June 10, 2008
What was I saying about secrets? Just when you think you’re safe, that it’s all okay something comes back to bite you. This time the something was Audrey Pell. She’s a smart young woman and pretty resourceful; now let’s hope that she’s as loyal as she is intelligent.
I have to admit that I totally panicked when she first told me about what she figured out. As stated before, I don’t think I’m a particularly good liar; kind of like vampires. Of course, that’s not true at all because they lie pretty much every day, to keep their existence a secret. Most of them are pretty good at it I think because, well, if they weren’t the whole world would know. I’ve discovered that Mick isn’t so good at it though, which I told him a long time ago. He hasn’t gotten any better at it, let me tell you. He tried to convince me that he wasn’t worried about the line up and then I find out that our very future together had been in jeopardy. I knew how worried he was but he wouldn’t even show me, trust me enough to let me in.
He’s a worrier; I get that. I can handle that but if he wants this relationship to work he has to open up more to me. I will not sit on the sidelines of our lives and be a passive participant. Does this sound like we had the mother of all fights? If it does, you would be right. It’s okay now but for awhile I wasn’t sure.
On a lighter note Robbi will be here in 3 days; Lani and I both are really excited. We are going out to the beach house tonight to clean it and get it stocked with supplies in anticipation for the girl’s weekend. I cannot wait and I know that Lani feels the same way. It’s been too many years since we have been together. As young girls if someone would have told us that we would go nearly 5 years in between visits for all three of us we wouldn’t have believed them; it would have seemed totally impossible and yet here we are. Lani was in Tokyo last time Robbi was home and so here it is, 5 years since the Three Musketeers have been together. The world had better watch out because the girls are going to have a blast. Good thing that beach house is sort of secluded.
I’m really enjoying my job at the DA’s office. Ben is a great boss I must admit. Mick is still suspicious of him but he’s never shown the slightest interest in me. Actually, when he does venture into the personal area it’s always Mick he mentions; if I didn’t know better I might actually think he’s gay, but I know he goes out with women. One of them sent him this huge cookie bouquet the other day and the whole office teased him about it, as we munched on the cookies that is!
Mick stood his ground, staring at Beth and Audrey as he listened to what she told him, pretty much a repeat performance of her conversation with Beth. He gave nothing away; not the slightest bit of emotion flickered across his face. Beth really needed a moment with him alone; he was blindsided by it all and had no idea that she hadn’t confirmed what Audrey believed to be true. He was going to have to discover that on his own and it didn’t take him long.
“Audrey, I know you are really confused about what happened that night, but don’t you think the vampire story is pretty far-fetched?” he asked, watching her closely.
“That’s exactly what Beth said, well, almost anyway, but Mick, there is no other way to explain it all. Beth and I watched him executed and yet amazingly, he walked away from it. He jumped up on your roof and then dropped through the skylight like it was nothing. He had – he had fangs! And so did you Mick, I saw it all very clearly. When Beth and I were running down the stairs to get out of the apartment he said, ‘two vampires, two lovely ladies, in my day we’d call that a party’. Look, I get the idea that this must all be secret, I do, but I needed you to know that I appreciate what you did for me and that I’ll never, ever tell anyone that you and Beth are vampires!”
“Audrey, I am not a vampire!” Beth exclaimed and then realized she had left that thought open, like she had the ‘stakes don’t kill vampires’ line earlier. She turned away, wanting to be anywhere else but here. Audrey was in dangerous territory, people had been killed for discovering the secret. Not by Mick, or at least she didn’t think so, but Beth knew that Josef would have no problems with it. That thought almost made Beth laugh when she considered his association with freshies.
“But you are, aren’t you Mick?” Audrey asked and the innocence of her question hit the bottom of his stomach with a thud causing an uncustomary ache. Her eyes never wavered from his face and he saw the truth in them; that she wasn’t afraid, and that she would keep the secret. He rubbed the bridge of his nose for a moment as he gathered his thoughts.
“Audrey, saying things like that could put your life in danger,” he told her and sat down on the couch where Beth had retreated to. Travis poked his head out from under the couch and gracefully landed in his lap and rubbed his cheek against Mick’s chest.
“I understand that Mick. I’m not, um, trying to make a big thing out of this. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate all you did for me. Your special abilities, they saved my life that night and I am so very grateful. I swear to you, I will never betray you.”
Mick cast a sideways glance at Beth who was staring at him, waiting for a reaction. Audrey reminded him a little bit of Beth; she wasn’t as inquisitive, but she was just as determined and he realized that whether he admitted it or not she knew what she knew. Was it more dangerous to ignore it or to tell her and make it 100% clear that she could never, ever tell anyone? He decided on the later.
After he was done she sat there smiling at him and finally said, “Beth, for the first time in years I feel safe and ready for life.”
“Audrey, do you really get how all this can affect your life now that you know? You can’t breathe a word of this.”
“I know, and it’s okay.” Her clear eyes said she meant it.
