Heroku and Tango stood along the wall sipping their drinks and watching Lani and Josef. There were too many people in the room to be able to hear what was being said but it was clear that it wasn’t good, judging by the look on Lani’s face. Neither man knew who the couple was that stood talking to them but Lani looked very angry. When the couple moved on Lani headed to the doors and as she swept past them they could scent the rage and pain rolling off of her. Josef followed her quickly after a few words with some of the others gathered around them.
“This is not going to be good; I think he
should let her be,” Tango said, taking another sip of his drink. He was
torn about whether or not to follow Josef and try to coax him back
“You are right my friend; Lani is too upset to speak at
this moment. I believe that the couple who she was speaking to are her
parents. Lani is not close to them, for reasons I am not privy to.”
Heroku looked around the room, seeing who had paid attention to the
situation and other than the people near Lani and Josef, everyone was
“Josef never knows when to let something be, especially when his heart is involved,” Tango said, frowning a bit.
“He does care for her doesn’t he?” Heroku said, a momentary smile playing across his face.
“Yes, he does, although I’m sure that he doesn’t really realize it. And Lani? You know her well I believe?”
she has been like a daughter to me for the past 5 years. I believe
that she also cares for Josef; however, she will not give in to it
easily Tango. She knows about vampires because two of them attacked her
at my house in Tokyo; I saved her and so she is very wary of them
although trusting of myself. I believe that when she recently killed
the vampire that attacked her best friend that she is now a bit more
comfortable. But as far as why she runs from relationships with men,
that I do not know.”
“That would be Mick St. Johns wife I
believe. I’ve never met the chap but Josef cares about him and thinks
he has great potential in our world.”
Their conversation was
interrupted when Josef came back into the room, a fading imprint of a
hand on his cheek. Lani was conspicuously absent. He looked around and
caught them observing him and headed their way.
A waiter walked
by and Tango said, “Scotch,neat,” and the waiter nodded and moved to get
the drink. He was back moments later and Tango handed it to Josef who
drank the two fingers of rich amber liquid straight down.
three men stood together wordlessly and Josef’s jaw clenched and
unclenched with his emotions. They were interrupted by one of the women
that had been talking to Josef and Lani earlier. She was pregnant both
Tango and Heroku noticed and both men smiled at the fact.
Dorothy said as she laid her hand on his arm. “She needs time. Her
parents,” she paused for a moment and tried to think of the best thing
to say. “Lani and her parents aren’t close; I don’t know why exactly
but I have my suspicions. Truly, they care little for her and it’s hard
for her to be around them. Please don’t take it personally.” Clark
was at her side, an arm draped casually around her shoulders but it was
also a protective stance they all realized.
Josef’s eyes met
Dorothy’s and a sick thought permeated his brain. That bastard wouldn’t
have… would he? As if understanding what Josef was thinking she
responded, “No, I don’t think that is the case Josef; Clark and I both
questioned her about it when she was young. She was just so unhappy
growing up, we really tried to be there for her and let her be a part of
our family. Time Josef, she needs time.”
He nodded tersely and
motioned for the waiter to bring another drink. Time? He had all the
time in the world but sadly, Lani didn’t. He began to look at Marcus
Parker, the great philanthropist differently that night. Whatever the
past was, Josef was determined to find out just what that bastard had
done to hurt Lani so badly.
slept late the next morning and woke up feeling better than she had in a
long time. She had really enjoyed her chat with Mrs. Carter last
night; it almost pushed the earlier fiasco out of her head. Almost…
had slapped Josef; she was humiliated and really sorry about it but at
the same time she had asked him to back off. It was horrible to know
that she couldn’t control herself any better than that. She’d never,
ever hit anyone in her life and the fact that he had only been trying to
help when she lost control made it all worse. She really wanted to
crawl under a nice shady rock and hideaway but that was out of the
question because Monday they started the install at Kostan. How on
earth was she supposed to look at him and not feel ashamed?
flight had taken her to Mrs. Carter and that she had enjoyed. Mrs.
