Upon arrivng at the house, it was somewhat different for Barnabas. David had yet to return from his trip to Philadelphia, but his lovely wife Lisa..
"The wrestler", Barnabas thought.
... quickly informed him that David was expected back at any time now. And Elizabeth was expected down from her rooms shortly. The kids were all gone for the evening..
"School stuff", Lisa had said...
... so it would just be the adults for the evening.
Barnabas and Lisa talked for several minutes. He was amused and quickly enchanted by this woman, this "wrestler" who had claimed David Collins heart. She talked quite a bit and had an energy and enthusiasm about her that Barnabas had rarely witnessed in all of his years on earth. How did a woman with this much energy and vibrance ever manage to be happy living in a reclusive place such as Collinwood?
Lisa was telling Barnabas about a particularly gruesome and high-profile match that she had had against another woman by the name of Lita when they were interupted by Elizabeth Collins. Elizabeth had some news for Lisa.
"I just got off the phone with David. His meeting ran longer than expected, so he'll be having to take a later flight. But he should be home by midnight at the latest."
"Shoot!", said Lisa, looking a little dejected and down.
But then, just as quickly, she was back smiling, deciding to just make the best of it.
"Well, that's that I guess. But I think that the two of you want to talk, right? So I'll just excuse myself for a bit and go terrorize the housekeeper or something."
"Please don't feel you have to leave", Barnabas said.
"It's OK", said Lisa. "I know that you and Elizabeth have a lot of catching up to do. And I've got to go see if I can track down Mona anyhow."
"Mona", inquired Barnabas.
"She's a dear friend of Lisa's from her wrestling days." said Elizabeth.
"Not just a dear friend. But my best friend", said Lisa. "And I want to see if she's planning on visiting anytime soon. I'll be back in a little bit. You two talk and have fun."
"Very well", said Elizabeth, as Lisa gave a little bow and walked from the room.
"She's quite... unique", said Barnabas.
"Lisa is a wonderful wife and mother for David and the children. She's also very energetic and self-sufficent, as you may have noticed".
"I've noticed", says Barnabas.
"She has a pet grooming business in town that she operates three days a week, and she also makes the occasional appearance under her wrestling persona, attending reunion shows and conventions and the such."
"I had wondered how she occupies her time. She has so much... energy." smiled Barnabas.
"She's actually calmed down quite a bit. You should have seen her when she first arrived here with David. She was really hyper then."
"Indeed?", said Barnabas.
"Indeed", said Elizabeth.
And both shared a quick laugh at that.
Barnabas went on to explain to Elizabeth all that had happened, the letter from Julia and the "cure" she had offered.
"So that means, between Julia's serum and David's supplying the necessary... nutrients, you're essentially cured of that dark curse?", Elizabeth asked.
"So it seems", Barnabas says. "We'll have to wait until dawn to see how the serum works to be sure though."
"Well, Julia was a brilliant scientist and if anyone could develop a serum to overcome the effects of daylight, she would be the one."
"Most definitely", Barnabas agreed.
"And her devotion to you can not be questioned", added Elizabeth.
"Again, I must agree. Though the curse still hangs over my head, between Julia's serum and David's supplies, I feel as if a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders. As if I'm once again free of that dark shadow."
"Of course, fate has made being totally free impossible", Elizabeth sadly says, "but this is so very, very close. I'm so happy and relieved for you, Barnabas."
"Thank you. Let us hope this works."
"It will", said ELizabeth. "You can not allow any negativity or doubt."
"I agree Elizabeth.. and I won't.", smiles Barnabas. "And now, shall we change the subject? I want to know about Victoria Winters. Where is she? How is she?"
"Vickie is fine", Elizabeth says. "As you might have guessed, after you were forced to leave us again, Victoria got very depressed for a time. But then she became more determined than ever to track down her famly and find out where she came from."
"And you said she finally found out?"
"Yes, she did. A few years ago, and ironically, it was Lisa who supplied the missing pieces to the puzzle. Vickie stayed on here at Collinwood for many years and, even after going out into the world to pursue a career as a novelist...."
"A novelist", inquired Barnabas?
"Yes, she's written several short stories and books, under the pen name of Marilyn Ross. She's quite talented. And I'm afraid that her experiences here at Collinwood have given her no lack of inspiration to use."
"No doubt. And you approved of this?", Barnabas asked.
"Yes, most definitely. She's always been careful to be very respectful of the family name and is quite a talented and skilled writer. I consider Vickie as part of the family and fully trust her to be entertaining and insightful in her novels, but to stay to a higher standard. And she had never disapointed me. Not in the slightest."
"That's good to know", agreed Barnabas.
"Well, she was here visiting when David brought Lisa home and the two of them, Vickie and Lisa, hit it off quite well. And Lisa, after hearing Vickie's story, remembered of an old story she had heard while in the wrestling business about a 'secret child' that her employer's father allegedly had back in his younger days."
"A wrestling rumor? Hardly a credible source", said Barnabas.
"I agree, but Lisa decided to investigate after hearing Vickie's story... and after having heard these stories about her employer's father for so many years as well. It was just a whim, a loose end to follow up to see if it goes anywhere.. and the pieces seemed to fit together after a little digging. One thing led to another and finally, Vickie and Lisa confronted the current head of this family."
"And I take it that went well?", Barnabas asked?
"Not at first", Elizabeth said. "This family is very successful and rich and at first, felt that Victoria was just a fortune seeker attempting to commit fraud upon them."
"I can understand that", Barnabas agreed.
