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, January 9, 2012

Chapter 13

Authors Note: Starting today, WAWO will post twice a week, Monday's and Thursdays. Hope you will enjoy the extra chapters!

Chapter 13

Josef walked with Tango into the Cleaner headquarters, closely followed by Miguel. The crew that were on duty looked up and a few of them even looked surprised; guess they didn’t pay attention to the memo Josef thought wryly. Some of them seemed surprised to see Tango because they expected a woman to be in charge since that was usually how it worked. A couple of the female cleaners stood a bit straighter, liking this new development.

“Is everyone here?” Josef asked, referring to the off-duty group that had been called in for the meeting.

“Yes, they are all gathered in the training room,” Dasha said as her eyes raked Tango from head to foot. She liked what she saw; she could only hope for a taste of it.

Josef frowned at her open appraisal of Tango and said tersely, “Okay, let’s get this going shall we?”

Tango’s eyes narrowed in irritation as he saw several of the group cast mocking looks at one another; one of the men even rolled his eyes. Tango decided that he was gone, immediately because he wasn’t going to brook any disrespect from any of them. “You? Yes, you, the one who rolled his eyes. Gather your gear; you’re out of here, permanently.” His proper English voice was clear and concise and should have brooked no argument.

Clint looked at him in shock as white hot anger slowly took over. “You can’t just get rid of me like that for an opinion. We all have the right to our personal views.” Before he realized it Tango stood toe-to-toe with him, Tango’s face a mere inch from Clint’s.

“You think not? I’ll not have any dissension among the ranks. Now, you will clear out now or I’m going to do a lot more than just terminate your employment. Do you catch my drift?”

Clint swallowed quickly and managed a brief nod before he stepped back several steps before he hurried out of the room. Tango watched him with a satisfied gleam in his eye and turned to the rest of the group and spoke. “Anyone else want to challenge me? I will tell you right now that if you aren’t ready to provide faithful and loyal service to this business you can follow that chap, no questions asked.” He in turn stared at each one of the remaining group and assessed their feelings. Several of them weren’t happy, but they weren’t saying anything either. They would bear watching he decided.

Josef and Miguel stood silently and watched it all with solid approval; this is exactly what this group needed, discipline and someone who will ultimately be able to unite them after they had gotten rid of a few bad apples. Tango was eminently qualified to do this job; after all, he had lead hundreds of men during the Revolutionary War, even if it was for the losing side. A quick memory flashed across Josef’s face of the first time he had laid eyes on Tango, proud as hell of that fancy red coat and shot all to hell in a battle. Even near death Tango refused to capitulate, insisting the British would whip the colonists into shape. Everyone needed a dream Josef had decided back then, that was before he got to know Tango and learned a great deal of respect for him.

Yes, he was perfect for this job.

The meeting went quite well actually. Tango promised them all that by working together they would reap profits that had been denied them before under Katrina’s leadership. He also promised to immediately remove any of them who sought to keep that from happening. “I respond to loyalty and reward it; if this isn’t for you then there is no repercussions for stepping forward at this time.” He looked around the room as they nodded in response to his words. He felt satisfied that they were in a good starting place.


Logan rushed into Audrey’s house, running behind as usual. He realized that over the years he had developed some rather lackadaisical habits and now that life wasn’t only about him he was paying for them. Working and catching a few hours of freezer time in one place and living somewhere else didn’t help either he acknowledged and couldn’t wait for them to get started on the plans for the new house, which they were going to do tonight at dinner with Dorothy and Clark.

Audrey was feeding the fur kids when he came hurrying in, carrying a bag with blood and several changes of clothes in it. “Sorry I’m running late Audie, I’m just going to catch a quick shower and get dressed and then I’ll be ready to go.” He looked at her apologetically and she hid a smile behind a hand; he sort of resembled Eeyore, the down-trodden donkey from Winnie the Pooh sometimes, afraid that somehow he didn’t measure up to what he thought she wanted. All she could do was to continually show him that he was exactly what she wanted, what she needed.

“It’s okay Logan,” she told him, wrapping her arms around him and tilting her face up for a kiss. “Dorothy knows you’re always running late these days, so take your time!” He nodded gratefully before sealing his lips to hers in a slow and lingering kiss that curled his toes. He reluctantly pulled away from her, grinning like a love-struck fool and headed to the shower. The things Audie did to him should be illegal they were so good.

