A Return to Faith. A Return to Avalon.

Chapter 8

Monday April 30th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
West Charleston Blvd
Luciano Residence
7:15 a.m.

Elizabeth looked at the clock above her fridge as she grabbed the orange juice and groaned as she took a quick gulp of juice before throwing the juice container back in the fridge. Making her way quickly out to the living room, she grabbed her purse and sent up a prayer to the Goddess that traffic would be on her side today. The last thing she needed was to be late for her meeting. Digging out her car keys Elizabeth swung the front door open only to come to a sudden stop just as she was about to step through. “Elaine?” she asked in surprise when she noticed her friend and another woman standing on the other side of her door.

“Hallo, Elizabeth,” Elaine greeted. “May we cume inside?”

“Elaine,” Elizabeth began looking between the two women. “Now really is not a good time. I’m late for a meeting…”

“Which can wait,” interrupted the other woman, who was standing just behind and to the side of Elaine. The woman looked to be about 5’11 and in her late seventies. She had waist length white hair and light blue eyes. Her thin willowy figure was clothed in a dark royal blue shift-like dress that had long sleeves and a sash at the waist that was a lighter shade of blue.

“My Lady,” Elizabeth greeted. She did not really recognize the woman standing next to Elaine but the presence of the Goddess that she could sense could not be mistaken. “Forgive me, please come in,” she said stepping back and holding the door open, ushering them in. “May I get either of you anything?” she asked as they took seats in the living room.

“No, thank ya,” Elaine said, looking between the other woman and Elizabeth. “Elizabeth, I’d like ta introduce ya to Chief Priestess Alexandra.”

“My Lady, you honor me with your presence in my home,” Elizabeth said, bowing her head slightly towards the older woman.

“Tell me, Child, what do you know about the Great Marriage?” Alexandra demanded.

“I know that the Great Marriage is an ancient rite, once used for King Making, tying the new king to the land which he was sworn to protect. I know that it is now used when a druid is called to the rank of High Druid. If the chosen one survives the testing, which is dependent on the strength of the Virgin Huntress to enchant the deer, he will become the Horned One, the King Stag, consort of the Virgin Huntress, crowned with the antlers of the God,” replied Elizabeth.

“Excellent,” snapped Alexandra with a curt nod, causing a confused look to cross Elizabeth’s face as Elaine reached out and gently laid her hand on Elizabeth’s. “The Lady was right. The Goddess calls for your maidenhood Elizabeth in sacrifice to the Horned One, the King Stag.”

“What?” asked Elizabeth in shock, her face paling as the reality of what Alexandra had just said sunk in. “I can’t. I’m sorry, My Lady, but I…”

“The Goddess has chosen you, Elizabeth. The Lady of the Lake, Grand Priestess of Avalon has foreseen it and so it will be,” countered Alexandra, her tone leaving no room for argument. “Now, I suggest you do what you must to allow yourself this day to prepare for tomorrow’s events,” she said standing up.

Swallowing what she was feeling, Elizabeth slowly rose to face Alexandra. “My body and my soul belong to her, to do with as she will. And your will is her will Mother. Let it be so,” she said, saying the words she knew she must as was expected of any priestess given the honor of playing such a role.

With a final nod Alexandra turned to Elaine. “See to it the other is in attendance tomorrow. If she is to one day take her place in Avalon, we must ensure she is ready.”

“Of course,” agreed Elaine. With a final reassuring squeeze on Elizabeth’s hand, Elaine rose from her spot and made her way out of Elizabeth’s apartment, leaving the two priestesses alone together.


Monday April 30th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
Country Rose Estates
O’Brian and Phillips Residence
7:58 a.m.

Elaine smiled when she entered the home she shared with Sara and the children, finding Sara in the rocking chair in the nursery, singing an old folk song from the time before Avalon retreated into the Mists. Quietly she walked across the floor to check on the first child, the one promised to Avalon. She was sound asleep, her sister quickly joining her in the land of dreams.

Sara finished her song before rising and placing Dierdra in the second crib. Elaine followed her from the room in silence, neither speaking until they had both found seats in the front room. “What is it?” Sara asked first.

“The Chief Priestess Alexandra arrived this morning in preparation for tamorrow,” Elaine explained softly.

“Tomorrow?” Sara repeated with a slight frown, she couldn’t think of anything being mentioned for tomorrow…when the vision rose before her eyes, she looking up at Elaine, “The Druid is arriving in the morning, the King Stag test will be given…”

Elaine nodded; smiling that Sara had been able to sense what was happening. They had long known that the Goddess was very near to Sara and Elizabeth. “She’s cume ta tell she who will be the Virgin Huntress…foreseen by the Lady herself.”

“But we have no Priestesses save you, myself…and Bets,” she realized. “The Goddess is asking for her maidenhood? Now after all these years?” she asked concerned.

