Lani came up the stairs wearing a pair of white shorts and a turquoise tank top. She was wearing a slightly unsure smile on her face as she looked around and spotted Josef sitting at the bar counter.
“Well, it seems you’re feeling better,” Josef stated. She was a bit pale but otherwise she looked okay.
walked into the kitchen and sat down on a bar stool across from Josef.
“Yes, much better thank you. That’s so unlike me but, um, well at
least I’m feeling better now.”
Josef watched a slow flush spread
over her face as she spoke, driven no doubt by thoughts of what had
transpired last night. Was it the scotch or afterwards? Josef was
curious but said nothing of course, a gentleman wouldn’t and he could be
a gentleman at times. “If you’re hungry the fridge has food in it so
“Ooh, I am actually.” She slid off the stool and
headed over to the large stainless steel appliance and opened it up,
staring at the contents. She laughed as she pulled juice out of it and
sat it on the counter and then spotted some bagels. Inside the fridge
she saw a jar of peanut butter and grabbed it with a grin. “For me?”
she asked, surprised that he had remembered. He nodded and she
continued, “I’m sort of surprised actually – after earlier this morning I
never thought I’d be hungry again!”
She carried her breakfast
items to the counter and then went in search of a plate and a glass for
the juice. Josef watched her move easily around the kitchen and admired
her graceful movements as she stood on tip toes hunting for what she
needed. He could have told her that the glasses were in the cabinet
next to the sink but he was enjoying the view of long and limber legs
and a firm if curvaceous bottom as they stretched to full length as she
searched. He sat back with a grin and had to quickly wipe it off of his
face as she turned around and walked back to the counter with her
She opened the bottle of pineapple and orange juice,
peeling the seal away and pouring a glass full and taking a long drink.
She sliced the bagel in half and spread peanut butter over it
liberally, licking a bit of peanut butter off of her finger when she
smeared her finger instead of the bagel.
“There are a couple of banana’s over on that counter for you too,” he told her.
looked over at the counter where he indicated and spotted a bowl of
fruit – banana’s, an apple, some grapes too. She grabbed a banana and
with a cheeky grin peeled it and sliced half of it onto the peanut
butter bagel. “Mm, this hits the spot,” she told him as she licked a
small dab of the gooey brown treat away from the corner of her mouth
with her tongue. “Thanks for remembering.”
He shrugged with a
smile as she continued to eat her breakfast. It smelled interesting and
there were rare times when he wished he knew what something tasted like
and this was definitely one of them. Peanut butter was not visually
appealing but did smell good he had to admit. “Oh, I went to the car and
got your purse; you left it in there last night and I thought you might
like to have it.”
“Yes, thank you. My phone is in there,
although it probably won’t matter because the battery will most likely
need to be charged soon and my charger isn’t with me. I wonder if Beth
tried to call, I haven’t heard from her for a couple of days actually.
“No, not since I talked to Mick a few days ago. He is
worried about Beth though, I know that much. She thinks she can taste
food and it seems she is able to use her allure very well; had him
jumping through hoops for her and neither one of them realized it.
Still, I think it’s about time for her to be coming home soon. Mick may
need a nudge to let her train to drink fresh though.”
heart soared at the thought of Beth coming home soon, there was so much
that she wanted to talk to her friend about and so much she needed to
learn about her new life. Beth really was a vampire now; would she do
to people what Josef had done to her last night. The memory almost
choked her for a moment as a deep blush swept up her neck and face. She
had never for a moment imagined it would feel like that; she wondered
if it always did. The thought of her friend biting someone and making
them feel like that was confusing for Lani. It was so personal,
private; how could Mick let her do that to someone? She wanted to ask
Josef that, but she couldn’t bring herself to voice the question.
watched as Lani lightly chewed her lower lip and scented her
embarrassment and confusion. No doubt it was about last night but he
didn’t know what to say about it; he wanted it to be something special
between them and she probably thought he had just taken advantage of her
inebriated state. In her mind vampires were predators and how could he
tell her that last night had meant something special to him when the
fact was that vampires were predators? He was a predator because if it
came to being the hunter or the hunted he was going to win the game. He
decided to change the subject, sort of anyway.
