Rating: R
Genre: Gothic style historical romance
Summary: The year is 1835. Elizabeth Stanton is injured while fleeing from a forced marriage, but when she realises who her rescuer is she begins to think she may have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. Are the tales about the golden - haired vampire who lives in the old dark house on the cliff, true? Or are they just stories made up to frighten children? She's about to find out.

This is an original adaptation of my all –human AU Spuffy fanfiction. All copyright belongs to moxie and proof of ownership of this story has been legally protected.

Author's Note I will be putting up the rest of the story fairly quickly and leaving it up for a short while before taking it off the archive. I hope everyone reading will manage to catch all the chapters. My e mail addy is in my user info and if you make a note of it and do miss any chapters you're more than welcome to e mail me for them.

This is the final chapter which will be written into a sequel one day, when I have time…Rating: R
Genre: Gothic style historical romance
Summary: The year is 1835. Elizabeth Stanton is injured while fleeing from a forced marriage, but when she realises who her rescuer is she begins to think she may have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. Are the tales about the golden - haired vampire who lives in the old dark house on the cliff, true? Or are they just stories made up to frighten children? She's about to find out.

This is an original adaptation of my all –human AU Spuffy fanfiction. All copyright belongs to moxie and proof of ownership of this story has been legally protected.

Author's Note I will be putting up the rest of the story fairly quickly and leaving it up for a short while before taking it off the archive. I hope everyone reading will manage to catch all the chapters. My e mail addy is in my user info and if you make a note of it and do miss any chapters you're more than welcome to e mail me for them.

This is the final chapter which will be written into a sequel one day, when I have time…I've re uploaded this chapter because I made a mess of find/replace when I changed the names and the word will came out as Dan in some cases. Sorry about that, guess I shouldn't do it when I'm tired! Anyway, hope I've caught them all now.

Chapter 34

Chapter 34

The Lucius Journals


What happened to us after we left Shell Cove House that night? I have encouraged everyone to keep journals and write letters for it will be good to look back on our lives and remember what we have done. We need to remember…

Extracts from thoughts, journals and letters 1835 -1866

From the journal of Damien Lucius, Lord Rossendale.

December 1835

We left the mansion at the beginning of October, having sent a legal representative to Rossendale to claim back Forest Park, which we discovered was being inhabited by one of my mill managers. He had also been stealing my money on a vast scale and fearing prison, he left willingly and, unfortunately, with most of the furniture, never to be heard of again. The servants followed suit, all save a few very old ones who had nowhere to go and that served to delay us in Bath for longer than we'd have liked.

Mr. Stanton paid me a visit at the mansion before we left and demanded his daughters back. Elizabeth and Dana knew about this, but they do not know what I did to get rid of him and perhaps I will never tell them. A large quantity of gold was able to buy him off with a promise that he would never bother us again. I have no doubt he will squander it, but it has bought us peace of mind.

It was with a great sense of relief that I made Elizabeth my wife in the third week of October. In the event, we posted banns at the local parish church as this was quicker than obtaining a special licence. What God has joined together, no man will ever tear apart.

I would have liked to have delayed our journey north as winter was setting in and I thought Elizabeth should now wait until after the baby was born before undertaking something so arduous. But she was, and always has been, one of the most stubborn people I have ever met. I had no peace until, at the beginning of December and during a spell of exceptionally mild weather, I agreed that we might go. I still had no idea what state we were going to find the place in, but Elizabeth was adamant that the baby should be born at Forest Park, and so we went.

Aunt Joan, as she insists that I now call her, lent us her best coach and found us a driver who was happy to stay on and work for us at Forest Park. Such a journey is not for the faint hearted in the winter as many of the roads were in poor repair, but the driver was a sensible lad who managed to avoid most of the pot holes, and didn't seem too fond of speed. We broke our journey in Gloucester because I wanted to see the great Cathedral where Edward the second was buried after his horrible murder at Berkley Castle. As Bath Abbey had been, it was an impressive place and we stayed overnight at the New Inn in the town centre that was built to accommodate people who came in medieval times for his funeral.

Dana seemed to thoroughly enjoy the journey, thinking nothing of the cold and the bumpy road. Tara endured it, although I could see that she was worried about Elizabeth. My poor darling didn't complain once, even though she was still quite horribly sick in the mornings. Once her mind is made up and her path set, then she stays on it no matter what.

As we travelled north the landscape changed from the soft rolling green of Devon to the grim reality that is the industrialised north. We took a detour so that we could cross the iron bridge at Coalbrookdale, the first of its kind in the whole world, and Manchester was, and still is, the noisiest and most crowded place that I have ever been to. I have yet to visit London which I hear is even worse. I am amazed that people can live like this and wonder at the mentality of the mill owners who treat their workers so. Yet the place seemed to have a special energy of its own, something that I have never felt before and it was both frightening and exciting.

A great change is coming over this country and I am, it seems, to be part of it.


