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Episode Summary, The Ringer
In this episode Mick comes face to face with a woman, Morgan Vincent who is the exact double of his ex wife, Coraline. But is she actually Coraline? At a fire at the Franklin Hotel, Mick spots her taking photographs. He is immediately shocked and confused at seeing her, believing her to be Coraline. The only problem is, he killed Coraline in 1984 when he rescued Beth from her. Mick can’t seem to keep from being pulled towards her, horrified at his reaction to her. He believes that she is Coraline, back for revenge. Except for the fact that Morgan Vincent is not a vampire. She also works at Buzzwire with Beth which concerns Mick a great deal.
Things get more complicated when Morgan claims that someone broke into her apartment and took her cameras, but she has the flash drive with all the pictures from the fire on it and as she, Beth and Mick examine them they discover that she had accidentally caught a murder being committed on the camera. As Mick investigates the case more and more coincidences pop up that make him believe that Morgan really is Coraline. Josef tells Mick that it isn’t possible that she has come back from the undead to become human, but Mick is convinced that she has and his behavior becomes bizarre as he seeks to uncover the truth.
Beth watches from the sidelines, convinced that Mick has a ‘thing’ for Morgan and feeling quite jealous over it, all the while insisting to everyone (including herself) that she isn’t. But she definitely does not understand Mick’s behavior and she doesn’t see anything to be concerned about with Morgan.
Mick and Morgan go to a cemetery where the man who supposedly broke into Morgan’s house was cremated. There, Mick encounters Hank Mottola, very much alive, for a vampire anyway. After a wicked fight Hank gets away and Mick confronts Morgan about the set up. He rips her jacket and tears her blouse to look for the tattoo that Coraline had on her left shoulder, but Mick discovers two things; Morgan has no tattoo and she’s also bleeding, something a vamp can’t do.
So, is she Coraline or not? Read on to find out!
Part 21 – The Ringer
November 5, 2007
The past week has been very hectic which is fine by me; as long as I can stay busy I can keep my mind off of what happened at Mick’s the night I took the BC. Every so often I open the drawer and stare at it, wondering what possessed me to try it and if I’ll ever have the courage to do so again.
Not likely; unless I’m prepared to come clean to Josh and Mick both. For some reason that stuff acts like truth serum and I’m not yet ready to deal with the truth. None of us are.
Another even that happened this week was fire at the Franklin Hotel that I covered. Morgan was there too, taking photos and she and Mick met and it was almost as if Mick was possessed. Really, I mean, I’ve never seen him like that before; so intensely aware of someone. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her and asked endless questions.
He finally told me that he had believed that she was Coraline, his ex wife. And another shocker, he said he killed her and seemed surprised that I didn’t remember it. Why on earth or how would I remember that? He told me that everything about this case was parallel to what happened when he killed Coraline. He and Morgan went to the cemetery to verify the death of Hank Mottola whom Mick was positive was in on the set up. There, Mick basically assaulted her at Hollywood Forever looking for a tattoo on her shoulder and when he didn’t find one finally realized she wasn’t Coraline. It left a difficult situation in its wake though let me tell you.
I know it doesn’t make any sense but as I watched Mick’s reactions to Morgan, how he was constantly drawn to her it bothered me. He was definitely interested in her, Coraline or not and that made me feel slightly sick. Mick accused me of being jealous, which of course is preposterous, but I certainly didn’t like how it made me feel. And now, knowing the whole story I feel kind of creepy about Morgan.
Josh is away for a couple of weeks and for that I’m thankful. I feel guilty when I look at him, into his loving eyes. I know that Josh has it all planned out; our life together and I know that I might not be okay with it. I’m so torn; Josh is steady and trustworthy and life with him would be stable and predictable. What’s wrong with that? Many women would jump at that chance. Even I might have once, but is that me anymore?
It doesn’t feel like it is.
Then there’s Mick; enigmatic and sometimes brooding and dark. I can’t quite figure him out and I’m positive he doesn’t want me to. He has things in his past that he says makes him a monster, but don’t we all? I know I’m not proud of lots of things from my past. Are the monstrous? I guess that’s kind of subjective. To me they seem to be, but for Mick, they’re probably nothing.
