Hallowed Crossing
by Frau Hunter Ash
(a.k.a Dana Cooper-Kjarr)


Disclaimers: see Chapter 1

Chapter 2 Hallowed Morning

        Annie raised her head from its position of leaning on Cerys' either sleeping or dead body. <God,> she mentally cursed. She did feel weak from the blood loss and the excitement from the night before.

        As she sat on the area rug on the hardwood floor of the cabin, she took the opportunity to study the female vampire in front of her. It seemed easier now that she didn't have those intense blue eyes probing back as well as Cerys' intensity distracting her.

        <The night before had been one hell of a ride,> she thought, making mental notes to write down later. A strange woman showing up at her rented cabin with a strange name and an even stranger story to tell the writer. A story of vampires, portals between realms, evil Master vampires wanting victims, heroic female vampires determined to stop the Masters, and some new insight into the vampire legends.

        The most intense part was the revelation that Cerys, the woman sleeping or dead on her sofa, was one of those female vampires, a Warder. That was why Annie couldn't tell if Cerys was "alive" or not. Not having a pulse, respiration or warm skin made determining life signs difficult, the writer realized. Her writer's mind quickly organizing her thoughts and feelings about what had happened last night. It had all happened so damned fast, she thought. <What was it about Cerys?> Annie had totally accepted the woman without a question. <Where the hell were her questions and logical mind?> <Where were her doubts?>

        Then the night had gotten even more intense when evil vampires showed up, wanting to kill Warder Cerys and her new human friend. The battle had been swift but deadly when one of them had wounded Cerys and another grabbed Annie's son and proceeded to threaten the boy's life with his fangs.

        Annie shuddered with the memory of seeing the only thing that mattered in her life hanging on the edge of destruction like that. Her son, Travis, who was only seven years old, had been screaming for his mom and Annie hadn't been able to fight the vampire off her son.

        Only Cerys surrendering to the vampire had saved her son's life. The vampire had accepted the richer prize of a Warder vampire to a small human and had dropped the boy. Annie dragged Travis further into the cabin where they would both be safe while the vampire turned his fangs and claws to Cerys.

        Annie brushed some of her blonde hair out of her eyes and her hand went to the wounds at her throat. They were tender and the entire side of her neck felt bruised. The wounds themselves didn't feel large or vicious, just... there. She was also tired and felt a little groggy, <probably the blood loss,> she thought to herself.

        Annie had given her blood to save Cerys' life. At least, she hoped it had saved the vampire, she thought as she glanced at the tall dark woman.

        It was two days to Halloween night and, if what Cerys had told her was true, they had very little time to prepare to fight several evil vampires and stop the Master of all Vampires from crossing over into the mortal realm.

        "Mom?" Annie looked up and smiled at the sight of her son in his 'Star Wars Darth Mahl' pajamas and bunny slippers. His hair was mussed up and sticking out everywhere on his head. This plus his groggy eyes were a common sight in the early morning hours.

        'Not a morning person' didn't begin to describe her son; Annie smiled and got to her feet to approach him. She wanted a moment away from the sofa before trying to explain to him what had happened the night before and who was sleeping on their sofa. <Not that she had the answers,> she thought ruefully.

        She knelt and pulled her son up into her arms for a rare full hug and he grinned. He was beginning to hit the age where he wasn't sure if he wanted kisses and hugs from his mom anymore. That might be little kids stuff, he explained once. This apparently was one of those times when it was okay.

        "Morning!" she said cheerfully and he giggled. They both knew each other pretty well and he laughed at her over-enthusiastic tone. He had inherited her lack of morning personality and they both knew it. Travis needed breakfast and a glass of orange juice before he was semi-coherent and she needed either a Coke Classic or a strong cup of tea to get her engine turned over and running. He looked over her shoulder with raised eyebrows and Annie turned where they could both look at the sleeping or 'dead' Cerys.

        "Last night was weird, kinda like a movie, huh?" she asked her young son with a reassuring smile.

        "Yeah!" he agreed enthusiastically. "That guy with fangs, like a movie vampire. It's still a couple of days before Halloween and we get to dress up and go into town and trick or treat and..."

        Annie laughed and continued to smile as she carried him to the kitchen and sat him down at the table.

        "I thought he was gonna hurt me though," Travis' face became very serious and his eyes quickly filled with tears. "He hit you and you went flying like in a movie or on TV. I thought you were scared."

        "I was," Annie admitted, sitting in a chair across the table from him. "That man was a bad guy and he was playing dress up so he could scare people."

        "Like bank robbers who wear masks?"

        "Yes, exactly," Annie agreed. "He wanted to hurt us."

        "Why?" Travis asked with a puzzled frown, unable to comprehend why someone would want to hurt his mom. His friends often told him that she was pretty for a mom and the friendliest mom they knew of.

