It was the middle of the night,
as far as Rachel was concerned it was way too hot, and so she
had headed for the kitchen. Having a second home in the Castle
was a great asset, but the bedrooms were one hell of a long
way from refrigerator. It was on her way back with a tall glass
of juice that she nearly bumped into Derek.
"Good evening," he
said with a warm smile, "I didn't expect to meet anyone
at this time of night."
"Me neither," the
woman replied as her heart stopped thudding in her chest.
How the man managed to walk
around quite so quietly she was going to have to find out, him
appearing round the corner at the top of the stairs had scared
the hell out of her. Their relationship was quite a complex
one, they'd been taking it slow. They were both comfortable
in each other's company, but each of them had barriers that
they hadn't yet dropped. Standing there, on the landing, in
her night- gown, Rachel felt suddenly vulnerable. There was
something very male about Derek, and even with the cheerful
smile on his face there was almost a predatory glint in his
"It's very warm tonight,
isn't it," the Precept observed calmly, "I was going
to the kitchen myself."
It was almost like standing
there with a stranger, Rachel just had no idea what to do. She
spent hours with this man, she'd kissed him, held him, she loved
him dearly, but something about this meeting scared her.
"Are you all right?"
Derek saw the anxiety in her face and he moved close, protectively.
"I'm fine," the psychiatrist
replied just a little too fast.
She put the glass down on the
hall table to hide the fact that her hand was shaking. His hand
reached out and rested on her arm supportively, he obviously
had no idea that it was his presence that was causing her nervousness.
Rachel looked up into his face, and saw how much he cared, from
that point she couldn't help herself. With almost wanton abandon
she took his face in her hands and kissed him hard. There was
a moment's resistance, and then his arms entwined her and his
mouth accepted hers greedily. Their bodies pressed close and
human passion met human passion like runaway trains.
How long they stayed like that,
neither of them could have said, but suddenly the hall clock
struck 2 a.m., and it's chimes broke the spell. It was like
Cinderella's coach changing back to a pumpkin at the stroke
of midnight, one moment they were clinging to each other like
a pair of desperate teenagers, and the next they were slightly
apart, blinking at each other.
"Um, ah," was how
Rachel started, "um ... I really should be getting to bed.
I have to be up early tomorrow to get Kat to school."
"Ah, yes," Derek
agreed, at a loss to explain what they had just been up to.
His companion smiled awkwardly
and then fled to her room, leaving her juice sitting on the
sideboard. The sudden urges were a little hard to explain, and
Derek just stood there for a while.
Nick was still grinning to
himself when he walked across the landing towards Philip's room
at ten to eight in the morning. He'd probably been grinning
in his sleep. As far as he was concerned he had had a totally
fantastic evening, and he was still on a high. He and Holland
had touched first base and things were looking extremely good
for a try on second: the ex-SEAL was on cloud nine. As he tapped
on Philip's door he resisted the urge to sing.
They were supposed to be leaving
very shortly for the trip to see one of the ex-coven members,
and the fact that there was no answer from his friend's room
surprised Nick. There had been a very short conversation the
night before and they'd agreed to meet at quarter to eight,
when Philip hadn't shown, the other Legacy member just assumed
he was running a few minutes late. He knocked again a little
louder, well, over sleeping could happen to anyone. The young
man knocked a third time, and was beginning to think he might
have to search the gardens when the door to the next room opened.
A very sleepy head appeared.
"Yes?" Philip asked
without even noticing that Nick's mouth was hanging open.
"Ah, it's nearly eight
o'clock," the ex-SEAL said eventually, "we're supposed
to be leaving soon."
Comprehension dawned very slowly
on the other man's face, he looked somewhat wrecked.
"Oh, damn," he said
as soon as the message was computed, "I forgot. I've only
been asleep for an hour."
He really didn't seem to realise
what he'd said, and the growing stunned expression on his friend's
face did not seem to register.
"Give me ten minutes,"
he said just before diving back into Jasmine's room, "I'll
meet you down stairs."
Nick made it to the main hallway
before he began to laugh.
By the time Philip had showered,
dressed and run down the stairs he was somewhat more compus
mentis, and he couldn't help but notice the funny look Nick
was giving him. There was no time for detailed enquiries just
then, however, since they really had to leave. It was only when
the two were sitting side by side in the Legacy helecopter that
the ex-priest finally brought it up.
"What?" he said pointedly,
as his companion looked at him and smiled for the twentieth
"You really only get an
hour's sleep?" was all Nick shot back with a wicked grin.
Philip tried to look indignant
and managed it for all of ten seconds, until his friend's expression
got the better of him. He still looked slightly embarrassed,
this wasn't the sort of subject he was used to, but he had to
smile as well.
"Yes," he replied
with a sideways glance, "and I'm knackered."
Nick began to laugh.
It was a united female front
which the university was going to see on Friday, but not until
later in the day and Alex was preparing her bag when Jas finally
emerged into the rest of the house.
"Good morning," the
researcher greeted with her habitual cheerfulness, "you're
She was quite surprised when
the other woman just beamed at her. There was something different
about the Guide this morning, and Alex couldn't quite put her
finger on what it was. She was dressed the same as the day before,
jeans and a blouse, her hair was pulled back with the same scruchie,
but she seemed to be walking on air.
"Is there a reason you're
so happy?" the young woman enquired brightly, "or
is this just something I should expect from time to time."
