Where Evil Lurks

Welcome to Moonlight Madness - Where Evil Lurks

This is the fourth story in my Moonlight saga.

Story One - The Beginning - Beth's Diary

Story Two - With Arms Wide Open

Story Three - Barely Breathing

Cast of Characters

Monday, November 28, 2011

Chapter 7

Josef pulled the Ferrari to a stop and cut the lights and the ignition. He was about a block from the cleaners headquarters and he waited while Ryan and Mike pulled up behind him. He saw a Bentley parked to the right and knew that it was Miguel. As he got out of the car to speak with Miguel he noticed that he had also brought backup with him. Good thing, Josef thought because Katrina wouldn’t go down without a fight. A big one he anticipated and hoped that Miguel and his men were armed with the right ammunition.

Moving almost silently across the asphalt Josef, Mike and Ryan headed over to the shadows to join Miguel. Josef had heard from Colleen a few minutes before who had told him that Katrina was in her office working. Even though this would be the last night that Colleen worked with the cleaners Josef had told her to make herself scarce while all this was going down; he didn’t want anyone in the group that was loyal to Katrina to figure out that Colleen was working with him.

“Are we ready?” Miguel asked. Even though his voice was hushed it sounded loud in the quiet night.

“Yes. Colleen says she’s in her office and that the night has been quiet so far. Let’s get this over with. Oh, and by the way? Subdue her anyway you like or need to but then she’s mine. Does everyone understand that?” Everyone nodded, including Miguel who raised his eyebrows at Josef’s vehement words. They didn’t surprise him a bit; Josef took care of his own. That was one of the things that Miguel admired most about the vampire named Josef Kostan.

“Let’s go then. Inside the building, only Miguel and I will enter Katrina’s office; the rest of you hang back out of sight. She’ll scent you, can’t help that but better she doesn’t see you too.” With those abrupt words Josef headed down the street, staying in the shadows and walking with determination. Once they reached the door, they moved fast, hands on weapons as they made a beeline for Katrina’s office. Miguel and Josef entered without knocking on the door causing Katrina to look up with irritation until she saw who her guests were. The irritation shifted into caution as she sat up straighter in her chair, trying to seem unconcerned. Josef could scent the truth though; she was just this side of panic at the sight of them.

“Katrina,” Josef said, stepping a bit closer. “We have some business to attend to.”

Katrina stood up and inhaled, smelling several others outside her door. She wasn’t sure what was going on but it didn’t bode well for her she knew.

Katrina had been the head of the LA cleaners for over 30 years; she not only knew where the bodies were buried – she’d put them there. This job had been lucrative for her; lots of vamps liked to pay for anonymity and she’d taken full advantage of that, keeping much of that business off the books. Several million dollars worth at last count and she’d kept count frequently. Dual bookkeeping was a marvelous thing as were bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. Only a few of her most trusted employees knew the truth and shared in the spoils of the business. She sighed inwardly, knowing that the time had come; Kostan had finally caught on to it all but it was okay, she wasn’t without a backup plan. She stood up and let her foot run under the edge of the desk, seeking and finding a small button hidden carefully away. Her toe touched it lightly and she was rewarded by the almost imperceptible ‘click’ that meant freedom.

Josef’s ears perked up at the sound but he couldn’t tell where it had come from. Could have been anything he realized but he took another step towards her, leaning over the desk until his face was only inches from Katrina’s. “Don’t try anything foolish Katrina. Do you know why we’re here?”

“No idea at all Josef,” she said coolly, still meeting his gaze. “Why don’t you tell me so we can all know what this is about?”

“Playing games Katrina? Okay, I’ll play. Last night a ghost appeared and attacked Beth St. John. The good thing is, she really IS dead this time. But I’m curious whose ashes you showed me before? Could they have been Billie’s?”

Kelly! Damn the bitch! She just couldn’t stay away from St. John. I should have known better than to let her live.

