I have two people to thank for their help with the story. The first is my editor, Engbunny. She has been with me since the early days of What My Heart Desires and is the biggest supporter of my efforts. I am endlessly thankful for her, especially in this endeavor. You see, she cannot handle blood! Yes, thats right, she finds nothing fascinating or intriguing about vampires! She has watched two episodes, mostly because of my nagging and insistence that there was something magical about the show. She would agree (I think) that Mick is indeed a hunk and that Josef’s snarky attitude is wonderful. She tells me that she likes the story, but has to ignore the blood part. Hard to do, but so far it’s going well. Thanks ‘sistah from anothah mistah’, I couldn’t do it without you!
The second person I want to thank is VampFan5. For months she has listened to my thoughts on building my own ML universe and characterizations. She has enthusiastically offered thoughts and opinions and freely given her advice. Good thing those cell minutes are free because otherwise we’d both be in trouble! Those hours spent e-mailing and talking, fine tuning different points of the stories have been such a meaningful boost to me; I’ve not only gained a friend, but also another sister. My gratitude is endless for this awesome woman. Thanks J, from the bottom of my heart!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any recognizable characters or the basic story of Moonlight itself. If I did, that’d be cool though, wouldn’t it? Alas, I only play with them.
Beth’s Diary – The Beginning
January 22, 1997
Today is my 16th birthday. Just an ordinary birthday really; family and friends are gathering together for laughter, hamburgers and cake. Chocolate of course. What would my birthday be without my mom’s special to-die-for chocolate cake?
I’ve decided to start this diary because they say that keeping a journal can help you with issues. And boy, do I have a few. Not that things are bad in my life, but things haven’t always been like this. Calm – ordinary, full of school and home work, gossiping with my friends over my latest crush; the usual things that occupy a teenage girl’s life. Someday I would like to become a writer, so this is just practice I guess.
My name is Elizabeth Elaine Turner. I live with my mom in Glendale, California. Mom is single, never married in fact. She’s the best mom anyone could ever have though; we’ve never had to worry about a roof over our heads or food for the table. When people talk about their dads, I can’t help but look at them blankly. Never had one, so I guess it’s true you don’t miss what you never knew.
I remember my Grandpa Turner some. He died when I was 7. He would take walks with me and pull Pep-O-Mint Lifesavers out of his pocket for me. When I think of him, that’s what I miss the most; the smell of those Lifesavers when I hugged him. Mom and Grandma were devastated by his passing, but I always felt he was still here somehow, watching over us. Every now and again I buy a roll of Pep-O-Mint Lifesavers and think about my Grandpa and hope that he is proud of me.
Grams is getting older now; I see it as I watch her move slowly across the dining room floor, her hesitant steps planned carefully and cautiously executed. Mom says she needs a cane, but Grams just shrugs off the idea. She asks if we think she’s old or something and then gives me a rakish wink. But as I get older I am more aware that her time with us is limited too. Other than a few assorted cousins that’s it for family really. We Turner’s were not really a prolific bunch I guess you could say.
Oh, but I forgot mom. Beth, how could you forget her? As I said, best mom ever!!! Dorothy Turner got pregnant at 17, only a year older than me now. I wonder about that, how it changed and complicated her life? My grandparents lives as well, but no one ever complained about it. Mom left high school in her senior year; the year when we are so socially conscious of where we are heading in life and how we are going to get there, or so they tell me. Her life was heading for diapers and 2 am feedings, running straight for the fast track to nowhere fast.
Unless of course you take my grandparents into consideration. After mom had me they gave her just enough time for a good taste of reality and then ushered her right back on the track for school and a future. She got her GED and then enrolled in college and much to her own surprise finished not quite four years later with a teaching degree in social sciences. Ms. Turner, the teacher. I’m so proud of her. Of course, it’s a lot to live up to, but I’m trying my best.
I’ve got a year and a half of high school still and then I’m off (keep your fingers crossed) for the school of journalism at UCLA, hopefully with a scholarship. I know Mom and Grams have put aside money for my education, but if I can score a scholarship for most of it that’s just more money for Mom’s future. She just laughs over that and asks me what in the world did I think she was saving for anyway?
