In order to catch Beth's Diary up I have posted parts 7, 8, 9 AND 10 all at once!
Beth’s Diary – Part Ten
March 14, 2001
I can’t believe what I’m going to do – correction what we are going to do! Lani has talked Robbi and me into going to Acapulco for spring break. I must be an idiot, but it’s done.
I can’t deny that I could use a little stress relief; this last year of school is a killer. Really what I would like to do is just sleep for the week of spring break but I would imagine that sleep is probably the last thing I’ll be doing.
Mom and Clark are working on a room addition for their house. It is amazing to see how happy my mother is with him. Her eyes sparkle now and she is smiling practically all the time. It makes me so happy to see the joy she is experiencing; it also gives me hope that I’ll find that someday myself, with or without a man. Right now though I couldn’t fit a boyfriend in if I tried, which I haven’t.
No, I’m not still pining away for Carl. I do miss him, the friendship we shared the most. But in the long run we made the right choice; we weren’t the ‘one’ for each other. I’ll bet he is a fabulous cop and I really hope he is happy.
I still think often of my shadow man and lately more than I had in a long while. I wish I knew what had happened to him. Maybe he died or something? It was weird, I always felt him and then it was just gone; overnight that feeling was gone. How does that happen? I still feel safe, it’s not that I don’t, but it just doesn’t feel the same as it did when I was younger.
Where are you shadow man? Are you still out there somewhere? Maybe you are guarding some other little girl now, keeping her safe from something terrible. I can only hope that you yourself are safe and happy.
After graduation I have been offered a full –time position with the Free Press. I wish I could be more excited about it, but at least it’s a job. Have to try to look at the upside of it. It’s not the Times, but hopefully someday it will be. In the meantime it will be a paycheck and will keep me writing and gaining more experience and that is what really matters. I’ve also started looking for apartments for when I graduate. Mom and Clark keep telling me to come and stay with them for awhile, but I want to be on my own, you know? If I want to get up at 3 am and walk around naked eating a PB&J I can! Rent is high though and it will definitely be tight, but with close money management I can do it. Lani and I talked about sharing a place, but yesterday she got a job offer from a firm in San Francisco. She’s going to take it and I don’t blame her, the money is incredible. Still, she’ll be there and Robbi will be in San Diego when she isn’t off sailing somewhere and that sort of makes me sad.
It’s always been the three of us; the three musketeers. There wasn’t a single year of school that we didn’t share. We always had each other’s back, no matter what. We learned about life together, talked about boys and sex and how afraid we were of failing, at everything. For the first time in my life I will feel alone.
Okay sad sack, enough!
Mick punched a number into his phone and waited for an answer. It didn’t take long for Josef to pick up, delighted to see Mick’s number on the ID. His face was wearing a huge smile as he greeted his best friend. Mick had been calling more frequently and there had been a change in his attitude; not that he was a poster boy now for Vamps United or anything, but he did seem happier.
“Hey boyo, good to hear your voice! What’s up?”
Mick hesitated on the other end of the line, steeling himself for his next words; they were harder to say than he imagined. Instead he finally said, “Hey, what’s going on there?”
Josef recognized a decoy when he heard one – Mick never calls to just shoot the breeze. “I just lost $300,000 in the market. It makes me grumpy, so don’t waste my time. So I repeat, what’s up?”
Mick smiled and said, “I’m going to move back to LA. Can you get someone to get the loft ready?”
For a moment Josef wasn’t sure he had heard Mick properly. “Excuse me? Who is this?” he joked. “Certainly can’t be the Mick St. John I know.”
“Go ahead and snark Josef. You heard me, I’m coming home.”
“Well, well…this is a surprise! So when are you coming?”
“How soon can you have someone get things ready?”
“I can have it done in an hour if you want but somehow I don’t think that is your plan. So, you tell me when you want it done and it will be ready.”
Mick chuckled because he knew that Josef could do just that. A lot of money spread around can make anything happen. “Okay, let’s say in a week. I have some things to take care of here first.”
“Are you going to sell the house there?”
“No, I’m going to keep it. I really like this house.”
