Josef knocked on Lani’s door and while he waited for her to answer he was a bit surprised to realize that he was nervous about it. He hadn’t come to her apartment for a few days because he was afraid she was growing tired of his presence there for the nightly phone calls from Mick and Beth. He didn’t understand her at all; she was a master at hiding what she was thinking or feeling. He’d bet she was a killer at poker.
Vampires have to master keeping secrets but most humans
just weren’t that adept at it. They say they can keep a secret, but in
the end, very few can. It was one of the reasons that he respected Beth
so much; she had kept the secret no matter what. That was proving
difficult in her relations with the third member of the three musketeers
as he had dubbed Beth, Lani and Robbi in his mind. He almost envied
Mick, watching them all together as kids because he knew that those
three must have given Dorothy and probably Clark more than a few gray
Beth was Mick’s problem and Lani? Well, she was her own
problem he guessed and for some reason that thought bothered him. She
was the most overly independent, infuriating and amusing woman he had
ever known. He’d pity the poor guy who ended up with her, that was for
So why did he feel so disappointed that she didn’t like him?
was an enigma; not swayed by money and sometimes she looked at you as
if she could tell every secret you had, however deeply they were buried
in the darkness of your heart. She had her own secrets, he knew that
much about her and he meant to learn them. It couldn’t be good for her
to keep it all bottled up inside of her. He was on a mission; discover
what made Lani tick.
When she opened the door it startled him; he
hadn’t even heard her approach it. She stood there looking at him with
well-defined (and beautiful he thought) eyebrows arched and just the
hint of a smile playing at one of the corners of her incredibly lush
lips. She leaned against the door jamb, her arms folded across her
chest, waiting for him to speak.
“Hi Lani,” he began and then felt strangely tongue tied, faltering as he tried to choose his next words.
“Josef,” she said, still waiting.
– uh, may I come in?” He never had to ask to come in to someone’s
house. It felt awkward and he normally loved awkward. Why was this so
Wordlessly she stepped aside, completely aware of his
discomfort. She swore that she saw some sweat beading his upper lip; it
should amuse her, but she almost felt guilty about it. “Have a seat
Josef. Can I offer you a drink?” she asked as she headed to the liquor
cabinet. Even if he didn’t need one she certainly did. He nodded to
her and she poured them both a finger of scotch and handed one to him
with what she hoped was a smile, but felt more like a grimace.
had sat down on the sofa and crossed his legs, trying to look casual
and relaxed, except that he was anything but. He welcomed the liquor,
even if he couldn’t feel its effects. The glass she handed him was
heavy, Waterford he noticed and he sipped slowly at it, letting the burn
calm him a bit.
“So?” she asked, sipping from her own glass of
Macallen. It was smooth and soothing and she tried to maintain an air
of relaxed composure as she waited to see what he had to say. For god’s
sake, say something her mind screamed.
“I was wondering if you’d
like to come to dinner at my house tomorrow. It seems as if I’m always
intruding on you here, so I thought possibly you might enjoy it. I
have a wonderful chef you know.”
“The one who cooks for you
meals on heels you mean? Yes, I remember he was quite good.” The night
Beth had been turned; as much as she would like to forget it was still
starkly vivid in her head. She had been thankful to stay at Josef’s
that night. “So, what’s he cooking for dinner?” she asked, trying to
lighten the mood.
“Anything you’d like Lani,” he said and then felt embarrassed at how sincere he’d sounded. Get a grip Kostan!
whatever he is preparing for your, um, ladies would be fine. I’ll come
directly from work, so I should be there, shall we say, 7-ish?”
He nodded and took another sip of his scotch, afraid to drink it too fast; afraid this conversation would be over if he did. What the hell is up with that?
was almost startled when her phone rang and he watched as she uncrossed
her long legs and went to answer it. For such a small girl she had
really long, attractive legs he realized. Or maybe just the tiny little
shorts she was wearing made them look that way. He was suddenly aware
of urgency in her voice as she spoke on the phone.
“Yes, I’ll be
there right away Kevin. Half an hour or so. Um hm, okay. Tell her I
love her and I’ll call Dorothy. Okay, bye,” she said as she ended the
call and then immediately dialed a number. “Hey Dorothy, this is it!
Robbi is on the way to the hospital.” She listened for a moment and
said, “Yes, that’s the one. I’ll see you there? Okay, bye!”
“Robbi is in labor I take it?” Josef asked.
Lani nodded and then looked down at her bare legs. I have to change; I’ll only be a moment.”
literally didn’t take her much more than a moment before she came back
into the room, skinny jeans accenting her lovely legs to their best.