        "I don't know, Trav," she said softly. "Sometimes bad people want to hurt other people just because they're so angry or hurting. It doesn't make sense and sometimes they don't know why they do it."

        "Is that like Tommy Callahan at school?"

        "Who is that?" Annie asked, cursing whatever god or fate had led her to a table in an isolated cabin in a weird little mountain town trying to explain why a vampire almost killed her young son the night before.

        "A kid in my class, sometimes he kicks his dog Tiny after his mother hits him," Travis explained and Annie felt her heart give a jump.

        "Sometimes it's like that," she agreed. "Other times there doesn't seem to be a reason, sometimes people are just mean and hurtful. My friend out there helped run the bad man off last night but she was hurt and is sleeping now."

        "Is she going to be okay?" the small boy asked in a very serious voice.

        "I think so, but she might sleep all day," Annie said with a smile. "I think we should leave her sleeping while we go to town, what do you say? Could you use some more cookies?"

        "Oh yeah!" he agreed, his large and charming smile returning. "Maybe some new crayons too?"

        "I think we can manage that at the drugstore," she grinned. "Go get dressed and try and comb that hair of yours."



Annie moved Cerys' jacket back over the vampire and tried to remember if any direct rays of sun ever hit the sofa. She carefully pulled the drapes shut and leaned a chair against them to hold them in place.

The writer looked at her watch and nodded, realizing it was just after 9 a.m. and Jeannie, her editor, would be in her office. She could confirm that she knew Cerys and that both of them set her up in this cabin to find out about the vampires. She intended to have a few words with her about that little stunt. <Jeannie knew she had a small son, damnit!>

Annie went to the kitchen and picked up the telephone receiver and began dialing from memory but then frowned at the device. She hung up the receiver and then lifted it again. Clicking the buttons didn't help either. There was no dial tone at all.

Annie went to the hallway and stuck her head in her son's doorway and grinned at the sight of him having a miniature war on his bedspread between cowboys and Indians. The cowboys were blue and the Indians were red. He had built hills and valleys with the folds of the cloth and his pillows and was engrossed; Annie noted with a grin that the Indians were winning.

The writer went outside the back door and began tracing the telephone line. It didn't take long to find the cut, it was right in front against the cabin before the line ran to the roof and then to a pole in the driveway. Presumably, the line then went wherever telephone lines ran in this part of the country to connect people to civilization.

Not only had the line been cut but also a portion of it was missing. Without some similar wire, Annie couldn't even splice the wiring together with the large gap which was missing. Her frown deepened and she trotted over to their car, her dependable Saturn.

The car was probably still dependable, if all four wheels had been inflated. As it was, the car sat on its rims and each tire was shredded. The driver's side window was also broken in and her cell phone was missing. Someone didn't want Annie contacting the outside world for help and she had the sudden dread that they would be back that night.

Annie, still feeling a little weak and groggy, mentally kicked herself. There were things to do if she was going to protect herself and Travis, not to mention Cerys if the vampire didn't wake up in time.

The first thing the mother did was fix a large breakfast for her and Travis. The boy was delighted to have pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon. Annie had promised him breakfast at the little coffee shop in the nearby town but he always told her he liked her pancakes best of all in the world. Then he clarified, <except maybe the special ones at IHOP>.

Annie, even though she didn't have much of an appetite, made herself eat enough to give her the energy she was going to need for the day. She almost finished off a quart of orange juice by herself.

Then she broke the news that they weren't going to town right away and Travis was of course disappointed. Annie distracted him by saying he could watch her work the chainsaw from the porch if he wanted.

Annie figured it was a male thing or something but Travis seemed fascinated by the tools around the cabin, especially the chainsaw. She knew it wasn't from watching horror movies either, she didn't allow that. The closest she thought he got was the kid movie “The Littlest Vampire”, but apparently he received his knowledge of bad guys with fangs from his babysitter, who wasn't as careful about what he was allowed to watch. Annie made a mental note to talk to the girl's mother about that.

Annie figured that while she might write horror fiction, that didn't mean her son was old enough to read or see it yet.

Even though he was fascinated, Annie kept him at a respectful distance from the chainsaw and splitter, as well as the shotgun she kept in the house. Whenever she was chopping wood, he would watch from the porch while she worked away with gloves and safety goggles on.

Annie knew they had enough firewood for the stove to get through until the fall when they would return to the city, Travis would return to school and Annie, hopefully, would turn over a novel for editing. What Annie was wanting now was small, long blocks of wood; long enough to make stakes out of.

Cerys hadn't mentioned stakes as a means of killing vampires but a wall of them might slow them down, she figured.

