Where Evil Lurks

Welcome to Moonlight Madness - Where Evil Lurks



This is the fourth story in my Moonlight saga.



Story One - The Beginning - Beth's Diary

Story Two - With Arms Wide Open

Story Three - Barely Breathing

Cast of Characters



Monday, December 26, 2011

Chapter 11

Josef knocked on Lani’s door and while he waited for her to answer he was a bit surprised to realize that he was nervous about it. He hadn’t come to her apartment for a few days because he was afraid she was growing tired of his presence there for the nightly phone calls from Mick and Beth. He didn’t understand her at all; she was a master at hiding what she was thinking or feeling. He’d bet she was a killer at poker.

Vampires have to master keeping secrets but most humans just weren’t that adept at it. They say they can keep a secret, but in the end, very few can. It was one of the reasons that he respected Beth so much; she had kept the secret no matter what. That was proving difficult in her relations with the third member of the three musketeers as he had dubbed Beth, Lani and Robbi in his mind. He almost envied Mick, watching them all together as kids because he knew that those three must have given Dorothy and probably Clark more than a few gray hairs.

Beth was Mick’s problem and Lani? Well, she was her own problem he guessed and for some reason that thought bothered him. She was the most overly independent, infuriating and amusing woman he had ever known. He’d pity the poor guy who ended up with her, that was for sure.

So why did he feel so disappointed that she didn’t like him?

She was an enigma; not swayed by money and sometimes she looked at you as if she could tell every secret you had, however deeply they were buried in the darkness of your heart. She had her own secrets, he knew that much about her and he meant to learn them. It couldn’t be good for her to keep it all bottled up inside of her. He was on a mission; discover what made Lani tick.

When she opened the door it startled him; he hadn’t even heard her approach it. She stood there looking at him with well-defined (and beautiful he thought) eyebrows arched and just the hint of a smile playing at one of the corners of her incredibly lush lips. She leaned against the door jamb, her arms folded across her chest, waiting for him to speak.

“Hi Lani,” he began and then felt strangely tongue tied, faltering as he tried to choose his next words.

“Josef,” she said, still waiting.

“I – uh, may I come in?” He never had to ask to come in to someone’s house. It felt awkward and he normally loved awkward. Why was this so hard?

Wordlessly she stepped aside, completely aware of his discomfort. She swore that she saw some sweat beading his upper lip; it should amuse her, but she almost felt guilty about it. “Have a seat Josef. Can I offer you a drink?” she asked as she headed to the liquor cabinet. Even if he didn’t need one she certainly did. He nodded to her and she poured them both a finger of scotch and handed one to him with what she hoped was a smile, but felt more like a grimace.

Josef had sat down on the sofa and crossed his legs, trying to look casual and relaxed, except that he was anything but. He welcomed the liquor, even if he couldn’t feel its effects. The glass she handed him was heavy, Waterford he noticed and he sipped slowly at it, letting the burn calm him a bit.

“So?” she asked, sipping from her own glass of Macallen. It was smooth and soothing and she tried to maintain an air of relaxed composure as she waited to see what he had to say. For god’s sake, say something her mind screamed.

“I was wondering if you’d like to come to dinner at my house tomorrow. It seems as if I’m always intruding on you here, so I thought possibly you might enjoy it. I have a wonderful chef you know.”

“The one who cooks for you meals on heels you mean? Yes, I remember he was quite good.” The night Beth had been turned; as much as she would like to forget it was still starkly vivid in her head. She had been thankful to stay at Josef’s that night. “So, what’s he cooking for dinner?” she asked, trying to lighten the mood.

“Anything you’d like Lani,” he said and then felt embarrassed at how sincere he’d sounded. Get a grip Kostan!

“Well, whatever he is preparing for your, um, ladies would be fine. I’ll come directly from work, so I should be there, shall we say, 7-ish?”

He nodded and took another sip of his scotch, afraid to drink it too fast; afraid this conversation would be over if he did. What the hell is up with that?

He was almost startled when her phone rang and he watched as she uncrossed her long legs and went to answer it. For such a small girl she had really long, attractive legs he realized. Or maybe just the tiny little shorts she was wearing made them look that way. He was suddenly aware of urgency in her voice as she spoke on the phone.

“Yes, I’ll be there right away Kevin. Half an hour or so. Um hm, okay. Tell her I love her and I’ll call Dorothy. Okay, bye,” she said as she ended the call and then immediately dialed a number. “Hey Dorothy, this is it! Robbi is on the way to the hospital.” She listened for a moment and said, “Yes, that’s the one. I’ll see you there? Okay, bye!”

“Robbi is in labor I take it?” Josef asked.

Lani nodded and then looked down at her bare legs. I have to change; I’ll only be a moment.”

It literally didn’t take her much more than a moment before she came back into the room, skinny jeans accenting her lovely legs to their best. She had also pulled on a pair of sandals and was in the process of grabbing her purse and keys when Josef said, “Do you think they’d mind if I came along?”

If Lani was totally surprised at his words she covered it well. “I suppose not. But why would you want to?”

“I like Robbi and Kevin. I do care if she’s alright you know.”

Lani shrugged as she closed the door behind them and punched a code into the alarm box. “Suit yourself Josef,” she said as she headed to the elevator, Josef following quickly behind her.

In the parking garage she headed to the Maserati and Josef said, “Why don’t you ride with me? I can bring you home later as well Lani.”

“We don’t have any idea how long this is going to take Josef. It could be morning for all we know.”

“Well, I am a night person after all,” he quipped and was finally rewarded by a smile.

“You are indeed! Alright, lead on MacDuff!”



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Beth was excitedly watching as Tim and Mick got the new 50” flat screen tv installed in the living room. While buying the tv for the workout room Mick had decided to update the old tv in the living room. This one was simple; just hook it up to the satellite dish and go. The new tv required a visit by the dish company and that meant that Beth couldn’t be here, a problem he knew.

He might have been surprised by Beth’s reaction to Mary earlier, but then again, this was Beth and even a human she had a bit of a problem with jealousy, although she would never admit it. Still, both women had chatted upstairs and seemed to be getting along quite well and he hoped that Beth could go to Mary’s while the satellite guy was here.

Beth watched with excitement as Mick and Tim mounted the new tv. Normally, she didn’t watch much tv, but because of her hated exile right now she spent far too much time in front of the boob tube. This one would be wonderful for movies too she thought and couldn’t wait to see some of her favorites. That is if she had them here; she decided then and there that an internet shopping spree was in order. She laughed as Mary told Tim that he had better be planning on putting one of these in their house.

Mary was quite a woman Beth had decided when the woman had come upstairs to speak with Beth after she had wanted to rip the woman’s throat out. That had scared Beth; what if she couldn’t learn to control that impulse? Every woman she knew would be seen as a threat and that would be horrible to deal with.

This was an aspect of her turning that she had never anticipated. She had no control of her feelings around Mick. She realized that she wanted him, needed in physically, but this protecting her mate characteristic was going to take some management. She wasn’t normally a jealous person after all, why did it come out so strongly now?

Mary had explained it all to her, the connections between a fledgling and sire and to complicate that, between husband and wife were incredibly strong. Mary said she had felt the same around Tim when he first turned her and she would even get jealous when he spent so much time trapping for furs that supported them for a long while. And when they went to trading posts it was agony for her, but she learned to control it and was confident that Beth would too she told her.

And so Beth would too, even if it freakin’ killed her!

They were all admiring the picture clarity and quality when Beth’s cell rang and she saw that it was Robbi; since they had talked earlier she was surprised. “Hi Robbi!” she said, hoping that everything was okay.

“It’s Kevin. This is it Beth, we’re at the hospital. I brought the laptop so you can ‘be here’ too. Once we’re settled in I’ll call again. I think this is going to go pretty fast.”

“Okay Kevin! I love you both and I’ll be seeing you soon!” she ended the call and smiled at the others who had all heard Kevin. “There’s going to be a baby soon!”

“Oh, what a happy day for them,” Mary said, unaware of Beth’s premonition.

“I hope so Mary, I sincerely hope so.” But she was suddenly scared to death.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



By the time they got to the hospital Robbi wanted to push, badly and Kevin had to keep reminding her to hold back. “Not until Dr. Frazier says it’s okay Robbi; just hang on sweetheart,” Kevin told her with a sideways glance at her. The strain was showing clearly on her face and her hands were clenched at her sides as she tried to breathe through the pains which were coming every 90 seconds or so. This was quick this time Kevin thought and he just hoped they would make it to the hospital which was about 2 minutes away. They were waiting for them and Dr. Frazier was already there.

Just two minutes now, only two he kept repeating. When they pulled up at the emergency entrance Robbi’s mom and dad were waiting for them; by the looks on their faces they were clearly worried about Robbi’s appearance. Mel, Robbi’s dad offered to go and park the car so that Kevin could go with Robbi.

Another pain started as soon as she was in the wheelchair and she grabbed Kevin’s hand, moaning loudly. Inside, the staff in the maternity ward took over and got her into a room immediately. Kevin kissed Renee on the cheek and told her he would let her know as soon as Robbi got settled. Renee could only stare in fear as they took Robbi to her room; her daughter did not look good at all.

They quickly had Robbi out of her clothes and into the short shift she would wear during the labor, what little was left Kevin thought. One of the nurses worked at getting her hooked up the monitor and another asked Kevin questions.

“When did her labor start? She’s pretty far along now,” Rhonda asked, prepared to type the answers into the computer as Kevin provided them.

“About, less than an hour ago.” He looked at his watch and frowned for a moment, thinking back. “I’d say no more than 40 minutes or so. We just grabbed her bag, called her mom and dad and a friend and then got in the car. There was a snarl on the I-10, which took the longest.”

Rhonda nodded and asked about reactions to pain meds and such while continuing to take notes. The anesthetist came in to give Robbi the epidural and was concerned because it was so late in the game.

“Has the baby moved into the birth canal yet?” he asked, looking at the readouts.

“Not yet, you have a few minutes,” Dr. Frazier said, as she contemplated the readings herself. Kevin watched as her brow furrowed deeply and she bit at her lower lip with her teeth; he could tell something wasn’t right.