“Um hm. Why don’t I doubt that – all isolated and in the middle of nowhere? So, are you driving down or shall I send the jet?”
“I’m selling the car; after all, I have the Benz in storage in LA. So yeah, send the jet, I might as well come home in style!”
Josef rolled his eyes at Mick’s penchant for that old Benz and realized he better have it taken out of storage and checked over. “Okay, all will be ready. I’ll call you later with the flight times. And – I’ll have the loft ready because I assume you will be shipping some things?”
“Not much actually, I’ll probably just bring it on the jet.”
“It’s not a cargo plane you know! Don’t go scuffing up the leather Mick!”
Mick laughed out loud and pictured Josef frowning on the other end of the phone which is exactly what was happening. “Okay, no scuffing! I’ll see you soon buddy!” He heard Josef mutter something that might have been ‘fuck you’ and then the line went dead.
Mick continued to laugh, knowing that it was going to be good to go home.
“Okay guys, I like, have an idea!” Lani said, looking a bit unsure of herself.
Robbi’s eyebrows raised, two perfect arcs above round deep blue eyes. Robbi had the most gorgeous eyes that Beth had ever seen and for years she had been so envious of them. Her lashes were a mile long and so naturally thick she never had to wear mascara. They were also very expressive eyes and could never hide what she was feeling. It made her seem so vulnerable and naive, but if nothing hanging around with Lani for 16 years had gotten rid of the naiveté. She mentally rolled her eyes and then looked at Beth before saying, “Okay, what?”
Lani cleared her throat, a sure sign she was nervous and that made Beth and Robbi both even more curious. “Well, I was thinking about something. It’s our last year of school, you know? And – and we’ve, well, it’s all went by so fast and I was uh, thinking that we needed something to mark the passage or to celebrate I guess.” She looked at both of her friends as she tried to gauge what they were thinking.
“So, WHAT?” Beth said, waiting to see what was coming next and knowing Lani it could be anything.
“I – I was thinking that we could go away for spring break, you know?” she said the words in a rush and then squirmed in her seat as she waited for their responses.
“You have to be kidding me! I’m not going to Ft. Lauderdale with all the other idiots!” Robbi said, looking disgusted.
“No, no I wasn’t thinking about Florida. I actually was wanting to go to Mexico!”
“MEXICO,” Beth and Robbi said together.
Lani looked at them and knew she had a hard sell job ahead of her. “Okay, look, I know it’s kind of a wild idea, but I don’t mean we should like camp out on some crowded beach or anything. I booked us a suite in Acapulco!”
“Acapulco? A suite?” Beth shook her head and said, “NO. No way.”
“I’m with her – no way am I going.” Robbi said, clearly closed to the idea.
“Look, it’s a really nice hotel, the Hilton for God’s sake, not some sleazy motel okay? It’s a suite, a – a grown up place. In a really nice four star hotel by the way.”
Beth thought about it for a moment and was so tempted. Lounging around a pool didn’t sound too bad. As far as the suite went, it would be expensive, but she could contribute some money to the whole thing. Not a lot, but some. At any rate, she knew it wasn’t about the money anyway. Lani’s parents had money and so did Lani. They weren’t filthy rich or anything but they were the only family she knew that had a maid and a gardener. The idea began to appeal more and more…
Robbi saw the Beth was starting to weaken. “What, am I the only voice of sanity here? I’m NOT going down there to dance naked on the beach and get my picture on Girls Gone Wild! It’s a crazy idea!”
“Robbi, it’s the Hilton! Do you really think that’s where they film Girls Gone Wild at? No, we’re talking room service and spas, some pampering, margaritas by the pool and maybe a little dancing in the disco there. No Girls Gone Wild, I promise!”
Beth was won over by the time Lani had said ‘spa’ and nodded saying, “Okay, count me in!”
“Oh God, now I’m forced to go! If I don’t, 50 years from now I’ll still be hearing about whatever you did on this trip! This is like, like blackmail. But I’m telling you right now Lanelle and Elisabeth, I am NOT doing anything that involves wet tee shirts, do you hear me?”
Beth and Lani jumped up and pulled Robbi up as well for a hug. Soon all three were jumping up and down in their excitement. Suddenly, none of them could wait for the trip.
