Chapter 40 Spin
June 15, 2008
My world is spinning and I’m dizzy, I want off but I can’t find a way to make it stop. I feel trapped in my life – a vampire wants me dead. ME. Not just anyone, not like with Sheppard who tried to kill me because I just happened to be there but me personally because of my relationship with Mick.
Josef said she’s a dead woman, but they have to catch her first and so far they haven’t managed to do that. I’m going to Josef’s soon to stay with him and Simone while Mick is in Reno. Maybe that’s not so bad. The more I’m around her the more I like her. We had a rocky start to our friendship, but we’ve gotten past that I think. She can be a lot of fun actually. I don’t know that she and Josef are that great of a couple, they like each other but it seems more of a case of just someone to hang out with sometimes. But I could be wrong of course. Time will tell.
Mick can’t get out of this contract or he would but he thinks I’ll be safe at Josef’s. Ben has agreed to give me some time off from the office after hearing about what happened on the beach, the sanitized, for human ears version that is. He and Carl both listened with alarm and Carl’s look was particularly penetrating. Both were upset by the bruise I’m now sporting on my cheek, courtesy of Kelly. Mick thinks Carl knows about vampires and frankly, I think so too. I just pray that he doesn’t ask me straight out though because I can’t lie to him worth a damn.
But what about Ben? He worked with Carl to help diffuse the situation with Angel Navarro. I heard that Luca Fiorentino tried to talk the DA into further pursing the case but they told him no. Not only no but HELL no. At least that pressure is gone and I’m thankful for that. Ben has something else working on him though; I don’t know what it is but I often see him jotting down notes on a case file. I don’t think it’s an active case because he hasn’t given me anything to investigate. Who knows really?
Something about vampires really puzzles me, the way they consider themselves so different from humans. And they look down on us – well some of them anyway. I keep hearing Kelly’s words that night, “Human, leave him alone!” like I’m some sort of sub-species, like we all are. They used to be human; it’s not like they are aliens or anything so just how does it happen that ‘okay, I’m a vampire now so humans are beneath me’? I really don’t get it; they are just people who eat something different than the rest of us. Is it because of their enhanced senses or abilities, their longevity? What makes them feel so superior?
On the way to the beach Josef called Katrina, prepared to demand answers. She picked up immediately and said, “I’ve heard Josef. We’re looking for her now.”
“And when you find her?” he prompted.
“I’ve arranged for her to be relocated.”
“Uh uh. She’s a dead woman Katrina. If you can’t do it I assure you I can.”
The silence on the other end of the phone was significant; Katrina was searching for the right words to argue her case. “I’m sending her New Orleans Josef; they need cleaners down there. Away from here she’ll forget all about St. John and his freshie.”
“Beth Turner is NOT a freshie,” he yelled into the phone, making Katrina wince. At his words Mick threw him an enraged look. “I’m serious Katrina, Kelly is a dead woman walking and if I have to go to the council I will. You know that would not be good.”
Katrina squeezed the receiver so hard it was lucky it didn’t break. She let out a low growl because she didn’t care if it was Kostan, she didn’t take well to threats. Unfortunately, she knew he would win this one. “She’s a human!” She let out and exasperated breath and added, “Fine. Fuck you Kostan,” she said and with a final click the line went dead.
Mick cast a sideways glance at Josef who had a grim smile on his face. “She’s dead. Only a matter of time.”
Mick and Josef pulled up with a squeal of tires at the beach house, the sand in the drive way spaying out from under the tires in a barrage of dust. All of the women were in the house, sitting at the table and talking quietly. Robbi didn’t understand why they hadn’t called the police and Beth had just shook her head, avoiding any type of answer. She looked pale, except for the vivid, rapidly forming bruise that was blossoming on her cheek. Lani had given her an ice bag and Beth held it up to it from time to time to try to alleviate some of the swelling and pain.
As soon as they heard the car doors slam Lani went to the door and looked out, seeing Mick and Josef and turned the alarm off before opening the door. The air was rancid with the girls fear and Beth’s pain and it took everything both men had to not vamp out when they entered the room.
