Beth covers an execution for a Manson type murderer and meets the sole survivor or the tragedy Audrey Pell. Beth is concerned for her and takes her under her wing which turns out to be a very good thing. Audrey gets a call which she is convinced is Donovan Sheppard, the man she and Beth had just watched being executed.
Beth takes Audrey and goes to Mick to see if he can figure out what or who is contacting her. Sheppard had a gathering of followers called his ‘family’ and Mick feels sure that is who is responsible. However, the more Mick digs for information he comes upon some very startling info – that Donovan Sheppard was turned right before his execution. This opens up a whole new level of possibilities – and danger. Mick soon figures out that Sheppard is out to kill the persons responsible for his conviction, and Beth and Audrey find the DA in the case dead in his office. Mick goes to investigate the morgue in the prison (executed prisoners are required by law to be held for 10 days) and discovers the DA’s body where Sheppards should be. Mick goes to see a Hollywood producer who had bought the rights to Sheppard’s story and finds him dead. Suddenly, Sheppard attacks Mick and tosses him over an embankment and Mick tumbles down a mountain side. Sheppard looks down and notices that Mick’s phone has fell out of his pocket and quickly gets Mick’s address from it and heads there, knowing that is where Audrey is at.
While Audrey is napping on Mick’s couch Beth gets restless and goes into Mick’s office. She sees the file cabinets and is drawn to the one marked ’84 and ’85. When she opens the drawer she finds a file with her name on it and when she opens it she discovers pictures of her life. Suddenly it is all clear to her; that Mick was the one who had saved her when she was 4. As she sits and contemplates this new development Audrey comes in and asks her about Mick and their relationship. Audrey remarks that they seem like they’ve known one another forever. This makes everything sink in for Beth and she acknowledges to herself that could be truer than she would have ever believed.
At the bottom of the mountain Mick gets up and realizes that his phone is missing when he reached for it to call Beth to tell her that Sheppard had killed the producer. Mick runs back up the mountain and heads for his loft. Meanwhile, Sheppard arrives as Beth is calling Mick’s phone. She and Audrey hear it ringing and at first think Mick is back. When Mick doesn’t answer Beth cautions Audrey to stay away from the door and goes to check the security camera outside the door. She spies the phone lying on the floor and then sees Sheppard. He immediately tries to get in but the door is thick reinforced steel so he tries the windows in the office, where Audrey is hiding but again cannot gain access. Beth tells Audrey to hide upstairs when Sheppard breaks in through a skylight. Beth tries to protect her and fights with Sheppard. As he is about to kill her Mick comes in and tells Beth to run. She and Audrey head for the elevator to escape and Sheppard follows. At the last moment Mick cuts his head off and the girls are safe.
Later, Mick is on the roof and Beth comes to him, with the folder with her pictures on it. She manages to get him to talk about it and she can see how badly it embarrasses him, that he kept track of her all those years. When he realizes that Beth is not angry with him, is in fact comforted by what he has done he feels disbelief and adamantly tells her that nothing can ever happen between them. Beth isn’t ready to give up though and when she tries to comfort him, Mick walks away in despair.
November 16, 2007
I don’t even know how to organize my thoughts. So much has happened and I feel incredulous that some of it was a surprise to me. On some level anyway. This maybe one big, rambling entry diary, but I’ll do my best because the events have tripped other things in my mind and life.
Mick was the one who saved me when I was 4. Yeah, you wonder how I didn’t figure it out before now and I do too. I mean, there were times when it seemed like it could be; how else can I account for the connection between us? I thought it was love, that I was falling in love with him but suppose it’s all just gratitude? I’m so confused and hurt, that no one, NO ONE told me. I understand why Mick didn’t, he feels embarrassed about it all, watching me all these years. But honestly, I’m so grateful to him it never entered my mind to be angry with him or creeped out. Because of him I felt safe, have always felt safe, even if I didn’t know the reason for it was him.
My mother on the other hand – well I don’t even know how to express my feelings about her. How many times when I was growing up did I ask about what happened to me? I begged her at times to tell me about it and all I ever got was just that it was better to put it in the past and forget it! I’m astounded by that attitude; she was running from it and pulling me along with her. All I ever wanted was to understand it all so that I could move on; instead I buried it away, but it was always there, lurking just below the surface. I tend to do better when I can just confront an issue and get past it but I never got the chance because she never gave it to me. And she could have; now I have to face it all and it has fractured a loving relationship with her. I don’t know how I’ll move past it. We haven’t discussed it yet; not really. I called her and told her I know and she immediately started crying. I want to give us both a bit of time to think things over and for me, to calm down.