“Aye little one, she has,” Elaine agreed with a soft smile.

“Does Bets know?”

“Aye, she learned just before I cume here. She was surprised ta say the least, and initially reluctant, but she agreed ta it. She knows her place and the honor being bestowed upon her…but ye know as well as I do, Sara, she is na going ta do well with this. But the Goddess has asked, it is na our place ta question her judgment…”

“I know,” Sara agreed softly, reaching to trace the pendant still around her throat. “There’s more to tomorrow than just the King Stag ceremony and Bets being the Virgin Huntress, isn’t there?”

“Aye, Priestess Alexandra wishes ta see how far ya’ve cume. I suspect she will place ye in charge o’ many o’ the aspects for tamorrow’s ceremony, and she should be here soon ta instruct ye in what she wishes ye ta do.”

“I see,” Sara agreed with a nod. “Do you think I’m ready?”

“I know ye are little one,” Elaine smiled. “Ye were chosen by the Goddess before ya were born, ye and Elizabeth. I once heard a wise woman say, ‘Before ya were conceived, I wanted ye; before ya were born, I loved ye; before ya were here an hour, I would die for ye. This is the miracle o’ life.’ All o’ us knew tha there would be two who would cume; truly blessed by the Mother…many o’ us suspected tha the daughter o’ Ruane might be one o’ them. Then ta learn tha a daughter was expected, ta the last o’ the Sidle line and an O’Sianhan…we were sure ya were the other one. When each o’ ye was born, and the Lady saw the light o’ the Mother around ye…we knew tha we would all die ta protect ye if the need arose. Sadly we all were not given the choice, and ye both suffered for our failure…but ye are still here taday, still just as strong. Ya’re ready little one, ye’ve been ready since before ye were born.”

“You’ve all watched Bets and I that long? Other than when we were in the system and England?” Sara asked surprised.

“Aye little one…we have.”

“What would everyone have done if Bets and I didn’t choose to follow Avalon? You waited so long for us, or so you did believe…what then? What if I had refused to be the Virgin Huntress years ago? What if Bets had refused today? What if…” she trailed off with a shrug.

“Then we would have waited once more for another ta be chosen by the Goddess. But ye did na do any of those things, Sara…ye each found yer peace in Avalon, and ya have heard Her call. She has great plans for ye little one, and I know tha ya will be ready for everything that is asked of ye. After all ye have survived…ye will be ready, na matter what cumes.”

“You have such faith in Betsy and I…”

“Faith well earned little one,” Elaine countered softly before rising. “Cume, we should get the children, I ‘ave a friend who will watch them until the ceremony is over. Lady Alexandra will wish ta see ye soon in preparation for tamorrow.”

“As She wills it,” Sara agreed softly, knowing just what tomorrow meant. She remembered her own time as the Huntress…she knew what was in store for Elizabeth.


Monday April 30th, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
West Charleston Blvd
Luciano Residence
7:47 a.m.

After Elaine had left, Elizabeth remained where she stood; her gaze on the floor in front of her as she tried to come to terms with what she knew was to happen. After a few minutes, she made her way into her bedroom, leaving Alexandra alone in the living room, picking up her phone on the way by so she could call into work and let them know she would not be in at all today or tomorrow due to a family emergency. Hanging up the phone she made her way into her bathroom, stripping off her clothes as she went and stepped into the shower, washing away all traces of the woman she portrayed to the regular world and beginning her preparations for the events to come.

Later that day, Alexandra wrapped a floor length cloak around Elizabeth’s shoulders and placed a veil over her face before escorting her out to the waiting car, never once pulling Elizabeth from the trance like state she had spent the better part of the day in. When they reached their location in the mountains, Alexandra led Elizabeth to the caravan tent that had been set up for their use, and laid out some food and water for Elizabeth, who had only some of the water, refusing to break her fast.

Elizabeth spent the night tossing and turning, never quite falling asleep for when she did, she knew what visions would haunt her dreams, images that had been long buried, images she had hoped to leave locked away in her subconscious. It was an hour before dawn when she was woken out of her fitful sleep when someone entered the tent and shook her lightly before helping her to her feet. Elizabeth was led over to where everything that would be needed had been laid out the day before on the other side of the tent, where she had all her clothing removed so that she stood nude before the other woman in the tent, her eyes downcast.

The other woman set about painting the palms of Elizabeth’s hands and the soles of her feet blue before painting a crescent moon on her forehead, the full moon on her breast and abdomen and the dark moon just above the patch of hair between her legs. Elizabeth held in the sob she knew would come when she felt the other woman’s hand slide between her legs and start probing, checking to make sure her virginity was still intact, an integral aspect of the ceremony that was to take place this day. She succeeded in holding back her sobs but not her tears as one trickled down her cheek, the other woman reaching up to wipe it away.

