21st December 1777
For these past few weeks since Edward's proposal I have thought of nought all besides W. Despite the few brief words we actually spoke at Sir John's party some months past, I clearly felt that our mutual passion was neither forgotten nor diminished. Without words between us, I have laboured and suffered hoping and praying that W had garnered that same impression. Throughout boredom fraught nights at home with my parents and attending parties on Edward's arm I have kept my suffering to myself. While I have made Edward swear to hold off announcement of any possible engagement I can hear everyone whispering about us. I can see the whole pack of them now, matrons with their chins wagging incessantly as they gossip about matters that are none of their affair! How I hate them so!
I cannot keep denying Edward his answer; soon even he will grow tired of my apparent indecision and go directly to my father. I shall then have no say in the matter of my own marriage and I will be forever wed to a man whom I do not love.
I was fearfully depressed until last night when it was made evident that I had not suffered alone throughout this time. W felt the separation and distance as keenly as I and she had been dying to see me! All this and more, much, much more I learnt last night. What a glorious night it was!
Edward's parents hosted a sumptuous Christmas party for the neighbouring families of note. While I was compelled to go by virtue of my relationship with their son, I attended without quarrel for I knew full well that an invitation would also have been extended to the Van Helsings. I know it sounds dreadful of me to say but my night only improved when Edward came down with a head cold and was compelled to remain in bed throughout the festivities. I was left unattended to enjoy the pleasures that the night had to offer.
I was making the rounds with my father, fending off questions and comments regarding my impending engagement when I sensed a ripple pass throughout the entire company gathered in the Walsh's Grand Hall. I looked towards the entrance and my heart soared when she walked in on Abraham's arm. Every young lady (and many a matron and spinster too) swooned at the sight of the dashing Captain Van Helsing, while eligible bachelors held their breath when faced with the sight of his sister. Her green gown made every other woman in the room appear pale and washed out in comparison. It was perfectly tailored to show off her tiny waist and creamy shoulders, with barely a hint of her modest cleavage showing. Those gorgeous red locks that I loved so were piled in curls atop her head, with more cascading down over her neck. I instantly felt a hot surge of jealousy at the thought of so many eyes upon her but it was all too quickly dispelled when I saw her eyes roaming the crowd, passing straight over every gaze in the room that was feasting upon her...until she came to mine.
As a small smile curled the corner of her lips I instantly felt vulnerable, wondering if I had chosen the right gown or coiffure. I saw her turn her head slightly to whisper something in Abraham's ear. The smile and knowing glance that Abraham then cast in my direction confused me slightly. It seemed as though he knew exactly what I was thinking about his sister. However, confusion was replaced by rapture a second later as I saw W leave her brother's side and begin to thread her way through the crowd. She ignored all attempts at conversation and invitations to dance as she made her way towards me, her gaze never once leaving mine. When she finally reached me her first movement was to reach out and brush her fingertips against my wrist. I almost swooned into her arms even as she spoke in a clear voice words which speak in my ear still,
"Miss Maclay, would you take a turn about the room with me?"
My own voice was far from composed and my damnable stutter caused me to sound like a blundering idiot but I managed to convey my agreement. Then she linked her arm through mine and I was rendered incapable of speech for at least a minute. The feel of her smooth skin upon my own and the close proximity of her body were almost too much for me to bear. My heart was racing wildly despite the sedate pace at which we threaded our way through the crowded room. She must have noticed my discomfort as she commented on my flushed cheeks. I lifted one palm and indeed found it extremely hot to the touch. Her suggestion that we retire to a secluded corner somewhere was a fine one and as we exited the hall I felt a weight lift from my shoulders...although my heart did not cease its wild palpitations.
Even the small rooms adjacent to the hall were far too crowded for our liking, although only containing at the most half a dozen people. Knowing the Walsh house as well as you might expect, it was I who led W to a well-hidden place I remembered from a childhood spent in the company of Edward and his siblings. At the time I did not know why I was choosing such a secluded location for our meeting but in hindsight I now know full well that I wanted to be alone with W, away from prying eyes and gossiping tongues.
I felt a delicious shiver run down my spine as I led W by the hand into the space beneath the ground floor stairs, a tiny alcove really with barely enough room for two adults to stand. A smile crossed her face as soon as she realised my intent and in moments I was no longer the instigator. W pressed me into the space until my back was against the wall and we were both in complete shadow. We found ourselves alone together for the first time since that windswept day in the stable, the difference being the increased depth of our feelings for one another.