This time as Mick flew south he was much more relaxed, anxious even to get home. He had done a lot of soul-searching the past few months about everything and decided that Elka was right – he had to go home and rebuild his life. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he was willing to try.
His friendship with Elka this past year had been good for him in so many ways. Yeah, there was a little romance here and there and he genuinely cared about her, just not in an ‘in love’ kind of way. She had helped him make sense of his life and his past and had finally convinced him that unless he went home and faced his demons that he would never be really happy in this life, so he might as well check out now. That was a sobering thought to him.
What had all these years meant anyway? Was there a reason that he had met Coraline in the first place? Was it meant to be that she turn him? Is whatever is out there for him waiting, just like him? Whoever was waiting? He knew what he wanted to be the answer to that question, but the question was, did he have any right to it, to happiness? He sighed and leaned back in the seat of the jet, trying to still his tumultuous emotions.
The dozen or so boxes he had with him had been stowed away properly (no scuffing!) and he sat and sipped a glass of blood, lulled by the sound of the engines as they streaked over the Pacific coast. He closed his eyes and remembered the first time he had met Josef and realized how far they had come in their friendship.
Coraline, dressed to the nines in another beautiful and clingy red dress was introducing Mick to some of her friends, most of whom Mick didn’t like. They were a square, up-tight group and he couldn’t imagine them really cutting loose. The one called Cynthia seemed to have a giant poker up her ass she stood so straight. The worst one though was Josef, someone whom Cora seemed to be really trying to impress.
They stood looking at one another, each taking the other’s measure and Mick knew that he didn’t measure up at all. Kostan wore a really pricey suit, Mick could tell and a silk shirt as well with real gold cuff links. Like he had just stepped out of the pages of some high priced magazine. Who really dresses like that anyway, Mick wondered.
Josef nodded to a passing waiter who immediately stopped and inquired what he might need. “I’ll take a Bloody Mary, hold the Mary,” he told him.
“Of course Mr. Kostan, right away.” The waiter hurried off and Mick watched him with a raised eyebrow.
Within a minute the waiter returned with Josef’s drink and Mick stared at it in fascination. It was the strangest looking Bloody Mary he had ever seen; it almost did look bloody.
Cora saw him staring and laughed nervously. “It’s his own special mixture. Looks real, doesn’t it?”
“I have to admit it does,” Mick said, slightly disgusted. It looked thick and so very red…
“He’s been drinking them for years!” Cora said, giving Josef an inscrutable look. He stared at her as she spoke and Mick couldn’t determine if it was a look of amusement or scorn.
“I think I’ll go and get some air, if you don’t mind. Excuse me, please,” Mick said and made a hasty retreat to the terrace to escape the claustrophobic atmosphere of the house.
Josef and Coraline watched as Mick disappeared through the glass doors leading to the terrace. “You have got to be kidding me Coraline! You think you’re going to turn that one? He’ll never make it. Look, I get it, he’s pretty so just play with him for awhile, like you always do and then show him the door!”
“Josef, this is different. I love him, I’m crazy about him. He’ll do fine, I’ll teach him.”
Josef shook his head and said, “You are totally out of your mind, you know that? He may be some musician who thinks he walks on the wild side but he’s a babe in the woods. He’ll be a liability to the tribe. I’m telling you not to turn him.”
“Is that an official ruling Josef?” Coraline’s eye’s narrowed and Josef could see that he had really pissed her off.
“No, just some friendly advice Coraline – advice you would be wise to take.” He walked off then, done with the whole subject.
Cora stood watching him walk away and took a deep breath to try to calm herself. She was trembling with rage; she wanted to strike out at him. Instead, she went outside to find Mick, who was sitting by the pool in a deck chair, nursing a scotch.
“Hi,” she said, standing next to the lounge.
“May I?” she said, indicating his lap.
“Sure, climb on little girl,” he teased.
Coraline settled onto his lap and reached for the glass of scotch and took a drink. She laid her head against his and listened to his heartbeat that hummed strong and reassuring as it beat in his chest. She loved listening to it; it comforted her when she was upset, like now.
