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Claimed by the Beast

By:Natasha Knight

Claimed by the Beast
Natasha Knight

       Chapter One





A sound caught Rachel's attention and she glanced out the window. Her  heartbeat picked up like it always did at any strange noise, but once  again, looking out into the dark night, she exhaled in disappointment  and let the curtain drop.

He wasn't here. It wasn't him. It was just another sound.

She walked back into the kitchen and poured a glass of water, took a  sip, and set it on the counter next to the ever growing pile. It had  been more than a year since the night Elijah had brought Marcus back  home. More than a year since Marcus had said goodbye and left again.  More than a year and she still held on to hope. Stupid hope.

Her eyes felt hot with tears. The doorbell rang and she quickly wiped at  the one that had escaped, slipped on her jacket, and headed to the  front door.

"Hey! You ready to go?" It was Lisa, someone she knew from work.

"Yeah, just a sec, let me grab my purse and keys," Rachel said, waving  to Walter who sat in the driver's seat smoking his cigarette, turning  the music up. She went back inside, collected her things, and turned on a  lamp in the living room. They'd likely be back pretty late and she  hated to walk into a dark house. She then locked the door behind her and  climbed into the backseat of the old model Corvette. It reeked of  cigarettes and pot and she had to roll her window down even though it  was late December, freezing cold, and snowing.

"Here," Lisa said, passing back a joint.

Rachel hesitated but then took it, bringing it to her lips. She spared  one glance into the woods across from her house before inhaling deeply.  Walter pulled the car out onto the street as she closed her eyes and sat  back.

When her cell phone rang a few moments later, she didn't bother to look  at the display. It would be Elijah or Kayla checking on her. Again. She  was over it.



* * *



Kayla hung up the phone and turned to the sleeping baby in her arms.  Clarissa was almost four months old now. Her hair was coming in slowly  but for the most part, she was still bald. She had Kayla's eyes but her  personality was wholly Elijah. Kayla buttoned up her shirt and stood.  Clarissa made a small noise and turned her head, a drop of milk sliding  from the corner of her mouth onto her cheek. Kayla touched it, wiping it  away, then brushed the backs of her fingers over the baby's soft face,  her slightly open mouth. Her breath was warm and she hardly stirred when  Kayla walked her into her bedroom to lay her in the crib. She tucked  her in, kissed her forehead, and turned on the night light before  leaving the room, keeping the door just slightly ajar.

She checked her watch-a little after ten.

She and Elijah had rented a house about half an hour from where Rachel  lived. Ever since their return with Marcus and then his subsequent  departure, they had both felt the need to be closer to Rachel. Rachel  put on a brave face the last few months, but both Kayla and Elijah had  been watching her and neither missed the destructive path she seemed  determined to travel.

She picked up her phone intending to try Rachel again but changed her  mind. She had promised herself to give Rachel space. Rachel was working  through her disappointment in her own way. Neither Elijah nor Kayla  liked it, but Kayla knew they needed to respect Rachel's privacy. Marcus  had been away for more than a year without a word. As angry as that  made Kayla, she knew it hurt Rachel to know he chose to stay away.  Whatever Marcus was working through though, in Kayla's eyes, it didn't  excuse his coming back into her life only to disappear again just weeks  later.

She went into the kitchen to pour herself a cup of tea when her phone rang. Looking at the display, she smiled and hit answer.

"Hey," she said.

"Hey yourself," Elijah answered. "How are you?" Elijah was on his way back home after a work trip took him out of town.

"I'm good. Tired but good. And missing you."

"Is Clarissa sleeping?" he asked.

"I just put her down for the night. Well, for the next few hours at  least." At four months, the baby still woke at least once a night to  feed. Kayla loved the time with her but it was absolutely exhausting,  especially when Elijah was away and she was on her own.

"It's going to take me a little longer to get home with the snow, but I  should be there before she wakes up for the next round. If you get a  bottle ready, I'll feed her and you can sleep."

