Her workload seemed tedious the next few weeks, and even though Garrett told her that she would see him there was no sign of him at all. She wondered if the house that he was interested in did him in like all the rest. He did look a little pale the last time they were together, but if that were the case she would have seen Nick cleaning up the crime scene. Every night she stood on her balcony to see if there was any life in old house. Yet, every time there was nothing. The only conclusion she could come up with was that he was playing her. Why else would he be ignoring her for so long? And when she returned home for the evening her heart sank when she saw Nick standing on her porch in his uniform. Perhaps something did happen to Garrett after all.
Elizabeth couldn't wait for the chauffeur to open the door. Instead, she leapt out in order for her to get out of the car sooner. Her new suit and black heels didn't allow her to run as fast as she wanted to, and she felt helpless the closer she came toward Nick. When Elizabeth finally got up the stairs and motioned for Nick to follow her into the house and to the couch in the living so she could run upstairs really quickly. She had to know if Garrett was all right, but there was no harm in looking to see if the house had working lights. Any sign that would prove that he was alive, but there was nothing.
Tears began to flow down her cheeks as Elizabeth hurriedly undressed to put some sweats on. Did Garrett find someone else already, or did he already have a girlfriend. The thought rushed over her that he had a wife. Her fingers began to tremble so much that she could barely even keep hold of her own clothing let alone let her hair down. And the tears began to sting her eyes making her tasks seem that much harder.
Finally, Elizabeth ran down the stairs and into the living room where she had told Nick to go when they entered. But when she saw Nick sitting there she couldn't find the energy to go any further. Nick rushed over to her side when he saw Elizabeth cup her hands over her face and fall to her knees on the marble floor crying.
"What's wrong? Did something happen," Nick asked trying to calm her down at the same time. When he knelt down Elizabeth quickly wrapped her arms around him. He felt overwhelmed by the fact that he had only come to her house to see if she wanted to go out to dinner, but instead found her helpless.
"You were right," Elizabeth managed to say through her tears. "You were right about him."
"About who? Did someone hurt you," Nick suddenly became angry at the thought of another guy doing this to her. "Tell me who."
Elizabeth let go of her hold and looked up at Nick with a tear stained face. He pushed away some of her curls that stuck to her face, and looked at her intently. Nick couldn't stand seeing her like this.
"Garrett," Elizabeth finally uttered. She watched Nick's face go from concern to anger. He now looked like the police officer that he was.
"What did he do?"
"He lied. He said that -. We were on the balcony and he -," Elizabeth couldn't get all the words out because she didn't want him to get hurt if he still had feelings for her.
"Come with me," Nick said as he helped Elizabeth get back on her feet. "I think you need to get away from this house for a little while."
Elizabeth didn't fight the idea of getting away from her house. After all, it was Garrett that fixed the place up and put all the furniture in it. In a way, there was no escape from him unless she did leave. She didn't even ask Nick where he was taking her when they drove away in the opposite direction of Garrett Enterprises.
It wasn't until she noticed that they were driving on a dirt road when her thoughts perked up. She had no idea where they were going and the road wasn't as smooth as she would have liked. The tears ceased as she tried to figure out where they were, but it was too dark to tell. It didn't help matters that Elizabeth was still trying to get used to Cloverville.
"Where are we going," Elizabeth broke the silence.
"Right there," Nick said pointing to a light in the distance. The sudden thought of her being kidnapped ran through her mind, but quickly left. Why would an officer of the law even want to try to do something so stupid, so she kept silent until they finally met up to the light.
When she stepped out of the car she saw a large log cabin. Where had he brought her? Nick took Elizabeth by the hand and walked inside, and to her surprise it was quite roomy inside.
"Is this your house," she asked wiping away the last of her tears.
"Yes," Nick said bringing her to the bathroom. He wet a black washcloth in the sink and started to wash her face with its warmth. "I couldn't think of any other place to properly take care of you."
"You think I need taken care of," Elizabeth asked with surprised.
"Of course," he commented with a smile. "I have to apologize for not coming over sooner. There have been a series of events that have been occurring, so my job kept me away. There you go," Nick said after he was done washing her face. "It's my turn to sit you down on my couch. I'll be right back."
Elizabeth did as Nick said, but found she was getting bored after waited for Nick to return. She glanced around at the expensive furniture in his living room and the thousand-dollar entertainment system in front of her. The house seemed a little too pricey for a small town police officer. Elizabeth helped herself to a tour of his house. The first thing that impressed her was the openness about it. Only the kitchen had a door, and she couldn't pick out where the hallway was that led to the bedrooms.