“I’m sorry,” Sara whispered quietly, knowing what her friend must be going through, before placing a cloak around her friend and leading her outside, the cloak adorned with the magical symbols of the moon and the antlers of a deer.

On the other side of the clearing a druid was being prepared for his part in the ceremony. His body was being painted with blue woad from head to foot before being cloaked in untanned raw skins. His body smeared with deer fat as the animal’s antlers were fastened to his head.

Sara and Elizabeth stopped just outside the tent as Alexandra approached. They wound a garland of crimson berries in Elizabeth’s hair and crowned her with a halo of the first spring flowers. Alexandra reverently removed a precious necklace of gold and bone from her neck and placed it around Elizabeth’s, its weight carrying the very weight of magic. They placed a small drum in her hand before leading her over to where the young druid was waiting, Elizabeth hitting the drum with her hand unconsciously before it was taken from her as Sara and Alexandra stepped back, leaving Elizabeth and the druid alone in the centre of the circle of druids and priestesses.

Elizabeth saw only the landscape in front of her. She could not see the man before her; she could only feel the surge of life within him. Her eyes were dazed with the sun as she felt the God’s head in her hands as she blessed him. She did not hear herself speak the words; she only felt the force behind the words. “Go forth and conquer. Run with the deer, swift and strong as the very tides of spring. Forever blessed be the feet that brought you here.” She had no conscious awareness of the exact words, only the power, her own hands blessing, and the force streaming from her body, through her body as if the very strength of the sun was pouring through her and into the man that stood before her. “Now the power of winter is broken and the new life of the spring shall go with you and bring you to victory. Life of the Goddess, life of this world. Blood of the earth our Mother, shed for her people…” her words trailed off as she raised her hands, casting her blessing on the forest and earth, feeling the surges of power rushing through her hands like the visible light.

The young druid’s body was glowing like her own in the sunlight. No one dared speak until she pulled her hands back and a surge of power was felt throughout the circle, releasing the chant that rose from those gathered.

Once again, Elizabeth could not hear the words, only the thrum of power created by them. “Life surges in the spring, deer run in the forest and our life runs with them. The King Stag of the world shall bring them down. The King Stag, the Horned One, blessed by the Mother shall be triumphant…” Elizabeth’s body was drawn to the last notch of tension; her muscles were drawn tight like a bow that was pregnant with an arrow of power that must be sped on its path. She reached out and touched the druid before her, releasing the power and as it sped through them all, the druid before her and the other druids gathered within the circle were off, running like the wind down the hillside, racing as if the very spring tides bore them on.

As the druids ran off, feeling the power drain from her body, Elizabeth crumpled to the ground and lay silent, feeling the damp chill of the earth strike up through her body as she collapsed. Unaware of her surroundings, Elizabeth lay on the ground exhausted in the sunlight as she was entranced in the Sight, letting the life of the sun flood through her, her body and her blood as her inner being ran with the deer and the men until both were one; the surges of life that were the quiet deer in their thicket, little does smooth and slender, their life racing through them as it raced through her body, the surges of life that were the men, slipping silent and intent through the shadows. She lay there motionless, time crawling and racing by in turns as she began to see…a tall sinewy man, gripping his knife and falling…falling among the deer, among the slashing hooves.

She knew that she screamed out loud, her voice ringing everywhere so that even the King Stag paused in mid charge. In a moment, everything stopped and she saw him scramble to his feet and charge with his head down, antlers swinging and locking head on. She saw him sway and struggle, wrestling the deer with his strong hands and body. She saw a knife slash upward and blood spill on the earth. The Horned One was bleeding as well. There was blood on his hands, blood from a long slash to his side, his blood spilling to the earth; his sacrifice to the Mother that life should feed on her blood. She saw as the blood of the King Stag went over him in a gush as his blade found the heart and the men around him rushed in with their spears and knives. She saw him carried back, covered in the blood of his twin and rival, the King Stag.

The men were slashing and pulling the raw, warm hide over his shoulders as they carried him back to the clearing. They returned in triumph, the Beltane fires rising in the gathering dusk and when Alexandra and Sara helped Elizabeth regain her footing, she saw without surprise that the sun was setting and she staggered slightly, as if she too had run with the hunt and the deer.

She was crowned once more with the crimson of triumph as the Horned One was brought before her still bleeding and she blessed him and marked his brow with the blood of the deer. The head of the stag was taken with the antlers, which would bring down the next King Stag. The antlers the Horned One wore, which were broken and splintered, were cast into the bonfire, which now blazed before them. As Elizabeth and the Horned One were seated side by side in front of the fire, they were brought the first meat, still dripping with the blood and fat of the deer. Elizabeth felt her head start to swim as she took her first bite, the rich taste of the meat overpowering her after her long fast, afraid she might be sick. As Sara held a silver cup to her lips, she felt the strong liquor sting her throat and burn all the way down; it was fire with a strong taste of honey behind it.