“Carl came to see me the other day. He knows about vampires Lani.”
“What? How? I’ve never told anyone Josef, I swear it,” she told him in a panic, concerned that he thought she had told Carl.
“No, no, I know that you didn’t. He figured it out, well with a bit of help from Josh Lindsay anyway.”
“Josh? I’m confused.”
had written in her diary that Mick was a vampire and Josh read it and
told Carl. Carl apparently didn’t believe it at the time but as he
watched Mick over the next few months he began to figure it out.”
was livid over Josh’s betrayal of Beth’s privacy. How could the
bastard do that? Reading someone’s diary was so personal and that
really said a lot about the kind of person he was. A sudden thought
occurred to her, “Oh god, does Carl know about Cami?”
“Yes, he does although he hasn’t shared that with her. He seems to care about her a great deal.”
nodded and said, “I think he does. Carl is a pretty faithful and loyal
kind of guy Josef. It might not hurt to have a cop on your side.”
are absolutely right. I hope that it will all work out okay.” She was
quiet for a moment and then said, “I just can’t believe Josh would read
her diary. It’s so private. She loved him, trusted him.” It was so
hard to trust people but when your trust is betrayed by the people you
love it makes it harder to trust again. She didn’t give many people her
trust, not on a personal level; she’d learned long ago that it usually
caused pain. Very few people had shown her that they deserved her trust
and she knew that she would do anything to protect them.
she said, looking around, “You said you have a pool? Mind if I use it
today? Your friend was kind enough to include some sunscreen with the
“Yes, I do, it’s just around the corner there and
it’s fine. I hope you’ll enjoy it. There is a whole patio room
attached to it so I can sit in the shade and read or something while you
“You don’t have to babysit me Josef, I won’t drown I
promise. Actually I might not even swim. I’m going to lie in the sun
for a while and just relax.” She carried her dishes to the sink and
rinsed them off and looked in the dishwasher. There were two glasses in
it already and she said, “Do you have someone who comes in and runs
this?” She was positive that he didn’t do it.
“Yes, I have a housekeeper who comes in 3 times a week and she’ll take care of it so just put your dishes in there.”
After she put the peanut butter, bagels and juice away she said, “I think I’ll go and change now.”
I want to show you something.” He walked to the basement door and
stepped through with her and turned the light on and then held the door
open as they stood on the landing. “This is a safety door Lani; it is
made of titanium with heavy dead bolt locks on it.” He pointed to the
thickness of the door and the thick dead bolts that sprung out on the
side when he pushed the button. “This part of the house is a safe room,
totally self-contained with its own water system, phone, ventilation
and electrical system, all hidden. When the door is closed, nothing,
except maybe a direct cannon blast is going to get through it.” He
closed the door and pushed a button on the key pad next to the door and
she heard the heavy locks click into place.
“Oh my gosh, that’s incredible. And there is a camera too, just like Mick’s.”
and you can change it to look at different camera’s around the
property, or by pressing this button you can see all six views at once.
If anything were to ever happen to me Lani, get down here and close
this door, do you understand?”
“I – well, I don’t understand why that would happen but okay.”
punched in a series of numbers and said, “Can you remember those? It’s
the way to unlock the door.” She nodded and he continued, “Good.
Don’t forget them. I’ll show you were to access the other things you
He took her into a room off of the den that was like
a command center you would see in a movie complete with a huge computer
set up, video screens, and phone. In the den itself there were
cabinets with water and other supplies but she noted that there was
little food and what there was was the freeze dried variety like the
military used. She laughed at that but hopefully she wouldn’t ever have
to see what it tasted like. She picked up a package that said, ‘Freeze
Dried Ice Cream, chocolate flavor’ and laughed. “Dried ice cream,
really?” She couldn’t stop the wry laugh that escaped.
took the package and tore it open and dropped some of the small pieces
into her hand. She popped them into her mouth and chewed them slowly.
They weren’t anything like ice cream of course, but they actually
weren’t half bad. “Wow, color me surprised!”