Annie had Travis return to his battleground while she prepared for a real-life one inside and outside the cabin. The fight the night before gave her some ideas for surviving the next night, hopefully.

The writer placed shotgun shells in various areas around the cabin and then in a couple of places outside as well: by the back door and on the porch - out of sight. She also placed the wood chopping axe just inside the back door and went to work on the stakes.

Travis moved his cowboys and Indians out onto the porch and watched her work. After an hour Annie was hot and tired and amazed at how good he was being; he was still on the porch and hadn't bugged her to let him see the chainsaw again.

As a reward, she let him have a Popsicle from the freezer while she sipped at a Coke, taking a momentary break.

A few more preparations and Annie was only beginning to be satisfied. <One advantage of having a military father>, she thought, <she knew how to camp and she knew how to use whatever was close at hand.> Even though she hadn't been born a male, her father had ignored the traditions of only teaching sons certain things like: camping, fishing, hiking, how to use a compass, how to use an axe and other useful things for living in the woods. If she had been a boy, Annie figured, she could have excelled in Merit badges in the Boy Scouts after her father was through with her. On the other side of the coin, her mother had insisted she learn some “feminine” things as well, like cooking and sewing.

Annie grinned; she would make someone the perfect mate. She could work on a car, chop down a tree and then bake a cake and sew a dress. Then the writer lost the smile, she just might have to find out how good her father's teaching had been once the sun set.

Her father had fought in the desert and in the mountains of the Baltics, he never anticipated having to train his daughter to fight vampires. He also hadn't anticipated a dyke for a daughter but those were bitter thoughts reserved for a less productive day, Annie scolded herself and turned to the tasks at hand.

Another couple of hours of chopping wood and nailing pieces into place and Annie was ready for a break. Travis was hungry after chasing several animal noises in the tree-line, always keeping in sight of Annie.

Annie checked on Cerys again and was more than a little frustrated that the vampire hadn't seemed to move at all. “Gives a new meaning to the term 'sleeps like the dead,'” she muttered.

A good lunch of hamburgers, French fries, soup and sodas made Annie feel better and Travis sleepy. She let him go to the hammock on the front porch with his books while she went back to nailing and pounding.

By mid-afternoon, Annie figured she was as ready as she could be without some advice from the sleeping or dead vampire on her sofa. She tried once again to wake the vampire up without success.

Annie knew their best defense was the fact a vampire couldn't enter the place without being invited but that didn't inspire the writer's total confidence. Somehow in movies and books, the vampires always found a way to get in or to get the victims outside.

There was a fire extinguisher by the kitchen door, one jug of bottled water in the living room and one in the kitchen, and another fire extinguisher in her bedroom as well. She spent the next hour nailing the shutters on the cabin to prevent anything from being thrown in.

Annie was determined that fire wasn't going to be one of the causes of her and Travis having to leave the cabin at night.

The car was already disabled and they couldn't hike the five miles to town, especially in the dark, so she wouldn't make the stupid mistake of trying to run for it only to be vulnerable and caught outside.

The writer of horror fiction turned her mind to other plots used in horror movies, television and books, looking for loopholes in her security. She started to mentally check off items in her head.

Windows shuttered, fire prevention steps taken. Plenty of food and water, oil lamps in case the electricity was cut. Shotgun, axe, Cerys' silver short sword, and a couple of other surprises Annie had worked up from her father's bag of tricks for weapons.

Among the more industrious weapons were several bottles sitting on the front porch against the solid wooden railing. Empty glass bottles that had been filled from the extra gas container for the generator, secured with cloth, one end trailing over the bottle opening, ready for lighting. Cerys had said fire would hurt or kill vampires and Annie had an idea that any evil vampires showing up that night might not like a Molotov cocktail instead of a cocktail of her blood.

Annie was ready for a fight. What she wasn't ready for was getting her son involved.


The writer crawled into the shower and let the warm water soak away some of the tension and grime from working throughout the day. The feeling of being under a deadly timeline kept her from thoroughly enjoying the shower though and she was done in record time.

Clean clothes and a clean body made her feel better and the time in the shower had cleared her head just a bit.

Annie sat down with Travis at the dinner table and began an early dinner of chicken, rice, green beans and a salad. He had grumbled a bit about the salad but she had let him add raisins and Chinese noodles. It was always a sure way of getting him to eat a salad and she held these favorites back so he could “talk her into it.”

The mother wondered if all Moms did such things to their kids but figured they probably did. She made a mental note to ask her own mother about that one day.

“Travis,” Annie began, keeping her voice level and calm. “You know that bad guy from last night?”

The boy nodded almost absently.

“He might come back tonight,” Annie wasn't surprised when his head shot up from his chicken and his eyes were wide. “I don't know this for sure but he might and there could be others with him.”