Jasmine had only been in the
house for six days, but she and Alex had already struck up a
firm friendship. Their shared sensitivity gave then a lot in
common, and although the researcher was not the only psychic
in the house, she had been the only female one, Jas gave her
someone to talk to. Each woman would follow the other to hell
and back without much thought.
"Philip came to my room
last night," was what Jas told her best friend.
The two had discussed the difficulties
of a relationship with a man who could fall over the edge into
self guilt, and it took a moment for the light of realisation
to dawn in Alex's face.
"And he didn't leave,"
she wanted to make sure.
The other woman nodded her
"Ewwww, that's wonderful,"
Alex threw her arms round her friend and hugged her.
The researcher knew something
that was right when she heard it, and this was high up there
with almost perfect. By the time Rachel wandered into the control
room, the pair were sitting in a corner having a whispered conversation,
and giggling like school girls. It didn't take them long to
fill her in on why they were quite so cheerful. It was difficult
not to join in the atmosphere.
Rachel and Alex went to the
University just after lunch; Derek spent the day tracking down
and talking to the last ex-coven member, who was in Kenya; and
Nick and Philip met up with the resident Professor of Psychology
at UCLA. It was a busy day, but by the look of the faces around
the conference table that evening, no one could really explain
what was going on.
The meeting had been proceeding
for a good half hour before the silence fell. It was a final,
sort of lost silence: for once nobody seemed to be able to produce
a lead. There were three lists on the table, each containing
names, but not one of them was much help. The first list contained
the names of the coven members who the House considered beyond
suspicion, or more accurately, completely assessed, The second
were those names of people who were neutral as far as instincts
went, and the third were the titles of those who had appeared
hostile to the Legacy. The problem was, only the first list
gave them anything to go on, and that was to rule people out.
There was not the first indication of who might be the saboteur
The coven's description of
events suggested it was a man, but the Legacy were not taking
that for granted. If this person could hide their identity with
magic, they could probably fake that as well.
"This isn't getting us
anywhere," Nick chose to break the deadlock. "We need
more information, or wait until he makes another move."
"That may be too late,"
Alex pointed out calmly.
"But that doesn't change
the facts," Rachel put her oar in, "Nick's right,
we're just going in circles."
They looked to Derek, he would
have to make a decision.
"All right," he said
eventually, "let's adjourn until tomorrow evening. If anyone
thinks of anything, or finds something before then we'll call
a meeting earlier, otherwise we just have to keep digging."
Everyone nodded, what else
could they do?
The atmosphere in the house
had added up to a somewhat difficult evening for Rachel. There
had been little discussion as to whether the psychiatrist and
her daughter would stay: it was the weekend and the circumstances
of the current case made it a forgone conclusions. For the next
two days the small family would reside on Angel Island. This,
of course excited Kat no end, which was why it had taken an
age to get her to sleep. The girl just kept talking: not out
of malice or spite, but simply because she had so much to say.
Her mother had tried to leave her room on several occasions,
and it was only after a couple of house that she was able to
actually get away.
What Rachel was not expecting
when she finally managed to get Kat to sleep, was Derek standing
in the hallway as she walked towards her own room. He didn't
seem to have been waiting, in fact he came to a halt at virtually
the same moment she appeared, but he was carrying a glass of
"It's warmer tonight than
it was yesterday," he said with a smile. "I thought
you might need this."
The ice cubes rattled as he
offered her the container. It was such a thoughtful gesture
and she smiled back at him as she reached out.
"Thank you," the
psychiatrist replied calmly, even as she noted that he took
rather a long time to release the glass after her fingers connected
There was just a moment when
neither of them could decide what to say, and they just looked
at each other.
"About last night,"
Rachel finally said.
They'd been avoiding the subject
all day, but with true professional instinct, the psychiatrist
knew that side stepping her problems would not make them go
away. It was when she first opened her mouth that Rachel watched
an expression appear on Derek's face that few people ever saw:
the Precept of the San Francisco house wasn't quite sure what
"I think the artefact
from the coven is influencing the house," the tall man
took the safest route into the conversation. "Mostly it
seems to be in a good way ..."
There was a `but' coming, Rachel
could tell, and she couldn't quite keep the disappointment off
her face. She thought Derek was going to just brush the previous
evening away. Now perception was one of the psychic's strong
points, not that he always acted on it, but her momentary expression
stopped his speech. The fact that Rachel would not feel nervous
of the encounter any more had not crossed Derek's mind, now
The woman had had all night
to think about the consequences of the previous night, and she
had more than come round to the idea. Every kind of scenario
had travelled through her head, something like this being one
of them, but secretly she had hoped that something might come
of it. They had not really addressed the concept of more than
a superficial physical relationship, it had just been quietly
ignored. Now that was no longer possible.
"Nothing is influencing
me to do anything," Rachel had no idea she was going to
say it until the phrase came out of her mouth, then she had
no choice but to continue, "it's just reminding me that
I'm a woman."
Derek actually looked slightly
stunned and rather pleased. He'd never been what could be termed
sexually repressed, but with Rachel he hadn't wanted to pressure
her into anything. Grief had brought them together and they
had developed a loving, comfortable relationship. It looked
as if it was about to become a little more.
"A very beautiful woman,"
he said quietly.
Rachel reached out her hand
with a half smile.
"Let's go to my room,"
she responded calmly.
of Part 16