All this makes me think about Coraline. I don’t really remember any of that part yet; I mean, I really don’t remember Mick either, just shadows. I remember a woman in white, floating on the ceiling and the man coming in and taking me away from her after fighting her and causing a fire. That was Mick, my Mick. I remember feeling so safe with him as he carried me to the car; I even remember crawling from the back seat to the front seat to be next to him. Other than that it is all pretty hazy.
Josh and I talked on the phone several times; the conversations were awkward at best. He seems to be probing for information, but I’m not sure what exactly. He asks a lot of questions about what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with. Let that read: Mick; what am I doing with Mick. This time away from him has been both good and bad, especially this week as I’m dealing with everything. He’s just one more piece of the ‘what am I feeling’ puzzle though so it’s good he’s still gone. He’ll be home in about 10 days, (the case in Sacramento is taking longer than expected) and so that gives me time to sort myself and this mess out.
Carl called a couple of days ago and asked me to lunch. We met at his favorite little Mexican place and chatted. It was nice to see him when we weren’t involved in a case. I’ll always care about Carl; in many ways we both sort of grew up together. He didn’t seem to really want anything in particular, just wondered what I had been working on and if Mick had been working with me. When we finished lunch we both agreed that we need to do it more often.
And finally, the thing that I dread to talk about the most – I think Mick has a lover. He’s never mentioned a woman in his life but when I saw them together I could tell that they know one another intimately. It was a shock, a huge shock. Her name is Elka and she is beautiful. She’s also a vampire, but she seemed very kind. Still, I wonder about their relationship and why he never mentioned he was with someone. I want to be happy for him; he seems so lonely but if I’m honest, really gut level honest I have to admit that I’m jealous of her. She shares something with him that I never will and that hurts so much.
Maybe I do love him.
Carl hung up the phone with Josh, setting it down with a frown. Was Josh crazy? There’s no such thing as vampires so what was all that? Mick St. John was strange sometimes, that was true but a vampire? He could only assume that Josh’s jealousy had gotten the best of him.
Still, why had Beth written such a thing? Did she suspect Josh was reading her diary and so it was just to throw him off? Beth had long kept a diary; Carl saw it several times while they were dating but never once had it picked it up to read it. A diary was about as private of a thing that a person could do and you didn’t poke around in one that wasn’t your own. That was like probing someone’s private thoughts. It physically made him feel ill that Josh had told him what he had done and he sure as hell couldn’t support him in that.
Carl thought about warning Beth that Josh had done it but he couldn’t make himself do it. It would surely destroy their relationship and while he thought Josh was a little over board here he hoped they could make this relationship work. Still, it was like knowing that one person in a couple is cheating when you’re friends with both of them. What do you do? If you tell they both end up hating you.
No, for now he would let it go, but he’d watch and see what happened. Hopefully it would be okay.
Beth had covered the execution of Donovan Sheppard, a Manson like criminal that had over the years accumulated a large group of followers or ‘family’ as they called themselves. At the execution she had met Audrey Pell, the only survivor of the horrible murders of her parents and friends. Ten years later Audrey was 24 and still spooked by it all. Even watching Sheppard die hadn’t helped her any because his family was still contacting her which was scaring her badly. Beth had done the only thing she could think of; keep her close and call on Mick for help.
With Mick on the case Audrey had seemed to relax a bit until one of the family members broke into Beth’s apartment while Audrey was alone and taking a shower. Mick had gotten there just in time and when Beth had gotten home a short while later she found Audrey huddled in the living room listening to Mick ‘interrogating’ the family member. Audrey thought they should call the police but Beth knew that Mick could take care of it much better on his own; and he had. He had gotten information that provided a trail that lead to more information. And finally, to the conclusion that Donovan Sheppard had been turned only minutes before his execution and was now a vampire.
When Audrey first thought she heard Sheppard’s voice talking to her on the phone, repeating something to her that he had said during the murders Beth thought it was only a family member impersonating him. But gradually, it started to fall into place and it made sense that he had been turned.
The problem was that Sheppard was on a rampage to kill everyone who had helped to get him convicted; first the DA and now Audrey. Mick was hunting for him and Beth and Audrey went to stay at Mick’s because it was so much safer for them. After warning Beth to keep Audrey out of his stuff and several rooms Mick left, armed with what Beth presumed where weapons useful in killing a vampire.
She and Audrey talked a great deal that night; Beth still denying that it was actually Sheppard, which she felt was better for Audrey. Beth sought to comfort and reassure Audrey in every way possible and she succeeded for the most part when Audrey finally fell asleep on the couch. Beth covered her with the afghan and stood looking down at her for a moment. She couldn’t help but wonder how Audrey’s world would change if she knew about vampires. With a sigh she turned away and decided to head up to the roof to get some air.
