Tango and Miguel had left to attend to business leaving Josef and Heroku in Josef’s office. The nightscape of the city was spread before the two old friends, twinkling lights that lit the imaginations of children everywhere and also made vampires feel the pull of the hunt.
Both men puffed on cigars from Josef’s collection
of fine contraband Cubans. The fragrant smoke wafted through the office
as both men relaxed. The group had decided to watch Carl Davis just to
take his measure; Josef believed that he wouldn’t tell anyone and Josef
inquired to Heroku what he knew of the relationship between Cami and
“I know that she has not yet told him that she is a
vampire,” he answered, thinking fondly of Cami. She was as much a
daughter to him as was possible even more so than Lani if that were
possible. He had mentored her and sheltered her because from the
beginning she showed much promise. He had never known her to become
romantically involved with any man but the fact that she was dipping her
toes into the romantic pool pleased Heroku greatly, especially if the
man had as much integrity and bravery as Carl Davis seemed to have.
does she intend to try to keep it from him? Not that she has to now,
but I’m certainly curious. Does she understand about vampiric sexual
“Well, to be honest we’ve not ever discussed
that. Perhaps it is time, although it might be better coming from
another female,” he said, thinking over the possibilities. Thinking
along that vein of thought made him wonder about Lani. He decided to
test the waters here and asked, “So, did you notice how well Lani and
Tango got along the other night? She was very animated with him, so
unlike her?” He eyed Josef’s response through half-closed eyes while
swirls of smoke circled his head and was rewarded when Josef bit down
hard on the cigar, taking a large piece off the end of it. He wisely
said nothing about that.
“I didn’t notice anything of the kind;
she was just being a good hostess. The evening would have gone quite
well if not for the situation with her parents.”
Josef, I know that the issues with her parents bring a good deal of pain
to Lani; I think it would behoove you to not ask her too much about it.
She doesn’t say anything and I try to respect that.”
that son of a bitch hurt her Heroku; maybe he molested her or beat her
or something but when I find out and I WILL find out, if he’s done
something to her he will pay with his life.”
“You are championing our fair Lani then?”
would fight for anyone in that situation. Lani is special, well a
really smart and uh, special woman. She doesn’t deserve to have to drag
around a past like that. She needs to find happiness and lo…well she
just needs to be secure is all.”
“Um hm, I understand Josef.”
And he did, he understood far more than his old friend did and he was
very pleased with the knowledge that Josef cared for her; she would be
safe and well-loved in Josef’s life. Heroku remembered when Josef first
met Sarah Whitley in New York. He ran into them at the Plaza one
evening and he could see that Josef was shining with the love he felt
for the young woman. While he wouldn’t admit it Josef needed and wanted
love in his life, lasting love and Sarah seemed to provide that for
him. He didn’t know what happened after that because by the time that
Josef came back to LA he mentioned Sarah no more and Heroku didn’t ask,
sure that it must have been heartbreaking for the young man.
decided to change the subject as Josef was now staring darkly off into
the night. “How are your friends Mick and Beth? She is doing well
after her turning?”
“I think she is doing quite well and she
seems very happy. Mick on the other hand is being his usual dark and
gloomy self. He is convinced that he did something wrong in the turning
or his blood is bad or something because Beth claims that she can taste
food, coffee, that kind of thing.”
Heroku perked up at that bit of information. “So can she?”
says she can. Drinks coffee every day and recently she had a chance to
taste a condiment of some kind and knew what she was tasting. I told
Mick that he should just agree with her and when eventually she realizes
that she can’t taste it will be fine.”
“So you do not believe that she has the ability to taste something other than blood?”
Beth is talented but let’s be realistic; vampires can’t taste anything
but blood. Mick believes it is her attempt to hang onto the mortal coil
that makes her believe she can taste, but frankly I don’t see that; she
loves being a vamp and she is going to make a great one. She seems to
have some precognitive skills and her perception abilities are
“She is adapting to blood then?”
prefers it from the vein, although she hasn’t had anyone’s but Mick’s.
He’s afraid to teach her how to drink fresh, but I think she is going to
win that battle.”
