Thursday, February 9, 2012
Mick and Beth stood on the porch watching as Carl drove away from their home. It was a surprise to Mick but he enjoyed the visit as much as Beth did, something he couldn’t have imagined before.
Mick liked Carl; he always had. In Mick’s estimation Carl was a really decent guy with plenty of integrity and he knew that the family could only benefit by having Carl in a position to help out when needed. The fact that Carl was crazy about Cami wasn’t a bad thing either but Mick knew that it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing for the two of them.
Beth talked to Carl seriously about the aspects of being a human who cared for a vampire, sparing nothing. At first it made Mick uncomfortable and feel a bit edgy but as he listened he was amazed at how much thought and care Beth had put into her relationship with Mick, even before there was a ‘relationship’. A sobering thought occurred to him that he hadn’t done either one of them any favors by hiding things from her and trying to spare her feelings. It was a miracle that they actually got together, thanks mostly to his own reticence about sharing ‘vampire’ things with her. What she didn’t know was scary and what she figured out on her own, or got from Cami or Josef or Elka made him ashamed that she had had to go to other people instead of being able to come to him, the man she loved. Beth was an amazing woman, strong and capable and he owed it to her to help her willingly into this new life that she wanted, that she chose.
He realized that even now he was holding her back, telling himself and her that it was for her own good but it had to stop. She was happy in this life; what she surrendered for him overwhelmed him. She embraced it all with passion and intensity as she tried to explore this new life and all he did was try to hold her back. No more.
They stepped inside the house and Beth headed into the kitchen, pulling out blood for them both. She had controlled herself completely around Carl and Mick suddenly realized that she was hungry and it must have been difficult for her. And yet she did it.
As they sat sipping their dinner she commented, “I really needed this but I had such a wonderful afternoon Mick.”
He reached across the table and squeezed her hand. “I can see that Beth; I enjoyed it too actually. And it made me realize that I’ve been holding you back, unnecessarily it seems. I’m so sorry for that baby; I promise to stop doing that. Tomorrow is the monthly street bazaar in Pratt’s Junction; the weather says it’s going to be a cloudy day, maybe even a bit of rain, but that won’t stop it from happening.”
Beth could only smile at that; clouds for a vampire was awesome but for the ‘Sounders’ as they locals called themselves rain was just an all too ordinary occurrence and didn’t slow them down a bit.
“How about we go tomorrow? It’s a lot of fun and tomorrow evening is a street dance. Interested?” He grinned at the surprise on her face and watched as she flew into his arms and gave him huge, smacking kisses all over his face. “That’s a yes then?” he teased.
“Oh yeah, that’s definitely a yes. Now, how about a little reward for your forward thinking Mr. St. John?” Her kisses became a bit more passionate as they moved down his neck and her fingers stroked the bulge that was already tightening his jeans.
“Um, yes…” he told her, picking her up to head upstairs.
Carl settled back into his seat on the red-eye flight back to LA. No doubt about it, it had been good visiting Beth and Mick and he was far less concerned now than he had been with her situation.
She talked to him frankly, about the difficulties of being with a vampire; there were things he never even suspected, not the least of which was the fact that had she not been in control of herself she could have killed him when he knocked on their door. If Mick’s panicked reaction was anything to go by it was a really serious risk. It was foolhardy he now understood.
Vampires sleep in freezers, not coffins and boy did he have questions about that one. They had super attributes that included enhanced hearing and vision, phenomenal strength and speed, it was all just mind-boggling. And they also explained that each vampire could have some variations on all that; one that Beth seemed to have was a bit of precognition, which Mick, her sire didn’t have much of at all.
He couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a vampire Cami was? Did she have special attributes? If Beth and Lani were correct she had no sexual experience as a vampire and little even as a human. The bite? She would have to bite to climax Beth said, something that sort of made sense but was very shocking for him. Beth said it wasn’t a vicious bite; it was a bite of love, of connection between the vampire and their lover. Of love? Was there such a thing as a bite of love?
He knew that he and Cami were going to have to talk soon, very soon in fact. Even if she still wasn’t ready to go to the physical level (and it was alright with him if she wasn’t) her vampirism needed to be brought out in the open between them. It didn’t matter to him; she was an amazing woman, beautiful and yet so shy and it made him ache to protect her. He had to smile at that because it sure looked like that table was over-turned – she’d be the one protecting him.
So how do you tell your girlfriend that you know she is a vampire? He knew he’d be finding out very soon.