“Is that why you were doing all those weird things today?” he asked.

“Yes, we can't use the car to leave and the bad guys might be back,” Annie nodded.

“I saw the car wheels,” he said softly, surprising Annie with his insight, especially how he hadn't asked her or been afraid. He had stayed quiet and stayed out of her way during the day, as if sensing that it was important to both of them that she finish whatever she was doing.

“I need you to do something for me tonight,” she continued. “It might get dangerous tonight and I want you to be safe. Will you do what I ask?”

“Sure, Mom,” he agreed easily. “You want me to hide, don't you?”

“Yup,” she agreed. “I want to make up your bed in your closet, and I want you to stay there tonight. No matter what you hear, okay?”

Travis frowned and appeared to think about it. “Can't I help?”

“Knowing that you're safe will be the best help you can give me, Trav,” she responded truthfully.

“Okay,” he finally agreed reluctantly.

After putting the dinner dishes in the sink, and checking the setting sun's position, Annie accompanied her small son to his room and set about helping him get ready for the night. Fortunately, his closet was a huge one that was almost the size of another bedroom or storage room. It also didn't have any windows and was far away from the main door.

They gathered up his pillows and blankets and made a bed in one corner for him. Next they supplied the closet with some of his toys, a camping lantern that ran on batteries, some of his books and a small radio.

Annie hated shutting her son away in a closet for the night but she knew it was probably the safest place for him, especially since most houses and cabins on the west coast didn't have basements. She closed the door while he cheerfully played with some of his Hot Wheels' cars.

The writer looked around and found the cabin hadn't changed much in appearance on the inside and, hopefully, not from the outside. Surprise was always an advantage you wanted on your side, her father had often preached.

The writer in her remembered a quote from Robert A. Heinlein that her father had printed up and framed in his den:

“A human being, should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Annie was hoping that the part about dying gallantly wasn't part of fulfilling that quote tonight.

Annie's sense of dread lightened immediately when she walked down the hallway and found Cerys sitting up on the sofa.

“Thank God,” Annie grinned.

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you,” Cerys smiled and looked around the cabin. “Why didn't you and Travis get out of here?”

“The phone line is cut and I can't splice it and the car has four slashed tires,” Annie answered and sat down on the sofa with the vampire. “How did you get here, you don't happen to have a car stashed down the road, do you?”

“No, I hiked in from town,” Cerys shrugged. “I smell gasoline.”

“Then the idea that vampires have heightened senses, is correct?” Annie grinned.

“Yes,” Cerys nodded with a shrug.

“I did some stuff around the cabin,” Annie shrugged. “They're coming back tonight, aren't they?”

“Yes, they sabotaged the phone and car to keep you here,” Cerys frowned. “They're hoping I'm dead and they'll finish you and the boy off to keep the existence of portals and Master vampires a secret.”

“What exactly kills vampires?”

“Fire, decapitation, sunlight, stake through the heart, massive amount of silver, and possibly starvation but that would take centuries to test that theory.”

“Good, then we might be prepared for tonight,” Annie smiled grimly.

“I hope so, now that they know a Warder is here, they'll send even more than last night,” Cerys warned. “Annie, about last night…”

“Look, it's getting dark and your relatives will probably be here shortly after that, won't they?”

“Yes, the Hellgate isn't far from here,” Cerys responded.

“Then I guess the conversation will have to wait until after we deal with them,” Annie said firmly.

“No,” Cerys countered and surprised Annie by grabbing the writer's wrist and keeping Annie on the sofa. “Thank you for last night, I would have died.”

“I'm glad it worked,” Annie said softly as she shrugged off the thanks. “What happens now?”

“We get through tonight, find a way to get you out of here tomorrow and call for help. Your editor is likely to come get you and hopefully more Warders will come and help me keep the Master from coming through the portal on Halloween night.”

“What happened to me sticking around for Halloween and writing about it?”

“That was before I found out about your son, I've got to get you and your son out of here,” Cerys said firmly.

“What about us?” Annie asked softly.

“It's not a good idea for vampires and humans to mix for long,” Cerys continued to frown. “The emotions are just too intense for both sides but especially for humans.”

“Afraid?” Annie taunted, her voice bitter. “You come into my home, tell me cosmic truth about vampires; next thing I know, we're fighting vampires, my son is almost killed, you nearly died and now we're stuck here!”

“Yes, I know. It all happened too quickly,” Cerys agreed.

“We had this incredible connection last night and I don't even know if you have a last name,” Annie complained. “I find you incredibly sexy and fascinating and would like to know you better.”

Annie turned to face Cerys on the sofa. “You warned me last night that the emotions might get intense and that you were attracted to me. Okay, this might not work, I'll buy that. What I'm not willing to do is to walk away from this fight. You and my editor got me into this and I'm going to fight my way through it. Cer, it's too late to get out, isn't it?”