The pictures on his walls were photographs of different cities like Paris and London, but there was one picture that caught her eye more then the rest. It was a black and white shot of a blonde woman. She was a beautiful woman in her twenties with flawless skin. The only thing that clothed her was a white beaded scarf. Elizabeth wondered who she was. There were no other pictures of the woman anywhere and when she tried to find some sort of clue about her she came to an old cedar chest with antique doors. Curious, Elizabeth quietly opened the doors and couldn't believe what was inside. There sat an ax, a sword, a hammer and six pieces of wood sharpened to a point.
She tried to come up with a logical conclusion of what they were all for, but there wasn't an explanation for everything that came to mind. Obviously the ax was for chopping wood for the fireplace she spotted in the living room, and the wood was for burning. Yet, she couldn't figure out why there were only six pieces. That wouldn't be enough to start a fire, let alone keep one burning. The hammer was obviously for hanging pictures, but as for the sword. What in the world would he be doing with it?
Elizabeth quickly closed the doors when she heard a noise from the back of the house, and glided back to the couch. Fortunately she was able to sit down before he entered in the living room. He had jeans on with a flannel shirt, and his hair was wet.
"Feel any better," Nick said combing his hair.
"Yes," she said quickly. "And I see that you feel better too. I have to admit that you look good out of uniform."
"Don't think you have to flatter me to stay. If you remember, I'm the one that brought you here," Nick laughed a little when he saw Elizabeth look away. "Now is a good time to tell me what happened." He sat down next to her, but far away enough not to cause a distraction.
"He lured me, and oh is he good at that," Elizabeth began. "Then he just left and didn't even say a simple good-bye. When I saw you at the doorstep I thought that you had found his body because the last thing he said to me was that he was going to buy the old mansion behind my house. I was sure that he was dead after I didn't hear from him, but I guess I was wrong. The fact of the matter is that I thought he was going to be something. He just turned out to be nothing."
"I don't know if you remember, but I told you that I had a certain personal grudge against Mr. Garrett Morton," Nick looked toward the picture of the lady on the wall.
"Was it because of her," Elizabeth's curiosity peaked.
"Yes," he said in a disappointed voice. "She was my fiancée about ten years ago, and with just one look he took her away from me. I still don't understand it to this day. One day we were madly in love and planning our wedding and the next, she seemed to almost hate me. Two years later she was found dead in her car."
"Oh no," her heart sank with Nick's story.
"Her death was a little conspicuous at first," he continued. "It wasn't until we found Edwin Peterson that I began to put two and two together."
"What do you mean?"
Nick seemed to glare at her as if warning her, "They both died the same way, but many years apart. Their blood gone and two puncture wounds, but Laura's were on the back of her shoulder."
"So how does this all point to Garrett," Elizabeth couldn't help but ask.
"He was the last to be seen with Laura before her death, and Edwin had a meeting with him the day of his death. The appointment was marked in his itinerary that was found at the scene. It's just a little too ironic to me that he was around both times."
Elizabeth tried to allow all the information Nick was giving sink in. He didn't seem like a killer, let alone someone that would have the knowhow to drain the blood out of anyone. He was an entrepreneur, but she thought that perhaps it was best that he didn't come back to her if he was such the man.
"Did you find out how the blood was drained from the bodies," Elizabeth was even afraid to ask.
"Don't know. It was almost like a dog bit them, but there are other possibilities." She watched Nick quickly glance at his cedar chest then back at her. "I just can't seem to prove that he did it though. It concerns me that he has plans of buying the monastery as well because I don't want anything to happen to you."
Elizabeth's eyes widened with Nick's last comment. He had only met her twice and he really didn't know anything about her, and she didn't know anything about him. She wandered exactly how much he had concerns for her, but she didn't want it to seem like she was prying for information.
She had never tried to put the charm on anyone before however at the time it seemed like a good idea. Not only because she wanted to know exactly how he really felt about her, but she also wanted his protection. Elizabeth repositioned herself next to Nick, put her legs up, and rested her head on his broad shoulder. It didn't take long for him to wrap his around her to comfort her.
"I think it best if you slept here tonight," Nick changed the subject. "I'll sleep on the couch and you can sleep on my bed. I would feel better knowing that you were close by. And if my suspicions are true about Mr. Morton I don't want him anywhere near you."
"Can you show me where the bed is then because I'm getting tired," Elizabeth yawned.
"Sure," Nick said helping Elizabeth up. He took her to the back of the house and through a hallway that led to stairs. And once they got to his room she noticed the railings. Even the upstairs was opened up and she realized that Nick probably saw her look at the pictures and open the cedar chest. The room looked pretty cozy along with the king bed with a hand-stitched quilt covering it.
