. They were wrapped in each other when three mortals charged into the room. The succubus remained buried in the hold, ignoring the interlopers on their sorrow, but Nick looked round at the worried faces. He smiled sadly at Derek, and requested quietly, "Please leave us alone."

The meaning was implicit in the moment and Nick said goodbye. His Precept accepted his decision and without objection, he simply turned and left, closing the door behind him.

Nick held his partner until her sobs stopped, and then he rocked her some more. Only as he felt her make her own move to sit back did he let her go. She was still beautiful despite the redness to her eyes, and he wiped at the water in her face with a poignant curl to his lip.

"Make love to me one more time and then I will release you," the woman murmured.

The young man stroked her face, and nodded, it would be a beautiful way to end his life.

Carefully, absorbing every moment they had left together, the couple set about removing Nick's clothes. He was barefoot and clothed only in a loose shirt and jeans, but they took their time with every button, experiencing the brush of flesh on flesh as woman slowly revealed man. First they pushed off the cotton shirt, inch by inch, and his lover kissed ever piece of skin she uncovered. Her touch was gentle, slowly building his fire with the occasional run of teeth on toned muscle. The young man revelled in the foreplay, stroking his companion, making her tremble at his light touch on her back, calling her to him moment by endless moment. He knelt up as she began to work on his pants, helping her aims, but at the same time leaning close to her naked torso, experiencing the bond. The jeans slid down over his firm buttocks under her direction and he rubbed into her groin; she squeezed the flesh under her hands and kept him next to her, feeling his arousal grow. Man kissed woman, his own hands wandering across her body, tantalising, electrifying.

As one, they lay down, the clothing finally discarded with a quick flex, and they wrapped themselves in each other, still content with touching and kissing for the time being. Nick explored his succubus for the last time, savouring the very scent of her stimulation, tasting the salt on her body as he found ways to excite and stretch her passions. She let him explore, moving to his lead, enjoying the will of a man, experiencing his tenderness.

The half-breed could feel his mistress ripening under his attentions, and his own passions flared as he at last chose to move towards consummation. The wont in their souls was not merely for the physical, this was an offering of equals which no hunger required, and it was enlivening. The young man was half lying over his partner's body, and she could perceive his arousal. Woman shifted to accommodate man, and he took the offer. The experienced creature lifted her body to allow him to touch her as deeply as possible, and her breath came in small starts as he navigated her body with full knowledge of her sensitivities. Her nails played over his back in time to her tiny spasms as he moved her towards climax, and the young man felt his own being climb that path as well. They both felt the moment approach, one instant they strove for, and, as one, the couple clung together in ecstasy.

Neither partner made much sound, merely the release of breath as the transport began to fade, and then Nick simply lay down beside his love, an arm still held protectively over her belly. They stayed that way for sometime, content in the peace of satisfaction, not wasting a drop of the time they had left. Yet, nothing could last forever, and the time came to face it. The young man sat up and leant over the succubus; he was ready to face whatever was necessary and he did not need words to express that resolution. Karen stroked his tousled hair and smiled sadly.

"There is only one way we can end this," she murmured. "You were never meant to be anything other than mortal, My Love, and I refused to see that. I wanted you, and my greed has led us to this. I never thought I'd ever see this day, the moment when I would be willing to give up my life for another."

Nick's face clouded as her implication became clear, and he opened his mouth to object, but she laid a finger on his lips and continued, "There is no other way for this to end, Nick, I cannot kill you, I've thought about when we first met, but I've never been able to, and I am the only one capable of doing it. The power I placed inside of you can never be removed, but if I die, it will be neutralised, you will be mortal again.

Don't you see," she laughed, a light, delightful sound, "this way all our problems are solved. If I kill you, we both die, because I don't want to live without you and I will let your friends take me, but this way, your friends won't have to worry anymore, and I will live on when you remember me."

The young man blinked back tears as her resolve was made, and he took her into his arms. Gently she returned his embrace, so lightly that it barely changed as she relinquished life. Yet, Nick felt her go, sensed her vibrance slip away from him, and he wrapped her even closer, trying to hang on to the union of souls. The loss was intense, worse than any hunger, worse than dying himself, and the healing man howled his grief.


Jen sat in booth with her two friends, it was after work on a Tuesday, normal time for a girl's night out, but tonight was going to be different, and she was excited about it. Mags and Heidi had been her friends since college, and she valued their support in all aspects of her life. That included her love life, and she had rearranged their normal schedule in order that they could meet the new man in her life.

"So, how did you meet then?" Mags, the tall, blond man-eater asked the question she knew her companion wanted to hear.

"This is going to sound so corny," Jen gushed, "but it was actually at the market."

Heidi giggled and shook her head, Mags smacked her playfully and nodded for her comrade to continue.

"Well, he just walked past me and I could have sworn it was Richard, I was so sure in fact, I reached out and grabbed him," the woman admitted, putting her hand over her mouth as she recalled the embarrassment.

"Oh Jen, you didn't go out with a guy just because he reminded you of an ex?" her more man-experienced comrade chided.

"No," came the quick denial, "in fact when he turned round I had no idea what had made me think it was Richard, he's taller and has darker hair. Anyway, I was so embarrassed, but he took it really well, and said that he got that reaction all the time and not to worry."

"So that's when you asked him out," Heidi interjected excitedly.

"No," Jen countered again with a wave, "that was two months ago. No, we just kept meeting in the market, and every time we'd pass each other we'd have a joke. Finally we stopped and talked, and I asked him out. I don't know what possessed me, but I asked a guy out on a date."

"This is serious," Mags joked about the normally mousy nature of her friend.

"He was kinda reluctant at first, but I actually persuaded him, me, who wouldn't say boo to a goose," the young woman showed her own disbelief of her actions.

"And so?" Heidi patted her arm and winked at the intimation of what she wanted to hear.

The girltalk volume lowered.

"The date was fun, we went to the fair, and then he walked me home. I invited him in, he said no, then I did it again, I sweet talked him inside," she giggled excitedly.

"Sex on the first date, wow you moved fast," Mags complimented friend on what she saw as an achievement, and then she asked bluntly, "So how'd he rate?"

"God was he nervous," Jen hissed. "Took me an hour of petting on the sofa before he even warmed up - then I undid his flies."

Raucous giggles erupted from the booth, but quietened down quickly as the storyteller continued, "Well, men being men, I had him in the palm of my hand so to speak, and things began to progress nicely. Until that was, it came to actually doing it. In the end, I came down on him, else we'd have got nowhere."

"This isn't sounding too promising," Mags frowned.

Yet, Jen grinned impishly and disclosed, "Things improved rapidly from there on in. He explained that he'd been scared of hurting me, something about his last relationship that he wouldn't talk about. He loosened up, and we started over as much as that was possible. I don't think I've ever been so turned on in my entire sexual career. Three hours he stayed vital, three amazing, passionate hours."

Heidi and Mags looked at each other, and then to their friend and asked in unison, "Does he have a brother?"

All three women started giggling again, and they were still laughing when a body walked up to their booth. The young man in pressed black jeans and a smart leather jacket was soon welcomed by Jen, and she grabbed his hand protectively.

"Girls, I want you to meet the man of my dreams, Nick Boyle."

The End