Desecration by Deb. T - click here to mail her

Part Eight

Nick listened in silence as Philip poured out his heart. All the while, he thought, Did I ever really question this man's loyalty? How could I have ever been so stupid? Once more, Nick felt guilty for even suspecting that Philip could have betrayed Derek.

While he knew his friend had long since forgiven him, Nick still realized that he had hurt Philip with his cry of 'we trusted you.' Time to let go of the past, he told himself, Philip would no more betray Derek willingly than I would. Nick didn't accept that he had been under a lot of strain...they all had. He knew Philip better than that. His flight from the Legacy the first time had been one thing. In retrospect, Nick could understand that, though his foster brother's flight had hurt him. However, betraying someone he cared about...that was something else entirely.

Once Philip had talked himself out, Nick said quietly, "First, while you might have made a mistake in keeping the truth from Lissa, you did it out of concern. You care about her, and she knows that. That's why she'll forgive you. She will always forgive you, because you care about her and she cares about you. Secondly, don't underestimate Lissa's powers of recovery. She's a tough lady. Yeah, it was a shock for her, but she's gonna be all right. I'm more worried about you at the moment."

Philip answered wearily, "I'm fine, Nick. I'd just forgotten how much it hurts when I hurt or upset Lissa. I don't think I can really explain what things were like when Lissa and I were kids. I mean, in some ways, she was like an extension of myself. She always knew exactly what I was thinkin' and feelin', never had to be told."

He started to say more, but Maeve ran into Philip's room full-tilt without knocking and gasped, "Lissa just got a phone call from Corinne Daugherty...Derek wants everyone downstairs, pronto! C'mon, c'mon, c'mon!" She grasped first Nick's hand, then Philip's, then dragged both men from the room. The ex-SEAL exchanged a rueful glance with Philip.

"Lissa got a phone call from Corinne Daugherty? Did she say what it was about?" Philip asked, his voice filled with obvious curiosity. Apparently, the girl's appearance had distracted him from his difficulties with Lissa, and Nick silently blessed Maeve for that.

"No, not really. Just said something about having to find the rest of you. She got all the way to the study, when she realized that only Alex and Derek were downstairs. Rachel is on her way, so I came to get you," Maeve answered as they walked down the stairs to the study.

Philip hesitated, then asked very softly, "Is Lissa all right, Maeve?" The teenager looked at him quickly, then nodded with a gentle smile. She knows, Nick thought, she knows what happened between them. For the first time, he realized that she had followed her sister and Philip upstairs after their return home from the retirement home. After Philip and I headed back to his room to talk, Nick thought, Maeve went in to check on Lissa. Good girl!

"Lissa is fine...I think she's more embarrassed than anything else. She's a little annoyed with you, Philip, but she gets over that quickly. It was how she found out that was the problem. Those were exact words, too, when I asked if she would be all right. Besides, the phone call from Mrs. Daugherty has totally distracted her. I don't know what was said, but it has to be big. Lissa doesn't get this excited over nothing, trust me!" Maeve answered, the words tumbling from her mouth. Evidently, she was excited as well.

"Then we should get to the study," Nick said, trying not to smile at the teenager's enthusiasm, "and see what it is. You say Rachel is already on her way?" The teen nodded and Nick continued, "All right. Did Lis ask you to brief us while we were on our way to the study?" Once more, Maeve nodded. This time, however, she was grinning broadly. Nick exchanged a look with Philip, who was smiling and shaking his head ruefully. That's right, Nick thought, he's known her for several years.

"Yeah, she did. She also asked me to look after Kat. Said that this was a little too gruesome, even for someone who likes Stephen King. So, since you guys know everything I do, I'll go up and make sure she's all right. C'ya!" the teen said. She did an about-face that would have put most of the SEALS in Nick's unit to shame, then ran back upstairs.

Nick didn't even try to conceal his smile as he muttered, "Where does that girl get her energy?" Philip shrugged with a grin and Nick continued as they walked into the study together, "Well, let's see what Miss Liss has for us." They found Derek, Alex, Rachel, and Lissa waiting for them. Lissa was pacing, hands locked behind her back.

"We're all here, Lissa," Alex said once she saw Nick and Philip, "so tell us about this phone call you got." She mouthed to Philip, 'are you all right?' He nodded and Alex relaxed as Lissa stopped pacing. She sat down on the arm of Derek's chair. The precept looked at his daughter, but said nothing, amusing the two young men. There's nothing to say, Nick thought, Lissa doesn't even realize what she's doing. She's just behaving as she would in her home.

"Okay, here's the situation. About fifteen minutes ago, I got a telephone call from Corinne Daugherty. It would seem that she discovered her husband's college notebook. She thought at first that they were history notes, until she actually looked at the contents. His notebook is actually a journal. Now, she didn't read more than a few sentences, just enough to realize that it was a journal," Lissa replied.

"But you're thinking that it will provide us with some clues about the urn, right? Including why Mitch Daugherty was there to begin with?" Alex asked. Nick frowned, not understanding her point at first. Then he shook his head at himself, annoyed. Idiot, he thought, this is still a police investigation and maybe Daugherty knew something we didn't about the urn! Lissa nodded and Alex continued, "What exactly did you come up with at the retirement home? Did Mrs. Hendricks tell you anything that will help us?"

"Uh...yeah. According to her, the urn contained the essence of a magician from Crete, a man named 'Andreas.' A very nasty sort, who killed the village priest and a local law officer when they tried to protect the children of the village. In response, the villagers fried Andreas. As he died, he vowed to return. To ensure that didn't happen, that symbol was carved on the base of the urn. Except somehow, Andreas still managed to escape," Lissa answered.

"I'll run Andreas' name through the Legacy computer, see if I can come up with anything. Lis, did something else happen while the two of you were out?" Alex asked hesitantly. Lissa paused and looked at Philip. For a moment, Nick felt shut-out...what was going on? It was then that he finally understood what Philip had been trying to tell him about his bond with Lissa. It isn't really telepathy, Nick thought, but it's something like that.

After a moment, Philip nodded in understanding. He replied, "Yes, Alex, something else did happen. Lissa and I encountered the entity...he was standing across the street, but he said one word. By all rights, we shouldn't have heard the word, but both of us did."