“Yes, whether they drink fresh often or not
she needs to be skilled in the art. I hope he will change his mind
soon. It will be best all around.”
Heroku left after that,
heading back to the penthouse that he used when in town. He was curious
about Beth St. John and her unusual abilities, very curious indeed.
walked into Kostan warily; she intended to apologize to Josef about her
behavior but she still felt a bit vulnerable about it all. She wanted
to talk with Cami first and sort of get her bearings but as luck would
have it, almost the first person she saw was Josef.
For the past
few days she had felt so ashamed of her behavior towards Josef. She
knew that he had only been trying to help her when he followed her
outside but she was so caught up in the pain that seeing her parents
brought that she just needed time to cool down. None of it was Josef’s
fault; he had no idea how she would react to seeing her parents or that
it was best to just leave her alone for a few minutes. The truth was
that she would not have gone back into the party but she would have at
least said good bye to Josef somehow.
She was just a screw up,
she knew. The only people she felt comfortable with were few she let
into her heart, Beth, Robbi, Dorothy, Heroku, a few others she guessed.
What scared her was that she began to realize that she was letting
Josef in too and she knew that would be a terrible thing to do. In the
end, her inability to have a trusting, caring relationship with a man
always made her run. Her heart wasn’t impervious to the pain either, it
wasn’t only the men that suffered, but she didn’t know how to feel safe
with someone, to feel the love that they offered. In her home, there
was no such thing as unconditional love; she learned that lesson early
on. You were only worth as much as much as you could bring to the table
and since she wasn’t ever able to do that she withdrew her heart,
tucking it away and only letting it out around those few people who
loved her no matter what.
Josef looked up from the paperwork he
was perusing and saw Lani standing near the reception desk looking
around her as if she would rather be anywhere else. She looked stunning
in Dior he thought; a chic suit in navy linen with a white and red
scarf tied fashionably around her neck. Beautiful, so very beautiful he
He walked towards her, smiling broadly and feeling
ridiculously happy to see her. When she caught his eye she looked as if
she wanted to crawl under the nearest desk.
Please, come to my office for a moment and have a cup of coffee,” he
said, heading towards a doorway at the back of the office.
the last thing she wanted to do but she figured it would be better to
apologize in private so she followed him. The doorway led down a hall
to another office where a young blonde male sat, working at a computer
and answering the phone. Josef stood patiently for a moment and waited
for him to finish the call.
“Mr. Kostan, that was Allen Burch; he asked me to tell you that the Baker deal was off by 50,000 shares.”
ground his teeth together for a moment; this was exactly why they
needed this new system. 50,000 shares translated into 3 and a half
million dollars; the hits were getting bigger and bolder and it was time
for the person or persons perpetrating the scams took some hits
“Alright, thank you for the message Thor. This is
Ms. Lanelle Parker and she will be instituting the training system for
the company. Lani, this is Thor Iverson, my assistant and you will be
coordinating training times with him. Thor please bring Ms. Parker a cup
of coffee into my office.”
“How would you like your coffee Ms. Parker?”
rather have tea if you have it. Truthfully, I’m not much of a coffee
drinker. I take about an inch of coffee and 4 inches of cream; not very
figure friendly,” she laughed.
“Yes, we do have tea, I’ll bring you a cup,” Thor said with a smile.
followed Josef into his office, completely impressed. All very modern
but comfortable as well. They took a seat on the Minotti leather sofa
and as Lani sat back she luxuriated in the butter soft leather comfort.
She crossed her legs and suddenly felt terribly self-conscious; it was
time to get it over with and just when she opened her mouth to speak
there was a knock on the door and Thor entered with a tray that bore her
tea and several pieces of biscotti. She and Josef both thanked him and
he left with a polite nod, closing the door behind him.
want to apologize about hi…about the other night, losing my temper the
way I did. I am so sorry that I – I slapped you like that. I just
wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Lani, it’s alright. I have to admit I
don’t quite understand happened but I know that seeing your parents
upset you a great deal. Please, let me make up for my mistake by taking
you to dinner on Friday night, informal, a drive up the coast to a nice
little seafood restaurant that is run by some friends of mine. It’s
lovely and quiet, I promise.”
