Darkness Finds the Heart

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Chapter 2

The long day had finally passed. For that, Khryssa was eternally grateful. She was sitting with her family, in the living room of her great-grandfather. A glass of wine was held in a delicate hand and she was quite happy to partake in the merlot.

Surrounded by her parents, her great-grandfather, and a one of Khryssa's many cousins, it was a wonderful respite. A sense of foreboding had washed through her earlier. It had nothing to do with the sale of her company, which was now in the hands of a multitude of lawyers. Khryssa felt that she was far too old for her age. Having graduated medical school at twelve, she had been at least 15 years early for what she was doing.

"Ah Papa, dinner was delicious!" smiling warm, she turned to the patriarch of the family with a renewed sparkle in her eyes.

The other family members chimed in with their thanks as well. Only James and Jael Hart, Khryssa's parents, knew what had happened today. The sale of the company had been kept very quiet in order to keep stock prices from jumping about. It was then that Henrik Helsing asked the question.

"Khrys, what are you doing here anyway? It isn't the right time of year for a visit and you are usually too busy to give just an out of the blue social call."

She smiled again, taking a glance to her mother and father.

"I sold my company Papa. Xavier Harcard bought it along with the intellectual property that I created."

"WHAT? Khryssa you can't do that."

"It is done Papa. The papers are signed and the lawyers are happy."

"No matter Khryssa, you cannot be around that man. He is evil"

She laughed easily; it was a warm sound and pleasant to the senses. "He is a businessman. Most of them are varying degrees of evil! Besides, as part of the agreement I am taking over his pharmaceuticals department. I start working there next week. Though you should be happy to know Papa, that I did decline a dinner with him to be here tonight" Khryssa had to tease her great-grandfather about it. The fondness for the much older man was apparent in her voice. "Besides, I know the stories all too well. I grew up with them."

"Khrys…." Henrik Helsing started.

"Khrys, Grouspapp, it is over and done. No need to worry about it now. It is a night to celebrate!" Jael Hart chimed in. She had grown up with the same stories that her grandfather provided. Although, Jael considered them just stories from an old man.

Finally, after several hours, the night died down and everyone left for various rooms or hotels. Khryssa retired to a hotel for the night. Her new home was not ready to be occupied yet.

The night went on without another incident. Too soon she fell into the rhythm of her new home and work. Papa Henrik, with one of his grandsons, went about their own routines in order to maintain the peace in their world.

A year had passed. In the blink of an eye, it was gone. The department under her care ran smoothly. Rarely did Khryssa Hart see her employer. Oh yes there were the regular business meetings with Xavier Harcard and the other directors within the company, but that was all. The dinner was never been mentioned again.

Khryssa was in and out of the family home quite often. Always it came with a warning from her great-grandfather. She also always humored the man with a smile and a nod. Rarely was anything more said by either. Khryssa, at least, preferred it that way.

Days passed and the holidays were upon everyone. The season was in full swing and Christmas time in Luxembourg was simply breathtaking. A rather light dusting of snow on the ground made everything sparkle with a clean whiteness. December 21st was a delightfully cold night. It also was the night of the Harcard Industries Winter Ball.

It had been a last minute decision to attend. Something to wear was thrown together and she was off. The party had just gotten underway. Khryssa was escorted out of her limo by the driver. She had come alone. Feeling rather unsure about her choice in coming, a prickle of nervousness sat in her belly.

It was difficult to meet new people when you worked somewhere between 12-20 hours a day. Khryssa was known, by her staff, to have spent more than one night sleeping in her office. Not to mention the fact that people, especially men, were a bit put off by her successes. With a sigh of determination she stepped out of the car and into the freshly falling snow.

"Thank you Richard, I doubt I will be long. I am guessing perhaps an hour. I will call you when I need you again, that way you are not out here in the cold waiting."

"Yes Ma'am" He returned her smile and with a tip of the hat he was gone.