She had also pulled on a pair of sandals and was in the process of
grabbing her purse and keys when Josef said, “Do you think they’d mind
if I came along?”
If Lani was totally surprised at his words she covered it well. “I suppose not. But why would you want to?”
“I like Robbi and Kevin. I do care if she’s alright you know.”
shrugged as she closed the door behind them and punched a code into the
alarm box. “Suit yourself Josef,” she said as she headed to the
elevator, Josef following quickly behind her.
In the parking
garage she headed to the Maserati and Josef said, “Why don’t you ride
with me? I can bring you home later as well Lani.”
“We don’t have any idea how long this is going to take Josef. It could be morning for all we know.”
“Well, I am a night person after all,” he quipped and was finally rewarded by a smile.
“You are indeed! Alright, lead on MacDuff!”
was excitedly watching as Tim and Mick got the new 50” flat screen tv
installed in the living room. While buying the tv for the workout room
Mick had decided to update the old tv in the living room. This one was
simple; just hook it up to the satellite dish and go. The new tv
required a visit by the dish company and that meant that Beth couldn’t
be here, a problem he knew.
He might have been surprised by
Beth’s reaction to Mary earlier, but then again, this was Beth and even a
human she had a bit of a problem with jealousy, although she would
never admit it. Still, both women had chatted upstairs and seemed to be
getting along quite well and he hoped that Beth could go to Mary’s
while the satellite guy was here.
Beth watched with excitement
as Mick and Tim mounted the new tv. Normally, she didn’t watch much tv,
but because of her hated exile right now she spent far too much time in
front of the boob tube. This one would be wonderful for movies too she
thought and couldn’t wait to see some of her favorites. That is if she
had them here; she decided then and there that an internet shopping
spree was in order. She laughed as Mary told Tim that he had better be
planning on putting one of these in their house.
Mary was quite a
woman Beth had decided when the woman had come upstairs to speak with
Beth after she had wanted to rip the woman’s throat out. That had
scared Beth; what if she couldn’t learn to control that impulse? Every
woman she knew would be seen as a threat and that would be horrible to
This was an aspect of her turning that she had never
anticipated. She had no control of her feelings around Mick. She
realized that she wanted him, needed in physically, but this protecting
her mate characteristic was going to take some management. She wasn’t
normally a jealous person after all, why did it come out so strongly
Mary had explained it all to her, the connections between a
fledgling and sire and to complicate that, between husband and wife were
incredibly strong. Mary said she had felt the same around Tim when he
first turned her and she would even get jealous when he spent so much
time trapping for furs that supported them for a long while. And when
they went to trading posts it was agony for her, but she learned to
control it and was confident that Beth would too she told her.
And so Beth would too, even if it freakin’ killed her!
were all admiring the picture clarity and quality when Beth’s cell rang
and she saw that it was Robbi; since they had talked earlier she was
surprised. “Hi Robbi!” she said, hoping that everything was okay.
Kevin. This is it Beth, we’re at the hospital. I brought the laptop
so you can ‘be here’ too. Once we’re settled in I’ll call again. I
think this is going to go pretty fast.”
“Okay Kevin! I love you
both and I’ll be seeing you soon!” she ended the call and smiled at the
others who had all heard Kevin. “There’s going to be a baby soon!”
“Oh, what a happy day for them,” Mary said, unaware of Beth’s premonition.
“I hope so Mary, I sincerely hope so.” But she was suddenly scared to death.
the time they got to the hospital Robbi wanted to push, badly and Kevin
had to keep reminding her to hold back. “Not until Dr. Frazier says
it’s okay Robbi; just hang on sweetheart,” Kevin told her with a
sideways glance at her. The strain was showing clearly on her face and
her hands were clenched at her sides as she tried to breathe through the
pains which were coming every 90 seconds or so. This was quick this
time Kevin thought and he just hoped they would make it to the hospital
which was about 2 minutes away. They were waiting for them and Dr.
Frazier was already there.
Just two minutes now, only two he kept
repeating. When they pulled up at the emergency entrance Robbi’s mom
and dad were waiting for them; by the looks on their faces they were
clearly worried about Robbi’s appearance. Mel, Robbi’s dad offered to
go and park the car so that Kevin could go with Robbi.
pain started as soon as she was in the wheelchair and she grabbed
Kevin’s hand, moaning loudly. Inside, the staff in the maternity ward
took over and got her into a room immediately. Kevin kissed Renee on
the cheek and told her he would let her know as soon as Robbi got
settled. Renee could only stare in fear as they took Robbi to her room;
her daughter did not look good at all.
