Where Evil Lurks

Welcome to Moonlight Madness - Where Evil Lurks

This is the fourth story in my Moonlight saga.

Story One - The Beginning - Beth's Diary

Story Two - With Arms Wide Open

Story Three - Barely Breathing

Cast of Characters

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chapter 7 Bonding Time

Ben sat taping his pen on the desk blotter as he read the lab from Sacramento; they agreed with the lab here - that the fingerprints were of the same person.

Impossible. Completely impossible. So what is the answer to it all? Is there an answer he asked himself because he was beginning to think he was crazy. He thought back to how all this started and almost wished that he hadn't followed the leads.

Columbia Law School, 1998

She had been there, in his arms just this morning and now, just like that she was gone. She had slipped from this life as if she were quicksilver, leaving hope and promise and most of all love behind her in tattered pieces. The police didn't know what had happened; the blood, there was so much blood and some of her hair, but nothing else was left of her. The only thing left behind was his heart and the aching need to hold her close.

His parents and grandmother had flown to New York to be with him. They wanted to take him home with them but he had been equally determined to stay the course, for her, for Michelle. Eventually his parents left but Margie had stayed with him in the Manhattan town house and she had proved to be good company.

During that time, as he dealt with the loss of Michelle, Margie had told him the story of her lost love, Mick St. John. They were going to get married when another woman came between them. Mick and that woman married a month later and that very night they were both murdered in their hotel room.

Margie stressed that Herb McFarland changed her life, for the better actually. He took on the responsibility of the child that Margie and Mick had created. He loved her through the pain and the tears until she realized that it was Herb and his love, his kindness that had washed the pain away. And she told Ben that the same thing would happen to him as well, he just had to open his heart in order for love to find a way in.

"It will happen Benjamin, but you have to look around to spot it. I promise you," she told him, watching him wince at the thought of new love. "Have I ever lied to you?" At his negative response she only smiled, understanding how painful it was for him.

Time, time didn't heal anything and sure as hell hadn't helped in this situation. And, when he took over for Josh Lindsey and found the file on Mick St. John he didn't know what to think.

His mother hated Mick St. John and never mentioned his name except to curse him for a no good jerk who abandoned her mother. To her, Herb was her father and Mick St. John didn't deserve to live. Now, here was another Mick St. John and he looked the same and had the same fingerprints too. Impossible, just impossible.

He looked at his phone for a moment and finally picked it up and dialed a number.
At the answer of "Detective Davis" he greeted his friend.

"Hey Carl, how's it going?" He listened as Carl talked briefly about a case he was working on and then asked if he could meet him for lunch.

"Sure," Carl said, genuinely pleased. It had been a month or so since they'd met for lunch and he was eager to catch up. A little guy bonding never hurt anything.

"Okay then. How about the little dinner down the street from the courthouse, Pips? Say around 11:30 so we can beat the lunch crush?"

"Sounds great Ben. I'll see you there," Carl said, closing his phone with a smile. He glanced at his watch and realized he had 2 hours to kill and knew that they would fly by because research on this case wasn't proving helpful at all. But that was the way with investigation; sometimes you struck gold and sometimes you struck out.


Mick sat in his office, scouring the internet for any sign of the Children of the Moon, but none was to be found, under either name. The Qamar-al-atfal sounded Arabic but he wasn't even sure of that since he couldn't find a reliable Arabic to English translation program on line.

He hadn't talked to Beth yet about what Heroku had told him last night either. She was asleep by the time he got home and so he didn't wake her. She had taken to sleeping with a light blanket in the freezer, even the 39 degree temperature leaving her too chilly. The truth was, she could probably sleep without the freezer altogether but she wanted to be next to him.

Royalty? She could be royalty? As in queen or princess - or what? What consisted of royalty to the Children of the Moon? Josef didn't know, hell, he had never heard of them. They'd spoken of it all last night after Heroku left.

"Josef, you aren't bullshitting me or sugar-coating this the way you did about the cure are you?" Mick asked, scrutinizing Josef's reaction carefully.

"No bullshit Mick. I have never, ever heard of them. I've heard Heroku mention the Brotherhood a time or two but I assumed it was just a vampire fraternal group or something."

"I need answers Josef; I need to know what all this is. How can I protect her if I don't understand it all?"

"Maybe you don't need to protect her Mick. Look, I've known Heroku for well over a hundred years; Tango and I met him in the Sandwich Islands, otherwise known as Hawaii and I respect the hell out of him. And he is one very protective bastard too, if he thought for a moment that Beth was in any danger he'd make sure they couldn't get their hands on her."

"They are older than him even? Jesus, he's a thousand years old, how can that be?" Mick got up and poured another two fingers of scotch and knocked it down before refilling his glass.

"That my friend I do not know. To my knowledge, vampires as old as Heroku are very few and far between." He paused for a moment, choosing his next words carefully. "Even when you don't carry around the guilt or darkness of your existence, well, the years do wear on you, for some of us anyway. I can't imagine how you would wrap your head around being that old and the changes in the world. I hope to find out though," he finished with a wry smile.

Mick thought that with Beth at his side maybe it wouldn't be too bad either. He raised his glass up and said, "Here's to finding out Josef," and tossed the rest of the drink down. He stood up and said, “I’m heading home now; see if Beth is still awake. You going to go and crawl into Lani's bed?" he teased.

"No, she's on her own tonight, and tomorrow night as well. And while I'm thinking about it, maybe the boys should have a poker night while the girls melt some plastic. You interested?"

"Yeah, sounds like fun. Who are you inviting?"

"You, Tango, Heroku, if you promise not to ask a hundred questions. Do you think Logan would play? And maybe I should introduce Carl and Clark to poker, vampire style?"

"Sure, ask Logan. And the others too. I'll be looking forward to it."

Josef had set it all up and they were meeting at his house at 7. They hadn't really had a poker night in ages. Heroku had a prior commitment, but the others all agreed, even Carl and Clark. Mick only hoped he could keep his mind on the game and stop thinking about Beth and what was going on.


Carl and Ben sat in a booth at Pips and Carl had to fight not to choke on the bite of hamburger that was in his mouth. He listened incredulously as Ben told him about the fingerprints and what the labs had reported. He managed to swallow the bite down and then took a sip of his tea before speaking. Ben was watching him closely he noted and he wondered why? Did Ben know something and was waiting for Carl to give it all away? He decided to play dumb and see where that took him.

"Ben, that's impossible; you know that, right?"

"Yeah, I know it but it doesn't explain it does it? Two separate, independent labs gave the same answer. I'm just wondering if the computer screwed up. Like maybe when the current Mick's fingerprints got put into the IAFIS computer system they were entered incorrectly. Do you think that is possible?"

Carl was quiet for a moment, pondering the possibilities. In the end, he knew that it wasn't possible, that they would have had to mix up the fingerprints with Mick's from the 1950's and other than the bloody ones, there weren't any. Still, maybe he could hold Ben off by using that ploy.

"Sure, anything is possible. Had to be it, just a mix up. No other way to explain it."

Ben was still unsure and very troubled by it all, Carl could tell. Which made him wonder why Ben was investigating it at all? Was he suspicious of Mick? He asked the question that he dreaded the answer to. And the answer just about blew him away.

"So Mick St. John, from 1952 is your grandfather?"

"Yes. So that makes this Mick St. John a cousin I would suspect. But he is a dead ringer for my grandfather, that's for sure."

"Your grandmother has pictures of him from that time?"

"Yes, quite a few. They were close to getting married and loved each other a lot. When Coraline DuVall entered the picture, well, a month later they got married and were both killed."

"Wow, quite a story," Carl said, finishing the rest of his burger and then wiping his hands on a flimsy paper napkin that disintegrated as he swiped at the grease.

"Yes. My grandmother moved on and Herb was the best husband and grandfather imaginable. My mom can't stand to hear St. John's name but Margie, my grandmother has fond memories of him actually. She has had a happy and fulfilling life, what more could she ask for?"

"Not much buddy," Carl said, standing up and digging for his wallet. He tossed some bills onto the table and said, "I gotta get back to work Ben; thanks for calling me to meet for lunch. I'll talk with you soon and if you find out anything else, let me know. I'm intrigued."

Ben rose from the booth as well and nodded. "Will do. See you Carl."

So Mick has a daughter AND a grandson. The question is, what if anything did Carl do about this new information?


The women met in the food court at the mall, eager to get started shopping. They decided to hit a couple of stores first and then head into Benito's Casa for Mexican food for dinner, an idea that Beth heartily approved of.

Before they headed off to the shops Lani and Cami talked with Audrey trying to decide what her fashion sense and taste was; silently they both decided that she really had very little experience and so it became a matter of slacks or skirts? What are your favorite colors and such. Within about 15 minutes they headed off to the first shop, looking for bargains. Beth and Dorothy were detoured by Baby Gap and headed in to see what was new.

"It's so hard to choose things, knowing that at least one of them is a boy. Do we go with all blue, in case both are boys or what?" Dorothy said as she looked at sleepers and rompers and other tiny little clothes.

Beth held up a sleeper that was a soft blue with little fluffy sheep on it and couldn't believe how tiny it was. "Will the baby really fit into this Mom?"

Dorothy laughed and said, "Yes, it certainly will and in fact that is likely going to be a bit too big. See, on the tag it tells you how many months and pounds it will fit."

Beth still looked at it skeptically; she hadn't got to hold Brian the night before but he certainly looked bigger than this 'Newborn' size and he wasn't even a month old yet. Looking at the baby things made her sigh and Dorothy caught the sound and the look on Beth's face.

"Hey, you know, I think I might not be up to walking all around right now and I could really use something to drink. Do you mind if we go back to the food court and grab a drink and then maybe we can catch up with the others."

Beth's blue eyes deepened for a moment and Dorothy saw tears sparkling in them and looked away, not wanting to cause her daughter any more pain. She strongly suspected that things had not gone well with Robbi last night but she didn't want to pry.

Beth was more than happy to get out of the store. She didn't realize how much being in there would bother her. She felt like some kind of horrible person because not only was she bothered by the situation with Robbi, but it was hitting her that she and Mick would never have that child that they both wanted. She nodded and said, "I think that sounds good Mom."

Dorothy sat down and Beth got them both juice slushies and joined her mother at a small table. "Blueberry, the anti-oxidants are good for you and they don't add any sugar," she smiled.

They both took small sips and nodded approvingly. "This is good."

Beth sipped again and nodded; she wanted to tell her mom about Robbi but she didn't want to upset her. Finally, the story came tumbling out and Dorothy reached across the table to grasp Beth's hand in support.

"I don't know how to make it better Mom and now we've told them the truth; suppose they tell other people?"

"Is that your real worry about it sweetheart or are you afraid that you and Robbi are never going to mend the friendship?"

"I guess that's, that's the real problem. I could feel this wall around her and I couldn't get through it. She knows we weren't lying and still it didn't seem to matter to her. She's just so closed off."

"Maybe there are other things going on that you are not aware of Beth; did you think of that?"

Beth shrugged; the thought hadn't really occurred to her. Maybe Robbi did have something else going on and she just felt like she couldn't share. "I wanted to badly to hold Brian but I knew somehow that she wouldn't have let me, even before she knew I was a vampire."

The look of pain flashed in her eyes again and Dorothy had to ask a question that she would rather avoid. "Bethy, does it bother you now that Clark and I are having a baby? Well two babies?"

Beth understood her mother's hesitance and said immediately, "NO Mom, I'm so happy for you and I intend to be a very involved big sister. But sometimes, like in the store back there I just, I remember that Mick and I will never have one of our own and it hurts. I don't regret being turned Mom; I get eternity with Mick but, you know, I..." she said, hastily wiping a tear away and too choked up to say anything else.