It was just a few steps to the door. Heels clicked across the shoveled walk in a staccato strike. The dress was a pale neutral color, strung with silver. It glittered and danced as she with each step she took. The hem swept down long legs. Slightly longer in the back than the front, it bared just the ankles with Khryssa’s delicate stride. Dark hair was pulled up into a fashionably messy twist. The style allowed for loose curls to lick at fair cheeks. Porcelain skin was on show. The dress left the shoulders, back and neckline bare. With just a touch of makeup, Khryssa Hart looked like a Christmas angel.

Sweeping through the room, she was oblivious to eyes turning to stare. Rarely did Khryssa dress up for work. She was typically in scrubs and a lab coat. If she was being fashionable, on the weekends that she was in her office, Khryssa wore jeans. She caught one of her lab techs watching and blushed beautifully. She truly was a sight to behold.

One of the other directors, the financial director for Harcard Industries, whom she knew slightly came up to say hello. A handsome man, Stephen Burke was resplendent in his tux, but there was something about him that made her cringe. Khryssa had no idea what was it about this man that left her so uneasy. The sound of his voice, while pleasant to most, made her skin crawl.

"Hello Stephen, it is a pleasure to see you again." She spoke softly, polite as always.

"Khryssa!" He leaned in to kiss her cheek. The man was completely unaware that she flinched with his touch. "It is wonderful to see you."

She wondered how to get away and get away quickly. Perhaps this wasn't the best of ideas, Khryssa thought. The small clutch in her hand was grasped tighter. She could call her driver back in a matter of seconds.

"May I –" Stephen was just about to ask her to dance when he was interrupted.

Xavier Harcard cut a dashing figure in his tuxedo. It was a black tie affair and he made the fabric positively sing with his body beneath it. Tall and muscular, Xavier Harcard was a very handsome man. Bright aquamarine eyes sparkled with a hidden secret. Khryssa noticed that even the man’s blond hair was perfectly coiffed. Harcard’s accented voice spoke out, cutting the other man off. A long fingered hand was extended to the young woman before him.

"Excuse me Stephen; I need a moment of the good doctor's time."

Khryssa slid her hand into his. She was extremely grateful for this interruption. Within a blink of the eye, she was whisked away and out of sight from the other man. Harcard took her, without speaking, onto the ballroom floor. The orchestra just started to play Maid with the Flaxen Hair.

"I do hope you dance Doctor, or we are going to look rather silly" Xavier whispered in her ear.

There was a throaty laugh, a warm sound that engulfed all the senses. "I dance just fine Mr. Harcard. Thank you for the rescue." Amusement sparkled in her dark eyes. She placed her hand on his shoulder and the dance began.

"Call me Xavier" He caressed the bare skin of her back.

"Of course Xavier and I would hope you could return the favor and call me Khryssa."

Xavier and Khryssa danced together in perfect harmony, their bodies close. He held her in a rather possessive way throughout the dance. A breath was taken. Inhaling her scent, he closed his eyes. She was intoxicating in so many ways.

Xavier gazed at the woman in his arms intensely. She was a magnificent creature. He watched her from afar many times. Now he was finally able to hold her in his arms, even if it was just briefly. He normally would just take what he wanted. With this woman though, Xavier needed her to crave him with the same sort of desire that he felt towards Khryssa Hart.

"You are a beautiful woman." The words were whispered in her ear. He leaned in closer to lightly graze his cheek against her delightfully smooth one. He could feel the pressure behind the gums. The vampire wanted to sink fangs into her throat more than he desired power. He wanted to taste her skin. He frowned briefly, before she could see it.

This was quite unlike him.

She was uncomfortable with the intimacy between them. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, sprang to Khryssa’s mind. This was not the same discomfort she felt with Stephen. He made Khryssa nervous. This? This was just too different for her world.

She whispered softly in his ear. “They are playing it on the cello, impressive work for the orchestra you hired.”

“You appreciate the cello and fine music.”

