Chapter 35 Secrets
June 1, 2008
The problem with living a secret is that most of the people around you aren’t living it with you and so you find yourself straddling it like some kind of high wire that teeters in the wind. You take your breath and hold it all the while trying to balance what you know, what they don’t know and what you can’t say. It’s a betrayal of sorts and yet as necessary as breathing. Is it worth it? For me it is – doesn’t make it any easier though. So, I just take one step at a time; left foot, right foot and repeat.
Still, I’m very conscious of the fact that I have to choose my words and actions carefully because even what I don’t say could spell disaster. Disaster for Mick would definitely mean disaster for me as well. I never thought of myself as a good liar really; mom could always look at me and I’d crumble and out would come the truth, blah, blah, blah. Even now, she can tell and maybe that’s how it should be. There should be someone in your life that knows just what’s in your heart and loves you anyway.
Josh and I never shared that; I wonder if Mick and I will. I already feel he can see me, the real me and I’m comfortable with that but I can’t read him well at all, or at least it feels as if I can’t. He tries to open up to me and he has some, but there are so many layers to him that if feels as if I’m only peeling a tiny little bit at a time. Some people say that everyone needs to have something inside them that only belongs to them and maybe that’s true but I feel as if Mick can see the real me; the naked true me that tries to hide in the secret recesses of my mind and he still seems to love me anyway. He told me once that we all have secrets and maybe so but if I have any left I don’t quite know what they would be.
Lani and Robbi and I always thought that we shared everything, that there were no secrets between us but the older I get the more that I know that isn’t quite true. When Robbi gets here I know that there will be a lot that I’ll have to hide and frankly, that bothers me a lot. I’m afraid she’ll take one look at me and know it all and Mick’s secret will be exposed. What would Robbi do with that kind of information I wonder?
Lani is more at ease but I still see her struggle. I’ve agreed to take fencing lessons with her; if for no other reason that it will be good exercise for me because I don’t do nearly enough of that and Mick has decided it’s his sacred mission to make sure I eat regularly.
Lani hates feeling vulnerable and I understand a lot of the reasons why. When she was a kid her life at home was less than ideal. Her parents were more concerned with their status in the community than they were with Lani. She was brought out when they needed to impress their friends with how beautiful and well-behaved their daughter was, how accomplished and intelligent. Naturally, as she got older she understood the game and played the role quite the opposite of what they wanted until eventually they stopped including her at all. Add to that her creepy uncle Martin who landed on their doorstep occasionally, needing a place to hide out and Lani’s life was less than desirable. My mom always got exasperated with Lani but I also know that she loves her dearly, even today.
Beth stood in her doorway looking at Carl and Luca and let out an exasperated breath. Carl stood slightly behind Luca, looking intently at her, his eyes holding a hint of apology and she knew this wasn’t going to be a friendly visit. She wordlessly stepped aside and waited until they entered and closed the door behind them. Both of them stood in the living room, waiting for her.
“Well gentlemen, what’s up?” she asked without preamble.
“Ms. Turner, we needed to ask you a few questions if you don’t mind?” Luca said, using ‘Ms. Turner’ instead of ‘Beth’ so she knew that this was official.
She shrugged and said, “Sure. Have I done something?” she asked with a small smile tipping the corners of her mouth up in an attempt to disarm them, or Luca at least. “Can I get you some coffee?”
A whisper of a smile streaked across Carl’s mouth and she thought she saw him wink at her, an acknowledgement of her tactics which he knew well. Luca only cleared his throat and said, “No thank you Ms. Turner. And no, you aren’t in any trouble. This concerns Mick St. John.”
Beth turned to sit down in the chair, more of an attempt to hide her face for a moment. She sat down and crossed her legs and then spotted Travis staring up at her. She leaned over and picked him up and he settled in onto her lap. She scratched him behind his ears and his loud purr could be heard throughout the room. “What do you want to ask?” Her tone was casual but she knew that if Mick were here he would have heard her heart beating frantically. She tried to focus on Travis and staying calm.
“We are trying to ascertain his whereabouts the night of January 8, 2008. Did you see or talk to him?”
The date came rushing back to her; the date that Josh was killed by Tejada’s men. Mick, in her bedroom, his eyes pleading with her. She didn’t know what he had done then, but it didn’t take long for her to figure it out. By the time of Josh’s funeral the word was that either Tejada was dead or had fled the country. Beth figured the later was true. Either way he was gone but she hoped that she didn’t ever have to worry about him again. As her thoughts swept through her mind her head was tilted down, still scratching Travis but she forced her head up to look at Luca, staring into his eyes. “He was here,” she said simply.