Her head continued to swim as Sara bore her away and stripped her naked once more, bedecking her naked body with more paint and garlands, marking her nipples and brow with the blood of the slain deer. Elizabeth felt the light of the Goddess streaming over her as she stood naked, bathed in the light of the rising moon. She was Elizabeth no more; she was nameless, priestess, maiden, mother. As Sara strung a garland of crimson berries about her hips, the rather crude symbolism struck Elizabeth with a sudden clarity and gut wrenching fear as she felt the full weight of her virginity and what was yet to come; flood through her like the spring tide.

Sara led Elizabeth into a nearby shallow cave that had been prepared ahead of time and sat her down on a bed of deer skins near a fire that was burning to give them light. Seeing the fear in her friend’s eye, Sara leaned over and gave her a hug before leaving her alone. Elizabeth was alone for a short period after Sara left, left alone with her demons that were surfacing from where she’d buried them almost two decades before.

He was at the entrance to the cave now, the antlers gone from his brow, his hair streaked and his body smeared blue and stained with blood. It was the Horned One, the Virgin’s consort. He moved dizzily, naked as well, except for the garland, much like her own, about his hips and Elizabeth could see the erect life surging in him, causing her to swallow in fear at what was to come. He knelt at her side at the edge of the deerskin bed, and swayed, blinking by the light of the fire as he reached out and cupped Elizabeth’s face in his hand before leaning in and trying to kiss her only to have her back away.

As hard as she tried to fight against it and remind herself she was not in fact Elizabeth at this point in time, she was the Goddess, the Virgin Huntress; she could not fight against her body and its reactions. She could not stop her body from tensing or from trying to push the man with her away. The more she struggled and fought the more force he was forced to use on her to complete the ritual. Even though her body fought against what was happening she knew that she could not stop what was to come so she remained silent, never once giving into the pleas that were desperate to be released, pleas for him to stop, that this wasn’t what she wanted. She cried out in pain as she felt him enter her and tear through her virginity, her body wracked with sobs as he worked his way to completion and collapsed on top of her.

When she felt his body go limp on top of her, she took up her struggles to get him off of her once more. “Get off me,” she cried as she struggled. “Jeremiah, get off me,” she sobbed and with a good shove managed to get him to roll off of her, quickly rolling over herself before stumbling out of the cave and throwing up just outside the entrance.

“Elizabeth, are you alright?” Jeremiah asked as he followed her from the cave a few minutes later.

“Stay away from me!” Elizabeth cried from where she’d collapsed to the ground.

“Elizabeth…” Jeremiah began as he knelt down next to her, intent on taking her into his arms and comforting her, finding her distress confusing and upsetting after what should have been an enjoyable and spiritual event.

“Get away from me, you bastard,” Elizabeth sobbed as she shoved him away from her as forcefully as she could. “Stay away from me!”

"Jeremiah!" Sara didn't exactly yell, but her voice was raised enough to get both of their attentions. "Leave, now," she ordered evenly from where she stood a few feet from them.

Jeremiah looked between where Elizabeth still lay and where Sara was now standing before nodding towards Sara and making his way back across the clearing to where everything had started for him, tossing a concerned look at Elizabeth as he passed.

"Betsy?" Sara called softly as she slowly crossed the distance, not wanting to upset her any more than she already was.

“Don’t touch me!” Elizabeth cried.

"Sweetheart, it's me... it's Cassie," Sara whispered as she knelt down a foot from Elizabeth's side.

“Cassie?”

"Yeah...it's me," Sara smiled softly. "Will you take my hand?" she asked holding her hand out.

Elizabeth slowly reached her arm out towards where Sara’s voice was coming from, her eyes closed against what she feared she would see in her friend’s eyes.

"Come on, Sweetheart, let's get you home okay?" Sara spoke softly as she took Elizabeth's hand, worried when she felt the trembling in her friend's hand. "Come on Sweetheart, it's okay. You're okay, I'm here now."

Elizabeth nodded as she felt Sara wrap her arm around her shoulders, wrapping her in a blanket before helping her to her feet and leading her over to where Sara had left her car earlier, settling her into the passenger seat before climbing in and starting the car.

Sara remained quiet on the drive, letting Elizabeth set the pace for the conversation...or lack thereof. Parking outside the apartment she helped Elizabeth out of the car and to the apartment, stopping just long enough to grab the spare key from where it was hidden in her mailbox.

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said quietly as she stepped through the doorway into her apartment.

"No need to say thank you," Sara countered gently. "Are you okay?"

“I’ll be fine,” Elizabeth said, holding back her emotions so her voice had a note of flatness to it. “I’m just going to take a shower then get some sleep before going to see Nick for breakfast.”

"Bets..." Sara trailed off, not sure she should leave.

“Cass, please, I’ll be fine, really,” Elizabeth reassured. “It was just an over reaction, that’s all.”