They quickly had Robbi
out of her clothes and into the short shift she would wear during the
labor, what little was left Kevin thought. One of the nurses worked at
getting her hooked up the monitor and another asked Kevin questions.
did her labor start? She’s pretty far along now,” Rhonda asked,
prepared to type the answers into the computer as Kevin provided them.
less than an hour ago.” He looked at his watch and frowned for a
moment, thinking back. “I’d say no more than 40 minutes or so. We just
grabbed her bag, called her mom and dad and a friend and then got in
the car. There was a snarl on the I-10, which took the longest.”
nodded and asked about reactions to pain meds and such while continuing
to take notes. The anesthetist came in to give Robbi the epidural and
was concerned because it was so late in the game.
“Has the baby moved into the birth canal yet?” he asked, looking at the readouts.
yet, you have a few minutes,” Dr. Frazier said, as she contemplated the
readings herself. Kevin watched as her brow furrowed deeply and she
bit at her lower lip with her teeth; he could tell something wasn’t
“Dr. Frazier, what’s wrong?” Kevin asked. He was by the
bed holding Robbi’s hand as the anesthetist worked on the epidural. It
was difficult since the contractions were so steady and they made Robbi
clench with the pain.
“I don’t think we’ve got her fetal monitor
placed correctly because the baby’s heartbeat isn’t being recorded
correctly. As soon as we have her anesthetized we’ll move it and see if
that changes. She’s going to be ready to push in about 10 minutes or
so though, so kids, this is going to be quick!” she said, rubbing
Robbi’s arm in an attempt to help soothe her. “Relax Robbi, it’s going
to be okay.” She nodded as the anesthetist finished and Robbi rolled
back over onto her back.
“Good girl Robbi, now just relax for a moment as we get that monitor reset a bit.”
gave a jerky nod as she exhaled a long breath. Now that the epidural
was in the pain had abated and she felt a bit better. “Kevin, set up
the computer for Beth and I, okay?”
Dr. Frazier looked at Kevin
in question and he explained about the Skype call. She nodded and said,
“Just keep it out of the way; we can’t be tripping over it.”
sat the computer down on a table a few feet from the bed and placed the
call. Beth answered immediately and Kevin explained quickly what was
happening and Beth nodded, clearly concerned but she sat back on the
couch, the computer resting on her lap. Mick sat next to her, his arm
hugging her shoulders. There wasn’t much to see really, just the bed
with a side view of Robbi so he felt okay about it.
“Beth? Bethy, are you there?” Robbi called out.
here Robbi. I’ll be with you the whole time. I love you!” Beth
sounded much more optimistic than she felt but she tried to keep that
from her face because she didn’t want to alarm Robbi if she could
actually see that clearly.
Another contraction started and Beth
watched as the nurse started to massage Robbi’s belly to stimulate
movement. In the background Beth saw the doctor and another nurse
looking at the printouts that the monitors were spewing out. They
weren’t happy about something Beth could see.
“Oh Mick,” she said in vamp tones. “Something IS wrong, look at the doctor.”
had to agree and they didn’t have too long to wait to find out what.
“Robbi, Kevin, the baby’s heartbeat is slow, very slow. We need to do a
C-section, immediately. Kevin, you can be in here, but you need to go
and scrub now.” She nodded at Rhonda and said, “Get him taken care of
and don’t waste any time – this baby needs to come out STAT!”
“Kevin,” Robbi cried, scared to death.
okay sweetheart, I’ll be right back. I know you’re scared, but it’s
going to be fine.” He followed Rhonda out the door at a trot.
god Mick. It’s happening just like I saw. They are going to cut into
her and see the cord around the baby’s neck.” Beth cried softly against
Mick’s shoulder. “I should be there. Dammit,” she all but yelled.
Frazier and her scrub nurse were busy and Beth watched as they draped
Robbi and realized they were swabbing her belly with betadine in
preparation to cut. It was all moving so fast, which was a good thing
but it was more frightening.
Before scrubbing Kevin took a moment
to tell everyone in the waiting room what was happening. Her parents,
his parents, Lani, Josef, Dorothy and Clark all were stunned. Finally
Lani said, “GO, get back there with her, we’ll be waiting.”
called Beth on the cell, upset over what was happening. When Beth
answered she said, “I am watching it Lani; they’re getting ready to cut
into her. Wait, there’s Kevin back in the room with her. My god, this
is terrifying Lani.”
Beth watched and reported to Lani as the
procedure happened. Josef watched and actually sweated a bit; a vamp in
a hospital was a recipe for disaster unless the vamp had iron control.