Cerys sighed heavily and released her hold on Annie's wrist.

“Yes, now that you know about the vampires, they'll track you down and kill you even if we get you out of here safely,” the vampire admitted.

“So, let me into the fight,” Annie urged.

“You sound like something out of a movie,” Cerys complained.

“I agree, first to admit it,” Annie grinned. "I'm a writer, we're allowed to be melodramatic."

“Look, the vampires will be here in about an hour,” Cerys said softly. “You don't know me and you really don't know what we're up against.”

“Then tell me because we're stuck here tonight,” Annie countered.

“In my realm things are different,” Cerys frowned. “It's almost like a medieval place where magick is possible though frowned upon. Like I said last night, some are drawn to the power that dark magick can bring them. It's mostly men, although some women fall prey to the desire and lust for power and riches.”

“Doesn't anyone oppose them?”

“Yes, but over the last twenty years the Dark Ones have built up such a power base that they've actually been able to hold off most opposition. The power base in the realm is minor little kingdoms, City States like your ancient Greece.”

“Okay, so the good cities join together and take out the bad ones,” Annie suggested with a frown.

“I wish it were that simple,” Cerys smiled slightly. “Unfortunately, it's been the other way around. The Dark Ones have banded together and one had worked his way to the top of the food chain. To cement his power, he's crossing over into this realm to perform the ritual that will make him immortal in my realm.”

“So some of you cross over to stop them in this realm. I remember from last night.”

“Right, usually female warriors because we aren't as tempted by the darker forces for some reason,” Cerys continued.

“I don't know, have you ever seen the head of Rosalynn Publishing?” Annie grinned bitterly.

Cerys smirked at Annie's sense of humor.

“So, when you cross into our realm you end up as a vampire,” Annie commented.

“Yes and we try and stop the Dark Ones from killing humans and completing their ritual,” Cerys repeated. “A Warder came through at the Summer Solstice, last year. My mate and I joined with her in fighting this new Master when he came through in the next gate.”

Cerys hesitated and stood up slowly and walked to the window, noticing the closed shutters for the first time.

“The other Warder was killed,” Cerys said softly. “My mate… she was wounded.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“So you understand what and who we're going up against,” Cerys explained. “I was chosen for this fight because of my past with this Master. My mates' name was Arekla. She was wounded and captured by the vampire. Instead of killing her, the vampire seduced her and turned her to the dark side.”

Annie felt like someone had just hit her in the chest.

“Cerys, I'm sorry,” she whispered but the Warder vampire merely shrugged.

“My mate has been turned for almost a year and has been killing humans for that time without remorse and without consent. She's been paving the way for the Master to return to this realm and increase his power through dark rituals involving human blood,” Cerys explained. “I'll be facing a Master with more powers than I've ever seen and my mate.”

Cerys' eyes suddenly became distant. “They're approaching.”

“Can you tell how many?”

“No, but more than last time,” Cerys said with a frown.

“Well, this time we have a few surprises for them,” Annie grinned, handing Cerys her short sword and going to the door to pick up the shotgun. "Stay away from the front door, don't touch the knob."

Cerys picked up her sword and stood by the front door, mindful of Annie's warning not to touch the handle. Her sharp vampiric eyes noticed the bare wires wrapped around the knob and wondered what the writer was up to as Annie stood by the window, watching for movement.

The writer had the shotgun cradled in her arm as she watched through a small slit in the shutters, her hand on the light switch.

"Don't go out until I say, okay?" Annie glanced over at the vampire and Cerys nodded, her face serious.

"They're at the edge of the tree-line, I can see five of them," Cerys commented a moment later.

Annie flipped one of the switches, flooding the clearing in front of the house with bright light. She could see a couple of figures throwing up their hands against the light and grinned when a high pitched scream came to them from the left of the cabin.

"Watch the trail," Annie said softly as Cerys looked out the peephole in the door.

One of the vampires, a male in a cowboy shirt, jeans and boots, stepped forward into the light, his fangs flashing. A moment later he was looking down at the two stakes sticking out of his chest.

Dust filled the air a few seconds later and the two vampires with him were looking at the snare trap that had taken him out.

"What the hell?" Cerys asked.

"It's called a spear deadfall. You trip the wire and the weight of the log and the rocks brings the stakes down onto the prey. The rocks add weight and make the blow more crushing," Annie explained.

"Wow! And the scream?"

"A Sprung Spear Trap. A couple of stakes are attached to a flexible branch and suspended over the trail, add a slip ring to the trip wire, and a couple of other moves and you're set. Very deadly, as one of them found out."