He only grinned at
her surprise and handed her the packet so she could finish it. She
looked around the room at the comfortable seating and a very large home
theater system that covered almost one whole wall. Along with that were
at least a thousand movies and she walked along them, reading the
titles as she munched the freeze dried ice cream. She came to a whole
section of Colin Firth movies and quirked an eye brow upwards
“He’s a good actor, I like his movies,” Josef defended.
“So you’re a Pride and Prejudice kind of guy, huh?” she teased.
“Hey, I lived during those times; it’s refreshing to see them portrayed so historically accurately. And Colin is a nice guy!”
“You KNOW Colin Firth?” Her eyes were round with surprise and envy. “Oh god, he’s not a…a…”
“Vampire? Can’t tell can you?”
“Don’t you dare tease me about this Josef!” she told him.
“Okay, he’s not. But I don’t hold it against him.”
Lani rolled her eyes and scoffed at his remark. “I’m going to change now if we are done with Survival Training 101 that is?”
“Sure, go ahead.” He watched her head into her bedroom with a chuckle. He loved teasing her.”
they had driven home from town the night before Mick had watched Beth
carefully but she showed no signs at all of being sick to her stomach.
She had enjoyed the ride home, windows down and again constantly
scenting the air.
Mick had been prepared to deal with disastrous
effects of that taco but there were none. This morning the remains had
passed in the usual human way and Mick didn’t know what to think about
that or what on earth was going on.
Beth apparently had some
super abilities as a vampire; the allure, precognition, her perceptive
abilities alone were twice as strong as his were but all of that he
could understand. Being able to taste food, to ingest it was definitely
beyond his ability to understand.
He needed to talk to Josef
and reached for his phone. Beth was on the tread climber machine with
headphones on watching Dr. Phil again and so he decided that now was the
time. He waited impatiently for Josef to answer.
“Josef, I have to talk to you about Beth!”
has your fledgling done now Mick?” he said in his best long-suffering
tone. He was sitting in a chaise lounge watching Lani lay in the sun;
she was face down on the chair, her top untied. Josef suffered a good
deal of angst watching, wanting to see what was hidden from his eyes.
He forced himself to look away so that he could concentrate on what Mick
“Last night she ate a taco and didn’t throw it up, that’s what she’s done!”
else that Beth had managed to do as a fledgling had mildly surprised
him but this one floored him. It wasn’t possible, it just wasn’t
possible – not if she were a vampire and he knew that she was. So where
did that leave all this?
“Mick, I think you need to get her back
here as soon as possible. Have you taught her to feed fresh yet? She
needs to do that so that we can make sure she really is ready. And by
the way, exactly where did she get that taco?”
Mick ran his
fingers through the disheveled locks on his head, only managing to make
them more tangled. “We went to a street fair last night, a town bazaar.
She did great around all the humans Josef, no problem at all but she
kept smelling the tacos and wanted one and I thought, well, when she
eats it she’ll get sick and she won’t do that again.”
didn’t work out that way did it,” Josef asked, opening one eye to peek
at Lani as she turned over, clutching the bikini top to her chest with
one hand. A soft bit of untanned skin could be seen before the top
settled back into place and Josef sat up a bit straighter as he watched.
God, he could even see beads of sweat on her skin, circling her navel
and leaving a small trail as his eyes swept lower, to the lush expanse
of tanned skin above the bottom of her bikini. He wasn’t sure what he
appreciated more, the gentle swell of her bottom as she lay on her
stomach or the taut skin of her stomach.
“Josef...” Mick repeated.
“What? I’m sorry. What did you say?”
“I said do you really think it’s necessary for her to learn to feed fresh?”
Mick, she needs that skill. I know she feeds from you just fine but if
she ever had to feed fresh you don’t want her ripping someone apart
because she doesn’t know how.”
Mick nodded, agreeing even though
he hated the thought of his Beth feeding from someone else. He and Tim
had talked about it and Tim had given him the names of a couple of
people who were good when working with new vampires. “I have the names
of a couple who specialize in new turns, I’ll give them a call,” he
finally told Josef.
