A group of paranormal investigators set out to solve the mystery of a haunted brothel. Are they hunting the ghosts, or are the ghosts hunting them?
Daughters of the Moon
By Breanna Ramsey
From its perch atop a rocky butte overlooking the Truckee River, Casa del Claro de Luna didn't look particularly foreboding. The three-story, red brick Georgian mansion was about thirty minutes east of Reno, and if its location in the midst of the bleak, desert landscape didn't make it look out of place, the presence of the modern hotel and spa just a few hundred yards away certainly did.
As their small caravan approached the elegant mansion, Jeremy Weller felt an odd sense of anticipation. The University of Arizona grad student attributed his excitement to the fact that this was the first really major case Southwest Paranormal Investigations had undertaken, rather than the location being the most infamous brothel of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
"Now this is my kind of ghost hunting," Greg Bartlett said from the driver's seat. "A house full of ghost hookers … it's like a dream come true!"
"Just keep it in your pants, Greggers," Jeremy told his friend. "We're here to investigate."
"Hey man, I'll try," Greg laughed. "I can't make any promises though; when I get worked up it just sort of busts out."
Jeremy rolled his eyes and shook his head. Greg had a tendency to stray over the line, especially when he told tales about his sexual prowess, but he was a good guy. His tales weren't exactly bragging when it came to sex either; the former running back for the Arizona Wildcats had the kind of rugged good looks that drove most girls wild and he really did have a charismatic personality. Greg had done well during his college football career and likely would have gone early in the NFL draft, but he had decided to continue his academic career rather than going pro -- a decision his father still hadn't forgiven him for.
Greg brought the thirty foot motor home to a halt at the gate in the wrought iron fence that surrounded the mansion. After lowering his window he leaned out and pressed the button on the call box, and a moment later the gate rolled to the side. As soon as they passed through the gate Greg steered to the right, leading the SUV trailing them around to the service entrance of the mansion. They parked on the far side of the lot and exited the RV and walked to its rear, waiting there for the rest of the team to join them.
"Okay, we've got about two hours before sunset," Jeremy said. "You guys get started unloading while Kim and I go talk to the owner."
"Cassie would like to go in with you, Jere, if that's okay" Kim Gibson said.
"I'd like to get a feel for the place before we all start tramping around," Cassie Ward explained.
The tall, willowy blonde was a recent addition to their group. She was a member of the Veritas Program at the University, which did research into the continuation of consciousness after death. Specifically, the group conducted tests involving mediums, those who claimed they could communicate with the deceased. Though Cassie made no such claims, she did profess to being a sensitive, someone able to detect emotional imprints connected to objects and places. She had scored phenomenally high in various tests, including a Zener card test in which she correctly identified nine-hundred-seventy-two symbols out of a thousand.
"Sure, that's fine Cassie," Jeremy said, noting with some irritation the twinkle in Kim's eyes.
Jeremy and Kim had been friends since high school; they'd even allowed their relationship to stray into something more intimate, once, after a party their freshman year of college. They'd both felt extremely awkward the next morning, but fortunately their friendship had survived and grown even stronger, and now they could even share a good natured laugh about their bumbling night of romance. Kim was always trying to set him up with one girl or another, however, and she had undoubtedly picked up on his attraction to Cassie.
There was plenty to be attracted to. Cassie was gorgeous; honey blonde hair and sea green eyes, with the face of a super model and the figure of a centerfold. On top of all that she had a great personality, and exhibited none of the attitude so common to beautiful young women.
Before leaving, Jeremy turned to the fifth member of the group, a tall, gangly young man with thick glasses and a mop of curly black hair. Tom Clarkson was their resident geek and managed all of the equipment. He had built the tech center in the back of the RV virtually from scratch.
"We need to make sure the remotes are secured, and I mean secured good," he told Tom. "Those things cost five grand a piece," he continued, jerking his thumb towards Greg, "and I don't want club foot here knocking one over this time."
"It is amazing how someone so agile on the football field can be such a klutz in the dark," Tom quipped. "Don't worry, Jere, the new mounts should be Greggers-proof … unless he tries to tackle one."
Greg gave Tom a glare that was more bark than bite then stuck his nose up in the air and stormed over to the SUV to start unloading. Jeremy laughed at his friend's antics and then turned, motioning for Cassie to join him as he walked over to the service entrance.
Before he could press the button for the buzzer the door opened, and they were greeted by an elegantly attractive woman in her forties. She was dressed in a tailored charcoal gray pant suit, her long, burgundy hair arranged in an elaborate French braid that hung down to her waist. Suzanne DuMont was almost as infamous as Moonlight House; she had started out as an exotic dancer and quickly moved into the adult film industry. Soon after she started her movie career, she had begun working occasionally at one of the legal brothels near Las Vegas, and soon after that she quit acting all together because she could make far more money as a prostitute. Unlike many women in the business, she had invested her money wisely and accumulated a tidy fortune, and now she was entering into the management side of adult entertainment. When it opened in a little less than a year, Casa del Claro de Luna would be an adult resort and spa with a two hundred room hotel, full service spa and its very own brothel.
After introductions were made, Suzanne led them down a short, wide hall and into a spacious lounge. The décor was like what you would find in any upscale club; elegant and tasteful rather than the gaudiness one would expect in a brothel. A long bar was situated along the wall to their right, and there was a large fireplace in the opposite wall. To the left of the fireplace there was a small stage with a dance pole and to its right an alcove consisting of a plush, sectional sofa and table.
"So, what do you know of the history of Moonlight House?" Suzanne asked.
"We know the mansion was built in 1860 by a man named William Anders," Jeremy said. "He'd struck it rich in the Comstock Lode and became quite infamous for his hedonistic lifestyle. After he was killed ten years later a group of women turned the house into a brothel that remained in operation for almost a hundred years. The brothel closed down after what became known as the Moonlight Massacre."
"Well I see you've done your research," Suzanne said with a smile. "Let me fill in a few details for you. After construction of the mansion was completed, William Anders brought four young women here to live with him. He called them the Daughters of the Moon, and of course the whole arrangement was quite scandalous. In his will he left his entire estate to them, and they were the ones who started the brothel.
"Moonlight House was quite unique, even by today's standards. The brothel was run by the girls. Throughout its history there were always four Daughters of the Moon who oversaw the operation, but they were working prostitutes not madams. All of the girls contributed a percentage of their earnings to the house, even the Daughters. Their only fringe benefit was that they lived in the four suites on the third floor."
"Do you intend to reinstate that tradition?" Cassie asked.
"Times have changed a bit, dear," Suzanne said. "I will be hiring a woman to manage affairs here, but I do intend to revive the Daughters of the Moon after a fashion. The suites will go to the four girls who have the highest earnings, just a little way to inspire enterprise."
"Can you give us more background on the murders?" Jeremy asked. "The details were a little sketchy in our research."
"Most of what I can tell you comes from legend, so I don't know how accurate it is," Suzanne said. "As I'm sure you know, gambling became legal in Nevada in 1931. Two years later, Prohibition ended, and mob syndicates that had grown rich on illegal liquor found themselves in need of a new source of income. Several rather unsavory men came to Reno and enmeshed themselves in the gambling houses there. They also cast their eyes on prostitution, which of course didn't become legal until the seventies. Moonlight House's involvement with the mob was out of necessity; the women basically paid for protection.
"In the early days, Reno was the gambling Mecca; it wasn't until the late forties and the arrival of Bugsy Siegel and the Los Angeles syndicate that Las Vegas began to grow. By the mid fifties there was a considerable rivalry between the Reno and Las Vegas gambling syndicates.
"In 1957, a Reno syndicate boss named Mart Westheimer allegedly had a rival from Las Vegas killed. A few months later, in January of 1958, Westheimer was gunned down in front of Moonlight House, along with his driver and two bodyguards. The assassins didn't stop there, however. They entered the house and when they left, they had killed the very heart of Moonlight House."
She led them to the corner alcove, where four portraits hung on the wall next to the fireplace. When Jeremy got close enough to get a good look at the paintings he let out a gasp and both Suzanne and Cassie gave him questioning looks.
"Don't pay me any mind," he said after a moment. "Please continue, Suzanne."
The beautiful redhead smiled and nodded, gesturing to the paintings.
"These were the last Daughters of the Moon," she told them, pointing to the painting on the far right of a caramel skinned beauty. "This was Georgia; as I said earlier, the Daughters managed the house, and Georgia was responsible for overseeing the housekeeping and kitchen staffs. At the time there was a small outbuilding for the staff, but that was burned down by vandals about twenty years ago."
"She died here, in this room," Cassie almost whispered. "I can almost feel her pain."
"That's right," Suzanne said, gazing intently at the younger woman. "How did you know that?"
"I'm a sensitive," Cassie explained. "Sometimes I can feel emotional echoes, especially when they're connected to violence." She shuddered involuntarily and looked away from the paintings.
"Well, as I said, you're quite right," Suzanne continued. "Georgia's body was found in this room, which was then the dining room." She called their attention to the painting next to Georgia's and continued.
"This was Lillian," she said of the gorgeous, raven haired woman. "She was the brothel's bookkeeper and handled all of the financial matters. Her body was found in one of the first floor rooms in the east wing. The redhead in the painting next to her is Victoria, who was responsible for managing the girls who worked here. She saw to it they had proper attire and made sure they comported themselves properly. She also handled the indoctrination of new girls, showing them the ropes so to speak. She was killed in one of the bedrooms on the second floor, shot as she tried to escape over the balcony."
She pointed to the last portrait and Jeremy had to fight to contain another gasp. He found himself transfixed by the vision of beauty gazing back at him from the painting. All of the Daughters were lovely, but the young woman in the fourth painting was exquisite, almost ethereally beautiful. Long, champagne blond hair framed her face and flowed over her shoulders in loose, corkscrew curls and her eyes were the color of a clear blue sky on a cold winter's day.