"But after much persistence by Vickie just to meet and talk, and a lot of effort by Lisa working on her good friend Steph's conscience, the head of this family agreed to a simple DNA test to determine if there was a relationship. And the evidence was conclusive. And after that, she was quickly welcomed into the family and now works for their business in public relations."
"And the name of this family. Of Victoria's new family?", asked Barnabas.
"Her father was a man, a promoter by the name of Vincent J. McMahon. Vickie's true name is Victoria McMahon".
After several weeks of using the serum that had been provided by Julia Hoffman, Barnabas was beginning to feel almost totally human again. If it wasn't for the units of blood that Cousin David provided regularly to remind him of his dark curse, Barnabas could almost pretend that he was just another man.
Barnabas rose early in the morning. It was just after 6:00am - he had adapted quite well to a more conventional lifestyle and now was sitting on the front porch of the old house and enjoying the rising of the sun and thinking back on the thousands of sunrises he had missed over the past two hundred years.
"Barnabas?", a voice interupted his thoughts?
"Yes Willie?", Barnabas said.
"I've got breakfast ready. I know you don't eat much and stuff, but I was wondering if you wanted something? Maybe some toast or coffee?"
"No Willie. I'm quite fine, thank you", Barnabas said.
"OK, Barnabas. But if you want anything, just tell me, OK?"
"I will Willie. Thank you", said Barnabas.
"It's mighty pretty, isn't it", Willie asked?
"What?", said Barnabas?
"The sun coming up! It's mighty pretty", Willie said.
"Yes. Yes, it is", Barnabas agreed.
And the two men stood there in silence on the front porch of the old Collinwood estate and watched as the sun rose into the early morning sky.
After giving Willie some instructions for the day, Barnabas decided to stroll over to Collinwood and visit with Elizabeth. She had called the night before on the telephone, an annoying contraption that Willie had insisted on having installed in the old house..
"Just in case we have an emergency, Barnabas. If Mrs. Stoddard or David need us...", Willie had said.
Barnabas has reluctantly agreed to have the phone installed. And when it rang the night before, he was quite glad of the inconvenience, for Elizabeth had news of Victoria Winters..
"McMahon", Barnabas thought to himself. "She found her family and uses the name McMahon now."
And Elizabeth had asked Barnabas to come over in the morning at some point for a visit so she could tell him her news.
Barnabas felt his pace quicken with a mixture of both anticipation and dread. He had avoided the very subject of Vickie since Elizabeth had first informed him of her current life on his second night back. He wanted to be sure that the serum provided by Dr. Hoffman's notes would work (it had) and also, Barnabas admitted to himself, he wasn't sure if he had the right to interfere and inject himself in her new life as a "Public Relations Specialist" for her new family, the McMahons and their company, World Wrestling Entertainment.
"She's moved on and established herself so well. Is there even a place for me? And with this curse still hanging over me, do I even have the right to presume a role in Vickie's life?", Barnabas thought to himself?
He cleared his head as he came to the front door of the grand old estate, Collinwood. With a sigh, he knocked loudly on the huge wooden door. It was only a matter of seconds before the door was open and there stood Lisa Moretti Collins, the wife of his Cousin David. Lisa was exuberant as always and quickly welcomed Barnabas into the great hall.
"Barnabas. It's great to see you. I know Liz has been expecting you and she's waiting in the library."
"Thank you Lisa", Barnabas said. "And how are you doing this fine morning."
"Wide open as usual", Lisa smiled. "I've got a big fan convention coming up in California next weekend and there is so much to do to get ready. I've got a match that night too, and I'm fixing to do some running to try and get back in ring shape."
"Sounds fascinating", Barnabas said. "What exactly is a fan convention?"
"Exactly what it says. It's a chance for all of us old time wrestlers to get together and hang out and play catch up with each other, plus we meet and greet the fans, sell autographs, do question and answer sessions, and whatever else the promoter decides to have us do."
"It sounds very exciting", Barnabas admitted.
"It's a load of fun. And I'm getting to wrestle an old friend, Lita, again. I think I told you about her?"
"The 'rocker chick' as you put it.. the one you had the so-called death match against?"
"Thats the one. She's a great wrestler and this should be a lot of fun. And now, I'd better go. I've got some running and jogging to do. I've gotta work off some of this flab before next weekend. I don't want to scare anyone."
"My dear, there is no way you could ever do that. You're a truly beautiful and fascinating young lady!"
Lisa smiled and reached up and gave Barnabas a quick hug and peck on the cheek.
"And you're a smooth talker and a great liar. Thank you for the compliment though."
"I only speak the truth", Barnabas says.
"Aw hush", says Lisa. "You'll have me blushing."
"Well, if you'll excuse me, you said Elizabeth is in the library."
"Yep!", said Lisa.
And as she started to go out the door, Lisa turned to Barnabas. "Hey Barnabas, why don't you come to the convention with us.. me and David? You'd enjoy it, I'm sure."
"I'm not really sure if that would be a good idea", Barnabas said.
"Come on now. You'd have fun. Just think about it, OK?"
"I will think about it", said Barnabas.
"Promise?", asked Lisa.
"Promise!", said Barnabas.
"Well, that's all I can ask", Lisa said. And she turned to continue on her run when she turned back around very quickly. "And by the way, I've talked to some of the WWE people and Vickie Winters McMahon will be there too."
"Vickie?", Barnabas said.
"Yep! I know you want to see her, so that's something else to think about too". Lisa said. "Gotta run now. Talk at you later"
And with that, Lisa broke out into a fast paced jog down the front lawn and off towards the coast.
Barnabas watched as Lisa vanished from sight and then turned to head into the library where Elizabeth was waiting for him. Now he was more anxious than ever to talk to Elizabeth and find out what she wanted to tell him.