"Bets..." Sara sighed. "Call me if you need anything. And I'll be by with lunch, are we clear?"

“Perfectly,” Elizabeth replied.

"Okay," Sara agreed finally. "Sweetheart, whatever happened, it doesn't matter alright, I'm here no matter what."

“Mm hmm,” Elizabeth said as she bit her lower lip to hold back the tears that were fighting desperately to get out.

Sighing once more Sara decided against a hug, not wanting to freak her out anymore. Half of her didn't believe that Elizabeth was alright, but if she pushed anymore... Sending a smile Elizabeth's way she turned and made her way back to the car, digging out her cell phone to find out where Elaine was before she started towards home.


Wednesday May 2nd, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
West Charleston Blvd
Luciano Residence
4:21 a.m.

She didn’t know how long she had sat in her shower after convincing Sara to leave her alone in her apartment, after convincing her that she would be okay. She was numb, in more ways than the one caused by the now frigid water that was hitting her body. Being chosen to portray the Virgin Huntress was a great honor among those of her religion, so why was it she felt anything but honored? Why was her mind telling her that what happened was not a religious event but rape? A rape of the worst kind; one that she not only could not fight physically but one in which she was prevented from stopping by using her right to say no.

Turning off the water, Elizabeth carefully climbed out of the shower, her body badly shaking due to the coldness of the water she had been sitting in, and made her way into her bedroom, wrapping herself in her bathrobe as she went. Pulling on a long sleeve shirt and a pair of jeans she picked up her comb and carefully combed out her hair before digging through her purse in search of her keys. Finding them she made her way over to her closet and pulled a lock box that had been buried under a pile of blankets, off the top shelf and made her way over to her bed. Unlocking the box, she opened the lid revealing a number of books inside and pulled the top most book out of it. Never once opening the book, she shoved it into her bag before throwing her running shoes on and grabbing her lightweight zipper front hooded sweatshirt.

Picking up her keys and bag, Elizabeth made her way out of her apartment and towards her car. It was not long before she found herself pulling into the CSI lab parking lot, not quite sure how she had managed to drive herself there from her apartment. Climbing out of her car, Elizabeth made her way inside, her mind and body still numb from the night’s events.

“Elizabeth?” Catherine asked when she looked up and noticed the other woman standing in the break room doorway.

“Hi,” Elizabeth replied quietly.

“Are you okay?” asked Catherine in concern when she noticed how pale and drawn, not to mention how young and small the other woman looked.

Elizabeth shook her head. “Is Nick around?”

“I believe he’s in the layout room,” Catherine replied. “Do you want me to get him for you?”

“Would you mind?”

“Of course not,” Catherine said as she rose from the couch and made her way out of the break room in search of Nick, leaving Elizabeth alone for a few minutes.

“What are you doing here, Beth?” Nick demanded as he entered the break room a few minutes later, causing Elizabeth to turn away from the window and look at him.

“I had to see you. I needed to talk to you, to tell you something,” Elizabeth said.

“We have nothing to talk about, Beth,” Nick said coldly. “Whatever it was that was going on between us is over.”

“Nick, I...”

“I saw you, Beth,” he said, cutting her off.

“What?” Elizabeth asked in confusion.

“I was there, Beth, I saw you in the cave,” Nick told her harshly. “And don’t try to deny it because I know for a fact it was you. I saw not only your face but the tattoo on your hip and I heard your lover call you by name. What I want to know is why you seemed so infinitely comfortable in his arms while every time I kiss you or hell even touch you, you tense up and pull away.”

“Oh Mother Goddess,” Elizabeth cried quietly as she staggered back slightly until she was leaning against the wall, her head falling into her hands. “Nick, you have to believe me that what you saw, what I did, it was not of my choosing. I was given no choice in the matter. What you saw in that cave was part of a religious ceremony and for some unknown reason, the Goddess in her infinite wisdom, decided to choose me for her role, regardless of the fact that it was the last thing I ever wanted,” she said. “Nick, that man...he’s not my lover, Goddess, I wanted to stop him, to push him away but I wasn’t strong enough and was prevented from doing so by my role in the ceremony. I would have shamed not only myself but my family as well.”

“I thought you said your family was dead, Elizabeth,” Nick countered.

“They are, Nick,” Elizabeth snapped. “I was referring to any children I may have in the future. They would carry on my shame and I could not do that to an innocent child.”

“From what I saw, you sure as hell didn’t look like you were trying to fight him off, as I said you looked quite comfortable in his arms and he sure seemed to be enjoying himself,” Nick argued closing the distance between them so they were less than a foot apart from one another.

“Nick, you have to believe me when I say I tried to fight him off. By the Goddess, the last thing I wanted was him touching me, him...inside of me but when he finally entered me I gave up fighting because by that point it was too late. You think I wanted last night to happen? You think I wanted to be with him? By the Goddess, Nick, you’re the one that I want. You’re the one I want holding me and making love to me at night,” Elizabeth tried to reason.