"This was Angelique or Angel as she liked to be called. She was the senior Daughter, and she was literally the mother to every girl in the house. The Daughters were the heart of Moonlight House, but Angel, she was its soul."
"And where was she killed?" Jeremy asked, his voice sounding flat.
"Angel wasn't here that night," Suzanne answered. "She was apparently having an affair with a man in Reno, some of the writings I've found say his name was Edwin. When she heard what had happened, she immediately raced back to the house. It had just started to snow and apparently she lost control of her car; it was found in a ravine a few miles west of here. It appears that she survived the crash and tried to make it back to the house on foot; her body was never found."
"That's just horrible," Cassie said. She looked at the paintings again and cocked her head. "Why are they dressed in Victorian gowns? I'd expect them to be wearing something more contemporary for the time."
"I couldn't really answer that," Suzanne said. "Perhaps they did it as a tribute to the original Daughters of the Moon."
Through the rest of the tour Jeremy was oddly quiet. Suzanne showed them the specific rooms where the other two women had allegedly died and which were also the areas with the most paranormal activity. She explained that the house had been renovated in the seventies and opened as a luxury hotel, but it had closed after just five years. The new owners had hoped that the storied past and reports of ghostly activity over the years would draw in tourists, but it had the opposite effect as people were literally driven from their beds in the middle of the night. The reports of activity were varied, from unexplained noises and voices, to full body apparitions, but they all had one common thread; an overwhelming feeling of anger and malevolence. People simply felt uncomfortable in the mansion.
"I confess that I don't like to be in here after dark," Suzanne told them.
As they returned to the ground floor, Suzanne led them into the courtyard. At its center, between two large hot tubs, a huge quartz monolith rose from the floor to a height of almost eight feet. The base of the crystal was surrounded by bluish rock which she explained was silver ore, and the crystal itself was twined with veins of silver.
"It's believed this was why William Anders chose to build his mansion here," she told them. "Legend says that when he found this crystal he was so mesmerized by its beauty that even his lust for wealth was overwhelmed."
"It's so beautiful," Cassie murmured. "I've never heard anything like it."
"What are you talking about, Cassie?" Jeremy asked, shaken from his own thoughts by the almost singsong tone of her voice.
"Can't you hear it?" Cassie asked. "It's like music, beautiful music."
The pretty blonde raised her right hand and reached out to touch the crystal. As her flesh made contact with the stone she let out a soft moan and her head fell back. Jeremy touched her on the shoulder and she turned to face him, a look of beatific bliss on her face. He was about to ask if she was all right when she let out another, louder moan and her eyes rolled up into her head. She began swaying, her hand never breaking contact with the crystal.
Jeremy was uncertain as to what he should do, and when he glanced at Suzanne he was surprised to see that she was watching Cassie not with shock but rather what looked like amusement. The blond girl's breathing became rapid and heavy as her left hand rose, cupping her breast and squeezing. Then she let out a cry, not of pain but of pleasure. Her body tensed for a moment and she let out another, longer cry before she went completely limp, collapsing into Jeremy's arms.
"Are you sure you're up to this?" Kim asked an hour later.
"I'm fine, really," Cassie said, sitting on the sleeper sofa in their motor home/tech center.
"So can you tell me what happened in there?"
Cassie's cheeks turned bright red. Even though they were alone in the RV she looked around before answering.
"I had the most mind blowing orgasm ever," she said. "I don't know any other way to describe it, Kim. It was … it was incredible."
"Maybe I should go touch that rock," Kim giggled.
"Look, I know you guys don't believe in what I say I can do," Cassie said, her voice rising angrily. "I don't care what you think; what I felt in there was real."
"Hey, back down a bit sweetie, I wasn't trying to say it wasn't," Kim said. "I am skeptical about ESP, but I don't discount it either. And believe it or not, I like you Cassie, and I don't believe you're making this up."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have snapped like that," Cassie said, running a hand through her hair. "It's just … as good as it felt, it scared me too. For a minute it was like I wasn't myself, it was like I was feeling through someone else. I've never experienced anything like that."
Kim looked thoughtful for a moment. "You know, crystals do resonate, and there are those who believe they can absorb spiritual and emotional energy. Maybe you were picking up on that; maybe you were sensing … I don't know how to put it…."
"All the horniness that's been unleashed in that place over the years?" Cassie suggested.
Kim stared at her for an instant and then started giggling again. Cassie kept a straight face for a moment before she too burst into laughter. They got so loud that Jeremy stuck his head in to see what was going on, but he retreated as Kim waved him out.
"I think we better keep this theory to ourselves, especially from Greg," Kim said as she got her laughter under control. "I am definitely going to give the crystal a good feel when I get in there though!"
Kim and Cassie were still giggling at some private joke when they came out of the RV, but Jeremy was happy to see that Cassie seemed to be recovered from whatever she had experienced. Like Kim, he was skeptical when it came to extrasensory perception, but even though he'd known Cassie a relatively short time he trusted her and didn't for a moment believe she had faked her reaction.
"Are you up to this?" he asked, echoing Kim's earlier concern.
"Yes I am totally fine," Cassie assured him. She turned to look at Kim and they both started giggling again.
"All right, but we're going to change things up a little," Jeremy said after sharing a confused look with Greg and Tom. "Cassie, you're with me; I don't want you going anywhere alone tonight. Kim, you and Greg pair up for the first round while Tom monitors from the tech center. We've got remotes in the three hot spots inside and the fourth is in the back where people have reported a female apparition walking the grounds. Now if we're all ready, let's go lights out and get this investigation started."
Tom entered the RV to begin monitoring the remotes as the others donned tan photographer's vests, their pockets laden with cameras, recorders and other electronic gear. They each carried two small LED flashlights as well The redundancy was because of the peculiar way batteries had a tendency to drain during paranormal investigations. The last thing they wanted was to find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings in total darkness.
Suzanne had left after the tour, so they had the place to themselves. Once they were inside they quickly went about turning out what lights were on. After that was done Kim and Greg moved to the second floor, while Jeremy and Cassie began exploring the first.
They made their way into the lounge first, and while Jeremy scanned the area with a thermal imaging camera Cassie took out a digital recorder. Jeremy was impressed; she'd never been on an investigation before, but she immediately began asking questions as the recorder ran in an attempt to capture electronic voice phenomena; disembodied voices that appeared on recordings even though the investigators had heard nothing.
"EVPs kind of creep me out," she said after a while. "Some of the ones I've heard gave me the shivers."
"We've caught some pretty disturbing ones," Jeremy admitted. "At least you have the luxury of hearing them in a nice, well lit room though. Actually hearing a disembodied voice is way creepier."
"You've had that happen?"
Jeremy nodded. "Kim and I were in the basement of this former asylum in West Virginia a few months ago doing EVP work. All of a sudden we heard this really deep voice say, 'You're not supposed to be in here.'"
"Oh my God!" Cassie gasped. "Did you get it on the recorder?"
"Yep, and it still gives me the shivers."
"I'm not sure whether I want that to happen or not," Cassie said as she moved over to the stage in the corner. She clipped the digital recorder to her vest and spoke into the darkness. "I bet you didn't have anything like this in the fifties. It's for dancing, like this."
As Jeremy watched, Cassie grasped the pole, pulling herself up and hooking her right leg around it. Releasing her left hand she leaned back and spun around the pole as she slid down until her feet touched the stage.
"Wow, you look like you've done that before," he told her.
Cassie giggled. "Well, at the risk of shocking you, Jere, I have to confess something. I work at a strip club."
"Really?" Jeremy asked, his voice rising, much to his chagrin. He shook his head. "Boy did I sound like a total dweeb or what?"
"I didn't think so."
"Well, you did take me a little by surprise, but I don't think any less of you," he told her sincerely.
"I knew you wouldn't," Cassie said as she stepped off the stage. "Just do me a favor and don't tell Greg, okay?"
Jeremy laughed and said, "Deal, but we'll need to make sure you or I review that card in your recorder."
"Oh shit, you're right," Cassie said. "I just confessed my deep dark secret on tape." She walked to the other side of the room and stopped before the portraits of the Daughters of the Moon. "Jere, what was that reaction all about when you saw this painting?"
Jeremy moved to stand beside her in front of the portrait of Angelique. Without answering he took out his wallet and removed an old black-and-white photograph from it. Using the white lights of his flashlight, he illuminated the picture so she could see that it was the spitting image of the blonde beauty in the painting.
"Who is this, Jeremy?"
"My grandmother," he said. "Her name was … Angelique."
Cassie's stunned gaze shifted from the photo to the painting and back again. There was no doubt about it; the woman in the photo was the same one whose painting was before her. She was even wearing the same necklace, a silver chain from which dangled an ornate silver key.
"Did you know this before we came here?" Cassie asked.
"I knew my grandmother had been a prostitute," Jeremy said, "and since I'm confessing my secrets, my mother was one too. She didn't work in a brothel; she was with an escort. My father was one of her clients; I don't even know who he is."
"Um, what was your grandfather's name?"
"Edwin," Jeremy told her. "I thought the same thing you are right now; my mother was born in 1952; she would have been about six when the murders occurred. Angelique must have been with her and my grandfather that night."
"But it only saved her for a little while," Cassie said. "Oh Jeremy, I'm so sorry."
"Thanks," Jeremy said with a sigh. "It does make this investigation much more personal than I'm used to."
"I can imagine," Cassie said, biting her lip. She reached up and turned off the digital recorder before speaking again. "I have another question for you, and it's really, really personal."
Jeremy stiffened and said, "No, I'm not gay."
"Um, that wasn't what I was going to ask," Cassie said. "It's just … well, you have a very feminine spirit. Do you … do you ever feel like you should have been a girl?"
