Chapter 8

Maggie stood in the door to Roarke's office, her hands on her hips. It had been nearly 48 hours since she had arrived, battered and bruised, to finally clean out her grandfather's estate. Now the time had come for the real event, the work that she had not even told her partner Byron about. "It's time for us to get down to the pier. My cousin Tobias will be arriving soon."

Roarke rose from his seat with a sigh. "I'm still not comfortable bringing him and his wife to the estate. I think it would be better if they stayed at the resort."

Maggie shrugged. "Probably would be, but he wants to look around the house and see what Grandfather might have left him. Last I heard, he was in debt to some loan sharks, so I think he's hoping to find something here to help his finances whether it was left to him or not. As long as it's not magic-related, I don't care what he takes."

"As you wish," Roarke replied, stepping out into the garden and down the path toward the car.

Maggie watched him go without expression, then rose and fished the page out of the fireplace. She smoothed it open, leaning over the table so that her shadow fell across the paper. "So, what exactly am I facing?" she asked the air behind her.

"A choice," a voice whispered, the sound echoing through the room. "A choice between light and dark, life and death."

"Oh, is that all?" she replied sarcastically.

At the Dock

Tobias looked around scornfully as he and Anna exited the plane. The native islander with their colorful garb and the "happy" music was so touristy. "What could the old man have ever seen in this place?" he wondered, waving off a colorful drink.

"It looks like fun" Ann whispered furtively, watching the other guests happily wander down the dock towards the cars.

"Fun?" Tobias sneered. "Yeah – if you're ninety years old."

"I'm so sorry our facilities don't live up to your expectations" Roarke walked up with a frown on his face. The young man reminded him of Raul physically but there was an aura of darkness surrounding him that the old man had never had. His grandfather might have been manipulative and sometimes condescending but he had never been as cold as this.

"Mr. Roarke I presume?" Tobias held out his hand formally. "How kind of you to…"

Roarke stared at the man until he dropped his hand. "You're cousin is waiting at your grandfather's estate. If you will follow me …" He turned and walked away towards his car.

Tobias watched the man walk away, his eyes glittering with anger. "I can see now why my grandfather stayed on this island. Its master is just like him – so arrogant, so superior…" He glared at his wife, trembling at his side. "But he'll learn. Just like father did, just like the others did. He'll learn." He stalked after his host, his nervous wife trotting anxiously at his side.

At the Estate

Maggie smoothed the carpet down in the corner of the library with a sigh. "That's it then. Everything is ready." She picked up the Bathory grimoire and leafed through it absently, letting her fingers play over elegantly etched lettering. Stray scenes flitted over the surface of her mind; images she knew were coming from someone else's memories. She turned the page to see the transference spell she had tucked into the book, the words reminding her of the day her grandfather had taught her the words and then explained the intent of the spell. He had never acknowledged the darkness that hovered in the background during that lesson. Nor had he ever known the "other" voice that had taken to speaking in her ear after one of their lessons – the voice that spoke of patience, of watchfulness and of decisiveness. That voice was silent now, waiting in the back of her mind for the moment they both knew would come. "Time for me to make a choice – who will I follow? Hmmm….guess we'll all see once Tobias gets here." She closed the book and laid it in the fireplace, piling kindling around it to disguise its true form. She listened as car doors closed outside her front door. "Show time" she thought grimly.