My legs felt as if they had no bones in them and it was only the weight of her body which kept me from falling, although she was pressed so close and so tightly against my body that falling was nigh impossible. I could only see the outline of her face and her sparkling eyes in the darkness but my senses were heightened in all other respects. I could feel her heart matching mine beat for beat, our combined breath mingling in what little air there was between us and the sweat coating our joined palms.
While I do not claim to remember the words W spoke with complete accuracy, I nevertheless remember her words as well as I remember everything that happened tonight...with crystal clarity.
"Are you feeling alright, Miss Maclay?" she whispered breathlessly as I felt the hand that was not enclosed in my own cup one of my burning cheeks.
"I-I do believe Miss Van Helsing...that you have rendered me incapable of both speech and movement," was my equally breathless reply as I nuzzled against the warm hand which held my cheek.
"Then allow me to do the moving," was W's brief reply before, a mere moment later, her lips found my own in the darkness.
I had dreamed of that moment ever since our first meeting and my hunger was insatiable, what began as a slow caress quickly moved to something fierce and urgent. While at the back of my mind I was aware of the cosmetics on my face and the effect of sweaty palms on ball gowns, I cared about neither as I wrapped both my arms around her waist to keep her close. She kept one hand on my face, caressing both cheek and neck while the other was pressed against my hip.
The kiss that day in the stable seemed passionless and chaste compared to what took place beneath the stairs. The heat rises in my cheeks even now when I think about her tongue dancing in my mouth, probing deeply and dancing with my own. I think about the way she tasted, so sweet and yet rich at the same time and I wish I were still there. It was at that time, in the muddled fog that was my mind, that I realised she yearned as much for me as I had for her. It was written clearly in the manner in which she pressed forward into my body, the delightful sounds which issued from the back of her throat and her hand at my hip, possessive and firm. Oh, I was hers without a doubt; I swore I would never belong to Edward Walsh.
I lost all sense of time so when our lips finally did part and we were both even more breathless, if that were possible, I had no knowledge of just how much time had passed. All I knew was that I did not want it to end. My whole body was aflame in a manner I could not explain.
"I need you, Tara," she hissed into my ear as she trailed delicate kisses upon my neck and jaw, "Oh, by the heavens I need you so badly!"
I was speechless once again but even if I could speak I did not understand what she wanted from me. She needed me but I was right in front of her, with her in every sense of the word as I understood it. As my mind reeled, she continued to trail her mouth over my skin. Her lips moved over my chin and, as I tilted my head back, down my throat. My lips parted and my eyes closed as she continued downwards over my shoulder blades and to the tops of my breasts which were laid bare by the gown I had chosen. I heard a groan escape my lips as she cupped one breast, fingers lighting brushing the nipple. Even through the fabric I felt a jolt of pleasure that I had never thought possible to experience.
"I wish I could taste you further," she whispered, her voice muffled for her face was pressed into my cleavage, "I cannot bear it...I need you so."
As I felt her hand move to tug my skirts upwards, there was a mighty thud on the stairs above our heads. We both froze instantly as heavy feet sounded on the wooden stairs scant inches from us. We heard excited male voices but I could not make any words out over the blood pounding in my ears. Whoever it was passed down the stairs and continued directly ahead, away from us.
Even after the interruption, I would have spent the entire evening in that tiny space beneath the stairs but W and I both knew we had appearances to maintain. I was expected to dance with Edward's father and there were no doubt scores of men clamouring to dance with W. Our parting at that moment came with great reluctance for we both knew that we would be separated and forced to mingle. It was our duty...o curse that dreaded word!
With one last parting kiss and a desperate smoothing of our crinkled gowns, we proceeded to grace the assembled company with our presence. While I thus caught only glimpses of W or conversed with her in the company of others, she appeared radiant and confident. Never have I seen a young lady who was in more favour than my beloved W, without a doubt she was the belle of the party. Only at the end of the night, when Abraham moved to escort her back to their carriage did she squeeze my fingers once. There were unshed tears in her eyes. I knew exactly why she was crying, I felt the same immense pang of loss at parting that she did.
It is near midnight as I write these words and still I can remember the silky sweetness of her lips on mine. As I hear her pleading in my ear still, I feel a fierce heat burn between my thighs and I realise exactly where it was that she needed me, for I need her there too...
