I had been away from Scotland for more than a year. I watched the decent of the plane as the pilot landed, and knew that I was home. I would never admit to anyone just how much I had missed Scotland. I missed the smell of the sea as the waves splashed on rocks two hundred feet below me. I missed the mist of water as it clings to your hair. I missed the cool night fog enveloping you in absolute blackness. I missed the easy feel of the countryside and the lazy days looking out over the ocean from the confines of my own house. I missed everything about Scotland.
I knew I was home the moment the plane landed, and I waited with giddy anticipation for the doors to open and allow us to leave the plane. I inhaled deeply as I stepped out of the plane and the sweet air filled my nostrils. I could smell the ocean even here at the airport. I wanted to race to see it again, but I knew that I could not. I had to play my role just as Alan now played his. Aodac knew we had made the right choice in coming here as he looked into my face while he descended the stairs on the plane. Alan aside, Aodac and I had some healing of our own to do here. We had demons of the past to send back to hell here, and Kramer and his nephews would keep Alan in line as we buried the past.
Once again I thought about the wisdom of allowing Alan to live long enough to find out what it was he truly wanted from us; however I also believed that Alan became mine to toy with as I pleased when he walked into my house with that pathetic sob story. I knew how to break him. I knew how to get the information from him that he withheld. I would make myself his entire world. I would become everything to him, and just when he was at the peak of his infatuation I would shatter him. In my experience people that are hurt and angry often say much they later wish they had kept their mouth shut about. I’d enrage him so much that he would lash out at me with his secrets to try and hurt me, and then I would have just what I wanted. I’d know his plans. I would know what he wants. Yes, I thought, Scotland was the place for these events to unfold. Here Alan has no escape from me. Here Alan is mine, completely isolated from the rest of the world.
“Aodac, we are finally home.” I said with a beaming smile on my face. The joy I felt was so honest and open that I could not help sharing it with everyone around me.
Alan looked dumbfounded. “I thought you had no home, Francesca.”
I looked at him with a mildly reproachful expression on my face. “What I mean is… I thought you considered the whole world as your home.” Alan amended.
“Scotland is a place that holds many meanings for us Alan; we do not just consider this place home. We consider it a part of who we are at our deepest core.” Aodac said.
“It is a beautiful place.” Kramer said walking out of the plane and looking around at the rolling hills near the airport. Kevin and Blair were speechless. I smiled at them as a wealth of emotion coming up to choke the words in my throat.
“Come.” I said to Aodac, more than anyone else. “Let’s go home.” Aodac wrapped me in his arms and together we walked to the cars that awaited us. “Alan,” I said as I looked over to him, “would you mind riding with Kramer and his nephews? Aodac and I need to be alone for a little while.” I said quickly so that the request was not offensive or harsh to the ear.
“I understand, Francesca.” Alan said as he walked toward the second car with Kramer and the boys. Aodac and I climbed into the waiting car and we headed home. The car ride was quiet. Aodac and I did not feel the need to speak; rather we conveyed what was in our hearts in quiet contentment. That was the first moment in many years when I had felt peace wash over me, and I believed in my heart that everything would be ok. I believed in that moment that Cahol’s warning would come to nothing. I was overwhelmed with an amazing sense of quiet serenity, and as I gazed into Aodac’s eyes I could see that quiet serenity gazing back at me. It seemed as if no time had elapsed since we left the airport when the driver lowered the window and interrupted our peaceful silence. “We will be arriving in about five minutes, Ma’am.” The driver said, and then he raised the window again to leave Aodac and me in peace.
I lowered the windows to the car as the driver crested the hill leading to my home. I saw the dark outline from the top of the hill as the driver carried me closer and closer to my demons. The first look at my home after being away for so long was like ice water being slapped in my face. There were so many things that came back to me in that fraction of a second; it seemed that time had stopped altogether and speed up simultaneously. It was an electric moment; one that was filled with things I had not experienced since Cahol had lived and held me within his arms. My story always comes back to him; the beginning and the end of my eternal existence. If I’d never known him, none of this would have ever happened. If he had never made me a vampire… If only I had resisted my lust… If only he had stayed away… If… If… If. I went crazy in that first second as I saw my house again after being away from it for so long, but it only lasted that long: a second. No more. This was my homecoming. I had finally come full circle. I should have known it wouldn’t last, couldn’t last, for when you come full circle the end is never far away.