Jeremy froze and for an instant it felt like the entire mansion was closing in around him. Besides his mother Christine Weller, who had been dead for three years now, he had only confessed his secret to two other people, and he knew neither Kim nor Greg would ever have even hinted at it to Cassie. The only way she could possibly have known was if she felt what she said she did, if somehow she could sense the woman inside him.
But she didn't know anything he realized. She hadn't accused him of being transgendered, she was just fishing. Maybe there wasn't anything paranormal about it at all; perhaps she'd just picked up on some careless clue he'd let slip. Kim had cautioned him more than once about his tendency to be less than thorough in removing makeup, and his habit of sometimes letting a feminine mannerism show. Cassie was a bright girl after all, but he could still deflect her suspicion by simply saying no.
The problem was, he didn't want to say no. Instead he lowered himself slowly onto the sofa and then looked up at her.
"All the time," he said softly.
Cassie sat down next to him and put her arm around his shoulder.
"Thank you," she said, "and I'm sorry."
"You really believe she can feel spooks?"
Kim nodded, even though it was a futile gesture in the pitch black bedroom. She and Greg were laying side-by-side on the bed in the room where the redheaded prostitute Victoria had allegedly been murdered. The only light was from the small power LED on the miniDV recorder that Greg was slowly panning around the room. Though she would never have admitted it, big, dark houses had always given her the creeps, and she found his presence very comforting.
"I believe Cassie can sense things we can't," she said aloud. "Whether it's extrasensory or not, I don't know. Maybe she's just more in tune with her normal senses than the rest of us."
"Well, we all have instinctual responses to things," Kim explained. "Like the hair on the back of your neck rising when someone's standing behind you. You don't see them or hear them, but you instinctively know they're there. Maybe Cassie's just more in tune to things like that, so in tune she can sense the presence of a non-corporeal being."
"Yeah but to believe that I'd have to believe in ghosts, which I don't," Greg said.
"That's why you're here, Greggers," Kim said as she pulled out her digital recorder. "You're our pet skeptic." She flicked the recorder on and spoke into the darkness, "Victoria, if you're here, could you speak to us please?"
She paused to listen and allow the recorder a moment of silence to pick up any possible EVPs before continuing her gentle provocation. She asked a series of questions, some directed at Victoria and others to no specific entity. Each time she paused, and Greg was dutifully silent, for a while.
"Are there any dead hookers that wanna come play?" he said finally.
"Greg, you don't have to be crude," Kim told him.
"Come on, Vikki," Greg persisted. "I've got twenty bucks, how about a phantom blow job?" A giggle sounded from the darkness and Greg said, "See, even you thought that was funny."
"That wasn't me," Kim said.
The giggle was repeated, louder this time. Then they both clearly heard the sound of the door handle clicking and then a thump. Kim and Greg sat upright, their flashlights snapping on and sweeping to the door. The brilliant white LEDs flooded the room with light and they could see the door slowly swinging shut after having bounced off the stop.
They looked at each other and then jumped from the bed, rushing to the door and out into the hall. Kim swept her flashlight left as Greg looked right but there was not a soul in sight.
"Tom, please tell me you just saw the door open up here," Kim said after keying her radio.
"Sorry, the camera was panning the other way," Tom's voice replied.
"Holy shit!" Greg exclaimed.
Kim turned to find him holding the thermal imager and staring at the small screen. He flashed his light down the hallway in the direction he was pointing the imager but there was no one there. Then he rewound the recording and held the screen so Kim could see it. Her eyes widened as a red and yellow heat signature appeared, a very human, very female shaped heat signature that walked across the hall.
"Jeremy, Cassie, where are you guys?" Kim spoke into the radio.
"In the east wing," Jeremy replied. "We thought we heard someone walking around down here. Do you guys have something?"
"I think you could say that," Kim responded. "Give us five minutes to check some things out and then we'll meet you at the tech center."
"We checked that door a dozen times," Greg said with a shake of his head. "There was no way it could have opened by itself. It's just like a hotel door; it locks automatically and you have to use the keycard to get it open."
"You're sure it was closed?" Jeremy asked.
"Positive," Kim said. "The closer on it is pretty robust; if you just let it go even an inch from the jam it clicks tight."
"All right, you guys go back up there and check room-by-room," Jeremy said. "The master keycards Suzanne gave us will open any door in the mansion." He turned to Cassie and said, "How about watching the monitors for a bit and give Tom a chance to do some investigating?"
"Sure," Cassie said with a grin. "It's warmer in the RV than it is in the house."
Once they were inside the mansion Jeremy and Tom did a more thorough sweep of the east wing. That section of the mansion was divided into seven rooms; two with large Jacuzzis, one large party room and four smaller themed bedrooms. Two of those rooms were fairly sedate; one decked out in a jungle theme and the other in romantic shades of lavender and plum. The third room had a futuristic science fiction feel, and in addition to the obligatory bed it contained a rather imposing looking sex machine. The fourth room was for those into BDSM, and was decorated like a dungeon, complete with padded shackles attached to the bed's wrought iron frame.
The Dungeon was the room where Lillian had died, and they spent several minutes in there checking for cold spots and unexplainable electromagnetic fields. When Jeremy had entered there earlier with Cassie she had become quite agitated, saying she could sense a great deal of pain and anger. Kim had called on the radio before they could do any real investigating, and now it seemed to be inactive.
"Let's go check out the courtyard," Jeremy suggested. "I want to see if we can get any readings off that crystal."
"I'd like to see it myself," Tom said.
They made their way to the foyer and out into the courtyard. The night air was clear and cold and overhead the full moon shown brightly, providing more than enough light. Tom paused as they entered the courtyard, staring around and then up at the sky.
"I wonder if this was down intentionally," he said.
"What's that?" Jeremy asked.
"The mansion is oriented east to west," Tom explained. "See how the moon is passing almost directly overhead? With this orientation it'll cast light into the courtyard almost all night long."
"Well, Anders did name it Moonlight House, or Casa del Claro de Luna," Jeremy said. "Maybe that's why."
They walked over to the monolith and checked it with both an EMF detector and thermal sensor. There were no unusual electromagnetic readings, but the crystal was warmer than it should have been. When Tom swept pointed the thermal imager at it, it glowed orange in the view screen. Lowering the imager, he reached out and touched it before Jeremy could tell him not to.
"It's warm," Tom said, "but I don't feel anything else."
Tom removed his hand and moved away, sweeping the courtyard with the imager. Jeremy considered the huge crystal for a moment and then reached out and touched it with his right hand.
A wild fusillade of sensations ripped through him, too fast and numerous to get much out of. His senses were overwhelmed by feelings he had never experienced before, feelings he couldn't experience because the body he had been born with didn't have the proper equipment. He felt breasts jiggling and bouncing on his chest as something deliciously stiff was thrust repeatedly between his legs. His body and position seemed to change from one instant to the next; sometimes he was large breasted and sometimes small; sometimes he was on his back, other times on his knees or side. Several times he felt as though her were being penetrated in more than one place, and with each shift the pleasure mounted. His beleaguered brain could scarcely keep up with the sensations and he felt as though he were spiraling into a pit of pleasure from which there was no escape -- and no desire to escape.
Then it was over, and as he stared up at the moon overhead he felt a sense of profound sadness. Tom was standing over him, a worried look on his face.
"Are you okay, Jere? I heard you shout and when I got over here you were flat on your back."
"I must have slipped," Jeremy said as he started to rise.
Tom helped him to his feet, and after checking to make sure he wasn't injured he turned his attention back to the crystal. He was sorely tempted to touch it again, even though the overwhelming sensory input would surely drive him mad. A part of his mind told him it would be worth it, to be forever trapped in that world of bliss, but he shook it off.
"Jere, do you copy?" Cassie's voice called over the radio.
Jeremy keyed his radio and said, "I copy, Cassie, what's up?"
"I need you out here," Cassie said. "I've got movement on camera four."
"Go ahead," Tom said when Jeremy hesitated. "I'll be fine."
Jeremy nodded. Next to Cassie, Tom was the youngest member of the team, but he was a seasoned investigator that had been with them for over a year. This was Cassie's first case, and she'd already had some pretty intense personal experiences.
"I'm on my way, Cassie."
When Jeremy reached the RV he couldn't believe his eyes. The monitor for camera four clearly showed a woman on the back lawn, her silver gown sweeping over the winter rye. As he zoomed the image in closer he could see the grass actually moving; this was no spirit but an actual physical manifestation.
"Stay here, I'm going to check this out," he told Cassie.
"You shouldn't go alone," she cautioned.
"Someone has to watch the monitors," Jeremy replied. "Tom's on his own in there right now; you need to keep an eye on him."
Cassie started to protest but then bit her lip and nodded.
"Be careful, Jere," she said, her forehead lined with worry. "Something incredible is going on here … but I … I've got a bad feeling."
"I'll be careful," Jeremy promised.
He was turning to leave when Cassie grabbed him, pulling his face close and kissing him firmly on the lips. Jeremy was so surprised he didn't resist as she slipped her tongue into his mouth. His arms rose, pulling her closer as he gathered his wits and returned the kiss with enthusiasm.
After several seconds they separated and a breathless Cassie said, "Just so you know, I'm bi; I like kissing boys and girls."
Jeremy gave her a lopsided grin and then left the RV. He was running as his feet hit the ground even though he still felt shaky and a bit weak after his experience in the courtyard. He shook it off as best he could and rounded the back corner of the mansion, half expecting her to be gone.
She wasn't, and as he caught sight of her he stopped, afraid that if he was too hasty she might vanish. His mind told him this was likely a residual haunting; something akin to a spiritual video recording that was neither intelligent nor aware of its surroundings. That theory was trashed, however, as she looked at him and then quite obviously gestured for him to come closer.