Fifteen minutes later they were in the car and heading to Clark and Dorothy’s house. Audrey and Logan had been looking at ideas for the house and they had decided that they wanted to build green; the technology that was out there was incredible and they couldn’t wait to talk to Clark about it. His construction firm specialized in new green technology and he might even have ideas that they hadn’t ran across.

As soon as the door opened Audrey’s nose picked up the smell of something wonderful. Clark stood aside so they could enter as Dorothy headed into the foyer, wiping her hands on an apron. Logan grinned at that, it seemed that most women didn’t wear aprons anymore, but Dorothy did and it accentuated her growing baby bump he thought. She looked beautiful and he remembered back to when she was pregnant with Beth. They were juniors in high school and Clark had already enlisted in the army, stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. He had missed the beautiful glow that she had, but at least he could appreciate it this time.

Dorothy hugged Audrey first and then Logan and she blushed delightfully when he whistled and told her how lovely she looked. “Are you feeling well?” he asked and was glad when she told him yes.

When she was pregnant with Beth Logan and his parents had been sworn to secrecy about it; Dorothy was so upset by it and didn’t want Clark to know because she was sure he would hate her. The reality was that he would have likely have not stopped until he discovered who raped her; maybe that thought had scared her more. Of course, at the time none of them knew that she had been raped, but Clark would still probably have hunted them down. He loved her fiercely, even then.

“Are you hungry?” she asked as they followed her back to the kitchen.

“Man, this smells good,” Logan said. “Sometimes I really wish I could still eat food. This smells like your mom’s lasagna. Oh, I remember that so well!”

“I know. She always doubled the batch because she knew that your food radar would detect it in the air.” Dorothy’s smile was wistful as she thought about her mother; she missed her so much and hoped that Grace could somehow know how happy both she and Beth were.

Logan stood near the counter as Dorothy cut the lasagna into serving pieces and then watched as Clark moved it to the table in the dining room. Dorothy opened the fridge and pulled out salad and tossed it with the dressing and then a pitcher of iced tea. “Oh! I almost forgot the garlic bread,” she said in panic, hoping that it hadn’t burned in the oven. It was nicely browned and she pulled it out with a smile and a happy sigh.

Clark stood by the doorway into the dining room, his arms crossed in front of him and he watched his wife. She was more beautiful now than she had ever been and when she looked up and saw him watching her and slow blush spread over her face. Their eyes met and locked and for just a moment there was only the two of them in the room. Dorothy licked her lips nervously, trying to cover her sudden awareness that Logan and Audrey were watching them, both of them smiling as they saw the looks that passed between Dorothy and Clark.

Logan walked past his brother, thumping him on the shoulder as he did so. “I guess you still got it old man!” he chided and laughed at the pleased look on his brother’s face.

Dorothy carried in an insulated mug and sat it down in front of Logan. It amazed him still that they were so accepting of it; he no longer felt embarrassed by his vampirism and he also knew that he was fortunate because most vamps didn’t have any family. Yes, he was one lucky guy he acknowledged as he looked around the table where most of the people that he loved in this life sat.

What he didn’t realize was that they were amazed he could be so relaxed and easy-going about his vampirism, given the fact that Mick was so unhappy about it. Dorothy could only hope that since her daughter had been turned that Mick would be happier, now that he had a mate.

Clark approved of the research that Audrey and Logan had done concerning green construction methods and innovations for their home. The idea that garnered most of their time and attention though was how many bedrooms to choose.

“Why do we need more than one? Can someone explain that to me?” Logan said, irritated by the fact that all three of them seemed to think that they needed as least 3.

“Logan, we might have guests or something. What are you going to do when my grandmother comes to visit? She will and probably soon because she wants to meet you.”

Dorothy’s eyes lit up when she saw the moment of panic that washed across Logan’s face. She saw Clark smiling at the thought and they both tried to hide it from Logan.

“You both find this really funny do you?” he lamented. “I never dreamed of something like this.” He hung his head for a moment, knowing that it was going to happen eventually.