Dorothy had been wondering for a while now if that would bother Beth. Before she was turned she had been looking forward to the possibility of having a baby and now that wouldn't ever happen. It hurt Dorothy too, but Beth was sitting here with her now and the casualty of that was the inability to have a baby. It had been a trade off of sorts and it couldn't be changed now.

"I, I can't even tell Mick how I feel because he'll feel even more guilty for turning me, even though I would have died if he hadn't. He hates that he brought me into his life at all sometimes and this would only make it worse Mom. I didn't realize how much I wanted that baby until the possibility was taken away from me." She was doing her best to hold back more tears but they came anyway, rolling slowly down her cheeks, making people stare at her.

Dorothy reached into her purse and brought out a small pack of tissues and offered one to Beth before taking one for herself. Her heart was breaking for her daughter and she had no answers. She watched as Beth dried her eyes and then jumped slightly when her phone beeped, signaling a text message.

She read it quickly and said, "That was Lani, they'll meet us at the restaurant in about 5 minutes. Are you ready? I feel like a margarita."

"Sure, let's go. You can have one for me too," Dorothy said and watched as the corner of Beth's mouth quirked upward slightly in a smile.

Beth and Dorothy got there first and got a table while they waited for the girls. While they waited Beth spotted a familiar face across the room.

"Beth!" Max exclaimed, happy to see her friend. "Haven't seen you since the wedding, you look wonderful!"

Beth hugged Max and smiled at her. "Thank you. Married life does agree with me. How are you and Mark and the boys?"

"Good. I'm so happy to run into you. Can you meet me for lunch next week? I need to discuss something with you and I think you'll like it!"

"Hm, cloak and dagger stuff huh?" Beth teased. "Sure, how about Tuesday, at our favorite Chinese place, near the LA Free Press?"

"You got it." She hugged Beth again and said, "Okay, I really have to run but I'll see you Tuesday, say around 1, maybe miss some of the lunch rush?"

Beth grinned and nodded and watched as Max headed out the door, a couple of girlfriends with her. Must be girl bonding day she laughed.

When the girls arrived they were all carrying more bags than seemed possible.

"Wow, you've only been out there an hour! Is there anything left in the stores?"

"Maybe, but it's doubtful. We got some really cute stuff," Lani told them, trying to shove the bags and garment bags behind them.

"Audrey, do you like what you bought?" Dorothy asked. Audrey was such a sweet girl and shy as well. It did her good to get out like this.

"Yes, I love it. And thanks to Lani and Cami I now sort of understand what my style is!"

"Awesome," Beth chimed in, trying to shift her mood. "I'm in the mood for a grande margarita, who's with me?"

Everyone but Dorothy was up to the task; she settled for bottled water. All the girls were chattering happily and Audrey pulled a few items out of the bags to show them. One outfit, a sleek pantsuit in a deep rose color was beautiful and Dorothy knew it would look lovely on her. It had a short, fitted jacket and straight legged slacks that was beautifully tailored and she'd bought accessories to go with it. "Audrey, that will look beautiful on you!"

She blushed and looked around her happily. A year ago her life had been so empty, so lonely. Now she had friends, family really and a wonderful man who loved her. She felt as if she was the luckiest girl in the whole world. Sometimes she felt as if she could barely breath she was so happy.

The round of margarita's arrived, along with an endless basket of chips and salsa. Beth partook of it all, which still amazed them all except for her. She ordered chicken enchiladas with liquid fire queso for dinner and finished it. Dorothy groaned, knowing that she would be up half if not all night if she ate that. Still, when she looked at Beth she had to remind herself that she was actually a vampire now because this was so unusual.

Was something wrong with her daughter? Her secret fear was that something was but there were no answers.

At least not yet.

To be continued...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chapter 6 Sweet Blue Eyes

The ride home from Mick and Beth's was quiet. When they were almost back at Long Beach Brian started to stir and Robbi kept twisting in her seat to keep an eye on him. He was getting hungry she knew so once they were home she could feed him.

Kevin pulled the Enclave into the garage after the door opened and even before the door had closed Robbi was out of the vehicle and pulling Brian out of the car seat. He was sucking on his fist, a sure sign that he was convinced he was starving and for the first time all evening she smiled and then kissed him, murmuring quiet words to soothe him. She inhaled his sweet baby fragrance deeply, loving the feeling of connection with her son. Kevin opened the door into the house and she stepped through and headed into the nursery to change him before she fed him.

"Kevin, can you warm a bottle for him please?" she called out as she unsnapped his onesie and pulled the diaper tabs open but left it in place over him while she reached for a new diaper. She'd quickly learned the lesson that with little boys as soon as cool air hit them they tended to pee again and tonight was no different she noticed with a smile.

Kevin stood in the doorway, leaning against it as he watched her. He loved her so much and would do anything for her but she was pushing him out, slowly, gradually and it hurt so much. He knew that she loved him but what if in the end that wasn't enough? Tonight was hard, for all of them and the same way he knew that she loved him he also knew that she loved Beth. Could she succeed in pushing them all away? She might if she could and he was determined to not let it happen.

She got the clean diaper on Brian and slipped him into his pajamas and picked him up, startled when she saw that Kevin had been watching. It seemed to Kevin that she held Brian just a bit closer to her as she said, "Oh, I didn't see you standing there Kevin." She stepped past him and headed into the kitchen to check on the bottle.

Kevin followed and said, "Hey, I'll take care of this, why don't you go and sit down and I'll bring it in."

For a moment he thought she was going to protest and then she turned and headed into the living room to sit in the rocker. When Kevin walked in with the bottle she was rocking Brian and singing softly to him. She glanced up with a smile as Kevin handed her the bottle and for a moment his heart skipped a beat, so happy to see that smile.

Brian started wiggling when he realized the bottle was ready and she continued to rock steadily as he drank. "His eyes are so intense, you know?" she said, watching her sons sweet blue eyes as he drank.

"I know. He has to get that from you," Kevin said.

They were quiet while Brian ate and when he was done and had been burped he was falling asleep in her arms. Kevin stood up and said, "Here, let me take him into bed okay? Why don't you take a shower and I'll get us some wine sweetheart?"

She chewed anxiously on her lip, undecided about what to do but finally did as he suggested. A warm shower would feel wonderful and it did she thought as she stood under the fine spray. Thoughts of the conversation with Beth flickered through her mind and she determinedly pushed them out, not willing to think about them yet. When she was done she headed into the living room wearing a soft satin robe, and sat down on the couch as Kevin came in with two glasses of her favorite white zinfandel. He handed her one of the glasses and then sat down next to her, sinking into the deep leather cushions with pleasure.

"So, are you ready to talk about it Robbi? What happened at Beth's?"

She looked at him blankly for a moment, trying to decide how to respond. What Beth had told them was stunning and not in a good way. Robbi could never in a million years have imagined what Beth told them. Vampires? Ridiculous. Until she saw the evidence of the teeth. And the eyes, Beth's intensely blue eyes and Mick's silver ones.

"What is there to say Kevin?" she said, and then a small, almost hysterical laugh escaped her and she added, "My best friend and her husband are vampires, but it's all hush-hush, secret..."

"You know, I'm almost not surprised. I mean, I didn't really think...but there were definitely things I didn't understand like Bri's reaction to him and how chilly his hands always were, even this summer at the cookout at her mom's. And his friend Josef, he has to be one too because his hands were just as cold."

She looked at him and blinked back tears that made her eyes glimmer in the low light of the living room. "And Lani knowing too. They didn't even tell me."

"Sweetheart, how could they? Would you have wanted to know if it hadn't happened to Beth?"

"I don't know Kev, I only know that they didn't tell me!" she said and the tears broke then, running silently down her pale cheeks.

Kevin closed his eyes for a moment and hesitated before saying the next words. "What about what you're keeping from them Robbi? You're angry with them but do you have any right to be?"

"It's different Kevin."

"A secret is a secret Robbi. You three, you've shared so much, everything practically all your lives and now, when the biggest secrets weigh each of you down, you don't, can't seem to talk. Robbi, you need to open up to them."

"I have time Kev, maybe forever in fact."

He shook his head, knowing how much his wife needed to talk to someone because talking to him didn't help. He felt helpless because he didn't know how to help her but it was tearing them apart and he wouldn't go down without a fight. He loved her too much.


The men gathered in Josef’s office, seated comfortably and sipping the libation of their choice. Several of them also enjoyed a fine Cuban cigar, while Mick and Tango both abstained.

“Before we get started on the issue with Malcolm, do you have any news on the hunt for Katrina?” Miguel asked, drawing on the cigar with satisfaction. Josef always managed to procure the very best and this one was amazing.

“Logan and Ryder have followed her trail down South America, through Chile and then into Paraguay, where she was a week ago. She has since managed to disappear again but we have a hefty bounty out on her, a million American dollars, enough to fuel any border guards wet dream, not to mention the customs agents in South America. The boys think she is making her way north again because she can’t get a flight or ship out from the main ports. Logan thinks it’s a good bet that she’ll try to catch a small boat into the Caribbean and disappear there.”

“I thought they’d confiscated her money and exposed all her alias’?” Miguel stated.

“Every bit of money that they could track to her. Actually, 3.2 million total.”

“That’s in the banks that we know of though isn’t it Josef? As far as I can tell from the books she siphoned off at least 3 million and if you add interest to that, there is still some money out there that they haven’t found don’t you think?” Tango said, watching Josef as he stood up and began pacing back and forth in front of the windows.

“We’ve called in every marker we have with the banks; I’m sure there are some of the Arabian banks, maybe in Dubai that won’t cooperate because we have no investments with them.”

“I might be able to help there. I know some people who have invested heavily in Dubai. Let me see what I can do. We’ll need to know what name she’s using though.” Heroku drew deeply on the cigar, his mind thinking about some of those contacts. He already had a need to contact them because of Beth so hopefully he could get some answers.

“Okay, that sounds good Heroku. We’ve got pictures out everywhere, as well as the reward. Of course, she has likely changed her looks so the pictures include her with blonde and red hair, short hair, you name it.”

“We'll get her eventually Josef,” Tango said. He understood the deep guilt that he still carried for what happened to Beth St. John. Sooner or later Katrina would be found and it wouldn’t be pretty, her fate. “What do we have about Malcolm?”

“Carl came to Mick and I yesterday with the information that he has contacted Detective Fiorentino about pursuing the names on the list. Fiorentino turned him down but Carl feels sure that Malcolm will try again. He’d like to see if they can’t track down where he is and alert us. We explained that if it is Malcolm, he is a vamp and a very dangerous one at that. Heroku, I was wondering about this new technology that you are installing on the computers at Kostan? It can immediately tell us where a hacker is at; can that technology be used in phones? Cell phones?”

Heroku frowned for a moment as he contemplated what Josef had asked. When they had did the first beta test on the new system Logan had hacked in, bouncing through a dozen satellites and the system had him within 3 seconds. Could that be done to trace phone calls?

“It was not created for that purpose Josef, but does it have the capability? I’m not sure, but I will talk to my people and see what they think about it. The idea behind it should make it possible but can it be made tiny enough to fit into a phone? That is what I don’t know. If it could be that could ensure that if he calls we could find him quickly.”

“We decided that Carl should talk to Luka and get him to sort of string Malcolm along, say he’s considering the list or whatever it takes so that we can stall for time. Let us know as soon as you can whether it’s possible. In the meantime Logan is looking at some other trace technology to see if that would work.”

“I really don’t get where this guy is coming from,” Miguel said. “He’s tried this in the past, but what the hell does he actually accomplish if he succeeds in starting war between the humans and vamps?”

