Meridon shook her head at her younger sister, Drusilla. "Dru, there's nothing out there."
"I can feel him." Drusilla said.
They were standing on the street with their third and older sister, Kathleen. Meridon could feel his eyes watching them, but she needed to calm her sister down. Drusilla had the Sight and no one really believed her except Meridon. Meridon knew more than she let on to anyone.
Just like all the times before, she had gotten all her memories back at the age of thirteen. Except Cassius was still gone. She was still alone. The last five lifetimes had been horrible. Without Cassius, Aurelia never knew what her fate would be. She'd been married off in the lifetime after Elizabeth by her family to a man who only loved her family's money, not her. In the lifetime after that, she'd been the sister to a wealthy farmer in Italy. Then she'd been one of the many faces of the poor in the streets of France. And so on and so on.
It never really mattered who she was, though. Angelus, as Liam's demon had come to call himself, had decided her fate for her each time. He was determined to seek her out, torture her mentally and physically, and then kill her any way he could. The only thing he would never do was to turn her into what he'd become. Aurelia never really knew why.
"He wants you something terrible." Drusilla said.
Meridon looked back and saw him standing there with Darla, the vampire who had taken him away from her. The crowd on the street moved around them, but Angelus' eyes never wavered. "I know." Meridon said.
"He wants you because you're his."
"No. I'm not his. I belonged to the one the demon took. Not him."
"Yes." Meridon hadn't told her sister about her past lives. She never shared that with anyone. Drusilla had seen it in a dream and asked Meridon about it. Meridon had been taken aback, but in the end she'd been happy to share it with someone.
Drusilla had taken it upon herself to watch after Meridon. "He won't have you this time, Aurelia." Meridon looked at Drusilla. Her sister liked her true name and only used it when she believed her sister wanted comfort.
"I'm afraid he will." Meridon answered. "He always does. It's a cruel joke to him to take my life each lifetime. He sees it as mocking what Cassius and I had."
Drusilla gripped Meridon's hand. "Come. We should go home. It's safe there."
Meridon just smiled slightly and glanced back at Angelus. "It's not safe anywhere after he's found me."
Drusilla looked at Angelus and shook his head. "We'll stop him, Meridon."
Angelus had killed her family. He'd left their bodies for her to find. But this time, he was taking it out on Drusilla too. He'd spared her. Or, at the very least, he'd saved her for last because Meridon cherished her sister. She was the first person Aurelia had let herself love since her life as Elizabeth.
So, at Drusilla's insistence, the two sisters had retreated to a convent to escape him. "The convent is holy. He cannot prevail over the power of the Lord." Drusilla had said. Meridon wanted desperately to believe her sister, but she'd seen too much. She'd seen what Angelus was capable of. Meridon knew holy objects wouldn't hold him back for long. He would find a way around the Holy Vows Meridon and Drusilla would take tomorrow.
Meridon stood and looked out the first story window at the coming darkness. That's when the screaming started. She could hear it in the distant hallways and it was coming closer. He was coming closer. There was nothing Meridon could do. Angelus was here.
Drusilla burst into Meridon's room. "He is here! Sister!"
"I know." Meridon said, resigned to her fate.
"Come. Please, we must leave before he finds you."
"He knows where I am."
"You cannot just wait for him. You must try, Meridon!"
"Go, Drusilla. Save yourself. He cannot do me harm if you are still alive."
Meridon hugged Drusilla. "Go. I'll be alright." She gently shoved Drusilla out the window.
Drusilla hesitated for a moment, watching her sister's sullen face, and then she ran. Meridon sat down on the bed and waited. The screams surrounded her for what seemed like hours. It probably was. Then there was silence. Still, Meridon didn't get up from the bed.
The door opened slowly and Angelus sauntered into the room. Blood had splashed on his clothing and his mouth was red and smeared with it. He smiled at her, but it didn't strike fear in her heart like it was meant to. "I've become predictable?"
"After the second time, yes."
Angelus smiled. "You underestimate me."
"Just finish it."
"What is 'it' that I am supposed to finish?"
Meridon rolled her eyes up to him and saw a different glint in his eyes. He moved towards her and the first hint of fear filled her. Angelus spent the next few hours raping the virgin body Aurelia was in. He made sure it hurt her through everything. There was no pleasure to it like the first time he'd entered her body as a demon. In the end, he didn't kill her. He left her laying in the bed in a pool of her blood from her womb and other places that no man should've entered.
When the authorities finally came, Meridon was lost. They took her to the hospital and she laid on the bed, unable to speak. She waited for him to come finish her, but he never did. Instead, he'd sent a horror more terrible than anything he'd ever inflicted on her.