Keeping her face as straight as possible Katrina said, “She escaped that night Josef; I – I was afraid so I killed Billie. I didn’t know what to do because I knew you’d be so angry.” She could only hope that Kostan would buy it and feel a bit of pity for her predicament. At his look of anger she could tell it hadn’t worked. She backed up a bit from him, only partially faking the look of fear on her face. He was out for blood – hers and she knew that this was it; all the preparations that she had made over the years were going to be tested. “It was a foolish thing to do Josef, I know,” she said, inching backwards towards a floor to ceiling bookshelf that lined the wall behind her desk.

“You’ll pay for that fuck up with your life Katrina,” Miguel said softly. He pulled a gun out, loaded with silver bullets and took aim. “Come around the desk now and I won’t shoot. Let Josef handle this for you because you really don’t want to feel the burn of the silver.”

“As opposed to the burn of the flames?” she said, her voice tight and high as she started to feel the steely cold fingers of fear for the first time. She needed to get out now and leaned back against the shelves behind her.

Josef scented the fear rolling off of her but there was also the scent of satisfaction and he didn’t understand that at all. A moment later he did as Katrina vanished before their eyes, slipping behind the shelf that had pivoted when she pushed against it.

“Fuck!” Josef yelled, jumping over the desk and pushing at the shelf with no luck. From the other side of it he head a distinct thud as it was barricaded and then footsteps running away. “Outside now, she has to come out of there somewhere. Find her!” Mike, Ryan and Miguel’s two men took off towards the outside door in search of Katrina.

Miguel rounded the desk, helping to push against the shelves but Josef knew that it was no use; she’d locked them from the other side. “It’s locked Miguel, I heard it. But I also heard a click when she stood up, there’s some type of mechanism here,” he said as he started feeling along the desk and floor. “It has to be here somewhere.”

Wendy, one of the newer cleaners knocked on the doorway as she had heard what happened. “I think there is a catch or button under the bottom of the desk. I’ve seen them use it before, but they didn’t know that I knew.”

Josef’s head snapped up at her words; she was young, in human and vamp years alike and how the hell she had ended up here, with this nest of vipers was beyond him. Maybe her youth was only a ploy and behind that innocence beat the heart of a devil. Who knew?

“Who are you if you knew that why didn’t you report that information before?” He stood directly in front of him and noticed that she met his eyes without flinching.

“I’m Wendy, I’ve only been here a few months. I saw her use it, taking some books in there. I don’t know if it’s a room or what. I was trying to find out more information before I reported it Mr. Kostan because it could have been nothing, you know?”

Josef watched her and decided she was telling the truth. “Show me how to get in there Wendy.”

She walked around the desk and started moving nimble fingers around the bottom of the desk and finally found what she was seeking. They all heard a click this time and Josef pushed on the shelf and it gave way. All three of them stepped into the inky blackness of the room on the other side. Josef searched for a light switch and finally found what he was looking for. The lights came up, making all of them blink at the brightness.

The small room held a safe and a small desk and chair. A tunnel led out of the room on the other side and Josef headed towards it. After about twenty feet he found that the tunnel split three ways and he couldn’t pick up a scent as to which way she went. Damn, he needed Mick and his ability to read a scene. He walked back into the main room hoping that the boys had better luck outside.

In the room he saw Miguel studying the safe, a frown marring his face. “Any luck?” he said over his shoulder before coming to his feet.

“No, there are at least three other tunnels leading out of here and I couldn’t tell which one she took. Can you get into the safe? She certainly didn’t have time to open it and I have to wonder what’s in there.”

“Couldn’t get in, but I know someone who can.” Miguel picked up his phone and quickly dialed a number, speaking in rapid Spanish to someone on the other end. He closed it shut with a snap and grinned. “Benito is coming over, he has a gift, you might say,” he told them with a broad grin.

“I think I’m going to like Benito. Now Wendy, anything else you know that would be helpful?”

“Not really Mr. Kostan. Maybe that Katrina, Diane, Lorinda and Marcia were all very close and seemed to have a lot of meetings, behind closed doors I mean. If anyone knows anything it would be them. I’m so sorry Mr. Kostan, I’ve never worked as a cleaner before and I didn’t really realize that anything was wrong with their behavior, for all I knew it is always like this.”

She stared at him with huge blue eyes that reminded him of Beth and he felt his heart soften a bit. “Wendy, as long as you’re telling the truth you’ll be fine. Do you happen to know where I might find the other three?”