Okay, I get it – being a vampire can be a very dark and sinister thing. Mick has told me and I’ve seen firsthand what being a vampire can be; case in point the good doctor; make that NOT so good doctor. And when I met Josef and Ryder, I did feel intimidated. Are they good vampires or evil ones? I can’t imagine Mick being friends with some kind of demon and I know that he respects and cares for Josef a great deal. I don’t know where that comes from because he really doesn’t talk much about it, but it’s a really tangible bond.
I remember far too much about what happened the night I took the BC; I have to admit that part of me would like to forget the whole thing but there is another, greater part that thrills to the memory. Drug or not, it felt right, as if that was the one place in the world that I was supposed to be. Would I feel that way again if I took more? Was what happened with Mick only because of the drug?
I doubt that actually. Even now when I stroke the now undetectable marks on my arm I tingle and feel heat rush through me. When I remember how easily I responded to his caress in that shower I am amazed and I immediately ache for that again. He felt so good to me and I admit that I want it again.
But that still leaves the uncertainty; was it just the drug or more? Where, if anywhere, does Josh fit into all of this?
Do I really want to know? Am I ready for that answer?
Mick was working out when he first noticed the flames. He stopped and stared, realizing exactly what was burning. A sinking feeling of disappointment hit him like a ton of bricks and he rushed to grab his duster to head downtown to check it out.
When he got there he could only stare at the burning building that had been such a part of his life; the human life that is. So much had happened at this hotel; so many memories of time spent with his family. It represented a part of himself that he had let go in 1952.
“Hey,” Beth said, spotting Mick as he watched the hotel burn. “It’s really sad, huh?”
“Yeah. Are they going to be able to save it?”
“Maybe a few top floors; it’s mostly built of wood, in the ‘20’s.”
“1927. My parents used to bring me here for brunch after church.”
Beth grinned at him and said, “I keep forgetting how old you are.” It was hard to watch the pain reflected on his face and she wandered away from him to see if she could get any more information.
Mick closed his eyes briefly and let the memories flow over him. So many family meals had taken place here; so many celebrations. It had been built in 1927, when Mick was five. It was a big thing to come to the hotel for brunch after church on Sunday’s or for birthdays. When he was ten his parents had brought him here to tell him that his mother was pregnant and when his twin sisters were born they had come here to celebrate.
During the depression they came less frequently, but still as often as possible. Mick’s family survived the depression years better than most; his mother had been a strict saver and his father had held steady work; even during the depression people needed plumbers. The St. Johns had done alright.
Mick remembered the last time he had been there, right before he was turned; the memories brought so much pain that for a moment he felt a stabbing pressure in his undead heart.
As he watched the flames that was when he spotted her; the woman who could not possibly be here and yet somehow she was. He made his way to her, circling her to try to get a scent of her in all the smoke of the fire. She looked at him, smiling that smile that had always pulled him in. It was only for a half of a second, but he knew immediately that it was Coraline.
Mick sat in his beat up old Chevy, savoring one last kiss from Margie before she went in to work at the diner and he headed off to what he was sure would prove to be a snooze of a gig at a private party up in the hills.
Marjorie Redmond pulled away from Mick, and grabbed her compact out of her purse to make sure that her lipstick wasn’t smudged too badly. Mick winked at her and chuckled as she tried fruitlessly to do damage control on her ruby lips.
“Oh, you just behave,” she said as she dabbed with a tissue at the smudges. Eventually she laughed out loud and just tried to wipe it all off when she realized she couldn’t repair it. “This is all you fault,” she giggled.
“Wanna mess it up a little more?” he teased. He brushed his fingers through the titan red of her hair, feeling its silky strands flow through his fingers.
“No. I gotta get in to work and you have that gig,” she said as she prepared to get out of the car.
“Okay Margie.” He leaned over and snatched one more quick kiss that made her squeal with delight as she climbed out of the car. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Yeah baby. I’ll call you tomorrow and we’ll make plans.” He watched her head through the parking lot and go through the doors. He admired the way she moved, her compact body graceful as she dodged something on the sidewalk.