From the Journal of Elizabeth Lucius, Lady Rossendale.

December 1835

To the north of Manchester the landscape changed yet again. The beginning of high, craggy hills and bleak moor-land hemmed us in reminding us that we were nearing our destination. I was already prepared to love Forest Park, but I was not prepared for the instant affinity that I felt for the place. It was as if it had been waiting for us and it embraced us with such an air of welcome that I have felt happy here since the moment we arrived.

I'm glad all the furniture was stolen as it meant we could start again and make our own mark on the place. Eventually some of our things arrived from the mansion, but in the event we decided not to bring much with us as there was a strong risk that it would never make the journey and, as I said, this was a chance for a new beginning.

A light snow started falling as we passed through the village of Holcombe and took the high road that gave us the most magnificent view over the valley below. I had, thankfully, stopped feeling sick for the day, so I was able to appreciate it along with everyone else. Dana was in such a frenzy of excitement about it all. This is the furthest she has ever been from home, yet she shows no trace of nervousness nor homesickness for Devon. Everything she saw was commented on, and pointed out, and we were all made to look at it. Alex is most patient with her and indulges her every whim. It was turning very cold as we climbed towards Helmshore village, passing two of Damien's mills as we did so.

A group of mill workers stopped and watched us as the coach passed through and I was shocked to see how tired and dirty they all looked. And so many women and children among them. I felt so sorry for them. As we made our way up the sweeping driveway and caught the first glimpse of our new home I was already thinking that I would like to do something to help them.


Christmas day 1835


We have been in the house barely two weeks and things are still rather unsettled. Some of the older servants have stayed on, but the former occupant has made off with all of the silverware and any pieces of furniture that were easily transportable. Alex managed to procure us a goose which we roasted and ate around the kitchen table as we had always done at the mansion. There were still some stocks left in the wine cellar so a merry time was had by all. I must confess to becoming quite tipsy myself. I tried to make sure that Dana was limited to one glass only, but I suspect that she may have sneaked some behind my back, as by the end of the evening she was in a very giggly mood.

She organised games such as blind man's bluff in the evening which ended with a group of carollers knocking at the door. Damien invited them in and we all sang carols in the hall before passing around more wine.

I have never seen my Damien so relaxed and happy. He seems to be losing that slightly anxious expression he always used to wear, and Beth is blossoming as the baby grows. Alex is a solid, quiet presence who has worked very hard in the background making sure there is food on the table and wood for the fires. He has been with Damien to visit the mills that are dotted about the valley and is an invaluable support to him. There is a lot of work to do and they are between them determined to bring the mills up to standard and look after the workers a little better than they have been so far.

It is so different here than Devon. I do not know if I will ever get used to it, but as long as my family is here, then I will be happy.

We ended the day gathered around the fire. Damien insisted that I have the only armchair in the drawing room and the others made themselves comfortable on the rug. Beth with her head in Damien's lap and Dana asleep against Alex. Those two are really very sweet together and I have high hopes for them.

I ended the day alone and said a prayer for Ethan before I retired. May God have mercy on his soul.


Alex never did carry me out of the ball but he did carry me to bed tonight. He laid me down and leaned over and kissed me very gently, thinking me to be asleep. The wine must have made me bold for I pulled him down and held him until he kissed me again. There is so much I do not know about all this. I think Alex must have kissed a woman before, for he seemed to know exactly what to do and I want him to teach me everything. It was a most pleasant feeling which left my heart racing and my skin tingling, but now that he is gone all I want is for him to return and do it again. Does that make me a wanton, or is this normal? I would ask Beth, but she would probably give me a lecture on it.

Alex has been most gentlemanly so far, but I do not want him to be any more. However, if anything is to happen between us I think it is going to have to be up to me.

Alex - random thoughts

I think I would like to keep a journal too. Dana is always offering to teach me to read and write and the time has come for me to do so. Up till now I haven't had any memories that I would have liked to keep, but the future is looking good right now. It would be nice to write some things down so that when I am old I can remember it all.


May 1836


The heir to the Rossendale title was born this morning. We've named him Damien, but he's to be known as Dan to avoid confusion. Beth had an easy time of it in the event. She hit when me when I said that and told me that I could have the next and then we would see how easy it was, but Tara assured me it wasn't a difficult birth.

I'll never forget it and managed to stay throughout, even though all the blood made me feel quite queasy. Beth was so brave and young Dan is such a serious little soul. Tara declares he is me reborn, and that babies never smile when they are newborn, but he already has the look of a wise old man. I can tell that he is going to be a thinker, and perhaps a worrier like me.

I only hope he doesn't have the other thing I have and that he can go out into the sunshine. That we will not know for a while.