“Dr. Frazier, what’s wrong?” Kevin asked. He was by the bed holding Robbi’s hand as the anesthetist worked on the epidural. It was difficult since the contractions were so steady and they made Robbi clench with the pain.

“I don’t think we’ve got her fetal monitor placed correctly because the baby’s heartbeat isn’t being recorded correctly. As soon as we have her anesthetized we’ll move it and see if that changes. She’s going to be ready to push in about 10 minutes or so though, so kids, this is going to be quick!” she said, rubbing Robbi’s arm in an attempt to help soothe her. “Relax Robbi, it’s going to be okay.” She nodded as the anesthetist finished and Robbi rolled back over onto her back.

“Good girl Robbi, now just relax for a moment as we get that monitor reset a bit.”

Robbi gave a jerky nod as she exhaled a long breath. Now that the epidural was in the pain had abated and she felt a bit better. “Kevin, set up the computer for Beth and I, okay?”

Dr. Frazier looked at Kevin in question and he explained about the Skype call. She nodded and said, “Just keep it out of the way; we can’t be tripping over it.”

Kevin sat the computer down on a table a few feet from the bed and placed the call. Beth answered immediately and Kevin explained quickly what was happening and Beth nodded, clearly concerned but she sat back on the couch, the computer resting on her lap. Mick sat next to her, his arm hugging her shoulders. There wasn’t much to see really, just the bed with a side view of Robbi so he felt okay about it.

“Beth? Bethy, are you there?” Robbi called out.

“I’m here Robbi. I’ll be with you the whole time. I love you!” Beth sounded much more optimistic than she felt but she tried to keep that from her face because she didn’t want to alarm Robbi if she could actually see that clearly.

Another contraction started and Beth watched as the nurse started to massage Robbi’s belly to stimulate movement. In the background Beth saw the doctor and another nurse looking at the printouts that the monitors were spewing out. They weren’t happy about something Beth could see.

“Oh Mick,” she said in vamp tones. “Something IS wrong, look at the doctor.”

Mick had to agree and they didn’t have too long to wait to find out what. “Robbi, Kevin, the baby’s heartbeat is slow, very slow. We need to do a C-section, immediately. Kevin, you can be in here, but you need to go and scrub now.” She nodded at Rhonda and said, “Get him taken care of and don’t waste any time – this baby needs to come out STAT!”

“Kevin,” Robbi cried, scared to death.

“It’s okay sweetheart, I’ll be right back. I know you’re scared, but it’s going to be fine.” He followed Rhonda out the door at a trot.

“My god Mick. It’s happening just like I saw. They are going to cut into her and see the cord around the baby’s neck.” Beth cried softly against Mick’s shoulder. “I should be there. Dammit,” she all but yelled.

Dr. Frazier and her scrub nurse were busy and Beth watched as they draped Robbi and realized they were swabbing her belly with betadine in preparation to cut. It was all moving so fast, which was a good thing but it was more frightening.

Before scrubbing Kevin took a moment to tell everyone in the waiting room what was happening. Her parents, his parents, Lani, Josef, Dorothy and Clark all were stunned. Finally Lani said, “GO, get back there with her, we’ll be waiting.”

Lani called Beth on the cell, upset over what was happening. When Beth answered she said, “I am watching it Lani; they’re getting ready to cut into her. Wait, there’s Kevin back in the room with her. My god, this is terrifying Lani.”

Beth watched and reported to Lani as the procedure happened. Josef watched and actually sweated a bit; a vamp in a hospital was a recipe for disaster unless the vamp had iron control. The scent of blood was everywhere and he had to work really hard to ignore it.

Dr. Frazier said, “Okay Robbi, we’re going to make the first cut now. Kevin, stay with her at the head of the bed please; we hate it when father’s faint away from the blood!” she teased. Beth saw it all from the side so she really couldn’t see anything direct or up close and she was grateful for that. Even just seeing the blood was playing on her. Mick got up and got them both glasses of blood as they watched.

“There now, let’s make the second incision, um hm, good, good. Robbi, you are doing wonderfully. Ah, there is the problem; the cord is wrapped around his neck. Is neo-natal here yet?” she asked as she untangled the cord from around the baby. She pulled him out finally and cleaned his airway and he let out a loud yell, a protestation of the lights and cool air. “Your little man looks good,” Dr. Frazier said, handing him to a nurse.

Beth started crying and Lani was suddenly scared. “What is it Beth? Is he…”

“He’s good, he’s crying and he looks good they say!” She heard Lani relay the message to the other’s and listened to all of them talking at once.

After a brief moment so that Robbi and Kevin could see him they started to clean him up and perform his Apgar score. Beth and Mick couldn’t see that but could hear the nurses as they took care of him and knew that he was just fine.

“Robbi and Kevin, you have a blonde haired, blue eyed little boy who weighs 7 lbs and 4 oz. He’s a beauty,” the nurse said and then added, “Excuse me, handsome, a very handsome boy!” Rhonda spoke to the doctor quietly and she told Robbi and Kevin, “The apgar is a 7; not too bad considering we did the c section. We’ll score again in a few minutes and see how he is doing then, but this is nothing to be concerned about.”

Everyone, including Kevin and Robbi had forgotten that Beth and Mick were on the other end of the computer. Suddenly Kevin remembered and rushed to it and asked, “Did you see? He looks great!” His excitement was hard to contain.

“Congratulations Kevin. It was dicey there for a moment, but he appears to be fine,” Beth said. “How do you think Robbi is?”

“Robbi is fantastic,” she said from across the room. The doctor was stitching her up with the nurse standing close by. “Could I have some ice chips please?”

“Just a few, we don’t want you getting sick. You won’t want that either, I can promise,” the nurse said as she spooned a few chips into Robbi’s mouth. “Slowly Robbi,” she reminded her as she crunched into them. “Just let them melt.”

Beth reported to Lani and Kevin was amused to know that everyone already knew about the arrival of their son. “Thanks Beth, for letting them all know. I’ll be out in a bit, after we get Robbi taken care of.”

The nurse called him over and handed the baby to Kevin, who cuddled him and kissed his son. He walked over to the computer and leant down so that Beth and Mick could see him, showing him with pride.

“He is beautiful Kevin, just adorable,” Beth said, amazed at how perfect he was. She could hear Robbi in the background saying “I want to see him Kevin!” Beth laughed and told Kevin, “You’d better get that child over to his mom. Let’s end the call now Kevin and I’ll call Robbi in the morning, okay? Or she is welcome to call me later if she feels like it.”

Kevin looked at his wife’s tired face and knew that as soon as it was quiet she was going to be out like a light. “I’ll tell her but I would make a bet that she’ll be asleep pretty quickly. Beth, Mick, thanks so much for sharing this with us!” He closed the connection and Beth did the same and then sat back with a contented sigh.

“He’s okay Beth; even though your premonition was true, he was okay.” He hugged her close to him, thankful for everyone concerned. Finally Beth heard Lani on the phone saying, “Beth? Hey Beth?”

“Opps, sorry Lani. He’s awesome and so cute too. Kevin will be out soon I expect. Wait until you see the little guy.”

Beth could hear a male voice saying something to Lani except she couldn’t tell what was being said. Finally Lani said, “Josef wants to know what you thought about it all?”

“Josef is there? How the heck did that happen?” Beth inquired. She wanted to hear that story. Mick, beside her was laughing.

“Yes, he was at my house when Kevin called and he brought me to the hospital.”

Both Mick and Beth’s eyebrows raised a good inch as they heard that. She turned to Mick and he grinned with a shrug before shaking his head. Josef hadn’t come to term with his feelings for Lani yet, but the time was coming, it was coming. Maybe sooner than Josef could appreciate Mick speculated. It was clear to Mick and Beth that the elder vampire had feelings for Lani; what wasn’t clear was her feelings for him. Beth was sure that she cared about him but she’d be a tough nut to crack. If Josef had enough patience, they might well end up together.

“Okay. Well, um, tell him I’m fine. Is my mom there?”

“Yes, she is. Wanna talk to her?” At Beth’s affirmative Lani handed the phone to Dorothy and listened as Dorothy and Beth chatted for a few minutes. When Kevin came into the room she handed the phone back to Lani who told Beth she’d call later and ended the call.

“Lani, could you come with me for a moment?” Kevin asked. He saw the disappointed look on the grandparent’s faces and added, “I’ll be back in a minute with your new grandson, but Robbi has asked to speak to Lani for a minute.” There was quiet murmuring from the group as they left the waiting room and headed to where Robbi was resting.

“Robbi,” Lani exclaimed as she went to her friend and kissed her on the forehead. “How do you feel?”

“Tired, but okay. My stomach is going to hurt like a bear later though. Right now they have ice packs on it and gave me some wonderful drugs…” Her eyes blinked several times and Lani saw that they drooped as well. She was going to be out like a light soon.

“Lani, Kevin and I would like you to be his godmother. Will you?”

“Me? You want me? Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t know anything about kids Robbi. That would be like putting Winnie the Pooh in charge of the forest; I’d be lost.”

“Well, all you have to do is spoil him a bit and buy him fabulous birthday gifts. Kevin and I don’t plan on going anywhere. So what do you say?”

“Fabulous gifts? Like ponies and his first Camero? I can do that! Yes, I would love to in that case!”

She wiped away the tear that suddenly sprang to her eyes and Kevin handed her a tissue to help. “So Lani, let’s take your godchild out to meet his family,” Kevin said. He handed Lani the tiny bundle who was pursing his little cherubic lips and blinking in the bright lights. The second apgar score had cleared him; he was a fine and delightful little guy and Robbi admired him greatly.

He felt almost weightless in her arms but she was still scared to death she would drop him. Robbi noticed and said, “You’ll do fine. Just support his head and it will be okay.” She smiled and Lani and Kevin disappeared out the door and blew out a long breath. She was so tired, maybe she could sleep while they were gone…yes, that sounded wonderful.