“Here? With you?”
“Yes. That was the night that Josh Lindsay was killed. Mick was here to check on me.” So far she was telling the truth and she hoped they could see it in her face. Carl was watching her closely and did she imagine a slight nod of his head?
“The whole night?” Luca probed.
“Hm, well no, not the whole night. He didn’t sleep here, but until at least until around 2 am when I went to bed.”
Beth fingers stopped stoking Travis for a moment when she heard the question. Travis looked up at her and her fingers went back to work, stroking his back. “Of course I was alone! I had just lost my fiancé Detective Fiorentino,” she said softly.
“Yes Ms. Turner, I’m aware of that.”
“Don’t you think that was a rather tacky question then?”
“I’m sorry, but it was a necessary one. What time did Mr. St. John arrive here?”
Beth closed her eyes for a moment, as if contemplating the question. In truth, she didn’t know what time he got there. She was in the clear with this answer as well. “I honestly don’t know. I wasn’t exactly watching the clock that evening.”
When Mick had left Lani had come back in her room, followed shortly by her Mom and Clark and they had gotten her to go to bed. She didn’t want to have to mention anyone else being her if she didn’t have to because none of them saw Mick. Beth watched Luca writing in a notepad, his pen flying over the pages. Carl sat back on the couch, his arms folded across his chest, a good sign that he was unhappy. Their eyes met and he stared at her and it wasn’t a look of question but one of sympathy. He stood up and said, “C’mon Luca. We’ve got enough here.”
Luca stopped writing and put the notebook and pen in his pocket and stood as well. He wasn’t convinced she didn’t have more to say, but he saw that Carl had had enough. “Okay. Well, Ms. Turner if you remember anything else will you give us a call?”
Beth set Travis down on the floor and stood up, her blue eyes hard and as cold as clear blue crystal. “Certainly,” she said, opening the door pointedly.
Carl walked out, followed by Luca and she watched them for a moment before closing the door, fighting the inclination to slam it. She went back to the chair and sat down and let her tears flow. Travis jumped up into her lap and laid against her chest, as if trying to comfort her. That was the picture that Mick saw when he walked in the door a little while later.
“Beth, baby what’s wrong?” he asked, kneeling on the floor in front of her. Travis meowed softly and nuzzled Mick’s hand as her stroked her cheek, wiping the tears away.
“Mick, Luca Fiorentino and Carl came by; they were asking where you were the night that Josh died. Or at least Luca was; Carl didn’t say anything.” Beth looked into Mick’s hazel eyes that had darkened as he listened to her and blinked back more tears. “I only told them the truth Mick.”
He smiled at her, knowing that she would never say anything to hurt him. Of course, the truth could be interpreted in many ways. He pulled her to him with Travis between them and he kissed her tenderly. “I know Beth, I know. What did they ask?”
She filled him in on the conversation and he realized that she had told exactly the truth, and for some reason Luca hadn’t probed any further, which puzzled him. “Hey, I went shopping and bought some groceries and stuff. Why don’t you come and stay with me for a few days? Travis too,” he added.
Her face brightened as she sat up and set Travis down so she could go and pack. “You’ll have to gather his dish and food and the litter box,” she told him from the bedroom.
Mick was stroking Travis’ soft fur and said, “Nope! I bought all that at the store.” To Travis he said, “Yes I did Travis. I hope you like my place!” He scratched him under the chin and laughed like a kid as Travis purred loudly. His mind was thinking about what had happened with Carl and Luca and he knew that sooner or later they would question him.
A knock on the door shook him out of his reverie and he stood up and called out to Beth, “I’ll get it,” and answered the door to find Carl there.
I guess it’s going to be sooner…
“Carl, come in. Beth said you were here earlier.” As Carl stepped into the room Mick looked out into the hall looking for Luca.
“He’s not here; I came alone Mick,” Carl said as he took a seat on the couch.
Beth came out of the bedroom pulling her bag behind her and stopped when she saw Carl. Fear raced through her again and she dropped the handle, staring wordlessly at him.