I really do not care for pregnancy and childbirth. The sickness was most wearing, but young Dan is such a delight and being a parent is so different to what I imagined it would be. How is it that you can love someone so instantly and unreservedly the moment you set eyes on them? He looks at me so trustingly with those big blue eyes of his and when I manage to get him all to myself, it is like we two are sharing a great secret that no one else knows. Tara is completely besotted with him and rarely lets us have him to ourselves, but it is nice to have him in bed with us before we put him down for the night and just to watch him sleep. Through him I feel closer to Damien than I have ever done.

Our other news is that aunt Joan came to visit and, quite unexpectedly, brought her new husband Mr. Gill with her. So like her. They are going to live part of the year in Italy and we hope to visit them soon. Mr Gill worked very hard while he was here setting up Damien's finances and we have managed to buy some new furnishings for the house, as well as set aside a sum for the school that I am determined to found. I should also like to do something specifically for our women workers who have such a bad time of it. Last week a baby was born on the floor of the weaving shed, how can that be right?

July 1836

Alex - random thoughts

I am slowly learning this reading and writing that everyone says is so important, perhaps I will start a journal soon when I have mastered a few more words. Dana turned eighteen today, thank God, for I do not think I could have held out much longer. I promised Beth I would wait, and I have, but Dana would try the patience of a saint and seems to have taken a particular delight in torturing me these last few months. We are to be married at the end of August.


November 1838


I have my hands quite full at the moment with a new baby in the nursery. Damien and Beth now have a daughter named Lizzie who was born in July. She is already an independent little madam even at four months old. Young Dan adores his new sister and has declared solemnly that he will look after everyone when he is older. He has such an old head on his shoulders, but is proving a very intelligent little lad and already showing a great talent for the piano. We are beginning to suspect that he may have somewhat of an intolerance to the sun, but it seems to be nowhere near as bad as Damien's is and as long as he is careful he can stay out for a short while without suffering harm. I know I shouldn't have favourites, but I can't help it, he will always be, because he reminds me so much of my Damien.

I would not wish to be anywhere else on this earth.


March 1841


Both sadness and happiness to write about. Dana and Alex have a son who almost made his appearance during a carriage ride in the countryside. Poor Alex just about managed to get Dana home in time, but Tara had to stand in as midwife. Dana is well but young Tom is, I suspect, going to be quite a handful. He will not be put down and someone must hold him or he screams.

The sad news was that Beth lost the baby she was carrying. She was born too early to survive, but was baptised before she died and we named her Jenny. Beth is being very brave about it, but has told me that she doesn't want to go through this again as it is just too traumatic. I would have liked a large family although the decision is hers. She has said that perhaps we may think about adopting a child when she has recovered as there are so many homeless children in the world who need our help. That is so typical of her, and we certainly have enough room here. I think I should like to do that.

Shortly after Tom's birth Dana suffered an infection and we feared we might lose her. Alex was beside himself and sat with her night and day until the fever broke. She will probably have no more children, but we were all very relieved that she was spared. It has taught us not to take all this for granted, for it might so easily be taken away from us in the blink of an eye. I tell Beth I love her every day as I would hate for something to happen and not to have said it.

I never have been a religious man, but I thank God every day for this wonderful gift he has given me.




There was a terrible explosion at one of the mills which killed four of our workers. We have done what we can for the families, but it will never compensate those poor children for the loss of their parents. One little girl, a four year old named Bella was left with no one in the world and facing the prospect of the poor house. She was brought to Forest Park by the family who had taken her in and we were asked if we could find a place for her as they could not afford another mouth to feed.

How could I resist her? She looked so sad and bemused I knew I had to do something. Alex and I plan to adopt her legally once we have made investigations regarding her family. Beth and I have often talked of doing this and we have space and love to spare here. Tom is rather jealous of her and has become very clingy but it will be good for him to have a sister. All we can do is reassure him that we still love him very much. Dan is being his usual sweet self and has made Bella very welcome and Lizzie too, seems to want to be friends with her. Tara is in her element with all these children to look after and the house is full of love and laughter.


March 1848


It took a long time to get over the loss of my daughter. Even though she was so small, and lived only a few hours I still think of her everyday and wonder what she would look like now. I thought about adopting a child as Alex and Dana had, but every time I tried all I saw was my Jenny's face, and it seemed somehow as if we were trying to replace her. And that did not feel right. However, last night I had the strangest dream. It was as if Jenny was talking to me and telling me that she would not mind if we did have another child because she is happy where she is and there are children here who need us. I awoke feeling rather sad, but on my weekly visit to the orphanage the strangest thing happened.

A girl of about seven years old, very small and delicate came up to me and curtsied most politely. She then asked me if she might come and live with us as she did not care for the orphanage one bit. She was newly arrived and, like so many children, had no one left to care for her. It is not the first time that fate has intervened in my life and I suspect it will not be the last, but this meeting resulted in Alice becoming part of our family. She is such a charming child, and has settled in with us as if she has always been here. She has the appearance of a porcelain doll, but underneath it all there is a determined streak, such as I have never seen in a child before. I cannot help loving her as my own. She gets on well with the other children, all except Tom, who teases her mercilessly because she likes girlish things, and I think, because she is the youngest. I hope that he will come round in time.