Lani and Kevin walked down the hallway and through the double doors. Lani was conscious of every single step, afraid she might stumble with her precious burden. He was completely still but his eyes were still open. “Can he see anything yet?”

“No, only shadows they say, but who knows for sure. He sure is alert isn’t he?” The turned the corner and saw the group waiting for the baby and Kevin stopped and said, “Everyone, Lani and I would like to present Brian Patrick Evans.

The oohs and aahs said it all.

Image



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Luca Fiorentino pulled his Toyota into his driveway with a sigh. It had been a long day and night. He stared at his watch and saw that it was after 11 pm; he had been working for 16 hours straight. So much for the glamorous life of a police detective he thought with a wry smile.

He closed the garage door with the zapper and then got out of his car and headed inside. He almost forgot to grab his mail so he went to the front door and opened it, sticking his hand into the mailbox and encountered a large envelope. Curious, he pulled it and his other mail out and headed into the living room where he poured a whiskey and then sat down on the couch to check out the mail. He noticed that the large envelope didn’t have a postmark on it and no return address. That gave him pause for a moment and he weighed the envelope carefully. It was flat, nothing in it but papers he could tell but you had to be careful these days; there could be anthrax or all sorts of toxins within it.

As he sat there sipping his drink and trying to decide what to do his phone rang. Not bothering to look to see that it said Unavailable he answered, figuring it was the station again.

“Luca Fiorentino?” a muffled voice asked.

“Yes, who’s calling?”

“Never mind that. Have you opened the envelope yet?”

“Not without knowing who sent it first. Care to help me out on that?”

“Let’s just say a friend. You’ll find a list of names in there. I think you’ll find some of them very interesting.”

Luca thought about it for a moment and finally ripped the envelope open, seeing the list. He flipped through the pages and finally came to the last one. One name on it stood out like a sore thumb.

Mick St. John.

“So what is this?” he asked, curious.

“That’s what you need to figure out Luca,” the voice said. “You do that and you will be a very wise man.”

Luca read some of the other names; some of the people he knew were dead and some were historical or fictional characters too. “Look buddy, I’m a busy guy and I don’t have time to play your games. Either give me the information of fuck off.”

“All of those names are connected in one of two ways. You dig around a bit and you’ll figure it out. You’re a smart guy Detective Fiorentino.”

Luca kept looking at the list and Mick’s name kept jumping out, as did Josef Kostan. What the hell could they have in common with some of these others?

“Fascinating isn’t it? You’re mind is already trying to figure it out. I’ll call back in a few days and see if you’d like to learn more.”

The line went dead and Luca continued to stare at the list until his eyes blurred. He was beat and decided to go to bed. Maybe tomorrow the light of day would shed some more light on this mystery. Tonight? He just didn’t give a damn.



To be continued…

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Logan held Audrey after they had made love. It still amazed him, the beauty of the act that he and Audie shared. It imprinted itself into his very soul, every caress, each tender kiss, they were a part of him now and he knew that he would surely die of wasted depravation without her in his life.

Would he scare her if he asked her to marry him already? He knew that she was his mate; her sweet essence had indelibly marked him as hers. Why was he so sure? Most vampires he knew were single, not wanting to entangle their lives with anyone else. Especially a human, which brought a whole other set of issues he understood. Being a vampire was hard enough without dragging a mate along with you, but when you knew that it was right, why not go for it.

Mick had found his Beth early on and had kept her safe until the time was right for them and Logan instinctively knew that they would be together forever. On the human side of things, Clark waited for years to convince Dorothy to marry him, staying quietly in the background of her life but always making sure she was safe. That was what love was and he knew that it was what he felt for Audie.

Love was steady, willing to care no matter what the obstacles were and vampirism presented a hell of an obstacle. Still, she loved him and he knew that. Maybe he needed to go and do a little shopping for a ring for her. Yes, that was what he would do.

But first he needed to call Josef. He groaned at the thought and Audrey stirred beside him, reaching up to caress the side of his face. “What’s wrong?” she asked quietly.

“I need to call Josef. I just hate to break the spell. I love having you next to me. I love you Audie; I didn’t ever think I would find someone like you who would love me, geek and all.” He looked down at her and saw her smile up at him in response.

“You are an idiot sometimes Logan,” she laughed. “I’m a worse geek than you are and we were meant to be together always. I know it in here,” she said, touching her heart.

He traced his fingers over hers; stroking the very place her fingers had and felt her heart beating steadily with the sincerity of her words. It made his own heart kick out an extra beat or two he realized with joy.

Yes, he needed to get that ring pretty quickly.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Beth’s call was answered on the first ring and the excited voice on the other end made her smile a mile wide.

“Bethy, oh baby, how are you?” Dorothy asked. “Are you feeling well?”

“Mom, I’m a vampire for heaven’s sake, I feel awesome!” she answered. “Seriously, I’m good. What about you? How are my brother and his mysterious sidekick doing?”

“Kicking my sides! Well, moving around a lot anyway. But that’s a good thing really. When we first discovered we were pregnant neither one of us even suspected that it could be twins. Beth, I don’t know if I’m prepared for this, seriously!” Dorothy stated with a slight quiver to her voice.

Beth closed her eyes for a moment and tried to see what might happen but it was all blank. She wondered if it were just a fluke that she saw Robbi in that shirt and problems with the birth. But she knew it wasn’t – she’d never before seen that shirt. She tried to shake the emotion of it all off and said, “Well, even if you’re not I’d bet that Clark is. He is, isn’t he?” she laughed.

“Yes he is. We have two cribs, two changing tables, and two dressers, two of everything. We just don’t know what the second baby is yet so we haven’t bought many clothes. All the furniture is put together and ready to go too. If the baby is a girl we have two rooms for them, although they’ll probably stay in the same room for awhile. The two bassinettes will be in our room at night. Heaven’s, I can’t even imagine dealing with 2 am feedings and diaper rash again. I’m going to be the worst mother ever,” she said, feeling every one of her 43 years. Soon to be 44 she thought.

Beth smiled, knowing how wrong her mother was; she had been the best mother in the world, to her and Lani. Lani had been like a sponge when they were kids, always soaking up every bit of love she could get. It made Beth sad to think how much she needed someone in her life and yet she pushed them all away. Before she got maudlin she asked, “Have you guys talked to Logan? I meant to call him earlier but haven’t really had a chance.”

“Yes, we have. He called a little bit ago and said he was working for Josef, hunting for that Katrina woman who apparently escaped. And then he said he wanted to come and talk to Clark tomorrow at the office. It was all very mysterious actually. So unlike Logan.”

“Hm, you’re right. I hadn’t heard about Katrina either. I suppose Mick was trying to keep it from me, if he knows that is since I don’t know if he’s talked to Josef today. Hey, on another subject, have you talked to Robbi? She doesn’t sound very good Mom.”

“I spoke with her yesterday; she’s struggling I know. I told her to make sure Kevin calls us when she goes into labor because we want to be there.”

A momentary pang struck at Beth’s heart, knowing that she wasn’t going to be there with Robbi. Hopefully the Skype thing would help. When she spoke again she sounded sad, wistful. “Mom, I’m really worried about her. I’m glad you’re going to be there and I know that Lani is too.”

“Yes and we’ll report regularly.” Dorothy listened to her daughter give out a long sigh and couldn’t help worrying about her. “Beth, are you alright? Really?”

“Yes, Mom, I really am. It’s amazing how good I feel. Please don’t worry about me.” Her words were sincere; she didn’t want her mom to worry about her.

“Okay, I’m glad to hear it,” Dorothy replied and the conversation changed to lighter topics until they ended the call a half an hour later.

When she hung up the phone Dorothy sighed deeply and ran her hands over her burgeoning belly, feeling a bit of movement with the babies. Clark heard her and was immediately at her side, concern written starkly on his face, his deep brown eyes meeting hers in question.

“I’m fine honey, and so are the babies. It’s Beth I’m concerned about. She says she’s fine, but there is something bothering her I could tell.”

“Dorothy, you’re her mother and you’re always going to worry about her. What has happened to her is extraordinary and it will be an adjustment for everyone. You’re fretting because you want to see her, to visually see that she is alright. Mick emailed me earlier with an idea I think you might like.”

“What? Can we go and see her? Please tell me that’s it?

“Well, no, but you can still see her. He’s going to set Skype up on their computer and I’m going to do it here, with Logan’s help of course and then you two can talk and see one another at the same time. How does that sound?”

“Oh Clark, that would be wonderful. You and Mick are just the best!” She leaned up and kissed him, his warm mouth capturing hers until her toes were tingling.

“You ready for bed?” he asked, his eyes twinkling, a sexy smile playing on his lips. He stood up and held a hand out to her and helped her to get up. The walk to the bedroom took too long.

But the reward was well worth it all.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Josef listened to Logan as he explained what they had found and did with Katrina’s reserve account, but it wasn’t enough, not nearly enough. Cutting her funds off didn’t find her and that’s what he wanted most, to find her and make that bitch pay excruciatingly for what she had done.

“Will the alternate ID’s help at all Logan?” he asked. “Make sure you have them completely covered.

“Maybe, depends on how desperate she is but since her bank funds are cut off she’s probably going to be really cautious about using any of the established ones. I’ve got messages out to all the folks around the country that help people relocate. That might help,” Logan told him, understanding Josef’s impatience.

“Yes, especially if you let everyone know that there is a 5 million dollar price tag on her head – if I catch her and she’s alive. How many people do quality work in the US Logan? I mean, if she’s going to try to get out of the country it has to be quality, official looking work.”

“There are only a half dozen or so Josef, but have you considered that she might have already headed into Mexico? That would be so much harder to track you know; she could disappear into Central America and beyond and that just complicates everything. We know that the money from the bank in Switzerland was transferred to a bank here and then she closed that account. She was still here at that point, but the fact that she closed that account would tell me that she has another bank set up somewhere for the Cayman Island bank money. We’re running checks on all US banks with her name and the alternate ID’s. I have a friend at Homeland Security, I’ll see if they have anything useful. ”

“Hm, you could be right about her heading south. I’ll contact Ryder and have him get with you about that. But in the meantime put the bounty out on her, not only to the counterfeiters, but to vamp bounty hunters and any other sleazy low-life that might be interested. Don’t worry about trying to hide it – if she knows she’s a wanted woman she’ll get nervous and sooner or later that means she’ll make a mistake.”