“There’s a duty roster on the computer out there,” she said indicating the on duty room with a nod of her head. “It should say where they are if they are working.”

Josef nodded and headed to the computer terminal; it seems there was more work to do this evening than he had planned.


Sunday had been a busy day for Lani; she’d done laundry, bought some groceries and gone to see Robbi and strangely enough, that was the hardest task of all. Robbi was somewhat cold to her and didn’t feel like talking at all. Lani put it down to pregnancy fatigue but in her heart she knew better; Robbi was hurt and there wasn’t anything that Lani could do to help. Instead she tried to be bright and cheerful and keep the conversation going but it was like talking to a wall and Robbi gave no response to anything she said, even though Lani studiously avoided the subject of Beth. Bri wasn’t even there to provide another focus because Kevin had taken her with him to go out to the Institute to work for a while.

After an hour of trying to make conversation she gave up and got ready to leave. “I had better get going Robbi; I’ve still got to stop at the store on my way home. Can I get you anything before I leave?” she asked hopefully. It hurt her to see Robbi like this and she felt more than a little guilty because she knew that it had to do with Beth not being here. Robbi suspected something and since Lani wasn’t talking Robbi just decided not to talk either.

“You could tell me the truth about what’s going on with Beth,” Robbi said, staring Lani in the eyes.

Lani blushed and looked away hastily; what Robbi asked was impossible and it made her hurt for Robbi, to be excluded like this. “I can’t Robbi; it’s not my story to tell. If I could tell you I would. It’s not something that is easily shared and Beth and Mick have to be the ones to tell you. Please accept that,” she said, feeling the burning sting of tears as she tried to blink them away.

“Oh my God, something is wrong with her isn’t it?” Robbi said, suddenly scared for her friend. “Lani, please tell me! I can’t stand this silence from everyone. I talked to Dorothy and she said everything was fine but I don’t believe any of you!”

“Robbi, what I can tell you is that she really IS okay. But she can’t come home for a – awhile anyway. And it’s not the kind of thing you talk about on the phone. You weren’t purposely excluded Robbi, honestly you weren’t. You just have to accept that she loves you and when she can talk about it she will. And until then I can’t say anything more. Please Robbi, please accept that.”

“Just leave Lani, okay? I can’t deal with this right now. I’ll call you, I promise,” Robbi said, wiping away tears. Damn she hated this; she seemed to cry constantly and she was tired of it.

Lani left – there was nothing else to do. She finished her errands and headed home. As she carried the groceries up she realized she was hungry and looked over the offerings she’d brought home. Nothing looked good at all so she called in an order for sushi all the while laughing at herself about the hundred buck’s worth of groceries that she didn’t want to eat.

She climbed into the shower, replaying the conversation she’d had with Robbi. When Beth called this evening she had to let her know how bad this was. It could affect Robbi’s pregnancy, all this pain and stress. She was genuinely worried about Robbi and hated the position she was in. She supposed that she could have lied to her and said everything was fine but Robbi knew better than that and she didn’t want to compound one lie with more.

Out of the shower she climbed into a pair of shorts and a tank top to await her sushi. She hunted through the wine rack for a bottle of Fuki, Japanese plum wine which would go well with the sushi. It was better cold but would have to make do with a little fridge time she decided; it would at least make it cool.

When she shut the door to the fridge she heard the door bell ring and jumped; it had only been 20 minutes since she’d ordered and it always took about an hour for it to get here. She headed into the living room, stopping to grab a twenty out of her purse and flung open the door only to see Josef standing there, wearing a cock-eyed grin on his face.

“Well gee Lani, you don’t have to pay me to come visit!” he teased.

Lani rolled her eyes and said, “What Josef? What do you want; I’ve had a rough day and I’m waiting for my dinner to be delivered.”

A serious look flashed across his face for a moment and chewed his lower lip for a moment. “I kind of know that feeling; things didn’t go so well with Katrina last night.”

Alarm spread rapidly though Lani and she stepped aside, bidding him to enter. “What happened Josef?” she asked, already pouring him a glass of scotch. She pointed to the sofa and handed him the glass which he gladly took.