July 1849


I am sitting in the summer house watching the children playing on the lawn. They are very understanding of my condition and always remember to come and sit with me or come walking with me in the evening, but I wish I could be out there with them now.

I also wish that Jenny could be here with us. She had no chance at life at all, and I still feel her loss. It seems so cruel to be given a child and know that it is yours, then have it taken away from you. It is a great relief that the other children are robustly healthy. They are a wonderful gift, but I can't help worrying that something might happen to any one of them. I try to spend as much time with them as I can.

Dan tolerates the sun for brief periods and knows himself when he must seek the shade. I do not think that he will let it be a handicap to him. He is the sweetest boy, always looking out for the younger ones. He takes his role as the oldest very seriously and they all look up to him despite the fact that he is studious and quiet. He will do well in life.

I think that Lizzie would have liked to have been a boy. She is out there now wearing a pair of Dan's old trousers and poor Tara is quite scandalised by her. She has such a spirit of adventure about her and is definitely Beth's daughter. I have no doubt that she will achieve everything she sets out to do in life.

Alice has made such an effort to be part of the family. We all love her dearly and she repays us tenfold. She likes nothing more than to sit at my feet and have me read to her, and is always trying to help with things. I think sometimes that she feels she has to work harder than the others because she fears that this might all be taken away from her if she doesn't. We do our best to reassure her that we will always love her and understand how she feels. She seems to fear being alone and, I especially, can empathise with this.

Bella is forthright and confident and is going to be quite a beauty. She likes nothing better than to go shooting with her brother and father and is already an expert shot. Poor Tom never did get over being the centre of his parents attention. He is a loveable lad, but so impulsive and hot tempered. I do not know why he gives Alice such a hard time. Perhaps it is that he does not get away with it when he tries to tease Lizzie and Bella because they give as good as they get. Or perhaps it is simply because she is the youngest and the smallest. He is not so much a bully, but does not seem to be able to stop himself. I wonder if he secretly likes her and that is what this is all about.


Christmas 1851


I do declare that Tom is the meanest boy I have ever met. He does nothing but pull my hair and throw frogs at me. Mama says it is because he likes me and wants my attention, but he has a funny way of showing it. I turn my nose up when he comes near me, for he is so rough and uncouth. He seems to take a particular delight in getting himself as dirty as possible and he will not join in with the entertainment we are planning for the grown-ups this Christmas. All he does is sit at the back and make rude noises and make up silly words to the songs. I have told Uncle Alex, but all he says is that boys will be boys.


Alice is such a simpering idiot of a girl. I only have to look at her and she cries. It is no fun teasing her when it is so easy. When I pulled Bella's hair she knocked me into the lake, but Alice only sat and wailed because I'd pulled her curls loose. They won't let me join in the Christmas entertainment because they say I am too silly, but I don't want to be in it, so there.


I have written a short play which we will be performing on Christmas eve. Bella is to take the part of the handsome prince and Alice is to be the princess. Lizzie will play the woodsman and I shall be musical director. Tom was to have been the villain, but he cannot be serious about anything. Bella gave him a bloody nose this morning because he laughed at her singing and Uncle Alex had to be called to sort them out. If he will not co-operate then I shall have to play the part myself. I do not like performing.

My tutor says that I might try for Oxford or Cambridge in a few years time. I will think on it though I do not know if I would like to travel so far from home.


The children gave us great amusement today with their Christmas play. Bella and Lizzie had us in stitches with their manly striding about. I do declare that they should both have been boys. Alice was so pretty as the princess and it is nice to have one girl in the family who appreciates beautiful gowns and such. Dan was his usual serious self as he conducted the singing and Tom was absent for the whole performance.

His father found him in the cellar, eventually, in a monumental sulk, and it was a whole hour before he was persuaded to come back upstairs. Tara claims that he will be the death of her, but despite his boisterousness he is the most generous child that I have ever met and has a smile that would melt the heart of a stone statue. I love him dearly, although he is so reckless that I sometimes wonder how he will ever reach manhood.

And what can I say about my Alex, other than that every expectation that I had of him has been fulfilled, and I love him dearly? He is loving and hardworking and would do anything for me and the children. They simply adore him and he is the only one who can do anything with Tom when he is in one of his bad moods. My husband has never ceased to surprise me, and has a strange fascination for haylofts. I swear that one day we will be caught up there by one of the children.


Christmas Day, and Tom chose to give us all the fright of our lives by falling out of the apple tree yet again. From the amount of screaming from Alice we all thought he had killed himself, but he survived it with only a broken arm. More screaming and swearing from Tom as the doctor set it for him, then the poor lad passed clean out. He is a handful, but I think he will do alright as he has a very kind heart under all the bravado. I love my little family very much.