Tango followed Lani into the kitchen, watching her move unsteadily on the way and hoping that she didn’t take a tumble. She was barefoot which probably meant that the shoes they found on the beach were hers he decided. In the kitchen he found Josef leaning against a counter top sipping from a glass of scotch.
“Took you long enough to get here!”
“Well, we did have a few things to take care of first Josef.”
“Mm, what did you do with the bodies and the car?”
“Ah, it’s tragic you see. The car will go over a very high cliff; the gas tank will rupture and the fools were smoking when it happened. Blew it totally up, nothing left at all. Especially bodies. Very sad…”
“Stupid young punks, I told them to get the hell out of there.”
“Yes, well I assume that they did not listen to your sage advice at all.” As he spoke Tango was looking at Josef’s shirt, a silk Prada number that was nothing but rags now due to the two perfect holes in the front of it, both decorated with a ring of blood. He sat a small black bag down on the counter and told Josef to take his shirt off.
Josef rolled his eyes and started to unbutton the shirt. When he got it off he balled it up and tossed it across the room where it fluttered down into a silky pool onto the floor.
“Honestly Josef, are you going to be tiresome about this? I didn’t shoot you and you can drop the attitude immediately or I’ll leave you to it.”
Josef wisely shut his mouth and lay down on the counter top with Lani hovering over him, concern written starkly upon her face. As he probed at the two bloody spots on Josef’s stomach he frowned. “This one I can feel, but the other isn’t going to be easy. It’s in a denser area and could be hiding around the gall bladder possibly. Lani, will you see if there are any kitchen towels in here and if you find them could you possibly dampen a couple for me. There won’t be much blood, but we’ll need something to wipe it up.”
“Of course,” she told him, wobbling across the short distance to the bank of kitchen drawers. She finally found what she was looking for and pulled two towels out and ran them under warm water, wringing them out before taking them back to the counter top. “Here Tango; do you think two are enough?”
“Yes, that will be very helpful.” He opened the black bag that looked an awful lot like a shaving kit to Lani and pulled out a wickedly sharp looked scalpel, holding it up to the light to check its edge.
“Do you need some alcohol or something to sterilize it or iodine or something for the wound?”
“Won’t be necessary. Lani, my sweet are you at all squeamish about blood?”
“No-oo. I don’t think so,” she told him, watching as Tango set the instrument against Josef’s belly.
“Alright then, let’s get started.” He placed a small incision diagonally across Josef’s stomach and pulled it apart with his fingers before slicing another layer.
“Son of a bitch! What the hell are you doing down there?” Josef asked while trying to lift his head so that he could see what Tango was doing.
Tango reached over and pushed on Josef’s forehead making a small thump when it hit the granite counter top. “Lay still Josef,” Tango told him never taking his eyes off of the incision. He reached into the bag and felt around for something that he couldn’t find. “Lani, will you please look in the bag and find a small pair of forceps that I have in there?”
Lani reached across Josef and grabbed the bag. She pulled it open and looked for something that resembled forceps and finally found a small pair that looked more like an alligator clip than forceps except that it was on longer handles. “Is this what you need Tango, this thing with the teeth?”
“Yes, it is,” he said as he held his hand out for the instrument.
Josef was laying on the counter sweating profusely, his gut tightening from the strain of trying to lie still while Tango’s fingers probed the incision. He let out a huge yelp when Tango made contact with the bullet which shifted beneath his fingers. “What the fuck are you doing in there?”
“Josef, you would do well to remember that I currently have my fingers in your gut; don’t piss me off. Now shut up and lie still and stop being such a baby. This isn’t the first time you’ve had a bullet removed from you after all!”
Lani’s stomach was twisting wickedly; not from the blood but from watching Josef in so much pain. Vampires might heal quickly, but things still were painful for them. Her eyes glittered with unshed tears of sympathy as she watched and she impetuously reached for his hand and entwined her fingers with his in a show of support.
“Now Lani my sweet you shall she what the teeth are for; it’s very slippery in there and the teeth grip!” He inserted the head into the bloody hole in Josef’s belly as well as a finger to guide it, twisting a bit until he found the hold he needed.
Josef groaned in misery and Lani watched his stomach tensing with pain. When Tango finally had the slug out of his gut he rolled over into the fetal position and moaned loudly.
“Josef, I need to wipe away the blood. For heaven’s sake, stop this nonsense.”