“That’s the mystery Miguel. He believes that the vamps will win but I’m not so sure, at least not now. I think we all know that the day is coming when humans are going to know and be forced to acknowledge our existence, that they will all know. I can’t see that being a good thing at all, but it’s going to happen eventually,” Josef said, a sharp edge to his voice.

A freaking vampire apocalypse, he was sure that was what would happen.

As the men ended the meeting Mick pulled Heroku aside. “Heroku, do you have a moment?”

Heroku knew exactly what Mick wanted; he wanted answers that he might not be able to provide but the young vampire was worried about his mate so Heroku decided to share what he could. “Of course Mick.”

Tango and Miguel were gone already. Josef stood looking out at the city, the blinking lights of traffic below them flashing as the traffic hurried to their destinations. He heard Mick ask to speak to Heroku but paid little attention until he heard Mick’s first question.

"Heroku, who are these Qamar-al-atfal? The Children of the Moon?"

Heroku sat back in the chair and said, "They are very old vampires Mick; the original vampires in fact."

Josef turned around, watching the two men talk. He had never heard of the Children of the Moon.

"The first ones?" Heroku nodded and he continued. "They are still...alive?"

"Yes, they are."

"How old are they? How many of them are there?" The questions rushed into Mick's mind helter skelter. He needed answers.

"They are much, much older than I am Mick. And there are 13 of them."

"Thirteen? That's an odd number it seems Heroku. And you're what, a thousand years old I think? Forgive me, I mean no disrespect Heroku but older than that is almost unimaginable."

"The number 13 has had great importance and impact, throughout history Mick. And I take no offence."

Josef came and sat down, listening intently now. How could these people have existed and he had never heard of them?

"You're not one of them though, you said the other night. You are a guardian?"

"Yes, I am a guardian, in the Brotherhood of the Moon. I am not one of the Children."

"How can Beth be? You said she could be a descendant of them. Heroku, how can a vampire have a descendant? "

"Those questions are best answered by others Mick. I'm sorry that I cannot give you more information. Just make sure she drinks fresh on the full moon Mick. Otherwise, she'll need blood daily, but she can eat regular food as you've discovered. And Mick, if she is, as I expect, Qamar-al-atfal, you need to understand that she is royalty."

Heroku stood up, quickly followed by a stunned Mick and an extremely curious Josef. "Goodnight gentlemen."

Mick and Josef watched in stunned confusion as the door closed and then stared at one another. Josef grinned and plopped back down in the chair. "Damn, the girl is some kind of royalty?" He laughed and finished, "Didn't see that one coming!

He missed the scowling look that Mick gave him.



Logan held Audrey close and felt her mouth melt against his just as her body did. The connection between them still thrilled him in a way that he never experienced before. She completed him although he'd never admit that to any of the guys because they'd laugh at him.

"Um, good morning my love," she told him and then went back to resume the kiss. She felt wonderful this morning and in some ways wondered how that could be since they'd been up half the night making love.

Logan pulled back and looked at her, smoothing a strand of hair away from her face. "You are beautiful Audey, so beautiful and I happen to be the luckiest guy around."

"Well, thank you but I think there are guys that would insist that they are the luckiest. Still, I appreciate the thought because I happen to know that I am the luckiest girl!"

At the door Logan could hear both of the boys protesting loudly; when they thought it was time for breakfast they made sure that Logan at least knew it. He sighed.

Audrey held her head up and sure enough she caught the faint kitty talk and paws clawing at the door, a sure sign that the boys were hungry. "Do you think Beth and Mick will want Travis back?" she asked. She had come to love the little cat a lot and while she would give him back, she would also gladly keep him. He just had a way of looking at you as if he understood everything. She had finally even gave in and bought him that kitty chow that he liked instead of the Healthy Cat that she preferred for them to eat because Plato would no longer eat it either.

"I hear you boys," she called out and was rewarded with loud kitty demands and both she and Logan laughed.

"Why don't you get ready for work and I'll go and feed the starving masses," Logan told her with one final kiss.

"Okay. Are you going to get some freezer time today Logan? You look sort of tired. I can't wait for the house to be done so that you can have a freezer at home."

"Yeah, I will I promise." He stood up and reached for a robe to slip on.

"Hey, don't forget that tonight is the night that I'm going shopping with the girls."

"Oh yeah, I did forget. Are you having dinner there too?"

"Yes, Lani and I."

"And Beth too, don't forget."

"Um, I had forgot. Strange, isn't it?"

"It sort of freaks me out, you know? I've spent hours the past two days trying to find information about vampires that can eat food. Outside of weird vampire lore that is totally fiction I can't find anything."

Audrey laughed as she laid out her work clothes before getting into the shower. "Logan, what did you expect to find on the internet anyway? It's all about fake vampires for heaven's sake," she told him.

"Not all of it. You'd be surprised at how much is real information, written by vampires who trade on the fact that humans will think it's all fake. We need a vamp wiki, that only vamps can get access to. Have to talk to Ryder about that one. But he's never heard of that either and let me tell you, that dude knows a LOT!"

"Okay, if you say so. Now go and feed the boys before the pull the door off the hinges," she told him as both the cats had their paws under the door trying desperately to pull it open. Of course, being cats they didn't realize that it opened in, not out. Thank god for that Logan thought. Next thing he knew they'd figure out how to turn the doorknob. He was going to be sure that the new house had a lock on the bedroom door, that was for sure.

He opened the door and both cats jumped back, as if suddenly feeling guilty for being caught but of course, they were cats and couldn't possibly think that Logan assured himself. "Okay you two, for heaven's sake, just hold on for a minute!"

He headed into the kitchen with both cats dancing around his feet; they almost succeeded in tripping him once and he growled at them, causing them to back off a bit. He pulled out the bag of kitty chow and got the scoop out so he could give them their morning ration of the crunchy food. He and Audrey had given up feeding them in separate dishes weeks ago because the only ate from the same dish. Worked for Logan, one less dish to fill and wash.

While they were eating he headed into the office and booted the computer up, looking for emails from Ryder who was currently two hours ahead of him. He found only one this morning which included a picture of someone that could definitely be Katrina, with short red hair boarding a fishing vessel heading out of Venezuela and heading to the Caribbean. She couldn't catch a commercial ride, he was pretty sure because they had every port, terminal, every nook and cranny covered in South and Central America. She had to get out of there and this was about the only way to do it. The picture was clear and they got the name and port of registration off of it so that would help. Ryder was sending out some contact info to see if they could track it further and figure out where it was headed.

He heard Audey turn the water off in the shower and decided he'd catch a quick one himself before he left to go home for some freezer sack time. If he didn't get at least a few hours every day in the frozen bliss he really didn't feel so great. He remembered Beth saying the other night that she couldn't handle the serious cold, something else that puzzled him a good deal.

What kind of a vampire was she anyway? She could eat food, didn't need sub zero temps in fact couldn't handle them? Weird. He and Ryder really did need to get busy on the vampire wiki and soon.

He started to roll the chair backwards and Travis let out a howl before jumping on the desk in front of the monitor. Logan knew he hadn't roll over him but had only bumped him and damn, the cat could get in the ways sometimes. He reached over to pet Travis and said, "Hey buddy, I'm sorry. You scared the shit out of me though. You okay?"

Travis turned to look at him and Logan almost fell out of his chair.

"Your eyes Travis! What the hell?" he said, backing away from the cat. Those eyes, blue, like Beth's. Was he a vampire after all?


Travis watched the vivid blue of the wallpaper on the monitor for a moment, lightly pawing the screen as it reflected off his eyes. When the screensaver kicked on, displaying photos of the boys and the family he meowed softly and jumped down into the chair that Logan had just vacated. He enjoyed the still warm seat and circled until he found the perfect spot and settled down. A minute later Plato came in and jumped up into the chair too. Both cats settled down for a brief early morning nap before they'd go outside to take a mid morning nap in the cool grass with a nice sunbeam warming them.

Hey, it was a rough life but someone had to do it.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chapter 5, Harsh Words

Josef came aware early the next morning. He looked down at Lani who was resting her cheek on his chest, a leg thrown over his as well. She was snoring, just the slightest bit and it made him smile. It sort of tickled his chest actually, teasing the fine hairs that covered it.

They had made love until the early hours of morning; for him his usual hours but not for her and he knew she needed to get some rest. She didn’t look tired; actually she looked beautiful, wearing a rosy and satisfied glow and nothing else this morning.

How in the hell did I get so lucky, twice in this life? First Sarah and now Lani. Two amazing and strong women who loved him unconditionally. He would always miss Sarah but Lani filled a void that he hadn’t even been aware of.

He thought about the three girls, Lani, Beth and Robbi and at first they seemed so dissimilar and yet those differences are what made them like sisters. Beth, so impetuous and always teetering on the edge of danger. She really had needed Mick’s protection all those years. Beth made him often feel like an indulgent big brother who watched her with amusement. He really didn’t want to get on her bad side though, especially now because he had seen a steely strength in her today that he’d admired. He knew she would also protect Lani at all costs.

Robbi, from what he had seen or heard was the pragmatic one; the mother hen. She was traditional and focused on her goals. And most likely the one that had kept the other two out of trouble, sometimes anyway. Josef had liked her when they worked together on the surprise wedding because she was someone who could be counted on.

Lani…Lani just made him smile. So strong and earthy, very grounded. She knew what she wanted and just did it. He knew that she always spoke her mind and truthfully at that. You might not always like what she said but you could be sure that it was the truth. She was loyal to a fault and would fight for what she believed in.

When he first met her in Tokyo he had never imagined any type of relationship with her, even though he saw that she wasn’t just one of the party girls, that she had substance.

Last night he had told her the truth about his life, no holds barred. She never flinched or pulled away, even knowing the dark, ruthless side of him. He killed so many people in the past, some deserved and some not. Excuses? They were only rationalizations and meaningless in the end. He had always done what he had to; protect himself, his life and the lives of those he cared about. He would protect Lani to the ends of time, no doubt about it. Would she want to be turned some day? Would he be able to do it, now that he knew that what had happened to Sarah wasn’t his fault, something that he hadn’t done right? It was much scarier than he had ever imagined now.

He felt her stirring next to him and glanced down at her with a smile, just in time to see her beautiful gray eyes open and look at him, love shining brightly in them.

“Good morning,” she murmured sleepily.

“Good morning to you Sweetness. Did you rest well? What little we did rest?” he teased.

She stretched and he watched, fascinated. She was like a cat, the seemingly lazy gesture somehow sensuous and nimble and made his mouth water for her. As if she knew he was watching she smiled up at him, an enigmatic smile through half-closed lids that furthered the mystique of her aura that surrounded her.

“I got enough,” she told him, sitting up in the bed. “What about you? How are you resting without being in the freezer?”

“Lani, vampires have existed for centuries without freezers; I assure I can rest without one, as much as I do enjoy my sub-zero. I’ll get some rest in it tonight because I’m going to be in a meeting tonight that I expect will be very late. So you’re on your own this evening. Is that okay?”

Lani laughed and said, “Sure. My gosh Josef, we’re not joined at the hip. I’ll bet its vampire business, huh?” She raised her eyebrows and grinned, sure she was right.

“Yes, it is.” He leaned over and kissed her on the tip of her nose and then tweaked it lightly. He watched the emotions play across her face and knew that she was dying to ask what was going on and he admired the restraint she showed. At his silence she looked down and started brushing imaginary lint off of the sheets to try to focus on something other than her curiosity. “We’re working on trying to track down someone who has given Ben Talbot a list of names of vampires.” He smiled at her and said, “It’s okay to ask Lani. I might not always be able to tell you, but you can ask.”