"If you don't want to sleep in your sweats there are plenty of shirts hanging in the closet. I'm sorry that I don't have anything for a lady."
"Don't worry about it, Nick," Elizabeth commented after eyeing up the white button up shirts in the closet. "I think I'll be fine."
Once Nick left the room she felt it safe to put one of his shirts on. The house was warm and she would definitely sweat through the night if she didn't change into something cooler. She couldn't help herself from smelling the shirt before she put it on. It smelled so good she closed her eyes. Then she crawled into bed and pulled the quilt over her and sunk into the pillows on his bed, which smelled the same as the shirt.
Everything was even quieter out here in the country then it was at her house. There were no cars, no music and no Ralph. The tranquility allowed her to fall asleep quickly. However, Elizabeth's dream was not as peaceful. She dreamt of Garrett the night that they were on the balcony. Everything played out the exact same way except after they kissed. When she opened her eyes from his embraced he carried a tool made of some sort of ivory with two sharp knives attached. As he plunged the weapon in her direction she couldn't help but scream.
Nick abruptly woke from his light slumber and ran up the stairs when he heard Elizabeth screaming. He found her thrashing about in the bed screaming the words, "No, please don't." Then there was quiet. Nick just stood there as he watched Elizabeth in a troubled way. He hadn't a clue what had caused such turmoil, and he wondered if she dreamt like this every night.
Just when Nick thought it was safe to walk out of the room Elizabeth again screamed, but this scream sent chills down his spine. He had never heard a bloodcurdling scream before. He ran to Elizabeth and held her in his arms. He didn't know what else to do. At the same time he did everything he could think of to wake her up, until at last he shouted her name.
She finally woke from her nightmare only to find herself enclosed in Nick's embrace. It was an odd situation, but Elizabeth was soothed at the same time. She had no idea that the dream had caused such a fuss as she wiped the tears from her eyes on Nick's shoulder. Her trembling fingers were clutching Nick's flannel shirt. And when she began to finally calm down she noticed that he was rocking her in his arms.
"I'm sorry," Elizabeth fought to say.
"It's all right," Nick said still holding her in his arms. "You just had a nightmare, and you were screaming like you were in pain."
Elizabeth didn't say anything. She just wandered if it was all right to tell him about her dream. The only reason why she had the bad dream was because of all the things Nick was saying before she went to bed, Elizabeth thought to herself. And she didn't want Nick to worry over something that she could handle. It was then that she realized how comfortable she felt in Nick's arms, almost as if she belonged in them. Confusion quickly took over as she tried to piece everything that was going on in her life together.
For the first time she hadn't a clue what was going on in her head. She also had to consider the fact that Garrett had ditched her after he said they were going to start something. And why she had felt so emotional over the fact that he hadn't talked to her in weeks teased her thoughts. She never felt like that from a breakup before, and it wasn't really a break up anyway. It was just one night.
And when she was in her worst condition who was there, Nick was. He nested her into his house and was, at the moment, consoling her emotional distress once again. Elizabeth's idea of a good match suddenly centered on Nick. Why she was even thinking of such a thing bothered Elizabeth as well. She didn't move to Cloverville to fall in love. Yet, while Nick rocked her back and forth in his arms she couldn't help but feel the spark of something new, something spectacular. It was the urge to feel something greater than she could ever image.
Elizabeth moved her legs out from under the blanket so she could sit on them. She took her hand and gently caressed Nick's face in an affectionate way. She then patted her hand on the pillow next to her and he immediately understood that she wanted him to be there. He accepted without saying a word.
In fact, Nick didn't even know what to say. He felt something as Elizabeth touched his face. It was a feeling he had not felt since the time he was engaged to Laura. Worst of all, he knew that history was going to repeat itself if Elizabeth went back to see Garrett even once more.
As he laid there next to her, he wondered what it was about this woman in the first place that attracted Garrett. He had no doubt in his mind that part of the reason was her exceptional beauty. Living in a town of older people seemed like a drag, but at least he knew everyone was safe. Even his mom and dad would fit in well if they were still alive, but the drunk driver that crashed into their car fifteen years ago took away any future they were to have together. Nick knew that one of the reasons why he accepted work in Cloverville was because of the slow pace, but ever since Elizabeth arrived his life took on a new quest. He felt obligated to protect her from the moment she arrived and now he knew why. She was going to fall prey to Garrett Morton.
Again Nick wondered exactly what Elizabeth was to Garrett. To this day he had no clue why Laura left him the way she did. It was still a mystery and now that Elizabeth was in town he wasn't going to allow it to happen again. He had to somehow stop him from taking her away.