The look that Josef tossed his friend was anything but friendly. Tango only smiled at him and shook his head. “I can forget the other one if you like but you know as well as I do that if you had to take a commercial flight somewhere or go into a court house or anywhere with scanning equipment it will find that slug.”
Josef rolled over and let Tango wipe away the blood from that incision and Lani looked at it in amazement because it was already healed. “Wow,” she said.
“Yes, amazing isn’t it? But sadly, the next one won’t be that easy because we don’t know where that little sucker is and I may get lucky, or I might have to dig even more. Sorry old chap. Why don’t you set up and take another drink?”
Easy? That was easy Lani wondered. My god, Tango had his fingers in Josef’s belly and he thought it was easy?
Josef sat up shakily and watched as Lani refilled his glass. He couldn’t help but notice how unsteady her steps were as she walked back across the floor from the cabinet. It was only a few steps but she was definitely wavering on her feet. “Lani, why don’t you sit down on the stool here, okay?”
Lani felt as if she was in a trance; she’d had way too much to drink and this whole evening had taken on a dream-like feel. It was killing her to watch someone go through this kind of thing; cutting into the body without benefit of anesthesia was a grueling experience and so much more horrible for Josef. She couldn’t even imagine going through that herself and Tango said the second one would be worse.
“Josef, I want you to – to drink some of my blood, so that the alcohol in my system helps to alleviate some of the pain you will experience.” There, she’d said it, that thought that had been bouncing around in her head for the past few minutes.
“What? NO!” Josef exclaimed at her request. “No, just no Lani.” He jumped off the counter and walked to the windows, looking out at the beach.
Tango wasn’t really surprised by her suggestion. Humans have frail sensibilities and she was clearly very upset over Josef’s pain. It hurt, no one could say that it didn’t but it did end quickly and what he had told Josef was true – in this day of scanners and such you had a hard time explaining why there is a bullet lodged in your gut.
Lani stood biting her lower lip, not sure whether or not to approach Josef to try to convince him. He was standing at the window, one hand resting on the glass and was lost in thought. She could see that he was breathing heavily as if he were trying to control his emotions.
Tango nodded towards Josef and smiled at her, trying to help her indecision. He didn’t know what the right thing to do was but they needed to at least talk about it. He headed into the living room to give them some privacy; not that he couldn’t hear what they said, but it was the illusion that mattered.
She walked across the room and stood next to him, watching the panorama outside the window for a few minutes. The waves out in the ocean were rolling to shore in the moonlight and it was beautiful to watch. You couldn’t really see the beach from this vantage point because the house sat on a bit of a cliff. She could hear the sounds of the water rushing to shore though and it was almost hypnotic.
“I’m sorry if I over-stepped or insulted you Josef. That wasn’t my intention.”
Josef turned to look at her and she could see that he wasn’t angry but she couldn’t tell what emotion he was feeling for sure. There was a kindness in his sherry brown eyes and maybe a bit of surprise as well.
As she looked at him, trying to read his face he hoped that she couldn’t tell how much he cared for her, how much he wanted to do just what she suggested and not because he wanted to feel the effects of the alcohol. He closed his eyes tightly for a moment as if to mask his feelings from her.
When he opened his eyes he saw the question in hers as she wondered what he was thinking. How did he explain it to her? Without giving himself away that is. Perhaps it was better to let her think it angered him but he knew that he couldn’t do that to her.
“Lani, I’m not angry or insulted at all. You offered me the gift of your blood and to a vampire that pretty much beats everything or anything else. But, I really am a baby about pain, like Tango said and it will be okay. I’ll be okay.”
It was her turn to reach out to hold his face in her hands. She searched it with care, looking into his eyes for the truth. Tonight had been an incredible night for them, both of themselves laying their souls bare in a way. He might be a baby about pain but he feared it as well, and probably the fact that pain can lead to death. After her experience in Tokyo she should be terrified of what she proposed and yet somehow she wasn’t.
She wondered what it was like to live for 400 years or even more, like Heroku. Do the years weigh more heavily as they passed and leave you wondering where the end will happen, when it will happen? Did you grow more cautious with the centuries or throw caution to the wind? She decided that in Josef’s case the answer was clear. He feared death, the end of his time on this earth.
“Please let me do this for you Josef. It will help.”
“I – can’t Lani, I can’t.”
“Will you tell me why? Is it because of my inexperience?”