He had met her 9 months ago and pretty quickly fell head over hills for her. He loved her and she loved him and they had even talked about a future together. Most girls didn’t want to really give him a chance because he was a musician, but Margie was different. She saw the potential that he had and she also realized that Mick was a good man, worth waiting for.
He started the old car and pulled away, a smile on his face. He couldn’t wait for tomorrow.
At the gig, in a huge glass house high up in the hills overlooking Bel Aire he and his band mates sat up. It was a Hawaiian themed party and so the band as well as many of the guests were dressed in tropical clothing. The woman who had hired them, a Miss DuVall had only nodded at them as they came in and all of them gazed at her with appreciation.
She was tall and exotic, wearing a red dress that matched the color of her lips. Her long raven-colored hair framed a beautiful face that looked bored to tears Mick noticed. Several times through the evening Mick caught her looking at him and he could only smile back. As Randy said, she was out of their league.
Later in the evening she asked Mick if they could play something a bit livelier and requested ‘Ain’t That Just Like A Woman’. Mick was amused by her choice. This crowd definitely didn’t look the type that would appreciate the devils music, as it was called, but what the hell, she was paying the tab. Soon he was actually surprised because that song and a few other wilder ones seemed to please the crowd a great deal. Mick shook his head in amusement; sometimes you can just never tell about people.
The best part of it was that he had gotten her name; Coraline. She looked like a Coraline he decided as he and the band finished packing up their instruments, around 3 am. When he was ready to head out she cast an inscrutable look at him and beckoned him to come to her.
“You want to get wet?” she asked, voice sultry and mysterious.
He couldn’t believe she had asked him that and said, “You don’t even know me.”
“Do I need to?” she had asked and turned around and asked for help unzipping her dress. She had given him a very deep and penetrating look and Mick found that he couldn’t have stopped himself if he had wanted to. He finally admitted that he didn’t.
Before he knew it they were alone and naked, enjoying the warm water of the crystal clear pool. The servants had disappeared and the silence hung heavily between them. For a moment Mick wondered what in the hell he was doing as thoughts of Margie filled his head. But as if realizing that she was losing him Coraline focused her attention back on him intently and as if in a daze he went to her, pulling her into his arms and kissing her urgently.
One kiss lead to many more and finally culminated in the two of them having wild sex on the steps of the pool as the water gently lapped at their legs. Coraline almost howled with pleasure and Mick was with her in that; never in his life had he ever experienced anything so primal and all-consuming as that sexual act had been. It was like a fever had over-taken him.
At 6 am Mick had stumbled home, reeling from what he had done. How could he ever explain this to Margie? He loved her; he wanted a future with her didn’t he? Somehow it seemed less likely as more thoughts of Coraline filled his head.
She was amazing and he almost felt like he needed her as badly as he needed to breathe. And as much as he didn’t want to he called her, only to be told that she was unavailable. Mick tried all day and finally talked to her late that evening, long after he was supposed to have called Margie. Sadly, he didn’t even remember that they had plans.
Gradually, Margie slipped out of his life as he was consumed by the need to be with Coraline. She would promise him a date and then fail to show up. He burned intensely for her and even went to her house several times to try to find her. He seemed to have no pride and no will of his own where Coraline was concerned. Finally, one month after he met her he convinced her to marry him and she agreed.
It never occurred to him at the time that she had manipulated him so smoothly that she got exactly what she wanted. No, that only came to him later, when it was too late.
He called Margie one day and asked to take her out to dinner. She was thrilled; she knew that something was going on with him but Margie was patient, (too patient her friends said) and agreed to meet him at the Franklin Hotel for dinner.
When she saw him waiting in the lobby she couldn’t believe how he looked; pale and jittery, so unlike the laid-back Mick she knew. They were seated immediately and Mick ordered wine for them as they decided on their dinner choices. He seemed nervous and that excited her. Maybe he was finally ready to ask her to marry him; she hoped so and so she sat back and waited for him to speak.
“Margie, I uh, I have to tell you something,” he said over their after dinner coffee. They had spent the whole of dinner making small talk and now it was time to finally say what he had to. He knew it would break her heart and that made him feel bad but he had to be honest.
Margie’s eyes lit up and she reached across the table and caressed his hand tenderly. “Yes Mick?” she said hopefully.
