Rachel is getting stronger.
It had been two weeks since Brian and Lynn's wedding and still Gloria could not get the event out of her mind. She had finished work at two o'clock and was getting ready to go into town to treat herself to some new casual clothes for the Whit weekend, although she had made no plans to go anywhere. She was singing the words of "The Wedding" as she tidied her hair. "I see us now, your hand in my, hand. This is the hour this is the moment..."
"Do you have to keep singing that?" Evelyn said. "People will think that you're getting hitched." She suddenly looked at Gloria as if in a panic. "You're not, are you?"
"Of course not. It's just a lovely song. It was playing when Brian and Lynn had that first dance at the reception. I've been to a few weddings, but I've never seen anything so romantic as those two when they were dancing to Julie Rogers."
"Well, it was their wedding day."
"Even so, they were so closely intimate, the way they were holding and touching each other. You could see that they were really committed and dedicated to each other."
"All right you've made your point, but can you give that bloody song a rest?"
Gloria picked up her handbag. "I thought you were coming into town with me."
"You go on, I'm not even nearly ready yet. Tell you what; I'll meet you outside Mason's at four."
Gloria agreed to meet her sister and she set off to the bus stop still thinking of the wedding. She knew that she was in love with Ellis and she was sure that he felt the same about her, but there was a spark in Lynn and Brian's relationship that was missing from theirs. She wondered if her life would be blessed with that spark if she were to move the physical side of their relationship forward. Or would that not matter, did that spark, that warmth come from somewhere else? She was confused, but thought she must try to get that closeness that Brian and Lynn had. She had seen it in them, and was sure that everyone else had as well.
She got to town and decided to call for a coffee before doing her shopping. She was sitting in one of the market cafes trying to think of a loving message to write in a birthday card that she had bought for Ellis, when she noticed Gordy walking into the cafe. She smiled at him as he walked over to sit with her and she closed the card and slid it beneath her handbag.
"What's that private then?"
She drank the last of her coffee. "Yes, it is." She thought it was time to leave; Gordy could be good company sometimes, but not all the time. The problem was that even though he was supposed to be Ellis's friend, and despite the fact that she had continually declined his advances since their schooldays, whenever she was alone with him he would still try to chat her up.
"If you want to hang on I'll give you a lift on me bike."
"No, it's okay. I'm meeting Evelyn in town."
"It's no use putting it off you know, Glor, it's only a matter of time before we get together. Ellis is no good to you and you know it, he's not pushy enough. He thinks if a girl says no then she means no. He don't understand that women like their men to be forceful and take the lead."
"What are you a sodding cave man?"
Gordy grinned, as if she had paid him a compliment. "I know Ellis, he wouldn't know what to do with you if he had you bollock naked in his bed."
She stood up and slipped the card into her carrier bag. "Well perhaps that's all changed now. We're going away together for the bank holiday weekend."
"Yeah, and I bet that don't happen." He gave a laugh. "I'll leave a few dates free in my diary; just let me know when you're ready to live a little."
"Don't hold your breath." She gave a sarcastic grin before walking off.
She left the cafe feeling annoyed that Gordy had forced her hand. The thought of going away together had been in her mind all week, but it was just a thought and she had done nothing about it up until now. She was worried, she was not sure if she were ready and she was also worried that it might all go wrong; he might think less of her and go off with someone else. It was a dilemma, she liked the idea of going away with Ellis, but she didn't want to commit herself to anything in case she should change her mind.
As she walked through the town she passed a camping shop and an idea came into her mind. There were two small tents at home, under the slab in the pantry. They had not been used since she was a child and the family used to go off on camping weekends. She would get her sister to help her to erect them in the back garden and as long as they were still in a reasonable condition, it could be the answer; they'd go off camping somewhere. They would be in separate tents so if she didn't feel it was right she could barricade herself in, or on the other hand she could sneak into his tent. She wouldn't be committed and if she did decide not to go through with it, he could not feel let down because he would have no idea what she had planned.
* * * * *
Over in the woods at Carver's Hollow, Rachel was full of glee; she had already felt a major surge in her power as they entered the sign of the twins. They had just come back from a visit to Rosie's house checking that all was okay and that she was available should Rachel decide to choose her. She would be useful as a back-up in case there were any problems with taking Gloria.
"I do not know why you did not just take her, there is no argument now, and it is time." Her partner began to move slowly; he was fading and difficult to see.
"Rosie, Rosie is easy. I want the other one, the chaste, the unspoilt. I want Gloria. She has great spiritual strength and it will be a challenge to take her. Be sure that this time next week I will be gone from here and Gloria shall be here in my place. This is what we have waited two hundred years for. Are you not thrilled by it all?"
There was no sound, no sign of her companion's presence. She knew that he had not just drifted off to hide this time; he had gone.
"Damn you," she shouted. "Over two hundred years together and not even a goodbye." She felt another surge as she inherited her partner's power. She had not felt such power since she had been looking for a mate all those years ago. She knew her boundaries had now been extended and she would be able to seek out a victim anywhere in the county if she so desired. She had plenty of time, as long as she found a replacement during the sign of the twins; otherwise she may have to remain alone in the woods until the following year.
"Enjoy your mortal existence while you can, Gloria. I am coming for you."