"Remember what? I don't understand," Rachel said into the silence that followed. Derek was staring at his daughter, obviously stunned. Alex looked confused as well, and Rachel persisted, "What was the entity trying to make you remember, Lissa? Something that happened when you were a child, something Reynolds did to hurt you?"

To Nick's surprise, Lissa flinched. However, she replied, "No, Rachel. I don't need any help to remember that. No, he wanted me to remember the dreams which brought me back to my family. He was looking to weaken me, to turn me against the people dearest to me. It shook me, but he failed." She was looking at Philip as she spoke, and a shy smile lit the priest's face. Nick was willing to bet that he was the only person outside the magic circle who understood what was going on. As it turned out, he was wrong.

"It forced you to remember everything, Lissa?" Derek asked, breaking the magic of the moment. The young woman turned her attention to her father, who continued, "You remembered every detail of the dreams you had while you were in a coma?" She nodded, her expression solemn.

"Every last one," Lissa replied quietly. A gentle smile lit her face, as she added, "I also remember hearing Derek's voice, telling me to sleep well and that you would take care of me. I remember it all now." But for the first time, Nick saw no pain in her eyes...just peace.

There was silence in the room for several moments, then Derek said quietly, "Lissa, I think you and Philip should go to Corinne Daugherty's house. I'm still troubled by this sense of impending danger which you felt the first time." Lissa nodded, then nearly fell off the arm of the chair.

"I'm an idiot!" she blurted out. Philip looked at his friend with concern, and she continued, "I'm a first-rate idiot, there's no other way to explain it! C'mon, Philip, we gotta get over there double-time! I'll explain everything when we get back." She dropped an absent kiss on Derek's forehead, then ran from the study.

"Now I'm certain that you should go with her, Philip," Derek said, staring after his daughter, "she is not behaving like herself!" Philip nodded and followed Lissa from the room. She was in the foyer, pulling her hair into a ponytail. Once her hair was drawn back from her face, she withdrew several pins from her pocket and stuck them into her hair. Philip looked at her questioningly.

"No, Philip, I haven't lost my mind. I'll explain on the way to the Daugherty house," Lissa said. She gave him a quirky grin, then added, "And stop looking at me like I'm gonna come unglued any second now. I'm not angry with you any more, I'm angry with myself."

Philip started to reply, then shook his head as they walked out to her Taurus. Lissa's stride was quick and confident, but Philip still wondered if it was a mask. Once they both inside and buckled up, Lissa said quietly, "I should have seen it before, Pip. Remember what Mrs. Hendricks said about the children of her village?"

Philip had to think about that conversation for a minute, then he gasped. Turning in his seat to look at Lissa as she headed out the front gates, he said, "Andreas was usin' those kids in his rituals. You think that one of the Daugherty children is in danger?" Lissa nodded grimly and Philip continued, "But you won't know why, or which one, until we read that journal?" Once more, Lissa nodded.

"That's exactly right. The screwy thing is, Pip, I can't even warn Corinne properly. How do I tell her about this, aside from warning her to keep the children from strangers with half-decayed faces?" the young woman asked, sighing. Philip was silent for several moments as he considered Lissa's question, then he smiled.

"You don't have to tell her the complete truth...you could just advise Mrs. Daugherty that you believe a man responsible for Jason's death may try to take one of her children. It's not really a lie," he pointed out. Lissa looked at him, then returned her attention to the road.

"I hadn't thought of that...and you're right, it isn't really a lie. Kinda like what you told Marius Hendricks in the crypt. And that, by the way, was excellent. I should have told you earlier...I thought you did beautifully under the circumstances," Lissa replied. Philip smiled uncertainly and Lissa said seriously, "I mean it. You did great."

"And you did well with Mrs. Daugherty. Tell you what, if you come with me to wakes and funerals when I have to do the funeral mass, I'll come with you when you're actin' as a consultant," Philip said with a teasing smile. Lissa threw back her head and laughed. For the first time since seeing the entity, Philip felt at ease again with his friend.

Lissa had told Corinne Daugherty that they would be there in two hours...it was closer to ninety minutes when she and Philip arrived at the Daugherty house. The two children were playing outside. The little girl was about five or six, and Lissa blinked back tears. If only... As she pulled the car to a stop, the little boy Stephen jumped to his feet and ran over to the Taurus. He said, "You're Father Philip! I remember you, you were here yesterday! Maman says that she's asking the bishop if you can do the funeral Mass for Papa, since you're so nice!"

Philip was taken aback only for a moment, then he smiled and said, "Did she, now? Well, I will have to thank her for that. I remember you as well, your name is Stephen. What's your little sister's name?" The younger sibling was approaching them shyly, hiding behind her older brother.

"This is Josee, she's five. Josee, this is Father Philip and that's Officer Reynolds," Stephen explained. Josee Daugherty nodded shyly from behind her brother and both Lissa and Philip offered gentle smiles to her. She returned the smile very shyly, and Stephen took Philip's hand, saying, "C'mon inside, Maman is waiting for you! She told Josee and me to watch for you! C'mon, Josee!"

With that, he began pulling Philip inside the house. Lissa followed, and was startled when a tiny hand slipped inside her own. She looked down to see Josee staring up at her. Lissa knelt in front of the child and asked, "Would you like me to carry you, Josee? I have a cousin named 'Cassie,' she's the same age as you. You remind me of her."

The child's smile broadened as she slipped her arms around Lissa's neck and whispered, "Maman told us about you and Father Philip. She said that you were very pretty and very nice, but that you had very sad eyes. And she said that Father Philip has sad eyes as well. Why are you sad?"

Lissa struggled with what to say, but at last settled on, "Because I miss my cousin. And because my maman died when I was Stephen's age, a little older than you are now. There are a lot of things which we both needed to say, and needed to hear. It's been sixteen years since she died, and I still miss her a lot." Josee nodded and hugged Lissa as the policewoman headed inside. Once more, Lissa blinked back tears. If only, she thought again, if only!

Corinne Daugherty had been waiting nervously for the last hour and a half, ever since she called Lissa Reynolds. She hadn't been nervous when she made the initial phone call, because she hadn't read any of the journal. But now she had, and she was beginning to understand the strange questions.