Carter reminded her of Grace, Beth’s grandmother; Mrs. Carter had the
same relaxed air and matter of fact ideas. Somehow she had soothed Lani
and she was grateful for the care that was shown her.
reached for her phone and dialed the florist and ten minutes later she
had ordered a bouquet of flowers for Mrs. Carter, white and purple ones
that she hoped that the elderly woman would enjoy.
A half an hour
later she had finished breakfast, a toasted English muffin and a tall
glass of orange juice while reading the news on the computer. She was
ready to go take a shower when her doorbell rang. Her heart skipped a
beat or two and she was afraid to look out the peep hole because she was
afraid it might be Josef, coming to gloat over her loss of control last
night. Instead, she was surprised to see a woman with flowers for her.
Parker? I have a delivery for you,” the young woman said. She was
holding a very elegant and costly Waterford crystal vase that held two
dozen cream colored roses with dusky pink edges that were still budding.
“Oh, thank you,” she said, reaching for her purse to get money for a tip.
“No ma’am, that’s been taken care of. Have a nice day!” she said politely and turned and left.
closed the door and inhaled the sweet fragrance of the roses. She knew
who sent them and for a moment she felt even guiltier but she sat them
on a table and pulled the card out.
hope that you are well this morning. Please accept this very sincere
apology from me for ruining your evening last night. These roses remind
me of you; classic and burgeoning with promise.
sank down onto the carpet and read the note again; tears rolled down
her cheeks and finally her head bent down as she sobbed. Embarrassment
for her behavior and happiness over this simple wish vied for dominion
in her head and heart. The happiness won out as it was intended to.
and Beth had spoken very little after the problem the night before. It
wasn’t really an argument; just a wall that seemed to be building
between them and neither one knew how to handle it or to tear it down
for that matter.
Mick glanced at her from time to time, covertly
he hoped, from under his lashes. They were both in the gym, he lifting
weights and she on the tread climber. She’d been pushing it hard for
the past 45 minutes, watching tv as if she were alone in the room. No
conversation, no longing looks cast at him, just dedication to that damn
machine. Right now Dr. Phil was on talking about runaway teens, a
subject that he just didn’t see her being all that interested in.
moved on to the weight resistance machine but in all honesty the only
reason he was still at it was to be near her. Last night in their
freezer they hadn’t made love, had barely spoke or touched even. This
morning when he woke up she was already out of the freezer and when he
came downstairs she was sitting at the table drinking her coffee
silently. He kissed her, aiming for her lips and only got her cheek as
she turned her head.
“Have you fed Beth?” he ventured. Usually
in the mornings she would feed a bit from him. It was no longer
necessary, but it was a comforting act between them, intensifying their
bond. This morning didn’t quite seem real without that loving act
“Yes. I didn’t want to wake you,” she had said quietly.
he thought back those words had been the most she had offered all
morning. After she finished her coffee she rinsed the cup and headed
into the gym and he heard the machine pumping away. When he went in she
was seemingly immersed in her program so he didn’t say anything, only
went to the free weights but it was hard to see her from there so he
changed to the machine.
He finally gave up and said, “I’m going to take a shower Beth.”
barely nodded in his direction and turned the machine off and headed to
the free weights. She grabbed two of them without paying attention and
he noted that they were 20 pound weights. She was lifting them all
wrong and he knew that she would have aching muscles later.
baby, you’re not using them correctly. And uh, it would really be
better if started with the 10 pounds first, to build up, okay? Here,
let me show you how to use them, okay?”
She watched silently as
he demonstrated, showing her how to work the different muscle groups.
She could see how she would have hurt herself the other way and thanked
him. “I understand what you’re showing me. Thank you Mick.” Her words
were sincere but spoken as if she were talking to a stranger.
okay baby.” He stood there for a moment, watching her and feeling as
if they were a world apart. She wasn’t angry, there was no scent of it
on her; it felt as if she was just removed from it all, a very strange
place to be.