Audrey reached across the table and touched his hand, rubbing it lightly in support. “Logan, she will love you, I promise.”

“She’ll probably have a heart attack when she finds out I’m a vampire and then I’ll have her death on my conscience forever,” he moaned.

Audrey rolled her eyes, he was so dramatic!

Later after they had gotten home both of them forgot all about houses and grandmother’s as they sipped wine and looked into one another’s eyes. She was his world, his life, and nothing else mattered. The gnawing feeling in the pit of his stomach blossomed into need and he stood and picked Audrey up, carrying her into their bedroom.

“Love you Audie,” he whispered as he spread warm kisses across her lips, her forehead, and her jaw line. Her skin was like the softest velvet and he reveled in the taste and texture of her.

He laid her down on the bed and sat down next to her, resuming his trail of kisses as his lips slipped down her neck. He kissed that place that was his alone and for a moment the vampire within roared with the possession of this woman in their arms. Audrey shivered as she sensed the vampire’s presence and turned her head so that kisses could pay homage to the cherished spot.

Logan’s fingers traced down her neck and glided over her collar bone, coming to rest on the top button of her shirt. He deftly unbuttoned it and bent to kiss the exposed skin, as if it were a reward for his labor. One by one each button relinquished its hold and Logan continued the kisses, accompanied by the soft sighs that escaped from deep within Audrey’s throat.

He stood up and removed his clothes, his eyes never breaking contact with Audrey’s. This was comfortable for them; this was what they were meant to do. As Logan sank down on the bed he felt the bed bounce for a moment and saw Travis and Plato, sitting on the bed and curiously watching them. He groaned and looked at the two who had both settled down, curled up to watch the action.

“Out!” he scolded. “NOW you two. Go on, I mean it.” Two pairs of unblinking golden eyes watched him, not at all used to him raising his voice in their presence. Travis lifted a paw and delicately began to lick it and then washed his face with it. Logan let a growl out and Plato laid his ears back in protestation.

Audrey laughed.

Logan’s gaze caught hers, the earlier ardor faded considerably. “Logan, they’re just cats,” she said. “They’re just lying there for heaven’s sake!” She had the temerity to laugh again and his quickly masked silver glance at her struck her as really funny. Bubbling laughter burst forth and she laughed so hard tears streaked her face. Finally she got up and grabbed one cat in each arm and headed to the living room, both cats showing their displeasure with various mews of outrage. She sat them both down on the couch and went back to the bedroom, closing the door behind her. Logan immediately heard them both scratching at the offending door and saw two paws under the door as if trying to grab hold of the door and pull it open.

“Now, where were we?” she asked, straddling Logan and placing kisses over his neck and chest.

“Where were we? About to find a new home for those two trouble makers, that’s where we were,” he told her, still not completely mollified since the two cats were now howling loudly.

“Forget about them Logan,” she said, standing up and slowly removing her bra and then sliding the zipper of her jeans down, very slowly. He could hear each tooth separate and licked his lips in anticipation. When she was down to her panties he pulled her to him and a deep, throaty growl escaped, this time in pleasure.

Cats? What cats?


Lani pulled between the gates at Josef’s house, make that mansion in the hills and stopped the Maserati in the parking area. There were numerous vehicles already parked there and she wondered if others were going to be a dinner as well as herself.

Almost before she rang the door bell the door was opened by Josef and one of her perfectly shaped eyebrows rose in surprise. Josef only grinned at her, loving the fact that she was obviously surprised. She was dressed in a business suit, Vera Wang he believed that while very appropriate for the office was still very feminine. She slipped out of the jacket revealing a soft white silk shell underneath. The suit itself was a deep twilight blue that went perfectly with Lani’s coloring. English roses, her completion reminded him of English roses, creamy roses with just a hint of blush to them.

“Come in Lani, welcome back,” he told her as she walked past him and looked around. The foyer was huge, with a sitting area off to the right and the floors and steps leading upstairs were sort of a mottled white and cream color. The night of Beth’s turning she hadn’t paid much attention to the house but it really was quite lovely she decided. Modern, sophisticated yet it had a certain air of charm. It was a difficult situation to carry off because often times modern was cold and sterile and this room wasn’t.