They ended the call and Josef checked his watch; it was almost noon and he needed to head to the airport because Tango would be landing in a half an hour or so and that he actually looked forward to. It had been too long since he’d seen that died-in-the-wool Brit. The thought of some of their escapades brought a lop-sided grin to his face.

At the airport Josef waited in the cool comfort of the air conditioned car as the small jet landed and taxied to the hangar. When the door opened and the steps were let down Josef climbed out of the limo and watched as Tango disembarked. He was dressed head to toe in black leather and Josef laughed; evidently he was already slipping into his new role.

“Tango,” he said, holding out his hand as Tango approached. He took it and shook it briefly before pulling Josef to him in a bear hug. “Hey, careful of the Armani!”

“Armani? Quite dandified don’t you think? Goodness, I might rumple you!” he teased his old friend. “Very smart, I might add.”

“Come on, they’re unloading your luggage now. Let’s have a drink in the car while they get it stowed away in the trunk and then I’ll take you to the condo I’ve arranged for you. You’ll like it I’m sure!”

“Bloody well better come with liquid refreshment Josef!”

“Oh, it does,” Josef said, happy to see his friend.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Carl punched the button for the 37th floor in the Billings Market building where the offices of Sesumi International were located. His hands rested in his pockets and he jingled the change in one of them while the elevator climbed, making occasional stops along the way. When the ding sounded and the doors opened he stepped forward onto a floor that was bustling with activity. It was a semi-frantic and yet controlled environment that was fascinating to watch. At the station it was frantic and loud and sometimes deafening. Big difference here.

Even the d├ęcor was calming he noticed; sky blue and a creamy color were prominent and provided a soothing backdrop for the people who manned the main floor cubicles and the offices that lined the perimeter.

He walked to the main desk and leaned slightly on the counter and was greeted by a young man whose attire was flawless as was his friendly attitude. “Welcome to Sesumi International sir. How may I help you?” he inquired.

“I’m looked for Lani Parker, um, Lanelle Parker that is. Is she available?”

“May I say who is inquiring?” he asked politely.

“Yes, please tell her that Carl Davis would like to see her.”

“Certainly sir, one moment.”

Carl looked around as the young man punched a button on the phone console and spoke to Lani. He quickly hung up and said, “Ms. Parker will be right with you sir.”

“Thank you,” Carl said. It only took a moment for Lani to emerge from one of the corner offices, a wide smile on her face.

It always amazed Carl when he saw Lani like this, all dressed up for business. She hardly resembled the college girl who loved to party and drove the boy’s crazy for her. He shook his head as if to dispel that image and held his hand out to her as she approached him.

“Carl, I’m so happy to see you!” she said with a bit more enthusiasm than she felt. This had to be about Beth and she hoped she had the right answers or the ability to bluff her way through them. “Come on back to my office. Would you like some coffee?” At his negative nod she turned and headed back the way she came, walking down the long and wide aisle and then turned to the right where her office was.

It was quite impressive Carl thought. He had never been up here before and he saw that Lani had one of the prime offices, corner with floor to ceiling windows that faced west and south; he knew the views would be spectacular at sunset.

Her office was very much Lani, muted off-white shades with accents of bright color to draw the eyes; very minimalistic and yet comfortable at the same time. She moved to sit on the white leather couch and indicated he should sit there as well. He sank down onto the butter soft leather with a silent sigh, it was wonderfully comfortable and he knew it had cost a fortune. He wondered if Sesumi paid for the decorations for the office or Lani did.

Lani leaned back and crossed her legs in a relaxed posture; the expensive vivid red suit was surely designer, although he didn’t know who and it was accented by red suede pumps that were business like and yet a bit sassy too, a combination many women couldn’t pull off. And yet Lani easily did. Even her jewelry was classy, enough to highlight her outfit but not flashy at all. All silver too, or white gold maybe he thought with a shrug.

Lani looked at him expectantly, waiting for him to question her because she knew that he would. She seemed at ease she thought but inwardly she was quaking. Good thing she wasn’t trying to hold a cup of coffee because he would surely see her hand trembling. He knew her well, at least he knew the college Lani well she knew but not so much now and that could be an advantage. At least she hoped it would be. She’d learned a whole lot about hiding things, a necessity when you’re friends with so many vampires. The words suddenly struck her as funny, saying that she was friends of so many vampires and she realized that it was true. A sobering thought indeed she admitted. She let out a soft laugh and Carl looked at her curiously.

His eyebrows lifted, opening his brown eyes wider and it made him look just that much handsomer. “What’s so funny?” he asked.

“Hm? Oh, nothing really. I was just remembering that time at the beach party, when we all should have been studying for mid-terms and you and Rondel thought you’d play macho men and take a dive off those rocks; into ice cold water I might add,” she laughed.

“Well, it was March you know, the Pacific was pretty chilly,” he smiled at the memory. It wasn’t really a wild thing but it had been fun later, and when Beth used her body to heat his, man did that work well. It was funny, those were such great memories and yet there were no pangs of regret over what didn’t happen for them. He somehow knew now as he did then that they were not meant to be together.

He stood up and walked around the room, looking out the windows at the traffic moving far below. Not a single sound could be heard up this far; it was peaceful, tranquil. He turned to look at Lani, still sitting comfortably and peacefully on the couch, watching him with inquiring eyes. His hand had migrated back into his pocket and he stood there for a moment, listening to the rattle of coins as his fingers moved through them.

“Lani, I’m worried about Beth; about why she and Mick just disappeared like that,” he said, just spitting it out.

Before she could open her mouth there was a brief knock on her door and then it opened and Cami stepped in. When she saw Lani had a guest she apologized for the interruption.

“So sorry. Lani, I have the equipment review for Kostan Industries, thought you might want to look it over.”

“Yes, thank you. Cami, do you remember Carl Davis? He was at Mick and Beth’s wedding.”

She did indeed and he looked as good here as he did there. She smiled demurely at him and walked forward, holding out her hand to shake his. “Yes of course I do. How are you Mr. Davis? Or actually, its Lieutenant Davis isn’t it?”

Carl stepped forward, meeting her half way and returned her smile as he held out his hand to her. When they shook, he realized her hand felt almost icy and he glanced down at it and then up to her face; a very beautiful face but also a very pale face. Another one he realized; they seemed to be everywhere. Vampires; Josh was right. There couldn’t be any other explanation. He looked back up at her face, hoping his own didn’t show what he was feeling and answered, “Carl, please. That will do fine.”

“Carl then,” she smiled. Her long lashes swept down over her cheeks, again a very modest gesture and he realized that even though she was very beautiful, she was shy. “I’m sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt. Lani, let me know what you think when you have a chance?” With Lani’s nod she left as quickly as she could. Carl Davis made her stomach flutter and that wasn’t a good thing for a woman who hadn’t been involved with a man for many, many years.

As the door closed quietly Lani realized that Carl was waiting for an answer to his question. “Carl, she is perfectly fine. Newlyweds, you know? Probably getting busy on every surface of the house up there!” she said with a laugh.

“Yeah, but it was very sudden, don’t you think?” he probed.

She shrugged and said, “I was with her the night they left. To me it looked like two people who couldn’t keep their hands off of one another. Mick carried her onto the helicopter that took them to the airport.” That much was true at least.

“Helicopter? Wow,” he said, surprised to hear that.

“Yes, Josef Kostan arranged it. He was there with us. His jet took them to Seattle.” She told herself to just stick to the truth as much as she could. She hated lying to Carl.

Carl digested the information with a slight frown. “But it was just so sudden wasn’t it? I mean, totally spur of the moment don’t you think?”

“I don’t really know what they might have been planning Carl; I didn’t ask,” she said with a shrug. She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear and met his eyes, hoping that it would be enough.

“Hm, well okay; if you really think she is okay. It just doesn’t seem like Beth; I mean the leaving and then suddenly quitting her job part. I know that she is impetuous, always has been but this is extreme even for Beth.”

“Well, that IS our Beth you know. Seriously Carl, I wouldn’t worry. She’s fine,” Lani declared.

“Okay then,” he said, smiling at her. She was lying, about some of it anyway. She knew WHY they had left so suddenly and Carl wasn’t going to stop until he found out too. “Well, I’ve got to get busy and go arrest some bad guys Lani.” He walked to her as she stood up and straightened her skirt, smoothing it into place. He leaned down and kissed her cheek and grinned at her. “Hey, let’s go and catch some lunch someday soon okay? Catch up on old times?”

“Sounds good. Call me when you have some free time. But none of those taco stands you love to frequent Carl,” she laughed, wagging a finger at him. “A real restaurant, where we can sit down!”

“My, my, aren’t you all fancy nowadays,” he laughed as he opened the door and stepped out into the aisle. “See you soon Lani.”

“Yeah Carl, see you.” She watched him walk to the elevators and waved as he turned to her as the doors opened. A second later he was inside and the doors swept shut, taking him from her view. She could only hope that she had convinced him.

Down in the lobby Carl noticed a coffee kiosk and headed over, deciding that he needed a nice, strong cup before heading back to the precinct. He placed his order and while he waited he noticed Cami standing with a cup in her hand, blowing gently on it and reading the headlines on the monitor that was at the end of the kiosk. He picked up his cup and headed over to where she was standing and said, “Well, you’re a coffee fan too huh?”

She turned and looked at him, a soft smile spreading across her face. “Yes, addicted to it I’m afraid. At least 2 or 3 cups a day.”

“You call that an addiction? Lady, try a dozen or more! It’s protocol for a cop.”

She laughed and said, “I thought that was donuts?” He loved the way her eyes twinkled as she spoke.

“That’s the old cops,” he chided, his grin making her belly tighten with a totally foreign feeling. “Do you ever drink anything else?” he asked and watched her eyes widen in shock, or maybe that was a bit of fear and he realized it was a terrible thing to say to someone he was pretty sure was a vampire.