He took a sip of the drink and was tempted to down it all at once; instead he held it up to the waning afternoon light and watched the dappled sunlight glinting through the amber colored liquid. A couple of unnecessary breaths later he finally spoke up, telling Lani what had happened at the cleaners offices.

“So after we got into her room we found a safe and when we got it open we discovered that she had been keeping a double set of books; skimming the profits.”

“Who gets those profits Josef? Is it a corporation or something?”

“No, the cleaners themselves. It’s a profit sharing independent organization. They all work and share the profits equally, except for the leader or head cleaner that gets 10% above the others. In this case Katrina had been skimming 30% over the total amount that the other cleaners never even saw. She took lion’s share of that money and shared 10 % with three of the other cleaners who were in on it with her. We got their names and called them in. Fools all, they had assumed that if Katrina ever got caught she’d give them a heads up, but she didn’t. She had almost 3 million dollars socked away in an offshore bank account. Thanks to Logan, that money is all gone now.”

“Wow, that’s a lot of money. So what happens now?” she asked.

“The other three were executed and two others were fired because we suspect that they had an idea what was going on. So, we’re down a half dozen cleaners in LA right now and that’s not so good. Colleen is going to work for me but will stay with the cleaners for a few days until we can get a few hired on. And we have a new lead cleaner coming in with no connections to cleaners anywhere. He’ll be here tomorrow.” He tipped the glass up and swallowed the last of the scotch and felt the burn as it slipped down his throat.

“You really did have a rough day or night I guess. Mine can’t really top that but I did have a very uncomfortable conversation with Robbi. She knows that Beth lied to her and she knows that I have answers. I assured her that Beth is okay, but it didn’t really help anything Josef. I don’t know what to do because I feel rotten about it. We’ve always, always been together; a secret for one was a secret for all. Now she’s left out and I can’t make it better for her.” She was interrupted by the door bell and stood up saying, “Now, that is surely my dinner. I’ll be right back.”

Josef thought about what she’d said, about Robbi and felt helpless as well. It wasn’t his place to tell Robbi and Kevin, just as it wasn’t Lani’s. This was where difficult, dangerous and complicated got a foothold and dug in. Every single vamp out there he knew had had to walk away from someone they cared about when they were turned and that may have to happen here. It was just so much more complicated in this case because of the connections the girls had. How do you brush aside 20 odd years of friendship with one of them and stay with the other?

Josef caught a familiar scent and for a moment he smiled at the memory it stirred. Lani carried her dinner into the kitchen and Josef followed, leaning lazily against the doorway as Lani transferred her dinner to a plate. She sat it down on the bar counter and grabbed the bottle of Fuki and two glasses and set them down as well before taking a seat. She opened the wine and held a glass up to Josef who nodded with a smile.

“Sushi! Man, that brings back a memory,” he said as he watched her smear some green wasabi on a piece of tuna temaki and dip it in soy sauce.

Lani quirked one eyebrow up in question as she chewed the bite of sushi. After she swallowed and took a sip of the wine she asked, “Why? Surely they didn’t have sushi before you were turned!”

“Um yes but we called it bait,” he said with a laugh. “When Mick was human he set out to try as many human foods as possible, especially ones that he had seen Beth eat or heard her talk about, sushi being one of them. I just happened to be lucky enough to see it.” He started laughing in earnest then, remembering Mick’s reaction to the wasabi.


“He put a huge piece of the wasabi on the bite and popped it into his mouth. That was right before his head exploded, well figuratively anyway. He dumped the whole load of it into the trash and said it was ‘fucking dangerous to eat nowadays’. See, he’d sort of had a bad experience with Kung Pao Chicken, extra spicy as well. I think he stuck with steak and burgers the rest of his human time.”

Lani had taken a sip of the Fuki and choked on it when she started laughing so hard. Almost no one could take the extra spicy stuff like Beth did. As she dabbed wine off her face she started giggling again, imagining poor Mick and the ‘dangerous’ food. “I guess food probably has changed some since 1950.” She took another drink of the wine which thankfully went down okay and asked, “Why do we always end up talking about food?”

“Um, because you’re always eating? Seriously, for such a tiny girl you really do eat a lot!”