Random letters and journal entries to May 1856


We have achieved such a great deal since we came here. Three whole new streets were added to the village this year and all our mill-worker's children are now in school on a daily basis. Lizzie has been helping with the teaching and I am wondering whether her extreme enthusiasm in this matter might have anything to do with the new headmaster who has just taken up his post there. Mr. Nicholas Johnson is recently returned from Africa where he led an expedition into the interior. Lizzie seems most taken with his tales and talks of nothing else but going there herself. I have so far managed to talk her out of it.

Our good friend Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister, died unexpectedly in 1850 and Damien made a large contribution to his memorial in the nearby town of Bury where he was born. I stood in for Damien at the opening of the Peel Tower in 1852, which stands at the top of the hill behind Forest Park.

Alex, Damien, Dan and I travelled down to London for The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in 1851. As it was a giant glasshouse, Damien had to attend in the evening. Dan was most taken with it all and wants to be an inventor.

Dan did very well at Cambridge University where he studied engineering, although he came home three times during the first term because he was homesick, declaring that he wasn't going back. We managed to persuade him to return and he is now touring Italy with a friend and his family. We will all join him at the Tuscan villa in September where we will also catch up with aunt Joan and Rupert.

Wendy and her four children visit us every summer and we see them when we go down to Devon. It is such a long way though, and I do miss her.

Damien still paints and writes poetry, although he does not have so much time these days as he spends so much time with Alex at the mills. I am so proud of the both of them, and of the way that Damien has tried not let his handicap stop him from achieving what he wants to.

My father died in 1853 and we have brought mother to live with us.

Another notable death was that of Crosbie who was killed in a riding accident early in 1856. My mind has never really been at peace while he was alive. I always imagined he might turn up one day and spoil everything we have here. He never did make any attempt to contact us again, but with him truly gone I feel that I can relax fully at last.

Some days we still cannot believe how fortunate we are and how far we have come.


September 1856


Italy is quite beautiful and the sun hasn't been so much of a problem. Dan and I have spent many an interesting hour sitting in the shade and discussing his ideas for improvements to the mills. He is quite the engineer now and has great plans for us. I'm glad that they will be left in good hands. He also has developed quite a thing for Bella, who has blossomed into a stunningly beautiful young lady this year. She has no shortage of admirers of course, and poor Dan is so tongue tied around her that if he does not act soon he will miss his chance. He asked my advice on the matter and I said as much, but every time he goes near her all he talks about is the weather or his other favourite topic, steam engines.

Lizzie wanted to stay behind and had to be forced to accompany us. I know the reason and that is why I insisted that she come. I will never stop my children from doing anything that makes them happy, but I'll just say that without a parental eye to keep a check on things, I think the temptation between her and Mr. Johnson might have proved too great. She has spent a great deal of the time sulking and is trying to persuade us to take her climbing in the Alps while we are here.

Tom still teases Alice mercilessly, but it is my opinion that he is secretly besotted with her and that is why he cannot leave her alone. She is still a dainty little thing, very pretty with masses of blond curls and at fifteen too young, in my opinion, to receive the attention of young men. However, Tom is relieving me of my fatherly duty in this respect by standing and glowering at any young man who so much as looks at her. It is very amusing to watch as she rounds on him and tells him that she will never have a beau with him around, and then he storms off swearing and tells her that they are welcome to her.

We have had a very relaxing time here and even Tara, who insisted that she was becoming too old for all this, has managed to enjoy herself.

The more love you receive the more you have to give back. My Beth is still as beautiful as the day I first saw her, and I still want her as much. I used to think that people of my age wouldn't be interested in that sort of thing, but we still find a great deal of pleasure in each other, and I don't think we'll ever be too old for it.

I think the time has come for us to rebuild our ties with the old Lucius Mansion. The tenants have recently given notice and, with Crosbie gone, there is no reason why we cannot go back for visits. I wasn't always happy there, but I am tied to it by birth and sometimes it just seems to call me back. I wonder if it is something to do with age? The need to reconnect and build some good memories there? I am determined that we shall.


Tom is being his usual beastly self. If he does not like me as he is so fond of telling me, then why does he follow me around so? I have tried so hard to be a part of this family and know that they all love me very much, but he seems intent on spoiling things for me all the time. Sometimes he just stares at me and then walks away when I ask him what is wrong. I have tried to be friends with him but as he grows older he gets worse. I should like to be able to tell him exactly what I think of him, but I have always been aware of my place here and do not want to do anything to make them think that I am not truly grateful for all that they have done for me. I shall just have to put up with it, I suppose and instead count my many blessings.


I despair that Dan is ever going to notice me and I cannot think what else to do. I have spent the whole of this holiday parading myself in front of him, trying to make conversation with him all to no avail. All he ever talks about is the weather and engineering. Perhaps he doesn't like me after all. I think desperate measures are called for.