“Well, you have a funny way of showing it, Beth, since you tense up every time I touch you,” Nick countered, as he reached out and laid a hand on Elizabeth’s cheek, only to have her visibly tense and pull back. “You just proved my point.”

“Nick, please, you have to let me explain why I react the way that I do,” Elizabeth pleaded, tears in her voice and on her cheeks.

“There’s nothing to explain, Beth. You’re reactions and what I saw last night are explanation enough,” Nick said. “Now I suggest you leave. We’re over. I don’t ever want to see you again.”

Realizing she would never get through to Nick, Elizabeth silently stepped around him and made her way out of the break room, picking up her bag from the couch where she’d left it when she had entered.

“Elizabeth? What is it? What’s wrong?” asked Catherine in concern, when she noticed the tears running down Elizabeth’s cheeks as she passed her in the hallway.

“I’m fine, Catherine,” Elizabeth replied, her voice barely audible.

“Like hell you are,” argued Catherine worriedly. “What did he do?”

“Catherine, please, just let it go, let me go. I just want to go home and forget today ever happened,” Elizabeth pleaded.

With a sigh, Catherine stepped back and allowed Elizabeth to pass, pulling her cell phone off her belt she quickly flipped through the numbers finding the one she wanted and hitting send. “Sara, it’s Catherine...I suggest you get over to Elizabeth’s place and soon...she and Nick must have had a fight or something because there was something in her eyes, I don’t know, I just got a bad feeling about it. I’ll call you as soon as I’m done frying me some Texan,” she said before hanging up the phone and heading off in search of Nick.

“You’re not going anywhere, Cowboy,” Catherine ordered when she saw Nick step out of the break room. “Get back in there, we need to talk,” she said as she forced Nick back into the break room, closing the door behind her. “What the hell did you do?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Catherine,” countered Nick.

“Like hell you don’t,” snapped Catherine. “What did you do to Elizabeth?”

“I didn’t do anything to Elizabeth, she did it to herself.”

“What the hell’s that supposed to mean, Nick?” demanded Catherine. “The girl was a wreck when she got here and she looked worse when I met her in the hall just now. Clearly something had to have happened between you.”

“The only thing that happened was that I learned the truth about the type of person Elizabeth Luciano really is and she’s not exactly the type of person I want to be involved with,” Nick told her coldly.

“Nick, what could Elizabeth possibly have done in the short time you were together just now to make you think that?” asked Catherine in confusion.

“It’s what she did last night, Catherine. What I saw last night proved to me the type of person she is,” Nick replied.

“What you saw last night? Nick, what are you talking about, we were on a case last night how could you have seen anything?” wondered Catherine.

“Remember the bon fire we saw from the crime scene?” he asked.

“Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?”

“Everything,” Nick said.


Flashback

“Hey Cath, you see that?” Nick asked as he noticed what looked like a bonfire a short distance away from their current crime scene.

“Think they heard anything?” asked Catherine as she stepped up next to Nick.

“Good question, I think I’ll go check it out. You okay here?” he asked.

“I’ll be fine, just don’t be gone too long,” she said.

“I won’t,” he said as he started out across the landscape in the direction of the fire. As Nick made his way closer towards the bonfire, he came across various other smaller fires with rather amorous couples too busy with what they were doing to notice his passage. Even though he noticed the large caravan tent when he neared the site of the bonfire, for whatever reason, one that he couldn’t even explain, he felt himself drawn towards what appeared to be a cave on the far side of the bonfire. He was just about to pull out his flashlight as he entered the cave when he realized that it wasn’t necessary as there was a fire burning, illuminating the two people inside.

“By the Goddess you’re tight Elizabeth,” the man said as he entered the woman beneath him. “I forgot how good it feels,” he hissed.

Nick didn’t want to believe his ears when he heard what the man said but took a closer look at the woman as she turned her face towards him. One look at her face and he knew. Letting his eyes travel down to her right hip, his heart sank when he saw the crescent moon tattoo he knew his ‘Elizabeth’ had. Without a word, he turned and left the cave, quickly making his way back towards the crime scene and Catherine, not once telling her what he had found.


“Well, did you even ask her about it? Let her explain what you saw?” demanded Catherine.

“She tried to claim it as some sort of religious ceremony but I know what I saw, Catherine, and there was nothing religious about it,” argued Nick.

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” countered Catherine. “Wait here,” she said as she walked out of the room, returning a few minutes later flipping through the pages of a book. “I know it’s in here somewhere,” she said as she continued flipping through pages. “Here it is. Here, read this,” she ordered as she thrust the book at Nick. “Is this what you saw?”