“You’re cold,” he said as he pulled her closer to him. “Want my jacket?”
“No, I’m fine really. I like the chill, it feels good.”
Mick was always amazed when she said that. To him she felt perpetually chilled but it didn’t seem to bother her so he just shrugged it off. “You know honey, I think that Kostan guy is a real piece of work! What’s with him anyway? What man dresses like that?”
“Josef isn’t so bad. I’ve known him a long time you know. He just likes to dress nice.”
“Seems kind of like a sissy boy to me, but if he makes you happy I guess its okay. At least I don’t have to worry about that kind of man hitting on you. But just for the record may I say that I think he is a pompous jerk?” He shook his head and laughed adding, “I know he’s got money, but he could really stand a little humility!”
“Yeah, sometimes I agree with you.”
15 days later…
“Josef, he won’t eat! I mean, I got him to feed once, but now he won’t do it again. Not fresh or from a glass either. I don’t know what to do! He says he wants to die. Help me, please?” Cora was frantic as she spoke to Josef on the phone.
“Gee Coraline, why don’t you just help him die then? You know, you got some kind of nerve calling me when I told you not to do this. Now you want me to clean up your mess!” Josef let out an exasperated sigh; same old Coraline, she never thinks about anything but what she wants and damn the consequences. “Okay fine, I’ll come and talk to him but I’m not promising anything okay?”
An hour later Josef walked into Coraline’s house and stood in the living room scowling at her. “Well, where is he?”
“He’s downstairs, come on,” she said, leading the way.
“I’m telling you right now Cora that if he really wants to die I’m going to help him! So you better be prepared.”
He heard her sharp intake of breath behind him and felt her grab his arm and then blinked in irritation as she threw him against the wall. “Don’t you dare, you bastard. I love him, he’ll be fine, he just needs some help! I mean it Josef, I love him!”
“So what? You love him, great, that solves everything doesn’t it Coraline? Now get the hell out of my way!” He pushed her aside and descended the stairs, looking for Mick. He found him huddled in a corner and not looking too far from death on his own.
Josef knelt down in front of him and said, “SO, you’re on a hunger strike huh? I can see that’s doing you a lot of good. Did she bother to tell you that if you want to off yourself that this ain’t going to cut it?” Josef indicated Cora who was standing over them, ready to pounce if necessary. He held his hand up to her in a ‘stop’ motion and said, “Back off Coraline!” She retreated a few steps and stood glaring at him malevolently.
“Look boyo, I know this ain’t what you signed up for; you know, the whole happily ever after thing. She should have told you, you don’t just go around making vamps like that. I mean, some people do, but you thought you were getting something else here, I know. Mick, I understand your whole world is upside down now – I’ve been there, okay?”
Mick finally looked up at Josef and actually saw concern and regret on his face. Josef looked him squarely in the face, meeting Mick’s gaze unblinkingly. Maybe Mick had underestimated this guy; for the first time he thought maybe he could trust someone since this hell had begun.
“Look, the only way you can die is to have your head cut off or to be burned to death. Starving might work eventually Mick, but you don’t want that. If you truly want to die, I’ll help you, but you need to think about it with a clear head, okay? You need to eat and evaluate the situation. In a few days we’ll talk again and if it’s what you want,” he heard Cora shriek in the background, “If it’s truly what you want then, I’ll help you, okay? In the meantime, come back to my place with me, away from her and get your head screwed on straight. He stood up and offered his hand to Mick, waiting patiently for him to make his decision.
Mick stood wordlessly and nodded to Josef. “Okay,” Josef said, “Let’s go.”
Cora was screaming and trying to block the stairs so that they couldn’t leave. “No, NO. This is not what I asked you over here to do Josef. You are NOT taking him from me, you can’t. I won’t let you take him from me!” She sank down on the stairway, tears running down her face as she begged Josef to stop.
Josef stepped over her and so did Mick, leaving her to her tears. Just then Mick felt no love for her, only betrayal. He didn’t know how he would feel in a few days, but he had to figure it all out. Josef offered him the opportunity to do just that and he was taking it.
The girls stepped out of the airport in Acapulco into bright sunshine and each one of them grinned; happy they were there. They pulled their luggage behind them waiting for the shuttle from the Hilton to pick them up to take them to the hotel.