Mon Dieu, Mitch, she thought, what were you thinking? And how did Jason come to learn of that urn in the Hendricks crypt? Why did he not pay attention to what you wrote about it, unless he thought it was a different urn?

The door opened and Stephen exclaimed, "Maman, Father Philip and Officer Reynolds are here!" Corinne turned as the pair entered her house. Father Callaghan was being led by Stephen, while Officer Reynolds carried Josee. The young woman gently placed Josee on the ground, whispering something to her. The little girl giggled and kissed the policewoman, then grabbed Stephen's hand and they both ran from the room.

Officer Reynolds asked very gently, "You've read the journal, haven't you, Mrs. Daugherty?" Corinne nodded, trembling violently, and the policewoman gently took her hands, steadying her. Corinne clung to the young officer, feeling a little more secure. Though not much.

"Yes. I understand now your questions. What was he thinking? How could he have been so stupid?" Corinne wailed, desperately close to tears. Her two visitors gently guided her to a chair and Corinne sat down heavily. Elizabeth Reynolds had her arm around the widow's shoulders and Corinne wondered if she would ever stop trembling.

"Mrs. Daugherty, I know this is hard for you, but I'm afraid it gets worse. Your husband and brother-in-law died because of a Grecian urn...and I'm afraid there's a danger to your children as well," the police officer said hesitantly. Corinne flinched and turned to look at the girl.

"My little ones? Stephen and Josee? Mon Dieu, Mitch, what have you done?" Corinne cried out. She noticed the startled look that passed between her two visitors, and brought herself under control with difficulty. If her babies were in danger, panicking would not help them. Corinne said, "Mitch referred to the urn in his journal...he was doing research on a magician called 'Andreas.' It was at the time he was so interested in the occult."

"Oh, sweet Jesus," Father Callaghan whispered, crossing himself. Corinne looked from the priest to Officer Reynolds, realizing that she had been forgotten. The priest continued, "Lissa...you were right."

The young woman nodded grimly and Corinne asked, her voice rising against her will, "What is it? What are you talking about?" Both pairs of eyes returned their attention to her, and Corinne continued, forcing herself to calm down, "What is going on? Please, tell me."

"Mrs. Daugherty, your husband and brother-in-law were in the Hendricks crypt when your brother-in-law was killed. Whatever your husband saw horrified him so much, he ran from the crypt into the path of a semi-truck. When I reached the crypt with Father Callaghan and my...and one of our associates, we discovered a Grecian urn lying on the floor. There was a strange mark engraved on it," Officer Reynolds began. Corinne nearly fainted again...it was the same urn which had cost Mitch his roommate so many years ago!

"Dear heaven," she whispered, "it's the same urn. It was the same urn which killed Mitch's roommate Grady. But why was Jason there? He was in trouble a lot, but he was a good boy at heart! He would have never wanted something so evil!" Once more, her two visitors exchanged a glance.

"Mrs. Daugherty," Father Callaghan said, obviously choosing his words with great care, "I think we should see this notebook." Corinne nodded and leaned forward, picking the journal up from the coffee table. She gave it to the priest, who told the policewoman, "Lissa, I think you should call Derek and the others, let them know." "Got it. Mrs. Daugherty, if you'll excuse me, I need to make a phone call," the young woman said. Corinne nodded and Elizabeth Reynolds gave her hand a gentle squeeze, then walked into the kitchen. Corinne sat back, trembling. Oh, dear God, she thought, dear God in heaven, I wish this was all a nightmare! Let me wake up!

However, that was not meant to be, for Father Callaghan called into the kitchen only a few minutes later, "Lissa! I found out everything we need to know!" The policewoman ran back into the room, still holding a cell phone.

Once she was sitting down, the priest gave her the book. The policewoman read quickly, her eyes widening with growing horror. She looked at the priest and said, "Philip, he'll make his move soon. If he wants to do this ritual at the proper time, he has to move soon. Mrs. Daugherty, get your children NOW! We have to get them to safety."

There was no room for debate, and Corinne didn't want to argue with the determined young cop. She jumped to her feet and headed into the kitchen. Corinne knew where they were. Stephen was in his room, doing homework, and Josee was...

Corinne saw her daughter through the kitchen window... and she saw the face of the man who held her daughter. Her scream blended with that of her small daughter, then mercifully, everything went dark.

Philip and Lissa raced into the kitchen once they heard Corinne Daugherty scream. Lissa had her service revolver out, and she headed out the back door, while Philip checked on Corinne. She was alive, and Philip guessed that she had fainted. Lissa came back inside, swearing.

"I didn't have a good shot, dammit! I couldn't risk hitting Josee. How's Corinne?" she asked. Philip nodded, rising slowly to his feet, and Lissa continued, "We have to go after them, Philip, there is no other alternative."

"I agree...but we can't just leave Corinne here. You call Derek back and brief him, and I'll find Stephen. The poor lad is probably terrified. And don't you go blamin' yourself! You did the best you could!" Philip said.

"It wasn't good enough. I told Josee to stay inside, why didn't she listen?" Lissa cried out, her voice hoarse with anguish. She shook herself and muttered, "This isn't doing any good either. I'll call Derek, you find Stephen." Philip nodded and headed upstairs, in search of the little boy. He had a pretty good idea of where he would find him.

Derek listened intently to his daughter's narrative and once she was finished, said, "First, Elizabeth, you must not blame yourself. You had no idea what that notebook would contain. And you did warn Josee to stay inside...you did everything you could have done."

"I should have told them to stay in the living room... but they're so young! Anyhow, recriminations won't help them now. Could you send out Rachel and Alex? Philip and I have to go to the crypt...that's where it all started, that's where it will all end," Lissa replied wearily.

"Of course. Lissa, be careful. From what you've told me, this entity is even more dangerous that we realized initially. I don't want to lose you so soon after finding you again. No heroics...just do what's necessary, rescue the child. All right?" Derek asked.

"I promise to be careful, Father. And Philip will be with me...he won't let me do anything stupid," Lissa replied. Derek felt a thrill go through him when she called him 'Father,' but said nothing. Lissa continued after a moment, "Do you think I'll make an all-right addition to the Legacy, even with the mistakes I make?" Her voice was almost shy as she asked the question.

