Morgana relaxed in her chair, impassively watching Carolyn slump into the other. “This is all too much,” said Carolyn, shaking her head and tensely massaging her temples. After a few seconds she closed her eyes and breathed deeply several times. When she opened her eyes, she leaned forward in the chair. “You said you wanted to talk?” she asked warily.

“I did,” Morgana replied to Carolyn’s question. “What prompted you to get involved?”

Carolyn folded her hands before her. “I knew there was something different about you when I met you last night, something dark and strange, but I couldn’t tell what, so I decided to keep my eye on you.”

“Interesting,” remarked Morgana, leaning over the arm of the chair. “Most people never notice anything unusual about me at all. And I never noticed you watching me, except at the show. Interesting indeed.”

“Then, when I saw you meet James, something prompted me to follow you: when I saw you feed from him, I knew I had to do something.” Carolyn shook her head in defeat. “But now I can’t do anything.”

“You risked yourself to try and save James,” consoled Morgana, nodding appreciatively. “You’re very brave, Carolyn.

“And you’re going to have to be even braver. To put it bluntly, Carolyn, for your protection and mine, I can’t let you keep the knowledge you have. Fortunately for both of us, I can completely remove your suspicions and knowledge about me, but to do it right, I really need your coöperation. Will you trust me?”

“Why should I trust you?”

Morgana sighed. “Didn’t King Ember ask the same question of the leader of the Starchildren, Derek Michaelson? And what was Derek’s answer?”

“You have no choice. I can only hope that I will earn your trust instead of demanding it.” recited Carolyn. “You actually have read my books,” she continued in surprise.

“I started reading them when I discovered you trained in Ericksonisn hypnosis, just like me,” Morgana said proudly. “Actually, I trained under Milton Erickson.”

Carolyn again blinked in surprise. “You trained under Milton?” she replied in dubious surprise.

Morgana grinned. “I did a year of post-doc work with Milton at Wayne State in ’46, after I got my Ph. D. in Psychology from Northwestern.” Morgana stopped, smiling at a long-forgotten memory. “I was a favorite of his, too,” she continued after a moment. “He discovered that I was a vampire, but he never told anyone or used it against me. When I found that out, I had to remove his memories: it hurt me to do it, just like it hurts me now, but I had to do it. Just like now.”

“Why do you have to do it, though?” asked Carolyn. “Make me forget.”

“Just like your Starchildren, we vampires live among humans who would fear us and hate us, so we, too, like your Starchildren, maintain the illusion of nonexistence, what we call the Masquerade. Your knowledge is a blatant breach of the Masquerade, and if it were discovered, it could mean your death and my destruction.” Morgana leveled her gaze at Carolyn. “I didn’t want that to happen to Milton, and I don’t want it to happen to you, either.”

Carolyn returned Morgana’s earnest gaze impassively.

“Carolyn, you were sensitive enough to recognize I wasn’t mortal. What does that sensitivity tell you about me, now?”

Carolyn took Morgana’s hand. After a long moment, she replied, faintly embarrassed, “It tells me that you aren’t the evil monster that I expected to find in a vampire.”

“Just like you take pains to point out about the Starchildren, we vampires are not as irredeemably evil as the legends paint us: ‘There is good and evil and all shades of grey in between.’ as Derek once said,” said Morgana, chuckling. “So, I ask you again: will you trust me?”

Carolyn closed her eyes for several moments, shielding herself from Morgana’s gaze, then suddenly she nodded in resignation. “Very well, what do you want me to do?”

Morgana gently turned Carolyn’s face toward her and took Carolyn’s hands in her own. “Empty your mind, Carolyn. Relax, and look into my eyes,” she said consolingly; “I know it sounds melodramatic, but that’s the way it works.”

Carolyn boldly met Morgana’s eyes.

“This won’t hurt a bit, Carolyn, I promise,” placated Morgana.

Carolyn nodded, her eyes staring directly into Morgana’s. She breathed deeply, then suddenly her eyes opened wide, entranced.

When it was over, several long moments later, Morgana stood and looked down at the entranced Carolyn. She pushed back a lock of Carolyn’s fair hair from in front of her face. “Carolyn, go back to your room and rest.”

At Morgana’s words, Carolyn silently stood and began to walk back into the hotel. Morgana accompanied the still-entranced woman through the empty hallways of the hotel to the door of her room and smiled sadly as Carolyn opened the door and disappeared within. “Rest well, Carolyn: pleasant dreams,” whispered Morgana.

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