School – well, it’s okay I guess. I really like debate and my creative writing classes. I’ll get through the algebra and chemistry, always mindful of those looming SAT’s and the magical word ‘S-C-H-O-L-A-R-S-H-I-P!
I have two best friends – Robbi and Lani. We’re pretty much the three musketeers (doesn’t that sound so cliché?), but it’s true, none-the-less! Since kindergarten we have done practically everything together, they are the sisters I never had, just not the blood kind which is fine with me. Robbi wants to study marine biology and work with the whales and stuff, pretty cool and that suits her just great. Lani wants to be a business girl, is planning on getting a degree in organizational management when we go to college. That sounds pretty intimidating to me, but she’s just the girl for it!
Even with all that, sometimes the past still comes back to me and at times I can’t even figure out the reason for why. The past with the scary woman who floated above the room and shrieked and the man who saved me from her. Sometimes it seems clear what happened, and other times it’s like I can almost remember it, but like it was really only a dream or something. Mom and Grams tell me that if I were supposed to remember it I would, so I should just let it go. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it though, not really. But wouldn’t it be nice if I could?
Beth sat back and re-read her first diary entry. She’d never done this, kept a diary and she had really debated over whether to start it out Dear Diary. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to start? But it felt stupid so she just skipped that part.
As she read the words images of her Gramps floated through her mind. She frowned as she realized that it was harder and harder for her to remember him, what he looked like, and the sound of his voice. Only the smell of the Lifesavers was clear anymore and that made her sad. She really did feel like he was still out there somewhere, keeping watch. But Beth also knew that he wasn’t the only one – HE watched, the man from the shadows.
She had never told her Mom and Grams about him. He didn’t scare her, not at all. Actually, he made her feel safe; he rescued her from the scary woman and she knew he would never hurt her. Sometimes the flashes of what happened were fairly clear; she could remember him picking her up and telling her that he was going to take her to her Mom. She held on tightly to him, clinging with her four year old arms to the man with hope, the kind of blind faith and hope that children have that makes them believe that a mom can kiss a boo-boo away or that the tooth fairy will leave you money. He was her hero then, her own personal super-hero or guardian angel. He was with her then, the way he was now.
Some people would probably tell her that she imagined him – that the quick glimpses of him were only her imagination, but Beth knew better. He was real, but he was also her secret.
Her reverie was interrupted by a knock on her bedroom door and it startled her. She realized that she had been chewing on her pen and she dropped it down on the desk and shook her head at the deep bite marks on it. She managed to scoop it into a drawer and close the diary before Robbi and Lani burst into the room.
“Hey! C’mon, everybody is waiting for you down stairs!” Lani said, tugging on Beth’s hand insistently in an effort to get her on her feet.
“Okay, okay. What’s the big deal? They aren’t going to start without me are they?” she laughed.
Robbi was looking at the diary on the desk and she raised a quizzical eyebrow as she realized what it was. She saw Beth watching her and she only smiled and gave a slight shrug. If Beth wanted to talk about it she would, Robbi knew.
Both Robbi and Lani knew what had happened to Beth as a child, the whole neighborhood did. They also knew that she had nightmares about it sometimes too. Beth had often talked about her troubled dreams with her friends, telling them about the scary woman in white and the shadow man who saved her.
Lani liked to fanaticize about the man, Beth’s hero. She told so many stories about him one day returning and sweeping Beth off of her feet that it was sometimes a game to the girls. They played 20 questions about him; what color eyes did he have, what did his voice sound like? Never mind the fact that he would be old now, that was 12 whole years ago. He wouldn’t likely be someone that Beth would ever think was handsome now! But it was a fun game and they spent many happy hours invested in it.
Lani was still tugging on Beth’s hand and said, “We gotta go! Where’s your tiara Princess Girl?” Years ago Beth’s Grandpa had given her a tiara for her birthday and it was tradition for her to wear it every year and this year would be no different. Beth pulled open the top drawer in her dresser and reverently pulled it out and held it up for Lani and Robbi to admire.
The tiara was fit for a princess; it was silver plate set with pink and white CZ’s. Through the years a few of the stones fell off but Beth still treasured it. Her Gramps had given it to her for her 5th birthday. Her mother thought it was an unnecessary indulgence for a small child but Gramps insisted.
“Beth, you are a special girl, our princess and so you should have a crown,” he had told her.