“I – uh, I like wine,” she said and hastily looked down, hoping he hadn’t noticed how his question had shook her up.

“Well Cami, then would you like to meet me after work sometime for a glass of wine? You can pick the place,” he said, his smile reassuring and very charming.

“Yes, I would like that. How about Quigley’s Mirage, around 7, tomorrow?” She couldn’t believe how bold she was acting, but he made her mouth feel dry and her knees weak; she had to get to know him a bit better.

“Sounds perfect Cami,” he told her, meeting her blue eyes; a vibrant blue so deep they were almost sapphire. “Until then.” He smiled once more and then turned and headed out the revolving door, onto the pavement. When he cast a quick glance over his shoulder he could see her staring at him though the tempered glass wall, a smile on her face.

Carl felt the same way. He could only hope it didn’t lead to disaster.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Mick got the Skype connection set up and Beth immediately called Robbi, needing to see her friend. When Robbi answered Beth was appalled at how she looked. Her face was very red and puffy, as were her hands and Beth could only imagine what her feet looked like. Still, it was good to see her for herself but it made Beth worry even more.

Robbi seemed tired and sluggish and she shifted in her seat a great deal, obviously not comfortable in any position. She laughed about it a bit.

“Beth, he’s a zero station which means he’s ready to make his appearance; it’s sort of like sitting on something really uncomfortable.”

“Does it hurt him; I mean is there all sorts of pressure on him?” It looked so uncomfortable for Robbi – she could only imagine what it might be like for the baby.

“No, I don’t think so. But I am SO ready for him to make his appearance. Seriously ready,” she said as she tried to make a joke of it, but Beth could see that she didn’t feel like joking. The image came to her mind again of the baby with the cord around his neck and Beth panicked a bit.

“Robbi, is he moving around a lot still? I mean, I don’t know what happens at this stage.”

“No, he’s pretty quiet actually. And you’d better start reading up on all of it since you and Mick are already trying for one of your own,” she smiled.

“Yeah,” Beth said, trying to focus on something else. “I’d probably make the world’s worst mother you know? Forget where I let the baby or something.”

“Maybe at first, but you’ll learn. Besides, I’ve watched Mick with Bri and he will make up for all you lack, I can tell. He is so good with her and she adores him you know.”

“I know, it amazes me. He has so much patience; maybe a little over protective though,” she laughed, having had some personal experience with that.

They only spoke for a few more minutes; Robbi was visibly worn out and when the call ended Beth couldn’t shake the feeling that things were not alright. Did she say something to Kevin? She’d sound like a lunatic, she knew.

Mick had gone into the room that he had made into a home gym when he bought the house. He was lifting weights as she peeked in and thrilled to the sight of him, muscles bulging and sweat trickling down his sides. She wanted to lick it off of him and walked up behind him, running her hands over his tight abs with a sigh of pleasure.

She had learned that even though she would stay pretty much the same size as when she was turned she still needed to maintain her body so had reluctantly started working out as well. When she worked at Buzzwire there was never any time to do that, not with any type of regularity because of her erratic schedule. At the DA’s office it was better but if she were totally honest with herself (and who wanted to be really?) she had to admit that she hated doing it. She’d told Mick that maybe if there were a tv or something to keep her amused in there it wouldn’t be too bad. She was totally enthralled watching Mick, but that led to physical exercise of another type. Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad right now she decided, letting her hand slip farther down his stomach. He stirred in her hand and she felt him step away and grab a towel and wipe his face before turning to her and bending to kiss her softly.

“Nuh uh, not now. I’ve got a surprise coming for you in a few minutes. I need to hit the showers. Now go ahead and get your work out in baby,” he teased, watching happily as she rolled her eyes in frustration and expelled a long breath. Even the thought of a surprise hadn’t perked her up.

Since Beth had been turned her main preoccupation had been sex; not that he was complaining but she just looked at him and it was like a magnet pulled him to her and they were doing it anywhere and everywhere. The things and places they had discovered almost embarrassed him. Sultry, sexy, his mate brought a whole new meaning to the word sensual.

If she couldn’t have sex it suddenly occurred to her that he mentioned a surprise. “What’s my surprise?” she goaded, licking her lips and staring boldly into his hazel eyes that couldn’t seem to look away from her crystalline blue ones.

He turned away from her gaze and said, “Just wait and see! That’s why they call it a surprise.” He laughed at her small huff of impatience and walked out of the room to hit the shower.

As he showered he thought of her progress; she was amazing at what she could do and he knew that there was still so much they hadn’t discovered yet. Her ability to scent was better than his – a lot better and would develop even more. He wasn’t sure what the deal with Robbi was though; it seemed precognitive and that wasn’t an ability that any vamps he knew had. Sure, he could sometime scent brief glimpses of the future but what she had done was very difficult. It had sort of blown him away when it happened and it was worrying her tremendously. She was right about the shirt, was she right about the rest? She tried to pick up something from her mom, but nothing came to her which could mean a lot or nothing at all.

In a few days he was going to teach her to reach out with her senses to feel what was going on, not just scent it. Could she scent the past as he did? That also wasn’t known yet, but they’d get to it. He didn’t doubt that she would be great at it – she had excelled at everything else so far.

He couldn’t seem to resist her; vampire Beth filled his senses and his head and his heart until he wasn’t aware of anything else around him and that could prove dangerous in some situations. He was so focused on her when she was around that he lost himself and felt like a gauche school boy. He hadn’t known that making love with someone could be so completely consuming and sometimes it was all he could think about.

Yes, they both had a lot to learn and understand. Each day with her was a gift; her love and devotion couldn’t be measured by any emotion Mick had ever had. He prayed that it never changed.

As he finished getting dressed he heard a vehicle pull up out front and knew that Beth’s surprise had arrived. He hurried downstairs just in time to see Beth open the door and squeal with delight as she stood aside so that Tim and Mary could enter.

When he walked into the living room he saw her greeting them with enthusiasm; these were the first people she had seen since she had been turned and while he hated to think that she might be bored with him, everyone deserved a distraction. Plus, the surprise was still in the truck.

He stepped forward and shook Tim’s hand and then pulled Mary to him in a warm hug and kissed her on the cheek. That’s when a feeling like someone stabbing him in the back overcame him and Beth jumped in between them, growling loudly. She pushed them apart and stared at him, her eyes glowing the most brilliant silver blue he had ever seen. She turned to Mary and said, “MINE” and Mary backed up a step, cautious of this side of Beth.

“Beth, its Mary baby. We’ve been friends for years, you know that. Think about it Beth.” Mick watched her strain to get her emotions under cover; he saw her try to breathe and calm down. Every second felt like a minute as she tried to control her inner vamp. Low growls still occasionally emanated from her throat but gradually her posture relaxed a bit and her eyes returned to their usual clear blue.

Suddenly, as if realizing what had just happened, tears flooded her eyes and she hung her head in shame. She lifted her head and looked at Mary, her eyes wounded and filled with shame. “Mary, I’m so sorry; I don’t know what…I don’t understand,” she finished.

Mary was still a bit wary of her but she understood what it felt like with your mate and she also clearly remembered how possessive a newly turned vamp could be. She smiled at Beth and murmured, “I understand Beth. It won’t always be like this, really it won’t.”

Beth nodded, her face a mask of misery and finally ran upstairs, shame taking control of her. Mick started to go upstairs and Mary laid a hand on his arm and urged, “No Mick, give her a few minutes and then I’ll talk to her. It will be alright, I promise.”

Tim had watched all of it closely; he knew that his mate had never really been in any kind of jeopardy and he also knew how bad Beth would feel. “Mary is right Mick; she will need to work this out and Mary is the one to help her with it. Let it be. Besides, you need to help me get those two huge television sets out of the truck. I have to say though, I sure liked what I saw in that store; I may have to go and buy one of those for Mary and I so she can watch her soap operas on it.” He was rewarded by a smack on his behind by his wife as he headed out the door.’

“More like so you can watch football on it old man. Men…” She rolled her eyes as they headed outside and then looked up the stairs. Beth wasn’t crying any longer, so it was now or never. Time to help the young one adapt because heaven help her, Mick just didn’t understand!



To be continued…

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chapter 9

Logan struggled with a CD rom drive that should be working perfectly but for some reason wasn’t and when the phone rang he pushed the ‘on’ button on his headset with a bit of relief.

“Logan Griffin,” he said, anxious for a break.

“Logan? Josef Kostan here. I need to hire you Logan,” he said without preamble.

“For?”

“I need you to track Katrina down for me.”

Logan set the drive down with a clatter at that name. He personally would like to get his hands on her, but thought that Josef already had. “What the hell happened Josef? She was supposed to be dead by now!”

Josef ran a hand down over his face and grimaced. “She escaped. Went through a secret passage way and we couldn’t get to her in time. She had about 3 million dollars tucked away, but we found them and Kostan Industries just happens to have an account or two with them so for now they are on hold, but I need you to get that money back to the cleaners where it belongs and find the bitch. Do you think you can?”

“Sure; I’ll need her computer so I can track her accounts. Does she have a personal computer at her home as well? Probably find a lot more on that because it would be safer to entrust private information to.” Logan sat back in the chair with a squeak and was already running possibilities though his mind.

“Yes, we have it; she hasn’t gone home so we grabbed the computer there for you to look at. They should be at your sub-level hideaway within a half an hour. Do you need any other help?”

They fact that she hadn’t gone home indicated to Logan that she had other resources available to her. He suggested as much to Kostan.

“I think so too and we’re running down leads on that. No doubt she has several other identities tucked away and we have to find them. My guys are scouring her house as we speak, tearing it apart in fact.”

“Which means that whatever she had wasn’t at the house. I assume you’re watching all modes of transportation out of town? She has to move somewhere and has undoubtedly been in contact with someone.”

“Yeah, we’ve done all that and Colleen is running down every lead she, or any of the remaining cleaners can think of.”

“Do you really think they’ll help?” Logan asked curiously.