He smiled a sad smile that deepened the color of his eyes. “No.” He let out a huge sigh and thought for a moment, trying to figure out what to say, how to say it. “Lani, to share blood with a vampire is never casual; it usually is about one of two things. Either the arrangement is about business or money or it’s about…love.”
How many years had it been since he had taken someone’s blood in recognition and acknowledgement of love? He knew exactly how long it had been, 53 years. Is that what he was experiencing now? Did he love her?
Every woman who had ever meant anything to him had been human. He’d cared about others, like Simone but he had never loved her and she was still in the end of things first and foremost a freshie. Why did he let this happen, knowing that relationships between humans and vampires were difficult, dangerous and complicated and yet he still seemed to be drawn to their humanity? Can it ever work, really work? If Mick and Beth were any example it could, but in the end she was turned. Would Lani ever want that? Would he be able to do it even if she did?
“I – I understand the complication of it Josef but please let me do this for you. You were protecting me earlier so let me help you now.”
“Let’s not forget the Ferrari,” he teased, trying to ease the tension. He could have replaced the Ferrari, but he couldn’t replace Lani.
Her eyes sparked for a moment and he wondered it if was recognition of his feeble attempt at the joke or if it were anger. “Look, you can do this the easy way or so help me I will get a knife from that butcher block over there and slice my wrist open and see if you can resist it then!” she told him with a small stamp of her foot on the wooden floor.
He was stunned, damn but she was surprising. And she had obviously been told the desert story by Beth because that is what Beth threatened when Mick refused her blood.
At his inaction she turned and prepared to stomp into the kitchen but he caught her arm and pulled her gently to him and held her tightly for a moment. “Okay, okay, I’ll do it.” He kissed the top of her head and felt her sob against his chest. “You sure you’re okay with this?”
She snuffled once and then raised her head. “Yes, I am. You won’t hurt me will you?”
“No sweetness, I won’t. There will be a sting at first when I bite, but it will go away quickly and you’ll feel pleasure, I promise you. Shall we sit on the couch so you can be comfortable?” he said nodding to the sofa that faced the windows.
At her nod he sat down and pulled her into his lap. She wrapped her left arm around his neck and leaned against him. He picked up her right arm and stared at the veins that stood out starkly against her pale skin. “You’re positive?” He knew that this was the most important bite he had ever made and he wanted it to go well.
“Yes,” she said and sighed, relaxing in his arms.
She felt him sniff along the inside of her arm and it sent a tingle up her spine. His breath felt cool against her flushed skin and when his tongue gently stroked against the delicate skin she jumped, not expecting that. Of course, she didn’t know exactly what she did expect other than the fact that Beth said it was an incredible experience.
When he finally found the spot he wanted he bit down gently and just barely pierced her skin. She drew in a sharp breath and he let her breathe for a moment as the first warm flow of blood hit his tongue.
She shivered as a cool feeling swept over her and then the heat started. His tongue gently swept back and forth over the vein as if coaxing the blood out and she heard him swallow and something that might have been a purr emanated from him. A tight knot began to form in the pit of her stomach and her pelvic muscles clenched tautly in response and then began a rhythmic beat as heat infused her body. She felt a flood of moisture dampen her panties and realized she was breathing more rapidly.
How could this be happening? How could something that is so non-sexual be so sensual? She focused on the pull of his mouth, the caressing movement of his tongue as her muscles clenched and throbbed and finally exploded, sending her over the edge as her body climaxed.
Josef felt her surrender to the passion and when she came it sent a thrill through his body, the body that was now warm and tingling with her blood, with Lani’s blood. Her heartbeat dipped and he knew it was time to stop but the beauty of the moment was so perfect he hesitated for a moment. Connection, he hadn’t felt this for so long, too long. He tasted her love in her blood; she loved him but could either one of them live with a relationship between them?
He looked up and saw Tango standing in front of him and reluctantly pulled back, licking the small puncture marks to seal them closed before kissing them just to make sure. “She’s fainted,” he said and Tango nodded.
What had just happened was one of the most intimate things he had ever heard; these two loved one another dearly and he was going to make sure that Josef didn’t screw it up. The scent of her blood richly perfumed the air and with that was the fragrance of her love for him. Josef knew her secret now, but did he understand what he knew?
But for now, they needed to get her into a bed so she could rest. “Where is a bedroom? She can rest in there?” he asked while holding out his arms to take the precious bundle from Josef.
Josef adamantly shook his head no and Tango stepped back, acknowledging Josef’s dominion over the beautiful woman in his arms. “There, that door leads to the basement where two more bedrooms are located; a bit more private.”