He started moving again, this time at a walk, and as he drew closer she turned and started moving towards the fence at the rear of the brothel. She didn't look back, and when she reached the iron bars she passed through them as though they weren't there, right next to the rear gate. Jeremy quickened his pace, his heart sinking as he saw that the gate was secured with a sturdy chain and padlock.
As he reached the gate and started to slow he heard an audible click. The lock popped open and the chain fell away, then the gate swung slowly open. Jeremy paused before walking through and the apparition did the same, turning to look at him expectantly. He stood there in the gate and keyed his radio.
"Cassie are you seeing this?" he asked. The only answer he received was static. He tried again with no better luck.
Caution warred with desire; he knew he should return to the RV and make sure Cassie was all right. He knew it was foolhardy to follow this specter alone. But knowing all that didn't help; how could he not follow her?
She smiled and gestured once more for him to follow, and Jeremy stepped through the gate and did so. He quickly found out that there was no point in trying to close the distance between them. No matter how fast he moved, she always stayed about ten yards ahead of him, and despite the light from the full moon running on the rocky terrain was not advisable. She wanted him to follow, but she didn't want him to catch her, at least not yet, which meant she was leading him somewhere.
Settling into a fast walk, Jeremy continued to purse what could only be the ghost of his long dead grandmother, Angelique. In the moonlight he could clearly see her pale blond hair dancing in the breeze, and the brief glimpses he had gotten of her face matched that of the woman in the picture he carried and the painting in the lounge. He realized he didn't even know her last name; his own surname came from his grandfather, Edwin Weller, as his mother had never married.
fter leaving the mansion grounds she led him to the west. He had to pick his way carefully, and a couple of times he lost sight of her as she passed a jumble of rocks or crested a rise. She was always there, waiting for him to catch up however. The chase continued for almost a half hour and as she disappeared around a large collection of rocks Jeremy figured they must have traveled around a mile from the mansion. As he rounded the rocks, expecting to see her just ahead he saw … nothing. He looked around frantically but she was nowhere to be seen.
"Why did you bring me here?" he shouted.
"Because this is where I died."
He spun at the sound of the voice and there she was, even more beautiful than her picture. This was no ephemeral specter; she had substance, and as she reached out and gently touched his face he could feel the pressure of flesh against flesh. Her hand was cold but not icy and as she gently caressed his cheek she seemed to grow warmer.
"Is it really you … are you my grandmother?" Jeremy asked.
"Yes, Jeremy," she said. "You can call me Angel if you like."
"I can't believe this," Jeremy said, his hand rising to touch hers. "There's so much I want to ask you…."
"I know, my darling," Angelique replied, "but we have very little time. Your friends are in terrible danger."
After Jeremy left him, Tom made a sweep of the lounge with the thermal imager and then started his digital recorder. He began going through the standard questions in hopes of catching an EVP response, but he wasn't at all prepared when a very feminine voice responded aloud.
"Hello there cutie, my name's Georgia."
Tom turned, his jaw dropping open as he found himself face-to-face with the caramel skinned beauty from the painting behind him. His jaw worked soundlessly for several seconds and Georgia giggled.
"Awww, cat got your tongue baby?" she cooed. "I can help you find it."
With supernatural speed the specter closed the ten feet between them. Her hands rose, grasping Tom's face gently as she pressed her lips to his. The gangly young man tensed up for an instant as a sense of pure terror raced through him, but as her tongue expertly probed his mouth he felt himself relax. A part of his mind still screamed that he should flee, he should race to the doors and out of this place, but instead his arms wrapped around her body and he pulled her close.
She was cool to the touch but as they kissed her skin rapidly grew warmer. His rational mind told him this was impossible; ghosts didn't have physical form. But her lips were moist and pleasant, and her breasts were soft against his chest. Rationality battled what his senses were telling him, and rationality lost.
"Let's get all this offa you," she told him as their lips parted.
Slowly she unzipped his vest, her eyes never leaving his. Her hands caressed his shoulders and then she pushed the vest down his arms. It got hung up on the thermal imager still grasped in his right hand, but she gently pried it from his grip and tossed it aside. It hit the hardwood floor with the unpleasant sound of shattering glass.
"You won't be needin' that stuff for what we're about to do."
Tom blinked and shook his head as the vest clattered to the floor. The noise, and the realization she had just casually destroyed a five-thousand dollar piece of equipment cleared his foggy mind somewhat. He realized just what it was she was suggesting and began stammering in half-hearted protest.
"I can't … I mean we shouldn't … I mean I've … I've never … never actually…."
"Oh my, are you a virgin?" she laughed, a sweet, enticing laugh. "That makes me really happy, baby; I get to be your first. Don't you worry none; I'll make this so good you'll remember me forever."
He tried to protest further but she smothered his voice with another kiss. A sudden, icy chill swept through him and he felt the desire, the need to get closer to her growing warmth. Their lips never parted as she pushed him gently backwards, until his legs hit the sofa and he fell onto it.
As she dropped to her knees and began unbuckling his belt, Tom shivered both from anticipation and the chill that had seized his body. He'd had dreams like this but he'd never believed he'd see such fantasies realized -- that such a beautiful, sensual woman would ever be interested in him.
Her hand reached into his pants and wrapped around his already erect penis. Tom groaned as warmth seemed to sweep into him, spreading from her touch. Then she leaned forward, her mouth opening to take him in and he cried out as warmth became fiery, blazing passion.
There was no stopping now, nor even any thought of doing so. Rationality had fled, his ego and super-ego receding to obscurity as his id reigned supreme. With a confidence he would have scarcely believed had he been able to consider it, he raised his hands to her head, encouraging her as she bobbed up and down. Incredibly, his member seemed to grow even harder under her enthusiastic fellatio.
When she stopped her oral ministration Tom felt an instant of aggravation -- until she stood up and let her nightgown fall away from her body. She lowered herself onto the sofa and lay back, spreading her legs in invitation. Suddenly, magically nude, Tom slid between her legs. Her hands guided him as he entered her and then he began thrusting in long, slow strokes.
"Oh yes, baby," she moaned. "It's been so long, so long."
Encouraged by her impassioned vocalizations, Tom increased his pace. His breathing became rapid and heavy, his exhalations producing thick clouds of vapor. His body felt like ice but he hardly noticed, too intent upon stoking the fire that was Georgia. All sense of time disappeared and their love making seemed to go on for hours. When she came for the first time he felt powerful and pleased that he had outlasted her, and her second orgasm only strengthened this. By the time she neared climax for a third time, he knew he wouldn't last much longer.
They exploded in ecstasy together, and even as he shot his seed into her Tom felt her fire rushing through him. His climax began around his genitals but quickly spread through his body and the room began to swirl about him. Then for just an instant everything vanished; sight, sound, even feeling was gone.
When his senses returned, everything was wrong. He was no longer in the lounge, he was in the kitchen and it looked completely different. The modern appliances were gone, and though he tried to look around he found himself unable to move.
"Hurry, and keep quiet," he heard himself say, but it was Georgia's voice, not his.
He was gripped by terror but there was also a sense of resolve as he ushered shadowy, indistinct figures along. The shades were passing through a hidden door in the kitchen, descending a set of stairs, and Tom realized that he must be dreaming, and with sudden insight he knew what he was dreaming of.
The gunshots had alerted them, and Georgia and her sisters had sprung quickly into action. They had to protect the other girls and their visitors, so while Victoria and Lillian went to the foyer to delay the killers, Georgia quickly and quietly alerted the rest of the house and led her charges down the back stairs to the kitchen. Angry shouts, followed by screams, told her that she was running out of time, and her sisters were likely buying that for her with their lives.
The last of her charges disappeared down the stairs, but instead of following, Georgia sealed the entrance and stole from the kitchen into the dining room. It would have been easy for her to flee, but she couldn't leave her sisters behind. She was halfway across the dining room when she heard gunshots from upstairs -- but worse than that she felt Victoria die. She fell to her knees and stifled a cry of agony and grief, tears flowing down her face. Seconds later the sensation was repeated as Lillian was murdered -- and then it was her turn.
The men found her, curled on the floor of the dining room. They shouted questions, demanding to know where the others were but she wouldn't speak. As they beat her she screamed in pain but she never, ever begged. Her inner screams were different, however -- in her mind she did beg, she begged Angelique to hurry, to save her, but even as she did she knew it was futile.
The torture went on for an eternity, and somewhere in the process Georgia mercifully died. Tom experienced every lingering second of her death and with equal clarity he felt the last thing she had -- rage and hatred, not for the men who were killing her but for the one who had betrayed and failed her and her sisters.
Then Tom felt the reality of his world returning. The horrific vision was over, but his personal nightmare had just begun. As he lay there on the sofa, his breathing ragged and labored, he found he couldn't move. Georgia was still there, on top of him now, but as he stared up at her she seemed to melt away into a gelatinous mass that first enveloped him and then seeped into his body through every pore.
Tom's body began to convulse and he could feel himself changing. He cried out soundlessly as breasts swelled on his chest and his entire frame was molded, shaped into an exact duplicate of Georgia. His pale skin darkened to a rich caramel color and his hair grew longer, flowing down his shoulders and caressing his new breasts with tight, nappy curls.
It was over in a matter of seconds, and once the transformation was complete Tom felt himself rise. His hands rose seemingly of their own volition to caress his new curves and he felt his lips spread into a smile. Slowly he walked over to the bar and as he gazed into the mirror, the smiling face that stared back at him was not his own.
Georgia gazed at her reflection with unconcealed glee and laughed, her hands continuing to roam over her new, deliciously living flesh. Then her eyes locked with her reflection, and she spoke.
"I did say you'd remember me forever, baby," she said.
Trapped within a body that was no longer his, Tom screamed in protest -- but only Georgia heard his cries.