"Who are you, MacGuyver?" Cerys grinned.

"They have television in your realm?" Annie teased.

"I've been here awhile. Reruns during the daytime," Cerys muttered.

They both kept their attention on the figures moving even more cautiously towards the cabin.

"No more tricks! Give us the Warder and you and the boy can go free!" called out the vampire in front of the four vampires now standing in the clearing.

"I'm going to agree to it and tell one of them to come up on the porch," Annie said softly.

"What?" Cerys demanded.

"Just watch, when the lights flash, fling open the door and decapitate whatever is standing there," Annie instructed grimly.

"Okay Annie Oakley," Cerys grumbled, standing ready with the sword in hand.

"The female vampire is hurt from last night, one of you will have to come in and get her!" she called out.

"It'll take two of us!" the leader called back with an evil grin.

"Only one or I blow your heads off like last night!" Annie warned.

"Alright, you give your word you won't shoot the one coming in?" the leader demanded.

"I give you my word," Annie grinned behind the shutter.

One of the vampires next to the leader slowly moved forward and began mounting the stairs, his body language indicating that he was ready to jump or run. Not perceiving any immediate threat from the cabin, he walked a couple of steps closer to the door and hesitated.

"I invite only you in," Annie called and the vampire grinned and reached for the door as Annie closed her eyes and flipped the other light switch.

Cerys blinked against the sudden sparks flying from the door handle and the screams on the other side of the door. Annie flipped the switch off.

"Now!" she yelled and Cerys jerked the door open and her other arm swung in a backhand motion that would have made a tennis pro proud. The twitching electrocuted vampire stood helpless as his head left his body and then he turned to dust a moment later.

The vampires in the clearing screamed in rage and rushed the porch. Cerys met one in the center of the chest with her sword as Annie stepped out beside her and used the shotgun to decapitate another one. The leader turned to run as Cerys struggled with the vampire impaled on her sword and Annie knelt down by the railing. A quick flash of a match and she was tossing a flaming bottle after him.

Both Cerys and the vampire she was fighting hesitated as the lead vampire began screaming; his clothes were on fire and his skin was quickly following. Cerys reacted first and pulled her sword out and tripped the vampire, sending him to his back and slashing off his head with a single stroke.

The Warder vampire looked over as the screams died down and the vampire fell face first onto the ground and slowly burned to ashes.

Cerys looked around and was surprised to see stakes now lining the railing of the porch, making it very difficult for a vampire to jump over the railing to get to the women. Cerys also noticed several more bottles by Annie's foot.

"Are there more?" Annie asked, scanning the area for movement.

"Yes, I sense more to the left and right," Cerys informed the writer. "They're hesitating because they are now very unsure of how to handle you."

Annie looked over and found Cerys grinning at her.

"Do people always underestimate you?" the Warder asked as they moved back into the house.

"Usually," Annie grinned back at the vampire. "What will they do next?"

"Probe for weaknesses in the security," Cerys said thoughtfully. "Shutters secure?"

"Yes, nailed shut," Annie responded. "Anyone trying to pry one open will find a shotgun waiting for them."

"Good, they might try fire."

"Bottled water and fire extinguishers at the main points of the cabin," Annie answered.

"Your son in the closet? He won't come out?"

"How did you know where he was?" Annie asked with a frown.

"I can hear his heartbeat," Cerys shrugged.

"I'll check in on him and reassure him," Annie said simply.

"Do it now before the next round," Cerys urged.

Annie moved slowly into Travis' room and knocked softly on the closet. "Yes," a timid voice called.

"It's Mom, Trav," she called.

"Who is better, Batman or Wolverine?" he asked and she smiled at the test.

"Wolverine, he is way more cool with those claws," Annie grinned, knowing the response he expected and she heard the door unlock and quickly hugged him when her son opened the door. "Hey, kiddo. I was missing you and thought I'd let you give me some courage with a hug."

"I heard gunshots," Travis answered, his eyes wide.

"Yeah, some of those bad guys came back but we ran them off with the shotgun. They're still out there though and are probably going to try something different," Annie explained.

"Like in that Jason movie, figuring out other ways to get in?" he asked and Annie made a mental note to discuss his babysitter's choices in movies when her son was around, thank you!

"Something like that. Can you go back inside your fort and keep quiet?"

"Okay, will you be okay?"

"You betcha! Grandpa taught me lots of tricks to play on bad guys," she smiled at her son and hugged him tightly once more and urged him back into the closet, waiting until she heard the door lock shut.

The writer found the Warder Vampire ready and waiting by the door.

"He's a great kid," Cerys commented.

"You could hear my conversation in the other room?" Annie asked.

"Yeah, when I focus I can hear your heartbeat," Cerys shrugged.