Carl smiled at her; he wanted it to be reassuring but from the look on her face it failed miserably. She finally moved and went to Mick who wrapped his arm around her protectively. She loved him, it was plainly clear and he loved her back. Carl was caught; caught between the law and his caring for this woman. He loved her; he wasn’t in love with her anymore and he only wanted her happiness; it seemed St. John made her happy and despite everything, Carl knew that he was a good guy. If he took out a piece of trash named Tejada, so much the better. His new partner would disagree about that he knew.
“Beth, I’m sorry for upsetting you earlier,” he began and Beth interrupted him.
“You didn’t, your partner did. What the hell is this about Carl?”
Carl tried to choose his words carefully; he had a lot to say but he couldn’t say too much. “Luca believes that Mick killed Tejada that night. Ben Talbot tried to steer him away from that path because he doesn’t believe it, but Luca persisted and went above Talbot’s head to the DA, who granted Luca permission to call for a line up. Mick, I’m sorry but Luca will be bringing you in tomorrow for that. There is a witness who will see if she recognizes anyone.”
Mick’s face stayed stoic, not giving anything away but his mind was racing as he went over that night in his head. Pretty much everyone had seen him but took off at a run once he went into action. It didn’t hurt that they didn’t want to be there when the cops got there. Only one person remained as he headed into Tejada’s office, the girl that was dancing in one of the cages. Mick had sat down in a chair and Beth was perched on the arm and he felt her body stiffen at Carl’s words. He rubbed his hand up and down her back, trying to keep her calm.
He is one cool customer Carl thought and it was a good thing. Beth on the other hand was ready to let loose and that wasn’t so good. “The witness is Angel Navarro, one of the dancers from the club. She tells us that the person who came in was a devil with coal black eyes and a snout like a dog with long pointed teeth. She seems pretty sure about it. Says she can definitely identify the man, or devil as she calls him.”
Beth was unconsciously holding her breath as he spoke, but her face had gone pure white. She was petrified and that was unusual for her; she was scared for Mick. Carl leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees and licked his lips before continuing to speak.
“I’m going to tell you something and Beth, I it will upset you, but you need to hear it. Before he died, Josh told me that he had read your diary. He had uh, suspicions about Mick and was worried about you. I think Josh was a little out of his head at that point, I really do.”
Beth’s face went from white to scarlet in a heartbeat and she stood up angrily, her eyes an intense blue fire. “How dare he? That bastard, that was private!” She started walking up and down the room, seething with anger. Travis mewed and jumped up into Mick’s lap, burying his head against Mick’s side.
Mick didn’t know what was in the diary, but whatever it was Beth was almost out of control at the thought of Josh reading it. “Beth, baby calm down, it’s in the past now; it doesn’t matter.”
Beth fixed him with her eyes and the look almost startled him it was so intense and he realized she was not only mad, she was terrified.
“Beth, Mick’s right about that. Really, it would be difficult for anyone to believe some of what Josh said he read. Seriously, I’m not paying attention to it.” He looked at Mick and spoke again, his eyes never leaving Mick’s face. “Josh was intensely jealous; that’s kind of natural since he loved Beth. He only knew what he read; he wasn’t ever observant enough to really pay attention to other factors, behaviors and such.”
“But you do, don’t you Carl?” Mick asked softly. For all intents and purposes they were alone in that room.
“Yes, I do. I’m trained to do that, as you are Mick. We know that sometimes what we see isn’t always what it seems to be. Sometimes you just have to sit back and watch a bit to get your answers. Things often happen that seem impossible; sometimes though you find you are surprised and satisfied when you get to the truth.” He nodded briefly and stood up, preparing to leave. “Beth, I have to go, but relax, okay? Angel is looking for some damn demon dog, not a guy like Mick.” Her only answer was a pained look that tore him up.
Mick walked him to the door where Carl held his hand out. Mick took it and shook it and Carl met his gaze without flinching. He nodded again to Mick and stepped out the door and headed for the stairs. The handshake had given him the final answer.
Beth drove her car to Mick’s, following the Benz through the congested streets of LA during rush hour traffic. It was Friday evening and the weekend was just ahead of the people who were making their way home from work. Travis was in his carrier in the back seat of the Prius, quiet as they made the trip. She pulled the car into a parking space near Mick’s and turned it off and was ready to hop out but Mick was already waiting to open her door for her and she smiled up at him, loving him so much. She knew she was going to have to tell him what Josh read and she was dreading it.