In the tech center Cassie was on the verge of panic. First Jeremy had followed the specter through the rear gate and disappeared, and then the remote camera monitoring the lounge had failed, just as Tom had entered the room. She'd tried the radio repeatedly, but no one was responding, and she didn't know what to do.
"Take a breath and think," she told herself.
With a conscious effort she got her fear under control and recalled what Jeremy had told her when she joined the group. Radio problems weren't uncommon, and the first step in the event of a communications failure was to replace the battery. With trembling hands she popped open the back of her radio and removed the battery, replacing it with a fresh unit from the charging rack. After she snapped the cover back in place she checked to make sure she was on the right channel and then keyed the mic.
"Can anyone hear me?" she almost shouted. "Please, someone respond!"
"We hear you, Cassie," Kim's voice replied and a wave of relief washed over her. She quickly relayed what had been happening, fighting back tears as she spoke.
"Okay sweetie, just take a breath and try to calm down," Kim's voice told her. "I'm sure Jeremy is fine; with the terrain around this place his signal is probably just being blocked. Greg's heading downstairs now to check on Tom and he'll get back to you as soon as he finds him."
"All right, but please be careful," Cassie replied.
She set the radio down and turned her attention back to the monitor. The feed from the lounge returned suddenly, and she thought she saw a figure moving through the door behind the bar into the kitchen. It was too quick for her to get any indication of who it was, and she didn't dare try to play the recording back.
A few seconds later Greg appeared on the monitor and she could hear him calling out for Tom. He walked over to the remote and the image jiggled as he checked the cables. Then his voice issued from the speaker of her radio.
"The cables look good here, Cassie, do you still have no picture?"
"It came back just before you walked in," she replied. "I thought I saw someone go into the kitchen just as the picture came back."
"I'll check it out."
She watched on the monitor as Greg walked around behind the bar and down to the door leading into the kitchen. Her tension returned as he disappeared from sight, but she was momentarily distracted f as she caught movement on the second floor camera. She manipulated the joystick and panned the camera to the left to see Kim entering the bedroom where Victoria had died.
More movement caught her attention and she sighed with relief as Greg reappeared. She lost sight of him again as he left the lounge and headed for the east wing but she could hear his voice as both the downstairs remotes picked up him calling out for Tom.
She forced herself to relax. Tom was probably in the courtyard, and with the doors closed he wouldn't be able to hear Greg. Either he would return shortly, or Greg would check the court yard after he didn't find him in the east wing.
Several minutes passed and then Greg appeared on the monitor for the Dungeon Room camera. Cassie already knew that room was empty as she panned the camera around it several times. She was about to call Greg on her radio and suggest he check the courtyards when she froze.
A figure had just entered the room behind Greg; a young woman of average height with long, black hair. She turned and smiled at the camera and Cassie instantly recognized her as Lillian. Her heart began racing and she snatched up her radio.
"Greg, look out! She's right behind you!"
Greg didn't respond, and as Cassie watched in horror the ghostly prostitute reached out a hand and touched him on the shoulder.
"What do you mean?' Jeremy demanded. "What kind of danger?"
"From my sisters," Angelique explained. "They don't really understand what they're doing, they're just in so much pain and now that you've fully awakened them, they have the means to end it."
"Stop right there," Jeremy said. "The other Daughters are your sisters? And what do you mean about me awakening them."
Angelique sighed and sat down on a low rock. To say it was surreal was an understatement, but Jeremy was too concerned for his friends to think about such things at the moment.
"I'll try to explain everything as quickly as possible," Angelique. "It will go much faster if you don't interrupt me, however."
Jeremy nodded and she smiled, gesturing for him to join her on the rock. He settled down next to her and she swiveled to face him.
"The others aren't my sisters in the sense that we were born of the same parents," she began. "Our bonding goes much deeper than blood though. The first thing you have to understand is that we were not the last in a long line of women who were called the Daughters of the Moon, we were the originals. I was born on June 10th in the year 1841, and I was not yet twenty years old when William Anders brought me to Moonlight House."
Jeremy started to speak but a look from her silenced him.
"The mansion is built upon … a nexus of mystical energy. It resides in a cavern under the courtyard; the crystal there extends much deeper than anyone knows and emerges from the cavern ceiling directly over the Source." She paused and smiled. "That's what William called it … it's like a pool of pure, crystal clear water but it glows with a silvery light. I was the first girl he introduced to it; he took me to the cavern and had me bathe in the pool and when I emerged, I discovered I had been … bound to the power. Over the next year he brought more girls to the house; Lillian was next, then Victoria and finally Georgia. Each one of them bonded with the Source as I had, and we became sisters in spirit if not blood. We experienced each others feelings and could even touch each others minds."
She paused, sensing that he could hold his questions no longer, and nodded for him to speak.
"But what is it?"
"That's very difficult to explain," she answered. "I suppose simply put, the Source is sex; not lust so much, though it can certainly inspire that, but it's more like passion and sensuality. It's a repository for the pure, unambiguous energy that is a product of lovemaking. How it came to be I can't say, and I don't believe William knew either.
"The Source empowered us; it halted the passing of time and protected us from illness. It even enhanced our physical beauty as well as our … charisma. As much as it empowered us though, we also empowered it. The crystal is like a collector that gathers in sexual energy, but it needs human conduits to accomplish that. When we bathed in the pool, we became those conduits."
"Is it alive?" Jeremy asked.
Angelique shook her head. "It has neither thought or purpose, just desire. It's nether good nor evil as well; it gives of itself freely to all around it. That was what made Moonlight House so popular; those who came there left energized and refreshed, and even their infirmities could be healed over time. The girls who worked with us enjoyed the same benefits as we did, though to a lesser extent. Their lives were extended and they never grew ill."
"But you died," Jeremy said.
A cloud settled over her pretty face and she nodded. "The Source protected us from aging and illness, but we were still as susceptible as any other to violence. We could be killed by accidental or intentional injury. My sisters were murdered and I … I was rushing to save them when I lost control of my car and crashed. I was badly injured, but I managed to pull myself from the wreckage and drag myself here before the cold and my injuries overcame me." She sucked in a sharp breath and sobbed, "Oh Jeremy, I tried so hard, but I was so cold and tired I just couldn't go any further!"
It seemed even more surreal as Jeremy pulled his sobbing, dead grandmother close and held her as she cried, and yet it seemed so right. Her body seemed to grow warmer as he held her, even as the night air around him seemed suddenly much colder.
She drew back and said, "You have to be careful; physical contact with me will sap your life force. Until tonight, my sisters and I were no more than shades, able to interact with your world only on a very limited basis. When you touched the crystal, it recognized you as being of my blood and drew some energy from you."
"That's why I collapsed and felt so weak," Jeremy said. His eyes flew wide as the full implication of what she was saying struck home. "That's what you meant; your sisters can do the same thing to my friends!"
Angelique nodded. "And unlike me, they want to do it, Jeremy. You have to understand … because of our bonding, we thrived on human contact. We quite literally loved every man we were with, because being with them fulfilled a need in us. But we were cut off from that and became just shadows."
"Until now," Jeremy said. "What happens if one of you drains all the life force from a person? Will they die?"
"Not precisely," Angelique told him. "Once we've taken their energy and made it our own, we can enter their body and claim it."
"You mean possess it."
Angelique shook her head. "It's much more than that. Once we claim the body it changes -- it becomes us, literally. The spirit of the original owner remains but is trapped, able to observe and experience everything but control nothing. Eventually, their personality will fade and they will exist as only an echo within us. Georgia has already claimed your friend Tom, and very soon Lillian and Victoria will have the other two."
Jeremy jumped up from the rock and keyed his radio, shouting for his friends to get out of the house.
"It's too late for that, Jeremy," Angelique said. "My sisters won't allow you to warn your friends and they won't let the other girl enter the mansion. She's different; her abilities would make it impossible for them to seduce her."
Jeremy whirled, his face a mask of rage. "Is that why you brought me out here, to take my body?"
Angelique's face was stricken with horror and she shook her head.
"Jeremy, I could never hurt you! I would rather exist for eternity as I have than bring you to harm!"
"Then why?" Jeremy demanded. "Why lure me away from my friends!"
"To protect you," she told him. "I had to get you out of the house. Even though my sisters have all the bodies they need, they could still use the power of the Source to seduce and transform you."
"To what end?" Jeremy asked. "What would be the point?"
"They need you to fully access the Source. I told you I was the first; my bonding with the Source was more complete than theirs. I could do much more than channel energy to it -- I could control it. If I had been here that night, I could have stopped those men from hurting them, and if I had made it back to the mansion, I could have rejoined their sprits with their bodies and restored them. But to access that power fully, they have to transform you; the Source can't bond with a male.
"The other reason they want you is to punish me. I failed to protect them, and I failed to restore them. Their rage and hatred for me, combined with the violence of their deaths, has corrupted the Source."
"They're insane if they think I'll go back in there willingly," Jeremy said.
"Yes, their hate has driven them mad, but they're not fools, Jeremy," Angelique said. "You're forgetting Cassie; they couldn't seduce her and take her body, but once they have true physical form she will be powerless to resist them. They'll lure her into the mansion and take her to the Source, and once she bathes in its power she will be bound here forever just as we were."
"And when I go in to save her, they'll have me too."
Angelique nodded. "When they change you, they'll make you forget who you were. You'll control the power of the Source, but they will control you … and even if you retain some small fragment of who you were, you will love them for it because they'll have given you what you've always desired. They'll have made you whole."
"Because I want to be a girl."
"Because you are a girl," she told him. "If I hadn't died, my sweet Christie would have grown to adulthood here with me, and if she had chosen to would have taken her place as a Daughter of the Moon. When you were born you would have been born female as you should have been. Unfortunately, she was long separated from the Source when you were conceived; she retained enough of a connection that you were born with a female spirit but it's trapped in a male body."