"We all make mistakes, Lissa. It's part of being human, just ask Philip. And you will be a fine addition to the Legacy. Go with God, little one, and watch Philip's back," Derek replied. His daughter assented and hung up. Derek sat back, staring into space. After a moment, a smile appeared. It seemed that Lissa's fate in the Legacy was sealed.

Lissa hung up and stuck the cell phone back into her pocket, still cursing herself for not instructing Josee to stay in the living room. Moaning interrupted her reverie, and Lissa went to Corinne's side as the woman regained consciousness. Lissa whispered as she helped Corinne to sit up, "Take it easy, Mrs. Daugherty, help is on the way."

"My baby...my little Josee...that monster has her," Corinne whispered, tears rolling down her face. Lissa nodded, dangerously close to tears as well, and Corinne continued, "You told her to stay in the house, didn't you? You told her something she could understand."

"It wasn't enough...I should have told her more of the truth. I'm so sorry, Mrs. Daugherty, but I swear to you, I will get Josee back. No matter what it takes," Lissa whispered, her heart breaking for both mother and child. Corinne put her finger on Lissa's mouth.

"Shhh," the widow said, shaking her head, "It is not your fault. You had no way of knowing that Josee would put water out for the dog. You must not be so hard on yourself, Officer Reynolds. I should have been more careful...I read that journal, I should have realized what would happen." The woman broke down sobbing and Lissa drew her into her arms.

"Stephen was hiding in the closet," Philip said and Lissa looked up. The child was pressed against her friend's side, face buried in the tails of Philip's coat. The young priest continued, gently caressing Stephen's hair, "He heard his mother and sister scream...saw the entity."

"I did, too," Corinne said huskily, pulling away from Lissa to hold out her arms to Stephen. The little boy broke away from Philip to fling himself into his mother's arms. Corinne rocked her son back and forth, saying, "It was hideous...but it looked almost human."

Lissa barely managed to fight back a snort before replying, "It used to be human, Mrs. Daugherty. More of our associates will be arriving soon...when they get here, Father Callaghan and I will leave to get Josee back. Go with our friends, Mrs. Daugherty, and you'll be safe."

"I want to go with you," Corinne said, but Lissa shook her head steadfastly. The woman repeated, "I want to go with you! That thing has my daughter! I have to be there for my baby girl!" Lissa and Philip exchanged a look, then Philip knelt beside Corinne, Stephen, and Lissa.

"Listen to me, Mrs. Daugherty," he said gently, "I do understand how you feel. I would want to be around for one of my nieces or nephews if they were taken. But your son also needs you, and this is a true monster we're dealin' with. It won't hesitate to kill you if you get in the way. Please, do as Officer Reynolds asks. Stay with our friends."

For a moment, Lissa thought the woman might protest more, but she sighed and said, "All right. But promise me, just as soon as your friends arrive, you'll go after my daughter?" Both Philip and Lissa nodded.

"You have our word, Mrs. Daugherty. We both...there is a child whom we both love, and if anything ever happened to her...well, I think you understand. We do understand how helpless you feel," Lissa replied earnestly.

"Thank you, Officer Reynolds. I meant what I said earlier...I don't blame you for this. You couldn't have prevented my daughter's abduction," Corinne said huskly, holding Stephen tightly. Lissa smiled faintly and patted the woman's shoulder, then rose to her feet. That didn't take away from the guilt which Lissa still felt.

"Derek, I came up with more information...both about the urn and about Jason Daugherty," Alex said as Derek entered the control room. He raised an eyebrow and the researcher continued, "It seems young Jason was heavily into debt, and he happened to meet a member of the Hendricks clan while out drinking one night. This aforementioned member of the Hendricks clan told him about an urn in the family crypt, which the matriarch brought over from Greece."

"So that's why Jason was in the crypt...and why he had Mitch with him. But Alex, how did you find out about the meeting with a member of the Hendricks family?" Derek asked and Alex smiled impishly, her dark eyes dancing.

"About ten minutes ago, I received a very urgent phone call from a very frightened young man who had drinks with Jason Daugherty in a bar no more than two weeks ago. This particular young man's name was Bruce Hendricks, the twenty- seven year old son of Marius Hendricks. He just returned from a trip, visited his grandmother, and..."

"Learned of the incident in the crypt. Thalia Hendricks told him of the Luna Foundation's involvement...very good, Alex. What did you learn about the urn?" Derek asked, though his mind was still on what Lissa had told him.

"Well, it seems that about fifteen years ago, there was another incident involving a member of the Hendricks clan. He mysteriously disappeared, after taking the urn from the crypt. He hasn't been seen since," Alex replied. Derek felt a cold hand grip his heart. It was all starting to make sense now...and Derek didn't like what he saw.

"This Hendricks man...his name wouldn't happen to have been Grady, would it?" he asked slowly. Alex nodded, her eyes widening and Derek said, "The final piece of the puzzle just fell into place. Alex, find Nick. We have to go into San Francisco." Alex frowned and Derek proceeded to explain the phone call *he* had received from Lissa.

"Oh my God," Alex whispered, "so that's how Andreas was able to escape! Mitch Daugherty and Grady Hendricks somehow changed that symbol on the urn, the one which imprisoned Andreas! And when Jason's thumb brushed it...now I understand!" Derek nodded and Alex said, "All right, I'll find Nick and Rachel. Derek, there are only a few hours before sunset." The precept nodded, understanding her meaning perfectly, and Alex headed out of the control room.

Alone, Derek stared at the urn. It reminded him of the seamless container which had contained the ashes of Joshua Cantwell, Rachel's grandfather...as well as the five sepulchres downstairs in the cellar, which brought the tragedy of Ruth Cantwell's death full circle.

Derek gasped, suddenly realizing that there was one more piece of the puzzle which had to fall into place. He quickly shut off the security system which guarded the urn, and put on rubber gloves to protect himself. Then he withdrew the urn from the glass case and put it in its container. This urn, too, had its purposes.