Tango moved ahead and opened the door, finding a light switch next to it. The light that came on glared brightly and Tango hurriedly turned it off; he and Josef didn’t need it anyway.
“There, that door on the left Tango,” Josef told him. When the door was open Josef stepped in and carried Lani to a large bed and reached down with one hand to pull the covers back. He laid her down, debating for a moment whether to remove her clothes or not and decided not to because he didn’t want her to feel exposed in the morning. He drew the covers up over her because the room was very cool and walked away, stopping to turn the light on in the bathroom so there would be some light in the room if she needed it.
He had to admit that he was glad of the alcohol he had ingested in her blood when Tango started probing for the second bullet. He finally got it and then it was done and he watched as Tango packed up the instruments in preparation for leaving.
Neither man knew what to say about what had happened tonight. What Lani did was an amazingly unselfish act and it changed Josef’s world forever he admitted. She loved him and if he were completely honest he would have to admit that he loved her too.
Her experience with vamps hadn’t been good and yet she trusted him tonight because she hurt to see him hurting. Could this be a beginning for them?
Tango reached into the pocket of his jacket and handed Josef two packs of blood. “I know you detest the bagged stuff but you need these so drink,” he told his friend. “Are you heading back to LA tonight or in the morning?”
“The morning, definitely. I want Lani to be able to rest. I think I’ll call Franklin and have some food delivered for her because she’s going to need to eat sooner or later.” He walked Tango to the front door and the two men stood looking at one another for a moment, both of them at a loss for words.
They both spoke at once and Josef nodded at his friend, waiting for him to speak. “Josef, that girl is special – don’t screw this up.”
“I’m going to try hard not to Tango.” He looked down at his feet for a moment and added, “Thank you for the help this evening.”
“You’re welcome. Talk to you soon.”
Josef watched as Tango pulled away from the beach house and he shut the door and set the alarm. He wondered whether or not Lani would like to spend the weekend here? Just relaxing away from the city and it would be a chance for them to get to know one another a bit better. Just get to know each other Josef, nothing else yet…
Just in case he called Franklin and told him what they would need for the weekend and it occurred to him that Lani would need some clothes and toiletries. “Franklin, is Belinda available?”
When Belinda came to the phone Josef explained what was needed. Belinda was sort of a ‘senior’ freshie; she would be graduating soon and start her internship at UCLA Med Center as a doctor specializing in Internal Medicine. She was also crazy about Ryan, Josef’s head of security.
“I’ll get her some clothes for a couple of days, casual stuff and head over to the drug store and grab shampoo and all that kind of stuff.”
“Sounds good. Have Ryan bring it all out as soon as you get it all. It’s a lovely night, you might enjoy coming along for the ride,” he said with a smile.
“I think I just might do that. See you in an hour or so!”
Josef crawled into the freezer around 1 am. He was tired but still restless. At least he had food here for Lani and clothes and other things she might need in order to be comfortable here. Belinda had been thorough in getting all the things that she thought a woman might need for a weekend visit; some things Josef didn’t even have a clue as to what they were. He looked at a jar that said, ‘Exfoliating Hydro Mask’. What the hell was it? It had a picture of an avocado and some other fruit on the picture; did you eat it he wondered? It was all a mystery to him.
He finally managed to sleep when he heard her screaming around 3 am. He rushed into her room to find her sitting up in bed, shaking and crying.
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tight while running his fingers through her hair. “Shh Lani, I’m here. I’m here and you’re okay.”
“The beach, I was dreaming about the beach except that you weren’t alright,” she told him trembling, partially from the dream and partially because his skin was icy.
“No, I’m fine sweetness, I really am.” He laid her back down in the bed and pulled the covers up over her. “Try to go back to sleep, okay?”
“Josef, please don’t leave me. Will you stay with me?”
Even though the room was mostly dark with the dim light from the bathroom being the only illumination in the room but Josef was still aware that he was naked. He started to tell her he was going to get some clothes on and she asked him to stay again.
He lay down on the bed on top of the covers and she snuggled close to him, wrapping her arm around his waist. He held her close and soon heard the gentle sighs that told him she was sleeping soundly again. He stroked her hair, loving the silken feel of the tresses and finally could resist temptation no longer.
His lips found their way to hers and he lightly kissed her, just a gentle brush of his lips against hers. She sighed again.
He told himself that it was because of the kiss.
To be continued…
Posted by Hope at 10:20 AM