“We executed three of them who were involved with her plans last night. If the rest of them are smart they’ll cooperate if they know anything. Plus, they want their money and they don’t get it until we find Katrina.”

“Okay, I’ll let you know when I find something.”

“This is number one priority Logan. Everything else can wait.”

“I understand – and if it means anything I agree.” Logan hit the end button and rolled over to his computer console and started digging.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Ben parked in front of complex three at Golden Horizons Retirement community and looked around him at the well-manicured lawn and gardens and spotted Margie sitting outside with some friends at a table in the deep shade of a large mimosa tree. He smiled when he saw they were playing cards; Margie was nothing if not a busy bee, always engaged in some sort of activity.

As he climbed out of his Lexus he grabbed his treat for her, Ghirardelli chocolates which were her favorite. Well, if he was going to be honest any chocolate was her favorite, but she did especially like these.

She saw him walking towards her and rose to greet him, a small tropical bird, dressed in an orange, yellow and white sundress with matching necklace and dangling earrings. She looked bright and not nearly her 84 years of age. She walked with a spring in her step and leaned up to kiss his cheek and smile at her gift.

“Ben, how wonderful to see you!” she exclaimed as she wrapped her arm around his as they walked into the building and down to room 302. She opened her door and led him in and he blinked at how bright it was in here with the floor-to-ceiling windows unshuttered in the afternoon sun.

“You look beautiful today! Bright and cheerful, as always,” he told her as she walked across the room, partially closing the blinds. Her orange sandals made a clack-clack sound as she moved and he smiled and shook his head at it all.

“Oh, get on with you. Don’t try and flatter an old woman young man. I’ve heard it all before,” she told him, moving to the small kitchen. “Would you like some iced tea?”

“Yes, I would. It’s a hot one today.” Ben moved to the living area and saw that she had photo albums out on the coffee table and sat down, curious about what pictures she had been looking at.

Margie brought a tray with two tall glasses of iced tea and a small plate of sliced lemons into the living room and sat it down on the coffee table, next to the open photo albums. She handed Ben a glass and spied the picture that he was looking at so closely. “Ah, that’s Maeve and Bug; we were close friends back in the day.”

“Bug?” Ben asked; there had to be a story involved in that name.

“Yes, a nickname of course. He and Herb were in the army together, during the Korean war. Oh, I know, it wasn’t really a war, but it sure seemed like it to the men who lost their lives there. Anyway, Bug was a company clerk and would be the one to tell them it was time to ‘bug out’ or move camp and so the name stuck with him.”

“Hm. And that was his wife? She’s very pretty.” Maeve was tall, with dark hair that curled softly around her face.

“Yes, she was. Still is actually. She’s Mick St. John’s sister by the way.”

Ben almost dropped his glass at those words. “He had a sister? Still has a sister?”

“Yes; she looks a bit like him in that picture don’t you think? She was 8 years younger than Mick I think, born in 1930. Hard times back then; it was so hard for families to make ends meet but she was a blessing, always a blessing.”

“What happened to her?”

“She lives a few miles from here and I still talk to her occasionally. She very lively and spry and still has her own home. Bug is dead though, but it doesn’t get to her too much. She and I both learned that you have to just go on when your loved ones go.”

“Including Mick?” he asked, and then thought maybe he shouldn’t have when he saw sadness darken her eyes briefly.

“Including Mick. It’s so hard when you just don’t know what happened. When he met that woman he changed, drastically. It was like he was hypnotized by her. Oh, I never saw him again after he told me he was marrying her, but neither did his family much. They hated Coraline Duvall; she just seemed to take over his life.” Margie took a sip of her tea as the memories rolled over her.

“Do you think she was black-mailing him or something?” His behavior sounded strange at best. He’d walked away from everyone and everything he held dear apparently.

“I don’t know about that, but something sure changed him. His family all attended the wedding and she was so superior acting they all said. Maeve took a snapshot of them and that woman screamed at her, in front of everyone. She told everyone that they were not allowed to take any pictures and Mick just went along with it. It darn near broke his mother’s heart. I don’t know what all the fuss was about anyway because the picture didn’t come out; it was all blurry.”

“What happened to it?” Ben asked, curious.

“If it still exists Maeve probably has it. Mick came out okay and parts of her dress too but her face is just a huge blur. The woman was very strange if you ask me, as were her family.”

“Did the St. Johns ever meet any of them? Did they come to the wedding?”

“No, they didn’t. But Mr. St. John hired a private investigator to talk to them in France after she and Mick disappeared. Such a sight that hotel room was they say. So sad.”

“What did the investigator find out?” he asked her. He almost hated to probe any further but he needed every bit of information that he could get.

Margie frowned for a moment, as if flipping through the memories until she found what she was looking for. “They talked to a brother I think, a tall dark man who had a coal black eye. Said his name was Lance I believe but there were several brother’s there if I remember correctly. Very odd family apparently; they claimed to not know that she had gotten married and hadn’t seen her in some time.”

“Do you think Maeve would speak to me? I wouldn’t take up much of her time.”

“I’ll call her soon and ask her; Benjamin, she really doesn’t like talking about it all though. You must understand, that was a really hard time for their family.”

“I understand and if she’ll talk with me I will only ask a few questions. I wouldn’t want to cause her any pain.”

Margie nodded and they switched the conversation to other things, his job and his father’s hopes for him to run for office in the future, something he was not interested in. An hour later it was time for him to go and as she walked him to the door she felt sad. She loved his visits and didn’t see him often enough. And he always had questions about Mick and those questions always stirred up memories that hurt.

At the door he kissed her softly wrinkled cheek and held her close for a moment in a warm hug. Margie watched him walk down the hallway, his steps rapid and light on the tiled hallway. When he rounded the corner to head outside she closed the door and spied the box of chocolates on the table! Lordy, she’d forgotten all about them. It didn’t take her long to open the box and pop a piece of heaven into her mouth.

When life gets hard, chocolate was the remedy. She firmly believed that!



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Beth called Robbi and waited impatiently while the call connected. When Robbi answered she let out a sigh of relief. But the relief didn’t last long when she heard Robbi’s voice.

“Robbi, what’s wrong?” Beth was bristling with anxiety because she knew that something was wrong, really wrong.

“Hi Bethy. I’m okay, just really uncomfortable. I am so ready for this baby to be born. How are you?”

Beth doubted what Robbi said but she also didn’t want to upset her anymore so they chatted about other things; Kevin getting the nursery ready and what the baby would wear home for the hospital. The more they talked the worse Beth’s anxiety got until by the time they got off she was close to panic. As she said goodbye Mick watched her carefully, aware that something was terribly wrong.

“I can’t explain it Mick; it’s just this feeling I have.”

Mick was quiet for a moment, thinking about Beth’s instincts and how good they usually were. “Okay baby, close your eyes for a moment and picture Robbi in your mind. Just focus on her and breathe deeply.”

“Breathe? Why?” she asked curious, since they didn’t need to.

“It just helps, trust me.”

She closed her eyes and imagined Robbi in her home. She saw her sitting in the recliner, feet up since they were so swollen. Her face was swollen and red as well, blotchy looking too. She was wearing a rust colored tee shirt that said, ‘Yes sir, that’s my baby’ with an arrow pointing to her baby bump. Beth tried to follow the thoughts and saw Robbi crying at the hospital, with Kevin by her side. There was something wrong with the baby, the cord was around his neck and they were doing an emergency c-section. Her eyes popped open and she let out a cry, the pain of it all overwhelming her.

Mick was at her side instantly, holding her close. “What’s wrong Beth?”

“I – I saw her Mick,” she said, telling him exactly what she saw. “It was horrible, she was in so much pain and they were both so scared. But I saw her Mick, sitting in the chair at their house, with that tee shirt.”

“Do you know if Robbi has a camera on her computer? Maybe you two could Skype; that way you would both get to see the other and you might relax a bit. Let’s call her back and ask, okay?”

Beth nodded, trying to get control of her emotions before she spoke to Robbi again. She was sure it was just an imaginary image, but it would be good to see Robbi. She hit redial on her phone and it rang a few times before Kevin picked up.

“Kevin? I was calling to speak to Robbi again. Mick had an idea and we thought we’d find out if it would work.” She explained to Kevin about the Skype idea and he loved it.

“Yes, we have a camera on the computer. I often Skype in to work.”

Beth put the call on speaker phone and the three of them discussed details. Finally Beth asked where Robbi was.

“She went in to change her tee shirt. She spilled some Egg Drop soup on it,” he said with a giggle. “It’s hard to miss that belly!”

An eerie feeling came over Beth and she had to ask. “What shirt was she wearing Kevin?”

“It’s one her mom gave her, it says ‘Yes sir, that’s my baby’ on it. It’s one of her favorites.”

Beth looked at Mick, panic showing clearly in her eyes. The men talked about the Skype project and when Robbi got back she joined in the conversation happily, eager to try to the new idea. They planned a call for the next evening and when they ended the call Beth burst into tears.

Mick was speechless as he contemplated what this meant.



OOOOOOOOOOOO

“Lucy, I’m home!” Logan declared as he walked into the house in his best imitation of Ricky Ricardo. He sat his overnight bag on the couch and headed to the den to place the bag carrying his laptop and Katrina’s on the desk. He went into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around Audie, his pet name for her and leaned down to seal their lips in a warm kiss.

“Um, delicious!” he declared, licking his lips. “What are you making for your dinner?”

“Chicken salad,” she told him, stirring it all together. She pulled a croissant out and sliced it open before piling it high with the salad. When that was done she grabbed a glass and poured his dinner into it and then carried it and her plate to the table. Logan joined her and they both enjoyed their separate meals for a moment.

Logan told her about working for Josef and that he was having problems with Katrina’s computer.

“It has a separately partitioned hard drive, password protected and it also has a bug in it- I think if you try to break into it it will wipe itself.”

“Wow, she must have had some really knowledgeable help with that. I’ve got that code breaker program on my computer; we could piggy back the laptop to it and see what we get.”

“That’s what I hoped you’d say and just another one of the many reasons why I love you.” He took another drink of his dinner and then a deep breath; he was afraid to broach the next subject but it had to be done. No, he wanted it to be done!