Mick opened the back door and pulled the carrier out and sat it on the pavement before opening the trunk and grabbing Beth’s bag. She took the handle and pulled it along behind her while Mick carried Travis who was peeking out at everything.
In the loft Mick opened the door to the carrier so Travis could come out and he stepped first one paw out and then another, looking slowly around the room. Not seeing or smelling anything to hurt him he started to walk around the room, investigating it thoroughly.
“I’m going to carry your bag upstairs. Why don’t you look in the fridge for something to eat, okay?” he told her and watched as she headed into the kitchen.
He was back almost before she had a chance to open the door and as she poked around the contents she felt Mick behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and she felt his body pressed tightly against hers. He nuzzled against her neck, kissing the mark he had left on her earlier that morning and she felt a sudden whoosh of heat spread down her spine and a throbbing start deep in her belly. She turned around in his arms and wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss.
Mick kissed her thoroughly; he drank her essence in, savoring the sweet taste of her. He had waited so long for this, this bit or normalcy, a man loving a woman, holding her close. He rested his chin on top of her head and breathed her in, the soft scent her washing over him like a cooling breeze.
Beth reveled in the moment; she felt cherished and loved as she never had before. This was her dream, what she had waited her whole life for. She tilted her head up for another kiss and moaned softly when she felt Mick’s tongue stroke her lips, bidding entrance into her waiting mouth. She felt his body harden between them and thrilled to the knowledge that she had this affect on him. Before she knew it he had scooped her up into his arms and cleared the stairs in a mere heartbeat. In their bedroom both of them struggled to shed their clothes in record time. He beat her and helped her by ripping her panties right off of her. Beth jumped onto the bed and didn’t have to wait a single moment for him to join her, his mouth playing against hers like the sweetest of instruments.
She reached down for him, taking his rigid manhood in her warm hand and stroking it lovingly. She felt the tell-tale drop of fluid on the velvety glans and spread it around with her thumb, feeling his shiver in delight. His fingers dipped eagerly into the warm valley between her legs and were quickly drenched with the juices of her desire.
“Mm Mick, now please…please,” she pleaded, her voice husky with her need.
Mick was only too happy to give her what she desired, slipping easily into her heated body and they both sighed with pleasure as he slid home. He paused for a moment, feeling her heat envelop him as her muscles clamped around his arousal tightly. A small groan escaped his lips before he found her waiting mouth and captured it trying to drink her in.
Tongues dueled as their bodies rocked to the rhythm that drove them. Beth wrapped her legs around his waist and she whimpered as she strove to meet him thrust for thrust. He felt her on the edge and slid his mouth down her neck, finding his spot and licking it lightly before letting his fangs graze over it softly.
As Beth felt the sharp points of his fangs she fell over the edge, screaming his name as he held her tightly to him. Mick bit his shoulder and joined her, his body shuddering through his own release as he rocked against her gently. The both spiraled down through their releases, the haze of passion twisting around them with eager arms.
“I love Beth, I love you,” he said against her neck, reveling in the heat of her body.
“I love you too my shadow man,” she told him, trying to catch her breath.
“Um hm. When I was younger, I always felt you out there, always in the shadows. I called you that then.”
“I thought I was your guardian angel?” he teased as he moved to lie on his side, facing her. He raked his fingers through her damp hair and gently pushed it back from her face.
“That too Mick, that too. I always felt safe because of you shadow man.”
“I think I like that,” he whispered, stealing a small kiss.
“Why didn’t you bite me this time?”
“You haven’t eaten, remember? I won’t risk you fainting again Beth.” He tilted her face up to his and kissed her forehead. “You have to eat Beth, regularly. Even a small amount of blood loss will cause problems if you don’t eat. Speaking of that, let’s go back downstairs and see what Travis is doing.” He stood up and held a hand out to her, pulling her lightly to her feet. He stood there looking at her, a slightly crooked and ever so satisfied smile on his handsome face. He watched as she dug in her suitcase and found a robe to slip on. He pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms and they headed downstairs.
While they had been busy upstairs Travis had explored his new home, finding his food and water and the litter box. He was lying on the couch, satisfied and happy, barely bothering to raise his head as they came down the stairs, laughing and talking. Mick stopped and saw him and groaned. He’d forgotten all about cat hair.
Beth watched his eyes travel to the couch and grinned. “Love me, love my cat!”
To be continued…