July 6, 2008
It’s early in the morning and I’m alone, sipping a cup of fabulous coffee that room service brought up. There are some croissants as well but my stomach is doing so many flip-flops I’m not sure if I could keep them down. Maybe…
In a little while Mom, Lani and Robbi will be here because we still have things to accomplish today but right now it’s quiet and peaceful. I’m looking out at the city below and even in the early morning it is bustling, the traffic on the strip rushing off to somewhere. I guess it’s true that Vegas never sleeps, or at least not everyone all at once.
It’s hazy here, but I hear it often is. The mountains in the distance are mere shadows lurking in the morning sunlight. Reminds me of LA really; you know that the mountains are out there but some days it’s hard to remember where.
I am getting married this evening. Those words make me smile, feel giddy in fact. A year ago would I have believed this? No, I was with Josh and marriage was never really on the table for us. For me anyway. Still, I wish things had ended differently for us; I mean I would probably have broken his heart but he’d still be alive and would have found someone else eventually.
I still have the insurance check from when he died. Forty thousand dollars is a lot of money. Maybe not to Josef but to me anyway. I’ve been thinking about what to do with it; I can’t keep it, it wouldn’t be right but I think I have come up with a solution. I’m going to start an education fund at a women’s shelter in LA. Maybe I can convince Josef to match that amount.
My mom taught me that education is so important; if Grams and Gramps hadn’t encouraged her to go to college she would never have become a teacher and I might not have understood the importance of education. If I can somehow use that money to help women in crisis get some needed education I think that would be wonderful. I think Josh might agree with me; I hope so anyway.
I dreamt of Mick constantly last night, of what this day would be like. I can only hope he is half as excited about it as I am.
Beth stared at the tiara that was lying in the folds of tissue paper and pulled it out of the box and held it up to the light, admiring it.
“Mom, you replaced the cz’s that were missing!” she exclaimed excitedly.
“Yes and had it cleaned too; I thought it could be your ‘something old’. Is that okay?”
“Oh yeah, it’s fabulous, thank you so much Mom,” she said hugging Dorothy tight. Beth bit her lip as she remembered when Gramps had given it to her and that made it all the more precious to her. Her life had been a good one, happy memories and loving family; she felt blessed and very, very lucky.
“I know that I wasn’t always the easiest kid, but thank you for being such a great mom.”
“Nonsense Beth. Now Lani, she was difficult! You were a piece of cake.”
Beth laughed; she supposed that compared to Lani anyone would seem easy. “No, I know I was always asking for answers, about – about when I was taken and stuff and I know that wasn’t easy for you to deal with.”
A sad look swept across Dorothy’s beautiful face for a moment as she remembered that terrible time; still, they had gotten through it all and been the better for it she believed.
“Mom, did you never wonder why I didn’t ever ask about my dad?”
Dorothy felt a sudden chill take her breath; Beth was right, she had never asked about him and Dorothy had no idea what to tell her if she was asking now. Beth noticed Dorothy lightly picking at one of her nails nervously. “No, I guess it never really occurred to me that you hadn’t asked.” Not quite the whole truth, but some of it anyway.
“I never asked because I never felt the need to know; I had everything I ever needed Mom – you, Gramps and Grams and Clark. He was always there for me. When I was little I suppose I sort of thought he was my dad. He isn’t is he?” At Dorothy’s negative shake of her head Beth shrugged; she had realized many years ago that it wasn’t true but she had often pretended that he was. “You gave me so much love and taught me to have strength and determination; I appreciate that more than you could ever know.”
Dorothy was quiet for a few moments as the past played out for her. “Did I ever tell you that Logan and I are the same age? That we were all in school together; Clark was two years ahead of us. He used to tease me terribly when we were little but as we got older he teased less and hung around more. He came to my softball games and walked me home from school with Logan always hanging around too. He was my first kiss, in 10th grade at a dance.” Dorothy sighed as the memories washed over her like a warm wave of happiness that made her heart pound a bit harder.
“I never knew that. And he stood by you when you got pregnant with me?”
“Well, he was actually in basic training in the Army when I got pregnant. He didn’t know until he came home on leave a year later. He wanted me to marry him then, but it wasn’t the right time.”
“Why Mom? I think you must have loved each other back then.”
“Sweetheart, I wasn’t in any condition to love any man then, not really although in reality, yes, I did love him.”