On the ride to the hotel the girls chatted non-stop about everything they saw; all the colorful buildings and gaily dressed tourists. They caught brief glimpses of the aqua colored Pacific in the distance from time to time and oohed and aahed over it, barely able to control their excitement.
The suite at the hotel was perfect for them; huge with a living area and bedrooms, a balcony and a bathtub you could swim in. When they stood on the balcony they could see the pool down below them and they decided first thing to do was to hit the pool.
After changing into bathing suits and applying (begrudgingly) some sunscreen they made their way to the pool to check it out. As they got close Beth could smell the chlorine in the air and inhaled deeply; it was a smell that reminded her of so many summers at home with her friends at the neighborhood pool. She slid her sunglasses down over her eyes as they settled into deck chairs and looked around.
For the most part there were a lot of families at the pool with a few other single people tossed into the mix. It didn’t really resemble any kind of spring break frenzy and for that Robbi was eternally grateful.
A waiter came along to take their drink orders and they each opted for bottled water; it was hot out and they weren’t sure about drinking alcohol out in the fierce sunshine. When he brought the water back to them he leaned down and told them that the ‘action’ was going on at the beach later that evening and that he hoped he would see them there. Lani giggled at his comment, Beth smiled and Robbi rolled her eyes.
None of them made it down to the beach that night, but they still had a wonderful time. Maybe they really were getting older Beth mused, because she thought that all of them, even Lani was content to just hang out together. They went down to the disco after dinner and danced the night away, sometimes dancing with each other and sometimes whatever guy asked them. By 3 am they were all ready to hit their beds and not one of them was up before noon the next day.
That set a comfortable pattern for them; sometimes they fit in a spa treatment or massage, but otherwise it was much the same. One night they did venture down to the beach but even Lani seemed a bit nervous of everything that was going on there so they didn’t stay too long and they definitely all kept their shirts on!
They were happy to stay in the safety of the hotel; it provided lots of entertainment and none of them regretted missing the parties at the beach. All too soon their 5 days were up and it was time to go home.
As the plane lifted off Beth watched Acapulco fade into the distance below her. She felt relaxed and rested, even if she hadn’t slept spring break away. She had spent it with her two best friends and she knew she would never forget this vacation!
Mick walked into the loft, accompanied by Josef and looked around, pleased to be home. It was spotless, due to the cleaning crew the Josef had in earlier which always made Mick happy since he knew he was compulsively clean.
“Here, this is yours,” Josef said handing Mick a thick envelope.
Mick opened it and studied the contents; it appeared to be a deed – the deed to the whole building and it was in his name. “Josef, what is this?”
“Uh, let’s see,” he said, frowning a bit as he pointed to the writing on the document. “Hm, it says D-E-E-D and it has your name on it. I think it means you own the building, or that’s what my attorneys said anyway.”
“Josef, how is this possible?”
“You don’t ever read the financial statements I send you do you?” Josef asked, shaking his head.
Mick shrugged and said, “I glance at them, sometimes. Occasionally anyway.”
“Well, if you actually read them more often you would know that your portfolio was getting pretty large and I needed to diversify some of your investments. Voila! You’re now a landlord!”
“You’re joking, right? I don’t have enough money for something like this do I?”
“Not anymore. But you’ll recoup, pretty quickly I suspect.” He walked towards the door and turned around before he left and added, “Mick, it’s yours. Enjoy it! Oh, and try reading the financials from now on. A person could rob you blind and you’d never know!”
The door closed with a soft click and Mick looked around him, at ‘his’ loft and grinned.
Welcome home Mick!
Beth sat up in bed, her heart racing. She looked around the room, dimly lit by the street light outside the apartment. Everything was quiet, as quiet at LA ever got that was, but something was different.
She felt warm; not feverish, just - warm. She got up and looked out the bedroom window, gazing out at the street. Nope, all was calm out there. She didn't feel any danger; quite the opposite in fact. She felt safe, content. She stared out into the night as she hugged her shoulders and let out a deep breath. Suddenly it occurred to her.
Shadow man, is it you?