"What happens when we get through tonight? Do you go back to being the sleeping dead tomorrow?" Annie asked as they watched several figures moving in the trees, keeping to the shadows.

"No, I needed the full day of sleep because of the injuries I took last night," Cerys answered. "I still say you should hike down to town tomorrow and get out of here."

"I'm not leaving you alone to face a Master, your ex and who knows how many more vampires."

"It won't be as easy as this to stop the Master, we have to be at the gate tomorrow night," Cerys explained. "We have to defeat his vampires, counter his magick in crossing over or kill him when he gets here and is weak."

"Where is the gate?"

"An old mine about two miles from here, through the woods," Cerys responded.

"And you can't get there until after dark?" Annie frowned.

"I can't let the direct sun light hit me. The woods aren't that shadowy," Cerys frown matched Annie's.

"So we need to figure out how to get you there without exposing you to sunlight," Annie said thoughtfully. "Any trails or roads to the mine left?"

"An old horse trail is about all that is left, why?"

"Checking options," Annie muttered and opened the door to let off a shotgun round when one of the vampires got close enough to the porch. The writer missed decapitating the vampire but sent buckshot into his face, throat and upper shoulder. He was sent flying backwards and then rolling on the dirt howling in rage and pain.

Annie slammed the door. Cerys growled and pointed to the roof as footsteps sounded loudly.

"What the hell? The fireplace isn't big enough to play Santa Claus," Annie demanded.

The answer came a moment later when a burning pine bough was thrust down the chimney, followed by bits of dried pine needles, branches and pinecones.

"They're trying to smoke us out!" Cerys growled as Annie handed her the shotgun and grabbed the large bottle of water. She rolled the plastic jug up and over the hearthstone and into the fireplace. The writer pulled a buck knife from her hip and sliced open the jug, sending water splashing all over the pine bough, needles and pine cones.

Annie turned and wiped her brow and jumped slightly when one of the pine cones exploded from the heat.

"Clever!" Cerys said, admiration in her voice.

Apparently the vampires couldn't find anything more clever than Annie had come up with because they spent the next four hours pounding, screaming and howling on the cabin walls and shutters.

They also avoided the back and front door after the shotgun turned two more of them into dust. Cerys waited by the front door with her sword and Annie waited by the back door with her shotgun and axe.

A very tired Annie turned to the Warder vampire at around 3 a.m. "When do they give up?"

"About an hour before dawn, probably," Cerys answered.


Annie smiled when she opened her eyes and realized Cerys was shaking her awake. The writer looked around and was relieved to see daylight creeping in through the cracks in the shutters.

Cerys was sitting against the front door and looked like she was about ready to drop into an exhausted sleep as well. It was still dark in the cabin from all the windows being boarded up but Annie still could catch Cerys' blue eyes watching her.

“Thank God,” she muttered.

“Him too,” Cerys grinned. “I think it's more to your credit that we survived last night. Where did you learn the survivor stuff?”

“My father was a former Army Ranger and passed along some things,” the blonde shrugged and sat up a little straighter in the chair she had fallen asleep in, careful not to tip over the shotgun leaning against it.

“Good, now if we can figure out what to do for tonight, we'll be set,” Cerys yawned, sitting down heavily on the sofa. “First, I suggest a couple of hours of sleep at least. You've been up over 24 hours now.”

“I'd normally argue with you that we have too much to do but it's likely that we're going to be up all night again, aren't we?”

“Yup, safe bet. The portal will open about an hour after sunset and the first set of vampires will come through. Then it opens again at midnight and the Master will come through,” Cerys explained.

“When does your ex show up?”

Cerys frowned as she pulled her dusty and scruffy cowboy boots off and threw her feet up on the sofa. “Probably right after sunset, she's most likely already hiding in the mine.”

“Are you going to be able to face her as an enemy?” Annie asked softly.

“I'm a warrior, I have to,” Cerys attempted to shrug again.

“You're also human,” Annie countered.

“Not quite,” Cerys grinned at Annie's exasperated look at the vampire's humor. Then Cerys was serious again. “I have to,” she repeated. “There isn't a choice, is there?”

“Maybe not,” Annie agreed and stretched. The writer smiled when she noticed Cerys admiring her lean and fit body. “You sure you don't want to discuss getting to know each other a little better?”

Cerys growled and sat up quickly.

“I thought I explained that vampires and humans don't mix well,” the vampire snapped.

“Why not? Don't give me the bit about the emotions being too intense for humans, you've obviously never lived with a writer,” Annie countered.

“I am attracted to you and think that you're incredible,” Cerys admitted. “I also think this should wait until after tonight, don't you?”

“I agree that we should discuss this later after we get some sleep,” Annie responded casually. “Especially considering what we're facing.”