Willow knew that something was not right as soon as she wandered into work that morning at her usual time of eight am. For one thing, Faith was already at work, which was a rare occurrence indeed, and there was a small crowd gathered around the entrance to her office. Willow found herself breaking into a run for the last stretch; the thought of people searching through her work was terrifying to say the least. Not to mention the little matter of the portrait tucked inside A Treatise on Witchcraft that could raise any number of awkward questions.
However, Willow's concerns for her own affairs were forgotten when she reached the door and peered in. She found Myles seated on her chair, next to a physician who had just finished binding a bulky bandage around his head. Both Croft and Faith were also nearby, Croft appearing uncomfortable as though she had been standing for some time on her bad leg and Faith leaning against her Greek History books with her elbow leaning heavily on a hundred year old copy of Plutarch's Parallel Lives. She saw Willow glare and quickly straightened, removing the offending elbow from the bookshelf.
"Myles, are you okay?" Willow moved to stand next to Giles who was just inside the doorway.
Myles's face was almost as white as the bandage that covered his hair but he nodded, "Just a wee knock tis all."
"I recommend retiring to bed as soon as possible," the physician commented before excusing himself to leave the department staff to get the night's happenings out of Myles.
"Someone broke into the department yesterday evening," Faith commented coldly, "Myles disturbed the bastard and the poor fellow was hit over the head for his troubles."
"Well..." Myles began awkwardly, "I don't think I was hit as such...it was more like the chair hitting the back of my head..."
"See, the brave young man has a concussion," Faith crossed the floor to deposit a gentle kiss on Myles' cheek, "It looked as though he'd tried to fight off the intruder, we found one of my swords lying next to him."
In seconds Myles' pallor had been overcome by the spread of scarlet rising up over his cheeks. He ducked his head and fidgeted with the cuff of his jacket as he felt all eyes in the room on him.
"Giles said it was alright to stay behind, I was just finishing up with the swords when all the lights went out, I thought it was the caretaker but..." Myles began.
"I interviewed him this morning," Lara interrupted, "He'd already finished for the night at the time Myles remembered them going out."
Myles nodded, his pallor returned, "I had the beamlight with me..."
Giles let out a discreet cough at the mention of the 'borrowed' light before Myles continued.
Myles allowed himself an awkward guilty smile, "So I decided to take a look...there's not much to say really, I heard a noise outside the workroom and thought it came from in here...when I came to investigate, there was no one here. Then I turned around and then she rushed at me...her face, that's the last thing I remember."
"She?" Faith asked with surprise clearly registering in her voice, "Myles, this is the first time you've suggested it was a woman...are you quite sure?"
Myles nodded enthusiastically, "It was definitely a woman...pale skin, long blonde hair around her face and the most brilliant blue eyes I've ever seen...very pretty, in a scary way."
As Myles spoke, the blood had drained from Willow's own face. He couldn't be talking about the same woman. She crossed the floor and hunkered down by her desk, feeling the eyes of everyone in the room on her as she drew a small object out of her bottom drawer. When she rose to her feet she kept it tucked close against her body.
"Will, are you alright?" Faith asked quietly, before her voice became distinctly suspicious, "Do you have something to add?"
"Ignore me, I just need to develop this film, I had a thought..." Willow began, but under the combined weight of all the stares in the room she quickly fled, clutching the camera to her chest.
Once safely shut into the department's darkroom, Willow allowed herself a moment to run all that Myles had said through her head. The fact that his brief description had fitted the woman she had seen in the park, and again in the warehouse could not be just a coincidence. Although there were undoubtedly many women with blue eyes and pale hair, Willow knew there was just one in particular who seemed to have a habit of appearing at odd moments. As she moved to develop the film in the camera, she could not help but mull over everything in her head. She knew there were connections to be made between the strange goings on and the woman, but the fact that she did not have the information to do so was eating away at her. The solution would be to go straight to the source, but she knew nothing about the woman, who she was, where she lived...only that she desperately wanted to talk to her.
Almost half an hour later, a little high from the chemicals she had inhaled, Willow drew the photograph out of the solution in the tray in front of her. Even as it had developed, she had noticed something odd at the centre of the photo. Carefully pegging it on the line above her, she studied it closely. In the centre where the blonde woman should have been standing, where she was standing on the day Willow had taken the photograph...there was nothing. Nothing was not exactly the right word, there were trees, grass, the stream bank and several blurry people in the background but none of that really mattered. There was no woman.