"There must be a way to stop this!" Jeremy raged.
"Stop it, no," Angelique said with a sad shake of her head. "There is a way to free your friends, however. You won't be able to restore their bodies once they've been transformed, but you can help me heal my sisters so they can move on. Your friends' old lives will be over, but at least they will have some control over their new existence."
"And what, live forever here as prostitutes?"
"That will happen whether we free my sisters or not," Angelique told him. "Would you rather have them trapped within bodies they can't control, until they slowly fade into obscurity, everything they were lost?"
"No, I wouldn't," Jeremy admitted. "So what do I have to do?"
Angelique pointed to a cleft in the nearby rocks. "In there you'll find my remains. The power of the Source protected them so they weren't carried away by vermin. My pendant is there, a silver key and chain. It literally is the key to saving your friends and freeing my sisters."
Jeremy took his flashlight from his vest and clicked on the white LEDs. Then he got down on his hands and knees and crawled into the dark niche. A shudder ran through his body as he realized Angelique had likely done the very same thing all those years ago in a futile attempt to shield herself from the elements. He choked back tears as he thought of what she must have endured as she slowly faded into darkness, all alone and consumed by the guilt of having failed her beloved sisters.
He expected it to take longer, but apparently the Source had protected her not only from vermin but from decay as well, at least to an extent. Her mummified remains were relatively easy to find in the confined space, covered by only a thin layer of dirt. Gingerly her removed the pendant from around her neck and backed out of the crevice.
When he tried to give her the pendant she shook her head. "I can't touch it. Even though I have physical form, it's essentially an illusion that won't last. That's why my sisters need your friends; when the power the Source took from you is consumed, they'll become shades again."
"So what does the key do?" Jeremy asked.
"Nothing, really," Angelique answered. "It was just a symbol, but it's charged with the power of the Source. I've been separated from the Source for so long that I need it to establish a connection."
Angelique rose from the rock and turned away, letting out a heavy sigh. She didn't speak for a long time, and when she finally turned back to face him there were tears in her eyes.
"This is the hard part, Jeremy," she said. "My sisters have barred me from entering the house, and I can't fight their combined strength. But I have to enter the Source in order to cleanse it and free my sisters, and for that I need a real body."
"Meaning you need mine," Jeremy said. "If you transform me, won't they stop you from coming in?"
"Yes they would, but I can enter your body without transforming it immediately," she said. "In effect, I'll be a passenger in your body. You'll still be in control, but I'll be able to guide you. Once we enter the Source, however, you will be transformed and you'll loose that control -- which means you'll be placing a great deal of trust in me."
"I do trust you, Angel," Jeremy said without hesitation. "And I don't really have a lot of choice."
"Then we best get started," Angel said. "Place the key around your neck; it will serve as my connection to the Source so I can enter your body. Then prepare yourself; this will be a little unpleasant."
Jeremy slipped the chain over his head and tried to steel himself for what was to come. Angelique's body shimmered for an instant and then faded into a translucent mist that swept forward and surrounded him. The light of the moon disappeared as darkness claimed him, and he felt the bitter cold of death all around him.
All of the cameras had failed after the ghost of Lillian had reached out for Greg and when they returned a few minutes later he was gone, just like Tom. Worse than that, she could see Kim, her naked body restrained by unseen forces on the bed in the second floor room.
"Oh God, somebody help me!" she screamed, her voice coming through the speakers shatteringly shrill.
Cassie lifted her radio and tried to reach Jeremy one more time before casting the useless thing aside. She was frightened beyond words, but Kim was her friend and she knew the petite brunette would have faced down demons if it were Cassie in trouble.
"And that may be exactly what I'm about to do," Cassie said, her voice trembling.
Her shaking legs threatened to collapse as she left the RV, but she refused to let her fear consume her. Fighting the queasiness in her stomach she crossed the parking lot to the service door, flicking on her flashlight before entering the mansion.
As she mounted the stairs to the second floor she could hear Kim crying out, but there was something different about her tone. The terror was gone, replaced by what sounded very much like ecstasy. As she drew closer to the bedroom door she heard another voice as well, slightly lower in pitch than Kim's soprano but no less ardent in its cries of passion.
When she got to the door she reached for her keycard but before she got it the lock clicked and the door handle moved. The door swung slowly open, though there was no one on the other side, and the cries of passion grew suddenly louder.
Kim certainly didn't seem to be in distress or under restraint as she withed on the bed with a tall young woman with wine red hair. Victoria lifted her head from between Kim's legs and looked right at Cassie, a smile that seemed inviting rather than threatening on her face.
"Please don't stop!" Kim cried, her hands reaching out to Victoria's crotch.
The redheaded spirit squealed with delight and shifted slightly, straddling Kim's body as she thrust her crotch into the brunette's face. Then she lowered her head, her tongue flicking out to her vulva.
Cassie knew she should do something, but she didn't know what. She was about to call out to Kim, to try and break her from whatever spell she was under when she flet a presence behind her. Soft, enticing hands reached out, divesting her of her vest and then gently fondling her breasts.
Lillian and Georgia moved closer, their tongues flicking over her ears and across her neck. Cassie was transfixed for a moment but she recovered her wits and tried to pull free. They didn't try to stop her, but the only place she could run was further into the bedroom.
"Come on, Cassie, don't be that way," Lillian said, her hands coming up to caress her naked breasts. "Greggers has been wanting to get into your pants for sooooo long, and now that he's here in me, he can enjoy it so much better than he could have as a man."
"G-Greg?" Cassie stuttered. Her horrified eyes shifted to the brown skinned girl next to Lillian and she nodded.
"I had such fun with Tommy," Georgia cooed. "And now we're both going to have fun with you."
Kim cried out on the bed, a long, ragged cry of orgasmic bliss and Cassie turned in time to see Victoria melt away. Then Kim's body began to contort and the look of pleasure on her face gave way to terror. Before Cassie's stunned eyes her friend's body transformed, and in a matter of seconds Victoria lay where Kim had been. The redhead rose, smiling as she touched herself.
"Now she has a hot body like she's always wanted," the redhead told Cassie. "She never told you how envious she was of you, but know she doesn't feel that way anymore."
Cassie backed away as the three now very real women slowly closed in on her. As she did, she reached out with her sense like she never had before, trying to find out if she could detect anything of her friends.
She found them, and the flood of horror that washed over her was almost crippling. They weren't in physical pain but the emotional anguish she felt, especially from Tom and Greg, was gut wrenching. It was less intense from Kim, but there was another level to her fear, and it was directed at Cassie. The blonde sensitive realized her friend knew what the women intended, and she was afraid for Cassie.
"You're hurting them!" Cassie cried. "Please stop … they never did anything to you!"
"They'll get used to it," Georgia said. "Eventually they'll become one with us, and their turmoil will fade."
"And they'll fade too!" Cassie screamed. "You're murdering them, just like you were murdered. That makes you as bad as the men who took your lives!"
That caused the three women to pause, and they looked at each other hesitantly. Cassie felt a surge of hope; perhaps she could reach them and make them see that this was wrong. Those hopes were dashed as all three started to advance towards her again.
"It's not like we enjoy hurting them," Lillian said, "not like the bastards who raped me before they stabbed me to death. We just don't have any choice."
"You felt it before, Cassie," Victoria said. "When you touched the crystal, you experienced just a fraction of it was like to be us, and then you felt what it was like to have that taken away."
"We've been trapped in that hell for fifty years," Georgia said. "We couldn't feel anything but the fear and anger of our deaths. Now we can love again, and we can love others."
"We can love you, Cassie," Lillian said.
New sensations flowed over Cassie's senses, drowning out the cries of her friends. Passion, desire, love; she was inundated with these emotions and rather than battering at her defenses they embraced them, encircling the walls she tried to build and slipping into the gaps in her mental armor. She knew at last that her abilities were real, that she truly could sense the emotions of others both physical and spirit, but she was woefully unprepared to fight the kind of battle she faced. Slowly, inch-by-inch the three sirens slipped into her psyche, their passion seducing her.
Then Cassie's defenses collapsed and she stopped backing away. A smile spread across her face and she lifted her arms, welcoming her lovers into a warm embrace.
Jeremy was winded by the time he made it back to the mansion, having run nearly the whole way despite Angelique's gentle voice cautioning him to be careful. Fortunately he managed not to break a leg though he did fall a couple of times. His hands and knees were scuffed and bleeding as he yanked open the door to the RV, but he wasn't badly injured.
He wasn't really surprised to find the RV empty, but it did fill him with terror nonetheless. That terror only increased as he looked at what the monitors displayed.
Someone had moved the cameras. The one in the lounge remained where it had been, and Jeremy was just in time to see Cassie being led through the door into the kitchen by the three women. Like them, she was naked and seemed to be under no duress; in fact she was very enthusiastically touching them, kissing them and laughing as they walked.
A camera had been moved to the kitchen and Jeremy was able to follow their movements as they approached the back wall. The paneling slid aside to reveal a hidden stairwell, and the four young women descended it into darkness.
~ They want you to see this, ~ Angelique spoke into his mind. ~ They want you to follow them. We have to hurry if you want to save Cassie! ~
Jeremy didn't wait for them to appear on the third monitor, the one which displayed the image of a cavern with a glittering silver pool at its center. He flew from the RV without bothering to close the door and ran across the parking lot to the service entrance. The door was open, inviting him to enter, and Jeremy accepted without hesitation.
~ You have to stop Cassie from entering the pool. Even once you enter it, she'll still be under their power and will follow. If she does, she'll be bound to the Source forever. ~
"What about me?" Jeremy asked. "Can they seduce me?"
~They will try, but I can protect you for a time. If they press me I won't be able to fight their influence, so you need to make them believe they've succeeded. ~
Jeremy knew that wasn't going to be easy. From what he had seen on the monitor, the cavern was huge and the Source was only about the size of a large hot tub. In order to stop Cassie, he'd have to get between her and the pool, and do so without letting the women know he wasn't under their control.