As she went up the stairs she saw the gray door, the one that Mick had warned her to keep Audrey out of. She stared for a moment and then moved to go past it but curiosity got the better of her. She knew that this was Mick’s room, where he slept. She also knew she had no right to peek in; it was private. Would he be mad she wondered? He seemed comfortable with her knowledge of vampires, so he might not care. He might even show her the room if she asked. But he wasn’t here to ask right now so she could just peek in and then tell him later.
She stood in the hallway, debating what to do; her hand reached out and stroked the surface of the door, feeling the smooth, cool texture of it. The pull was too irresistible and she finally opened it, just a crack. The room was dark except for the glow of something large in the middle of the room. She stepped in and looked around and saw that the glow came from what had to be his freezer, except it didn’t look like any freezer she had ever seen. This one was long and narrow with a clear top on it, so you could see in. Or most likely you could see out of it. She opened the lid and felt the rush of cold air creep out and she immediately let it close, for some reason shocked about it.
It was real; he really did sleep in a freezer. He had told her so, but somehow it hadn’t seemed real until right now. Tears prickled at her eyes and she thought about the loneliness that freezer represented for him; the isolation even. No wonder he hated what he was. Tears began to flow silently down her face, dripping onto the top of the freezer as her heart broke for him. She turned around, so that it was out of her sight because she couldn’t bear to look at it any longer.
She noticed a urinal near the door and wondered about that too. Did vampires actually pee? A frown wrinkled her forehead as she studied it. She knew that he sometimes drank other things besides blood, so she guessed what went in must come out. She wished she could ask him about it, but that would be pretty difficult without admitting that she had gone in there. With a sigh she opened the door to leave, casting one last sad look at the freezer before firmly closing the door behind her.
Out in the hall she no longer felt like going up to the roof; loneliness engulfed her and the roof seemed very lonely all of a sudden. Instead she headed back down stairs, taking a peek at Audrey, still sleeping on the couch. She headed into the office, and saw one of Mick’s shirts. Before she realized what she was doing she brought it up and inhaled deeply. Mick’s own scent clung to the shirt and she smiled and sniffed it again, feeling comforted by the scent.
Beth settled into Mick’s chair and looked around the office, at the artwork that decorated the walls and tables and shelves. Her eyes stopped on the file cabinets and she stood up and went to look at the labels on the front of the drawers. That was when she saw ’84 and ’85. She had never noticed them before. As if in a dream she opened the drawer and looked through it and when her eyes spied the folder with her name on it her heart nearly stopped. She only hesitated for a moment before she pulled the file out and opened it.
Pictures! Of her. She sank to the floor and spread them out, taking them all in. There were pictures of her as a small child and a few even as an adult. One was of her and Robbie, riding horses at Robbie’s uncle’s place when they were thirteen. It looked like some years there were none, thought high school and college and she wondered about that.
He’s the one. He IS the one that saved me. Somehow I’ve always known. Why else would I feel so comfortable with him – so safe?
She heard Audrey stirring in the living room and quickly gathered the pictures up and closed the file before she came into the office.
Mick, it had always been Mick.
Lani entered Heroku’s office and sat down. He offered her a drink and she accepted it gratefully; it had been a long day and she was tired. They were wrapping up the final training platforms and modules and she was so ready to be done with it all.
“So Lani, the training will be successful?” Heroku asked, taking his seat behind his large teak desk.
“Yes, I think so. I guess we will find out when we launch next week. The new software is really good Heroku; the IT people did a great job.”
Heroku nodded his head; he already knew that but was happy that Lani had given credit to the IT people. It was a sign of a good leader and he firmly believed she would be one of his best leaders. That was why he had given her the promotion that would take her back to the US. He would miss her though; she thought very logically and had fit in well here. Yes, he was sorry to send her away but he also knew that she missed her home and family and friends.
“You are ready to move back to the states?” he inquired, watching her face carefully.
“It will be bittersweet Heroku; I feel happy here, a part of a family and I will miss it very much. You have been very good to me Heroku and I appreciate it so much.”
“Nonsense, I reward talent and of that you have much. Still, it hasn’t all been good.”
She caught the flicker in his eye and knew immediately what he was thinking of. “No, not all good of course. Heroku, can I ask you something?” She spoke the words quietly; almost afraid he would say yes.
Heroku took a sip of his scotch and then leaned back in his chair, getting comfortable. He always knew there would be questions; it had only been a matter of time. “Certainly Lani, you may. What do you want to know?”
Lani took a deep breath to compose herself; she had a million questions to ask but knew that she could only ask a few so she tried to sort out what the most important ones were. “Why did they pick me that night?”
“Would you believe that you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time? I hope so because it is true. They were looking for the girls in the private rooms and found you instead.”
“Really? It is that simple?”
“Yes my dear, it was. They were dealt with you know, you saw it for yourself.” Heroku watched as a shudder passed over her and she bit her lower lip as she remembered the scene.