“Yes, you do that. Why don’t I plan on
coming up in two days? Will that give you enough time?” He knew it was
better to give Mick a definite deadline so that he’d move forward.
“I’ll bring Lani with me if she wants to come and I suspect she will.
We were just talking about you two at breakfast this morning.”
What the hell is going on down there Josef?” Beth wasn’t going to be
happy about this. “Lani is petrified of vampires; you know that Josef.
Do not hurt her!” Mick said letting a bit of a growl creep into his
Josef’s eyebrows raised a notch as he heard the growl and
he smiled; still, he had to take a disapproving approach with Mick as
the elder vampire. “She is fine; it is our business so keep the growls
to yourself!” He couldn’t resist teasing Mick a bit, knowing where his
imagination would take him.
Mick didn’t back down; he felt honor bound to stand up for Lani. “I meant what I said Josef,” he told him, dead serious.
watched as Lani came gracefully to her feet, reaching behind her to tie
the skimpy top and then she waded into the pool. Her lithe limbs
propelled her through the still water causing small ripples on the
surface. Maybe a swim wouldn’t be bad he decided. This end of the pool
was in shadow now. He finally remembered that Mick was on the other
end of the phone. “Yes, I know. I gotta go boyo.”
the line go silent and realized Josef had hung up. What the hell was
going on there anyway? It was definitely time to go home. He decided
to keep this last bit of information to himself because if Beth found
out she would certainly stake Josef. Of course, he’d help his friend by
being sure to get that stake out, eventually anyway. Maybe…
did join Lani in the pool and they swam and chatted for awhile, both of
them enjoying the quiet evening. At seven they went in to find
something to eat; well, it wasn’t a hard decision for Josef but Lani
struggled between chicken salad and some lasagna. The chicken salad won
out and she sat it and a croissant on the glassed-topped patio table
along with the bowl of fruit and a diet coke.
“Um, a feast,” she
declared as she sliced the croissant in half and piled on the chicken
salad which had walnuts, cranberries and celery in it. “This is
wonderful,” she told him after her first bite. She wiped her lips with a
napkin and Josef watched, wistfully wishing that it was her tongue.
had to change the subject quickly or he was going to be in trouble.
“How would you like to go with me to Seattle on Monday to pick up Mick
She laid her sandwich down and let out a squeal of
happiness! “Yes! Oh, but we have to work on the set up Monday,” she
said as she remembered that they were just beginning the training phase.
She needed to get security set up for people in the system.
“Hey, I’m the boss and I’m declaring that we’re not working Monday, okay?”
if you put it that way,” she said with a grin. She sighed as she
looked out at the Pacific; it was so calm today it definitely lived up
to its name. Hardly any foam on the waves could be seen which was
unusual; it wasn’t exactly mirror smooth but close to it.
eyes were drawn to the two barely visible marks on her arm; they were
healing quickly which was good. He had been surprised last night when
he tasted her blood; she was AO-, just like Beth. It was such a rare
blood type, they fact that she and Beth had grown up together and shared
the same rare blood type was surprising – very surprising in fact.
and Josef talked about the plans for the training process a bit and
about Audrey, who would be leading the security team. Lani was excited
to work with her because that girl definitely knew her way around the
operating set up and system administration. Things were going to go
An hour later Lani stood up, watching as the sun was
beginning to make its final descent in to the ocean and said, “I guess
I’m going to go and shower. Shall we watch a movie? I’ll even let you
pick it, as long as it’s a Colin Firth flick,” she laughed.
a movie sounds good. But I want to show you something first. He stood
up and held his hand out to her. He watched indecision flicker briefly
over her face before she reached for his hand and stood up to follow
He led her on a short path to the edge of the cliff that the
house was perched on. She looked down and saw the waves crashing
against the rocks about 20 feet below. There was sort of a natural
little cove below them with the arms of the rocks almost keeping it
“Sometimes when I come here I like to jump down into the
water; it’s very exhilarating actually,” he told her as he watched her
eyebrows rise in uncertainty.
“My goodness, that’s quite a leap – maybe not for a vampire though.”