He reached the hidden door and bounded down the stairs recklessly. The basement was fairly large itself and filled with row upon row of wine racks. The dusty bottles were probably worth a small fortune since even the newest had to be at least fifty years old.
With Angelique's guidance he easily found a second secret passage, the rack which had concealed it conveniently ajar. There were no stairs here, just a narrow, natural tunnel that wound its way gently down into the earth. By the time it leveled off Jeremy guess he must be about forty feet underground. The passage began to widen and ahead he could see the glow from the Source. Drawing deep, Jeremy broke into a full run and burst into the cavern.
It was even larger than it had appeared on the monitor, the ceiling rising dome like to a height of about twelve feet at the center. The granite walls were veined with quartz that glittered with silver and gold. They extended from the pool at the center of the cabin, zigzagging across the floor, up the walls and across the ceiling until they converge at the point where the quartz monolith extended at least four feet into the cavern. It had to be at least forty feet long and likely weighed more than a hundred tons.
Jeremy had no time to consider the beauty around him. Cassie was halfway to the pool as he entered the cavern, no more than two dozen steps from being forever bound to this place.
"Cassie, stop!" Jeremy shouted as he skidded to a halt.
Cassie turned at the sound of his voice, her face bearing the same beatific bliss it had when she touched the crystal. She had heard him though, and to his relief she took three hesitant steps in his direction.
Then his senses were assailed by desire from the Daughters of the Moon. He felt Angelique moan within him, and for a moment she wavered. Her own desire was poignant; she wanted so much to join her sisters, to beg their forgiveness even if it meant giving them her grandson.
~ Grandmother, help me! ~
Jeremy felt her resolve stiffen and the desire abated, though it didn't fade completely. He felt the sensation of warm, loving arms encircling him and protecting him, fending off the most powerful attacks of seduction. He also felt a chill, and a sensation like his body was changing, though very slowly.
~ It's started, Jeremy. I'm transforming your body and I can't stop it and protect you. They'll notice the changes soon … we have to hurry! ~
Despite the need for haste, Jeremy stopped as the sister surrounded him. They had to believe he was under their power; if they thought he was still in control they'd increase their seductive assault on his psyche and he really would be theirs. As they began to touch and fondle his body he returned their attention, kissing them and running his hands over their perfect bodies.
"Your turn will come soon," Victoria cooed. "You'll get to be the girl you've always wanted to be, honey, and I can promise you she'll be a knockout."
"We need to get all these clothes off you first though," Lillian giggled. "You won't need these horrid things anymore. Once you're with us, we'll all go shopping and get lot's of sexy things to show off your new body."
Jeremy didn't resist as they stripped him, but when he saw Cassie start moving towards the Source he almost tried to break away. Instead, he reached out longingly towards her, not like he was trying to stop her but rather join her.
"Awww, he wants Cassie," Victoria said. "Kim always suspected you had a crush on her, Jere. Go ahead, sweetie, you can help her join with the Source."
Jeremy moved forward, his hand reaching out to touch Cassie's shoulder. She turned and smiled at him, then drew him close. He crushed her against him, pressing his lips to hers in one final, passionate kiss as tears began to stream down his face.
~ Now, Jeremy, do it now! ~
Pain, Angelique had told him that was the only way to break their hold on Cassie. Jeremy was by nature a gentle, loving sort, and he had never so much as shoved another human being, much less a girl. Now if he was to save Cassie, he had to hurt her; even if he flung himself into the Source she would surely follow. He had to break the spell she was under.
"I'm sorry, Cassie," he whispered.
The sisters cried out in anger as Jeremy's hand flashed up, slapping Cassie brutally across the face. The blow staggered her, her eyes growing wide in shock as her hand rose to her reddening cheek. The sisters all glared at him, their voices rising in a single outraged cry.
~ I can't hold them for long, ~ Angel cried as Jeremy felt a renewed assault upon his psyche. ~ I know you don't want to, but you have to snap her out of it now! ~
Jeremy struck Cassie again, and again, tears streaming down his face now. As the third blow landed she staggered back and fell, blood trickling from the corner of her mouth. She looked at him in hurt surprise, but her eyes were suddenly clear.
"Cassie, run!" Jeremy roared. "Get out of here now!"
There was still confusion in her eyes, but Jeremy was relieved to see anger as well. She was thinking again, and despite the reluctance he saw on her face she rose and turned towards the tunnel.
"You're not going anywhere!" Victoria said, abandoning seduction as she reached out and grabbed Cassie by the arm.
The two were roughly the same height though the redhead had a slight advantage. Victoria wasn't used to physical confrontations, however, having never needed to resort to such. Cassie on the other hand had been faced with many situations where she had to fend off a customer who got too touchy at the club. She was also an enthusiastic practitioner of Tae Bo and as she whirled on the redhead her right fist snapped out, crossing Victoria's jaw and dropping her like a sack of flour.
"Yeah but you're going down, bitch!" Cassie snarled.
The assault on Jeremy suddenly ceased thanks to Cassie's distraction, but it no longer mattered. He turned and walked quickly to the Source and after just a slight hesitation stepped into the glowing silver pool.
"Jeremy, no!" Cassie cried.
He turned to face her and smiled. "It's okay, Cassie, this is the way it has to be." He stepped further into the pool and felt its warmth surrounding him.
~ Just let go and immerse yourself, sweetheart, ~ Angelique's loving voice spoke in his mind. ~ Surrender yourself to me … I promise I won't stay long. ~
That thought sent a twinge of remorse through him, but Jeremy did as she instructed. His head sank beneath the silvery liquid and he surrendered himself to its power. His body was wrapped in warmth, and for an instant it was as though he had no form, he simply existed. He didn't feel any kind of change, and the thought occurred to him that it must have felt very much like this as he formed in his mother's womb.
~ That's exactly what it's like, darling. Get ready to be born again, like you should have been from the start. ~
Jeremy felt himself sliding into the background, but he didn't experience the terror his friends had. He knew Angel would never hurt him … except when that inevitable moment came that she had to leave.
Angelique rose from the pool, the silvery liquid dripping from her reborn body. It was hard to believe but this second merging with the Source had made her even more beautiful; physically this new body was identical to the old one, but she actually glowed with an unearthly radiance.
Light filled the cavern as she emerged, and tendrils of silver snaked from the glow around her and touched her sisters. As one they cried out, not in pain but joy, and then just as suddenly the fell to the ground and started crying. Angel walked over and joined them, kneeling down to gather them all in her arms. Then she looked up at Cassie and smiled sadly.
"They didn't mean to hurt any of you," she said. "They were just so lost and alone."
"What happens now?" Cassie asked.
In reply, Angel looked at her sisters and nodded. With a sigh the bodies of the three beauties collapsed to the floor of the cavern as their shimmering, spectral essences rose until they were hovering just above the floor. Angel rose as well, and the three spirits hovered around her.
"We … we can leave now?" Lillian asked.
"Yes, Lilly, you can leave," Angel said. "You can all move on now."
"Are you coming with us?" Victoria asked.
"Yes, Vikki," Angel said. "I'll be with you, and we'll be together forever."
"And Christie … will she be there too?" Georgia asked.
Angel nodded, choking back a sob as she said, "Yes, my sweet little Christie will be there, and Edwin too."
Georgia and Lillian both laughed, their voices growing faint even as their apparitions faded. Victoria lingered for a moment, drifting over to Cassie.
"We … we're sorry," she said. "Please tell your friends … we … we just couldn't bear it any longer."
"I'll tell them," Cassie assured her. "Sorry about that punch."
The ghostly redhead grinned. "It's all right, I deserved it." She turned to Angel and said, "Don't be long, sister," and then she too faded away.
"It's time for me to go as well," Angel told Cassie. She looked down at the three sleeping girls on the floor. "This body will be like there's when I go; they'll all sleep for a while and probably be confused when they wake. You'll look after them?"
"Of course," Cassie said.
~ Wait, don't go yet! ~ Jeremy cried. ~ Can't you stay for just a few days? There's so much … so much I want say. ~
~ I have to go now, my darling, before the temptation to stay becomes too great. I'll always be with you though; you carry my memories with you now, so we'll never really be apart. ~
~ But I'll never see you again, or Mom or Grandpa! ~
~ When you tire of this life, you'll be able to move on, and we'll be waiting for you. We'll be waiting for all of you. I love you, my sweet little Angel. ~
~ I love you too! ~
"Is there anything you want me to tell … um, Jeremy?" Cassie asked.
Angel smiled and shook her head. "She knows already."
The lovely blonde lowered herself to the floor of the cavern, and closed her eyes. Like her sisters before her, an ephemeral form rose from the sleeping body. Angelique hovered for a moment, looking down lovingly at the four sleeping girls. Then she turned to Cassie and after one last smile she was gone.
Suzanne DuMont was a bit disappointed when she arrived just after ten the next morning. There were no vehicles in the brothel's parking lot, which meant the young people from SPI had packed up their equipment and left.
"Oh well, I suppose it was foolish to hope," she sighed as she pulled her Mercedes into her parking place.
She stopped to check the service door and make sure they had locked up and then moved down to the exterior office door. As she opened the door she detected the odor of a cigarette but didn't think much of it -- until she saw the young woman seated behind the desk, smoking one of her expensive imported Treasurer Blacks. The fact that she was completely nude almost escaped her notice as she felt her anger rising.
"Who are you and what are you doing here?" Suzanne demanded, but a niggling suspicion tugged at the back of her mind. It couldn't be … could it?
"Are you surprised to see me, Suzanne," the gorgeous blonde said after exhaling a cloud of smoke. She gestured with the thin, black smoke and continued, "These are really very good. I know smoking is a nasty habit, but what the hell, fifty years ago everybody was doing it."