Beth had hugged him tight and kissed him soundly on the cheek. “Thank you Gramps! Will I always be your princess?”
“Of course you will. But more importantly, someday you will be someone else’s too!”
Beth hadn’t understood what that meant back then but the memory of it made her smile. So each year she wore the tiara; for her Gramps and she hoped that he could see her that he was still proud of her.
Beth set the tiara on her head, pushing the small plastic combs into her hair to keep it in place. She turned her head this way and that, admiring the sparkle of the CZ’s. It really did make her feel like a princess she decided!
The three girls made their way downstairs where other people were gathered to share in the birthday festivities. It wasn’t a huge crowd, which was fine with Beth; it was the people that she loved the most and so it was perfect. She gave her Mom and Grams a quick kiss each and said hello to each of the others. Even though it was January it was an uncommonly fine day and they were going to have the party outside, so everyone went out the back door to where the yard had been decorated with balloons and banners in celebration.
“Mom, aren’t I a little old for balloons? Please tell me you don’t have a clown hiding somewhere?” she teased.
“Some Chippendale’s guys would be nice!” Lani interjected with a giggle.
Dorothy turner raised an eyebrow at that and shook her head. Her parents were going to have trouble with that one, she knew. “Nonsense Beth, you are never too old for balloons!”
Beth and Robbi were both still laughing over Lani’s remark but finally managed, “Well, thanks for the thought Mom.”
The grill was going and Beth could smell hamburgers cooking. Her stomach growled loudly and she was glad that everyone seemed to be talking so no one heard it. She wandered over to the picnic table that was set with a brightly colored cloth and had lots of food setting on it, waiting for the burgers to be done. Beth grabbed a pickle off of a platter and popped it into her mouth, savoring the taste that made her mouth pucker a little.
“How much longer Clark?” Beth asked. Clark was a neighbor and a friend of the family. Beth often wondered why he and her mom didn’t date because they were really good friends and he was often around their house. He was a nice guy and when Beth was younger if her bike chain needed greasing or something, Clark was the go-to guy.
“What Beth, you think you’re hungry or something?” he asked her, his eyes twinkling with humor. He probed one of the burgers and said, “Hm, I think this one is about done. Grab a plate; I wouldn’t want to keep the birthday girl waiting!”
“You don’t have to tell me twice!” She grabbed a plate and headed back to the grill. Clark plopped the sizzling patty onto the bun she had grabbed and she inhaled deeply, enjoying the aroma of one of her favorite foods. Everyone else was lining up to get theirs so she moved quickly out of the way and went to pile on the fixings!
The girls took their plates and went to sit on a blanket that had been spread over the lawn. Beth took her first bite of the hamburger and chewed slowly, savoring the taste.
Is that one of your ‘specials’ Beth?” Robbi asked.
“Yeah, and it is GOOD!” She had piled jalapeño’s, guacamole, pepper jack cheese and hot sauce on the burger. She loved anything spicy – the hotter the better. She took another bite and a sliced jalapeno fell out of the burger and onto her plate. She frowned and picked it up and popped it into her mouth; she refused to waste a bit of that treat. “What did you put on yours?”
Robbi shook her head and said, “Nothing like that – same old, same old! I don’t know how you can eat that stuff!” Robbi lifted the top bun and stared at mayo, lettuce and tomato.
“I know you don’t!”
“You two are freaks, you know that? How many times have we had this debate?” Lani asked, eating her own cheese burger which was piled high with pickles and potato chips and mustard.
“Let’s just admit it ladies, we all have our own favorites. If we were ever stranded on a desert isle, we wouldn’t have to argue over ingredient toppings for our burgers!” Beth said.
“Uh, assuming that some cows got stranded with us of course?” Robbi quipped, ever the practical one.
“Yeah, I guess,” Beth laughed.
“And maybe the Chippendales guys too!” Lani added.
Both Robbi and Beth rolled their eyes as they finished their food. Lani had a poster of the guys hanging in her bedroom; it seemed to be all she ever thought about, finding a way to see them for real.
“Yeah, them too!” Beth and Robbi chorused to together, giggling.
The day passed happily, mostly spent talking and laughing with friends and neighbors. At dusk Beth’s Mom lit the candles on her birthday cake and carried it outside. Beth’s eyes lit up with excitement as she saw it.