Willow continued to stare at the photograph of the park until she realised that no amount of staring was going to insert her in there. While it may very well have been possible for her to move the camera and miss the woman altogether in the awkward manner in which she had shot the photo, Willow knew that wasn't the case. She remembered exactly where the woman had been standing, and that very spot was at the centre of the photo.
As she stumbled out of the darkroom, Willow tried to force down the inevitable conclusion. She was a demon researcher, one of the foremost demon authorities in the entire word to be precise and she knew exactly which kind of demon was not at all photogenic. Then there was the paleness of course...everything seemed to add up except for the fact that both times she had seen her had been the middle of the day. Willow didn't know whether to be excited at the thought of being able to write a groundbreaking paper discussing vampires who could walk during the day, or to be absolutely horrified that she had fallen in love with one.
When Faith caught up with her in the corridor a moment later, she was fighting to restore some sense of order to her thoughts.
"Who did you think would be in the picture, Will?"
"Ah, no one...it was just a thought," Willow mumbled, I'm in love with a bloody vampire! What if Faith found out? Oh god, don't let Faith find out...don't let Faith find out!, "Um, Faith, I'm going to do an inventory of my office, do tell me if you find any further information won't you?"
"Certainly, but..." Faith clearly wanted to discuss further but Willow was already making her way back down the hall at a cracking pace.
Willow saw Faith again that afternoon, after spending a few tortured hours trying to work out if anything were missing from her office and desperately trying to forget about the awful state of affairs she found herself in. Given the state of disorganisation that was her filing system, it had not been a pleasurable experience and she was hot and flustered...and most unsuccessful in her strive to forget.
"Did you find anything missing?" was Faith's immediate question as she walked into Willow's office and found her seated on the floor with her shirtsleeves rolled past her elbows.
"Do you think I know exactly what I had to start with?" Willow threw up her hands in exasperation, "The only thing that I can even think might be missing is that diary you brought back from Eastern Europe...but then again, Myles could've taken it. He did have his beady eyes on it yesterday, and I can't ask because Lara sent him home."
"Mmhmm," Faith nodded thoughtfully, "And it did have naughty bits in it after all."
Willow glanced up at Faith, "I thought you told Myles yesterday that it didn't..."
"I lied to reduce the likelihood of him 'borrowing' it," Faith shrugged, "Although in hindsight it might not have been the best course of action, I probably increased his curiosity."
"So I can stop worrying about the diary, Myles has it?" Willow asked, holding out her hand so Faith could help her to her feet, "Because I did consider the possibility it may have been taken, I remember reading an entry in the catalogue yesterday that caught my eye and it could possibly be referring to the diary."
Once pulled to her feet, Willow moved to her desk and opened the library catalogue from Tirgsor, she flicked through the pages until she reached the very last entry.
"Don't tell me someone wrote 'naughty lesbian diary' in there...wait, was the word 'lesbian' even used in the eighteenth century?" Faith tried to peer over Willow's shoulder.
"No," Willow replied in a curt voice as she ran her finger down the page, "I've read accounts where it has been referred to as Sapphic perversion...and other similar phrases along those lines."
Willow paused as though Faith's question finally registered in her brain, she glanced up at her friend with a surprised expression on her face, "Are you saying the woman who wrote that diary was a...that she loved women?"
Faith barely nodded as though it were of little importance, "Perhaps, though I think it was just one woman...she does go on to describe their love-making in particularly lovely prose, a little too chaste for my liking but it was interesting."
"Wonderful, you tell me this now it's missing," Willow tried to conceal the disappointment in her voice just before her eyes widened in horror, "Heavens, Myles can't read that!"
"Why not?" Faith allowed a small grin to creep across her face, "Are you worried that he'll know more about Sapphic lovemaking than you do when he has finished?"
"No...of course not...and I know...things...but that is not the point, this is a waste of time," Willow drew their combined attention away from Faith's rather accurate comment and back to the matter at hand, she traced her finger across the page as she read, "Miscellaneous, deposited by W. Van Helsing in 1785."
Faith shrugged, unimpressed, "That could be anything...why would it be the diary?"
"Firstly, there is almost one hundred years between this particular entry and the previous one and it roughly corresponds to the dates in the diary itself which began in 1777 I believe...and secondly, doesn't the name Van Helsing ring a bell?"