The driver breeched the gate and pulled up next to the front stairs. I turned to Aodac with a mixture of elation and dread in my eyes and smiled as I held my hand out to him. “Come, Aodac… We are home, and it is time we rid ourselves of the demons that rest here.” I said quietly as he gently reached out to take my hand.
“Nessuni demoni viveranno dentro i muri della nostra casa. I demoni non sopravviveranno dove il nostro amore ci protegge dalla loro afferrare. Siamo a casa, il mio amore.” No demons shall live within the walls of our home. Demons will not survive where our love shields us from their grasp. We are home, my love. Aodac’s quiet voice soothed away my apprehension with his assuring words of confidence that the demons that dwelt here could and would be overcome with our love; a love that was not here before and allowed those demons to grow and take root into the very fibers of my home.
Aodac and I climbed out of the car and ascended the stairs to the door. I looked at Aodac as I unlocked the door and he gently reached out to brush a stray lock of hair from my face. “Do not fear the demons, Francesca; I am here with you and they cannot hurt you anymore.” Aodac said to me quietly as he leaned down to kiss away the apprehension and fear that gripped my heart and furrowed my brow.
Aodac pulled away from the kiss first and looked serenely into my eyes. I smiled up at him and turned to open the door on our past and the torment that had locked us both away for an eternity.
Aodac and I stood in the doorway locked in an embrace that we both drew strength from and looked around the entry parlor. The house had not changed, but we had. How could this place have held such torment for the both of us when it was built to allow healing and generate growth and strength from within? I felt that everything had been thrown out of balance here, and the only way to bring balance back was to face the actions that caused the imbalance in the first place. What had thrown our lives out of balance? Was it Cahol’s death? Was it the revenge I took on Aodac? Was it the farce we had previously lived out in this place? What had thrown our lives so out of balance that we now stood here ready to face the demons that haunted our past?
I was drawn out of my reverie by the sound of heavy feet stomping up the outside stairs. I turned in the direction of the sound and a moment later I saw Alan walk in the door. “Welcome to my home, Alan.” I said with a slight smile on my face.
Alan stood in the front door and looked around. He was in awe as he gazed at the sight of my home. “Wow, Francesca. You have a beautiful home here. What in the world ever possessed you two to leave here in the first place?” Alan asked us both.
“Necessity forced us to leave here the last time.” I answered in a quiet voice full of despondent nostalgia.
Aodac heard the change in my mood faster than Alan had. Aodac turned to Alan and said, “I think that Francesca and I should retire for the night. We have had a long flight and Francesca is tired.”
“I understand.” Alan said. Aodac did not mean to brush Alan off the way he did, but he did mean for us to get away from everyone else as quickly as possible.
“If there is anything you need, Alan, just ask a member of the staff and they will get it for you.” Aodac said quickly.
“I will.” Alan assured Aodac.
I saw Kevin and Blair walking up to the door as Aodac and I were turning to leave the front parlor. I looked them in the eye. “Kevin, Blair, would you two be kind enough to help Alan settle in? All of you are welcome to choose a room on the eastern wing for you to use while we are here.” I said to them all.
“Yes, Ma’am.” Kevin said to me.
“Where is Kramer?” Aodac asked the boys.
“Uncle Kramer is outside overseeing the unpacking of the cars.” Blair said.
“Good, good.” Aodac said. “Please relay to Kramer that we will need to speak with him tomorrow about certain arraignments for our stay here.” Aodac asked.
“Certainly, Master Aodac.” Kevin said.
Aodac looked down to me and whispered in a quiet voice, “Let’s rest.” Aodac took my hand and led me up the stairs toward the west wing of the house. Aodac and I entered the room we had previously shared in my home.
Aodac opened the door and we stood in the doorway to the room for several minutes. The room that lay before us was spun of black. It was windowless and unreachable by our mortal enemy. The room danced in black silk which shimmered in the soft glow of candlelight. I looked around the room and I remembered all of the things that had played out here and the actions and consequences that had followed the drama of my vampire life. I felt the deepest regret and shame flood through me. It had been my fault that Aodac had murdered his best friend. It had been my fault that Aodac was now condemned to the life that he had hated so much that The Council had decided to grant him a second chance as humanity. It had been my fault that The Council had imprisoned Aodac and tortured him for fifty years. Everything had been my fault. The demons of my life were thick in this room and there was no way for me to escape the truth of those demons. The time had come for me to face them. The time had come for those demons to be driven away and remove the dark cloud they had placed over my eternal existence.