The next morning Elizabeth awoke slowly. It took her a little longer than usual to comprehend her surroundings until she realized her head rested on Nick's chest. Her legs were wrapped around one of his, so that he couldn't escape through the night and leave her alone with her nightmares. Nick could feel her slow movements. He couldn't sleep very well because of the way Elizabeth struggled in her sleep. He had concern for her.
"Good morning, Elizabeth," Nick said smiling at her. She lifted her head to look at him. Oh how they were hypnotizing to him.
Elizabeth moved away from Nick when she finally comprehended how she was lying with him and stared at him. He was looking at her differently, but she wasn't able to decipher what he was thinking. She was good at knowing what others thought from the time that she was a child. However, with Nick, he looked confused.
"Why are you looking at me like that," Elizabeth questioned.
"You intrigue me," Nick simply said as he climbed out of the bed still wearing the same clothes he had on the day before.
"How so," Elizabeth was curious. She wanted to figure out what was going on in Nick's head. She crawled out from under the covers herself and stood in front of him so he couldn't leave the room.
Nick looked at her standing there. Her curly black hair slightly tangled from sleeping restlessly. His white shirt had creases in it, but he had to admit that it looked better on her than it did him. Her skin was white and her legs long. Nick felt his heartbeat quicken its pace when he felt an incredible urge to just wrap his arms around her and kiss her like she had never been kissed before. She seemed to call him to her. Nevertheless, it took everything for him to turn around and sit back down on the bed. He was afraid to look at her for fear that she would see right through him.
"Are you all right, Nick," Elizabeth quickly walked up to him and knelt down in front of him. "Please tell me what's wrong?"
When Nick look down at her kneeling in front of him Elizabeth saw his hazel eyes glistened brighter, his hands shook and she could see fear in his eyes. He just stared at her not saying a word. Elizabeth couldn't understand why he would have fear while she was in the room unless - unless he had some sort of feelings for her.
Elizabeth stood up with her realization and reached for her clothes. She knew if she stayed they were find each other in an inescapable predicament. Deep down Elizabeth wanted something to happen, but what would happen with her life. She could picture her life with him in the beautiful log cabin he called home.
Elizabeth tried to get her sweats on, but her fingers trembled. Just last night she tried to dress herself in the same clothes with trembling fingers. However, it was for a different reason. And while Elizabeth struggled to get her other leg into her clothes she realized that she wanted to stay. She wanted something to happen between them.
"I can't stand this anymore," Nick finally bellowed. He jumped up off the bed and grabbed Elizabeth by her waist and forcefully pulled her closer to him. And before she could even utter a word their lips locked together in a passionate kiss. Elizabeth couldn't explain the feeling as her body tingled with want. She understood that her emotional tie with Nick was much more than she thought it could be. When he finally let go of her they just stared at each other.
"Don't go," he said with a softer voice. "I want you to stay."
"And if I stay what will happen. I will regret it for my own reasons. And since I've never had a true intimate relationship with anyone before I would -."
"-You've never been with a man," Nick asked. He was astonished that no man had ever seduced a woman with such beauty. And when she fell to pieces about Garrett, Nick surely thought that they had an intimate relationship of some fashion.
"You make it sound as if it's a bad thing," Elizabeth angrily commented.
"No, not at all," Nick admitted. "I just find you even more attractive because you're will is so strong. You can endure anything, can't you?"
"Maybe," Elizabeth didn't know if she could endure anything. She couldn't handle the fact that Garrett wasn't speaking to her. She couldn't handle her nightmares without someone there beside her. "Anyway, I think it would be best if you took me home."
"Will you be all right?"
"Sure I will," Elizabeth lied. She didn't really know if she would be fine. Not only that, but she was afraid of Garrett now. The stories that Nick told her spooked her enough to shy away from him. Even when she unlocked her door and saw Nick drive away she felt compelled to fall apart. And in order to escape her thoughts she went straight to her room and quickly fell to sleep.
It wasn't until the evening when Elizabeth crawled out of bed. She felt a little better, but she had an unusual dilemma going on inside her heart. The night she had spent with Nick felt so comfortable as if it were a natural thing for them to be together. Yet, she still couldn't get Garrett out of her mind. Elizabeth knew it was partly because of the crush she had had on him for so many years, but now that Nick was in the picture her priorities begged to differ.
When she glanced out her balcony window it took everything to stop herself from going to the old house. And it was even harder for her when she realized that there were lights on inside. Garrett had finally bought the house behind her, and the same horrible feeling she had the night Nick stood at her porch came again. He had ditched her no doubt and now he was going to be her neighbor.