She couldn’t believe it; she was
the one who should be making amends and yet he got her flowers and now
the invitation. She knew that she shouldn’t go, that she was giving him
hope for something that could never be but she wanted to go, very
badly. Before she could stop herself she said, “Yes, I’d enjoy that
very much. Thank you for being so gracious Josef; and also for the
lovely roses, I loved them.”
“You are very welcome. Well, now
that we got that done shall we discuss business?” he stated and she
couldn’t help but notice a twinkle in his eyes. Obviously he felt
victorious; if he only knew that she wasn’t worth it.
had just climbed out of the shower and was slipping his jeans on when
he heard a vehicle pull up outside. It wasn’t usual for that to happen
because if it were Tim and Mary they normally walked. Maybe they had a
delivery for them because Beth had been going crazy ordering DVD’s for
their home library. Good thing there was no limit on the little plastic
card he thought with a laugh.
At the knock on the door he
grabbed a Henley as he heard Beth rush to the door and throw it open.
The next thing he heard was her wild scream and he ran to the top of the
stairs and saw her grabbing someone, still screaming.
“Beth…NO!” he yelled and then vaulted from the second story landing to
the floor below and prepared to pull her off of their unwitting human
guest when he realized she was talking excitedly to him; and by him he
realized it was Carl Davis.
She wasn’t biting or attacking; she
was hugging him and babbling about how excited she was to see him. Carl
was beaming, happy to see her too and from the look he gave Mick happy
to see him too. He stuck his hand out so he could shake Mick’s hand and
then at the last moment pulled him to him for a brief hug.
so glad to see you. And Beth, you look beautiful; Seattle evidently
agrees with you.” He stood there grinning at them both and then looked
around the huge house in surprise. Seemed pretty damned big for just
the two of them he thought.
“Carl, come on in. Would you like
some coffee?” Beth asked and at his nod she said, “Come on into the
kitchen and I’ll make us a pot.”
Mick followed along and wondered
how in the hell Carl had found them; he evidently was a pretty damn
good detective he acknowledged. Another thought suddenly struck him,
Beth hadn’t attacked. Didn’t mean she wouldn’t though and it would be
impossible to get her to drink a glass of blood with Carl in the kitchen
with them. He’d have to get him out of there so Beth could have at
least one pint.
In the kitchen she went about making the coffee
as Carl stood at the windows admiring the view. He could see Seattle in
the distance and commented, “I’ll bet at night this is a fantastic view
of the city.”
“Yes, it is. It’s so peaceful here Carl, I really do love it.”
Beth, I’m going to take him on a tour of the house. I want you to drink at least one pint of blood while we’re gone. The words were spoken in vamp tones and Beth nodded her head in assent.
“Carl, while the coffee is brewing would you like a tour of the house?”
“Sure, it’s really large isn’t it?”
it was originally a hunting lodge…” the words trailed off as they left
the kitchen and Beth walked to the hidden fridge and poured a large
glass of O+ and drank it straight down as Mick had asked. It was kind
of weird she decided while she rinsed out the glass and put it into the
dishwasher, she could smell his blood, which was strange enough but she
didn’t feel like drinking it. Partly, she really wasn’t hungry but the
blood lust that Mick had worried about just didn’t manifest. She
decided that she was really happy about that because she would have
hated herself if she would have attacked him. She looked up as the men
came back into the kitchen a few minutes later and she smiled at them,
Mick in particular to let him know that she had done what he asked.
men sat at the table and Beth poured two cups of coffee and sat some
sugar on the table for Carl since he liked his coffee sweet and black.
She added a spoon for him and then sat down, raising the cup to her nose
and inhaling the stimulating aroma with a smile.
“Not a coffee
drinker Mick?” Carl asked curiously. He knew that vamps could drink
things because Cami did often, sometimes coffee and a couple of times
beer or other drinks. He’d even seen her drink a Coke at the ball park
“No, not really my thing.” He looked at Carl,
sipping his own coffee appreciatively and finally said, “How did you
find us Carl? We’re kind of tucked away here.” And on a property under the name of Sandoval!
you are and tracking you down with a different name wasn’t easy either.