“So Josef, where is Franklin? Surely you can’t manage without him?” she asked, a teasing lilt to her voice. Actually she liked Franklin a great deal; he had been very kind to her that night. She wanted to ask whether Franklin was a given name or a surname but felt it would be considered to rude.

“I believe he is setting up the table on the terrace; he seemed to think that would be the perfect setting for dinner,” he told her, leading the way down a hallway that led to the back of the house. They walked through double French doors and stepped out onto a smooth flagstone terrace with a creamy colored marble balustrade edging it with steps leading down to an expansive garden to the far right. He heard Lani expel a soft breath when she saw it; he felt the same way because it was beautiful. Various plants were arranged in different areas, usually with seating amongst them. To the far left stood a bower seat with a fragrant climbing trellis overhead. The scent of the flowers was quite heady, even to human noses he was sure.

“Miss Parker,” Franklin greeted her with a slight bow. “Welcome. May I seat you?” At her nod he settled her into a comfortable seat and asked, “Would you care for a cocktail or another beverage before dinner? Cook tells me it will be ready in about 10 minutes. May I take your jacket?”

She nodded and handed it to him and said, “A very cold glass of white wine would be lovely, perhaps a pro secco, dry and light?” He nodded and walked away as Josef took the seat across from her.

“Do we know what’s on the menu?” she asked Josef, still taking in the beauty of the surroundings. It was cooler the past couple of days and there was a slight breeze as well tonight that made this seem an idyllic setting.

“Not a clue,” he laughed. Franklin brought out two glasses of wine, a red cabernet for Josef and the chilled white for Lani. She accepted it happily and took a sip; it was wonderful she decided. Under the table she kicked her heels off and wiggled her toes with a sigh. Maybe this would be a pleasant evening after all.

They chatted about the new security platform that was going to be installed at Kostan Industries in less than 2 weeks. “Really Josef, it’s quite revolutionary and you will be pleased at its capabilities.” She was interrupted as Franklin carried in a tray with her first course.

He sat a cup of tomato bisque soup in front of her and as soon as the scent rose to her nose her mouth started to water in anticipation. Josef and Franklin both heard her stomach rumble and both men were pleased that she was apparently hungry. “May I,” he said, indicating the napkin and at her nod he placed it lightly in her lap.

“Thank you Franklin. Um, this smells delicious!” She picked up her spoon, prepared to take a bite and saw that both men were staring at her. Caught, they both hastily looked away as she tasted her first mouthful of the delicious soup. “It tastes as good at it smells,” she told them, no longer shy about continuing to eat. She had missed lunch that day due to non-stop meetings. She could only hope that the rest of the meal was as tasty as this.

They talked of mundane topics while Lani enjoyed her meal. The second course was a spinach salad, with strawberries and walnuts in it topped by a light vinaigrette and crumbled bleu cheese. The next course was two small lamb chops, grilled in garlic butter with roasted asparagus. Dessert was a tiny pots de crème, rich and smooth, the chocolate topped with real whipped cream was the perfect ending to the meal.

While she ate her meal Josef sipped his dinner, enjoying her appreciation of the food. All the meals were planned by a nutritionist to supply the necessary nutrients that the girls needed, and the necessary calories as well. One thing that Josef made clear to all the girls was if they were going to live and work for him, they would eat a balanced diet. The first hint of an eating disorder and they were gone – with the proper emotional support of course.

He had to admit that he found it interesting to watch humans eat. Their likes and dislikes and choices were really quite amusing to him. Let them go back and try living in the early 17th century and they’d see a whole different side of food. For one thing, it was greatly limited in variety and for many people quality and quantity. Not where he grew up; his father was a wealthy Irish Lord, but even their diet was limited. The sad truth was that the higher you were socially, the richer, fattier, sweeter and unhealthier the fare was. The peasants ate dark brown bread, simple roasted meats usually without the rich sauces and lots of vegetables, which the aristocracy wouldn’t normally eat. It was amazing how things had changed over the centuries.

As Franklin took the last of her dinner dishes away she sat back with a contented sigh. “My goodness, that was wonderful,” she declared. “Your girls are quite lucky, having your chef cook for them. He is a jewel!”

“Yes, he takes care of them quite well. Of course, he is also handsomely paid to do it.”