A letter came this morning from Nicholas. He has asked me to marry, him, but I am to keep it a secret until we return as we want to tell the family together. No doubt everyone will say I am too young and father still thinks that I am an innocent, but I have been sharing Nicholas's bed for the past three months. This was at my insistence as Nicholas is well aware that he would probably lose his job if we were caught. I think a modern girl should try these things out before marriage, otherwise, how will we know if we are compatible or not? We have been very careful so that I do not fall with child, but it has been difficult and frustrating, because once you have done that sort of thing with someone you love, you just want to do it all the time.


October 1856


Bella quite unexpectedly kissed me this morning and I have yet to recover from the shock. I was telling her about a new idea I have for a new twin-beam alternating steam engine and I thought she seemed quite interested in what I had to say, when all of a sudden she grabbed my face between her hands and kissed me quite soundly on the lips. Before I had time to react, she was gone. I think the next move is up to me, but I have no idea how to proceed from here.



Two weddings this year. Dan and Bella were married in September and live with us here at Forest Park and Lizzie married Mr. Johnson just before Christmas. In her usual independent way she has insisted they live at the schoolmasters cottage even though it is very small. I do not think they will be with us for long as they have been talking about going to Africa to found a school somewhere. I have talked with Damien on this matter and he agrees with me that if they go we will help them as much as possible. Much as I love my children around me, I admire their spirit of independence and would never want to do anything to stop them.

With Crosbie gone we have been spending some time at the mansion. Damien seems to want to be there more these days, and I am always happy to be where he is. I think he wants to erase those early memories and replace them with good ones, and we will.


November 1858


Dan and Bella have a baby boy. I'm strangely proud that they called him after me as I never thought I'd care about such things. So we have another family member with the Lucius looks as he is dark-haired and dark-eyed. Mother never lets him alone and it seems in some way she is trying to reclaim something that she squandered in her youth.


God has been very merciful to me. When I should be punished for the way I treated Alex as a baby he has chosen to give me a second chance. Young Alexander is so much like he was and I only hope that I can in some way make it up to Alex by giving his grandchild the love that I didn't give him. It didn't strike me this hard when Tom was born and I wonder that I feel like this now, but I suspect that as you get older and near to your death then you must necessarily begin to put your life in order. Alex has long forgiven me, but I will never forgive myself for the way I treated him.


June 1860


Tara passed away quietly in her sleep this morning. She had been failing in health all winter and seems to have made it this far through sheer determination of will. We are at the mansion for a holiday and she so wanted to come with us, even though I thought she wasn't strong enough to make the journey. I offered to stay at Forest Park with her, but she would have none of it. I found her seemingly asleep in one of the garden chairs in the orchard, a favourite spot of hers, and it took me a while to realise that she'd left us. I have rarely seen Alex cry in the whole of the time that I have known him, but he was quite distraught over it, as were the children. All I could do was hold him and tell him that I loved him dearly. She is buried in the family graveyard here.


August 1860


Tara is much mourned. May she rest in peace.

I thought it was about time I took my seat in the House of Lords and I believe that my maiden speech was one of the shortest in the history of the house. Still, I am proud to have done it at last.

In late August we said goodbye to Nicholas and Lizzie as they set off for their great adventure to Africa. They have promised not to stay away forever, but say they want to give the world something back in return for the good fortune they have had.

The other big drama this year was, not unsurprisingly, caused by Tom and Alice. I do not know what happened, but Tom mysteriously disappeared at the beginning of September and by the time we'd tracked him down we found that he was in the army, and already on a ship bound for India.

Alice disappeared two days after him, and we found her at the railway station in Manchester clutching a train ticket to London. She was persuaded to come home but seems to be wasting away in front of our eyes. She neither eats, nor sleeps, it would seem and I am at a loss as to how to comfort her. I only hope that I can use my position to good effect and find out where he is, although as he signed on as an ordinary recruit I fear there is little that I can do.


The news from India is not good. The Times newspaper had been reporting more unrest and I am starting to fear that I will never see my foolhardy son again. We are all so worried about him.


It's all my fault. Tom told me that he loved me and then he kissed me without asking permission. I was so incensed at his presumption that I told him that I hated him and could never love him. I do not know what possessed me to say such a stupid thing because, since he has been gone, it is as if he has taken a part of me with him. I can neither eat, nor sleep for worry of him. How is he going to survive without us to stop him from doing stupid things? When I read the letter that he left me it hit me all at once that I love him more than my own life and now he is going to die a horrible death because of me, and I will never see him again.

If only he'd done things properly for once, this would never have happened. If he dies I don't know what I will do.


Tom's journal - Northern Frontier, India 1861

Everything I write here, I dedicate to Alice.