After his shower he got dressed and headed down to
the office. He stared at the phone and when he heard Beth start a
shower he picked it up and called Josef, who answered on the first ring.
“Josef, I don’t know what to do. I think she hates me and I am fucking this all up!” he exclaimed into the phone.
you? Extremely unlikely Mick, don’t exaggerate so much. What
happened?” he queried, leaning back in his chair and resting his Gucci
loafers on the smooth mahogany desk.
Mick related the events of
the day before, not sparing his own part in the fiasco. “I was such an
ass Josef; I told her in front of everyone that she was imagining it and
that she needed to stop.”
Josef’s lips pursed together in a
silent whistle, amazed that Mick had done that. Both of them could be
hot tempered as he had reason to remember and this was a totally
emotional hot button for them both apparently. “Mick, why is this so
important to you? I mean, maybe she can taste it. It sounds like she
didn’t have any problems distinguishing between the different items.”
we can’t taste food! I think she is missing her humanity and this is
the way it is manifesting, a false sense of taste to food.”
likely. Look, if she really were missing humanity I don’t think she’d
be tasting food Mick. And I have to say, we’ve talked almost every day
and I don’t think Beth is missing anything about her humanity.”
heard what Josef was saying and he knew that Beth did seem to be
adapting really well. But how could she not be mourning her human life?
you’ve got to let all your own regrets go; Beth doesn’t share them but
if you keep on like this she will gradually start to associate vampirism
with all the regret and misery you carried around for 50 years. You
have to let it go boyo – let her settle into her new life. Maybe she
can taste – who knows? If she can’t eventually she’ll figure it out.
Just lighten up!”
Mick heard Beth getting out of the shower
upstairs and ended the call with Josef. Maybe his friend was right and
he just needed to let it go. He was just so worried that deluding
herself would cause more problems later on but he decided he would just
Before too long he heard Beth come downstairs and when
he went looking for her he found her watching a movie on the new big
screen tv. It was a sappy girl movie and he decided to just hang out
with her. They needed to connect and if it meant watching her he could
live with that.
As he watched a wedding fiasco on screen and he asked her what the movie was.
“Sex and the City,” she told him. Her blue eyes were sad when they met his hazel eyes that were a darker shade of green today.
“It’s uh, kind of sad don’t you think?” He remembered that it used to be a tv show, but he didn’t realize it was this tragic.
part is, it’s about how sometimes two people can love each other but if
they don’t communicate then things can fall to pieces.”
Fuck! Was she trying to tell him things were over? He couldn’t let that happen; she was his love, his life, his fledgling – neither of them would survive without the other.
“Wha…what are you trying to say Beth?” he asked, a husky tremor in his voice.
looked at him, meeting his gaze squarely and she smiled. “I’m not
saying we’re over Mick. In the movie, neither Carrie nor John listened
to the other, really listened, but then they each never really explained
what was important either. That built a wall around each of them,
separately. They each played by their own rules and didn’t take the
time to make any rules together.”
His face clouded as he thought
about her words and he realized exactly what she was trying to tell him –
that if they didn’t get on the same page about things that they would
grow apart. That would never happen; he’d do anything to prevent it.
sorry Beth, so sorry for last night. I’m sorry for telling you in
front of everyone that I didn’t believe you. I will accept that you say
you can taste baby, I will. I’ll never embarrass you like that again.”
“But you don’t really believe me do you?”
don’t know Beth, I just don’t know. We, vampires can’t taste, or at
least not any that I know of. It just seems impossible to me.”
understand that; I get it, I really do. But understand this Mick, I
really can taste things. I don’t know why, but I can. Maybe it’s my
AO- blood, or the fact that I share your blood and Coraline’s and
Josef’s, I don’t know but somehow I can taste things. Vampires do have
taste buds you know; we can taste different kinds of blood for heaves
sake. Logan says he can taste pineapple popsicles for heaven’s sake and
you don’t tell him he’s imagining it!”