But I have a friend on the Seattle force that got me a list of PI’s in
this area for the past dozen years. It seemed like this was a sure bet
so here I am. I do have a purpose for being here Mick.”
sat back in the chair, eyes narrowed as he listened to what Carl had
said. He really had to give him credit for finding them but if Carl
could, so could others and that worried him. “Okay Carl, what is your
purpose for being here?”
Carl sat the cup of coffee down and took
a deep breath. “Well, for starter’s I was really worried when you guys
left town so suddenly; forgive me but it just didn’t seem like
something you would do. You, meaning you Mick,” he said and nodded
towards Beth before continuing. “This one, yes, so impulsive it would
drive a person crazy. But not you Mick, I think you think about
everything and weigh the options. No, whatever brought you here was
unexpected and out of your control I’m betting.”
Carl took a sip
of the brew and continued, “I think you have to be careful, weigh the
options to keep your secret. You know, when Josh first told me that you
were a vampire I didn’t believe it but then I started watching. I know
that you are a vampire Mick; I know that you took Tejada out and for
that I am one grateful son of a bitch because the human justice system
wouldn’t have done it.” He finished and watched Mick and Beth both,
trying to gauge their reactions.
Mick smiled for a moment and
Beth recognized that it was his dangerous smile. Carl was right about
one thing, Mick was thinking it through and it didn’t look good for
Carl. Mick’s eyes bore into the detective and for a moment Carl saw
them silver in the afternoon sunshine that filtered through the windows.
I’m on your side. I’m dating Cami now, seriously, and I’ll do anything
to protect her and both of you as well. Beth, do you remember that
list of names that Ben had a few months back?”
“Yes, I do. What does that have to do with this?”
Fiorentino came up with a copy of it. I made another copy and took it
to Josef Kostan since you weren’t in town. Ben destroyed his copy; he
thought it was just a hoax. Maybe someone didn’t like that and got Luca
a copy? I don’t know what he will do with it but to me it seems like
someone wants those names investigated and if you are in trouble Mick
that means that Beth could be too and others. I can’t risk it. I won’t
Mick let out a long sigh while Beth sat quietly, her
eyes moving back and forth from Mick to Carl. She couldn’t tell what
Mick was thinking and that scared her. She didn’t want anything to
happen to Carl and knew that she would have to stand up for him if it
came to that. She hoped that it didn’t.
Mick was thinking what
Carl had said about Josef; could his friend really have listened to all
this and not taken Carl out right away? So if he hadn’t, he must have
believed Carl. “What did Josef tell you Carl?”
“Well, he didn’t
confirm or deny anything but he also made it quite clear that this is a
secret that cannot be revealed. I already understood that and I
promised him that I would never betray him or any of the others.”
“So did Cami tell you?” Mick couldn’t help but be curious about that.
she hasn’t said anything,” he told them with a smile. “So far it has
gone okay; we’ve avoided the food issue by her saying that she has a
food allergy. There are a lot of things I don’t understand though, like
how you can be in the sun?” He looked around at the copious amounts of
sunlight that streamed into the house.
Carl looked at Beth and
could have sworn that she mouthed, ‘tell him’ but he didn’t hear a word.
Mick nodded and then closed his eyes for a moment. Obviously he
didn’t want to do this, but then again he didn’t exactly have a choice.
can be in sunlight, in limited quantities. They longer we are in the
sun the worse we feel. The younger the vamp is, the more intense it is
and the more it hurts.”
“So how does Beth tolerate all this
sunshine?” Mick opened his mouth as if to protest and Carl stopped him
by saying, “Look, I know that something had to have happened, something
unexpected and that’s why you are here. But these windows everywhere,
it must be painful for her.” He looked at Beth with concern.
smiled and patted his hand and he looked down when he felt how chilly
it was. For a moment his heart skipped a beat at the sadness of it all.
Beth was so full of life; was she happy?