Mick asked Beth to drop some paperwork off at Logan’s when she went to take Audrey back to her car. It was on the way so she decided to stop on the way instead of on the way back. Audrey wanted to go in with her, even though Beth warned her about the hazardous basement and Audrey just laughed it off. Beth didn’t see any harm in it so Audrey followed her as she headed down the stairs and pushed the bell, waiting for Logan to buzz them in.
As usual he was engaged in something on the computer and at first paid little attention to them, until he got a look at Audrey that is.
“Uh, Beth, who’s your friend?” he inquired, sitting a little straighter in the chair.
Beth rolled her eyes and thought the least he could have done was stand up to greet them. She glanced around the room and saw there was nowhere for them to sit as usual but Audrey didn’t seem to notice; her eyes were on what he was doing on the computer.
“Logan, this is Audrey Pell, we met a few months ago, the Donovan Sheppard case,” she said but apparently all he heard was ‘Audrey’. He finally stood up and reached for her hand and if vampires could blush he was certainly doing it.
“Hi Audrey,” he said, smiling broadly.
“Hi Logan! You play WOW?” she asked, staring at the computer again.
“Yeah, on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. Do you play?”
“Yes I do. What guild do you belong to?”
Oh God, they are a pair, Beth thought. They were comparing notes about their game characters and guilds and Beth only wanted to get out of there. She cleared her throat and said, “Logan, Mick gave me these papers to give to you. He said you were expecting them?”
Nothing. There were talking about warriors or something else equally unrecognizable and she started tapping her foot impatiently. What the hell did she have to do to get their attention anyway? She peeked into the envelope out of curiosity and saw information about Mick and her, and when she pulled it out of the envelope she realized it had birthdates and other personal info in it.
What the hell?
“Logan…LOGAN,” she finally all but yelled. “Here take this – Audrey, we have to leave, NOW.”
They both looked up at her, realizing something was wrong, very wrong. Beth was already heading up the stairs, lost in her own world as Audrey said a hurried goodbye and sprinted to catch up with her. Beth didn’t say another word in the car until they reached the lot where Audrey’s car was parked.
“I’m sorry if I made you angry at Logan’s Beth – we were just engrossed in WOW.”
“I’m not mad at you Audrey, really. Call me soon and we’ll get together again, okay?”
“Sure Beth,” Audrey said, sliding out of the car. She watched as Beth pulled away and wondered what in the world was wrong.
Luca and Carl sat in Ben’s office, going over some paperwork on the Tejada case. “We’re ready to pick St. John up,” Luca said, looking at the case file. “Do we have other people available for the lineup ready?”
Ben nodded curtly, still pissed it was going this far. Carl’s foot was tapping on the floor impatiently as he waited to get this over with. It was a farce he thought, going to this trouble and for what? Angel Navarro is crazy; she’d never be able to pick anyone out of that lineup with any certainty. She really believed it was some devil; he just hoped that she stuck with that story.
“Okay then, let’s go pick St. John up,” Luca said, getting to his feet.
“I’ll meet you at the station with Ms. Navarro,” Ben said, straightening his tie and buttoning his jacket as he stood up. He was glad Beth was out of the office this afternoon because there would have been no holding her back if she knew what was going down. Ben knew that there wasn’t enough to go on with Angel Navarro as the witness but he also knew that Luca wasn’t going to let it go until he saw it for himself.
He watched as Luca and Carl stepped into the elevator while he closed his office door. He didn’t know or even care what Mick St. John’s involvement with the Tejada case was; if he had taken Tejada out so much the better because the criminal case would have drug on for years. Why Josh hadn’t realized that he never understood. But there were other reasons he needed St. John around for and answers to be had. He was going to see that he got them, one way or the other.
Mick heard the elevator ding and scented Beth as she walked to the door. She was pissed; the scent preceded her into the loft and before he could get to the door she had it open, yelling his name.
“Mick!” she said, stopping short as she saw him walking towards her.
“Hey baby, what’s wrong?” He took in her face that was a mask of anger, her eyes so dark they were almost indigo and her mouth a mere slash of its usual lush beauty.
“Just what was all that stuff that I took to Logan anyway Mick?”
Mick looked down, trying to gather his thoughts. “Come and sit down Beth; I’ll explain, okay?”
“I don’t want to sit down Mick. I want answer’s – now,” she told him point blank, staring him down. “What are you planning Mick?”
“It’s just a precaution Beth. A – just in case scenario. Josef…” he started when she cut him off.
“Oh, Josef, I should have guessed. Did you ever think I might not want Logan to have all that personal information about me?” she said irrationally.
“Beth, he already knew most of it anyway, he is family you know.”
Wrong thing to say he realized, as soon as the words came out of his mouth.
“Why Mick? Tell me what’s going on?”
“Beth, if for some reason things go wrong with this line up, well, we might have to get out of here quickly. Logan is going to create new identification for us.”
Her eyes narrowed even more as she listened. He just took it for granted that she would go with him? She knew that she would but he didn’t even bother to talk to her about it first or ask what she would want. He just took the typical male approach which was just tell the little woman what she’s going to do; she’ll be happy to do it.