Beth watched something very sad sweep across her mother’s face and wondered what it was. “Mom, if you ever want to tell me, I’ll be here to listen,” she said, reaching for her mother’s hand and squeezing it gently. “I love you so much.”
Dorothy nodded and tried to blink away the tears that were stinging her eyes. “I know Beth, I love you too. One of these days, I promise. But for now, we have a wedding tomorrow.”
“Yes we do.” Beth became serious for a moment, lightly biting her lower lip. “Mom, Mick is a really good guy you know.”
“I do know that. Our family has always been safer because of him; because he stood silent vigil for us. I never meant for him to stay on the fringes; we would have let him in but he never would come to any of the birthdays and such that we invited him too. He loves you and will always keep you safe and I’m thankful to him for that Bethy.”
Beth nodded, fully aware of the magnitude of Mick’s devotion. “Mom, I’m going to be very happy, I promise you.”
Dorothy stood up and pulled Beth up as well, hugging her tightly. “I know, I do believe that.Rest well sweetheart because tomorrow is a big day.”
Beth walked her to the door and closed it firmly. That bed was going to feel terribly lonely without Mick here with her. She hoped he was having a fun time – just not TOO fun she thought with a giggle.
After Beth took her shower and had crawled into bed her phone rang and she giggled when she saw that it was Mick.
“Why are you interrupting my party? The stripper isn’t done yet!” she teased.
“Oh, well mine just left and so I thought I’d call and see how you liked yours?” he joked in return. “What are you doing? Did I wake you?”
“Nope.Just got out of the shower. I’m lying in bed deliciously naked and horny!”
A low growl escaped Mick’s throat and he found that he was suddenly rock hard. “Really?” he finally choked out, the vivid images tormenting him.
Beth laughed and looked down at his Henley that she had on. “Does it make it better if I tell you that while I am in bed, I’m wearing one of your Henley’s?”
Mick thought about it for a moment and finally said, “No, it does not. I’m jealous because that shirt is caressing your beautiful body right now and I’m not. I’m stuck here in Josef’s suite because of some nonsense of bad luck if I see you before the wedding.”
“That’s what they say St. John. Better not push our luck!”
“Hm, if you say so. Are you ready for tomorrow baby?” He held an unnecessary breath while he waited for the answer.
“More than you would believe Mick. But,” she paused for a moment trying to think of how to say what she felt. In that silence Mick died a thousand deaths, worried about what she was going to say. “Mick, you know that I’m just never going to stay in the car, right? I mean, I guess what I’m trying to say is that we both have different ideas about what a marriage should be.”
He thought about her words for a moment; she was right he acknowledged. In his day the man reigned supreme in the marriage and had this been 1952 it would have been that way. But things were different and he loved her for the person she was; he had no desire to change her. Protect her; love her yes, but not to change her. And yet, he was bringing her into the vampire world and it was fraught with danger; from other vamps and humans who would expose them. He had to protect her and there would be times she would have to listen to what he said for her own safety because her life could very well depend on it. He sighed and ran his hand down over his face and then pushed his hair back with a careless gesture.
He tried to explain it all to her and she listened, quietly as the words sank in. She loved him for who he was and she didn’t want him to change. This was the Mick that she loved, the man who would always be there, her protector, her champion. They would work it out as they went she knew.
“I understand that Mick and I will do my best when things get difficult and it’s important but you have to remember to talk to me; not just go off and do something with no explanation about what is going on, okay? I can deal with anything as long as I understand.”
“Okay, I get that and I agree. I love you.”
“Yeah, I kinda like you too!” she laughed.
“You will pay for that!”
“Absolutely. I can be really wicked when provoked you know.” His voice was a low murmur that sounded like rustling silk. He heard her sharp intake of breath and smiled when her heartbeat sped up.
“Okay,” she said with a sigh, wishing he was there with her right then to show her just how wicked he could be. “I love you my delicious, wicked vampire lover. I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.”
“Oh God Beth, I can’t wait either. Good night,” he said, knowing he had to end the call or he’d be at her door in a matter of seconds.
“Good night Mick.” She pressed the end button and sighed, leaning back amongst the down pillows and closed her eyes; she fell asleep and dreamt of her vampire lover.
A few minutes later there was a knock on Mick’s door; he was just getting ready to climb into the freezer and he let out an exasperated breath. He was tired and he really wanted some uninterrupted freezer time but he guessed it would have to wait.