Aodac and I entered the room slowly. Our hands were fastened together and I felt the strength of our bond propel me forward as I entered my prison to face the demons of my life. Aodac turned to lock the door. I knew that we would not be disturbed here. There were no keys to the door. I had thrown those keys out to sea more than fifty years ago. I saw the memory flash before my eyes for a single second. I turned to look at Aodac. My eyes brimmed with tears at the memories that came up from the dark of my memory to haunt me once more.
Aodac stepped forward to gently wipe the tears from my eyes. “Do not cry.” He said quietly as he kissed each of my eyes tenderly.
“I have been so horrible to you. I was horrible to Cahol. I was never meant to join either of you in this life and when I did it caused everyone I cared out pain.” I said through the sobs that racked through me.
“Whether you were meant to join us in this life or not is irrelevant now. You did join us and we have all suffered for our own actions. It is time to forgive the pain and for us to move beyond it.” Aodac answered my self condemnation.
I reached up to caress Aodac’s face in tender intimacy. He leaned down to kiss me. That kiss was my forgiveness of the past. A simple gesture that cleansed the memories of our past away and left our joined histories free to be rewritten. I do not remember who said that forgiveness is divine, but they did have a point. I felt the divineness of Aodac’s and Cahol’s forgiveness of the past which I had brought to both of them. I felt whole for the first time since I had been given eternity.
Aodac’s kiss carried us to the bed and into our passion. There was no question as to whether or not we should be with each other; the only question was how we could have ever been apart.
We stayed locked away in our room for five days. We used each other to feed on; we rediscovered every aspect of each other. Our love grew and became stronger until it was cemented into the core of our combined existence. We were no longer two individual vampires. We became one; we became of one mind, one consciousness, and one heart. His thoughts were my thoughts. My thoughts were his. Our hearts beat in unison until it was indistinguishable whose heart beat was whose. We were one; we were as wholly complete as each individual atom of water is one to make up the body of the ocean. We were fused together in a way that normal people could not begin to either fathom or comprehend. It was as if we were no longer two separate personalities in two separate bodies; rather we were one personality in two bodies.
That wholeness within each other gave us the strength to do what we now had to do when we emerged from the room for the first time after arriving in Scotland. We set out to discover Alan’s secrets together. Walking out of our room was like being bathed in reality. I had remembered that Alan had been in awe of my house which was grander than Aodac’s house in Cairo. However, Alan had no idea as to the plans that awaited him here. I had built this house literally miles away from even the most remote cottage on the Scotland shore. I had made sure that there was no way for any form of outside communication to reach me here. Only one thought ran through my head, the house that was once my prison would now become the prison of another; Alan’s prison, and that prison could be built any way I chose to build it. Aodac and I had discussed the prison we would build for Alan. We wanted to make it a prison of happiness and contentment that we could pull out from underneath him when the time was right, and watch as Alan descended into madness.
Aodac and I descended the stairs from the west wing of the house five days after coming home.
We found Alan eating dinner in one of the small salons toward the back of the house where you could see the cliffs behind the house and the ocean out toward the horizon. Alan stood as we entered the room and I held my arms up as I moved toward him. “Alan,” I said with a smile across my face as Alan moved in to return my embrace.
“How good to see you.” Aodac finished the sentence dangling on the tip of my tongue with a jovial ring to his voice.
“Oh, it’s so good to see you, Francesca, Aodac. I had begun to think that you’d left me here alone. The days have been quite lonely without you two.” Alan said with the ring of a pout to his voice.
Aodac’s brows pulled together in a tight line and his voice took on a hint of playful shock as he began the next sentence “Not,”.
My voice took on the same tone of playful shock. “At all.” I finished Aodac’s sentence.
“Uh, Francesca, can I ask you something?” Alan said with a hint of annoyance in his voice.
“Sure.” I said with a slightly bored expression on my face.
“Where’s the phone?” Alan asked in dismay or disbelief as he gestured to the room that we were in and in a more broad meaning of the entire house.