Part Nine

After Philip and Lissa left for the mainland, Nick couldn't shake the feeling that he should head into San Francisco as well. He wasn't entirely sure what he needed to do, but it ceased to matter when Maeve bounded downstairs once more. Seeing him, she asked, "Everything okay?"

"Yeah, Philip and Lissa are taking care of the Daugherty case. What are you up to?" Nick asked, noticing her slightly disheveled appearance. Maeve actually blushed, and Nick continued, "Wait a minute...you're doing a little more than looking after Kat, aren't you?"

"Yeah...I'm planning a surprise for Lissa. Look, Nick, I don't care what my sister told you when we came back. This is Lissa's home, and she's staying here. Kat is in her room, coloring, and I've been in Lissa's room, trying to figure out what would look good in there. I've come up with some ideas. The thing is, Lis will get suspicious if I try to track this stuff down," Maeve explained, looking very unhappy. Nick suppressed his excitement.

"You know, kiddo...you could give me the list, and I'll see if I can find out where you can get the stuff. I pretty much come and go as I please, and you do need to stick around for Kat. You think that would be all right?" he asked casually. Maeve's eyes lit up.

"You mean it, Nick? You'd really do this for me and for Lis?" she asked excitedly. Nick bobbed his head, grinning, and Maeve threw her arms around his neck. Nick held the girl, laughing at her exuberance, and Maeve kissed each cheek as he set her back on her feet. The girl said, "Here's my list. And Nick? Promise me something?"

"What's that?" Nick asked with a grin as he accepted the paper and glanced over it. He gave a low whistle...how Maeve had come up with some of the stuff, he would never know. Probably the same way I used to figure out what to get Philip for Christmas, Nick thought with a half-smile, by listening to his comments during the rest of the year!

"Wait until I'm grown up to get married! You're one of a kind!" the teen sighed. Nick's eyes widened, but he just smiled as Maeve kissed his cheek again and ran upstairs. He watched her go and shook his head. How Philip manages to keep up with her, I will never know, he thought, then headed for the study, where Rachel was reading case studies.

"Rach, I need a favor," he said and she looked up with a warm smile. Nick sat down beside her, continuing, "I have to run into town for some things...Maeve has decided that this is Lissa's home, and she wants Lissa's room to reflect her personality. Would you mind letting Derek know? I have no idea where he is." Rachel grinned as he spoke.

"Maeve has decided, has she? I think Lissa has as well, she just doesn't realize it yet. Sure, I'll tell Derek. You'll have your cell phone with you?" she asked and Nick pulled the item in question from his jacket pocket. Rachel added hesitantly, "Is there more to this trip into San Francisco than you're telling me, Nick?"

"I'm not sure," Nick answered honestly. Rachel just looked at him, but said nothing, and the ex-SEAL continued, "I can't explain it, Rachel. I just have the feeling I should be on the mainland." Rachel nodded and Nick touched her shoulder, then headed out to his Mustang.

Some two hours later, Nick was almost finished with his errand. There had been no contact from Derek, so Nick was beginning to think his instinct had been wrong. He was heading out of a downtown antique store, when his cell phone rang. Nick flicked it open and said, "Yeah?"

"Nick, it's Rachel. How long will it take you to get to the Daugherty house?" the psychiatrist asked tensely. Nick checked his watch and started to reply, but before he had a chance, Rachel continued, "Get over there as soon as you can! The entity...it took Mitch Daugherty's daughter, for part of a ritual. Can you get there soon?"

"It will take me ten minutes, Rachel, I'm on my way," Nick replied, his heart racing. He hung up and ran to his car. Lissa had given them directions to the Daugherty house after her first visit, and Nick had committed them to memory. I was right, he thought, I was right!

Seven minutes later, he was at the Daugherty home. He pulled up in front and ran to the door. He discovered Philip and Lissa waiting for him, and he said, "Go! I'll take care of them, just go!" Neither of his friends argued. Lissa shot toward her car, with Philip a half-step behind her. Nick went into the house and found Corinne Daugherty sitting on the sofa, with her arm around her son. He sat down, saying, "I'm Nick, a friend of Philip and Lissa's."

Lissa was silent as she started the car. She was furious with herself for not seeing the connection sooner, but self-flagellation wouldn't help Josee. She said quietly, "I was wrong, Pip. Turning me against you wasn't the plan- distracting me was. And it succeeded."

"Only to a point, Lis. Only to a point. I think the entity meant for you to be so stunned by remembering the dreams, that you wouldn't even be at the Daugherty house," Philip replied firmly. Lissa nodded. That was possible.

"I'm sorry, Philip, I should have never come unglued like that. You were only trying to protect me. It's just that I wish it had come from you," Lissa answered with a sigh. She was silent for several moments, then whispered, "I'm scared, Pip. I've never had to do this before."

"That makes two of us, Lissa," Philip answered gently, "but haven't we always said that we're a good team? It was true when we were children. Think of the damage we can do as fully-grown, trained adults!" Lissa laughed and Philip said, "Much better. We're almost there. I don't know how to fight this thing either, but we'll find a way."

"Some things never change, do they?" Lissa asked ruefully and Philip laughed outright. She took her right hand off the wheel just long enough to squeeze his hand, then returned her complete attention to driving. The last thing they needed was to get into an accident. Lissa asked shyly, "Philip...about the dream. You know...you know I'm not fast, or anything like that, right?"

"I know better than that, Lissa. And I've a fair amount of guilt myself. A priest isn't s'posed to think about kissing women...isn't s'posed to dream about it. And it felt more real than like a dream," Philip answered and Lissa nodded. That was one of the things that had frightened her.

"I know. I just don't understand why I didn't remember in the dreams that you were a priest. You're my parish priest, I should remember that even in my dreams!" she replied, blushing intensely. Philip was silent. Just ahead, Lissa could see St. Bart's cemetary.

"Lissa, I don't think you were s'posed to remember. I've been thinkin' about this ever since it happened, and I talked with Monsignor Gray. He isn't unfamiliar to this kind of thing. He believes that you were meant to forget...so I would remember the dream. Does that make any sense to you? D'ye understand what I'm tryin' to say?" Philip asked, obviously fumbling with the words.