"Okay, I'll have one ready, but wake me up anyway. I miss you." He'd  been gone for the week and she wasn't used to having him away for so  long.

"Go get some sleep. I'll be home before you know it. One question for you though, have you heard from Rachel?"                       
       
           



       

"No. Not since you left. I just tried her again but she doesn't pick up  her phone. I went over there yesterday but she wasn't home. I'm guessing  you've had no luck either?"

She could almost hear the worry on the other side of the phone. "No."

"And nothing from Marcus."

"No."

They were both silent for a moment and the thought that something had  happened to Marcus, that maybe he wasn't able to keep in touch, nagged  at her and she knew it was on Elijah's mind as well.

"I've left three messages and am wondering if we shouldn't just give her some space at this point," Kayla said.

"I don't know what's going through her head," Elijah said. "I'm not sure  it's space she needs. I think she's had too much of it already."

Kayla knew what Elijah was thinking. He'd said it before-he loved her  like a sister but as far as he was concerned, it was time for her to let  the past be the past and start behaving like a responsible adult again.  He had smelled pot on her the last time they'd visited and she had lied  about it. Two things he could not tolerate. When he had confronted her,  she had been less than friendly and it had taken all Kayla had to get  him out of there before World War III began. But now she was wondering  if that was what she needed after all. A firm hand to guide her, at  least until Marcus returned.

If he returned.

"Go get some sleep. I'll go see her tomorrow," Elijah said.

"Okay. I'll put Clarissa's bottle in the fridge. Hey, be careful driving."

"I always am. Good night, hon."

"Night."

They hung up the phone and Kayla carried her cup of tea into the  bedroom. She turned on the baby monitor, slipped on one of Elijah's  t-shirts, and climbed beneath the covers. She was asleep before her head  even hit the pillow, not even tasting the tea that sat steaming on the  nightstand.



* * *



The ringing of her cell phone woke her abruptly from a deep sleep. Kayla  picked it up, looking at the clock displaying the time. It was just  past eleven at night.

"Hello?" she said, not recognizing the phone number, instantly worried something had happened to Elijah.

"Kayla?"

Kayla sat up, suddenly wide awake. "Rachel? Is that you?"

There was a sniffle on the other side. "Yes, it's me," Rachel said, obviously crying.

"What's happened? Are you okay? Where are you?"

"I'm …  I'm at the hospital. I'm sorry for calling so late but I didn't  know who else to call. Elijah's going to be really pissed if he finds  out."

"Oh my God, what happened? Are you okay?" she asked again.

"I'm okay. I just …  there was a car accident and …  I don't have much time.  My cell phone died and I'm on a pay phone. I'll tell you everything  when you get here. Can you come get me? I don't want to spend the night  here. And I can't tell Elijah. Please?"

"Yes, of course. I'll be right there. Which hospital?" she asked,  knowing all along she should call Elijah. To wake Clarissa and take her  out at this time of night in this weather was not smart. But Rachel was  right, Elijah was going to be pissed, and the fact that Rachel had  called her at all-didn't that mean something?



* * *



Rachel hung up the phone and waited, thinking over the events of the  night. Walter had seemed fine even if he was a little high. He was  always a little high. They'd gone to one club but had left to see a  different band at another. By then, he'd had a few drinks and probably  shouldn't have been driving. But none of them were in any condition to  drive and the fresh snow falling didn't help. On their way out of the  parking lot, he'd hit the gas instead of the brakes and rammed his car  into a tree. The police had come along with an ambulance. Walter would  be charged with a DUI and although no one had gotten seriously hurt,  they were all taken to the hospital to be checked out. Lisa would spend  the night with Walter but Rachel was free to go and she wanted to go  home.

When the doors opened to the waiting area and she saw Kayla walk in with  the baby carrier slung over her arm, her pajamas peeking out from under  her coat and her boots dusted with snow, Rachel could only feel guilt.

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