“Oh Mom, I’ve been waiting all day for this!” she told her, hugging her Mom after Dorothy set the cake down on the picnic table. Beth gazed at the cake, the candle glow shining in her blue eyes, making them sparkle.
“Hurry up! Make a wish and blow ‘em out!” Grams said, as excited as Beth was. When you get to be her age, you appreciated birthdays a whole lot more. You might not be as thrilled with them she thought, but you appreciated having them.
“Hm, let’s see,” Beth said, taking her time. She enjoyed this moment and she enjoyed teasing her grandma. It was a game they played each year and the best part of the day; well except maybe actually eating the cake. “A wish huh? What do I wish for?” She grew quiet for a moment, he wish decided. It was an easy wish; it was the same each year. She closed her eyes and concentrated.
Bring my shadow man to me!
It wouldn’t ever happen, she knew. But still, it was her wish…
He watched quietly from the shadows of the neighboring yard, hidden from the view of most. A few cats and dogs knew that he hid there, but they wouldn’t approach him he knew. This was the way the party ended each year, with Beth making a wish and blowing out her candles before the entire group ate cake.
He remembered some of his own birthdays when he was a child; the cake, the candles glowing brightly. Ah, the taste of his mom’s lemon cake, his favorite. She prepared it each year for him, only on his birthday. The last time he had had that cake was his 30th birthday, a lifetime ago.
He gazed at Beth as she ate her cake and smiled as he saw her lick chocolate frosting off of her fingers. It had been 12 years since he had carried her away from that burning inferno where he had killed Coraline. He remembered Beth’s small arms clutching him desperately around his neck, the fire reflecting brightly off of her blue eyes. He turned away from the fire, refusing to watch it burn, satisfied that he had done what he needed to do. He would suffer the consequences (and maybe the grief) later on; right now Dorothy Turner was waiting for her daughter and so he left the building burning brightly.
When Mick got Beth into the Benz, he tucked a soft blanket around her gently and sat her down in the rear seat before taking his own place. Silently she crawled into the passenger seat next to him and all he could do was smile and nod that it was okay. Before they had driven a mile she had fallen asleep, apparently exhausted after her ordeal with Coraline. He wondered if she had been hurt, but she seemed to be fine from what Mick could see. At least he had gotten to her before Coraline had tried to turn her. Mick could never have forgiven himself if he had not made it in time.
At the Turner house in Glendale Mick handed Beth over to her mother’s arms. Three pairs of grateful eyes shed tears of joy to have the child home, apparently safe. Mick said very little about it all and they asked little as well. At the time they were just so thankful to have her back that the questions didn’t really come to them. Mick knew that they would come later and that would hopefully give him time to formulate some replies. He turned down their offer of a meal, a drink and made to leave. Harold Turner handed Mick a check for a ridiculously large sum of money; Mick waved it away.
How did he explain that finding this child had set him free? That now maybe his life could go on and he saw that it was possible to change the direction of his life, in ways he never thought possible? That he was grateful to them?
You didn’t he knew. He only knew that he couldn’t accept their money. And a week later, when the check arrived in the mail he had finally sent it to a local children’s shelter, in the Turner’s name. It seemed a fitting way for the money to be spent.
Through the years he had watched, making sure she was safe. He feared that she had caught glimpses of him from time to time; it used to worry him but time has a way of taking those kinds of worries away. If she had seen him, she was obviously okay with it. So he watched, telling himself that it was for her, to make sure she was okay. Year after year he stood silent guard over her life seeing it as his duty. He stood in the shadows when Harold died and shed a few tears himself as his body was laid to rest. He had watched as Grace aged; he could see how her body ached and hurt her as she moved and he also knew that she would not long be in this world either.
He sunk a bit farther into the shadows as he heard a movement nearby. As he saw who approached he stepped forward and nodded a greeting.
“She looks beautiful, doesn’t she?”
“Yes. And happy,” Mick said.
“I think so.”
“Does she remember?” Mick asked.
“If she does she doesn’t ever speak of it, to me anyway.” The words were spoken with a resigned shrug.
“As long as she’s happy, nothing else matters.”
Both nodded and Mick stepped back into the shadows. He was content.