She laughed and threw her napkin at him and then answered, “I guess that’s because about the only time I got to eat when I was young was at Beth’s house. My parents weren’t around much and the housekeeper didn’t think it was her job to make sure the kid was fed.”

Josef stared at the golden wine in his glass as he contemplated her words. “So, you’re parents weren’t around much?”

“Not if there was any type of social event somewhere. My parents are true socialites and thrill to being invited to every event they can get to. They may hate one another and I’m sure they do, but just let someone hold up a camera in front of them and they are like two teenagers in love. Yes, Marcus and Eloise Parker are quite the thing.”

“Your father is Marcus Parker? Sponsor of Bright Beginnings?” Josef was amazed; he’d met her mother and father many times at business gatherings and never knew they had a child. Marcus’ foundation helped third world countries acquire new technology to help in communications and farming. Josef had donated several million to the foundation over the years. “I’ll be damned.”

“So, you’ve heard of them then? Not surprised at all. They revel in hanging with the rich and famous. Just not their daughter. Or each other when they are alone I might add; they fought violently at times and so I spent a good portion of my time with Dorothy and Beth; I love them both so much and Robbi was a part of that as well. They were all my foster family when Mom and Dad were AWOL.”

“Is that all the family you have? Brothers or sisters?” he asked, curious.

“Nope, only me. My dad has a strange brother, twin actually named Martin. He only comes around whenever he needs money, which is too frequent for my tastes. He gives me the creeps actually. My mom has a brother who lives in New York, my uncle Paul. He’s married to my aunt Pat and they have 3 girls. I used to take vacations with them in the summers sometimes; I always enjoyed that.”

The pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fall in to place. This explained so much about Lani; her independent nature and the need to hold herself back with people. Other than Beth, Robbi and Dorothy that is because she grew up feeling loved by them. She didn’t want to get close to anyone because it meant she might be rejected. Another thought occurred to him – she said her parents fought violently. Did that violence include her? He couldn’t ask because it would upset her but he was going to do a bit of investigating on his own.

This also made him think about the situation with Robbi; this wasn’t just keeping information from anyone, this was from family and while there wasn’t anything they could do about it right now he understood the hurt that all three girls must be feeling. He needed to talk to Mick about it all, without the girls around.


Logan pulled into Audrey’s driveway and cut the engine in the car. He had a bag of some clothes and blood with him but he’d been thinking about this situation all evening. He’d went home to catch some freezer time and to feed and check messages but he was back now and intended to stay the night again. They needed to talk about the living arrangements. They might not have been together all that long yet but he knew that she was his mate, he knew it deep down inside and they needed to figure all this out. Her place wasn’t big enough, but his was a wreck. That could be remedied though and he hoped she’d be willing to try.

He hoped with all his heart because he knew he didn’t want to be apart from her every again.


Ben looked through the file yet again, searching for a clue about Mick St. John. How did Mick St. John, born in 1922 relate to the current Mick St. John? They looked identical, mirror images of one another and had to be related, but after months of investigation he still couldn’t find a connection. He was missing something, somewhere, he had to be. When St. John married Coraline Duvall in 1952 he disappeared, was probably dead because their hotel room was covered with blood. They got some fingerprints but DNA evidence didn’t exist then, so there was no blood or other types of evidence in storage. But if he died then, could he have had another child that was unknown before then?

He leaned back in the chair and tapped the pencil he was holding on the desktop. He’d hired a private investigator in France to check out the Duvall family and got little information. The branch of the family that lived in the Duvall chateau claimed that they didn’t know anything about Coraline and Mick, whether they were dead or alive. The investigator thought that they knew more than they were telling but felt positive that they weren’t going to talk about it. So, he was checking out the Duvall family in hopes that something would turn up. He also hoped that he might get an unhappy servant to talk as well.

He needed answers and there was only one person who might still hold a few. He headed off to see Margie, with the hope that she’d remembered something since the last time he had seen her.

To be continued…


Anonymous said...

As always.. great chapter! Thanks!! I can't wait for next week:)

Hope said...

Hey Anonymous!!

Thank you so much! Lot's more ahead, I promise!!! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi:) no more freshie friday??