The scent of blood was everywhere and he had to work really hard to
Dr. Frazier said, “Okay Robbi, we’re going to make the
first cut now. Kevin, stay with her at the head of the bed please; we
hate it when father’s faint away from the blood!” she teased. Beth saw
it all from the side so she really couldn’t see anything direct or up
close and she was grateful for that. Even just seeing the blood was
playing on her. Mick got up and got them both glasses of blood as they
“There now, let’s make the second incision, um hm, good,
good. Robbi, you are doing wonderfully. Ah, there is the problem; the
cord is wrapped around his neck. Is neo-natal here yet?” she asked as
she untangled the cord from around the baby. She pulled him out finally
and cleaned his airway and he let out a loud yell, a protestation of
the lights and cool air. “Your little man looks good,” Dr. Frazier
said, handing him to a nurse.
Beth started crying and Lani was suddenly scared. “What is it Beth? Is he…”
good, he’s crying and he looks good they say!” She heard Lani relay
the message to the other’s and listened to all of them talking at once.
a brief moment so that Robbi and Kevin could see him they started to
clean him up and perform his Apgar score. Beth and Mick couldn’t see
that but could hear the nurses as they took care of him and knew that he
was just fine.
“Robbi and Kevin, you have a blonde haired, blue
eyed little boy who weighs 7 lbs and 4 oz. He’s a beauty,” the nurse
said and then added, “Excuse me, handsome, a very handsome boy!” Rhonda
spoke to the doctor quietly and she told Robbi and Kevin, “The apgar is
a 7; not too bad considering we did the c section. We’ll score again
in a few minutes and see how he is doing then, but this is nothing to be
Everyone, including Kevin and Robbi had
forgotten that Beth and Mick were on the other end of the computer.
Suddenly Kevin remembered and rushed to it and asked, “Did you see? He
looks great!” His excitement was hard to contain.
“Congratulations Kevin. It was dicey there for a moment, but he appears to be fine,” Beth said. “How do you think Robbi is?”
is fantastic,” she said from across the room. The doctor was stitching
her up with the nurse standing close by. “Could I have some ice chips
“Just a few, we don’t want you getting sick. You won’t
want that either, I can promise,” the nurse said as she spooned a few
chips into Robbi’s mouth. “Slowly Robbi,” she reminded her as she
crunched into them. “Just let them melt.”
Beth reported to Lani
and Kevin was amused to know that everyone already knew about the
arrival of their son. “Thanks Beth, for letting them all know. I’ll be
out in a bit, after we get Robbi taken care of.”
called him over and handed the baby to Kevin, who cuddled him and kissed
his son. He walked over to the computer and leant down so that Beth
and Mick could see him, showing him with pride.
“He is beautiful
Kevin, just adorable,” Beth said, amazed at how perfect he was. She
could hear Robbi in the background saying “I want to see him Kevin!”
Beth laughed and told Kevin, “You’d better get that child over to his
mom. Let’s end the call now Kevin and I’ll call Robbi in the morning,
okay? Or she is welcome to call me later if she feels like it.”
looked at his wife’s tired face and knew that as soon as it was quiet
she was going to be out like a light. “I’ll tell her but I would make a
bet that she’ll be asleep pretty quickly. Beth, Mick, thanks so much
for sharing this with us!” He closed the connection and Beth did the
same and then sat back with a contented sigh.
“He’s okay Beth;
even though your premonition was true, he was okay.” He hugged her close
to him, thankful for everyone concerned. Finally Beth heard Lani on
the phone saying, “Beth? Hey Beth?”
“Opps, sorry Lani. He’s awesome and so cute too. Kevin will be out soon I expect. Wait until you see the little guy.”
could hear a male voice saying something to Lani except she couldn’t
tell what was being said. Finally Lani said, “Josef wants to know what
you thought about it all?”
“Josef is there? How the heck did that happen?” Beth inquired. She wanted to hear that story. Mick, beside her was laughing.
“Yes, he was at my house when Kevin called and he brought me to the hospital.”
Mick and Beth’s eyebrows raised a good inch as they heard that. She
turned to Mick and he grinned with a shrug before shaking his head.
Josef hadn’t come to term with his feelings for Lani yet, but the time
was coming, it was coming. Maybe sooner than Josef could appreciate
Mick speculated. It was clear to Mick and Beth that the elder vampire
had feelings for Lani; what wasn’t clear was her feelings for him. Beth
was sure that she cared about him but she’d be a tough nut to crack.
If Josef had enough patience, they might well end up together.