Beth immediately flew into Mick’s arms, sobbing as all the emotions poured out of her. Lani took Josef’s hand impulsively and squeezed it for a moment and then just as quickly dropped it, amazed that she had done it. Josef stared at his hand for a moment before recovering, shifting his focus onto Beth.
“Hey blondie, it’s going to be okay,” he told her and hugged her back when she grabbed him. He whispered into her ear, “We’re going to take care of this, I promise.”
Lani was close enough she heard his words and understood their meaning. They should have shocked her but when she caught Josef watching her she nodded, the movement so subtle he thought for a moment that he might have imagined it. But her eyes burned with a vengeance and Josef knew that she understood.
Both men were introduced to Robbi and she greeted them with a subdued smile. Mick was amazed at how beautifully she had grown up; the last time he had seen her she was still a gangly young woman who wore glasses, her curly hair flying everywhere. Not so now; the hair was short and whether it was from the sun or highlights didn’t matter, it was streaked beautifully. It made her look rather impish and young, very young.
“Mick, I don’t understand why we haven’t called the police; you know that young woman don’t you?” Robbi asked, still very concerned about Beth. They were in the living room now and Beth was sitting on Mick’s lap, her head resting wearily against his shoulder.
“Yeah, well I think tomorrow we’re going to talk to Carl Davis and let him know what is going on. He can uh, bring her in and we’ll see what happens.” Mick looked at Josef, hoping the lie would satisfy her and he caught Lani looking at him, fire burning brightly in her eyes. They bespoke of the need for retribution; Mick knew that look well because he had seen it stare back at him whenever he had looked in the rear view mirror as they drove here.
Lani told the story of what had happened, including the kick to Kelly’s knees that she had meted out and Beth stabbing her in the back with the barbeque fork. Mick’s heart would have stopped cold when her heard that; had his heart not already been dead anyway. Panic laced with a heady dose of fear raced through him at the thought of the two women trying to fight Kelly. She could have so easily killed them and he held Beth a little bit tighter, gently kissing her temple. She ran her fingers through the curls of his hair and sighed, finally feeling safe again.
All the women had driven to the beach house in Beth’s Prius. It was decided that Josef would drive Lani and Robbi back to Lani’s penthouse and Beth would go with Mick to the loft. They would all get together tomorrow and spend the rest of the day at Lani’s house. Beth was silent as they packed up everything they had brought with them and stored it in the cars. Mick went out and put the fire out in the pit and brought the blanket and the remains of their dinner in as well. When they were done, Lani locked up the house and set the alarm before they climbed into the cars. Lani and Robbi both hugged Beth goodbye and stared at her with concern as she slid silently into Mick’s car.
On the way to Lani’s the women chatted occasionally but Josef just concentrated on getting them home and then back to Mick’s in Beth’s small car. There was still the matter of Travis for her to deal with and Josef was dreading that whole scene. He really liked that piece of gray fur, if he was really honest with himself. He’d never been around a cat before who could handle vampires.
He sure didn’t like Logan though. Wonder what that was about?
At Lani’s Josef helped the girls carry everything up to the penthouse suite. It was incredible he realized, very beautiful. He admired the modern feel to the room, the white in the background with turquoise accents; it looked like Lani he decided.
“Mr. Kostan,” Robbi said, pulling him out of his reverie. “Are you coming to the picnic on Sunday at Beth’s parent’s house? I’d really like to you meet my husband and daughter.”
Josef heard her words with some small amount of surprise. She was a sweet little thing. Those three make an unusual combination. “Please Robbi, call me Josef. I’m not sure I’m free,” he told her and he was just as sure that Beth’s mother wouldn’t be thrilled if he was there.
“Well, I hope you can. It was very nice to meet you – Josef,” she finished with a laugh.
“Yes, nice to meet you too. Lani, as always, it’s been interesting seeing you. You have no small amount of chutzpah girl!” he declared with a grin. He headed out the door and as Lani shut it he heard Robbi question, ‘What did he mean interesting? Lani, what have you done?’
As they pulled into the garage at the loft Mick saw Logan’s car still was here. He sighed, dreading what was next. But why the heck was Logan still here he wondered. He hadn’t told Beth about Travis yet; truthfully he had hoped that Logan would be gone with Travis’ body and she might not notice until tomorrow, when he could explain it to her. Now, with Logan still here, no such luck. He remembered that he had left her a message asking her to call him about Travis. She evidently hadn’t listened to it yet, which was okay.