"I think so...Monsignor Gray thinks that God meant for us to kiss in the dreams, so you would remember me. And when you saw me in the clinic, you would realize I was real and that I needed help?" Lissa asked and Philip nodded. Lissa fell silent, then said, "I'll have to think about this later. We're on." Philip nodded as she pulled through the gates.

Derek, Alex, and Rachel were all tense and very quiet on the ride from Angel Island to the mainland. At last, Derek said quietly, "Alex, I want you and Rachel to remain with Mrs. Daugherty and her son. Nick and I will head to the cemetary, in case Philip and Lissa need us." He didn't say that he needed to be there for his daughter, since her step- father's hatred had prevented that in the past.

"Derek, I think you should be ready for a fight from Mrs. Daugherty. And once Philip and Lissa rescue Josee, that little girl will want her mother," Rachel advised from Derek's other side. He looked at the psychiatrist, who added, "Derek, think back to when Philip and Lissa were children. If they had been abducted, would you have sat around while strangers rescued them? Not likely!" While Derek knew Rachel was right, he also knew that the situations were slightly different. Corinne didn't have the training for these situations, as he and Nick did.

"You have a point, Rachel," Alex said quietly, "but we need to consider Corinne and Stephen's safety as well. Can the four of us really guarantee that we can keep Corinne from running into that crypt at a crucial moment? Philip and Lissa will have their hands full, defeating Andreas and rescuing Josee. They don't need Corinne distracting them."

"I will look after Corinne. I will sit on her, if necessary, until Philip and Lissa come outside with Josee," Rachel said firmly. Derek looked at Alex, who shrugged with a sigh. Rachel continued, "Maybe this woman doesn't have experience with hostage situations, supernatural or natural. But she is a mother, and there is no way she will sit back and wait for her daughter to be returned to her safely."

"We'll make the decision when we get to the house. The ferry is just about to dock, so we should head back to the car," Derek replied. The trio rose and headed for the auto- deck. As they walked back to the car, Derek murmured to Alex, "Did you talk with Thalia Hendricks?" The young woman bobbed her head once in response, and Derek continued, "What did she say to our proposal?"

Alex smiled faintly and replied, "Her exact words were, 'you have my blessing to do what you wish with it. My family has carried the burden for seventy-five years, and it has brought us only tragedy.' We just have to get to the cemetary on time." Derek nodded...it would do.

"I do have one question," Rachel said and Derek looked at her as she slid into the back seat. Rachel continued, "Why are we taking the urn with us?" Derek and Alex exchanged a glance and Alex smiled faintly. I'll leave this to you, Alexandra, Derek thought.

"So we can imprison the entity again, Rachel. Once he's trapped inside, we can destroy the urn once and for all. The thing is, we have to figure out a way to destroy it without releasing Andreas into the world again," Alex explained. Derek started the engine as the two women buckled up.

Rachel muttered something under her breath which Derek couldn't quite understand. She said as he looked over his shoulder at her questioningly, "It's nothing. Just irritated with myself for not figuring it out on my own. Derek, what about the danger to Lissa and Philip? Do they know how to imprison Andreas inside that thing again?"

"Yes," Derek replied, "Lissa told me what she found in the journal. They can imprison Andreas, if we get the urn to them on time. And if I know Lissa, she will buy as much time as possible." He opted not to tell Rachel how his daughter would buy them time...he really didn't think she needed to know that he had no idea what Lissa would do.

Nick had a sinking feeling that Corinne Daugherty would not just sit idly by while Philip and Lissa rescued her daughter. He just wasn't sure when she would make her move, or what she would do. He didn't have long to wait...only ten minutes after Philip and Lissa's departure, Corinne grabbed Stephen and made for the front door.

"You're not leaving, Mrs. Daugherty...Philip and Lissa know what they're doing, you'll only get hurt if you try to intervene," Nick said, placing himself between the woman and the door. Stephen, clutched in his mother's arms, looked warily from Nick to Corinne and back again.

"Get out of my way, Mr. Boyle. My daughter needs me, just as your friends need you. How could you let them go after that monster without back-up?" Corinne asked. Nick flinched...her words had hit way too close to home for him. He hadn't wanted to stay here, while Philip and Lissa were in danger, but they knew what they were doing. He hoped. Nick remained where he was, however.

"Philip is a priest, and Lissa is a cop. Between the two of them, they'll take out this ba...this monster, Mrs. Daugherty. But you're right, your daughter needs you, and that's why you're staying right here," he replied.

Something flared in Mrs. Daugherty's eyes, but she said in a tightly controlled voice, "Mr. Boyle. If you do not get out of my way, I will be forced to hurt you. And don't make the mistake of thinking me weak and helpless. I was raised in an unpleasant section of New Orleans, I learned very quickly how to defend myself. If necessary, I will knock you unconscious, then Stephen and I will go to the cemetary."

Nick looked at the woman for several moments...she meant every word. She would clobber him, then go after Philip and Lissa. And in the process, she would probably get herself, both of her children, Philip and Lissa killed. He swore under his breath, but said, "All right. But I'm taking you and Stephen to the cemetary, Mrs. Daugherty, so I can keep an eye on you. And once we get there, you stay in the car. Otherwise, I'll have to get equally unpleasant."

There was a long pause, while the woman looked at him. At last, evidently satisfied that he meant what he said as well, Corinne Daugherty nodded and replied, "Just so. Come, Stephen, your little sister needs us." Like a queen, she swept to Nick's car and the ex-SEAL swore under his breath. Derek is gonna kill me for this, the young man thought as he got into his car, but what other choice did I have? And he'll only get an opportunity to kill me if I survive the encounter with the body-snatcher!

Unaware of Nick's plight, Philip and Lissa quietly got out of the car and headed for the crypt. The young cop was pleased that her companion was being so silent...she wanted the element of surprise on her side, and that wasn't possible if either of them made a lot of noise.

"It took you long enough to get here. You don't need that gun, child...bullets can't hurt me, but a richochet might hit the girl," Andreas said as Lissa and Philip slipped inside the crypt. Lissa flinched...so much for the element of surprise! She lowered the gun and Andreas added, "You're quite different from my last pair of adversaries."