She finally nodded, accepting his words. “I, uh, I couldn’t believe it all, you know? How could I ever know or suspect that there was such a thing as – as vampires?” She took a sip of her scotch before speaking again. “Heroku, how did you become a vampire? How long ago?” She hoped the question was not considered impertinent, but she was very curious.
“When? Oh, so long ago Lani. It was a choice I made because I thought it would make me a great man, a great warrior.”
“Did it?” she asked, watching as he seemed to be transported back to another time, perhaps another place.
“I thought it did. At the time it seemed the only way. When I was turned Japan was still a feudal nation, ruled by war lords and the war lords were all powerful. I was 42 years old and hadn’t achieved the success I thought was my due. By your calendar it would have been about 1050.”
“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed, very surprised. “I had no idea.”
“Yes, it is a surprise to many. But to continue, I served Surishimoto, one of the great war lords of the day. He seemed invincible on the battle field and inspired great loyalty among his samurai, of which I was one. But I was ambitious and Surishimoto understood that. He told me he admired my courage and loyalty and offered me a gift. I took it. I have never regretted it.”
Lani digested his words with interest; impressed by his tale. “You have seen so much, lived through so much Heroku. How has it been possible that no one knows of your secret?”
“Lani, where did you get the idea that no one knows? Many people know; some do not tell because of respect for me, other’s because of fear. Why do you not tell?”
She wasn’t expecting that question and it gave her pause for thought. Why did she keep the secret? “I keep it because I respect you, obviously but also because you saved me and have protected me. I owe you my life Heroku and for that I gladly pay the price of silence.”
“For that I thank you.”
“Heroku, do you ever feel that you’ve lived too long? Seen too much?” she asked as she considered how long he had lived.
He chuckled and then a grin spread across his face, causing a twinkle to flash in his eyes. “Not yet Lani, not yet!”
Dawn was breaking; Beth could see the early morning sky coming and spreading vivid orange and gold streaks across the sky. A lot had happened in the past hour or so. Sheppard had broken into the apartment and Beth had tried to fight him off when Mick got there. She and Audrey had run for the elevator with Sheppard hot on their heels. Mick got to him and before he knew it Donovan Sheppard had been headless. Audrey collapsed in relief in the elevator and Mick had finally picked her up and carried her into his loft, as quickly as he could.
After getting her a stiff shot of scotch Beth sat with her while Mick called the cleaners. Beth waited for questions; she knew there had to be some but mostly Audrey sat quietly. Only once did she ask anything – “Is he really dead this time?”
Beth smiled and took her by the hand and assured her that he was. “He’ll never bother you again Audrey. Mick took care of it all.”
Audrey nodded and coughed softly as she sipped the scotch. “Mick does make me feel safe. You are so lucky to have him Beth.” She took one last drink of the scotch and lay back on the couch and quickly fell asleep.
The cleaners were there by then and Beth wandered out into the hall where they were working. This woman was a different one from the one she met before. Beth walked up to Mick, who stood talking to her. He seemed slightly uneasy.
“Uh Beth, this is Kelly. Kelly, my friend Beth. She is a friend of the family.”
Kelly looked at the blonde and scowled. She was beautiful and from the way Mick looked at her Kelly could tell that they were ‘good’ friends. Must be, she was here at his loft and obviously felt comfortable here. She decided that she didn’t like that one bit.
“Hi Beth,” she said before turning her back on them to supervise the clean up.
No, Kelly didn’t like the human one bit.
Beth shrugged her shoulders and went back into the loft, failing to catch the sideways look that Kelly gave her as she did so. Mick saw it though and wondered about it, feeling a brief flair of panic.
After the cleaners finished he went up to the roof and that was when Beth joined him, as dawn was breaking.
“I know who saved me all those years ago,” she told him, laying the file on the balustrade.
Mick’s heart sank. This was the moment he had always dreaded, her finding out the truth. Did she hate him? Was it all over now? And as he listened to her he realized that not only did she not hate him, she was happy about it.
“Because of you I always felt safe Mick. And now, I’ve finally found my guardian angel.”
“And now you realize why it can never work between us.”
“All I know is that since I’ve met you I’ve stopped using the word never...”
The sun crept up over the horizon and peeked out between the buildings. Mick raised his hand to protect his face from the rays and Beth stepped forward, using her hand to help shield him from the burning rays too. She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek.
For one moment Mick froze as he felt her warm lips on his cheek. He fought the urge to pull her to him and wrap her warmth around himself. He ached for it; he needed it. Instead he pulled away and left her there on the roof. He cast a look over his shoulder at her as he went back into the building and she was bathed in the golden glow of the sun; it looked like a halo surrounding her.
That was when he knew that he had found his guardian angel.
To be continued…