At the door stood Logan, looking very uncomfortable. Mick raised an eyebrow and stepped aside so the Logan could come into the room. Mick noticed that he was paler than usual and his hands were shaking too.
“Do you need to feed Logan?” he asked, concern for the young vamp making him curious.
“Uh, no…maybe. Mick, I gotta talk to you.”
“Well, you have my attention Logan,” he said while he poured him a glass of O+. “What’s on your mind?”
“It’s Audrey, or, well really about um, how we…I’ve never uh… you see and I don’t know what to do.” The words came tumbling out and Mick tried to follow along and make sense of them.
Mick thought for a moment and then pinched the bridge of his nose as it all started to make sense. The sex talk – he was going to have to have the sex talk with Logan. He groaned; how the hell was he supposed to talk to Logan about it when he wasn’t comfortable with it himself?
Mick poured himself a stiff shot of scotch and added a splash of the O+, just for good measure. “What exactly are you curious about Logan? Give me an idea of what you need to know.”
“I’ve never, I mean, not even in school and now I’m a vampire and it, well it changes things – I think – and I don’t know what to do or how to do it.”
Oh God, it was worse than he thought; not only had Logan never bitten someone during sex, he’d never had sex.
Mick spent the next hour talking about the sexual act itself and some possible variations. Logan alternately flushed and then paled all the while sipping nervously on his drink. Mick couldn’t tell if he was really following or not.
“But I’ll have to bite her won’t I, to uh, achieve – you know?”
“Well, I’d advise biting yourself at first Logan until you feel sure you can control yourself. When you were first trained we taught you how to feed fresh; it’s like that but you’ll be caught up in the rush and it’s hard to control it all.”
Mick was thinking about his own fear of biting Beth, of maintaining control. How on earth can he teach that control to Logan when he felt so unsure of his own?
“Just go slow with it Logan; it’s the best thing I can advise. Take your time, for both of your sakes. Stay in control.”
Logan left a little while later and Mick sat back in the chair feeling as if he’d only made matters worse. Beth wanted him to turn her eventually and how could he when he had no idea in hell how to handle it all? Feeling bummed out he finally climbed into the freezer but it was a long time before oblivion overtook him.
The next morning was such a rush of activities that it passed by in a blur. After going back to the dress shop to make sure the alterations were correct the women stopped for a quick bite of lunch before heading to their spa appointments. Beth decided to indulge in every single bit of pampering that she could, as did the other women.
Beth had a hot stone massage followed by a mud treatment;a facial, pedicure, manicure and deep cleansing and conditioning for her hair followed. By the time they were done all the women glowed and looked beautiful. When they got back to Beth’s room they discovered that the dresses had been delivered; they were freshly steamed and perfect. Excitement rippled through Beth as she looked at the dress and she couldn’t wait to get ready. She went into the bathroom and saw that all Micks’ personal items were missing; his razor, brush and other things and she figured he must have come and got them while they were at the spa. She knew it was only because he needed them to get ready but it was a terribly lonely feeling.
She wandered back out into the living area and sat down with a sigh. Nothing to do now but wait until it was time to get ready but that wasn’t for another hour or more. She closed her eyes and listened for a few minutes as Lani and Robbi compared their pedicures with Robbi laughing because she couldn’t really see her feet.
A knock on the door startled her out of her musings and she sat up straight and watched as her mom opened the door. Carl was waiting on the other side and looked in the room, seeing all the women gathered there.
“Hey, am I interrupting?” he said as he smiled at them. “Robbi, look at you! You look beautiful.” He walked to her and hugged her tight and then grinned at her belly. “Number two I believe?”
She nodded yes and watched his eyes travel to Beth who had stood up at his entrance. She grabbed Lani’s arm and tried to tug her towards the door, where Dorothy was already heading. Lani stood her ground for a moment and then with a reluctant sigh followed Robbi and Dorothy.
Outside as the door closed she complained, “I don’t know why we had to leave for heaven’s sake! It’s just Carl!”
Dorothy put her arm around her shoulders and said, “Come along Lani. Give them some space.”
Inside the suite Carl swallowed hard, completely caught up in the glow radiating from Beth. She was happy, inside and out and that was the best thing he could have seen.
He and Beth’s past made them both stop and take pause at times. He had often worried about her in the past, the head-long jumps into some of her dangerous stories and now the cases at the DA’s office. He loved her and always would; he wasn’t ‘in love’ with her and hadn’t been for years but that didn’t stop the caring and concern he had for her or the desire to want to protect her. He hoped that she didn’t need protecting from herself.