"I don't suppose it would do any good to tell you to let the girl go, would it?" Lissa inquired. Josee was whimpering quietly, her eyes filled with tears. Lissa wished she could tell the child that everything would be all right, but she had to keep Andreas talking.

"I'm afraid not, dear girl, since her blood will restore me fully. I see you've found the journal kept by Mitchner Daugherty. This is such a satisfying way to return! The boy brought me back to life, then sent me back. For that, I take his daughter as my first sacrifice. Now tell me, little one, what will you do to stop me?" the entity mocked.

"Whatever I must," Lissa replied evenly and the entity roared with laughter. As he laughed, vivid memories returned in full force. Lissa gasped, her hands trembling as she recalled every instance of abuse by Reynolds. A whimper broke through to Lissa and her attention snapped back to the sobbing child. She said, holding her revolver confidently, "You can't hurt me any more. You can never hurt me again!"

"Can't I though? You little whore, I can make you wish you'd never been born! I thank God every day that you aren't really my daughter!" the entity sneered and now, it spoke in her step-father's voice. Lissa stared at it for a moment, then she threw back her head and laughed outright.

"And I thank God every second of the day that I'm actually Derek Rayne's daughter! If you want to hurt me, you'll have to do a lot better than that! I've known for almost a week that Derek was my father," she retorted, still laughing. The entity trembled with rage, but Lissa wasn't expecting the next attack. It literally came out of nowhere.

"You think not, little whore? As I recall, hurting your little friend was always a good way to get a rise out of you!" the entity sneered and there was a brief, blinding flash of light. When Lissa could see again, the rotting corpse of her step-father was gone.

In its place was a lovely young woman, with long dark hair and doe eyes. She wore a long white dress which clung to her body, accentuating every curve. Lissa looked at the woman in frank disbelief and just a little confusion, until she heard Philip whisper, his voice cracking, "Ellen?"

Lissa glanced at her companion, then back at the woman, who said in a weak voice, "Philip, why didn't you come back? Why didn't you save me? I trusted you, Philip, how could you do this to me?" Philip had gone white and Lissa's blood boiled as she saw her friend's expression.

"So you're Ellen...the demon bimbo herself. Oh, does that make you angry? I'm soooo sorry, but you proved what an idiot you are when you drowned yourself to punish Philip. No self-respecting woman kills herself for any reason over a man!" Lissa said as she reached for Philip's wrist and dug her fingernails into his skin. Philip gasped in pain, trying to pull away from Lissa's grasp.

The young cop didn't release him...she just tightened her hold on him. However, it had the desired effect. Philip blinked and the entity returned to the body of William Reynolds, snarling at the pair. Philip murmured, visibly shaken, "Thanks, Lissa. I might have done somethin' really stupid. You've been warned, Andreas...let the girl go!"

"I'll see you both dead first!" the entity screeched, and the wail that emerged from its throat knocked both Philip and Lissa back into the wall. Lissa sank to her knees, imprisoned by the sound and by the pain which overwhelmed her. An arm slipped around her waist, and Lissa found herself cradled against Philip's chest. She resisted the urge to curl up in his arms and stay there. No time.

"You'll find we're both stronger than the first priest and the first law officer you battled," her friend retorted and Lissa closed her eyes, drawing strength from him. The entity snorted and Philip continued, his lilt thickening, "Laugh all you like! But you will not defeat us. Even if we fall, more will come after us." "You amuse me greatly, priest. You talk so grandly, as a priest would, but you hold a woman in your arms. And despite what that fool Reynolds said, she's a very attractive woman. Why don't you yield to the temptation...I know you want to do more than hold her," the entity responded.

"I would die for Lissa," Philip retorted as the pain receded from Lissa's body, "and she would die for me. There are forces in this world more powerful than your magic, Andreas. You could never understand that, and that is what killed you. You underestimated a parent's love for their child, you underestimated a priest's desire to protect his flock. And now, you're underestimating the power of a friendship more than twenty years old."

By now, Lissa had recouped most of her strength. She whispered to Philip, "There's a knife in my boot." The priest very carefully removed the knife from its hiding place, and Lissa continued, her voice very soft, "While I distract Andreas, you cut Josee free, then get the hell out of here. Get her to safety...you can take my car. I'm taking this bastard down, even if I have to go down with him. He's not harming any more children."

"Wrong again, Lissa...I'm not leavin' wi'out you! We'll either stand or fall together, because I'm not about to abandon you here. I couldn't protect you from your step- father once before, Lissa...but I can now," Philip retorted, his blue eyes flashing with anger. Lissa stared at him in disbelief, torn between frustration and amusement. He was right, of course...Lissa herself would have died before leaving Sandy or Kerry to face something alone. But Philip was a priest, not a cop.

"You are the most stubborn man I've ever known, Philip Joseph! All right, help me up," she murmured. Philip did so, and Lissa said in a clear voice, "Josee, honey, look into my eyes. I won't let that man hurt you. Do you trust me?" Josee nodded, stil crying, and Lissa continued, "Good girl."

"Don't make promises you can't keep, little whore," Andreas said with a cold little laugh. Lissa merely smiled faintly and raised the gun. She fired once, aiming for the thing's chin. The impact drove Andreas backward, and Philip released Lissa, darting forward to cut Josee free.

After the ferry docked, Alex's cell phone rang. She flicked it open and said, "Hello?" Nick's excited voice started non-stop chatter, and Alex held up a hand, though he wasn't there, and said, "Nick, where are you? Oh, dammit! All right, I'll tell Derek. We'll meet you there. Be careful, Nick!" Alex hung up and said, "Nick is on his way to the cemetary with Corinne and Stephen."

"What?" Derek gasped and Alex nodded with a sigh. Yeah, that had been her reaction as well. Derek ran his fingers through his hair, muttering under his breath in Dutch, while Rachel looked at Alex nervously. The precept continued after a moment, "Alex, what else did Nick tell you?"

"Apparently, Rachel was right. Not ten minutes after Philip and Lissa left, Corinne tried to leave. She and Nick got into it, Corinne threatened to brain Nick with something if he didn't get out of her way. Nick realized that she was going, and if he went with her, there was a better chance of her surviving the confrontation," Alex replied.