He wanted to live with her. Things were good now, but he spent his nights here with her and then went to his place in the morning and caught a few hours freezer time and then worked. This place wasn’t big enough to hide the freezer anywhere and his place, well, the upstairs was nice but he wanted something that was just theirs. He explained all that to her and carefully watched her face for her reaction.

“You want to live with me Logan?” she asked, almost afraid she had misunderstood. She wanted that very badly and couldn’t believe that he had brought it up first. She bit her lip and looked at the chicken salad sandwich that she held mid-air as she prepared to take a bite.

In truth he wanted to marry her, but one step at a time. Forever was a long time and when she really found out what a complete and total geek he was she might change her mind. He looked into her beautiful brown eyes and smiled before he spoke.

“Yes, I want to live with you. This place isn’t big enough though Audie and my place, well it won’t do either. I thought maybe we’d talk to Clark and see if he could build us a place, somewhere that we plan together – a place that would be all ours.”

She burst into tears at his words; he’d evidently put a lot of thought into it and that made her so happy. One look at his face and she realized that he was reading the tears incorrectly; he thought she was unhappy. Men!

“Logan, I’m crying because I’m so happy! I’ve got money from Mom and Dad’s estate that is just sitting there and if we sell this place there should be plenty of money for whatever we want.” She knew that he didn’t have much; all it took was one look at the dismal basement of his to understand that.

“Whoa, wait a minute, I mean that sounds good, but I’ve got money to contribute too. My parents estate left me pretty well off; I mean, I live in that basement and don’t really have much overhead, so the money is just sitting in the bank. I’m not rich, but I’ve got money too Audie.”

If she was surprised by his words she did her best not to show it. He lived like he didn’t have two nickels to rub together and here he was telling her he had money socked away too. It surprised her but didn’t really matter in the end. They would put their money together to build a house, their home. She got up and carried the plate and glass to the sink and rinsed them before tucking both of them into the dishwasher. “Okay then Logan, we pool our money and build our home. I can’t wait!”

After that she got out the cat food and poured it into the boy’s dishes because she knew that they would be in and wanting their dinner before too long. At the rattling of the sack first Plato, followed by Travis came through the kitty door. They were the best of buddies now and she knew that Plato would really miss Travis when Mick and Beth got home from Seattle. She leaned against the counter and watched them both eat their dinner with a smile on her face.

“So, you uh, want me to call Clark tomorrow and see about getting together to discuss the house?” he asked, shyly watching her. He felt self-conscious for some reason but decided it was because they had taken a huge step forward and he was so excited about it.

Life was so much better than he ever thought it could be. Suddenly, forever seemed pretty cool too, as long as he had Audie by his side.



OOOOOOOOOOOO

Carl hung up the phone after talking to Beth for the past 15 minutes. His internal bullshit bells were clanging like a runaway claxon. She was lying; he didn’t know why but she was definitely lying about why she was in Seattle, if that is where she really was. He ran a hand through his hair and dragged it down his face, exasperated with the situation. He picked up his beer and tipped it up, only to realize the bottle was empty. He sat it down on the table beside the chair and debated about whether or not to get another one but Beth was still on his mind so he forgot about it.

He needed to pay a visit to Lani tomorrow and see what she had to say. That was a whole different proposition thought because Lani was a master at hiding things. Oh, she had her tells but Lani would carry secrets to her death he knew. What the hell was the big deal anyway? So Beth and Mick decided they needed a little alone time? They were newlyweds, it was to be expected. They had concocted this elaborate story for whose benefit anyway? Ben’s? What did her parents know he wondered?

And he had to ask himself why the hell it mattered to him so much anyway? Mick would never hurt her that much was for sure. Did someone else hurt her? Is that what they are hiding, why she had to get away from family and friends? Had she been? Was she? He intended to find out.

A trip to Seattle suddenly seemed like a great idea.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Logan and Audrey were working with the computers, trying to get into the hard drive on Katrina’s computer when Travis jumped up onto Logan’s lap and rubbed his head against his chest, wanting to be petted. Plato, not to be outdone launched himself onto Logan’s lap as well, waiting for his scratches.

Logan chuckled as both hands petted a cat. This was such a difference from when he thought Travis hated him. The kitty used every opportunity to get some attention and Logan decided he liked it.

Sometimes he still thought that Travis had overly large fangs, but he had decided that it was just an individual thing with cats, like ears or tails. Some were bigger than others – Travis had well-endowed fangs, that’s all.

The code breaker program was running with Audrey closely monitoring it. Suddenly a small beep signaled success and she grinned at him triumphantly. “Got it. We’re in Logan!”

He leaned over both cats and kissed her, excited to see what they found. There was information about several other identities, in different cities and two more bank accounts. After the code breaker gained them access to the accounts they looked at the current activity on each account. One, in Switzerland had been emptied this morning; about 25,000 dollars had been in it. The second one was in the Cayman Islands like some of the others that had been found but this one held almost 3 million dollars. She had accessed the account this morning as well, but didn’t take out any money. Obviously this was her reserve.

“Should we change her password?” Audrey asked.

“Yep, let’s do it. Something very random, that isn’t easily broken. And hey, here are her secret questions, let’s change them too.”

Audrey set to work and soon the task was done. They looked at one another with satisfied smiles and giggles. “I’d better call Josef and let him know what we found,” he told her, watching her stroke Plato’s back. Her fingers combed through the sleek brown fur and there was something very sexy about it. He leaned over the cats and kissed her again, longer this time and felt her melt against him, to the protests of the cats.

“Mm, that was nice,” she murmured.

“Yes, it was. Maybe I can call Josef later…”



To be continued…

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Beth held her hand out to Mick and he could do nothing less than follow her up the stairs. He loved this woman with every bit of his heart and soul; yes, he did believe he had a soul now and he realized that were it not for Beth he might not understand that.

Could he be as accepting of his existence as she was? He had chosen this path himself to save her, but what if that hadn’t been necessary? Would he have ultimately been happy to return? That was a question he would never know the answer to. He was what he was and he did at least appreciate some aspects of his vampirism; the strength, the stamina that made him able to take care of her. Now that she was a vampire too would she need him? For awhile at least.

Her bare feet made little patter on the sleek wooden stair steps leading to their room; he watched the way she moved, lithe and fluid almost as if she floated up the steps. He had always loved and appreciated the way she moved, the gentle sway of her hips but she had a vampires grace now that he couldn’t deny.

She paused at the top of the stairs, watching him ascend with an angelic smile on her face belied by just the hint of fangs peeking through. She worried that she wasn’t as attractive to him now as a vamp but in reality that was very far from the truth – how it could be possible that he desired her even more than before was beyond him but it was the truth.

If he were honest with himself, completely honest he knew that part of it was because he no longer feared letting the vampire within gain control. He had kept that part of himself tucked away, under constant restraint for so long that to let go and be totally uninhibited with her was amazing. He would never have hurt her before, but to not even have to think about it, maintain that stiff control that sometimes held them both back was a gift for him, for both of them.

His mind desired her, his heart yearned for her and his body flamed with brilliance beyond control, a craving he couldn’t and wouldn’t ever be able to let go. Yes, she was his woman, his mate the vamp within cried and so he practically leapt the final steps to stand in front of her, his eyes raking her hungrily before he pulled her tightly to him so that she could understand exactly how much he wanted her, needed her.

His lips claimed hers while a low growl emanated from his throat, quickly picked up and echoed by her own answering growl. Tongues sought and found their mates and stroked and plundered until both of them were breathless. Beth pulled herself up and wrapped her legs around his waist and the musky scent of her desire tormented his senses as he walked to the bedroom without breaking the kiss.

He laid her down on the edge of the bed, her legs spread and draped over the edge. Warm hazel eyes raked over her body, from the golden curtain of hair spread over the bedspread to the tips of her pink toes that were curled with anticipation. He hastily shed his clothes and knelt before her, humbled by her allure and beauty.

Gentle hands caressed her legs, tracing with trembling strokes the graceful curves of her calves before his lips followed in their paths, nibbling and swirling along the silken trail. He lifted one agile leg slightly to delve his tongue into the sensitive skin at the bend of her knee and she hummed with the pleasure of his touch. Not neglecting the other leg, he shared his kisses and caresses with it until she was panting with need.

Mick’s hungry mouth searched upwards as he kissed and nipped at her soft skin until he found the fount of her desire; they both sighed with anticipation. He inhaled the sweet scent of her and licked his lips with eagerness before parting the blonde curls with gentle fingers, exposing the lush pink flesh that was wet with anticipation.

He murmured against her flesh as he planted a lingering kiss on her, “Beth, my Beth.”

His tongue found the honey of her irresistible and he delved into the aching folds, dipping and swirling and tasting her pleasure until they were both heady with passion and need. Mick traced tiny circles around the swollen nub that resided there, sending shivers of delight coursing through her body and suddenly she was over the edge, a soft throaty purr escaping her, a primitive cry of satisfaction.

Mick stood up and gently moved her up the bed before joining her, their bodies fitting together as if they were made for one another by the very gods themselves. Mick’s mouth sought hers, joining them in a burning kiss that set them both aflame with renewed passion.

He couldn’t get enough of her, she inflamed his senses, consumed him until all there was in the world were the two of them. He slipped between her legs and buried himself in the heated depths of her body and was rewarded with a sharp gasp as she wrapped her legs around him, meeting him stroke for stroke as he plunged into her eager body.

His muscles strained to push them both to the limits of their passion, thrusting into her slick folds over and over. He was on fire, liquid rivers of molten passion flowed through him and spread into his love, his Beth. On and on it went as they climbed the plateau together until finally they both sought the other’s neck for the moment of sweet release.