“There are none here.” I said in answer to his question with no hint of playfulness in my voice now.
“What? Why?” Alan asked in a befuddled sort of way.
“I did not feel that they were necessary when this place was built.” I said with a suddenly serious tone in my voice.
“Why?” he asked me again. “Where is the harm in a phone?” He wondered aloud.
“That is my business.” I said with a tone of finality that effectively ended that ridiculous conversation. I turned away from Alan and Aodac both. A moment later I walked away. Let him think what he will. I thought to myself. My reasons are mine alone. They do not concern him; therefore I need not explain them to him.
I left the house and walked toward the back where I could stand on the bluffs and look out at the blackness and hear the ocean. The wind was blowing hard that night and I felt my hair whip around me in the torrent. I heard the slap of the waves at they broke and beat against the rocks hundreds of feet below me. I saw the stars overhead and looked up to see the faces written in the stars. God, what does this boy want from us? Was Cahol right? Will this boy bring death on silent wings that we will be blind to until it is too late? Will this boy bring the end of us? I pleaded with the stars and the God that lived among them. I received no answers from the stars. I saw Cahol in my mind and heard his voice once again. “One from the past will bring your deaths on silent wings. He will be familiar and other, known and mystery. In the shadows he plots a revenge unknown that will not be seen until the end, and your deaths will follow revelations unmatched.” Cahol’s rich tenor voice resounded in my ears once again deafening me to all but his words. I did not hear the approach from behind until it was too late.
I heard the crackling of feet behind me just as a hand touched my shoulder. I thought it was Aodac. I was so completely lost in Cahol’s voice that I did not register the scent of human blood. I leaned into the hand on my shoulder and caressed my cheek against it. I gently laid a kiss on the fingers that held me.
“Francesca?” Alan said in question with a mild tone of shock and wanting in his voice.
Alan had followed me out into the night. Alan had chased me to the bluffs over the ocean. Why? I thought to myself.
“I’m sorry.” He said to my back. “I didn’t know about your need for quiet out here. Aodac explained that this place is sacred to you; he explained that phones interfere with the quiet you come here to seek.” Alan said in quiet reproach of himself for his earlier questions.
I leaned into his hand again and allowed it to caress my cheek again. “This place is more than sacred to me, Alan.” I said in a quiet tone of pain. “This place is my temple, my church. This is the place I come to when I am in need of mercy and I pray to God for mercy and grace.” I come to be forgiven. I thought to myself. I should not exist. I am an abomination that should have been destroyed long ago, and yet I remain to suffer the pain that was brought to me because I became what I am.
“Oh.” Alan said stupidly. I should not fault him for not knowing all of our history. He may know some of it but there was really no way he could have known what the past half a century had been like for us.
I knew that the time was right to begin the plan that Aodac and I had conceived while we were alone together. I knew that the time could not have been more perfect if I had even tried to plan it this way. The night encompassed us like a misty cloak; the sound of the surf on the jagged rocks below was intoxicating to the senses and the feel of the salty dew that clung to every particle of air was an aphrodisiac.
I had warned Aodac that our plan would require physical contact between Alan and me. He knew of the inevitability of this. He knew of the disgust I felt for what I was now about to do. I slowly turned to face Alan. I let my hands run up the sides of Alan’s body and allowed my arms to encircle him in my own embrace. Alan leaned down and kissed my forehead; he trailed that kiss down my temple to my cheek and then to my lips. I was not really sure who was seducing who, but the seduction had begun. I caressed his back through his shirt and gently pulled the material over his head. I allowed Alan to seduce my body. I allowed the encounter to reach its climax. I felt nothing for this person I was with. I could not even find it in me to feel loathing for him. I knew that I did what I needed to do to make this boy what I wanted him to be: a love sick fool. I knew he would become just that. I was all that he would need now; I would be all that he needed while it suited me and the purpose that Aodac and I shared.
I felt unclean when Alan had finished. I despised the touch of his hands and the feel of his body. I heard Cahol’s rich voice once more, “He plots a revenge unknown that will not be seen until the end, and your deaths will follow revelations unmatched.” What revenge does this boy seek on two people he has never met? What revelations could he possibly lead us to? I wanted so much to ask this boy what that warning meant and I wondered yet again on the wisdom of allowing him to even live.