Authors Note: Starting today, WAWO will post twice a week, Monday's and Thursdays. Hope you will enjoy the extra chapters!
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
“Is everyone here?” Josef asked, referring to the off-duty group that had been called in for the meeting.
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?”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
“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
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
Audrey reached across the table and touched his hand, rubbing it lightly in support. “Logan, she will love you, I promise.”
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!
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.
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
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
“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.
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.
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
Cats? What cats?
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
“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.
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?”
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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?”
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
“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.
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?”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
“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.
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.
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
“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
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.
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
“Ah, I was outed then,” he teased. The moment was a bit lighter and he was thankful for that.
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.
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
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.”
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…