"Are you thinking of old Abe?" Faith asked dubiously, "It could have been a common name at the time."
"Van Helsing...common?" Willow clearly did not think so from the tone of her voice, "I'm going to do some research and find out if he had family, children perhaps...siblings...I think there's a commonality here. It may have absolutely nothing to do with the intruder, but my curiosity has been piqued."
"Heaven help us all! Well Will, I don't know what on earth is going on here," Faith looked directly at Willow, "But my instincts tell me that we're on the cusp of something big...and I don't like it one little bit."
Willow raised her eyebrows, "Since when were you the prophecy girl?"
"Since everyone in this damn department started acting decidedly strange...first of all you've fallen in love, and it's with a woman who is quite possibly responsible for breaking in and hitting Myles over the head, you're saving my life which is strange enough in itself and Lara is acting like she's your bloody mother."
"Why is Croft acting like she's my mother?" Willow asked with a frown even as she kept thinking over and over, I'm in love with a vampire!
Faith bit her lip as though she had been caught out, "Ah, no reason, ignore my ranting..."
"And more to the point...why are you calling her Lara?"
This time it was Faith who had been caught out. Following some mumbled words that Willow could not quite make out but sounded distinctly like 'you ask too many questions,' she exited her office. As Faith left, Willow thought she saw one very red cheek.
Willow was talking to herself as she paced the footpath towards her flat. She'd worked late and the sun had just disappeared over the horizon. The shadows of dusk were gradually giving way to night. Gas streetlamps flicked on just as Willow reached her front door and she fumbled in her satchel for something. Almost a minute passed as she sifted through the stacks of paper jammed into the little bag and searched through various pockets. Various words of sounds and frustration escaped her lips before she suddenly sighed in sheer relief and reached inside her jacket. Triumphantly she withdrew a key and plugged it into the lock. As Willow slipped inside she never saw the shape lurking in the shadows just across the road, watching her.
Moments later the figure, shrouded in a dark cape, moved out into the streetlight. Light fell across striking planes of a woman's face making her pale skin seem to glow. She paused for a moment to stare at the spot where Willow had stood before pulling the cowl of her cape up over her pale hair. Her features fell into shadow and she moved off, footfalls almost silent on the street cobbles. Just as Willow had not seen her, she did not appear to notice her own stalkers. A tall, broad-shouldered man wearing a knee length leather coat fell into step beside her and she did not immediately react to his presence despite the fact that he was of an ill-favoured ilk. He strode with a definite swagger, his lips curled up into a curl approximation of a smile. His face was long, almost gaunt and ended in a square chin. His white hair stood in jagged spikes atop his head.
"I can never understand why you insist on watching her at night as well...anyone one of us would be more than capable of following her movements," he spoke with a heavy London accent, most unlike the cultured tones with which the woman responded.
"Because William, our master cannot trust you to keep your hands to yourself..." she began to reply coldly.
"And you can?" William interrupted with a smirk.
She ignored him as she continued, "Imagine how displeased he would be if he found out the girl was lying face down in a gutter after you'd had your way with her."
"Can't blame a poor bugger for wanting some of that," he seemed a little chastened, tucking his chin down into his coat.
"That to which you so charmingly refer, is not yours," she cast a sidelong glance at the man walking next to her and her brow furrowed in disgust.
"Well now I suppose you think she's yours then, Tara?"
Tara ignored him, instead casting her gaze ahead to the two darkened figures blocking their path. Neither she nor William slowed their pace as they continued walking. She hastened slightly to move ahead of William, she could not abide the company of the man...or rather demon, beside her.
None of us are human any longer, and yet I cannot help but refer to us as men or women as though we were still alive...I know I should not wish it...but I do...
Tara and William stopped short of the pair in front of them, now revealed to be Angelus, his tall frame wrapped possessively around a much smaller woman. Her body and features were petite even though she was swathed in a large fur coat, blonde hair barely peeping out from beneath a Cossack style hat.
"Angelus, Elizabeth," Tara murmured in a bare greeting.
"I tire of this nothingness!" the small woman named Elizabeth announced in a high-pitched voice as she ignored Tara altogether, "I'm hungry and I want to hunt!"
"And we shall my sweet," Angelus replied in a soothing voice, raising her hand to his lips and depositing a small kiss thereon, before his tone became mocking, "Tara appears as though she has little to report other than another day spent gazing forlornly at her long-lost love."