She nodded and for a moment looked almost sad. He brushed gentle fingers along her cheek and smiled at her. “How about tomorrow night?”

“Nope, I can’t do that one. Beth, Cami, and Audrey and I are having a girl’s night, shopping actually. Audrey wants help picking out some new work clothes.”

“She couldn’t have asked for any better help. Well, then how about we spend the weekend at my beach house? We can go out Friday and come back Monday morning for work?”

“Um, I love that idea. Who knows, I might even convince you to take a leap of faith and jump off a cliff with me,” she told him, trying really hard to keep her face serious and failing miserably.

“We’ll see. Would you like to invite Mick and Beth?”

“What if I want to chase you around naked or something?”

“We can always lock them out of the house while you have your way with me,” he laughed.

“Okay then, this weekend.” She sighed deeply and added, “At least we’ll see each other occasionally at work.”

“Anytime you want Lani, anytime.”

She nodded before melting into him as he arms pulled her close. At least they had this time right now.


Beth was very anxious about the meeting with Robbi. Mick watched quietly as she walked around the living room, fluffing pillows and repositioning decorative items, straightening pictures, you name it, if she could move it she did.

“Beth, how about a glass of wine while we wait?” he asked as he watched her move the bowl of wax apples yet again.

“No, I don’t want her to think I had to drink to be able to see her Mick.” She glanced at the clock and saw that it was 6:55; Robbi and Kevin were due at 7:00, so anytime now there would be a knock on the door.

All day long she had been like this, anxious and fidgety. They had discussed the fact that they needed blood and she flat out refused to drink morgue blood. “I will not drink that stuff Mick; we don’t know where it came from. Sorry, but I’m not going to do it,” she told him adamantly. He had finally retreated to his office and called Josef, trying to clear his head before he gave in and ordered fresh blood from a service. Josef was amused by it all, Mick could tell and rolled his eyes as he listened to the mini lecture on the benefits of drinking fresh blood and how good it was that Beth had enough sense to know the difference.

“Oh boyo, one more thing. How would you and the wifey like to come out to the beach house for the weekend? Lounge around, take in the view, yada yada yada…”

Mick pinched the bridge of his nose as he thought about escaping from what was proving to be too small of an apartment, at this moment that is. He heard Beth vacuuming the floor that didn’t even need it. They both needed something to do.

“Okay, sounds good. I’m sure Beth will like it. If not, you’ll hear back from me tonight at the meeting. We still on for 11:00?”

“Yes, my office. See you then Mick,” Josef said with a smile. Beth was going to whip him into shape yet.

The day wore on; Mick called and had fresh blood delivered and Beth said nothing, only raised her eyebrow in surprise and sipped cautiously before nodding her approval. Mick escaped to the greenhouse upstairs and was both shocked and surprised to see that it wasn’t a total waste. The automatic watering system had kept the plants watered and growing. It needed a lot of careful pruning and attention but they had some beautiful fresh tomatoes and zucchini and hot peppers too. What Beth didn’t eat they’d take to Dorothy or Audrey or Lani he decided. As he worked, pulling, thinning and pruning he felt good, better than he had in a while. And it managed to keep his mind off of what was going on with Beth. He’d see Heroku tonight and had a few questions for the elder vamp.

How could Beth be so different? Those hauntingly beautiful blue vamp eyes, the ability to taste food and digest it? What else could she do that they hadn’t discovered yet? Her ability with allure knocked his socks (not to mention his pants) right off and she seemed to be able to find him, no matter where he was. That could be very helpful, or could really put her in danger, depending on what was happening.

He hoped that she would decide what she wanted to do soon. She was ready, he felt sure. She was going out with the girls the following evening and it would be the first time that they had been apart for any length of time, well, after tonight that is. Still, tonight would be an hour, tomorrow would be for the whole evening. He had to admit that he was a bit concerned and was tempted to shadow them except that he knew she would know it and wouldn’t stand for it. No, there was no keeping that from her any longer, not with her vamp abilities.

He looked up when they both heard the faint ‘ding’ of the elevator letting them know that someone was on the floor. Both of them inhaled the scent of humans and before she even looked out Beth had thrown open the door, something that she should know better than to do by now. He had tried to make her realize that she always needed to know who was on the other side of a door before it was opened.

Didn’t look like she had paid much attention to that one.

Beth stood looking at Robbi, Kevin and baby Brian who was tucked away in a carrier, sleeping peacefully. She swallowed hard, so happy to see her friends but Robbi was standing stiffly in front of her and Beth knew that the last thing she wanted was for Beth to hug her.

Instead, Beth smiled graciously and stepped aside, inviting them in. Robbi moved woodenly into the room and headed into the living room before taking a seat on the couch. She hadn’t said a word and Kevin smiled at Beth, a sad smile that said it all. Mick came forward and offered his hand to Kevin who shook it readily enough and smiled at Mick as well. Beth closed the door and went to sit down across from the couch.

“Can I get you something to drink?” Mick offered. “Kevin, I believe you’re a scotch guy and I’ve got an excellent single malt here.”

“I’d like that Mick; on the rocks please,” Kevin said, settling next to Robbi. The baby carrier sat on the floor facing them so that they could keep an eye on their son, but it made it really hard for Beth to see him. She stood up and walked to the side where she could watch the baby sleep and sighed at how peaceful he looked.

“He is so beautiful, he really is. Robbi, would you like something to drink? Coke, or juice or water?”

Robbi looked at Beth for the first time, really looked at her. She had almost been afraid to make eye contact with her in fear that she would melt into Beth’s arms. She had missed her so damn much but she also felt so hurt and betrayed. Truthfully, as mad as she was at Beth she knew that part of their problems stemmed from her own mistakes in the past as well as what was currently wrong.

Once Kevin had come into her life she sort of dropped out of the threesome and she owned that. Even when there were opportunities to spend time with Beth and Lani Robbi had passed them by. She was married and felt she owed her allegiance to her husband and she knew that she did, but she also knew that she had blown off both of her friends a lot, too much. It was understandable that they grew more dependent on one another and less on her. It didn’t make it all hurt any less, but she did admit that it was the truth. And now, well, things were even more complicated.

Still, whatever had been going on the past few months she had been excluded from and a lot of that was her fault. After the wedding Robbi had seriously withdrawn from both girls and hadn’t made any effort to see or talk to them, even before she got to the point where she couldn’t. She had no right to feel like she was left out here but she did. She took a deep breath and smiled at Beth.

“Some juice would be nice, thank you.” Robbi watched as Beth went into the kitchen to pour two glasses of orange juice as Mick was handing Kevin the glass of scotch.

When Beth handed Robbi her juice and sat down Mick lifted his glass and said, “To understanding, for all of us.”

Robbi blanched at the words and Kevin raised his glass and agreed. Beth licked her lips nervously and wiped her hand down her jeans leg, scared to start talking. Finally she took a deep breath and said, “Robbi, Kevin, that you so much for coming over tonight. I’ve – we’ve got some things to tell you and we couldn’t do it over the phone, as…as I said. We don’t know how you’ll react but please give us a chance to explain some things.”

Kevin nodded and Robbi sat staring straight ahead. Suddenly she was scared to death. Was Beth sick, dying? What on earth was wrong?

“Robbi, do you remember when we were young and we always talked about my shadow man? About whom we thought he was?”

Robbi looked up startled, obviously missing the connection between then and now. “Of course I do Beth; we still talked about him in college, even when you were positive he was gone. But I’m not connecting the dots here…”

Beth gave a small laugh, an embarrassed gesture that Robbi recognized. When Beth had to admit to something she didn’t want to that laugh always made an appearance.

“Well, it does actually, in a very surprising way Robbi. I know who that man was…is.”


“It’s, um, it’s Mick.”

Robbi laughed, a sound of disbelief and sat her glass down on the coffee table which caused Brian to stir for a moment. “Look, if you don’t want to tell us what is going on fine, we’ll leave because I’m really not in the mood for jokes Beth. It couldn’t have been Mick because he’s like what, 4 or 5 years older than you maybe? So he certainly didn’t save you when you were 4.”

“Please Robbi, just listen. He could and he did. And I’ll explain how in a minute. Remember the night that Lani and I and Elka, Cami and Audrey went to the beach? You were too sick to come with us. Something – something happened that night Robbi.”

Mick leaned over and took her hand in his, trying to give her support as she struggled with the story. “For awhile before that happened Mick had an old acquaintance who had wanted to date him and he turned her down. She stalked him and me as well. That night, on the beach she attacked me and slit my throat open. It – it all happened really fast and I don’t remember a lot of it. Lani pushed her into the fire where she died and I bled out. Mick was there and he saved me.”

“If you bled out Beth, how did he save you?” Robbi was sitting stiffly again and all but rolling her eyes.

“He was able to do it because he is a vampire. He saved me that night by turning me.”

Kevin watched Mick and Beth and saw sincerity in her words but his wife was gathering up her purse in preparation to leave. “Look, I’ve heard enough of this crap Beth. You know, if you wanted to make up a story, couldn’t you have come up with something a little better than this?”

Robbi went to stand and Kevin grabbed her arm, almost forcing her back down on the couch. “Robbi, let them finish.”

Beth cast grateful eyes at him and said, “It’s true Robbi. There really are things such as vampires and Mick and I both are, vampires I mean. That’s how he could be my shadow man because once you are turned, you never age physically.”

Robbi sat in stony silence for a moment. “Okay, show me,” she said simply.

Beth looked at Mick who nodded almost imperceptibly. Both of them closed their eyes for a moment and let the change come over them. When they opened their eyes both of them saw Robbi blanch and then sit back hurriedly, a hand on her chest as if she were trying to catch her breath.

“I wasn’t lying Robbi,” Beth said and Robbi and Kevin both caught the gleam of her fangs in the light of the room.’

“Oh my god,” Robbi managed to get out, her voice a mere whisper. Kevin was clearly stunned but he sat forward, his elbows resting on his knees as he stared at them.

“Wow, vampires. I’ll be damned,” was all he managed to say.

Robbi was trying to decide if they were safe, if their baby was safe and Mick spoke up, “Robbi, we would never hurt you or the children. We uh, buy the blood that we consume; we don’t hurt humans to get it.”

“So you don’t kill people to get their blood?”

“No, we do not.”

“If that is true why did you leave LA?”

“Because when someone is turned into a vampire they need an adjustment period, for their mental and physical changes. We have very powerful senses of hearing, sight, smell. We have magnified physical abilities as well. It takes some time to get used to it all.”

“How come no one knows about you? Vampires I mean?”

“Many humans do Kevin. But they keep quiet about it for various reasons. But because we have told you this I have to have your promise that you are not going to tell anyone. If people found out there would be panic, for humans and vampires alike. Keeping the secret is the most important thing. Beth loves you both so much that she wanted to risk telling you in hopes that you would keep that secret.”

Kevin nodded, “Certainly we will. I’m still just kind of stunned I guess.”

Mick nodded and Beth kept watch on Robbi who hadn’t said anything for a while. “Robbi? Robbi, please, say something?” she pleaded.

Robbi’s eyes were clouded with pain, and hurt but the doubt was gone. “Lani knew didn’t she? You told her?”

“No, actually I – we didn’t. She found out about vampires in Tokyo and never said anything until she came back here and realized that Mick was one. She admitted to me then that she knew.” Beth didn’t tell them that Lani had been attacked; that was Lani’s story to tell if she chose to do so.

“How did she know?” Robbi asked skeptically. She couldn’t see anything different about him, or Beth for that matter, when they weren’t vampires that is.