“Um, I see,” she said with a grin. “Do you miss eating? Food I mean?”

He sat back in his chair and thought about that for a moment. “No, not really but I really don’t remember much about it. It must have been pretty forgettable. One thing I do know is that we didn’t have the variety that is available today.”

Lani thought about societies of the time which were limited to local offerings; no running out for pizza or Chinese. Of course, you don’t miss what you never had but still the thought of it was stifling. She said as much to Josef and he laughed.

“True enough. I remember roasted meat, usually swimming in some sort of gravy, potatoes, turnips, lettuces, that kind of thing. Probably very boring, but then again maybe not.” He shrugged as she spoke the last words. He picked his glass up and took another sip and quickly licked away a stray drop that lingered on his lip. Lani saw the gesture and stared, lost for a moment in the sensual action.

She hastily looked away and said, “I wonder how Beth is doing drinking blood? I have such a hard time imagining her being able to give up Kung Pao, extra spicy!”

A pained look crossed Josef face for a moment followed by a frown. “Josef, what’s wrong?”

“It’s all my fault you know; that it happened. Sometimes I wonder if she and Mick can ever forgive me. As a good friend of mine says, if I want something done I need to do it myself; outsourcing rarely works well.”

“Josef, you know that’s not true; she isn’t unhappy at all being a vamp now. She really wanted it you know and was worried that in the end Mick might not be able to turn her, even though he promised he would.”

Josef suddenly stood up and went to stand by the balustrade, leaning his elbows on it and staring out and the darkening sky. He clasped his hands together, a seemingly casual pose but it was anything but. The guilt was really overwhelming at times.

He was so caught up in the guilt and the pain that he didn’t hear Lani come to stand beside him. She reached out a hand and laid it on his; it rested there for a moment before she became conscious of what she had done and pulled it quickly away. “She doesn’t blame you Josef,” she repeated quietly.

He looked at her; her chocolate eyes sharply concerned in the enveloping cloak of the night. “I hope not Lani. I – I don’t know what I’d do without them in my life,” he said, letting his honesty rule for once.

He cared about them so much she could tell – loved them even and this new unbidden thought startled her. Josef it seems was not the man she thought he was when they first met.

“Lani, may I ask you something?”

His earnest question appealed to her and so she said, “You can ask. I may answer, or not.”

“Why, you at first, um, why are you, were you scared of vampires?” It was something that had bothered him from the first time he had met her in Tokyo. Heroku was silent about it and Josef knew him well enough to know that whatever the reason was, it wasn’t because of him.

Everything that happened in Tokyo rushed back at her, almost taking her breath away. She hadn’t told anyone, other than Beth and Cami. She wasn’t sure she had the courage to speak of it to a male vampire, to say the words. She cleared her throat and opened her mouth but nothing came out immediately.

Josef saw the pain that was etched across her face and said, “It’s okay Lani, you don’t have to tell me – I shouldn’t have asked.”

“No, it’s okay. I had been in Tokyo about a year and was at one of Heroku’s client parties. The room was really smoky and I went out to walk in the gardens for a little while. After a half an hour or so I walked around the east wing of the house and entered through a door there. That was the area of the house were the conference rooms were. For uh, conferences and ot-other things.” She pulled in a deep breath and let it out in a shaky stream.

Josef could hear her heart pounding in her chest and he wanted to beg her to stop, to not think about it but she continued with the story.

“Two men came down the hall as I slipped in the door and headed straight for me. I tried to side-step them, but they pushed me up against the wall. They were speaking in rapid Japanese; I had a hard time following them because I was still learning the language. One of them grabbed my arm and started sniffing it and they continued to talk. He – he started to lick it and I saw his fangs. I – I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I screamed. And screamed more and louder when I felt his fangs graze my arm, scratching it. The next thing I know Heroku pulled him off of me and I heard a loud snap and he was dead. The other man was yelling at Heroku, but he wasn’t listening; his eyes were silver and he also had fangs. Before I knew it he too was dead and Heroku was carrying me into one of the rooms. That night I learned about vampires.”

“You weren’t afraid of Heroku?”

“No, he rescued me. I – I knew him, you know? I didn’t think he would hurt me. And he never has; he has answered my questions and done his best to protect me, even bringing Cami here from New York to help me relax around vampires.”