“I…uhm….play actually.”

“Intriguing. I would like for you to play for me one day Khryssa.”

She laughed softly. “Perhaps I shall Xavier.”

The dance ended and Xavier escorted Khryssa off of the dance floor. He laced his arm through her slender one. Holding her with the same possessive grip that he had on the dance floor, they made the rounds together.

He spoke to various people of different importance. She mostly stayed quiet. Khryssa being there with Xavier was at his insistence. These people were there because of him, not Khryssa. She was only on his arm because it was he that wanted her right there. If Khryssa had made the choice, she would have left for home already.

Once more, heads turned and people stared. Khryssa was with the boss. It was also noted that she called him by his first name. Rarely did people dare call Xavier Harcard anything but Sir. Khryssa was obviously the center of his attention. A few of them sneered in their minds or to their partners, "for now". Xavier Harcard was not known for a lengthy attention span when it came to women.

"Xavier, if you would excuse me please, I need to be going." Khryssa smile politely and began excusing herself from the group.

Fury brewed in his blue eyes. "You cannot leave Khryssa." Harcard’s tone of voice was quite adamant.

"I told my driver that I would only be about an hour Xavier."

"Call your driver and tell him that I will take you home."

"No thank you Xavier. I need to leave." She pulled her arm free and walked away. Her brow furrowed as she headed outside. That was just too strange. As much as Khryssa wanted to put it off to Europeans being different than Americans, she knew better.

Pure anger burned bright in Xavier Harcard’s eyes, making them even lighter and brighter than normal. He was as furious as he had ever been. Unused to people not bending to his will, this new feeling was almost inconceivable.

He wasn't sure if it made him crave Khryssa Hart more or if it made him want to rip her throat out. Harcard stared after the retreating figure before reluctantly returning to the party. He knew would be seeing her again soon, very soon.

One of the party goers breathed a sigh of relief when the vision of the leaving woman and the angered Harcard caught his eye. Henrik Helsing, in a minor disguise, stepped back into the shadows of the party to watch the goings on.

Another of the party goers stared with hatred at the enigmatic Xavier Harcard. The fact that the man even dared to touch Khryssa Hart angered the shadowed figure to the point of violence. Although, the violence would have to be carried out later.

She sat in the back of the limo alone. The cold started penetrating the soft wrap that was wound around slender shoulders. Khryssa didn't ask the driver to turn the heat up. Much too lost in thought to even speak, she wasn't used to feeling that way. Vulnerable.

Khryssa had the beautiful social skills. She had the connections. In some circles she had the most important key of all, money. It mattered little to Khryssa. She was more at home in a surgical suite than a ballroom. She was more relaxed with her test tubes than with idle chit chat. Because of this she denied any attraction she felt for Xavier Harcard, even to herself.

Khryssa sighed softly and said to no one but herself. “Why do I bother with these things?”

Finally at home, she escaped the confines of the vehicle. Giving the driver a thick envelope with his Christmas bonus in it, she smiled and wished the man a very happy holidays. She would not be in need of his services for a while.

Khryssa knew that he was paid well to stay on call for her and for her parents when they were in Luxembourg. Khryssa did not abuse the fact that she had a driver. Often, she preferred to drive herself. It was a small luxury that she did not wish to take for granted.

A generous soul, knowing that the man had a wife and three children; Khryssa gave him an extremely generous bonus. It was in the tens of thousands of euros. He was thankful for the job, not to mention the money, but his loyalty to the Harts went far deeper than his pockets.

“Please permit me to walk you to your door Ma’am.”

“No thank you Richard. I am perfectly fine.” Khryssa did have a security detail that patrolled the area.

As much as Richard wished to protest, he wouldn't. “Yes Ma’am. have nice Christmas-days to you.”

“And you as well. Tell your wife and children that I send my Christmas greetings, please.”

With that, he left. With the departure of her driver, Khryssa was alone with her thoughts.

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