The stunned look on
Mick’s face amused her for a moment. “I never heard that he could do
that, he never told me,” he finally stammered.
She laughed for a moment and said, “Is it any wonder why?”
They both looked up when they heard a knock on the door and both of them lifted their heads, scenting the air.
and Mary,” they said in unison, rushing to open the door. “Come in,”
Beth said, standing back so that their guests could enter.
usually happened when Tim and Mary visited they migrated to the kitchen
and Mary helped Mick pour them all glasses of blood so they could visit a
Tim shifted his eyes from Beth to Mick, watching the young
couple carefully for any signs of stress but they both seemed to be in
better space today which made the old shaman happy. As they all took
their first sips Tim said, “Beth, Mick, would you both be willing to try
a simple experiment for me?”
One of Mick’s eyebrows quirked upward and Beth tilted her head, a sure sign of curiosity.
“May I ask why?” Mick said as he sat his glass down on the table top.
yes but I don’t want to reveal too much yet, although afterwards I’ll
explain fully. I saw something the other night and I just want to see
if it was my imagination.”
Mick and Beth cast quick looks at the other and Beth grinned, shrugging as she did so. “I’m game!”
pulled a folded piece of paper out of her pocket and told Beth to take
it into the other room and read it and then to follow the instructions
without saying anything.
Beth looked at the plain white paper and
took it from her friend before heading into the living room. She read
the words curiously, several times and decided to give it a try even
though it seemed nonsensical to her.
Back in the kitchen Mick,
Tim and Mary chatted about the orchard and some plans that Tim had to
expand the pear crop. Beth sat down and grinned at Mick with a slight
shrug and took a sip of her blood. As she sat it down she looked at
Mick, focusing on him and before long he reached across the table and
ran his fingers through her hair, enjoying the silken texture of it.
“Oh my gosh,” Beth exclaimed, looking at Tim and Mary quizzically. “I don’t understand?”
glance swept each one of their faces, realizing that they all knew
something that he didn’t. He sat up a bit straighter, waiting for an
“Na’ hae, I
believe that Beth is using allure on you,” he said and watched both of
the young ones bristle at his words. He held his hand up and continued,
“She isn’t doing it for control, but I think it is something that she
does unconsciously, a product of the strength of your bond. Beth, show
Mick the note.”
Beth slid the paper across the table and Mick read it.
Focus on Mick silently and ask him to stroke your hair.
“Why? I don’t understand?” Mick finally said, confused.
times I have watched Beth’s ability to communicate with you without
saying a word. The other night I saw you blazing with anger that
magically disappeared as she looked at you.” He watched their faces as
they remembered the night that Beth had broken her leg and realized that
Tim was correct.
“It is normal for sire/fledgling relationships
to have a deep connection; added to that is your love for one another
and a bond that goes back to when Beth was a child. She focuses on you,
her heart open and you follow it na’hae. It is…to be expected. But, you must work with her to learn control of that very powerful gift.”
flittered through Mick’s brain, of Beth just looking at him and of his
response which was to just fall into whatever she desired. He had never
even questioned how he immediately knew what she wanted, he just did
it. This was totally new to him; with Coraline he had never experienced
anything like this, not even close. He was connected to her to be
sure, but non-verbal communication never worked for them.
sorry Mick, I – I don’t know how to not do that; I thought it was normal
for a sire/fledgling relationship. Can you help me? Teach me?”
looked at her and took her small hand in his larger one and said, “I
will teach you Beth; I will listen to you as well, always,” he told her.
It sounded much like a vow to Tim and Mary and they both smiled
as Mick and Beth spoke from their hearts. These two were creating a
magical bond that would last forever. It was a blessing to know them.
To be continued…