Josef was quiet for a moment, remembering the night they met. He hadn’t vamped out around her or anything and he wondered out loud how she had realized he was a vampire so quickly.

“Your hands, when you shook my hand, yours was really cold, compared to humans of course. Mostly though, you were a player, I could tell and I don’t like players.” She finished with a cheeky smile and he responded in kind.

“Ah, I was outed then,” he teased. The moment was a bit lighter and he was thankful for that.

“Yes. When I got to LA and found you here I was so angry to see you and know that I would have to continue to see you because of your friendship with Mick and Beth.”

“Um, sorry about that. I hope at least that you don’t hate me any longer. I know I can be a bit of an ass at times, but I’m really a nice guy – a big softie really.” The words were spoken in jest but they were truer than he wanted anyone to know.

“Yeah, with BIG fangs…” she said. She took a deep breath; the flowers on the terrace were exuding a wonderful fragrance that graced the evening with a heady bouquet.

He laughed at her words and asked one final question, the big one he had been avoiding all evening. “Lani, you know of course that Heroku gets here in a few days and I am having a party to celebrate the new computer system that Sesumi has designed. Would you be my hostess that evening?”

“Been holding that one back all night, haven’t you Kostan?” She let out a long exaggerated breath and added, “I HATE things like this but if I must.”

“You don’t have to do anything but wear a fabulous dress and show up, I promise. Thor is handling all the arrangements. It will be here and you obviously know your way, but I would be more than happy to send a car for you.”

“Not necessary,” she told him, slipping her shoes back on. “With that I think it’s time for me to say goodnight.”

Just like that the pain and sadness of her confession had been hidden away, almost as if she had been ashamed to speak the words, but he knew better than that. Lani wasn’t used to letting anyone in; he understood that because he wasn’t either.

After thanking Franklin for all his attention and asking him to pass along her thanks and compliments to the chef Josef walked her to her car. As she pulled through the gates and turned on to the main road he sighed. They had talked tonight, really talked yet things felt more awkward than before.

One step forward, two steps backward it seemed.

To be continued…


Lady said...

I'm so excited about the two post a week!!! I will be getting an even bigger dose of my fix! I love this story and I think so far this is my favorite chapter.

Thanks, Hope!

Hope said...

Hey Lady!!

So glad to hear that you are looking forward to it. I enjoyed this chapter too, it was fun to write. Things will continue to push Lani and Josef together, whether it will be a good thing or not remains to be seen.

Hey, send me a PM next time you are one MLF, I have some Josef suggestions for you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Anonymous said...

Yeah!! More posts... you are awesome!! Loved this chapter :)

Hope said...

Hi Anonymous!!

Thank you! So glad you are enjoying this story! Thanks so much for reading. :)

mum said...

Hey, Hope. I haven't commented for a while, but I'm still faithfully reading.

Question, and I'll try to make sense: Before the end of the "actual" series, I thought one of Beth's coworkers was Coraline posing as someone else. She got hold of some special "drink", was locked up, then escaped. Did that ever get tied up, or is she still lurking out there with the potential to return? Thanks. mum

Hope said...

Hi Mum!!

Thank you so much for continuing to read and commenting when you have a chance, it's always good to hear from you!

Excellent question! Yes, Coraline took the cure (an herbal compound created during the French Revolution to mask the effects of vampirism) in order to try to win Mick back. When Beth staked her, she 'died' and her body reverted to it's vampire state and she was taken from the hospital by her long time friend (and possibly lover but that was never clear) Cynthia Davis.

Coraline came back later on and gave Mick the cure, again, asking him to come away with her. That culminated in Coraline's brother Lance finding her and Mick and beating Mick up. Coraline offered herself and the cure if Lance would leave Mick out of it. Lance staked Coraline and they last we saw of her was Lance taking her away. He also welcomed Mick to the family which was chilling because Mick and not known until then that Coraline had any family.

So, Coraline went off into the sunset. Was it all a charade to fool Mick and get him to come after her or was it genuine love for him that made her beg Lance to save him?

THAT my dear mum is a question that was never answered in the series, but I assure you that we will have an answer here eventually!

Please, feel free to ask any other questions you might have!