Mick smiled and said, “Actually, Brianna figured it out. Remember the ‘Mick is coo’ comment? Our body temperatures are considerably cooler than a humans.” He held his hand out and Kevin touched it and for the first time realized that Mick was right, their body temperature was lower, much lower he guessed. “Also, when she laid her head on my chest and patted it? You said she kept time to heartbeats and thought she was just off on mine; actually she was right again.”

“So Lani heard your heartbeat?” Robbi scoffed.

“No, but when she shook my hand she realized it. She was very scared for Beth for awhile, thinking that Beth didn’t realize.”

“But you did, didn’t you Beth? When did you know?”

“Pretty quickly after I met him, met him again that is. He had been shot and I followed him here and saw for myself.”

Robbi drew in a deep breath, imagining how that must have happened, how it must have scared Beth. Still, she was hurt, both Lani and Beth knew for a long time and didn’t tell her. They had excluded her and she conveniently forgot all the times that she had excluded them. Suddenly, it all came back to her and she blushed, ashamed of herself.

“Look, I understand that there are extenuating circumstances Beth, but I don’t understand why I wasn’t told. I knew that you and Lani knew something that I didn’t and it hurt me deeply. I felt so left out and I’d never felt like that before.”

“Robbi, would you really have wanted to know about vampires? Right now do you feel good because you know or are you just happy to be in on the secret?”

“I – I don’t know Beth. It’s a helluva secret, you know?”

Beth smiled. “I do know that.”

“So, your Mom and Clark both know too?”

“Yes, they know. I saw her last night for the first time. But she knew about vampires before. She knew that Mick was a vampire when she hired him to find me.”

“Holy shit!” Robbi exclaimed. “How? How could she know that?”

“Well, long story but Logan, Clarks brother is a vampire. He is actually the same age as Mom.”

“And all those years she never told you? Didn’t that hurt?”

“Yes, it did, but it’s a dark secret Robbi. It’s not something that is talked about much, for a reason.”

Robbi nodded. “I do understand that Beth. I just – I just have some things to work out here, okay? Please, just give me some time?”

“O-kay,” Beth said slowly. “Hey, if you’re interested Lani and I are taking Audrey shopping for some new work clothes tomorrow night. We’d love it if you came with us.”

Robbi shook her head no and said, “No, I can’t Beth. I mean it; I need some time and besides, chasing after both the kids takes a lot out of me. Maybe some other time.”

She stood up and this time Kevin stood up with her. “We really do have to go Beth. I’ll talk to you soon, I promise. I can’t forget 20 years, you know?”

Beth nodded, tears brimming her eyes. She walked to the door and stood looking at Robbi, wanting so badly to pull her into a hug but she knew that it wouldn’t be wise. Outside the door Robbi headed straight for the elevator and pushed the button to call the car.

Kevin looked at her and then at Beth and Mick. He hugged Beth and said, “Be patient with her Beth. Give her time.” To Mick he said, “Your secret is safe, I swear it.”

The elevator door swept open and Kevin hurried to step inside. As the door closed and the car started moving he said, “You should have told her Robbi. She loves you.”

The look of pain in her eyes was his only answer.

To be continued…

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chapter 4, Mending Fences

When Beth and Mick walked out of Josef’s office Lani immediately went to Josef and leaned into him, loving the solid feel of him in her arms.

“Hey, you okay?” he asked softly, tilting her face up so he could look at her.

“Yes, it’s okay. I think she understands Josef.” She stood on tip-toes and placed a kiss on his lips and reveled in the passion that took over them both. Finally, after several minutes she stepped back, breathless and shaky.

“See, that’s the benefit of being a vamp, I can hold my breath!” he teased, all the while trying to get himself under control. He sat down in his chair and held a hand out to Lani and she perched on his lap, smiling at him.

“Audrey told me to remind you we are running the first beta test on the system at 3 Josef. Are you going to watch?”

He glanced down at his watch; they only had a few minutes and he intended to take full advantage of it. “Sure, but for about 5 minutes I’m just going to sit here and hold you tight, sweetness.”

“I think she made you really uncomfortable didn’t she?” she smiled.

“Beth is a powerhouse, that’s for sure. I’ve always said she’d make one hell of a vamp and she’s living up the reputation. I honestly wasn’t sure what she would do and for that matter, what Mick was going to let her do.”

“If you are counting on Mick to save you from his wife you might have a rude surprise Josef. Once Beth gets something in her mind come hell or high water she’s going to do it. It might not be a bad thing to remember.”

“Hm, are you saying she’s stubborn,” he murmured against her neck, nuzzling the spot where his marks were.

“Beth? Stubborn?” She giggled and moaned at the same time as she felt his lips and then teeth graze his mark, making her pelvic muscles clench. “That is like saying the Rockies are just bumps in the ground.”

“Hey, I can climb any mountain.”

“Yeah, well good luck with this one Josef.” She tilted her head back as she felt his mouth slide down her neck and nibble at her collar bone. “Um, Josef…Josef, it’s time to go,” she told him reluctantly.

“So it is,” he growled. “Dinner tonight Lani?”

“Sure, but can you come to my place for it? I need to get some things done there Josef, sorry.”

“I’ll follow you anywhere, your place it is. Around 7ish? Can I bring dinner for you?”

“Seven is fine and no, I am craving a peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich,” she laughed and then thought for a moment. “If you bring one of those spinach, strawberry and walnut salads though I’d enjoy that!”

“Sure Popeye, I’ll gets ye yer spinach!”

She smiled and then laughed at the funny voice he used that sounded nothing like Popeye. “Okay then. Now, come on!” She stood up and held out her hand and waited for him as he stood up and looked down ruefully at the tell-tale bulge in the front of his slacks.

“Go ahead, I’ll be along in a minute,” he told her, willing his body to stop yearning for her. He knew he didn’t have a chance though.


The ride back from Josef’s office was pleasant; the sun was out but wasn’t too harsh for either Mick or Beth. She turned the radio on and sang along softly with Snow Patrols Chasing Cars, a song she loved. She smiled, the corners of her mouth turning up as she sighed.

Mick watched her from the corner of his eyes, trying to stay focused on the afternoon traffic instead of his beautiful wife. It was impossible he knew; the rest of the world faded in comparison to her. She was his world; she had his heart, his soul, his very life in her hands.

Those three words
Are said too much
They're not enough

Love, for him he could never say it enough to her because his life started when she brought love into it. Before Beth his life was void of connection, of purpose. Yes, he and Josef had some good times, some great times but it had all been meaningless.

She suddenly turned in her seat, watching him, watching her and smiled; the brilliant smile that she reserved for him only and it was all he could do to keep moving in the car. He wanted to pull over and take her right then and there, but given that it was afternoon that wouldn’t be wise. So instead he pushed the Benz just a bit faster, cutting in and out of traffic with one thought on his mind, getting her home and into bed. The knowing smile she gave him echoed his thoughts.

He gunned it in the garage and applied the brakes with a squeal and hopped out of the car, laughing when she matched his speed. In the elevator the clothes started coming undone as their hands caressed and teased each other’s bodies. Mick dug the door remote out as she wrapped her legs around him, kissing him as he walked by pure instinct alone to the door, clicking it open and then closing it just as quickly with a booted foot. Their lips fused together in a scorching kiss that sent shivers up Beth’s spine and she moaned against his mouth, eager to be with him.

Before she knew it he had carried her up the stairs and into their bedroom. He sat her down on the floor and finished unbuttoning her shirt, his lips still moving enticingly over hers.

Her fingers caught in the deep brown curls the framed his beloved face, combing through their softness before they slipped down and worked his Henley up over his head, leaving his chest bare to her roving fingers and lips. She scratched lightly at a nipple and then licked at it and was rewarded with a moan from him. Her lips paid homage to its twin before sliding downward, following the trail of curling hairs that led below his belt. Nimble fingers unfastened the belt and then the jeans, tugging them and his boxers downward impatiently.

Her prize was revealed and she worshiped it with her lips, her mouth taking him in deeply. She felt a momentary trembling in his legs as he worked to stay in control and she worked faster at him, loving the taste of her mate. Finally he couldn’t stand it any longer and he pulled her up to him and worked to remove the rest of her clothing before laying her onto the bed and feasting on her beauty with silvered eyes.

Her own eyes were that intense blue again with swirling bits of other colors reflecting in them. They were more beautiful that he could ever imagine and he crawled up the bed and took her face in his hands and kissed her deeply, every bit of love and longing he had was in that kiss.

She felt his arousal against her thigh and she spread her legs apart in invitation and purred when she felt him settle between them and sink deep within her. Her hips moved impatiently against him, trying to increase the speed and depth but he only grinned at her, a fangy knowing smile meant to tease her a bit.

Slow and steady, he rocked into her until she was trembling wildly; soft mewls and then growls escaping her lips. No matter how hard she tried he wouldn’t go any faster, take her to the heights more quickly as she desired.

His lips found her shoulder, kissing and nipping at it lightly as his hands explored her pebbled nipples. When she felt as if she couldn’t stand it another moment he gave her what she needed and rode her fiercely, bringing them both to the edge.

Two pairs of fangs found the sweetness of the other’s neck; perfectly placed bites brought them both over the edge, falling and swirling into the heavens with their passion.

“I love you so much Mick,” she told him as she fought to catch her breath.

“I love you too my Beth. This will all be okay, I promise you. Lani and Josef, Robbi and Kevin, all of it. You and me forever, okay? Besides, we make a good team, don’t you think?”

She grinned at him and said, “I do indeed.” She snuggled into the curve of his shoulder and rubbed her fingers lightly over his chest. She was so happy, but she was nervous too.

“Your eyes are the most incredible color when you turn now. I don’t know why.”

“What do the look like?” she asked with a frown. “They aren’t silver any longer?”

“No, they are…a vivid and deep blue and they reflect other colors too, like they are swirling in them.”

“Since when Mick?”

“Since last night I think. I would have noticed them before, let me tell you.”

Small frown lines furrowed her brow as she lightly chewed on her lower lip. It was just one more indication that she was somehow different and she didn’t want to be. It scared her, the brief explanation that Heroku had given them. This Children of the Moon thing and being a descendent of an ancient vampire group seemed strange and maybe even a bit ridiculous.

“I don’t want this Mick. I just wanna be – me I guess. I want to be your Beth; I want to live our lives without whatever complication that will bring.”

“I know Beth. Listen, I don’t understand it at all, but something did happen last night and if Heroku wasn’t here it probably would have been so much worse. Let’s just wait and see what these people say, okay? I’m going to ask Josef what he knows about them as well but today with Carl there it just wasn’t the right time.”

She nodded and looked at the clock, seeing that it read a bit after 5. “I need to call Robbi and see if she and Kevin will stop by tomorrow night. I’m so dreading that conversation.”

Mick leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and then traced a fingertip down her nose where he placed another kiss, followed by one on her sweet lips. “It will be okay, just like I said. Now go and call her.”

She nodded and pulled her clothes back on before heading downstairs and finding her phone that was tucked in her purse. As she dialed Robbi’s number Mick came down the stairs, shirtless and barefoot and dug in the hidden fridge looking for blood. He saw that he was going to have to go and visit Guillermo tomorrow or they wouldn’t have any supplies.

That gave him pause, thinking about Beth’s reaction to morgue blood. He couldn’t deny that drinking the fresh blood that Josef had provided for them the past month was going to make it hard, even for him to go back to the bagged stuff. Maybe Beth had a point; maybe he should see about using one of the services that provided fresh blood. It was expensive, but they could well afford it.

He looked up when he heard Beth on the phone and listened as he poured two glasses of A+.

“Hi…hi Robbi, it’s Beth.”

“Beth, how are you?” Robbi said stiffly.