Tara allowed herself an exasperated sigh, "My mortal self had a passing infatuation with Willow Van Helsing...in case you have not realised, I am no longer my mortal self...and that woman is not Willow Van Helsing."
"I'm just concerned she will take up her old habits, I lost many a good friend to that woman," William muttered
"And I think we should string her up and commence carving chunks out of her until she tells us where that damnable skull is," Angelus tightened his grip around the woman in his arms.
"Still hungry!" Elizabeth snapped angrily.
"Gentlemen...and Elizabeth," Tara began slowly, as though she were addressing children, "Willow Van Helsing has been in the ground for over one hundred years, this woman will not take up her old habits and she does not know where the skull is, I am still of the belief that Abraham Van Helsing was responsible for its disappearance...the old man hid it somewhere, and torturing that mortal is not going to get us any closer to finding it."
"Then why are we keeping her alive?" William growled, annoyed at Tara's tone.
"And why didn't you tell me yesterday that you believe she does not know where the skull is!" Angelus roared, "We are wasting our time."
"We are not," Tara fought to keep her composure, "Wilhelmina Rosenberg will locate the skull for us...but she must be given the time and information to do so."
"What information?" Angelus probed, his eyebrows raised in surprise.
"I have it in hand," Tara replied firmly.
"Fine," Angelus did not sound or appear to be convinced, "We will give her the time and space you say she needs...but if results are not forthcoming then I will do it my way...and I do not think there will be much blood left for our master to drink..."
"You torture me with talk of food!" Elizabeth growled petulantly, baring her fangs.
"My sweet, we will head down to the river immediately and find someone who will not be missed..." Angelus began.
"That's dirty blood that is! I want someone clean and sweet!" Elizabeth stomped her foot yet again.
"Then that is what you shall have...Tara, will you join us?" Angelus inquired as he began to steer Elizabeth in the opposite direction.
"Thank you," Tara replied quietly, "But I am not hungry."
William eyeballed Tara as he turned to follow in the couple's footsteps, "Bet your girl's clean and sweet...I'm going to taste her before long, you know that don't you."
William let out a short laugh and left Tara alone to watch the backs of her three departing companions. As they disappeared in the distance she turned and walked back to the flat where Wilhelmina Rosenberg was no doubt getting ready for bed. She then folded herself into shadows directly across the street, watched for an hour until the lights behind the window went out and continued to watch throughout the night until the sun rose in the morning.
Willow felt her feet dragging as she stumbled into the flat. It had been a long and tiring day trying to work out what had happened the previous evening when poor Myles had ended up with his head swathed in bandages. Despite the fact that the young man had protested he was fine, Willow suspected his bravado was a result of the kiss on the cheek from Faith and she could not shake the image of his white face as he described what he had seen that night. She was disturbed by the fact that he had described her mystery woman, and even more disturbed by the fact that there was nothing at the centre of the developed photograph.
Her eyelids were heavy as she carelessly tossed her satchel down on the kitchen table. She didn't even bother with something to eat, instead moving straight through to her bedroom where she methodically began stripping her clothes off. Her suit was a crumpled pile on the floor before she remembered that it was her only one after ruining her grey suit the day before. With a sigh she gathered the garments up and hung them in her closet, momentarily becoming thoroughly depressed by the thought of shopping for another. Willow then fished under her pillow for her stripy pyjamas but soon stopped as she noticed the foreign object lying atop her pillow.
It was the diary, sitting neat as you please as though she had left it there when she went to work that morning. Willow's first thought was to panic; she checked the latches on the one window in her flat and then the door but found all to be sound. She also distinctly remembered unlocking the door to get in.
"What do you want from me?" Willow demanded of the book as she re-entered her bedroom, "Stupid...it's a diary, a damned possessed diary!"
Willow kept a close eye on the little book as she pulled her pyjamas on, expecting it to do something odd at any moment. It did nothing of the sort. It remained on her pillow, even when she flicked the lights off and turned on just the lamp by her bed. Willow hesitantly reached out and plucked the diary off, she couldn't very well sleep with it there. She kept the diary in her hand as she folded herself beneath the sheets. Although her eyes were heavy with sleep and she really did not want to have anything more to do with the strange thing, she opened it to the first page opposite the inscription and started reading.
It would seem that I can scarce hear myself think over the beating of my heart...