“That sounds like what I saw,” he admitted. “What book is this?” he asked flipping it closed. “You have got to be kidding me, Cath. You’re trying to convince me Elizabeth is part of some fictional religion?”

“How do we know if it’s fictional?” countered Catherine. “Did you ever bother to stop and ask Elizabeth about her beliefs and her religion?”

“No but...”

“No buts, Nick. Elizabeth came here this morning to tell you something and from the way she looked when she first got here it was something important and she needed you and you turned her away, accusing her of adultery and when she tries to explain that it was part of her religion, whether that religion is real or not, doesn’t matter, Nick, because it’s what she believes, you push her away. The woman I saw in the hall just now is not the woman I’m used to seeing walk these halls, Nick. She looked broken and defeated. She had that look about her when she first arrived but now she looks like her life has no meaning, that there’s nothing left for her because you turned her away in her time of need. If anything happens to her, I’m going to hold you responsible,” she said before turning and storming out of the room, pulling her cell phone off her belt and hitting the speed dial. “Sara, it’s Catherine, Elizabeth just left. I suggest you find her fast, she didn’t look to good when she left,” she said before hanging up and continuing on her way.


Wednesday May 2nd, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
West Charleston Blvd
Luciano Residence
6:13 a.m.

“I just don’t like this, you know?” Sara sighed as she got out of the car, Elaine climbing out of the passenger seat. "I know little one," Elaine agreed softly. "I'm sure she is fine..."

"If you had seen her earlier..." Sara countered as she made her way to the apartment; fortunately having the spare key Elizabeth gave her just in case this time around. Letting them into the apartment she looked around, concerned when she didn't see any sign of Elizabeth. "Elaine?"

"I'll check this room, ye check the back rooms. Perhaps she is sleeping..."

Sara nodded before heading towards the bedroom first while Elaine looked around the living room, immediately finding an envelope laying on top of what appeared to be a notebook of some kind on the coffee table with her and Sara's names written on the front. Picking it up she opened it quickly, before sinking down on the couch as she read.

Cassie/Elaine,

I’m addressing this to both of you because I know that while one of you finds this, the other will most certainly have found me and for that I am truly sorry. The last thing I ever wanted to do was to bring either of you the pain that I know my death will cause you. All I can do is beg for your forgiveness. You both must be so disappointed in me right now, especially you Cass. You’ve lived through so much and your ceremony only made you stronger while mine...mine did nothing but destroy what was left of my spirit.

I know the others won’t understand why I did what I did. Tell them...tell them I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t as strong as they always believed. I wasn’t strong enough to fight my demons any longer.

I’m sure you’re wondering about the book that was with this letter. There are other books that go along with it. They can be found in a lock box that is sitting on my bed, the key is on my key ring with my apartment and car keys. Read them. They are my journals from the time I was taken from my family. The one found with this letter contains newspaper articles and court documents from after I was rescued. Once you have read them you will understand why I reacted the way that I did after the ceremony. These are the demons I could never talk about. The ones you knew were always there but were too afraid to ask about. The ones I thought I could walk away from but were always with me.

Cassie, do me a favor and show Nick the final journal. The one with the articles and the documents. Let him know it wasn’t him, that it was me, and that I’m sorry. Let him know that I’m not angry with him and that he shouldn’t blame himself for my actions. Yes, his words hurt me but they were not what led to my decision to end my life. Let him know I was a better person because of him and what I hoped was his love for me. Tell him I love him and that I will see him again someday, just as we have for centuries. A gift from the Goddess.

Heaven bend to take my hand
And lead me through the fire
Be the long awaited answer
To a long and painful fight

Truth be told I tried my best
But somewhere 'long the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
But the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I've tried I've fallen I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know
So don't come 'round here and Tell me I told you so

We all begin out with good intent
When love is raw and young
We believe that we can change ourselves
The past can be undone

But we carry on our back the burdens time always reveals
In the lonely light of morning
In the wound that would not heal
It's the bitter taste of losing everything
I've held so dear

Though I've tried I've fallen I have sunk so low
I messed up
Better I should know
So don't come 'round here and Tell me I told you so
Heaven bend to take my hand

I've nowhere left to turn
I'm lost to these I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads embarrassed

Pretend that they don't see
That it's one wrong step one slip before you know it
And there doesn't seem away to be revealed
Though I've tried I've fallen I have sunk so low
I messed up

Better I should know
So don't come 'round here and Tell me I told you so
I messed up
Better I should know
So don't come 'round here and Tell me I told you so

I love you.

Forgive me.

Bets

“Sara!” Elaine called, suddenly very afraid as she skimmed through the first newspaper article in the notebook.

“Elaine!” Sara screamed, “Call 911!”


Wednesday May 2nd, 2007
Las Vegas, Nevada
West Charleston Blvd
Scene of a 425
6:49 a.m.

“Hey Cath!” Nick called as he made his way back towards the bathroom through the apartment.