No, ‘good to hear you or when are you coming home Beth noticed. “I’m good. We’re back from Seattle and Mick and I were hoping that you and Kevin would come over tomorrow night for drinks, after uh, after dinner? Can you?” Beth listened and heard Robbi’s heart speed up on the other end of the connection. The pause seemed endless as Beth mentally ticked off the seconds in her head.

“I don’t know Beth. I…we, Mom is keeping Brianna overnight and Kevin and I were just going to relax.”

“I understand that. Robbi, I have so much to say to you, to explain and I can’t do it over the phone. Please, come by for just a little bit. Or we could come there if you prefer?”

“NO, I mean, no, we’ll come there. We’re going to have Brian with us so we can’t stay long.” If they came to Robbi and Kevin’s house there might not be a quick escape if needed Robbi decided.

“Great. See you around 7 then?”

“Sure, 7.”

“Oh Robbi, I can’t wait to see you,” Beth said and again noticed that there was no agreement by Robbi. “Okay, then bye Robbi.” The only answer was a click on the other end.

She looked at the phone sadly and when Mick came into the living room with a glass of blood for her she took it and sipped slowly, sadness filling her heart. She licked a stay bit of blood from the corner of her mouth and looked at Mick who was watching her with love in his eyes.

“One step at a time Beth. It will be okay. Now drink up so we can go and see your Mom.”

She nodded and finished her drink, hoping that all went well at her mom’s house. She had enough of worrying about what was going to happen. It was time to enjoy some peace and happiness.


When Mick pulled the Benz into the driveway they saw Logan’s car sitting there. He shook his head at the old beat up VW Beetle he’d had for many years. It had been a great little car for him when he’d bought it but when Mick thought about the fact that if probably didn’t even have 5 thousand miles on it he had to smile. Mileage and appearance sure didn’t jibe.

As if reading his mind Beth said, “How old is that car anyway?” After she said it she had to laugh since they were sitting in a 1964 Cabriolet that Mick had purchased new. Then again, the Benz was pristine because it was Mick’s baby. The Bug was, well, totally Logan come to think of it.

Mick hurried around the car to open the door for Beth and she grinned at him, knowing how important it was for him to treat her like a lady. His generation did have some great things about it even though she was perfectly able to open her own door. Mick was a gentleman, right down to his roots and that wasn’t a bad thing.

She took his hand when he held it out to help her out of the car and couldn’t resist a small giggle; she felt giddy with excitement and practically drug him to the door and waited impatiently for the door to be answered.

Dorothy, Clark, Logan and Audrey were sitting at the dining room table, just getting ready to eat as they talked about the progress on the house when the door bell rang. Audrey quickly took a sip of her iced tea to hide the smile that curved the corners of her mouth up.

“Who could that be?” Dorothy asked, pausing as she cut the lasagna into pieces.

“Don’t know honey. Maybe it’s the Girl Scouts selling cookies! I’m ready for the Thin Mints.”

“Wrong time of year Clark,” she told him with a frown. He had stood up and headed to the foyer to answer the door, with Dorothy closely following behind.

When he pulled it open he let out a loud laugh and opened the glass door for Beth and Mick to step into the foyer. “Welcome home Beth,” he said, hugging her tightly. “You too Mick; it’s so good to see you both!”

“Oh Dad, it’s great to see you too!” She saw her mom standing behind him and saw tears running down Dorothy’s face. “Mom? Are you okay?”

Dorothy nodded, trying to stop crying. She was so relieved to see her daughter. Even knowing that she was okay it hit Dorothy hard that she had come close to losing her; if not for Mick that is.

Beth rushed to her and pulled her into a hug and Dorothy sobbed against her shoulder as joy rushed in and the realization that Beth really was here now. “Oh Beth, I’m so happy to see you, to hold you honey.” She pulled back and looked into Beth’s eyes; you’re here, you’re really here!”

“Of course I am.” She looked down at Dorothy’s baby bump and ran a hand over it in awe. “Wow Mom, they are really growing!”

“Yes and they play hockey in there sometimes it feels like. Why didn’t you call?”

“We just got in last night and so I wanted to surprise you today.”

“Well, you succeeded. Goodness, I’m surprised but so happy! Now, come on in, we were just getting ready for dinner.”

In the dining room Beth was hugged by Logan and again by Audrey. Beth watched the touches and the looks they shared and realized that things really were good for them. Both of them just glowed with happiness and that was a difficult thing for a vampire Beth thought with a laugh!

“Mm, lasagna,” Beth exclaimed. “May I have some please?”

All conversation at the table stopped immediately; her mom dropped the spatula into the pan and Logan nearly spit a mouthful of blood out.

“I…well, honey, that’s probably not a good thing for you,” Dorothy said and looked at Mick who only smiled and shrugged.

“It seems that Beth can taste and eat food still with no problems. She apparently is a different type of vampire,” he told the group and watched shocked and puzzled expressions cover their faces.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Dorothy said.

Mick explained what they had found out, from Heroku and by trial and error. “Let me tell you, she has a very powerful gift with allure; I didn’t even realize it at first until Tim pointed it out. She had me running in circles!” he exclaimed, purposely omitting the fact that she came close to wearing him out in bed. The sly smile that she gave him made him laugh because she knew that he had left that part out.

“Still, you can actually eat food Beth? And not get sick?” Logan asked, clearly confused.

“Well Logan, you eat popsicles and say you can taste the pineapple ones for heaven’s sake!” Beth responded.

‘Yeah, well uh, I suppose,” he said, obviously not convinced.

Dorothy put a small amount on the plate for Beth and she inhaled the aroma and her stomach growled. Everyone at the table heard it and she just shrugged and took a bit. “Oh Mom, this is divine!”

“Thank you honey.” Still unsure, she could only hope that Beth really could handle it. But as time wore on that evening she saw that Beth was just fine. A mystery that Dorothy didn’t understand, she decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

“So Mom, how is the pregnancy going? You look really good.” Beth speared a bit of lasagna and chewed it slowly, savoring the taste. Logan was watching her still, clearly confused by it all. She grinned at him impishly and took another bite.

“The doctor says I’m doing great, both the babies are healthy, but we still don’t know what the sex of the second baby is. She thinks I’ll deliver by Christmas, a bit earlier than planned. Often twins come early I guess. They are both active, I’ll tell you that much. And I’d love to get through a whole night without having to get up to pee.”

Beth looked at her mother and at Clark who was watching her as if she were the most precious gift a man could have and realized just how happy they both were. It was amazing, that she and Clark were given the gift of this pregnancy in their lives. They were both healthy and fit and hopefully the twins wouldn’t wear them out too much. Besides, she planned to be a very active big sister to them and spoil them rotten. That thought made her heart ache a bit for the babies she and Mick would never have; obviously fate had other plans for them, as Josef would say.

“Hey, Audrey, Lani, Cami and I are going shopping Thursday night for work clothes for Audrey, why don’t you come with us? We can shop for baby things too, if there is anything left to buy that is!”

Clark laughed and said, “Not much; I think it is safe to say that we’re being a bit indulgent for the little ones. But I’m sure you can find something!”

Mick laughed, knowing how true that would be and he also knew that little black plastic card was going to get a work out.

“I would love that; are you sure you don’t mind me tagging along?”

“No, we don’t mind at all. Mom, I would love it if you came. I want more time with you.”

“Okay. Maybe I should have a party, since you’re back. A cookout; just because.”

“Oh, I’d love it! Mm, jalapeno burger, I can taste it now.” She was so excited that she missed the looks that were passed around the table.

They didn’t understand it a bit, but as long as she didn’t get sick. That’s all they cared about.



Josef stepped out of the elevator, an overnight bag in one hand and a bag containing the salad that Lani had requested. He had wished that she would eat something more substantial for her dinner; she needed more protein, more iron. He couldn’t risk biting her very often if she didn’t eat properly; he wouldn’t risk it.

He pushed the buzzer and she opened the door almost immediately. He grinned like a horny school boy when he saw her; she was wearing some sort of flowing cotton pants that were tied low around her hips and what looked like a sports bra. All in all it left a lot of Lani to view and he intended to do as much sight-seeing as he could. Her hair was pulled over to one side, leaving his marks exposed.

“Hi,” she said, taking both bags out of his hand and setting them down before winding her arms around his neck for a kiss. He took her lips in a delicious kiss and ran his hands down her back until he was firmly cupping her derriere to his body, letting her feel how aroused he was. Damn, all she had to do was be in the same room with him and he came to full attention.

“Hi yourself,” he managed to murmur, his nose buried in her neck as he inhaled her sweet fragrance. “Um, you feel so good Lani.”

“So do you. Hope you can manage this again later,” she teased cheekily with a wink, referring to the bulge in his slacks as she picked up the bags and headed into the apartment.

“The one there goes into the bedroom,” he said, hoping that he hadn’t taken too much for granted. “And it has an insulated bag in it for my…refreshments.”

She handed that bag to him and started to the kitchen with her salad. “Okay, just come on into the kitchen when you’re done. I’m just getting ready to make my sandwich.”

He carried the bag into the bedroom and pulled out the insulated bag first and then the toiletry bag. He checked his watch and decided to hop into the shower quickly, vamp speed being what it was he was sure he could be done before her sandwich.

He was and came into the kitchen with the insulated bag, wearing a pair of silk pajama bottoms and nothing else. Lani grinned at him as she scooped the sandwich out of the grilling pan and placed it on a plate.

“Where will I find glasses Lani?”

She pointed to a cabinet next to the sink and he pulled one out and poured a generous glassful of AB- and set it on the counter, across from her plate. She dished up her salad and poured a glass of iced tea and took her seat across from him and again he was fascinated by watching her eat the sandwich that dripped honey and peanut butter all over everywhere. Some dribbled out onto a finger and she popped it into her mouth and sucked and Josef swallowed hard knowing full well how that mouth felt. He tried to mentally shake himself free of the image but it stayed with him. She grinned at him as if she knew exactly what he was thinking.

He took a drink and then cleared his throat. “Lani, I’m kind of worried about your diet. I mean if you, if I, well if I bite you I mean. You need more protein and iron, fresh vegetables and such.”

“Do I not taste good? Is that what you mean?”

“No sweetness, you taste delicious. But you know, if you donate blood very often you have to eat a diet that replenishes your blood, the nutrients. I’m afraid to bite you Lani because you won’t feel good if you aren’t eating properly.”

That did make sense to her; she had donated blood to the Red Cross in the past and they had said the same thing. Maybe she should talk to his chef who prepared all the meals for the girls because they were all carefully gauged to meet the dietary needs of ‘blood donors’.

Which made her think of something else that was bothering her; his ‘meals on heels’ as she called the girls. Their blood was clean, healthy and that had to be best for him. Beth had talked about the bags of morgue blood that Mick drank and that was so gross to Lani. Suppose they were young and healthy and just killed in a car accident or something? That was one thing but suppose they had cancer or something. Not only was the blood diseased but probably full of drugs. She gave a small shudder; she didn’t want him drinking that. But knowing that he was drinking from the girls bothered her, since she knew what happened.

She realized he was watching her, waiting for an answer. “I guess I could talk with your chef to make sure that I’m getting the nutrients you need.”

“No Lani, what you need, to stay healthy sweetness.”

She sat her sandwich down on the plate and bit her lower lip for a moment, trying to decide how to approach the rest of it.

Josef watched her and understood that she had something on her mind and he was pretty sure he knew what it was. Still, he waited for her to speak up, thinking that was best.

“Josef, I worry about you too. I want you to be able to drink fresh, healthy blood, not that disgusting bagged stuff that Mick drinks. I just…”

“It bothers you, the girls?” She nodded and he continued, “Lani, I don’t have to bite them to get their blood; there are other methods.”