They held one another tight for long moments afterwards, both gasping for breath as they bestowed sweet kisses upon any and every inch of flesh they could reach. He felt Beth shiver from the last vestiges of her release and he smiled as he scooped her up and carried her into their freezer, shutting out the world and dispelling any dark thoughts. She was his; his Beth.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



They awoke a few hours later in a jumble of tangled limbs and sated satisfaction. Beth stretched, the sinewy planes of her body rippling with the movement. Mick stared in rapt fascination, admiring every delicious inch of her. Her body hadn’t technically changed since she had been turned, but it somehow seemed more supple and lush

She leaned up and kissed him, her baby fangs poking out between her shell – pink lips. She murmured, “Mr. St. John, you wore me out earlier.”

Mick grinned, one eyebrow raised in surprise. “Surely not Mrs. St. John. Remember, vampires don’t have an off switch? Your very words I might add.”

“Well, this vampire is worn out and hungry too,” she said, raking nimble fingers through the dark curls covering his chest. She scratched lightly at one deep pink nipple on his chest and was rewarded with a purr of happiness from her virile and sexy husband.

“I thought you were hungry? That isn’t going to get you any food, only another sexy tumble,” he laughed, trying to untangle himself from her. He was hungry too he realized, trying to remember when he’d fed last. Hours ago, he decided, many hours ago.

He pushed the button to open the lid and it raised with a soft breathy ‘whoosh’ and he slid out, his feet meeting the wood of the floor with a solid thud. “C’mon, let’s go baby,” he said, holding his hand out to her.

After another toothy grin she reached for it, swinging her slim legs over the side and coming lightly to her feet beside him. Mick slid into a pair of scarlet silk pajama bottoms and handed her a silky robe to wrap around her body. She frowned at him, giving him a small moue of disappointment. Her bottom lip stuck out in the slightest of pouts, making her mouth look totally, completely kissable and he couldn’t resist dipping his head for a long lingering kiss. He broke away with a slight groan; the two of them would be lucky if they didn’t starve to death in the future because neither one had any resistance to the other.

“Race you down the stairs?” she dared and before she could get a single step he had already wrapped an arm around her, holding her back beside him.

“No way Beth; just one step at a time.” He watched her disappointed expression with a quirk of an eyebrow and sighed. It was time to start training her and the idea both excited and scared him.

Beth poured them both tall glasses of AB-, a ‘flavor’ she hadn’t tried yet. Josef was providing them with a good variety, probably for her education. She had been amazed at how different the blood could taste because as a human it had all smelled the same. She wasn’t having the best of luck identifying each one yet, other than Mick’s blood which was like the sweetest of nectar’s to her; she couldn’t get enough of it and frankly, drinking from him was a strange mix of eroticism and comfort. It made her feel safe and loved and protected on one hand the other drove her wild with desire for him. Inwardly she shook her head, confused by it all.

As they sipped their dinner Beth was aware of the muted sounds from outside of the house; she could hear all sorts of things like frogs croaking and the wind caressing the boughs of the towering pine trees that stood guardian on the property. Every now and again she could even catch the faint sounds of Puget Sound as the gentle swells met the shore. She stared at the glass in her hand pensively, wondering when he was going to let her explore more of the world outside the house. She guessed if she had to be housebound she couldn’t ask for a better companion. She gave him a lusty stare as sexy thoughts and images crossed her mind and she saw him stifle a giggle before he couldn’t hold back and laughed.

His eyes crinkled at the corners as he took a final drink from his glass and rose to rinse it out. He watched as she finished hers as well and he reached for it, his fingers brushing hers as he did so. Electricity shot through both of them making their fingers tingle in response. Both of them acknowledged the effect they had on the other with smile.

“We need to focus on something other than sex for awhile Beth,” he told her, sitting back down at the table and focusing on her. “As wonderful as it is, there are things I need to teach you that do not involve the bedroom.” He watched as her eyes lit up in surprise and she almost squealed with delight, her body almost trembling with excitement about learning new things.

“Oh Mick, I’m so excited to hear that. When can we go outside? I’m going stir crazy in here.”

“Tired of me already huh?” he teased. “I’m sorry that I haven’t started your training before, but I have to say that I’ve enjoyed the distraction.” He reached across the table and stroked her hand with his thumb, reluctant to not have that constant contact with her that they both needed.

“No, I am NOT! But I feel great and I want to learn new things Mick. This body is amazing! I want to run and jump and…” she trailed off, imagining running free.

“Hold on Beth, you have a lot to learn before that. We don’t know for sure yet what abilites you have; since you have my bloodline you’ll most likely have what I have and you’ll need to learn to control them, use them for your benefit. There also could be others that I don’t have, so we’ll need to explore them.”

She was quiet for a moment, pensively chewing her lower lip as she thought about what he had said. It hadn’t occurred to her that she might be able to do things he couldn’t, but likewise, it hadn’t occurred to her that she might not have the same abilities that he did. “I guess the only way to find out is to try, huh?”

He nodded, watching her face as she mulled it all over. He waited patiently for her to gather her thoughts so that they could work together. He didn’t have long to wait.

“Is the fact that I can’t stand the cold of the freezer one of the things?” She still couldn’t handle the freezing cold and in some ways it made her feel like the outsider on the playground, the last one to be picked for the game.

“No, I think that’s probably just a preference baby. Josef told me that many of the older ones don’t use them because they didn’t have them for so long. He also said that sometimes new turns just take a while to adapt, so don’t worry about it.”

“If the really old ones don’t use freezers they must smell horrible! Mick, you always said that vamps smell like decay, but I can’t smell that on you or myself for that matter. I mean, you just smell like Mick to me. The scent is pleasing and makes me feel safe I guess is the best way to describe it.”

He smiled at her and said, “I’m your sire, that’s sort of how it works. And your sense of smell will increase with practice as well. The first time you scent other vamps, like Tim or Mary you will understand.”

“I thought when you said that vamps smell like decay that it would be overpowering, pungent. If that is so, then I wouldn’t think you could scent anything else around them.”

“Well, every vamp, every person has their own scent Beth; you’ll learn to separate it all out, I promise. It’s the same thing with sounds; everything around you will be loud at first and I’ll teach you how to filter out the ‘chatter’ and just focus on what you need to.”

“Will I be able to scent the past like you do?”

“Hopefully and you might be even better at it than I am. Josef, he really isn’t able to do that much, but he has an uncommonly sharp ability to grasp or maybe even to predict where the markets will go. I can’t do that. We are each different – some vamps are faster than others, some can jump higher, some have a more refined sense of smell or hearing or vision. We’re going to discover what your gifts are.”

“Um, like being able to taste coffee?” she teased, standing up to make a pot of.

“Beth, you can’t possibly really taste it baby. I think it’s like a memory taste for you or something. It doesn’t hurt you and seems to make you feel better so go ahead and do it. But I’m sorry; I don’t believe that you can really taste it.”

Her eyes narrowed at him for a moment, ready to take umbrage at his words but then she just shrugged it off. She wasn’t ready to admit that he was right because she knew that she could taste it, but it also wasn’t worth a fight. She went about filling the coffee pot with water and scooping the grounds into the filter before flipping the switch to start the brew. Within a few minutes the delectable odor was permeating the kitchen and she sighed with pleasure. Maybe he couldn’t taste it but she sure could.



OOOOOOOOOOOO



Two days later…

They had worked on her senses for the past couple of days, discovering what she could scent by Mick hiding small things and letting her seek them. She had nailed that lesson, proving to be an apt pupil. Nothing wrong with her nose, that was for sure.

She was beside herself with excitement this evening because they were going outside at dusk to give her the opportunity to explore the world around the house. She shrugged into a pair of jeans and didn’t even mind the scratchy feel of the denim as she pulled them up the slid the zipper closed. She pulled a tee shirt over her head and decided to pull her hair up into a pony tail so that it didn’t cover her ears. She had discovered that the swishing sound of it over her ears distracted her. She stared at herself in the mirror and decided that she would do and headed down the stairs, two at a time but squashing the temptation of jumping because Mick was watching her.

As she caught the roll of his eyes over her pushing the rules she giggled and ran to him, kissing him before he could say anything to her. As he pulled her tight they both realized that she was trembling, the excitement overcoming her.

“Ready?” he grinned. At her nod they headed towards the door and he opened it and stepped out on the porch closely followed by Beth.

As soon as she was outside she felt alive, and breathed in deeply. She was bombarded with sounds and scents and it rolled through her, making goose bumps rise on her skin. It was loud! The wind in the trees sounded like tympani and she heard all sorts of animals, walking, running, chattering to one another as if to remark on the beauty of the evening. It was heaven and she twitched, aching to move about and explore.

“Okay, stay with me Beth. We’re just going to walk a bit, okay? You will begin to pick up animal scents, including blood and you have to stay focused on just walking with me.”

She nodded and they took a step forward, moving into the burgeoning twilight with graceful steps. The crackle of their footsteps on the gravel walk sounded louder than she could have imagined, grating almost and she had to concentrate hard on just staying with Mick and trying to tune out the sound and before long it suddenly became a part of the background noise, not nearly as irritating.

Behind all of it was the scent of Puget Sound, deliciously salty with the tang of decay to it. She had never smelled that before, that underlying odor. It tugged at her; she had to be there with it. She started moving towards the path that would take them there and Mick followed along, letting her guide him.

The scent was compelling her, pulling her towards the water and suddenly she let go of Mick’s hand and began running for the water, shedding her clothes as she made her way there.

Mick stared in astonishment at how quickly she had moved and stood dumbfounded for a moment before taking off at vamp speed to follow her. She was fast, incredibly fast he realized and when he got to the water’s edge she was standing waist deep in the sound, rivulets of water streaming down her body as she raised her arms skyward. It was the pose of an ancient pagan goddess, drawing down the moon to herself to use for her own delightful ritual.

Beth scooped the water up and let it cascade down her body as she stood under the light of a half moon. It seemed as bright as daylight to her and she marveled at the individual drops of water on her skin. She remembered the night that she had taken the BC and walked to Mick’s apartment. She could literally feel the air that night and it was like that now, only much more intense. An powerful feeling of sexuality washed over her and she focused on Mick, standing on the shore staring at her.

“Mick, come to me,” she commanded, holding her hand out to him. She was quicksilver; glimmering in the moonlight.

He could only obey. It seemed it was his destiny.



To be continued…