Mick sank down on the couch as he watched the emotions play across her face. He had fucked up badly, he realized. He had thought he was doing a helpful thing, getting things ready, just in case but he now saw that it had caused an even bigger problem. Beth was capable of making her own decisions and he had taken her choice away from her by not talking with her about it first. Part of the problem was that they were short on time, or they could be anyway. If he was identified they’d take him to jail immediately and plans would have to be ready for when he made bail, if he was given that possibility. He remembered what had happened with Emma and knew that a similar scenario would have to take place again if that was the case. There wouldn’t be any time to waste. Everything that could be done before hand would make things simpler. With Audrey here earlier he hadn’t had a chance to talk to her. He should have waited, he saw that now.
The silence was uncomfortable, to say the least and Mick was smart enough to know that just because she wasn’t saying anything it didn’t mean that she was okay with it all. She still stood in the room, her hands clenched at her sides as she thought about what he had said.
“How could you? How could you do that without one word to me about it Mick? We, you and I, we are an ‘us’ now. You can’t just make decisions for both of us without talking to me first.” Her words were sharply spoken, each one a dagger ripping into his heart.
Mick knew that he was a product of his generation; that’s what men did, they made decisions and carried them out, for the good of the family. Had he been right all along, that the 60 years age difference was too much for them to overcome? How did they bridge that gap; if there was a way he didn’t see it. He didn’t know how to do things any differently; you take care of your family – period.
“I was wrong Beth. I’m sorry. There just wasn’t anytime though. Audrey was here and then you left and I was worried that we could be running out of time so I gave you the information to drop at Logan’s. I was going to tell you tonight what it was all about.”
“Tell me what it was all about? As opposed to asking me what I thought?”
“Yes,” he admitted, his words barely audible.
Beth turned around and headed for the storage area and grabbed Travis’ carrier. He had been lying on a chair, watching the discussion and she scooped him up and placed him in the carrier, fastening it securely.
“What are you doing?” Mick asked coming to his feet in a panic.
“I’m leaving, that’s what the hell I’m doing. And I’m not asking your opinion Mick, I’m going.”
“You’re leaving me?” He almost couldn’t get the words out.
She realized what he thought and for a moment she almost weakened. “No, I’m not leaving you; I’m leaving here, going to my place. I need some time,” she told him as she gathered her purse and picked up the carrier, heading for the door.
He made it to the door before she did, opening it for her. “Will you call me later?” he asked, his undead heart hopeful.
“I’ll call you later,” she conceded.
She headed for the elevator. No kiss or backwards glance. She was gone.
Ten minutes later there was a knock on his door. He knew who it was before he answered. When he opened it he saw Carl and Luca standing there patiently.
“We’re doing this?” he asked, resignation wearing on him.
“Yes. You ready?” Carl asked. “Need anything before we go Mick? A few minutes of privacy or something? We can wait outside.”
Mick thought it was a curious thing to ask and he started to refuse, but then thought better of it. “That would be good. I just need to, uh…” he nodded in the direction of the stairs, hoping they would read that as ‘bathroom’.
“Sure, take your time,” Carl said.
Mick closed the door and ran to the kitchen and pulled out a bottle of O+ and gulped it straight from the bottle, before hiding it away. He rinsed his mouth quickly and made it back to the door. He opened it to find Carl and Luca waiting in the hallway for him. He checked his pocket to make sure he had his keys and closed the door firmly behind him. The resounding ‘click’ had never sounded louder.
Mick sat in the backseat of the car and the short ride to the station was a silent one. At this point he was still thinking about Beth and how he had screwed things up for them. He hoped that they wouldn’t need a quick getaway, but you just never knew. He felt almost naked, going into this without her there beside him but he also acknowledged that it was for the best. Her temper might get them both in trouble.
Inside the station he was taken into a waiting room where several other men waited, evidently there for the same reason. A couple of them looked nervous and Mick wondered why. He hoped he didn’t look nervous; he tried to focus on just talking to Beth later, hearing her voice. It would all be better then.
Finally they were lead out of that room into another room; it looked like something right out of a movie with lines on the wall marking height. Mick was number 7; he wasn’t necessarily a superstitious kind of guy but they did say 7 was lucky. They were instructed to look straight ahead and they did. Each one in turn was asked to step forward and turn to the side. Mick followed the instructions when it was his turn. Finally they were taken back to the room to wait.
In the small viewing room Angel Navarro carefully looked over every suspect, rejecting one after the other. The smug look on Luca’s face fell when she passed Mick by without any recognition at all. They watched as the men were lead away and Luca questioned, “So you didn’t see him in that group?”
“No, none of them were the man. He had the big teeth, like a dog. And his eyes, they were scary!” she declared with a shiver. “He was a devil man!”
“Number 7 didn’t look familiar?”
Ben’s head snapped up at that question. It was big-time against the rules for them to prod a witness towards a suspect. He started to speak up with she answered.
“No. That man, he is an angel. Muy guapo!” she said with a sigh.
Carl had to fight himself to keep from laughing at the look on Luca’s face.
To be continued…