Mick stared at her small hand, resting on his own and stroking it softly. I appalled him and he yanked his own away and picked up his coffee, staring at it for a long moment. He swallowed hard and took a deep breath.
Suddenly, Margie knew that whatever he had to say wasn’t going to be good. Her face fell and she blinked back sorrowful tears as her teeth worried her lower lip. She stared at him, waiting for whatever he had to say.
“Margie, I’ve met someone and we – uh, we’re getting married in two days. I, I know this has got to be a shock to you and…” He didn’t finish as her hand came into contact with his cheek, making it smart with the sting of the slap. He knew he deserved it.
She stood up and reached for her purse, her face a mask of pain and anger. “How dare you? Seriously Mick, how dare you see someone behind my back while we were together?” Other diners were staring at them but she didn’t care. All she wanted right now was to tell him off and get the hell out of there. “You no good two-timing jerk! I loved you and would have given you everything you ever needed; instead you were seeing someone else behind my back!”
“No, Margie, no, I wasn’t. I only met her a month ago.”
“A month? You’re throwing away our whole relationship on some woman you’ve only known a month?”
“I, I’m sorry Margie. You didn’t deserve this,” he tried to say, but she was already walking away. She was almost running as she hit the door into the hotel, not that he could blame her. He hung his head in shame, he had hurt someone who was so special and never deserved it.
Suddenly, Coraline was sliding into Margie’s vacant seat. She took his hand and stared into his eyes and suddenly all thoughts and regrets about Margie dissolved. This was what was meant to be.
Two days later he understood too much and not enough. His life had forever changed and no matter what, he couldn’t go back.
Mick had asked Beth to check out Morgan and she did. “She seems to be legit Mick,” she finally said.
Morgan haunted him; if she wasn’t Coraline, she certainly seemed to have the same effect on him.
Josef assured him that she couldn’t be and Mick wanted to believe that but every step he took in this case only made him more convinced that she was. He didn’t know how, but his instincts wouldn’t let it go. It seemed like everything that happened was a clue.
Morgan had gotten a shot of the fire that had a girl being murdered in it. The girl had a fleur-di-lis tattoo on her shoulder, the exact same tattoo and place that Coraline had one. It was a mark of a courtesan in France. When he went to Morgan’s apartment to investigate a break in she had she told him and Beth that she had this whole ‘50’s thing going on in her decorating. Mick found a copy of Coraline’s favorite book on a night table, Remembrance of Things Past. As he took fingerprints at her place she played Ain’t That Just Like A Woman and talked to him of how horrible it would be to burn to death.
Mick felt the fever again, that crazy, insane reaction he always had around Coraline. It finally drove him to attack her and rip her shirt, trying to find the tattoo. Only there wasn’t one and he didn’t know if that elated him or broke his heart.
Beth came to Mick’s the next day after several calls to him that he wouldn’t answer. He finally came clean with her about what had happened.
As he told her the tale of Coraline he watched her face carefully, waiting for the slightest sign of her recognition, but there were none. She didn’t understand why he thought she might remember him killing Coraline and she certainly didn’t get the whole agitation he felt over it all. Morgan was being silent on it too and Beth didn’t understand that either.
The conversation lagged for a couple of minutes and there was a knock on Mick’s door. He got up and went to it, scenting the air. Recognition hit him and to some degree he was happy to see this visitor.
He opened the door and said, “Elka! It’s good to see you.” He pulled her into his arms and embraced her warmly. “Come in, there’s someone here I’d like you to meet.”
Beth watched the exchange between Mick and the woman with interest. She was small, tiny in fact and either American Indian or Hispanic. She had long hair that was wavy and thick and deep brown eyes fringed by lashes so thick that they didn’t need mascara. Beth’s interest was immediately on them as they moved into the living room and took seats.
“Elka, I’d like you to meet Beth Turner. Beth, this is Elka.”
Elka immediately reached out to take Beth’s hand and she realized immediately that Elka was a vampire like Mick.
“Beth, it is wonderful to meet you. Mick and Josef have both told me a good deal about you,” Elka said with a smile.
Beth hadn’t expected to hear that and she couldn’t possibly imagine what Josef Kostan might say about her, but probably nothing good. “Th –thank you Elka. I don’t quite know how to respond to that.”