She had fallen in love with St. John and Carl hoped that he was the right man for her. He’d obviously taken steps to protect her; had he avenged Josh for her? Carl was sure that he had and he didn’t fault him a bit for it. He only wondered how much Beth actually knew for sure. She wrote in her diary that he was a vampire but was that just some romantic notion? He wished he knew because one thing was for sure; there was definitely something about him that wasn’t quite human Carl had to admit.
He’d decided he was okay with that too.
“Wow, you look happy Beth, very happy.” He looked around the room and saw the dress hanging on a rack and whistled. “That the dress? You will look stunning in it,” he told her.
She walked across the room and hugged him, blushing delightfully. “Yes, that’s it. Thank you Carl! Can you believe all this?”
“Pretty remarkable, but then so are you. Kostan must think pretty highly of you to do all this.”
“Um, I think it is probably more for Mick; they have been best friends for about fift – um, fifteen years I think.” Beth’s face flushed briefly and she shrugged. “A long time anyway.At any rate I do consider myself extremely lucky that so many of you could come for this Carl. Did you bring a date?” she inquired impishly.
“No, no date,” he laughed. “Unless you count Ben.”
“He probably wouldn’t, so I guess I won’t either.”
They sat down on the sofa and both turned so that they could look at the other as they talked. “He’s the one for you then?” Carl asked.
“Yes. Do you doubt that Carl?”
“Strangely enough, no. It’s no secret that I didn’t like him much at first but he kind of grows on a person, you know?”
“Yes, I do. He is amazing Carl.”
“So I’ve heard. He’ll take care of you,” he said and smiled as he watched her mouth open to protest. “I mean in the way that a husband and wife take care of one another Beth. Not that he was going to hold you back in any way.”
She nodded as she caught his meaning. It was still hard for her to think about what Mick’s idea of marriage 50 years ago was and what hers now were.
“Well, you’re definitely in good hands. Someone else to worry about you and I know that can be a full time job,” he teased.
“So, you’re handing over the reins, so to speak?”
His eyes flashed quickly with some unrecognizable emotion, but he nodded. “So to speak.” He stood up and held his hand out to her. They walked to the door and he held her close for a moment and kissed her on the forehead. “Be happy Beth – always.”
“You too Carl.” She watched him walk down the hall with the merest hint of tears stinging her eyes. She stepped back in the room and closed the door thoughtfully. She could only hope that he would find his own love someday.
Around six the women came back to get ready. The ceremony was to take place at seven so they had plenty of time to make sure everything was perfect. They all applied their make up in front of the huge vanity mirror in the bathroom, comparing colors and tilting their heads this way and that to make sure it looked good.
“Beth, is your mascara waterproof?” Robbi asked, ever practical and vigilant.
“Yes it is – I was thinking ahead. What about you Mom?”
“Mine too sweetheart. And just what makes you think I’ll cry anyway?” she smiled.
Beth rolled her eyes and giggled, “Get real. We’ll both probably sob like babies.”
“Me too,” Robbi said and Lani nodded in agreement.
“Ah jeez people, come on! It’s a wedding, not a funeral. Although some would say…” Lani teased.
“At least we’re in good company.” Beth stared into the mirror looking at all their eyes and added “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else with anyone else. Thank you all so much.”
“Ah, now she’s done it,” Lani said, handing out tissues. “C’mon, group hug!”
By 6:30 Lani, Robbi and Dorothy were slipping into their dresses. “Holy cow, you guys look fantastic!” Beth exclaimed.
“I resemble that remark,” Robbi quipped, smoothing the dress over her belly.
“Seriously, you can hardly even tell in that dress. Really good choice guys,” Beth said. And it was true, only from the side could you really tell she was pregnant.
Kevin brought Brianna in to the room and they helped her get her dress on; she was going to be the flower girl although Robbi was afraid she was so shy she might not make it down the aisle. They decided that after Kevin walked Dorothy to her seat he would walk down the aisle with Bri.
Next was Beth’s dress. They slipped it over her head and fastened it up, admiring how beautiful she looked.
Dorothy handed Beth a box and she opened it revealing her mother’s pearl necklace. It had been her grandmother’s necklace first; she had worn it on her wedding day and so had Dorothy.
“Your ‘something borrowed’,” Dorothy said with a smile as she fastened the clasp.