“But you’re a vampire and I know that there has to be some tactile, physical need for you to bite. I’m correct aren’t I?”

“Lani, there is a certain sense of pleasure in the bite; for me as well as the girls. For me it isn’t necessarily a sexual pleasure, unless I want it to be. Like when I bite you, because I love you. You have to understand the difference between ‘food’ and ‘love’. For instance, you enjoy that completely messy sandwich, but you aren’t in love with it. If you never had it again you might miss it but it would be okay, right? You are correct when you mentioned the nutritive factor Lani; it’s important. I don’t understand, or believe for a moment that Mick can be at his best, his strongest drinking the bagged morgue blood, but it makes him feel like less of a predator. I understand that, but the truth is that vampires are predators Lani. You see the soft side of me most of the time, the side that loves my mate completely, the mate I would protect to my death but make no mistake Lani; there is a dark side of me, the one that has kept me alive for 400 years. And I fully believe the reason that I have survived this long is because I drink fresh blood.”

She nodded; she understood what he was saying. She had known all along that he had that dark side he mentioned and she could handle it. She also knew that he controlled it quite well. Even the night on the beach, when he killed those three men, he only did it when she was threatened and it wasn’t a bloody massacre; he just did what he had to.

She reached across the table and took his hand, rubbing his thumb with hers. “Do I really have to give up my sandwich?”

He laughed outright and shook his head. “No, I think its okay.” He got serious again and said, “I’ll just have the girls donate instead of drinking fresh from them. It’s okay, I can do that.”

“Is that what you really want though? I am okay if you still do it, the…the other way. As long as you aren’t sleeping with them too.” She hated the thought that they would experience that intense sexual pleasure from him, but then again, he was biting them and drinking their blood. Maybe they deserved something in return.

“I haven’t slept with any of the girls who live at my house for a long time. It causes too many problems among them, so we keep it business. But I haven’t been any kind of a monk Lani. Simone was one of my lawyers and I did drink her blood regularly, but she didn’t live at the house with me.”

“Okay. I can deal with all that I think.”

“We’ll try it the non-bite method and see how it goes, okay?” He leaned across the bar and kissed her, licking a bit of peanut butter and honey off of her lip. He concentrated hard on it, but still couldn’t taste a thing. It made him wonder about Beth.

She smiled sadly as she watched him trying to taste it and knew that he hadn’t. A few minutes later she had put the dishes in the dishwasher and closed it with a snap. Josef stood, leaning in the kitchen doorway, his arms crossed across his chest as he watched her.


“Yes.” She looked around her innocently and said, “Well, what now?”

He grinned, a hint of fang showing and scooped her up into his arms and carried her into the bedroom. “I think we’ll start with this,” he said, moving a hand up under the bra “And then maybe this…”

Hours later Lani stretched in satisfaction. He had covered all the bases, more than once!

To be continued…

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chapter 3, Searching for Answers

en carried a bouquet of roses, pink sweetheart ones with him down the hall along with some Dove chocolate for his grandmother. She loved pink sweetheart roses and the chocolate? Well that was a given he thought with a smile. Today was her 85th birthday and he was meeting his mother here so that they could take Margie out to lunch.

Ben hadn’t spoken to either one of them since he had got the lab results back on Mick St. Johns finger prints. What the hell could he say? I don’t have any idea how it is possible but the Mick St. John who died in 1952 has the same finger prints as Mick St. John today? They’d think he was crazy; hell, he thought he was crazy. Or more likely that the lab made an error. He was sending the prints to a friend in the lab in Sacramento to see what results he got. It wasn’t possible that the two men were the same. Was it? How could it be?

Ben scoffed at the idea; it was preposterous. When he first began work at the DA’s office and found Josh Lindsay’s file on Mick and he started checking into Mick St. John it was with the idea that he was a cousin, even though he couldn’t imagine how that would be. The family, Mick’s and his grandmother all believed that Mick had died in that hotel room but when Ben ran across Mick and saw the resemblance it was like he was watching a ghost from the past. The pictures that Margie had showed him had the same eyes, the same smile, even the small mole on his cheek. How the hell could that be?

So evidently Mick wasn’t murdered in 1952 and he and Coraline had children, but where? Nowhere that Ben could find, it certainly wasn’t here in California. France maybe? Inquiries in France all had dead ends but perhaps her family was protecting them for some reason. Maybe someone attempted to kill them and they ran for their lives, so they just left it all behind them. If that was the case, how on earth could anyone survive in that hotel room? There was so much blood, someone had probably bled out.

Could Mick’s grandson have ended up back here? With no record or his life until 10 years ago or so? Just not possible Ben decided. So okay, what did that leave? He thought of a passage from a Sherlock Holmes book that he liked – “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

So eliminating the impossible, that this Mick is the Mick from the past, what was left? He’d be damned if he knew. He realized that he was standing in the hallway in front of his grandmother’s door and shook off the disturbing thought before knocking.

She answered almost immediately and welcomed him in. “Ben, come in darling! It is so good to see you,” she told him, accepting his gifts and kissing him on the cheek. She inhaled the fragrance of the roses and eyed the chocolate with a twinkle in her eyes. “Oh, you do spoil me!”

Ben laughed and watched as she found her vase and situated the roses in it, sitting them on the table to admire. “They are lovely Ben, thank you. Your mom called a little bit ago and she’ll be here soon; she was just getting out of a meeting. Come on now, sit down.”

“Grandmother, how have you been?”

Margie smiled at him; he was such a kind and considerate young man. He came to see her frequently, usually several times a week and since she knew how demanding his job was she appreciated it all the more. Catherine and Christian were unhappy with him for turning down a lucrative position in their prestigious law firm to work in the ADA position but Ben had gumption and integrity and wanted to serve the community. It wasn’t about money to him and for that he pleased his grandmother a great deal. Yes, he was a very good young man and she often thought he needed to share that life with a young lady but she never asked him about it. He’d get around to it sooner or later, she hoped. Years ago she had wondered if he was gay but she watched as he grieved over the death of a woman that he loved and knew that he wasn’t. But that was 10 years ago and it was time to move on.

They chatted amiably for a few minutes until Catherine arrived, sweeping into the room in a cloud of Shalimar, the same fragrance that she had worn as long as he could remember. She hugged Margie first and then Ben, happy to see her son.

“Benjamin, you haven’t been to dinner in ages,” she said, settling down in a chair at the table and picking a piece of Dove milk chocolate to nibble on. “Why haven’t you?”

“Mom, things have been kind of hectic at work you know. Sorry, I’ll get over soon I promise. How is Dad?”

“He’s fine, he’s going Dubai for consultation on the Forapanaji case; you’ve seen it on the news I’d imagine.”

Yes, he’d seen it; a jet-setter accused of murdering a man he had been playing poker with. It was all very high-profile and something he knew that his father would relish. “Well, I’m sure he’ll enjoy the trip. You’re not going with him?”

“No, someone has to stay and mind the business,” she told him a frown, deciding he looked tired and a bit haggard. “Ben, what on earth is wrong? You look run down, doesn’t he Mom?”

“Well, I’ll have to agree with that Ben. All work and no play…”

Ben smiled at both of the women; he loved them both and knew they only wanted him happy but he wasn’t sure if that were in the cards for him. After Michelle died when they were in law school life just had lost its glow. Work was now his companion and he was pretty well used to it. He flashed them both his best innocent smile and said, “I surrender, I’ll make a point of relaxing more, honest.” He held his hands up in gesture of surrender which made them both laugh and also realize he had no intention of taking it easy.

Margie and Catherine shared a sad look for a moment and then both stood up so they could head to lunch.

“I’m starving,” Margie said. “Ben, will you take an old woman’s arm please?”

“With pleasure Grandmother.” He laid a brief kiss on her cheek and cherished these moments, praying that they went on for many more years.



Mick was going over some information passed on from Rick, the PI who had handled some of Mick’s clients while he and Beth were in Seattle. Things had gone smoothly and he was ready to get back to work but the thought of leaving Beth alone so much right now was bothering him a great deal. They didn’t need the money but he did enjoy what he did most of the time and plus, he got to help people. That thought made him think of Beth; she would be going crazy before too long, wanting to find something to do herself, he knew it. And now, with the information that Heroku gave them – well, things might be really difficult for a while.

He leaned back in the chair and frowned for a minute as he thought about Beth’s need last night for blood, fresh blood. Was it always going to be like that for her, on full moons, or was it just because she was a fledgling? It was all so puzzling to him and rubbed the bridge of his nose, wondering if he could handle it if it came to that. He was startled by the ring of his phone and he grabbed it, glad of the distraction.

It was Carl; Cami had told him that Mick and Beth were back and he said that he had some information about the list that he needed to speak with Mick and Josef about. “I called Josef’s office and he can see us at one if that works for you Mick?”

“Sure, that’s fine. We’ll see you there Carl,” he told him, punching the end button.

“See Carl where?” Beth asked, walking into the office. She came around the desk and sat down on his lap, bending to kiss him.

“At Josef’s; he said he has some news about the list.”

Beth’s eyes narrowed and darkened for a moment at the mention of Josef’s name. “I’d love to see Josef,” she told him, a scowl on her face and a dangerous edge to her voice.

“Beth, the office isn’t the time for trouble, okay?”

She jumped up off his lap and gave him a very sweet smile. “Of course Mick!” She walked to the door and blew him a kiss before heading upstairs.

Mick knew that look and he didn’t like it one damn bit. He flirted with the idea of calling Josef and warning him but then decided not to; Josef was big boy, let him take his lumps Mick decided. It might even be amusing.

At one Carl was waiting for Mick and Beth in the reception area and the three of them walked over to Thor’s desk and told him they had an appointment with Josef.

“Yes, he’s expecting you. Welcome back, Mr. and Mrs. St. John,” he said pleasantly before he got up and led them to the door. Mick murmured “Thank you, Thor,” and knocked, waiting for Josef to bid them entrance.

“Thor? His name is really Thor?” Carl whispered.

“Yep, it is.”

“He isn’t, uh…”

“No, he isn’t.”

Mick heard Josef tell them to come in and as soon as they were inside Beth walked towards the desk, staring Josef down.

“Now Beth, it’s good to see you,” he tried to head her off. Her eyes were the damndest shade of sparkling blue he had ever seen and he also caught the glint of fang. She was furious, he could tell.

She continued to stare and then her eyes spotted a letter opener on the desk at the same time he did. He grabbed it and shoved it into a drawer saying, “How careless of me, leaving that pointy object out.” He smiled at her, hoping a bit of humor would lighten her mood and then took a step back when she growled.

Mick stood back, arms crossed across his chest while he waited to see what would happen. He wasn’t going to allow her to attack him but he had to admit to himself that seeing her face off with Josef was pretty entertaining.

Carl wasn’t sure what the hell was going on; he looked from Beth to Josef to Mick in confusion. The tension was thick and ripe and he felt a bit of alarm creep up his spine, putting him on alert.

“Beth…” Josef started.

“You bit her Josef. She was DRUNK!”

“Now, I, uh, she didn’t really give me a chance Beth. It’s your fault, you told her about the desert,” he said in desperation. He looked around the room, praying that there wasn’t anything else handy for him to stake him with. He spied an umbrella in the rack by the door. The damn thing had a long, metal point on the end. He skewered Mick with frantic eyes, silently asking him to pull Beth back. Mick only grinned and shrugged.

Josef knew his ass was in trouble. Why the hell was he letting a tiny little fledgling intimidate the hell out of him? Beth took another step towards him, her hand in her jacket pocket and he was suddenly afraid she had a stake in it. He took a step farther back and realized the window was directly behind him and there was nowhere else to go.