He'd sent the demon he'd changed Drusilla into. Angelus had driven Drusilla mad before he'd changed her. Meridon screamed when Drusilla floated into the room. She cried and struggled, but Drusilla took her in the end.
Mya awoke from the horrible nightmare with a scream. She looked around the tent and saw she was alone. Her vampiric sister was not ripping her throat out in a hospital in a land far away in a time long ago.
Aurelia had been brought back as a Romani Gypsy named Mya this time. She was one of the Kalderash people. Her family was the most powerful family in the clan and she was the most beautiful, most desired girl among them all. They cherished her. They worshiped her.
Mya felt safe with this family. She was far from Angelus' usual hunting ground. She hadn't heard anything since he'd sent her sister, Drusilla, to kill her in 1860. It was now 1898 and Mya was seventeen years old. She was safe this time. She knew it.
Mya stood up and stretched. Her long, dark hair flowed down her bare back and it felt wonderful. It was morning outside her tent and she could hear her people moving around the campsite. The nightmares came and went, but Mya blamed them on feeling safe. For so long, she'd been haunted by him. And now he was far away, but she couldn't seem to let him go.
"Mya." Her mother called from outside the tent. "Get up and get dressed Mya. Come help us."
Mya groaned as she heard the sound of Micah talking outside. He was part of the Kalderash clan and the son of the second most powerful family. The two families were working on a match for them and Mya's mother was being gentle with it. She wanted Mya to love Micah. She couldn't bear to see her daughter unhappy.
Mya put on her clothing and walked out of the tent. Micah stood with her mother holding a cauldron while Mya's mother poured water into it. He was a handsome young thing, very sweet to her, but Mya didn't know what she felt for him now. Four years ago, when she had been Mya fully, she'd liked Micah. She'd liked him a lot. As Aurelia, she wasn't sure she could love any man other than Cassius. But Micah was definitely trying his hardest to win her over. And though she was loath to admit it, he was starting to get to her.
"Hello Mya." Micah said.
"Hello Micah." Mya said.
"I'll take that." Mya's mother said, taking the cauldron from Micah.
"You look beautiful." Micah said.
"Thank you." Mya said.
"You always look beautiful. But today…."
"It's all right, Micah. You don't have to try to win my heart."
Micah moved closer. "I know, but I feel like I must."
Mya smiled and shook her head. "One way or another, you and I will be together. Our families are seeing to that."
"Be nice." Mya's mother scolded.
"I am." Mya looked back at Micah. "I'm just telling Micah he doesn't have to try so hard now. We've got the rest of our lives for him to win me over."
Micah smiled playfully and whispered in her ear. "So I don't have to take you swimming in our little spot today? I can wait?"
Mya smiled slightly. "Oh no. I would very much love that."
Micah's smile widened. "Truly?"
"Yes." Mya turned to her mother. "Is it alright, mother?"
"Of course. Your father and I have some business to attend to in the city. We'll be back after dark, so Micah you watch after my Mya. Keep her safe."
"I will." Micah said.
Micah and Mya spent all day at the small, secluded pond. They ate a picnic for lunch and swam for most of the day. Towards dusk, they laid down on their blanket and dried off. Mya rolled onto her side and watched Micah. He had his eyes closed against the glare of the setting sun. He was beautiful, she had to admit.
"Would you kiss me?"
Micah opened his eyes and looked at her in surprise. "You haven't asked this of me before."
"I realize that."
"I don't know. Do I have to have a reason?"
"I suppose not." Micah sat up and Mya did the same. He reached his hand up and gently caressed her face before moving his fingers into her hair. Mya closed her eyes and tried to pretend he was Cassius and she was Aurelia once again. She tried to pretend they were in the woods next to the tree with their names on it.
Micah's lips gently pressed against hers and she opened her mouth to let his tongue in. They spent a long, breathless moment kissing each other. Finally, they both needed air and pulled away. Aurelia was mildly disappointed that it wasn't Cassius kissing her and they weren't in the woods next to their tree.
"Are you all right?" Micah asked.
Mya opened her eyes. "Yes. That was…."
"Yes." She looked away from the intent look on his face and her eyes accidentally found that he was hard and ready. "Oh."
"I'm sorry." Micah tried to change positions to hide it from her, but Mya laughed and grabbed his arm.
"Don't be embarrassed. It's perfectly natural."
"Shh…." Mya pressed a fingertip to his lips. "It's alright." She took his hand and kissed his fingers before sliding them up her dress. He seemed surprised by her actions, but he didn't protest. He slid a finger inside her and she gasped. Micah pressed her backwards with his body, kissing her gently as he worked his fingers inside her.
Before either of them realized it, he'd pulled his pants down around his thighs and was ready to plunge into her. Micah startled and pulled away. "I'm sorry."