More Dutch swear words emerged from her precept, and Alex blushed at his language. After a moment, Derek said, "All right, there's nothing we can do except head for the cemetary." Alex nodded and Derek added with a sigh, "We'll be at the cemetary in five minutes...hopefully, Lissa and Philip can hold on until then."

As soon as Reynolds' body flew backward, Philip raced from Lissa's side to start cutting away Josee's bonds. As soon as her wrists were free, she wrapped her arms around his neck. Philip slipped an arm around her shoulders as he began cutting the rope which held her ankles.

But Lissa's bullet had only distracted Andreas, and he gave a bellow. It was as if Philip had been stabbed in the chest, and pain spread through his body. He sank to his knees, barely able to breathe, but continued to cut away at the rope. From what seemed to be a great distance, Philip heard Lissa scream his name, and he looked up into the eyes of little girl. And not just any little girl...but the five year old face of his best friend. It didn't register that he was an adult and Lissa was a child...only that Lissa needed him, and that he couldn't let her down.

Tears rolled down the little girl's face and Philip gasped, "It'll be okay, Lissy, I won't fail you again. I won't let him hurt you ever again." The last strand of the rope was severed and the entity gave another bellow. White- hot pain ripped through Philip's midsection, and the young priest doubled over in agony. He clutched the child to his chest, shielding her with his pain-wracked body. Through the haze of dizziness, Philip heard a primeval scream of rage.

"You...what have you done to Philip?" a woman screamed. The voice sounded familiar...he thought it was Fiona's. He tried to tell Fiona that her daughter was safe, but it was all he could do to crawl to safety. Once he reached what seemed like a safe distance, Philip at last sank into the welcoming arms of oblivion.

Nick paced back and forth in front of his Mustang, wondering where the hell Derek was. Twice now, a terrible bellow had ripped through the night, as well as a scream of rage, and it made Nick real nervous. Inside the car, Corinne and Stephen waited anxiously.

At last, the headlights of Derek's Range Rover were visible and Nick started running toward the vehicle. As he did, he was chilled by a female voice, raw with anguish and rage, screaming, "PHILIP!!!!" Nick ran to the Range Rover and Derek started to get out of the car.

"Derek, there's no time! Give me the urn...I can get it to Lissa!" Nick said urgently. Derek turned and motioned to Alex. The woman reached down into the floor and handed it to Derek. Nick very carefully took the urn from his friend's hands and said, "Corinne and Stephen are in the car. Keep your fingers crossed!" Derek nodded and Nick ran into the crypt. Please, God, he thought, let me be in time!

He burst into the crypt to find Philip lying prone on the floor, as Lissa aimed her gun at a figure in the shadows. For the first time, Nick saw what was left of Lissa's stepfather. Lissa said, "Nick, give me the urn, then get Philip and Josee out of here. This is for me to finish!"

"Like hell, little sister...I'm not going anywhere without you!" Nick retorted, but handed Lissa the urn. The young woman handled it carefully. Philip moaned softly and Nick helped him into a sitting position. For the first time, he saw Josee Daugherty, who had been underneath Philip, and continued to cling to the dazed priest.

"Oh, this is so very touching, Elizabeth! You have two swains at your disposal. At mine, really. I think it's time I carried out my promise to kill your priest-friend, Elizabeth," the entity mocked. Lissa rose slowly to her feet, and Nick shuddered at the look in her eyes. Never before had he seen such hatred in a pair of eyes.

Unexpectedly, Lissa began laughing. Nick looked at her, stunned, then saw the way she was holding the urn. A smile spread across the ex-SEAL's face as he realized her plan. Lissa laughed, "Oh, you are such a fool!" Don't overplay it, Lis, Nick thought, or you'll get us all killed, and I have no desire to die any time soon! Lissa continued, "I'm not wasting any more time on you...this, you bastard, is for Philip and for me! For fifteen years of hell!"

As she spoke, she flung the urn at the entity. Andreas had been human at one time. The body which he now occupied had also been human at one time. A natural human reaction, when something comes flying at one's head, is to duck. The other reaction was to try to catch it. Andreas, now housed in William Reynolds' body, caught it in one hand.

He burst out laughing and said, "Is this the best you can do, silly little whore? Oh, you are path..." Something began happening to him then. For the first time, Nick realized that his bare hand covered the sigil. A blue golden light bathed the crypt and Nick grabbed Lissa, pulling her to safety at his side. Josee buried her face against Philip's chest and the four huddled together as Andreas screamed. Nick peered up and caught his breath. The entity was literally being sucked back into the urn. Andreas screamed, "No, not again! You can't do this to me again!"

There was one last flash of light, and a final scream, then Andreas was gone forever. The urn clattered to the ground, but the four remained where they were for sevearl moments. Josee was crying, and Philip comforted her as best he could. Lissa smiled coldly and said, "I just did."

There were several more moments of silence as everyone caught their breath. Nick managed to say, "I'll get the urn. We should see someone about your step-father's remains, Lis." The young policewoman nodded wearily as she rose to her feet. She lifted Josee into her arms, then helped Philip to stand with a free hand. Nick pulled on a pair of gloves and headed over to the urn, but the door flew open.

"Josee!" Corinne Daugherty exclaimed as she ran into the crypt. Lissa placed Josee in her mother's arms. Stephen followed his mother, and he was followed by the rest of the Legacy. Rachel joined Nick, while Alex helped Philip from the crypt. Nick knelt beside the urn, amazed by what this object had done...it looked so innocent, but as Nick knew, appearances were often deceiving.

Lissa took several deep breaths, trying to clear her head. She still hurt from getting knocked into the wall, but she would be all right. Both physically and emotionally. The confrontation had given her closure, with the man who had hurt her so badly. The scars would always be with her, but this would help her to heal. She sighed, closing her eyes, and jumped when an arm went around her shoulders. She relaxed when she saw her father at her side. He asked quietly, "Are you all right, Lissa? Will you be all right?"

Lissa nodded, leaning her head against his chest. She could hear his heart beat, and it was a reassuring sound... his heart was in his chest, where it belonged. Lissa trembled, recalling her third Vision...the sight of Derek's still-beating heart in the hand of her late step-father.

Continued on next page

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