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
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.”
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!”
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?”
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.
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.”
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
“Well, I’ll have to agree with that Ben. All work and no play…”
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?”
pleasure Grandmother.” He laid a brief kiss on her cheek and cherished
these moments, praying that they went on for many more years.
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
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.”
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?”
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
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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
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
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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
He loves her and I think she loves him. What the hell happened while I was gone?
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.
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.”
“Yes; vamps have a very strong ability to scent things and the smell of sexual attraction and consummation is very easily read.”
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.
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
“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
“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.”
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.”
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?”
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.
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!”
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.”
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.”
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.
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
“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.”
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?”
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?”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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?”
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
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
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
“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.
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…