“Yeah?” she called in return.

“Are we sure this is even a crime scene?” he asked curiously.

“What do you mean?” asked Catherine in confusion.

“Well, there are no signs of forced entry, there is no indication of a struggle anywhere in here and from the looks of it, nothing’s missing. The only thing that seems even remotely out of place is the lock box on the bed,” Nick observed as he leant against the doorjamb of the bathroom door.

“Well, something went on here, Nicky, I mean look at this mess,” Catherine said indicating the blood on the floor and on the sink.

“I know but are we sure it’s even related to a crime of some sort,” countered Nick.

“Depends on what type a crime yer referring ta,” a voice said from behind him, making him turn around. “Ma’am you’re not supposed to be here,” Nick said. “This is a crime scene.”

“The only crime committed here, if tha’s what truly happened, is the one ya commited yerself,” Elaine said.

“Excuse me?” demanded Nick in confusion.

“Ye have no idea wha ya’ve done, do ye,” Elaine sighed.

“What I’ve done?” questioned Nick.

“Aye. She forgave ya for what ya said. She asked us ta tell ya that she didn’t blame ya and tha she was na angry with ya and that ya shouldn’t blame yerself for what she did. Ya did hurt her, Nicholas, but that’s not why she did wha' she did. She said to let ya know she was a better person because of ya and wha' she believed to be yer love for her. She loved ya and she said she’d see ya again someday, thanks ta the Goddess’ gift ta her. She also asked that ya see this,” Elaine said, her voice full of sadness and disappointment, as she handed him the book that she had found with the letter earlier.

Nick took the book from Elaine and flipped it open to the first page where he started reading...

Over 100 children rescued from child sex/porn ring.

Police announced today that they have cracked one of the largest child porn and sex slave rings known to be operating in the United Kingdom. They broke the ring when two people, a husband and wife, suspected of being involved with the ring, attempted to sell a thirteen year old American girl to an undercover officer.

The police learned upon questioning the girl that the people holding her had killed both her parents and brought her to London five years ago. They learned that the girl was sent to school like every child during the day but it was at night that things turned ugly for the girl. The true extent of what the girl was put through is too graphic to print but the girl was forced to endure five years of sexual abuse and torture, her captors taping and photographing the sessions, which were later sold to other members of the ring. They did everything one dares not imagine to this poor child, save taking her virginity, knowing that they could get a much higher price for her as a sex slave if she was still virginal at the time of sale.

The identity of the thirteen-year-old girl rescued by the undercover officer and the names of the other children rescued from this child porn/sex ring are being withheld due to their ages. The police are currently in the process of trying to track down family members of each of the victim’s, many of whom had their parents killed in front of them before being taken by their respective captors. Scotland Yard is being inundated by calls from families all over the United Kingdom, offering to take in the children, many of whom are offering to take in the young girl who police rescued late yesterday.

“While what happened to this girl is regrettable, ma’am, I don’t understand what it has to do with me,” Nick said handing the book back to Elaine. “And who do you think I hurt?”

“Ya have no idea where ya are, do ya,” commented Elaine sadly, taking the book back from Nick and holding it tightly to her chest.

“What are you talking about?” demanded Nick.

“Nick?” called Catherine from behind him in the bathroom.

“What?” snapped Nick in irritation as he turned so that he could look at both women on either side of the doorway. “It’s Elizabeth,” Catherine said as she held up a prescription bottle that she had placed into an evidence bag.

“Beth?” he asked in disbelief as he stepped into the bathroom, taking the bottle from Catherine’s outstretched hand, a sudden and unexplainable fear gripping him. “That’s impossible,” he said as he looked at the bottle in his hand. “Is this all that’s left?” Nick asked when he noticed how few pills were left in the container and a second evidence bag, a lump of dread forming in the pit of his stomach.

“I’m afraid so,” replied Catherine.

“But this says it was filled two days ago and according to the dosage there should be way more pills here,” Nick said.

“I know,” agreed Catherine. “I also found this,” she said handing him another sealed evidence bag.

“Oh God,” Nick cried as realization struck as to what had happened when he saw the straight razor in the bag Catherine had just handed him and he put it together with the almost empty bottle of prescription anti-depressants, one of the strongest available, and the article he had just finished reading. “I caused this,” Nick said. “No matter what you or anyone else says, I caused this,” he said looking at Elaine.

“Aye, ya did,” agreed Elaine.

“Where is she? Is she still alive?” demanded Nick.

“I do na know, Nicholas,” Elaine said. “She’s at Desert Palms with Sara. The outlook is na good.”

“Damn it,” Nick cursed before stalking out of the bathroom, intent on getting to Elizabeth before it was too late. “Nick, where are you going?” demanded Catherine as she got to her feet and walked out after him.

“Desert Palms,” he called back before closing the door behind him.


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