“Okay. Well, um, tell him I’m fine. Is my mom there?”
she is. Wanna talk to her?” At Beth’s affirmative Lani handed the
phone to Dorothy and listened as Dorothy and Beth chatted for a few
minutes. When Kevin came into the room she handed the phone back to
Lani who told Beth she’d call later and ended the call.
could you come with me for a moment?” Kevin asked. He saw the
disappointed look on the grandparent’s faces and added, “I’ll be back in
a minute with your new grandson, but Robbi has asked to speak to Lani
for a minute.” There was quiet murmuring from the group as they left the
waiting room and headed to where Robbi was resting.
“Robbi,” Lani exclaimed as she went to her friend and kissed her on the forehead. “How do you feel?”
but okay. My stomach is going to hurt like a bear later though. Right
now they have ice packs on it and gave me some wonderful drugs…” Her
eyes blinked several times and Lani saw that they drooped as well. She
was going to be out like a light soon.
“Lani, Kevin and I would like you to be his godmother. Will you?”
You want me? Wow, I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t know anything
about kids Robbi. That would be like putting Winnie the Pooh in charge
of the forest; I’d be lost.”
“Well, all you have to do is spoil
him a bit and buy him fabulous birthday gifts. Kevin and I don’t plan
on going anywhere. So what do you say?”
“Fabulous gifts? Like ponies and his first Camero? I can do that! Yes, I would love to in that case!”
wiped away the tear that suddenly sprang to her eyes and Kevin handed
her a tissue to help. “So Lani, let’s take your godchild out to meet
his family,” Kevin said. He handed Lani the tiny bundle who was pursing
his little cherubic lips and blinking in the bright lights. The second
apgar score had cleared him; he was a fine and delightful little guy
and Robbi admired him greatly.
He felt almost weightless in her
arms but she was still scared to death she would drop him. Robbi
noticed and said, “You’ll do fine. Just support his head and it will be
okay.” She smiled and Lani and Kevin disappeared out the door and blew
out a long breath. She was so tired, maybe she could sleep while they
were gone…yes, that sounded wonderful.
Lani and Kevin walked down
the hallway and through the double doors. Lani was conscious of every
single step, afraid she might stumble with her precious burden. He was
completely still but his eyes were still open. “Can he see anything
“No, only shadows they say, but who knows for sure. He
sure is alert isn’t he?” The turned the corner and saw the group
waiting for the baby and Kevin stopped and said, “Everyone, Lani and I
would like to present Brian Patrick Evans.
The oohs and aahs said it all.
Fiorentino pulled his Toyota into his driveway with a sigh. It had
been a long day and night. He stared at his watch and saw that it was
after 11 pm; he had been working for 16 hours straight. So much for the
glamorous life of a police detective he thought with a wry smile.
closed the garage door with the zapper and then got out of his car and
headed inside. He almost forgot to grab his mail so he went to the
front door and opened it, sticking his hand into the mailbox and
encountered a large envelope. Curious, he pulled it and his other mail
out and headed into the living room where he poured a whiskey and then
sat down on the couch to check out the mail. He noticed that the large
envelope didn’t have a postmark on it and no return address. That gave
him pause for a moment and he weighed the envelope carefully. It was
flat, nothing in it but papers he could tell but you had to be careful
these days; there could be anthrax or all sorts of toxins within it.
he sat there sipping his drink and trying to decide what to do his
phone rang. Not bothering to look to see that it said Unavailable he
answered, figuring it was the station again.
“Luca Fiorentino?” a muffled voice asked.
“Yes, who’s calling?”
“Never mind that. Have you opened the envelope yet?”
“Not without knowing who sent it first. Care to help me out on that?”
“Let’s just say a friend. You’ll find a list of names in there. I think you’ll find some of them very interesting.”
thought about it for a moment and finally ripped the envelope open,
seeing the list. He flipped through the pages and finally came to the
last one. One name on it stood out like a sore thumb.
Mick St. John.
“So what is this?” he asked, curious.
“That’s what you need to figure out Luca,” the voice said. “You do that and you will be a very wise man.”
read some of the other names; some of the people he knew were dead and
some were historical or fictional characters too. “Look buddy, I’m a
busy guy and I don’t have time to play your games. Either give me the
information of fuck off.”
“All of those names are connected in
one of two ways. You dig around a bit and you’ll figure it out. You’re
a smart guy Detective Fiorentino.”
Luca kept looking at the list
and Mick’s name kept jumping out, as did Josef Kostan. What the hell
could they have in common with some of these others?
isn’t it? You’re mind is already trying to figure it out. I’ll call
back in a few days and see if you’d like to learn more.”
went dead and Luca continued to stare at the list until his eyes
blurred. He was beat and decided to go to bed. Maybe tomorrow the
light of day would shed some more light on this mystery. Tonight? He
just didn’t give a damn.
To be continued…