He opened the door for Beth and held his hand out to her as she got out of the car. He grabbed her bag from the back seat and they made their way to the elevator and all too quickly they were at his door. A moment of panic washed over him and as he opened the door he said, “Uh Beth? About Travis…” and looked up and saw Travis standing at the door, as if waiting for them. Mick cast a quizzical look at Logan and then caught his breath, scenting the air.
Did the cat actually turn? Rapid little heartbeat, no vamp smell to him. What the hell?
Logan only looked at him and shrugged.
Beth bent down and picked up her cat, rubbing her face against his silky fur. “Oh Travis,” she said, scratching him behind his ears. “Have you been a good boy? Mick, what were you saying about Travis?”
Mick stared incredulously at the cat who blinked at him with his amber eyes. “Nothing baby, nothing at all.” He wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth but he sure as hell didn’t understand how it was possible.
“Logan, I thought you had a date with Audrey tonight. You didn’t go over there looking like that did you?” She spied his torn and tattered clothes with narrowed eyes and frowned.
“No, I ended up cancelling the date. We’re on again for tomorrow. I uh, better be going now.” He stopped and looked at her bruised face and for a moment Mick saw anger flash brightly in the young vamps eyes. “You’re going to take care of this Mick?” he asked as Beth headed into the living room.
“You bet your ass I am.” He looked over at Beth on the couch, Travis ensconced on her lap and purring loudly. She suddenly had a craving for milk as she stared at Travis.
“Hey Beth, I’m walking Logan down to the car. Be right back,” he told her and at her ‘okay’ they left the loft, closing the door behind them.
“Well?” he asked Logan, waiting for the explanation.
“I don’t know man. I just cleaned him up and was going to put him in his carrier and when I picked him up he looked at me and meowed. That’s it. I first thought he must be a vamp but then I realized he wasn’t. Don’t know anything else,” he said with a puzzled shrug.
When the elevator reached the garage level they saw Josef pulling into a parking space. He hopped out of the car, surprised to see that Logan was still here and without Travis’ body.
“He’s alive,” Mick said, seeing the question in Josef’s eyes.
“Alive, as in ‘I’m a lucky puddy cat and I’ve only got 8 lives left’ or alive as in ‘let me take a bite out of your neck?’”
“Um, the former. Don’t ask me what the deal is. ‘Night dudes,” Logan said, crawling into his car. Mick and Josef both watched him pull out of the garage, each wearing dumb-founded looks on their faces.
“Alive?” Josef asked again.
“Yep,” Mick answered. He explained Logan’s version of what happened to Josef as they made their way up the elevator, both of them puzzled.
“Maybe the bit of blood he got from Logan healed him, that’s all I can think of,” Mick said.
“Possible I guess. A few drops can help humans heal; why not cats. I have to say, I’m happy about it. He was very entertaining with the batty ball!”
As they opened the loft door they saw Beth in the kitchen, pouring a glass of milk for her and a bowl for Travis. He was eyeing it with avarice, waiting impatiently for Beth to set it on the floor.
“Hungry aren’t you Travis. Mick, didn’t you feed this cat?” she asked as she set the bowl down. Travis attacked it hungrily, the sound of his tongue lapping up the treat sounding loud in the quiet apartment.
“I’m sorry baby. I guess I forgot in all the excitement.”
“Josef, did you bring him that darn noisy ball?” she asked as she accidentally kicked it as she walked out of the kitchen. It bounced off the cabinet and rolled across the floor, jingling loudly.
“Guilty,” he said with a laugh. “Every puddy cat should have one, don’t you think Travis?”
Travis looked up at him and Josef could have sworn his eyes flashed silver for a half second.
Nah, must have been the light…
Sunday afternoon was the cookout at Dorothy and Clark’s; Lani was there as were Robbi, Kevin and Brianna and Beth and Mick. Even Logan managed to make a brief visit later on, along with Audrey since they were on a date to make up for the first one that went bad.
