Chapter 38 The Still of the Night
June 12, 2008
Mick and I have so much to learn about one another and it is sometimes so hard to keep my mind open so that we can do that. We come from different eras – I get that. He wants to take care of me, something any man who truly loves you wants to do but his idea of caring and mine are so different.
I grew up in a house where my mom was independent and strong and I learned from her. There wasn’t really a man around who made decisions about what was going to happen in our lives. Yes, Grandpa was around until I was 7 and Clark was also there, but both of them let her be strong; they valued her opinions and I think they were both very proud of her. She fought for everything we had and sometimes the battles were hard, but it made it that much sweeter for her. She made it easier for me too; I didn’t have to fight as hard for things because of her and sometimes I forget that. I’m so ready to fight that I forget that a battle might not be necessary, just a little negotiation.
I keep thinking about the look Mick gave me when I said I was leaving. He was so hurt and scared and I knew it. I still left even though I made it clear that I wasn’t leaving him, just the loft. What made it so impossible for me to just stay and work it out instead of running from him? Everyone needs some cooling off time occasionally but I could have handled it differently. I wasn’t trying to purposely hurt him, I was just trying to – well maybe keep from hurting him worse if I didn’t get out. I’m not sure what I would have said in my angry state of mind.
He is too conscious of his past; we all are and we’re both aware of the mistakes we made in our past relationships. I seldom fought with Josh; we both usually just walked away to cool off. It worked for us but it was also a sign that we were both detached from the relationship. I don’t know how it worked for Mick and Coraline but I suspect it was something much darker. Maybe he is afraid of falling into that again, of letting the anger run away with him? I don’t know, but I do know that I’m afraid of just walking away and not talking about it. I have to learn and talk it through and deal with the anger; if I need space I can go out on the balcony or something but I have to stop running away from my emotions. I love Mick with all my heart and I do not want to lose him.
We are going to talk about this, we have to. I hope that he can be honest with me because I’m going to be as honest with him as I possibly can be. I want to spend forever with him, eventually anyway.
Ben Talbot drove Mick home from the lineup. The air in the car felt heavy and oppressive as both men mulled over what had just happened.
“Maybe you can’t say Ben but can you give me an indication of what happened there?” Mick asked.
Ben had to fight to keep a smirk off of him mouth and answered, “Off the record?”
“Luca made an ass out of himself. She didn’t recognize any of you.” He looked at Mick and added, “However, she thought you looked like an angel!” He finally let his laughter out and didn’t stop until they hit the next stop light.
Mick was trying to sort through what Talbot had just said; did it mean he was clear? He asked as much.
“Oh yeah, you’re clear Mick. She’s nuts.” While they waited for the light to change Talbot added, “Have you done something to piss Luca off? He seems pretty set on pinning this on you.”
“I’ve never met him until recently. What do you think will happen now?”
“I think he’ll try another angle, but his chances of getting the chief to listen to any more of it are pretty slim, and I’m positive the DA is done with it. Any chance that there is anything out there that could cause further trouble?”
Mick felt as if he’d been sucker-punched. That question seemed to imply that it was a given he’d done it and that Talbot wanted verification that nothing else would turn up. The cleaners had ensured that that wouldn’t happen but what in the hell was going on? First Carl and now Talbot. Were they privy to some information that he wasn’t aware of? Were they somehow in Josef’s pocket? What was the deal? They pulled up at his building and Ben stopped the car.
He decided to play dumb. “I would have to have been there in order for that to happen.”
“That’s exactly what I wanted to hear you say Mick!”
Carl walked in the door of his condo and let out a huge sigh. It had been a tense day, what with Luca first gloating about how the lineup would go and then pouting when it didn’t pan out. Now he was thinking some type of witness tampering but Carl was pretty sure that wasn’t the case; it wasn’t Mick’s style to intimidate women. Bad guys maybe – make that definitely.
Luca on the other hand had crossed the line with his question to Angel Navarro. He wondered what Ben planned to do about it.
He yanked off his tie and kicked off his shoes before grabbing an icy beer out of the fridge and sinking back into his favorite chair. His condo had a great view of the city and he watched as the lights came on below, the mellow golden bursts of light outlining the city.