Dear Alice,

I start another letter that you will probably never see. It is very cold here as they have sent us into the mountains to guard the border crossings. I cannot help but wonder what we are doing in this strange country that is not our own. Soldiers are dying here on a daily basis just so that there can be more of the Great British Empire. I wish more than ever to be home and see your face once more. Did you ever forgive me for what I did? I have to say that it was the best moment of my life so far. If I find anyone travelling back to England I will ask them to take this journal with them so that you can see that I did truly love you, even if I didn't deserve your love in return. You may say that I had a strange way of showing it, but that is just me. I'm not very good at affairs of the heart as you know by my bungled attempt to show my feelings to you. Please forgive me for all the teasing and torment I put you through. I think I was just in awe of you, and it scared me. What a fool I am.

If you do get this then give my love to mother and father and tell them that I am sorry for any pain I have caused them. I didn't mean to join the army but I was so drunk that night that I had no idea what I was doing, then it was too late and I was too ashamed to come home.

We could be attacked at any time and I may not live through this. I only pray that this will somehow get to you. Forever yours, Tom.


In late October Tom was mentioned in despatches in the Times newspaper. The article spoke of great heroism and also of great losses. We do not know at this time whether he is alive or dead.

At the end of March 1862, after a terrible wait, Alice received Tom's journal which told us that he had been badly wounded and was being shipped home via South Africa and given an honourable discharge. This was all dependant on whether he lived or not as his injuries were very severe, although he did not describe exactly the nature of them.

I still do not know whether this is good news or bad. Alex and Damien have gone to London to see what they can find out.


It is right that I should be punished like this. Every day I read Tom's journal so that I can see just what I condemned him to with my harsh words. I refuse to believe that he is dead, however. Surely God will send him back to us and give me a chance to put this right? I think that I have always been in love with him, only I have never known it until now.


The news is very confusing, but it seems that there is a good chance that Tom was sent to South Africa. I am preparing to leave immediately to go and fetch him home. It will be a long journey and I will hate being away from Dana for so long, but if Tom is alive, then he will be in need of me. Alice has insisted that she accompany me. I do not think it a good idea, but is seems that she is like all the other females in this family even though she is not a blood relation, and appeared on the doorstep this morning with a suitcase of clothes asking when we would be leaving.

I have consulted with Damien and Beth and they have agreed that she can come with me. We will overnight in Manchester and be on our way south by tomorrow.

Tom - military hospital, South Africa.

One of the nurses is writing this for me.

Little by little my sight is improving and I can now make out shapes and colours, although there is little substance to them and everything is still somewhat of a blur. I was quite terrified that I had gone permanently blind. There is something so lonely about being in the dark like this. It makes you feel so cut off from the world. So unloved. I often wonder if Alice ever got my journal and what she thought of my mad ramblings. I wonder too, if by now she may be married to someone else.

I have begged them to send me home but they say my injuries are, as yet, too bad for me to be moved. Being stuck in bed like this and having to depend on others for everything is pure torture for me. Were it not for the thought of my family waiting for me at home, I would have ended it myself long ago.


November 1862


It was eight months before they came home. They found Tom in a military hospital in a very bad way. It seems that he had been suffering from recurring infections due to a bullet lodged near his heart. None of the doctors seemed inclined to operate in case the operation itself killed him and so they had left it, as they put it, up to God. Ironically, Alex found an Indian doctor willing to undertake it, on the payment of a large sum of money.

It was a very difficult decision for Alex to have to make, but Tom agreed that he was willing to take the risk and so it went ahead. Before the operation he and Alice were married, which does not surprise me in the slightest. She is only, after all, carrying on a great family tradition of marrying for love. I'm not surprised that Tom survived the operation. With Alice by his side I think that he would survive anything.


The sight of the carriage rounding the bend, and bringing my beloved family home to me once more is one which I shall never forget. Poor Tom is so changed, but we hope that with good nursing and much love he will be back to something of his own self with time. His sight may never be back to normal but I think that a pair of spectacles will make him look very dashing. He is very thin, poor boy, but I can see that in a roundabout way he has found happiness at last. He has lost the restless edge he has carried all his life, and has the look of one who has truly come home.

I did not realise I could miss someone the way that I missed Alex, while he was away. I am so used to him always being there, like a solid rock at my back and when he is gone the world is such a strange place. I have told him that he is never to leave me alone again.




Another Christmas and another year together. Lizzie and Nicholas have returned from Africa with their two children and we are all at the mansion in Devon for the festivities this year because Damien particularly wanted to be here. The place is much changed with so much noise and laughter, but sometimes, at night, when it is finally quiet, I can hear the echoes of the old days. A place like this, that has seen so much, cannot help but resonate with the memories of everything that has happened here.

I love Damien more with each passing day, yet he will never know how much. He says that I am the strong one and he could never live without me, but I have found such a haven in him. I don't think that he will ever realise how brave and how strong he is, and how much we all need him. To love and be loved in return is such a simple need, yet sometimes so hard to come by. Those who find true love should count themselves fortunate for it is the greatest gift of them all.