“It’s actually only about 19 feet and the water is plenty deep. The idea is to time it right and its fine.”
“Hm, I guess when the water is rolling in?”
actually you want to catch it just after it hits the rocks. Then count
one, two and jump. If you jump when it’s on the way in the force of the
water will carry you into the rocks. That’s not so good,” he said with
“So after it hits it pulls you away from them?” When he
nodded she said, “That makes sense. Still it seems like a pretty far
jump to me.”
“It’s not. Jump with me Lani?”
“What? Oh no, I couldn’t!”
you can. Count with me to learn the timing.” She listened and watched
the waves. “One, two, now; one, two, now. See, it’s easy.” He held
his hand out to her and she could only stare at it.
of taking that leap was petrifying to her. She looked at him, his
sherry brown eyes just catching the remaining glow of sunlight. “Trust
me,” he whispered.
A breath caught in her throat and she glanced
down again at the rushing water far below. Trust him? Let him in? Her
heart sped up rapidly for a moment as she considered what he asked.
Could he be one of the ones that she trusted?
Josef heard her
heart beating frantically and waited patiently. This was a leap of
faith for her, for both of them. He wanted to do this more than he had
ever wanted anything. Again he said, “Trust me. I won’t let you get
She nodded and held her hand out, wiping a tear away from her cheek with the other.
count it with me. One, two, NOW!” and they were over the edge, falling
through the air until they hit the water. Down they went until their
feet touched the bottom, then they pushed towards the surface. When
they broke through Lani laughed out loud and Josef joined her.
wow, I did it! I actually did it!” She threw her arms around him and
hugged him tight. He tread water as he held her close and she wrapped
her legs around his waist and smiled into his eyes. “Thank you.” She
leaned forward and kissed him, her lush lips pressed against his for the
briefest moment before she pulled back as a wave almost pushed them
into the rocks.
Josef was amazed, it had happened so easily, so
simply and it gave him hope that maybe they had a future. She was still
scared and so was he, but he felt happier than he had felt in years.
Hopeful, he actually felt hopeful.
“Come on, we have to swim around those rocks. Just hang onto me okay?”
nodded as they headed around the rocks and walked up onto the small
sandy beach. She saw steps leading back up the cliff and laughed as he
picked her up and jumped to the top in a single leap. Now she knew what
Beth had meant by the sexy vampire jumping thing. It was impressive.
they walked back to the house and each showered and met back in the den
for the movie. Josef picked out a Colin Firth movie she’d never seen
before called The Secret Laughter of Women.
It was a wonderfully romantic movie and Lani enjoyed it as she sat
munching popcorn and sipping a diet coke. They sat next to each other
on the plush leather sofa, close but not really touching as Lani sat
curled up under an afghan because the room was chilly. Both of them
remembered the kiss as they said goodnight at their individual doors.
Lani wanted to repeat it but she was scared that he didn’t want that.
thoughts mirrored Lani’s. Maybe the kiss had been momentary excitement
and didn’t mean anything. Maybe it did mean something; he’d never know
if he didn’t kiss her now. He knew that they needed to go slow, which
was almost a foreign concept to him; he who usually just grabbed what he
wanted with little thought. But this would mean something to him and
hopefully Lani too.
He took the ten steps to stand in front of
her and leaned down, cupping her face in his hands and lightly brushing
his lips against hers. Her lips yielded to his and he heard a faint sigh
low in her throat. Soft, gently caressing and both satisfying and not
nearly satisfying enough, the kiss spoke volumes for both of them.
He stepped away and then brushed a stray lock of hair away from her face. “Good night Lani.”
Josef,” she said as she stepped into her room and closed the door. She
wanted to laugh out loud at how ridiculously good that kiss was; it was
exactly what a first kiss should be, even if it technically wasn’t the
first one but she didn’t really count the kiss in the water since it had
been more of a reactionary kiss.
THAT was a kiss though, what
they’d just shared. She hugged herself, grinning like an idiot. She
felt like she was a teenager and she resisted the urge to run and jump
onto the bed.
Oh, what the hell! She landed smack in the middle of the bed with a smile.
To be continued...