Carl’s mind flipped back a few months to when they had Bustos in custody; Mick had asked to speak with him alone and on a whim Carl had agreed. He really didn’t think it would do any good but at that point he was watching Mick with new eyes. Partially because of what Josh had told him, however improbable that seemed and also because of the way Mick fought to save Josh’s life. He gave it everything he had and more, telling Beth you learn a lot in war.
Except that Carl couldn’t find any information on Mick being in a war; unless you count WWII that is. Mick St. John, a family name? Could be. He might have lived with that until he heard Beth say, ‘turn him, he’ll live’.
Turn him? Turn him into what?
Carl watched them closely then; he saw Mick jump back and blanch at her words and heard him say, ‘I can’t do that. That’s not living Beth’. Carl also noticed a bullet hole in the front of Mick’s shirt, ringed with blood and yet it obviously hadn’t stopped him.
Bustos called him El Diablo; Mick had got information out of him without laying a hand on him. It wasn’t until later when Carl listened to the audio that he heard the damnedest sounds he’d ever ran across. Sounded like growls and hisses, except that there was no one in the room beside Bustos and Mick and he knew from observation that it wasn’t Bustos making them. Carl ‘accidently’ lost the audio from that session and no one had realized it was gone. He wanted it to stay that way.
Angel Navarro said it was a devil man that killed Tejada. Coincidence? Carl doubted it, even though she thought Mick looked like an angel he thought with a wry grin. He took a long drink of his beer and closed his eyes, trying to dispel the disturbing thought he had about St. John.
What if he really was a vampire? What did that mean?
Lani and Eric strolled along the pier in Santa Monica sharing some cotton candy as they enjoyed the sounds of the crowd and the lights on the rides. They could hear the surf pounding the shore below them and catch the salty tang in the air. Eric licked his lips and actually tasted it, reveling in it and this perfect night with Lani. He loved her; he knew he shouldn’t but he did.
“Hey, let’s go ride the Ferris wheel. We can admire the view and I can steal a kiss or two!” he told her with a laugh.
“Okay,” she said. They practically ran down the pier and handed over their tickets to get on the ride.
Lani loved the Ferris wheel; she loved the view of the dark water beyond and the lights of the pier below. The light and bubbly feeling in her stomach as the wheel plunged downward made her laugh like she had as a child.
The wheel stopped occasionally to let other people on and they both laughed when they were at the top, remembering when they were in college and Eric had paid the attendant to get them ‘stuck’ at the top for awhile. For 15 minutes they sat at the top, gently rocking the car and kissing passionately until the wheel started moving again.
“Do you remember?” she asked, her eyes sparkling in the moonlight.
“Best 20 bucks I ever spent,” he laughed. He pulled the last bit of cotton candy off the paper holder and held it out to her. She bit into it, pulling it into her mouth and sighed with pleasure.
“They make the best cotton candy here,” she declared.
“Oh yeah? Are you an expert on cotton candy?”
“No, but I know what I like!” she teased.
“Like anything else?”
She knew that question was really asking if she liked anyone else. She did like him, a lot, but that wasn’t love. She tried to be glib and answered, “Yeah, you know all the cliché things, long walks on the beach, romantic poems, etc.”
He chuckled, well aware that she avoided his question. “Look, a shooting star Lani.” He watched as it streaked across the sky and closed his eyes for a moment. “Did you make a wish?”
“No,” she said and he sensed a note of sadness in her voice.
She shrugged and licked a bit of sticky candy from her fingers; somehow the sweet treat now tasted bitter and acidic she cringed at the thought that it was her own feelings that were bitter. Beth had told her that Mick said that relationships between humans and vampires were difficult, dangerous and complicated. She got that, it made perfect sense to her but relationships between two humans could certainly echo that. She wanted a relationship that was easy, safe and simple. Was there no such thing?
“Know what I wished for?” he asked softly.
Again she shook her head, afraid to hear. “No, you can’t tell or it won’t come true,” she reminded him.
“Not true. Actually, I already got it,” he said looking at her sad face. “I wished for you and me to be here together.”
“Don’t waste a wish on me Eric, please,” she said and had to hold back a small sob that tried to escape. “You know that I’m not worth it. I hurt you once, remember?”
“Is that what you want, to hurt me?”
“No, never, but it seems to happen.” And it did she knew. He wanted something that she wasn’t sure she could give, even if she did want it and right now she didn’t know what she wanted.