“The windows are
special made to let the sun in and keep out the harmful rays. When Beth
was first turned it was hard for her, but it’s better now.”
“Um, okay. What happened?”
looked down, and Beth’s eyes welled with tears as she watched her
husband’s perceived guilt over it all. “I was attacked at a beach
party, at Lani’s house. Mick had to turn me or I would have died.
Well, essentially I did die but as you can see I’m fine.”
Carl listened and the cop immediately surfaced in him. “What happened to the attacker? Are they still out there?”
“No, no she isn’t. Lani killed her, knocked her into the fire.” Beth spared a lot of the details, this was enough.
“Lani? Oh my god. She, it’s just that… Lani?”
She was protecting me and it all happened so fast. Kelly ran at me,
sliced my throat and Lani just pushed. She fell into the fire and well,
that was the end of her.”
“So fire kills vampires? Anything else?”
“Cutting off our heads. Fairly simple really.”
“A stake to the heart doesn’t kill vampires?”
only paralyzes us, sort of like handcuffs for vampires but real
handcuffs won’t do the job, we can break right out of them,” Beth said.
Mick still hadn’t said a word.
“Are you happy Beth?”
smiled at him, the brilliant happy smile that he always admired. “Yes,
I’m ecstatically happy. I was always going to be turned anyway, it just
happened before we planned it.” Changing the subject she said, “What
are you going to do about Cami? She is wonderful Carl, but I don’t
think she has any real experience with men.”
“You are right, she
doesn’t according to Lani. I’ll just be patient and let her tell me in
her own time. Things haven’t really gotten physical yet and I’m okay
with that because she sure is worth waiting for.”
“I’m so happy to hear you say that Carl. I think so too.”
“Is – is it different for vampires? I mean, well, you know what I mean.”
watched as a slow flush darkened his skin, taking it from mild café au
lait to milk chocolate. Beth couldn’t help but chuckle and then as she
saw his face fall she said, “No, not really different, the act I mean
Carl. Nothing has been rearranged or changed. But Carl, there is one
thing you need to know.” She saw Mick’s eyes open wide in surprise
because he knew what she was going to say. “When it comes to the
finish, she needs to bite Carl. Not like hurt you bite but she needs to
use her fangs, bite gently so she can uh, you know.”
“Fangs? She really has fangs?” He’d never seen a hint of them. “Do you?”
giggled and said, “Of course!” She closed her eyes for a moment and
then smiled so he could see the dainty pair of fangs that she was very
“Holy shit. Damn, they look sharp.” He reached out a
hand as if to touch and Mick grabbed it, keeping it away from Beth and
her baby fangs that he wasn’t sure she could control.
“Don’t Carl. She’s a fledgling and she might…well, she might hurt you. They are very sharp though, I assure you.”
“Wow, do you have to uh, I mean do you eat people?”
“We get out blood from the blood bank, in bags.”
He laughed outright. “I guess times have changed huh? No more Dracula stalking and killing the impoverished masses.”
no mistake Carl, there are still horrible vamps out there that will do
that. We have to police our own to keep that from happening.” Mick
said, wanting Carl to understand that there was justice for vamps.
“Vampire justice makes sense. I mean, I don’t think a vamp in a human jail would work well.”
are correct. So again I say, this cannot go any farther than us Carl.
What happens with Cami is between you two but you are sharp enough to
know that if word got out about the existence of vampires it would mean
Carl nodded; he most certainly did understand that. He was
also afraid that the list meant that very thing was heading their way.
Lani got home that evening she had a message on her home machine, which
was unusual. Everyone usually called her on her cell so she punched
the play button expecting to hear a sales pitch of some kind.
my dear, I do hope this is the Lani Parker who sent me the lovely
flowers. I called information and this was the number they gave me for a
Lanelle Parker. If I have the wrong number please excuse this message.
I just wanted to thank you for the lovely flowers and to invite you to
come back for tea again. Just give me a call and let me know if you
would like to do that.
She left her number and Lani
smiled, pleased to hear from Mrs. Carter. She decided that she would
love to go to tea with her and dialed the number.
To be continued…