“Now all you need is the ‘something new’,” Lani commented. As if on cue there was a knock on the door. Lani answered it revealing Josef bearing another box.
“Did I hear someone say ‘something new’?” he asked. “Wow.” He stared at Beth and thought that Mick was one lucky guy.
“I’m sure you did,” Lani mumbled, allowing him to enter into the room. No one else heard the remark but he did and gave her a quick wink and then laughed.
“A gift for the bride from her groom,” he said, proffering the box to Beth.
She reached for it and smiled. She couldn’t wait to see what it was. As she opened it she saw a beautiful set of pearl earrings that would go perfectly with the necklace. “How did he know?”
“He asked and I showed him the necklace,” Dorothy told her, helping her to slip them on.
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” she recited, touching each item. The tiara was still sitting in the tissue paper and Josef smiled as he saw it.
“Masquerading as a fairy princess?” he asked.
“Aren’t all girls supposed to on their wedding day?” Beth said. She picked up the tiara and held it out to her mom. “Will you please Mom?”
“Of course sweetie.” Dorothy picked up the tiara and set it on Beth’s head, sliding the combs into place securely. “There, go look in the mirror.”
Beth could only stare into the mirror; she did sort of look like a princess she realized with a giggle.
“Well, on that note I shall leave you ladies! Beth, you look perfect.” It was an uncharacteristically serious remark from him and Beth’s eyebrows rose in surprise. Josef knew exactly what that was about and added, “Don’t get used to it!” With a wave he left the room and the ladies to whatever they still had to do.
The next knock on the door was Clark; Robbi let him in and he smiled at them all. “Never have I seen a more beautiful group of women,” he declared. “Robbi, Lani and Dorothy, they are ready for you downstairs. I’ll bring Beth down in a moment.”
Dorothy stopped to kiss her precious daughter on the cheek and told her, “I’ll see you down there sweetie. Deep breaths!”
Beth stood in the middle of the room, her hands clasped in front of her to keep them from trembling. Clark pulled her close and kissed her cheek and then patted her back gently. “It’s all okay Beth.”
“I know; I can’t believe how nervous I am!” she exhaled. “Silly…”
“Not at all. I’m scared too,” he told her.
“I guess I always dreamed that I would one day walk you down the aisle but I never really knew for sure if it would happen. Now that it has, it’s just all hitting me – that you are all grown up and getting married.”
“I used to pretend you were my daddy,” she said, her blue eyes huge and round as she waited to see what he would say to that.
“Me too. Beth, being a parent isn’t just biology; that’s about this important,” he said holding up in thumb and forefinger about an inch apart. “What’s in here,” he said, patting his heart “That’s what makes someone a parent. Love Beth. It’s all about love.”
She pursed her lips for a moment, thinking about her conversation with her mother the night before. “You’ve always been there for me; Mom too. She told me that her first kiss was with you Clark.”
“Yes it was.” He smiled at the memory, lost in that first and only love. “She was really something back then – still is.”
“Yes, the best mother anyone could ask for. And likewise, you were the best father anyone could have. So many of my memories of my childhood revolve around you; you coached my softball team, put up with Lani, Robbi and I hanging around all the time. I remember when I was 5 and you helped me to learn to ride my bike!”
He laughed, seeing her wobbling down the street. He’d hold his breath every time he let go of her and then run like crazy to catch her before she toppled over. “You were so damn stubborn, wouldn’t let me put training wheels on the bike because you thought they were for sissies.”
“Yeah, until finally at the end of that day you let go and I just kept on going. I remember feeling the wind brushing across my face as I rode to the end of the cul de sac and managed to turn the bike around. It was all great until I hit that hole or bump or whatever and that guy came…” The accident flashed brightly in her memory. She had hit the pavement hard and it had knocked the wind out of her. Mick picked her up and cradled her for a moment before letting her down after she caught her breath. “It was Mick, wasn’t it?” she asked, her voice so quiet it was barely a whisper.
“Yes, it was. That was the first time I had officially met him. I always felt better, knowing that he was around, after what had happened.”
She nodded her head shakily, fighting back tears. “Always there. My shadow man and my Dad…”
“Come on Beth, let’s get you downstairs. That man down there is very excited and waiting none too patiently for you.”
Beth took his arm and let him lead her towards her destiny.
To be continued…
Next week wedding festivities begin! Thanks to Moonlightlover60 we have pictures ladies! So get ready and plan to attend the wedding of Mick and Beth, next Monday!