Beth introduced Mick to Kevin and they shook hands briefly before going over to the grill where Clark was cooking hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. The grill was thankfully under an awning, keeping the sun off of Mick and as he took a seat in the shade and sipped at bit on an ice cold beer he decided it wasn’t too bad. He didn’t normally drink beer but he went along with the game. Clark eyed him anxiously and Mick smiled at him to let him know it was okay.
The guys talked about the baseball game the night before and exclaimed about it as the Dodgers had barely pulled off the win. Since Mick had missed the last inning he was happy to hear about it.
The women carried out the salads and relishes to go with the meat when Dorothy noticed Mick drinking a beer. She gave him a startled, curious glance and raised her eyebrow at it but said nothing. Beth saw the look and spoke up, “Mick won’t be eating anything today. He’s been having some trouble with his stomach, digesting food and stuff so he’s going to have tests run tomorrow. He really shouldn’t be drinking the beer either! Here, let me finish that for you Mick.” She took the bottle out of his hand and took a long swig of it, trying to hold back a grimace; she hated beer, ever since Carl taught her to chug them in college because she could never keep them down afterwards.
Lani wisely said nothing, keeping her eyes downcast lest she should betray something she didn’t mean to. Robbi and Kevin were very sympathetic as Kevin had had ulcer problems himself in the past.
Everyone enjoyed the cookout and ate too much. Beth had tucked away a travel mug of blood for Mick in her purse and on a ‘bathroom’ break he drank it down before returning to the party. He had to admit he was enjoying himself; it was the first time since before he had been turned that he had attended a cookout. As the evening shade crept over the day it was even more pleasant.
Brianna played in the yard, chasing her beach ball that they had brought for her. Beth and Lani played tag with her and Dorothy sat in a chair, watching them. It was a bittersweet moment for her; it was fun watching Beth playing with the little one but she also knew that Beth would never have any of her own. She’d never have any grandchildren.
But that didn’t mean that there wasn’t ever going to be any babies around here; she stared at Robbi’s belly and placed a hand over her own and acknowledged the secret that only she and Clark knew.
Mick observed the gesture and raised an eyebrow as he caught the smaller, fainter and faster heartbeat that was barely perceptible. He smiled at Dorothy and glanced down at her stomach; he couldn’t help it as a much broader grin spread across his face.
Logan came in then and introduced Audrey to everyone. Clark was dumbfounded that his brother had a date. If the kid had ever been on a date before he had never known about it. Logan was introduced as his much younger brother, a ‘surprise’ to the family. Lani knew the truth and if Robbi thought about it she might have as well, but she seemed oblivious about it.
Before long Logan and Audrey joined in the game of tag out in the yard as did Robbi and Kevin. Robbi ran slowly, cradling her belly as if it was the most precious thing in world; to her and Kevin it was. At one point he stopped and bent down and kissed it, a loud smacking sound that made them all laugh.
“When are you due Dorothy?” Mick asked and watched the surprise spread across her and Clark’s faces.
“How do you know?” she asked. Clark only smiled faintly because he already knew how.
Mick tapped his ear and said, “I won’t say anything Dorothy.”
“I’m only a little over 2 months along. We want to get past the 1st trimester before we say anything to Beth. I’m older and it makes it a bit trickier you know.”
Mick nodded but said, “You’re not old – what, you’re like 43 now?”
“Maybe not old, but older than the majority of new mom’s. We just want to make sure things are okay first Mick.” She thought about that for a moment and licked her lips, a shadow falling across her blue eyes. “I know that you and Beth – uh, can’t Mick. I hope this doesn’t upset you.”
“No, not at all. Beth and I understand how things will be for us. She says she’s okay with it; I sincerely hope she is. Dorothy, I’d give her anything in the world I possibly could, you know. I love her more than my own life.”
Dorothy wiped a quick tear away from her eye and nodded at Mick in understanding. “That is the one thing I will never doubt Mick.”
To be continued…
Authors Note: In two weeks we will be in the final part of The Road Trip, taking up the adventure of Josef, Simone, Mick and Beth as they head for parts unknown. This is just a reminder that it would be helpful for you to read my 5 part story, The Road Trip if you haven't already.