"What an odd circumstance," Elizabeth thought to herself as she grabbed a towel before going downstairs to take a bath for the first time in her whirlpool. The hot water and bubbles felt more relaxing then ever along with the classical music she decided to play for the evening. Chopin was her favorite classical artist with his whimsical melodies of birds along with his Nocturne in F sharp major.
When Elizabeth's eyes began to get too heavy to keep open she heard a noise come from the living room. At first she sat in the tub silently trying to listen to anything over Chopin, but couldn't hear anything for the longest time. That is until she heard the clanging of glasses and a loud thud against wood. She wondered if Nick had come back to make sure she was all right, but she remembered locking the door behind her.
Reluctantly, Elizabeth got out of her soothing tub and wrapped an oversized white towel around her slender body. Her feet were still hot and wet from her bath, so she carefully walked through the hallway to see what exactly was making all the noise. Water dripped down her arms as she walked on until she came to the great room in the house.
On the table next to the entrance hall there were a dozen red roses in a beautiful white frosted vase. Elizabeth smiled at the thought of Nick coming back while she was in such an odd predicament, but her smile was soon wiped away when she peeked into the living room. Sitting on the couch was none other than Garrett Morton dressed in a black suite. He stared at her with an odd smile that made Elizabeth feel very uncomfortable. In fact, he didn't even seem human the way he looked at her.
When she completely emerged from behind the wall Garrett held up the glass he was holding. On the coffee table there was a bottle of champagne sitting in an ice bucket with two glasses filled with the bubbly. Elizabeth hesitated at first, but finally found the courage to take the glass from his hand and take a sip.
"What is all this for," Elizabeth snapped.
"I know you're mad at me for not calling you," Garrett looked away for a split second before giving Elizabeth his full attention. "I was busy getting the house ready so I could move in."
"For three weeks I heard nothing from you, and you expect me to just be glad that you're back without any questions," Elizabeth's eyebrow perked up as she spoke.
"I told you I was sorry," Garrett stood up. He was obviously agitated by her remarks. "I will no longer be away for so long because I just don't want to let you go."
"Who says you let me go," Elizabeth wondered if he had seen her with Nick at all.
"That doesn't matter anymore," he said taking her hand. He kissed her fingers and chills immediately went through Elizabeth's body.
"Maybe it does matter to me," she commented after jerking her hand away from Garrett.
After her last comment Garrett looked at her in an unusual way. It was a frightening look, but at the same time it intrigued her. It was the same look that many of the homeless people gave her when they begged for food as she passed by. Elizabeth tried to look away from him, but every time she tried the harder it became until she found herself in full lip lock with Garrett.
She hated him for leaving her stranded for three weeks, but his touch felt so good. It felt too good, and within a blink of her eye they were upstairs in the red room. Elizabeth had never really spent time in the room before and at this time it fascinated her as Garrett seduced her in a cunning way. Everything about him felt so right until he began kissing her neck. At first it felt like he was nibbling and then she felt something pierce her neck. It hurt like nothing before, so she couldn't compare it to anything. She tried pushing Garrett away, but she couldn't find the strength to move and that's when everything went black.
When Elizabeth awoke the next morning she found herself wrapped up in the red silk sheets. She threw the covers off of her and realized that she was completely nude. There was no sign of Garrett anywhere. Perhaps it was all a dream, she thought to herself. That is until she went to her bedroom to look in the mirror. Dried blood ran down her neck to her shoulder and it seemed to have come from two puncture wounds.
She hurried to her bathroom to wash it off and she wanted to see what exactly Garrett had done to her. Fear ran through her every limb when she saw the two infected red circles near her jugular. She quickly dressed herself and ran outside hoping that Nick was there. He was there every other time, but this time he was no where around. Instead, old man Ralph stood outside his bookstore staring at her like he had seen a ghost.
Elizabeth had surely had enough of him already, so she quickly went back into her house. She flipped through the phone book until she found what she was looking for, the Cloverville police station. It was hard for her to pick up the phone and dial the number, but she managed to get it done. The phone on the other end began to ring and to her surprise Nick answered the phone.
"Nick," Elizabeth said in a hoarse voice. She had no idea that Garrett had done so much damage to her neck.
"Hello," Nick questioned.
"Nick," she tried to clear her throat.
"Who is this," Nick asked wondering who was on the other end. "If this is Ralph I suggest you -."
"Nick," Elizabeth managed to say in a clearer voice.
"Elizabeth," he acknowledged. "Are you all right? What's wrong with you? You sound sick."
"Help me," she said before falling to the floor in a faint.