Suddenly the door opened and Lani and Cami came into the room. The tension was apparent even to Lani who couldn’t scent it but Cami did. She had to hide a smile when she caught Josef’s discomfort and Beth’s idea of settling the score, or what she perceived the score to be. When she caught the scent that was wrapped around Lani she might have a different idea about things though. Finally Beth looked away from Josef and smiled to see them. She then looked back at Josef and said, “You’re lucky Josef.”

“I do believe you’re correct Beth.” His eyes still watched her carefully, not quite sure what might happen next. She’d know as soon as she got close to Lani about last night, no way around that. He hoped that Lani could explain.

Cami came forward in an effort to stall what might happen next and said, “Beth, I’m so happy to see you!” She hugged her and looked her up and down, feeling the tension in her friend’s stance. “Stay steady Beth,” she whispered in her lowest vamp voice, directly into Beth’s ear.

“Cami, you look gorgeous,” Beth told her, admiring the Dior suit that was a lovely cranberry color with black piping. “You and Lani both really dress up the office – I always feel so frumpy around you two!”

Cami murmured thank you and watched as Beth lifted her head, scenting Lani; more specifically Josef on Lani. When Lani had come in an hour ago she was glowing and walking on air. She and Josef had sealed the deal, so to speak and his scent enveloped her.

Beth stiffened, her back going ramrod stiff and Lani knew exactly what was wrong. Mick had taken a step closer to her, ready to hold her back if need be. Beth stepped close to Lani and breathed in deeply, finally understanding what vamps could smell on humans and she was ready to go to battle over it but when she looked at Lani she realized that Lani was happy, so very happy.

“Beth, Audrey is in the lab, why don’t you come and say hi to her,” Cami said.

“Audrey? Here?”

“Yes, she is working for Kostan now as the new Systems Operations Manager and whether or not Josef realizes it, she is the best!”

“I do know that, Logan was right about her.” He was still alert but the threat seemed to be over and he relaxed slightly, putting his hands in his pockets and casting a loving look in Lani’s direction, which Beth didn’t miss.

He loves her and I think she loves him. What the hell happened while I was gone?

Lani threaded her arm through Beth’s and said, “Come on, let’s show you the new set up!” and cast a look over her shoulder at Josef as they walked out of the room.

The door closed and Mick looked at Josef curiously. They were mated; she had drunk his blood and suddenly it all took on a new light; this wasn’t just an affair for Josef and Mick was puzzled about it all but also happy for his friend.

“Uh, can someone explain to me what the hell just happened?” Carl asked.

Josef looked at Mick and cleared his throat, not sure of what to say. Luckily Mick had it covered. “Lani and Josef are um, a couple now and Beth scented that. Since Lani was pretty terrified of vampires when we left Beth was uh, surprised Carl.”

“Scented that?”

“Yes; vamps have a very strong ability to scent things and the smell of sexual attraction and consummation is very easily read.”

Carl’s face darkened a shade as he thought that over. He looked from Mick to Josef and was embarrassed; when Cami walked into the room a wash of desire consumed him and now he knew that they had scented it. “So, if a human has er, relations, you vamps can smell it?”

“Yes Carl. We try to keep our noses to ourselves mostly but sometimes it’s difficult.” Mick said and watched as Josef looked down and seemed as if he were embarrassed too. What he felt for Lani was incredibly strong and he knew that Mick had picked up on it.

“Well, let’s get down to business, shall we?” Josef said, taking a seat behind his desk. He picked up a pen and nervously tapped it on the desktop a couple of times before dropping it when he caught Mick staring at it.

Carl told them about his talk with Luka and the idea of trying to find out who was behind the list. Josef sat quietly, a slight frown marring his face as he listened.

“We already know, we think anyway, who is doing it, but we don’t know where he is. We think it is a guy named Malcolm, or it was a century ago and he is the leader of a fanatical rogue group who thinks vampires need to up rise and take over the world. If it’s like it was a century ago he wants the vamps to become paranoid and start taking out the humans.”

“That’s – that’s crazy,” Carl said, thinking that over. “If he is a vamp it makes no sense either. Why try to bring about a war that would undoubtedly kill many of your own race?”

“Excellent point and one that we don’t have the answer too. Carl, your help is appreciated but this guy, this group is very dangerous and wouldn’t hesitate to kill you or Luka. It’s a very bad idea to investigate him. Any chance you can get Luka to drop it?”

“I doubt it. What if we can find him and then you guys take over? He’s talking to Luka and maybe we can find him that way.”

Mick had been quiet and finally weighed in. “I agree with Josef, but if we work closely together we could maybe do it and be able to throw Luka off at the same time.”

They discussed a plan until they had the details worked out. When they were all agreed Josef stood up and said, “Now, it’s time for a drink. He poured two glasses of scotch and looked at Carl with a question in his eyes.

“Not for me, still on duty. I’ll take some coffee though if you can manage that.”

“Certainly we can.” Josef chatted with Thor for a moment and very quickly a cup of steaming coffee was brought in for Carl. Thor left and closed the door quietly behind him and Carl had to smile; a guy by the name of Thor was very interesting. Had to be more to it than meets the eye.


“Lani,” Beth started as soon as they were out of earshot of Josef’s office.

“Not here Beth. Cami, do you think Audrey would mind if we used her office for a few minutes?”

“I doubt it; she’s getting ready for the beta test at 3. Go ahead,” she told them and watched as Lani opened the door to a large and airy office that Beth thought looked exactly like somewhere Audrey would work.

She stood admiring the leather sofa, a cream color with brightly colored pillows on it. A large scrubbed oak desk took the center stage and she looked at the photos that were sitting on it.

She picked up one of Logan and Audrey together; it had been taken at Dorothy’s house she realized and both of them looked to happy, so in love. The second picture she picked up was Travis and Plato. The cats were in the yard and the frame had writing on it that said, “Our Furry Kids!”

She hadn’t thought about Travis for a while, knowing that he was well taken care of with Logan and Audrey and suddenly she realized that it might be more than that. He was a part of their family now; could she take him away from that? Should she? It was something to consider.

“Beth? Bethy?” she finally heard Lani say.

She looked up, having been lost for a moment and smiled. “Sorry, just wool-gathering I guess.”

Lani took a seat on the sofa and Beth sat down beside her; both women were suddenly anxious and Beth grabbed Lani’s hand and squeezed it lightly. “I’ve missed you, so much Lani.”

“Me too Beth. And, well a lot has happened.”

Beth nodded and stared at the marks on Lani’s neck, which she had tried to cover up with makeup. It probably worked okay for a human’s eyes but her vamp eyes spotted them right away. She still didn’t understand all the scents she was capturing but she could tell that they were lovers now. She could smell Josef all over her and there was something else, almost like Josef was in her too.

“I don’t understand what happened Lani. You hated him; you were terrified of the bite. Yet you let him bite you and he shouldn’t have – you were drunk!”

“Beth, we just grew closer while you were gone; at first it was our mutual worry about you and then I realized I actually liked him, admired him for the way he worked so hard to make sure everything was okay for you. We – we started talking and he was really easy to talk to Bethy. It just felt – right I guess.”

“Lani, I understand that but he took advantage of you like that. He’s a huge baby about pain Mick has said and he didn’t have to do it.”

“No, he didn’t but I was going to make him do it one way or the other Beth. Sound familiar?”

“Yes, but the circumstances were totally different Lani,” Beth said, starting to get angry because the two situations were totally different. “Mick was dying Lani; if he didn’t get blood he would have died. Josef wasn’t in any danger of dying.”

“No, he wasn’t but Tango had to dig for those bullets. Josef didn’t ask, he didn’t even suggest and when I did he wouldn’t do it Beth. I had to force it. I didn’t do anything different than you did in the desert with Mick; you helped the man you loved and don’t look at me like that Beth, you did love him already even if you weren’t ready to admit it.”

Beth was silent as she digested Lani’s words. They loved one another; it was clearly written on Lani’s face but she had to admit that what she was scenting on Lani was Josef’s love. And a new thought suddenly occurred to her; she knew what else she was scenting.

“You drank his blood too didn’t you? You are mated now aren’t you?”

Tears sprang to Lani’s eyes but it was easy to tell that they were happy tears. “Yes, we are and Bethy, I love him so much. I’ve never, you know this; I’ve never felt like this before. It’s as if I have finally found home, found what has always been lacking in my life. I want to be with him always Beth.”

Beth’s eyebrows rose a bit at the implication of those words. “Do you mean…um, what I think you mean?” she ventured.

Lani smiled and said, “I hope so, someday Beth. I hope so.”

Beth pulled Lani to her and they hugged for a long moment, but of the girls crying and so happy to be together again. “I have so much to tell you Beth, I’m so happy.”

“Well okay then,” Beth said, wiping away the tears. “You’re happy and so am I.”

“Come on, let’s go see Audrey; she has missed you too.”

“I still can’t believe she is working for Josef now,” Beth said, standing up and hunting through her purse for a tissue or two.

Lani walked to Audrey’s desk and grabbed one for each of them. “He offered it to Logan first, but he doesn’t have the right experience. I have to admit, Audrey is amazing at it.” They walked down the hall to a doorway with a key card entry system on it and Lani slid her card into the slot and they heard the click of the lock opening.

“Beth!” Audrey exclaimed, hugging her tightly. “Oh my gosh, you look fantastic! Logan is going to be so happy to see you, not to mention your mom and dad.”

“I’m excited too. We haven’t told them yet but plan on going to see them this evening. You and Logan should come over too.”

“That would be great and actually, Logan and I are going over there for dinner and to talk about plans for our house. Clark is building us a larger house to live in.”

“How cool is that?” Beth said, grinning. “Maybe Mick and I should wait until tomorrow if you have plans?”

“Of course not. We can talk about those plans anytime and let me tell you, we do! I’m so excited.”

“Alright then, we’ll see you tonight,” Beth said, preparing to get back to Josef’s office.

“Hey, while you’re here, while all of you are here I have a question. Since I started working here I’ve been wearing jeans and stuff because I’m constantly crawling around but once we start the training opps that will change. I don’t really have the right kind of clothes for this job. All of you dress so beautifully, can you help me shop?”

“Hey, don’t look at me, I can’t keep up with these two,” Beth laughed. “I’d love to come along though, make a girls evening out of it.” Everyone nodded and they decided on Thursday evening.

“Thank you all so much,” Audrey said. She glanced at her watch. “It’s only a half an hour until the beta test. We need to finish Cami.”

“Yes, we do. Lani, are you walking Beth back to Josef’s office?” At Lani’s nod she continued, “Remind Josef then, in case he wants to come and see how it goes.”

“Will do!”

As they walked back to Josef’s office both girls were relaxed and smiling. “Beth, don’t be too hard on Josef, okay? He’s convinced you are going to stake him you know.”

Beth grinned, “Well, it is very tempting, but okay, I’ll behave Mom!”

“Good. Don’t be putting holes in the man I love!”

At the door Lani opened it and saw all the men sitting comfortably, relaxed and talking about sports. Of course! All three rose to their feet as the girls walked in. Josef eyed Beth, one eyebrow quirked upwards as if trying to determine if she were still angry.

Beth walked up to Josef and stared him in the eye; he couldn’t read her at all. Finally she reached out for him and pulled him tightly to her, hugging him. He let out a deep sigh and hugged her back.

“I’ve missed you Beth; I’m so glad you’re home.” The words were whispered into her ear and Mick smiled as he heard them.

Beth pulled back slightly and smiled at him for a moment. “I’ve missed you too Josef.” She leaned up close to him and whispered, “Don’t hurt her.”

“Never,” was the promise given.

To be continued…