"For this! We shouldn't."
"We should wait."
"Why? Our families don't have to know."
Micah stared at her. "Why are you pushing for this to happen?"
"I don't know. It seems like the right thing. Doesn't it feel right to you?"
It had been a long time since a man had touched her like this. Before Angelus' rape of Meridon, Aurelia couldn't allow a man to touch her. Even when she'd been married to the farmer, she'd made sure he was too drunk to remember the night and she'd convinced him in the morning that they'd done their job. Micah didn't realize that he had accidentally persuaded Aurelia to allow a man into her heart. "Micah. Doesn't it feel right to you?"
Micah stared down at her, the panic slipping from his eyes. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yes, Micah. Please."
They returned to the Kalderash camp hand in hand and smiling. But the happy feelings were quickly wiped away when they saw the destruction of the camp. To Mya's horror, Darla, her sister-turned-vampire Drusilla, and a tall, bony man were standing amidst all the chaos. Her hand tightened on Micah's and he moved her behind him.
Darla's attention turned on Mya and Micah. "Well, well, well…." She walked forward. "Finally a beautiful gypsy girl. The others were so…. Dull. I…." Darla stopped as she stared into Mya's eyes. "No. It can't be."
"What do you want?" Micah asked, his voice a little deeper than Mya had ever heard it.
"I want the girl."
Micah moved a little further in front of Mya. "No. Take me."
"Micah…." Mya started.
Darla laughed. "In love? I thought you could only love Cassius."
"Cassius is dead." Mya said.
Micah spared a glance back at Mya. "What are you talking about?"
"It doesn't matter."
"It won't in about two minutes." Darla said.
Drusilla sauntered over and moved around Mya and Micah. "I told you grandmum. I told you we would find a treasure for Angelus."
"Yes. You did."
"She's a pretty one." The man said.
"She's my sister Meridon, Spike." Drusilla said proudly.
"Meridon?" Micah asked.
"That's not my name anymore." Mya said.
"Mya…." Micah let go of her hand and moved his hand to her hips. "Run." He pushed her in one direction while he jumped into the three vampires.
Mya didn't think twice. She ran. She ran for her life. She didn't want to be Angelus' again. Micah's screams echoed through the woods and Mya tried not to cry out. Tears streamed down her face as she ran. After a few minutes, she heard someone coming after her. Mya screamed and ran faster, cursing the skirt for tripping her and slowing her down.
It wasn't the vampire chasing her that finally took her down. It was a root she didn't see. She hit her head on a rock and the world swam around her. Mya whimpered and tried to get up, but arms wrapped around her and lifted her up. Darla whispered something in her ear, but Mya didn't hear it as the world went black.
When Mya woke up, she was bound and gagged and laying on the floor of a house she didn't recognize. There was a fire going behind her, but when she tried to look at it, the pain in her head made her wince and look away. The front door banged open and Mya looked down the length of her body to see Darla following a blindfolded Angelus into the house.
"Can I take off this blindfold yet?" Angelus asked.
"No." Darla said.
Angelus grabbed Darla around the waist. "Can I take off something else?""
"After I give you your present." Aurelia had to look away as Darla kissed Angelus passionately. "You can never have enough of those. Come on." She led him into the room where Mya was laying then took Angelus' blindfold off. Angelus' gaze settled on the fire burning in a fireplace first. Then his eyes moved down to see Mya bound and gagged lying in front of the fire. "Happy birthday, Angelus."
"She is a gypsy." Angelus said, staring at Mya. Mya tried to move her eyes away.
"I looked everywhere."
"What would I do without you?"
"Whither and die." Angelus kissed Darla again and after a moment, she turned away from him to look at Mya. "Look at her Angelus."
Angelus stared at Mya as she laid on the floor and cried. He bent down and lifted her head gently. "She's beautiful."
"And so much more. Look into her eyes, Angelus."
Angelus held Mya's head and forced her to look at him. He gasped. "Aurelia! How did you find her?"
"Drusilla led me to her."
Angelus stroked Mya's face, pulling the gag from her mouth. "Count on your sister to find you."
"Please…." Mya said.
"Begging? This is new for you."
"Liam, please. Please…. I'm tired of this. Let me live out my lives in peace."Angelus ignored her pleas and leaned down over her body slowly, sensuously. Gently, in a mockery of the love he'd once held for her as Liam O'Connell, he pushed her skirt up while she squirmed. He rubbed his cheek against her thigh and blew a cold breath along her skin. Mya started to sob as his fingers went in places that made her want to gasp in pleasure. Angelus vamped out and gently bit her thigh. All the while, Darla stood behind them and watched.