“Alright, just get some sleep, I'll wake you. I only need about four hours,” Cerys laid back down on the sofa, dismissing the conversation.

Annie was tempted to force the issue a little bit more but the aches from her body, from the exhaustion, were agreeing with Cerys and so Annie gave in and headed for her bed.


The writer felt someone gently brushing her hair back from her face and opened her eyes slowly. It had been a long time since someone touched her like that and she was enjoying the feeling.

Annie smiled at Cerys sitting on the edge of her bed. The blonde held the vampire's hand against her cheek and closed her eyes with a soft sigh. Annie felt Cerys other hand softly stroke her other cheek.

The blonde moaned slightly as Cerys' lips met hers. The kiss was tentative at first but became more solid as Annie reached behind Cerys' head and pulled the vampire closer. Annie drew Cerys down alongside her on the bed and continued the “getting to know you” session without any words.

Annie could sense Cerys hesitating and tightened her hold on the vampire as they continued kissing and holding each other. Cerys finally pulled back and looked into Annie's green eyes.

“We should figure out what we're doing tonight,” she said.

“Yup, we should,” Annie agreed and grabbed the vampire and began kissing her again. Cerys started to protest but became a willing participant in the distraction. The writer finally broke the kiss. “Okay, right, we're up and planning things,” she muttered and captured Cerys' lips again.

Cerys pulled out of Annie's arms and sat up with a gentle laugh that softened her usually stern features. The writer felt her heart melting at the sight of the beautiful dark woman.

“How do you usually plan these things?” Annie asked, sitting up in bed. She noticed Cerys watching her again and glanced down, realizing the tight t-shirt was leaving nothing to the imagination for the vampire. There was no doubt about Annie's state of arousal.

Annie smirked and snapped her fingers in front of Cerys' blue eyes. The vampire looked embarrassed and grinned slightly.

“I trot over to the mine with my sword, hope that some of the other Warders get there about the same time as the vampires from town, fight the vampires and kill them. Then we try and seal the portal and, if that doesn't work, we wait for midnight and greet the Master with swords and stakes,” Cerys explained.

“Okay, how about we figure a way to get you to that mine, we take out the vampires who are hiding there and set up some surprises for those coming in tonight?” Annie suggested.

“I'm game,” Cerys grinned wolfishly. “How do we do that?”

“I'm not sure yet. Can't go by car and I don't have a horse, that leaves on foot and we've got to find a way to keep you covered while we do it,” Annie mumbled, her mind already thinking as she got out of bed. She reached for a clean pair of trousers, unaware of the affect her body, clad only in a tight t-shirt and thin underwear, was having on the vampire.

“We've got a large wagon that was used to bring in vegetables in from the garden. How do you feel about coffins?”

“What?” Cerys demanded, her eyes widening.

“Well, actually, I was thinking a large box or heavy blankets or something. We pack you into it, load up the wagon with some other goodies and I pull you to the mine.”

“Impossible, it's much too far,” Cerys protested.

“Not with an ATV pulling it,” Annie grinned.

“ATV, one of those four wheeled motorcycle things?”

“Yes, there's one in the storage shed,” Annie answered.

“Then why didn't you get out of here yesterday on the thing?” Cerys demanded.

Annie shrugged as she put on the jeans and pulled out a pair of socks.

“I wasn't going to leave you behind and I knew I couldn't take you out in the sun,” Annie said. “Besides, I only found the stuff to fix the flat tire on the damned thing today.”

“You could leave today,” Cerys growled.

“Nope, you and Jeannie got me into this; I'm staying,” Annie said firmly.

“It might actually work,” Cerys said thoughtfully.

“Excellent,” Annie smiled and looked at her watch. “We don't have a lot of time to get things ready, get Travis to town, and then get to the mine.”

“Why didn't you take Travis into town yesterday?”

“I didn't know if you were alive or dead in that coma sleep of yours. I didn't want to leave you alone in that condition and I thought I could protect him better here. I doubt they'll believe me about vampires in town.”

“So what's different about today?” Cerys asked.

“Today is different because we have to leave the cabin to continue the fight,” Annie explained as she laced up her Doc Martin boots. “I can't protect him at the mine and I can't leave him alone here either. I'll leave him at the boarding house in town with Mrs. Carson; we stayed there a couple of nights before coming out here to the cabin.”

“You are amazing,” Cerys smiled and yelped in surprise when Annie got up from the bed and leaped onto the vampire, pinning the woman to the bed for another round of kissing that left both of them breathless and very aroused.

“You had better make sure we both get through this tonight, I want to show you how amazing,” Annie muttered and moved off the bed. “We had better get going before I attack you again…”

Cerys gave her a rueful smile and got up to find her boots.

Part 3

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