“Hey, I trust you,” he told her solemnly.
She pulled in a long breath and let it out slowly. “I know. It’s me that I don’t think I can trust.”
Up in the loft Mick took a shower and then called Josef to let him know what had gone down at the police department. Josef seemed as surprised by it all as Mick was himself.
“So Carl gave you ‘private’ time before you left? Is that normal?” Josef asked.
“I don’t think so. Josef, I think he knows, about me, about us.”
“Do I need to take care of this Mick?”
“No, not yet. You’re not involved in it – at all.”
“Nope. Mick, are you sure that Beth hasn’t let something slip?”
Mick thought about the diary and about what happened with Audrey. Neither thing was really her fault; she had a right to believe that what she wrote in her personal journal should be private and with Audrey, that was more his fault.
Still, he wasn’t going to tell Josef about it.
“I’m positive Josef. You should be too; you know how far she has gone protect us.”
Josef did indeed, thinking about Dean Foster; he wondered if she had ever told Mick about it. Somehow he doubted it. “Yeah, well she is working for the DA’s office now. She has to be especially vigilant.”
“She knows Josef. Look, I’ll talk to you later.” He heard Josef’s grunt on the other end of the line that masqueraded as a goodbye and pressed the end key. The loft was silent, a roaring silence actually and it wasn’t good.
No Travis curling up on his lap, no sweet scent of Beth wafting through the air, the sound of her heartbeat making him feel as if all was right with the world. He wondered what she was doing right now. He hoped she had remembered to feed Travis his dinner and herself too.
He fought the urge to just drive by to see if her lights were on. It was 10:40; she might be in bed because she had to go to work tomorrow. She should be in bed because she had to go to work tomorrow.
The urge, it was tangible, painful even. He fought it until he couldn’t. He dressed in a hurry and was out the door before he had time to stop himself.
He drove through streets that were still busy with vehicles, occasionally catching snippets of conversation in passing cars but his focus was just to get to Beth’s. When he got there, he was relieved to see her lights were out. The balcony door was open, as it often was, the curtain blowing in the gentle breeze.
Good. She’s resting.
He wanted to drive away; he told himself to do it and yet somehow he couldn’t. Before he knew it he was standing under her balcony, listening to the silence coming from her apartment. No TV, just quiet. Her heartbeat and Travis’ much quicker one. He turned around and actually got two steps away before he leapt up onto the balcony, landing with an almost silent thud. He caught her scent, clean, sensual; totally Beth and he drew a deep breath in, trying to envelop himself in it.
Travis had been sleeping next to Beth and heard Mick on the balcony; he jumped off the bed and walked through the doors to greet him, rubbing himself along Mick’s leg. Beth felt him jump down and watched what he did, not surprised to see the shadow that occupied her balcony. She lay quietly for a moment, silently watching Travis as he greeted Mick.
“Travis, go back inside buddy,” Mick whispered to the cat. “Go on now.” He tried to push Travis away and was surprised when Beth appeared in front of him. He hadn’t heard her get up and now he was caught.
“He’s stubborn,” she said. “He has to check things out so that he knows everything is okay.”
Mick swallowed hard. “Are you talking about Travis or me?” he finally asked.
“Both of you.” Silence.
He looked around, watching the breeze stir the leaves in the trees. In the moonlight they almost looked as if they were shimmering as they moved. “I – I just wanted to be sure you were alright.”
“I am. I’m going back to bed. Will you come with me?”
He caught his breath; he hadn’t expected this. He took a step towards her and she moved a step into the room and held her hand out to him. He took it and followed.
Inside he undressed quickly. She was wearing one of his Henley’s – one he hadn’t seen for awhile. “Nice shirt,” he said.
She gave him a small, sheepish smile. “When Audrey and I were at your apartment that night it was in your office I hid it in my purse and took it home with me. It smelled like you and made me feel better.” The confession surprised him. After what she had discovered that night he would never have suspected she would do something like that.
“You can have any of my shirts that you want Beth.”
“Can I have you instead?”
Her words were seriously spoken; she was half afraid of his answer. She didn’t know if she had blown everything walking out and she held her breath as she waited for him to reply.
“Just try and get rid of me,” he murmured.
“Really? I haven’t ruined everything?”
“No Beth. I can’t let you go. I’m so sorry.”