I think I will go and find him and tell him just how much I do love him, and perhaps show him as well. He still likes it when I surprise him in that way.

1866 - The Lucius Mansion, Devon.

From the journal of Damien Lucius

The family is together once more. The children and grandchildren have gathered here with us, at the Lucius Mansion, and the house is full of noise and laughter. This year there will be fifteen of us around the table, such a contrast to the grim silence and loneliness of my early days here.

I have taken this opportunity to sit quietly, in my old bedroom, on this Christmas Eve and count the considerable blessings that my life has shown me.

Aunt Joan, who now lives in Italy with her husband Rupert, once told Beth that she deserved her happiness because she had worked so hard for it. And she was right. We all did.

Alex with his years of torment at the hands of Ethan. I, in my terrible lonely prison of darkness, and Beth with the prospect of marriage to a wicked, evil man like Crosbie.

Alex has had to carry his father's murder and the fear of eternal damnation because of it, for the rest of his life. He more than deserves the comfort that his family gives him.

I would have lived a million lifetimes in the dark if only I had Beth by my side.

And she did, and has always done, what she had to do to keep those she loved safe.

I prayed that God would take pity on us and grant us some happiness and I have not been disappointed. I count each and every one a blessing, because they were things I never thought to have.

We have been spending more and more time at the mansion lately. I promised Beth that one day we would come back and I feel that perhaps the time has come to lay the ghosts of this old house to rest. Despite the trauma of my early life, I am bound to this place and I should like to be buried, one day, in the grounds with all my ancestors.

While I was writing this, Beth found me and crept onto my lap for a cuddle and a kiss. We locked the door and made love there and then, and afterwards laughed at something Tara told her a long time ago. She said that Beth would remember that conversation when she was older, and she did.

We stood and looked at the moon shining on the snow covered lawns and time, as it always seemed to do when we were that close, appeared to play tricks on us.

I imagined us back on the cliff road that first night we met. I stood on the brink of something that night and all I had to do was reach out and take it. I'm so glad I found the courage to do so.

Then we were on the back steps as I told Beth about my sad little bag of sixpences. Those I have kept to this day.

The night we went fishing came into such sharp focus that I could see us as clearly as if it had been only yesterday, and I remembered that wonderful feeling of breaking free at last. Of finding myself.

And of course, the night we first made love. How could I ever forget that?

They are all here, the memories of those early days with my Beth, and those since. I have managed to fill nine journals since then, documenting a life that has had, as with most people, its share of highs and lows. We have known the joys of bringing new life into the world, and the sadness of saying goodbye to those dearly loved. A cure still hasn't been found for my disease and I hold little hope that it will be in my lifetime. I have tried to not let it be too much of a handicap, but I should have liked to have been able to walk in the sunlight with Beth. And I think she would have too, although she has never spoken of it.

Beth never forgot Crosbie and worried constantly that he would come for revenge, but he never did. He was killed in an accident some ten years ago and the only place he can reach us now is in our memories and dreams.

I once told myself to find Beth, hold on to her and never let her go, and that is what I have done. She has been my light and my anchor. I try not to dwell on the unhappy memories, although they have taught us all lessons we need to know.

That life is precious, and love, once found, is worth hanging on to, and fighting for to your last breath.

It could have all ended so differently. I once walked towards the bright light that I truly believed would be my eternal rest, but I did have a job to do after all. I came back to rescue Beth, and in doing so, she rescued me. And I'm glad I wrote it all down. I want people to read it and know how much we loved each other.

Beth always said that my first journal wouldn't burn because it was destined to be found by two special people who would understand what we'd found in each other. It always made me smile. Every couple in love imagines theirs to be the truest and the best and we were no exception, but many have loved before us just as well as we have. And so they will in the future. I have hidden my first journal and left it to chance. Perhaps it will have a message for someone.

As I grow older I believe more and more that love never fades. People may pass on into memory, and into history, but the love they make between them lingers for all time. Perhaps that's all that ghosts are? Stories, both good and bad, that need to be told, and want to be heard. Emotions so strong that they can be felt long after the people who made them have gone.

I'm just an old romantic fool at heart. I always have been, and I always will be. And I know that one lifetime with Beth will never be enough. I sometimes wonder if we have known each other in another life, for there are times when the path feels so familiar, and the way is so clear that I feel that we must have walked it before. A fanciful notion, yes, but if it is true, then we will know each other again. A dozen lifetimes will not be enough to tell Beth how much I love her. If it is at all possible, I will find her again.

Every year, on Christmas Eve, I light a candle for each one we have been together. Tonight there will be thirty one.

I pray that there will be many more.

The end

Thank you everyone, for reading and reviewing this story. I've enjoyed hearing all your comments and appreciate you taking the time and trouble to do so. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It's going up for sale at Linden Bay romance (and e book site) in June, so if anyone is interested in buying the e book then feel free to mail me for the address.

All the best