"You … you can’t be real!" Suzanne protested. "You're … you're…."
"Dead?" Angelique said with a laugh. "I was until last night, but thanks to your machinations I'm alive and in the flesh again."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Suzanne insisted, walking over to the desk and picking up the phone. "I'm calling the police."
"Put the phone down and sit," Angelique said, gesturing to the sofa.
Suzanne tried to raise her hand and press the speed dial button for 911, but instead found herself setting the phone down and obediently walking over to the sofa. She sat down, her knees together and hands in her lap as she waited. Angelique rose from behind the desk and walked over, sitting so close to Suzanne that her ample breasts were touching the redhead's arm.
"You keep a very detailed journal on your computer, Suzanne," Angelique said. "It told me all kinds of things, like about how you found William Anders' diaries after you swindled my poor Edwin out of this property. Really Suzanne, threatening him with going to the authorities and telling them his daughter, my daughter, was working as a high priced call girl. That was not very nice at all."
"I don't … I mean I d-didn't…," Suzanne stuttered. Angelique cocked her head and gave her a look, and Suzanne let out a sigh and laid her head on the blonde's shoulder.
"You can't lie to me, Suzanne," Angelique said. "If I want to, I can have you purring like a kitten. Fortunately, that won't be necessary; I know all I need thanks to your journal. You learned enough from William's writings to figure out that my sisters and I could be resurrected if someone of my blood, like my grandson, Jeremy, made contact with the Source. You even suspected that it would mean he and his friends would die."
Suzanne struggled against the feelings that robbed her of her will. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be! She had expected to encounter frightened, confused girls, not this confident sorceress who was able to manipulate her like she was a mere child!
"Why … why would I do such a thing?" she managed to ask, but it was a struggle.
"Because you knew that with the Daughters of the Moon back in Moonlight House, your success was assured," Angelique said. "Men will flock to be with us, and the other girls who will come to work here. We are the conduit that makes the Source work; without us, it's just a pretty rock."
Angelique rose and Suzanne sagged over onto the sofa. It was like she could hear the lovely enchantress whispering in her mind, promising her pleasures beyond imagination, and Suzanne felt her resistance crumble like a sandcastle under the relentless surf. She knew she would do whatever was asked of her.
Angle perched herself on the corner of the desk and smiled as she felt the other woman's will shatter. It wasn't really necessary for Suzanne to believe she was the original Angelique, but then again it wouldn't hurt for her to think she was dealing with one-hundred-sixty-seven year old enchantress. She took a long drag of her cigarette and mentally shrugged; the bitch deserved far worse than she had planned for her.
Unfortunately for Suzanne, the information she had gleaned from William Anders' diaries hadn't been entirely accurate. Anders had made some rather good educated guesses about the nature of the Source, but since he, being a man, was unable to bond with it, he didn't truly understand its power, or hers. He, like Suzanne, had expected willing, compliant slaves, and the Daughters of the Moon had been content to let him believe he was in charge, but in truth, they had gently manipulated him the whole time. If it hadn't been for Angelique and her sisters, he would have squandered the fortune he had accumulated long before he got himself killed.
Angel inhaled another puff of smoke and then crushed out the expensive cigarette. She walked back over to the sofa and gently lifted the mesmerized woman's head onto her lap as she sat down. She started stroking her hair gently, all the while whispering into her mind, healing those nasty little flaws that drove her to lust for power and money.
"We're going to make love now, Suzanne," she said softly. "I'm going to show you just how wonderful it can be, how much it can mean. When we're done, you're going to contact your attorney's. My sisters and I will need identities that will stand up to any scrutiny. Once that's taken care of, you'll be transferring control of Moonlight House to us; we won't take the spa and hotel from you, but you will be leasing the land from us."
"Yes, Angel." Suzanne sighed contentedly. "I'll do anything you want. I … I love you."
Angel bent down and kissed her gently on the lips, eliciting a little moan from the redhead.
"Of course you do, sweetheart … everyone does."
ONE YEAR LATER
"Well I think it's official," Lillian said, a huge grin on her face. "We're a hit!"
"Really!" Angel said. "So tell me the good news."
The raven haired beauty looked back at her computer screen and said, "In its first six months of operation, Casa del Claro de Luna has grossed a grand total of three-million-four-hundred-thousand and change. I figure with the way things are going, we can come close to doubling that in the next six months."
"And they say we're in a recession," the voluptuous blonde quipped. She walked over and bent down, giving her friend a long, slow kiss. "As great as that news is, I'm much happier that you and Georgia are doing so much better."
Lilly smiled and shrugged. "We still have our moments, but they're not so bad anymore."
Angel smiled and caressed her sister's shoulder. It had been hard for the others, especially so for Lillian and Georgia. Victoria at least had the advantage of having been female in her old life, and she had adapted quickly. Georgia had the added pain of losing her family; Tom had been very close to his parents but it was simply impossible for her to establish any kind of contact. The Daughters of the Moon were extremely powerful, but even Moonlight House wouldn't be able to survive if their secret became known.
The family situation had been easier for Vikki and Lilly. Kim had been raised by a foster family and she had had little contact with them since she turned eighteen. Greg had really spoken to his family even less; his father had practically disowned him when he didn't go into professional football, which suited his stepmother just fine.
So now they were their own family; sisters in spirit if not in blood. Angel had made certain that each of them felt loved and was always available to talk, or just provide a shoulder to cry on. They returned her affection three-fold and offered the same support when she needed it, for even though she had always wanted to be female, she still wept at times for Tom and Greg. She knew what it was like to feel trapped in a body that wasn't right, but at least in their case, the Source had gradually healed their wounded spirits and molded their psyches to fit their bodies.
The phone on the desk rang and Angel walked over, pressing the button for the speaker.
"Angel, there's someone here who'd like to speak with you," the voice from the speaker said. "Her name is Cassie Ward."
"Thank you Summer, please have her come in."
The office door opened and as Cassie entered they both rushed to hug her. They all sat down on the sofa and spent several minutes catching up. Cassie was filling them in on the latest happenings at the University when a bell sounded and Lilly practically jumped up.
"Line up!" she squealed. She gave Cassie another hug and then rushed out of the office, her five inch heels clacking on the hard wood floor.
"I would have never believed she'd be so enthusiastic about meeting a man," Cassie said with a shake of her head.
"Sex was never the problem," Angel told her. "For Lilly and Georgia, and Vikki to a lesser extent, when they're having sex it's the best of times. They're made for it, Cassie; it's when everything seems so clear."
"My only regrets are for the pain this has caused them," Angel told her. "I can honestly say I love my new life."
"So why aren't you out there for the lineup?" Cassie asked.
"Because I have a friend I haven't seen for six months visiting me," Angel told her with a smile, "and I tend to stick to scheduled appointments. I still do line ups; I love meeting new people, but sometimes I feel it's a little unfair when I'm out there."
"Well I wouldn't choose anyone but you," Cassie told her.
"You don't have to pay either," Angel said, leaning over to kiss her.
"Mmmm, I'd pay for you any day," Cassie said when they separated. "And speaking of that, I guess I should tell you what brings me all the way out here. I was wondering if maybe you had an opening for a friend."
"You want to come to work here?" Angel asked, genuinely surprised. "Doing what?"
"The same thing you do, silly," Cassie told her with a laugh.
"I'd love to have you join us," Angel admitted. "I do have to ask what brings this own though. It seems rather sudden."
"It's not really that sudden," Cassie said. "Since I went back to Tucson I've been really restless. My grades are slipping … I just can't seem to concentrate on school. I can't get this place out of my mind."
Angel closed her eyes and lowered her head. "It's because of what happened when you touched the crystal, isn't it? I stopped you from going into the pool, but it was already too late; your abilities allowed you to touch the Source."
"I think so," Cassie said. "I've had more sex in the last six months than … well I've been a busy girl. I figure I only indirectly touched the Source, so the bond isn't fully realized, but it's enough to draw me back here."
"I'm sorry, Cassie."
"Hey, it's not your fault," Cassie told her. "And honestly, I'm kind of looking forward to it. One thing is certain … it won't be boring!"
"That's true," Angel admitted. "I have learned a few things from past experience too that will make a repeat of what happened to my grandmother and her sisters unlikely. I've been working with the others to strengthen their bond with the source, so they can manipulate its powers as well as I can."
"They seemed to be able to manipulate it pretty well a year ago," Cassie said. "I was putty in their hands."
Angel laughed. "That was simply seduction, something we all can do. If it had been me, or rather my grandmother, she wouldn't have needed to take you to the source to transform and enslave you. That's why she felt such guilt; if she had been here that night in 1958, those assassins would have found themselves working at Moonlight House. She could have literally made them her pets if she chose to."
"Like you did with Suzanne."
There was no accusation in Cassie voice, but Angel felt a sting nonetheless.
"I … I regret that, a little," she said. "I was very angry when I realized what she'd done. I've eased up on her over the last few months, but unfortunately I'll never be able to release her completely … it would drive her mad."
"Hey, the way I see it, she got off light," Cassie said. "So, what do we do now?"
Angel rose and walked over to the desk. She picked up a silver case and brought it with her as she went back to the sofa. She offered Cassie one of the thin, black cigarettes and then took one for herself, lighting them both with a gold plated lighter from the coffee table.
"Right now, you and I are going to go up to my suite and pop open a bottle of Cristal I've been saving for a special occasion," she said, pausing to take a long drag on her cigarette. "Then I intend to make mad, passionate love to you for hours. Once things settle down for the night, we'll get together with our sisters and take a little trip down to the Source."
Cassie smiled, taking a pull on her own cigarette. "These things are like a hundred dollars a carton aren't they?"
"Don't worry about that, my love," Angel said. "You'll be able to afford them."
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