Elka laughed, a light tinkling laugh that was reassuring. “Only good things, I assure you. You have quite captivated Josef I might add.” She reached across and took Beth’s hand and gently squeezed it and added, “But don’t tell him I said so!”
“What brings you here Elka? How’s the new house?” Mick asked. He had relaxed a bit as he watched the interaction between Beth and her.
“I love it; you must bring Beth and come to see it. Mick, I talked to Josef earlier. He is very concerned about you,” she said as she watched him.
Mick blinked several times and finally told her about the whole Coraline/Morgan mess. As Beth watched them she saw a definite connection between them.
They have been lovers. But were they still?
That question tore at her. She had Josh, why couldn’t Mick have someone? She was beautiful and made him smile. Didn’t he deserve that? Her breath caught in her throat and she jumped up quickly and grabbed her coat and purse in preparation to leave. “I uh, I have to go now. Elka, it was very nice to meet you,” she said as she made her way to the door.
“Wait Beth, don’t go,” Mick said, following her with a frown.
“I have to go to Buzzwire and post the finale on the fire Mick. I’ll talk to you soon, okay?” With that she was out the door, pulling it closed behind her with a firm click.
At the elevator she punched the button viciously. As the doors slid open she entered the lift and punched the button to take her down. As the doors closed she stamped her foot on the floor and wiped away tears.
I have no right to be jealous.
“She is in love with you Mick,” Elka said gently.
“What? No, she has a boyfriend. No, she doesn’t love me.”
“Okay, if you say so,” she told him, hiding a smile. Just like you don’t love her.
In Sacramento Josh picked up the phone and called Carl and waited impatiently for him to pick up.
“Hello,” Carl said. He was on his way to his car after work. It had been a very long work day and frankly he had little patience for any crap tonight and it seemed like Josh lately had a lot of that.
“Hey buddy, have you got any information for me on Mick St. John?” Josh asked. He had a pen and notebook handy to write anything down that Carl might have found.
Carl sighed; he should have guessed what this was about. “Josh, there really isn’t anything to get on him. Nothing we don’t already know anyway. He stays just on the fringes of the law and every now and again helps us. Why don’t you just drop it, okay? I think this is just a little over-inflated jealousy here because you think he’s after Beth.”
Josh pursed his lips for a moment. How would Carl react if he knew what he did? Dare he tell him? Someone needed to protect Beth and Josh wasn’t there to do it. “Listen Carl, I have information that makes me fear for Beth’s safety. That’s all and we just need to be sure about this guy.”
“What info Josh? Tell me that?”
“Okay, but you won’t like it and once I tell you, well, you can’t go back.”
“What Josh?” Carl prompted impatiently.
“I, uh, I read Beth’s diary. It just sort of happened and…”
Carl cut him off, enraged. “How the hell does something like that ‘just happen’ Josh?”
“It was, well it was in a drawer and I was putting about some earrings in the drawer and I saw it. Look, I know that it was a shitty thing to do, but she’d been acting so strange.”
“I don’t give a damn how she was acting; that was totally wrong Josh. You are in a relationship with her; relationships are all about trust.”
“Yeah, well I can tell you that I maybe have reason to question that trust!”
“Has she slept with St. John?”
“No, but she’s protecting him.”
“Protecting him from what or who Josh?” Carl asked, curious despite his anger at Josh.
Several heartbeats went by; heartbeats that pounded through his chest and head. Could her actually say the words? He took a deep breath and began to speak. “This sounds really crazy Carl, but think about it and it might just make sense to you. According to Beth, Mick St. John is a vampire.”
The only thing he heard on the other end of the phone was silence.
Morgan sat in front of her vanity at her apartment. She removed her robe and stared at her reflection in the mirrors.
Mick was almost worn down; a few more steady pushes and he’d be hers again. Coraline stared in the mirror as she lowered her bra strap and washed the makeup off of the tattoo; a fleur –di-lis that she had received two centuries ago. It was actually a brand, worn smooth over the years and she shuddered as she stared at it and remembered when they did that too her.
Yes, not long now she knew. She had laid the foundation; all that was left was for Mick to come to her.
And she knew that he would.
To be continued…