“Me too.” Her tears started to trickle down her face, salty little trails that he kissed away. He pulled her close to him and held her while she cried; her fear and pain rushing out of her as the sobs wracked her small body. He stroked his fingers through the silky curls of her hair and rubbed her back, all the while crooning to her that it would be okay, that he loved her forever.
When her tears finally ended she just clung to him, holding him close. There was comfort in the coolness of his body that was pressed against her own. The moonlight beamed through the open door and lit the contours of their bodies as they blended together in a mellifluous tangle. Desire swirled around them, entwining them in its loving arms and they both breathed it in deeply.
Mick reached down and pulled the shirt off of her in one smooth movement and tossed it carelessly to the floor. Beth straddled him, leaning down to kiss his waiting mouth, hungrily searching it with her tongue. She felt his hands glide down her body and capture her breasts, tweaking her nipples with his finger tips until they puckered with need.
Beth raised herself up and grasped his hardened length in her warm fingers and guided him into her. She was wet and aching for him and all she knew was that need. As she sank down her body squeezed him tightly and she heard him groan with the pleasure of their connection.
Mick sat up in bed so they were eye to eye and claimed her mouth, exploring the sweetness within. His tongue thrust into her mouth, tasting and savoring the heated honey warmth of it. He couldn’t ever get enough of her, would never get enough of her…
Beth felt the same thing, she wanted this to go on forever and she wanted them to go on forever. She pulled back from his mouth looked him in the eye and said, “I love you Mick, I love you.”
“I love you too Beth.”
She moved faster on him and threw back her head as the pleasure of their joining cascaded through her body. She trembled as her orgasm washed over her much like a wave, flowing and crashing against the shore, retreating and riding in again until she couldn’t move any longer. Mick held onto her and he felt the sensations take over him, plunging him over the abyss with her, complete and satisfied.
He pulled her back into his arms and laid them both down in the bed and then he curled around her and they slept.
Too few hours later the alarm went off, waking both of them. Beth was tangled in the sheets and she kicked free of them so she could roll over to reach the alarm. After she shut it off she laid back down for a moment, snuggling against Mick’s body and tilting her head up for a kiss.
“Good morning,” she said against his lips and she felt him smile.
“Um, I believe it is. Much better than I expected.”
“I thought you needed to sleep in your freezer?”
“I’ll catch a few hours later. I’ll be fine. There’s something you should know Beth.”
The words sent a brief minute of panic through her but his gaze told her everything was okay. “What?”
“Yesterday, after you left Luca and Carl came by. I went in for the lineup.” He felt her stiffen at the words and knew she was getting angry.
“No, it’s okay. Angel Navarro did not pick me out of the lineup. She didn’t pick anyone actually. She did say I looked like an angel though,” he teased her, the corners of his mouth tipping up in a sexy smile.
The words sank in and she felt relief, a huge amount of relief. Maybe things would be okay after all.
“Don’t be so smug St. John!” she said rolling out of the bed with a laugh.
Lani and Beth waited at the pier for Robbi, Kevin and Brianna to come down the gang plank. They stared in awe at the brilliant white cutter with the blue sky hanging behind it and blinked in the bright sunshine.
“I can’t imagine living on a ship like that,” Lani said. “Not to mention having a child on it.”
“It’s a cutter, not a ship I think and I can’t either. She says they have a lot of room though.” Just then they saw Robbi, Kevin and Brianna heading their way and both of them stared in surprise at Robbi.
“Wow,” Beth said. “Looks like baby is going to make 4!” Both women squealed and ran towards them, hugging Robbi tight. “You two are at it again!”
“Yep,” Robbi and Kevin answered at the same time. Both of them were beaming.
Beth picked up Brianna and held her close. “Bri, what a big girl you are! This is your Auntie Lani!” She set Brianna back down on the dock and watched her smile shyly at Lani.
“Hi there munchkin. You are beautiful,” Lani said and knew it was true. She knelt down so that they were eye to eye. “I’ve wanted to meet you for a long time!”
Brianna hid her face behind her daddy’s leg, only peeking out a bit to keep her eye on Lani while the adults chatted. They made their way to the parking area where the Prius was parked so the girls could head out to the beach house. Robbi kissed Kevin and Brianna goodbye and the girl’s weekend adventure began.
They didn’t realize that someone was watching them closely.
To be continued…